Arabian (arabian) wrote,
Arabian
arabian

2.22 - 'As I Lay Dying' (The Vampire Diaries)

Sorry for the delay, but I've been sick and icky pretty much since Thursday. I'm still not 100% today, but I felt well enough to rewatch the episode and jot down my thoughts while doing so.

Here we are at the finale of another fantastic season. Ah, I love this show so very much. Gonna do this review a bit differently, and just go down the line of what happened when and expounding on certain points. My overall finale thoughts wrap-up will be at the end. :)

- To begin with, I so loved that little moment of Elena checking in on Jeremy, and then looking in at Jenna's room. Because on this show family matters. On occasion, they miss the boat and kinda forget that (ie, Elena only spending time with Stefan in "The Last Day" as opposed to saving some time with friends and family), but that kind of thing actually happens very rarely. Generally, the familial relationships and friendships get as much significance as do the romantic aspects of the story, and I will never not appreciate the heck out of that.

I adored how Ian Somerhalder played the first scene with Elena. His voice was so soft and tender, holding back and not pushing at all. And, oh, how wonderful was his smiling acceptance of her needing time to forgive him. We really have seen Damon grow over the course of the season, actually accept his humanity which first really reared its head in last season's finale, and kicked him in the gut in the premiere. He's been grappling all season with trying to control himself and find the balance, and in the last couple of episodes, he's begun to do so. I had written in "The Descent" write-up:

The good thing (hah! "good" thing) is that it's getting harder and harder for him to do that. First, he went cold and bitter and snapped Jeremy's neck, the pain and regret came afterward. Now, he was drunk and broken, devastated by the choice he felt he *had* to make to not be in pain anymore. Yes, he committed the act, but the pain and regret was with him the entire time, before, during and after. Next time -- because you so know there is going to be a next time -- I think he'll make the right call at last. He won't commit the unforgivable (or close to it) act.
I'm not sure why I missed when this actually did happen (in "Klaus" when Damon chose to not kill Andie, but instead let her go), but I did. It wasn't until I read a quote from Julie Plec where she said that was the best thing Damon had done, not choosing to kill Andie. (Or something along those lines.) I went back and rewatched the scenes and the lead-up, and realized after the fact that he did do in that scene what I'd been expecting. I think that once he overcame that killing instinct and made the right choice, he felt a peace. Yes, he was still struggling, he still made mistakes, but he had gained a measure of control, and one that will only get stronger with each day that passes and he exercises that control.

Also, regarding this scene with Elena here, I do think that a small part of him took her words as an unknowing final gift to him. She didn't say that she wouldn't forgive him, just that she needed time ... which meant he could hold onto the belief that she would have forgiven him eventually. And we go back to "Founder's Day" where Damon was blown away at the prospect that Elena found him worthy of saving; now he knows that she also finds him worthy of forgiveness, something that he's never been fully granted from anyone else he deeply loved, even Stefan.

- Damon being so particular about choosing his alcohol, with that little smile, was a nice little touch. I loved how they played out him seeing the girl he loves one last time, choosing the right bottle, savoring the last sip, pulling the curtains open, enjoying the sun on his face and then holding onto the ring after pulling it off a moment longer before just letting it go and embracing his death. And immediately the smoke began rising from his hand, and even in the midst of his searing pain, he didn't cry out or even show that much pain because he had completely accepted that this was it. Sad, but still, it was a beautiful scene.

Ruined by Stefan, hah! I kid, I kid. I love how Stefan has put aside that whole respecting one's wishes nonsense out the window when it comes to his brother's life. Awesome. But I already waxed poetic about Stefan and his great love for Damon after last week's episode. Just know I still feel the same. For Stefan? It's Damon over everyone else. Booyah!

- "What's the plan, superman?" Heh. Oh, Damon, even dying, you still bring the funny.

- Okay, a bit more on the brotherly love on display. I loved how Stefan didn't even entertain a second of Damon's attitude, didn't respond to the jibes, even ignored the coughing up blood. He was focused and determined; a man (vamp) on a mission.

- What a beautiful transition from Damon lying on the cellar floor in the dark and dying, to Klaus rising in the sunny forest, fully alive in every way he's capable of being for the first time in a thousand years. Oh, and Elijah? You so got played and you don't even realize it yet. *sigh*

- Obviously the Liz/Carol scene is some sort of set-up for what's coming in season three because Liz has a daughter who's a vampire and her allegiance to DEATH!TO ALL VAMPIRES! stance may waver. A struggle for the control of Mystic Falls may be coming to a head amongst the human adults. Hmm....

- Oh, Alaric. Throwing it back at Stefan with such poetry: "I'm not allowed to help, just idly sit by while my girlfriend gets sacrificed on an altar of blood." A drunk Alaric is amusing. We need some drunken Damon/Alaric scenes next season. They'd be a hoot to watch. These two are such a great pair, they find macabre humor in the terrible situations. And obviously, that bromance is strong and real. Right away, the sarcasm and bitterness faded away when he learned that Damon was in trouble and he was needed. Awww.

- I love Caroline to bits, I do, but she didn't lose a family member. Jeremy and Elena did and I think the way Candice Accola handled that scene was TOO sunny, without enough subtext. For once, I was a tad disappointed in her acting choice. The sentiment was fantastic, but, again, the subtext that revealed the sorrow behind the push to take a break was missing for me.

- Okay, was it just me or did Elena's "Look who can't resist an epic romance?" come across as slightly sarcastic to anyone else? Especially in light of that whole "epic" line in the second episode.

- Practically slammed the door in his face? Really, Elena? Wow, she really is just a nice, nice person, if she imagines her reaction to Damon was akin to slamming the door in his face. I love Elena, really, I do. She has such a huge heart.

- Again, maybe it was just me, but it seemed to me like Stefan was searching her face a bit as he told Elena about Damon as if trying to see how it was effecting her. And her reaction seemed to, I don't know, appease him enough that he told her to go to him. And I can see why, because she didn't really seem as upset as I had originally hoped she would be upon hearing such news. But it did work, I think, because while she was upset, she seemed a bit more shellshocked at this point. With so much happening, I think she was still processing it and so the emotions hadn't quite fully hit her yet.

- *sigh* I love Stefan, I totally, absolutely do, but there are times where he just makes me want to smack him. His little speech to Elena was one of those times. Because, AGAIN!, he made it ALL. ABOUT. HIM. He was going to find a cure not because Damon was dying, not because he loved his brother and couldn't lose him because Damon matters to him, but no, he's being all noble and heroic and shit because he's making up for a choice he made years ago. For the love of God, Stefan, just own up to the fact that you're doing this because you love your brother and not because of some misguided sense of honor. *double sigh* I'm choosing to believe that he painted as he did because he still can't face how much he loves Damon and/or he doesn't get how much Elena does care about Damon and so he doesn't want her to think less of him for wanting to save Damon just because he loves him. Yeah, that works.

- Hmm, interesting how Elena popped up in Damon's memory of Katherine. She's become his compass of right and wrong choices completely. Obviously, it's been heading there, but that she's the voice pointing out the now-obvious in his delirium-induced memory really cinched it.

- So, uhm, Alaric invited Stefan in to his apartment at some point, and not Damon? False. This was just clearly a misstep on the writer's part in this episode, and compounded later when Elijah simply entered Alaric's apartment without an invite as well. I do find it odd how the show completely missed that when they made such a big deal out of Damon having to be invited in a few episodes ago. I think they do the bigger picture, the character stuff and the over-reaching arcs and themes so well that I hate to nitpick, but they let quite a few small bits like this through this season. Tighten it up, guys, please. I hate wanting to defend the show against its detractors whenever possible and being unable to because they do make little mistakes like this, and there is no defense.

- Do we have any idea how long the timeline was with Rose getting bitten? I don't remember, I just know that Damon seems to be handling it a LOT better than Rose. Hmm, I wonder if we're supposed to infer that vampires just do have that extra measure of who they were as humans as they do in vampire-land. Perhaps, Damon was very much in control as a human, in ways we haven't really been privvy to in the flashbacks -- and considering he's had so few compared to the more Stefan ones, I don't think that's outside the realm of possibility. One thing is clear, though, and that's that Damon -- when he accepts what is happening around him, and stops fighting it -- is very, very much in control. Perhaps that's why his reaction is so much lessened than Rose's. Or maybe it's just because Tyler wasn't in full werewolf mode while Jules was, thus Damon got a lesser dosage than did Rose. :shrugs:

- Ah, Klaus, you pretty much confirmed what I've been saying in past episode reviews. There has definitely been a point to Stefan being "just shy of useless" this season. No, it's not been as Klaus meant, but it's definitely been a huge part of Stefan's character. Because he's so afraid of not being "good," he resists doing almost anything that will paint him in a bad light. And it has so come to a head. He's spent so much time burying a part of who he is so deeply that he can't fight it at all when it comes forced rearing to the surface.

- Erm, why did Damon even bother putting his ring back on when Alaric brought it? I just didn't get the significance of that moment. I would have preferred they cut that moment and kept Damon's line about "dying sucks" -- which, I'm pretty sure he said when laying in Elena's arms.

- Oh man, it was clearly hard for Alaric to watch Damon suffer. Because he loves him. :Nods:

- At first, I was wondering why Damon was blaming himself for Jenna's death when that one is so completely not on him, but then it became clear. He wanted Alaric to come at him. So when Alaric made it clear that he doesn't blame him, Damon jumped to the topic of Isobel to goad Ric. He really wanted to be done with this, and since Stefan had cut off his suicide route, he was going for the murder victim angle. Oh, Damon.

- Hmm, isn't it funny how it's perfectly noble and awesome for everyone to deny Damon's his choice in dying (and Bonnie's too for that matter), but when Damon throws a fit -- and yeah, admittedly goes over the line -- he's the devil incarnate. What up with that? With that said, I did love Ric denying him, though. "Screw you." Hah! Not the response Damon probably ever expected to get when he requested that someone kill him. On a more serious note, I loved how in the last finale, Damon acknowledged that he had come to love and accept the town as his home again, and had found people to care about. Now, this time around, the people in the town are returning the favor. Stefan, Elena, Alaric, Jeremy, heck, even Bonnie was trying to find the answer to save Damon. Not all of them love him or consider him their friend, but they see the good he has in him. They don't consider him a monster, and all of them now consider him someone worth saving ... not just Elena (and obviously, Stefan). What Bonnie did last season, wasn't for Damon, it was for Elena and Stefan, not Damon. This time, she risked angering her ancestors to help save Damon's life.

- I did love Damon's cry of "Elena" and Ric's assertion that she wasn't there, which was then followed by Elena driving up. So did Damon hear her, or was it supposed to imply some connection? I'm not sure. I don't know just how far a distance he'd be able to hear her. Or maybe he heard the car, and was just hopeful that it was Elena. Probably. Still, I liked that moment for what it implied in a 'they are connected' sense.

Lah dee dah, lovely shipper possible delusion out of the way, time for logic to step in. So Elena found out from Stefan earlier that Damon was dying, night fell from the drive in the square to the house that quickly? What is it with Damon and Elena that the other takes their sweet ole time responding to each other's werewolf-bite related emergencies? Damon left Elena alone with Rose and when hearing that Rose would turn rabid didn't rush back to make sure Elena was safe, and now Elena finds out that Damon is dying, knows how bad it is, and, what? Did her nails before heading over to the boarding house? I don't complain much about it, but I will ding the show hard here. They have THE worst time transitions of ANY television show ... possibly ever! I mean, what month is it? How long have the events of the past two seasons taken place? Have Stefan and Elena and their epic love story only been going on for about three-four months now, or are we supposed to believe it's been two years? But, no, it can't be because Elena's still 17 as far as we know. Seriously!? There is no sense to be made of the timeline on this show, not matching the characters interactions and emotions towards one another. Ugh. And then there are the transitions from night to day, so fucked up, and don't make any sense in light of times of urgency on way too often an occasion. *sigh* I love my show, I do. And in the bigger picture, I suppose this stuff doesn't matter, but it does bug, and I wish they'd get on the ball about it.

- Speaking of the ball and who is and is not on it: Special effects/stunt work were so off the ball when Damon threw Liz against the wall because I, for reals, thought he bashed her brains in there. He flung her -- with vampire speed it looked like -- against that STONE WALL so hard. I was shocked to see her fine and dandy later on. Happy because I had been dismayed at how easily they had Damon kill someone he claimed was a friend, but still, it really looked like he killed her in the cellar.

- So, I love Gone with the Wind. I REALLY do -- see default icon, see journal title -- but what was the point? There really was absolutely no significance to be found. And I looked. I looked at the scenes playing in the background to see if there was some parallel, something, and none of them did match. I don't know if in the uncut version there was a parallel that they just cut because of time constraints, if so, I hope we find out about that in the DVDs, but it still pulled me out moments here and there during the episode. Bummer.

- I liked Jeremy standing up for himself and calling out Bonnie on what she did. Now I get why she did it (and, for the record, why Damon did what he did to Elena), but the bottom-line is that every single one of the gang (except for Caroline) are constantly making the choices for the others, or ignoring, denying, fighting the choices the others have made. I suppose this is partly why it bugs me so much that much of fandom is so up in arms over Damon forcing his blood on Elena, and not respecting her choice. Yes, it was a terrible thing, BUT, the fact of the matter is that going back to "The Sacrifice," several characters have been doing this to several other characters:

- Damon to Elena and Alaric
- Alaric to Damon
- Stefan to Damon, Bonnie and Elena
- Elena to Jeremy, Bonnie and Jenna
- Jeremy to Bonnie and Elena
- Bonnie to Elena, Jeremy, Alaric and Damon

And I'm sure I'm forgetting occasions that would add more to the list. Furthermore, we've been shown time and time again that not only are they not always the right choices, more often than not, they are the wrong ones. Except, ironically, for Damon -- who's been right way more than the others. However, the point is that this choice-taking-away-ness has been going on for eleven episodes now with varying degrees of in-your-faceness from almost all of our main characters, and yet, for the most part, Damon is the *only one* who is getting lambasted across the lines -- in the show somewhat, and BIG-TIME online.

It's REALLY frustrating.

- Not frustrating, which was once upon a time? The whole "ripper" bit with Stefan. We were originally supposed to hear about Stefan as a ripper in "Rose." This is taken from the original sides for Rose (who was a total bad-ass as originally conceived, sigh).

     

In retrospect it doesn't read as bad as I remembered, but I do recall being shocked that they were going to go there with Stefan and I was VERY curious to find out Elena's reaction, and then that bit was cut. I was bummed. Especially when the ripper information did come up in "Crying Wolf" as told through Stefan -- Stefan who tends to make himself look better than he probably did at the time. Sure enough, for all of his 'oh, I was such a bad-ass' it really didn't play that way in the flashbacks, and Elena wasn't all that horrified. The idea of a ripper just came across worse in that original side I read. And then Klaus talked about a ripper who wiped out an entire migrant village, and it was definitely horrifying, even more so than in in the original Rose side. And then it all made sense.

The 1917 migrant village line showed that Stefan definitely had lapses -- much worse than Damon, it sounds like -- since Lexi found him in 1864, shortly after he turned. Again, I was upset originally about the ripper dialogue being cut because I was interested to see how Elena would react to knowing Stefan was like that. However, this works better, and is more in character. Instead we had a mention of Stefan going after the Gilbert family in Jonathan Gilbert's journal, which didn't really tell the full story and then Stefan told Elena his version -- which many felt didn't come across as nearly as bad as Damon at all -- oh, so, of course, lo and behold, Stefan only told Elena what he had to because of her reading the journals. His story to her ended on Lexi finding him during the war (thus, his ripper ways had only been going on less than a year) and Stefan seeing the light. He made no mention of relapses or the true horrific nature of being a ripper. So when Elena is confronted with Stefan's nature like this -- and I'm sure she will be -- it will DEFINITELY be an eye-opener.

- It was cool seeing Klaus' eye was a combination of a vampire and werewolf, the veins, plus the gold color.

- I've read nonstop complaints about what a horrible public servant of the law Sheriff Liz Forbes is, and I so do not agree. It sure seems as if the town is doing well (normal) crime-wise, it's just the supernatural element that's out of control. And that makes sense. This only all started when the Salvatore brothers came back to town, so Liz has only been actively dealing with this -- with limited, and downright incorrect, in some cases, information -- for four months to a year (whatever the damn timeline is). She is doing the absolute best she can with the knowledge she has, which frankly isn't much. She doesn't know about vampire speed (which Matt getting knocked out by Damon was shown clearly in "The Last Day" or she would have warned Matt), so she couldn't have possibly known that Damon could zoom away from a speeding bullet. She also doesn't know that vampires can be good, that they can repress their vampiric nature, that they have a humanity switch. She obviously didn't know that vampire blood can heal. She has so much limited information that to call her a terrible law enforcement officer is terribly unfair. So, yeah, I still love Liz and I totally get her point of view, and I hope that with that final scene with Caroline, we see a Liz coming to terms with what she does know and this new information, and opens herself up to learn all she can.

This is a good, honest cop. She didn't want them moving Jeremy not because she's a bad cop, but because she had no idea that Bonnie was a witch, and potentially could bring him back to life. As upset as she was, she wanted him kept there to preserve a crime scene -- even if it would have found her guilty and held accountable, because her defense would be, what? A vampire zoomed out of the way? Okay, off that soapbox.

- And onto another one. I find it hard to believe that people are complaining about the lack of Caroline and Tyler in this episode, and are complaining about that awesome Liz and Caroline stuff in its place. Even worse is that many of those complaining are the same ones who moan about the show being all about the romance (ie, the stupid triangle). We got a coda -- for this season -- to Caroline and Tyler in the last episode (and a damn good one, that this Stefan/Caroline fan was not particularly thrilled with because it boded quite well for Caroline/Tyler, but that's my issue, moving on). This story with Caroline and her mother has been building since the fifth episode of this season; it deserved a coda too. And so we got one -- a beautiful one at that -- because on this show family is hella important and I love that. And, no, I'm not being hypocritical because as a Damon/Elena fan I got a lovely bit with them. Number one, like with Caroline and Liz, this has been simmering all season, and like Caroline and Liz, it wasn't handled prior to this episode. Secondly, we got some great brotherly stuff in the last episode, and from Stefan's side, we got a lot in this episode as well. So, family is shown as important -- and in some cases, more -- than the romantic angle and it's one of the many reasons I so appreciate The Vampire Diaries.

- I had mentioned here and there being disappointed in how there seemed to be no fall-out from Stefan taking human blood this season, whereas last season he went on a bender. This episode completely cleared that up for me. We saw Stefan get little drips and drops -- which, to give myself credit, I had mentioned as a possibility for why it wasn't affecting him the same -- but never more than that. The most we ever saw was him taking a few sips out of the blood bag in "Rose" -- okay, and a bag in "The Last Day," but that was one bag only and he had been drinking bits here and there for some time. So it wasn't just moderation that was keeping Stefan's addiction at bay, it was moderation as practically non-existence. The difference between what we saw him ingest compared to the liters upon liters he did in this episode? Yeah. Boy's so going on another bender. And it makes sense as they've established thus far on the show.

- Klaus really is a cheerfully sadistic asshole, isn't he? I still think that Joseph Morgan isn't as strong charismatically as Ian Somerhalder and Daniel Gillies, but he's fairly evenly matched with Paul Wesley, and if we're going to be seeing more of those two together, that's a good sign. I think -- based on their scenes so far -- that they'll play off of each other well.

- I loved Alaric's comment to Bonnie about the witches: "Well, he's just a kid, tell them to shut up." Go Alaric. And thank you for surviving the season. SQUEE!

- I also loved the massive difference in how Bonnie acted when trying to help Damon as opposed to helping Jeremy. I had mentioned above about how she was actively trying to help save Damon this finale as opposed to the last, but seeing how much more emotional, desperate she was over Jeremy really showed a wonderful contrast in how you can consider one an ally, want to save them and still not be all about them.

- Oh, Jeremy. He died in the premiere and he died in the finale, and came back both times. Let's call him the Comeback Kid!

- I FLOVED the transitions during the Damon/Elena | Damon/Katherine scene. We had modern-day Damon asking "Where're we going?" of Elena, and then 1864-Katherine answering, 1864-Damon stumbling transitioning into modern-Day Damon stumbling. modern-day Damon vamp-speeding Elena into the wall and then 1864-Katherine telling him he's faster than she thought. I just loved the editing there so much. So wonderfully done.

- Damn, Katherine loves being chased (by Stefan (1.06), Elijah (2.19) and now Damon).

- Choices, choices, it's all been about choices and this episode is really driving that home. Making your own choice, taking away the choices of others, facing the consequences, right or wrong. Had this episode been called some variation on the word choice, I wouldn't have been surprised at all. And it would have been very fitting (if a tad heavy-handed, LOL).

- I did appreciate how it was made perfectly clear that Elena knew Damon was having a delusion, thinking it was Katherine so that his actions couldn't be held against him. Which she didn't, instead taking him into her arms right away (even as she held a hand to her bleeding neck).

- Well, that's NOT how I wanted Damon feeding on Elena the first time, lol. Still, uhm, he fed on her. Yay?

- "I don't understand" and that's why I don't hold Liz's supposed failings against her. Of course she doesn't. She has limited information to work with, and has been doing her best with what she knows.

- Oh, that Caroline/Liz hug. Love. The whole speech, the whole scene. LOVE.

- "You were dead; it would feel weird if you felt normal." Hah. Great line from Bonnie, and so very true, with a deeper meaning in that Jeremy is so used to crazy shit happening that he figures dying should be just another day. After all, it's not like he hasn't done it before.

- Words can not express how much I loved the Alaric/Jeremy banter. This is what they need, and Alaric (along with Damon and Caroline) gets that. They need that lightness to try and balance out some of the dark. And Matt Davis' comic timing was wonderful. However, I did find it odd that neither Alaric nor Jeremy seemed concerned about at all what was going on with Damon and Elena at this point.

- I think it's safe to say that Elena now trusts Damon as much as Stefan. Think back to "Miss Mystic Falls" when Stefan warned Elena away because he would hurt her, and she wouldn't go, convinced that he would never hurt her. Here she is with Damon -- knowing how bad it got with Rose -- but believing 100% that Damon would never hurt her either. Aww. And then her telling him that she would "be with you to the very end." Even just this first bedroom scene with thsee two, I can't understand how anyone could call her actions one of pity. Promising to stay with him until the end, risking her life by trusting that he wouldn't hurt her, the look on her face as he's speaking, she's in such pain that he's in pain. That's not friendship, and that's not pity. She may not love love him as she does Stefan (now) because there's none of that murky confusion, right/wrong morass with Stefan, but she does love Damon and more than as a friend. She may not want to; she certainly has never and would never have made the choice to ... but she does. In this case, she really didn't have a choice, sometimes feelings just ... happen. Her staying by his side, and how!, proves that.

- Elena's a terrible dabber. Damon's all sweaty and she dabs the washcloth once or twice at the top of his forehead, ignoring everywhere else the sweat is pooling. :Shakes head: Silly Elena. It's okay, I'm sure Damon didn't mind as long as she was holding him in her arms.

- Damon was thinking of Stefan so much in the end that my brothers Salvatore-loving-heart was aching. No more jibes or smart remarks, he just wanted to make it right with him, and since he wasn't there, he was willing to use Elena as a conduit to be at peace with his brother. *sigh* Damon doesn't apologize, but he wanted Elena to apologize to Stefan for him. Oh, Damon. Oh Stefan. I love these two!

- Stefan and those blood-bags, oh Stefan. That was just a horrific sight. Was it a tad over the top? Yeah, but I think that was the intention, to show just how far Klaus is happily willing to go, and just how far Stefan is desperate to go to save his brother. :sobs:

- And on the other end of the spectrum, man, the casual way that Klaus just stepped over his brother's body. Damn.

- And now we come to another choice, this time it's Stefan's: He can stay in Mystic Falls, with Elena, as a "normal" guy, or he can save his brother's life. And he chooses Damon. But more than that, he DOES choose the ripper persona as well. Eek! Klaus made saving Damon's life an afterthought as part of his choice, the main thrust was being what he was before. And, yes, obviously, Stefan was there for Damon, to save Damon, but at this point -- judging from the way he was staring so hungrily at that blood bag -- the need to return to that kind of vampiric life is a heavy part of the equation itself. He's spent so much time denying that part of himself that it just overtakes him so viciously when he's confronted with it.

Making his choice, Stefan didn't answer Klaus by saying that he would "save Damon," rather, he grabbed the blood bag and ripped it open, consuming more human blood. It's as if saving Damon is beginning to become an afterthought to him too now. But just the beginning because when the possibility of Damon getting that cure running away with Katherine's departure rears its head, he's all about Damon again. Paul Wesley really did a wonderful job, but then I always thought his blood-addiction arc in season one was his best overall work. (The final scene in "The Sun Also Rises" remains my single favorite scene by him.)

- At last, that final Damon/Elena scene. I knew something with them was definitely coming. The build-up all season, Elena claiming she'd never kiss Damon, Damon committing so many acts that required forgiveness, Elena unable to hold onto her anger towards him, yet all the while continuing to deny feeling anything other than friendship for him, it had to come to something. And it did. I know there are some claiming pity (as I mentioned above), but I do not buy it. There was too much emotion, too much pain, too much heart, too much 'make him feel better for the love of everything, give him peace!' in everything she did and said that screamed how much she cared ... and not just as a friend, and not just Elena being her usual empathetic self.

Various things I specifically liked about the scene -- beyond the obvious overall feel of it -- was the callback to the premiere when Elena said it would be always be Stefan. This time, Damon said it, and while Elena naturally didn't deny it, she didn't in any way acknowledge it either. Honestly, I think that until Damon was given the cure and Elena knew that he would live, she wasn't focused on Stefan at all. She didn't even question Katherine about Stefan until after she had given Damon Klaus' blood. Even when Damon was talking about wanting to tell his brother he was sorry, Elena was focused solely on Damon's need, Damon's pain.

Thinking back to "Blood Brothers," when Stefan was being all broody McBroodypants, and Damon revealed how Stefan had forced him to turn, Elena hadn't shown the slightest bit of concern for Damon in that moment, she was all about Stefan. Here we have the reverse. No, it's not the same situation, but it does show the difference. Before, even in the midst of Damon's pain, Elena was all about Stefan. Now, she's fully immersed in Damon. And it's not as she doesn't believe that Stefan could be in danger. She knows that he was going after Klaus, but right now, she's all about Damon. And when Damon mentions that it would always be Stefan, it plays almost like a blip to Elena. Just another thing that Damon is saying and she's letting him talk, anything to give him peace.

I loved that Damon told Elena he loved her, and I even liked that there was no callback, nothing about the "Rose" reveal, because that was Damon being selfess and Elena knowing about that does take away from the one heroic thing that Damon did do for her, taking that burden of knowledge from her. Although, as the sacrifice grew closer, he wasn't able to hide his feelings very well, but he still had that moment. And I loved her response to him saying it, the nodding of her head before finally able to form the words, she was trying so hard not to just break down. "I do." So simple and yet powerful. She knew he was going to confess something feelings-wise in "Rose," which is why she tried to ward him off. This time, she gracefully accepts his words, his feelings, his admission to her and holds it to her with her response, taking it in. And he got that, he totally got that judging from the way his lips curved into a smile when she said it.

And then probably my favorite part, the "I like you now. Just the way you are." Oh, Elena. For all that he has done for her, for how much she does care about him in spite of his flaws, she wanted him to know before his end that despite all of that, someone out there does care and accept him as he is ... flaws and all. It was just ... ahh, so beautiful because here's a guy who's never been accepted for who he is. And the girl he loves just did that. Sure he was dying -- likely why there were no 'buts' attached -- but still, she accepts him and likes him for who he is, as imperfect as he may be.

Ahh, and then the kiss, that beautiful kiss. I liked that it wasn't this passionate coming together. I liked that there was nothing from Damon's end, this was all on Elena, from Elena, her feelings, her desire, her need to give him this moment, and to take that moment for herself because this was her last chance. I am sorry, but that was so not a pity kiss, With her looking at him, realizing how close he was to death and knowing that was her last chance to kiss him, she made the choice, yes, the choice, to steal that moment with him. *sigh*

- I do think that Damon thought it was a pity kiss, though judging from his "thank you," but he didn't see her face or how she looked at him. And the smiling way that she said "you're welcome" held almost a touch of a near-giggle in it as if she was taking the "thank you" as almost a form of flirting, as opposed to what he likely meant. See, even on a deathbed, they still manage to find some lightness.

- Interesting, the lyrics of the song ("I Should Go" by Levi Kreis) that played over this scene. The overall feel of it could really apply to both of them in a way.

- Shallow alert! Even made up to be all sweaty and pale and dying, Ian Somerhalder still looked beautiful.

- Fine, I'm beating a dead horse here, but I really did NOT read that kiss or anything in this scene as pity. So I say that anyone who thinks that Elena wasn't sincere did not pay attention when Elena was caught by Katherine, because that's exactly how Nina played it: As if Elena was just caught essentially cheating on Stefan. Which, essentially, she was. She played it as if Elena felt guilty. And she wouldn't have reacted that way if she was just "trying to make him feel better before he died."

- I complained about both Stefan and Elijah getting into Alaric's apartment without an invite, but I'm okay with Katherine entering the boarding house because Elena did after all die -- as they reminded us in their dialogue. So that one worked fine for me.

- Aww, so Katherine DID care about Damon, she just preferred Stefan. (I don't even ... I don't get it.) Anyhoo, and this is partly why I continue to believe that Damon and Elena are endgame. The show is not going to repeat the emotional outcome of the first triangle. Good storytelling just doesn't work that way.

- Ah, so they were able to fit the "It's okay to love them both" line back in that was cut from "The Descent." Awesome. And it worked so much better now and coming from Katherine, whereas it wouldn't have worked for me at that point in the show, and coming from Rose. There was this schmaltzy, eye-rolling factor with it coming from Rose that isn't there with Katherine because Rose barely knew Stefan and Elena, and the mixed-up emotions between the two and Damon, not to mention their history involving Katherine. So, it worked much, much better here. Plus, it had the sassy, snarky quality coming from Katherine that took the soap-opera edge off of it. (And I say this loving soap operas. :)

- Finally, to quote my fanfic, those final moments between Damon and Elena, the looks between the two, they totally read as "Where do we go from here?" -- completely different scenario, but hopefully the same end result down the line. ;)

- So, erm, why is the family of the Originals kept in some warehouse in Mystic Falls? Inquiring minds do want to know.

- I loved that Klaus knew she was on vervain. He does have his badass moments, definitely.

- So the whole Tyler-werewolf stuff last season was supposed to be introduced big-time in the latter half of season one, however, the show realized they had too much other stuff going on and couldn't fit it in, so it was shifted to season two. (Where, I think, it was quite successful.) I think the same thing has happened with Stefan and Katherine. They kept Katherine's feelings for him prominent throughout the season and I still can't believe that nothing is going to come of it. So, I think that, like in season one, so much stuff happened that the Stefan/Katherine arc was postponed for season three. And it looks like it will make a lot more sense, what with Stefan off the wagon, and he and Klaus off chasing Katherine together potentially next season.

- Hmm, I thought it was interesting that you had Klaus biting the girl for Stefan, just as Stefan had done for Damon all the years ago. Once again, allowing one to make their own choice, right or wrong, even if the deck was stacked against you.

- I mentioned above how neither Jeremy nor Alaric no longer seemed interested in the fates of Damon and Elena, and so I was a bit thrown again when Jeremy's just all in bed and Alaric's a asleep already. I'm just going to assume that before they both went to bed, Elena texted them also and not just Stefan. Yeah, that makes sense and I'm going with that. :)

- AWESOME FINAL SCENE! Seeing it was Vicki blew my mind, and then we saw Anna, and it was just HOLY SHIT! SO AWESOME.

Phew! Okay, then.

Despite my little nitpicking comments here and there, overall, I liked this finale more than last year's. I liked that I wasn't left rolling in shock (for the most part) as I was last season, but rather, I am curious. I'm very, very curious. Last season, other than wondering what kind of havoc Katherine would wreak, I wasn't terribly curious. I had a vague idea that all would survive (and technically, they did) and that bad things would come from that Damon/"Elena" kiss, and it did. This time, though? Damn!

- What will happen with Jeremy and his new sixth sense? Is it just dead exes? Dead vampires? How long, how often will they be around? Just how much competition will Bonnie have? Are they just visual, will he be able to touch them, hold them, etc? So many questions!

- What's going to happen with Jeremy and Elena, who are now guardian-less? Paging Alaric? Probably.

- And what about Caroline and her mom. She knows about the vampires now and Caroline will fight tooth and nail to the idea of her mother being compelled to forget again. So what happens with Damon and the council? Damon and Liz? Liz and having to learn/deal with the truth about the supernaturals of Mystic Falls?

- What's gonna happen with Damon and Elena? Will they ignore the deathbed confessions and cuddling? Will Damon blow it off as pity all-around on her part and that she didn't mean anything by it? Will she let that stand if he does? Will they confront it and deal with it? Will those feelings that Elena's been holding in check find themselves start to come flooding out inappropriately now that the gates have been opened? Again, so many questions!

And unlike some, I'm not remotely bothered that Stefan is out of the picture in order for Damon and Elena to grow closer. For two reasons. The first harkens back to some thoughts I had after "The Sacrifice" before "By the Light of the Moon" shattered those thoughts to dust. (And in retrospect it makes sense now that we had that bit there with Stefan separated from Damon and Elena; it was foreshadowing. Aha!) I wrote then:

You know, on one hand, I love it because, hello!? Damon and Elena spending time together with no Stefan in the way. On the other hand, it's like, ugh! So Stefan has to be sorta out of the picture for Elena to even give Damon a thought? But then on the other other hand, really, as the show and characters have been written, yes, Stefan DOES have to sorta be out of the picture for Elena to even give Damon a thought. So once again, brilliant move on their part. Get Stefan out of the picture without sacrificing the character or Paul Wesley's presence on the show.
That still holds, but now we have my second reason why I love it. So Stefan has to be sorta out of the picture for Elena to even give Damon a thought? Not so fast! Because of everything that happened after the events of "The Sacrifice," -- especially the last episode -- Elena is already giving Damon thoughts. She's already taken those steps, even with Stefan in the picture. Sure, she thought Damon was dying. He didn't, but that doesn't take away from what she said and did and accepted from him and gave to him in those moments.

So, yay!

Also, yay!? Alaric lived. Caroline "lived." (Naturally, Damon, Elena and Stefan are still around.) So I get to keep all my favorites. :) And, dagger in him or not, you know, my bb Elijah is coming back! Woohoo!

It's all so exciting and I can not wait for season three! WOOHOO!
Tags: alaric saltzman, candice accola, caroline forbes, damon salvatore, damon/alaric, damon/elena, damon/katherine, damon/liz, damon/stefan, daniel gillies, elena gilbert, elijah mikaelson, elijah/katherine, ep discussion-tvd, ian somerhalder, jenna sommers, jeremy/bonnie, katherine pierce, matt davis, nina dobrev, paul wesley, stefan salvatore, stefan/katherine, the vampire diaries, tv
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