Arabian (arabian) wrote,
Arabian
arabian

6.22 - 'I'm Thinking Of You All The While' (The Vampire Diaries)

Remember when I used to write these long, rambling write-ups after an episode aired? Well, that wasn't quite the case after the finale. But better late than never, right? Or at least well before the next episode airs! Yay!! (I do reference what's been said about Damon's attitude in season 07, but that's the only "spoiler" of sorts I mention.) This is long, but not 10,000+ words long like last season's finale; this was only 9,000+ words. :)

I feel like I'm out of step with the majority of the fandom right now. I know, I know, I'm generally out of step, aren't I? What with my deep, abiding love for the show and my everlasting faith in all things Vampire Diaries. But it feels deeper and as if the divide is greater than ever. That divide is fuelled by the fact that I'm not sad or angry even the slightest over Damon and Elena and how things played out in this episode. I don't feel like it's over at all. I don't understand all of the teeth-gnashing and anger, all of the mournful and reflective gif-sets and videos about their last kiss, last dance, etc.

I don't get it. This is not the end for Damon and Elena. It's not goodbye. And I don't see 'final' or 'last' anywhere and I certainly am not walking away from the show as a Damon/Elena fan and I can't for the life of me figure out why any Damon/Elena fan is. I just don't get it. But that's a lot of what I'm seeing in the fandom... even from people who liked the finale. *sigh* Perhaps that is why it has taken me so very long to write this. I don't know. Maybe it's because I know that the dwindling number of those who read and participate in these discussions will become even smaller after this one because so many are walking away from The Vampire Diaries after this season. Again, I don't know.

What I do know is that I'm not walking away. But it's not just because I don't see what happened in the episode as an end for Damon and Elena, but also because I love The Vampire Diaries. I think I've always made that clear. I don't love this show because of one actor or one couple. I love The Vampire Diaries. I have always said that and I very much do mean it. I will miss Elena terribly, but I don't watch the show for Elena. Or Damon. Or Damon and Elena. They may be my favorite part of the show but (a) their story is NOT over and (b) they aren't all the show is about and not all I love about it. I've always intended to continue watching if it continued even without both Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev. Because I LOVE The Vampire Diaries.

I think it's brilliant, and how they have handled Nina Dobrev's departure has completely justified my faith in my love for it. I know that the show won't be the same, and I know that I likely won't love it as much. *sigh* Yeah, I know that. Because Elena is a HUGE part of my love for the show, but I have no doubt that the LOVE OF ELENA will be imbued in the show.

I think of those three episodes when Katherine took over Elena's body and it was just not as fun. Even though we had Nina Dobrev on the show, we didn't have Elena, but I honestly feel that the spirit of Elena will be felt more strongly on a regular basis throughout the thread of the series next season than did the essence of Elena in those three episodes. Dobrev is such a good actress that in her portrayal of Katherine as Elena, the warmth and the heart of Elena Gilbert was missing and thus that love that connected her to others was missing as well.

However because Elena is the love of Damon's life and because she is the best friend of Bonnie and Caroline, because she is the first girl that Stefan remembered loving after Katherine and Matt's first love and one of their truest friends, and because she is all but Alaric's daughter, even though her physical presence will not be there, her spirit will abound.

Think of it, Jeremy and Elena's parents died before the show began and yet they hold an emotional importance for those two that continued to play out into season 06. We saw Elena and Liz finally connect on an emotional level this season because of Liz dying and how Elena never got to have that chance to say goodbye to her own mother, but she could to Liz. We also got to see the effect of Grayson and Miranda Gilbert's death (and how it happened) affect Liz in her final episode this season. Then there's Vicki, who died in the seventh episode of season 01 and yet continues to hold an emotional resonance for Matt, or Grams, who we lost in episode fourteen of season 01, who is Bonnie's emotional touchstone. Caroline's father, Bill, was referenced in season 05 in a small moment that acknowledged Caroline's grief even though he died in season 03.

These were not major characters. Again, the Gilbert parents died before the show even began and yet they are remembered repeatedly and are emotional touchstones for the characters they impacted. Elena Gilbert was the *lead* character for six years. She is incredibly important and heavily impacted the lives of Damon, Stefan, Matt, Bonnie, Caroline and Alaric. There is simply no way that she will not be threaded throughout the essence of these characters... especially because she's *obviously* coming back. Elena was not written out, she was merely given a bit of a rest, but she was not and will not be forgotten.

But because she will be... resting for that bit, we did get our goodbyes, and I mostly loved them. Of course I loved, loved, loved how they threaded the Damon and Elena goodbye throughout the episode. It was just another way of highlighting the pair and what a gift that Caroline Dries and Julie Plec handed the fanbase. But, more on Damon and Elena later....

First, let's start with the other goodbyes. I liked seeing Elena, Bonnie and Caroline together, sitting on Elena's bed; it gave us a true glimpse of their friendship that frankly has been missing much of the season. (More on that below. Uh huh.) And then Caroline left and it was just Bonnie and Elena, their discussion was perfect, heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. The love and friendship that the two share was so perfectly embodied in not just their words, but in the performances of Nina Dobrev and Kat Graham.

It's not hard to believe that there wasn't some real-life emotion seeping in there but it didn't in any way detract from the emotion of the scene. How Bonnie, of course, felt guilt that she was taking Elena away from her life now just to live and how just as obviously Elena would hear absolutely none of that. The most important thing to Elena has always been that those she loves are alive and safe. Had Bonnie lost her life just so that Elena could live happily ever after with Damon just never would have happened in any future Elena could envision because Elena Gilbert is just not built that way. And quickly, ultimately Bonnie knew that and so the guilt could be pushed aside so the two could just embrace the love they shared and enjoy their final moments together.

And they did. Sitting there on the bed, facing one another in the positions they were, it all looked so familiar to me. I just knew what was coming and that is when the tears began. Sure it was a little sappy, but I didn't care. When Bonnie revealed to Elena that she was a witch in "162 Candles," early in season 01, it was not only my favorite Elena/Bonnie scene, it was one of my all-time favorite scenes on the show ever. So when Elena asked her to make those feathers fly one more time… *sigh* it just warmed my heart and made the tears fall.

 

I absolutely adored it.

And then those bastards had to go with Elena and Matt on Wickery Bridge. They seriously couldn't have picked a better spot for those two. Those scenes in "Our Town" were a turning point for Matt and Elena's relationship post break-up. It was in that scene that Matt finally began to put Elena into the past and see her as his friend again instead of his ex-girlfriend. Therefore to see the callback to that moment (although, admittedly, it was *such* a memorable scene, what else could they have chosen?) was so lovely because here and now in this goodbye it was Matt saying goodbye to the girl who had been his friend, really his *best friend* his whole life. Oh Matty, my beloved Matty. *sigh* He just... even now writing this, I'm getting emotional thinking of how hard it was for him to say goodbye to her because he knew that he would never see her again, and unlike the other non-vampires, Matt didn't have other things on his mind to distract him from that thought.

 

And just like with Bonnie, Elena wouldn't let him dwell on the negative, because she has found a measure of peace and happiness in her life that she'd been missing since before her parents' death and she refused to let those she loved mourn her when she was not dead. She was just taking a very long nap. It was their time to live. She would have her chance later... with the love of her life and she would be happy then. So they needed to have their chance to be happy now.

Because Elena Gilbert is awesome like that. And I love her.

Is it any wonder that all of her friends, including exes, love her too? Of course not. What I do find a wonder is that one of my least favorite settings ever in the history of the show I found perfect as a callback here. Of course I'm talking about Stefan and Elena hiking up to those damn waterfalls. I mean, really, of course they would go there. Of course they would. And as an anti-Stefan/Elena as a couple-fan, it truly is perfect because this was the spot where Elena told him "I don't know what love is." And she said this after telling him for the last year that she loved him, yeah, she really loved him. Uh huh. And where she admitted that she didn't want to be a vampire, thus be with him forever. This was the spot where the beginning of the end began for Stefan and Elena. So to say goodbye to each other here was absolutely perfect.

As for their conversation, I had exactly zero issues with it and agreed with everything they said to one another. Elena has a special relationship with Stefan. He did save her life. I've repeated that over and over again throughout the series in many of my write-ups. I've also said plenty of times that Elena will ALWAYS view Stefan through rose-colored glasses *because* he saved her and gave her a new lease on life after her parents died. I also agree with her that he does know her best in a way because they are very similar (which is why they make such fabulous friends, if such lousy lovers). They both have a tendency to want to hide away and to not face reality; they view the world in the same way. Stefan and Elena see that in each other, and it's also why they both probably love Damon so much and just can't ever quit him. As a goodbye to each other, I thought it was perfectly done.

And then we get to the ones I wasn't as enthused with... like Alaric's. Firstly, I don't know that I would have been as less moved by his had he not been podperson-Alaric (more on that below) or had their goodbye been more about Elena and less about (ugh) Jo and his pity-party about her and, yeah, I know, the twins. Gosh, I know I should care, but I so do not. I just do not. Still, it was a good spot callback-wise. It just... eh.

On the other hand, the callback spot for Jeremy and Elena just had no significance whatsoever. While Jeremy and Elena had a great sibling relationship in terms of emotional bonding, the only spot that would have worked really for me would have been the one where they were walking by the water from that scene in season 01 when she told him that they weren't biologically brother and sister. That remains my favorite scene with them and so I was hoping for that. Not only did we not get it, there was also the irrelevant spot used in addition to the fact that with how Jeremy's story played out this season especially in relation to Elena, it did ding the intensity of the emotional connection here. Ah well. So I was disappointed, but hey, at least they got a goodbye!

Unlike Elena and Caroline. Yes, we got the few seconds just as Bonnie came in and the hug between the two that was a shared moment between just them and it was sweet and lovely but Bonnie was there in the room and it was a callback memory to a beautiful Bonnie and Elena scene. There was nothing that was special or unique to Caroline and Elena, like if we had seen the two on the Salvatore couch or on the steps of Caroline's house. That would have been really nice, and having Elena tell Caroline how amazing she is and that she has always been as good as anybody else or something like that would have been a true thing to their history. That would have been about them and would have been awesome. Ah well. I don't know. I just really don't understand why there was no true goodbye scene between those two who are best friends... especially since they took the time to craft one between Elena and, uhm, Tyler? And feature it (before Damon and Elena, of course) as the last goodbye scene. Really?

I don't know, maybe I'm the only one who feels this way, but his goodbye to Elena just felt so plugged in and out of place. It was like 'oh, we have to throw in a scene with these two since they are both original cast members and both actors are leaving.' However, it didn't feel earned because the two characters have shared very little onscreen interaction. I can literally think of four episodes ("The Hybrid," "Crying Wolf," "Before Sunset" and "The World Has Turned and Left Me Here") that had any kind of meaningful interaction between the two. And there was one, maybe two scenes, in each of those episodes. In SIX seasons. So to feature Tyler's scene last and have it even mean anything... well, it just didn't frankly. But here's the rub: It could have.

In "Yellow Ledbetter," we saw a picture of Elena and Tyler in her dorm room and I was like, "What? Really?" But I thought to myself that maybe Elena and Tyler had become closer during the summer because of circumstances. However we never saw anything play out that gave credence to that friendly picture of the two or its placement on her dorm room dresser, but again, it could have. Without Jeremy or Matt in their sphere because of the no-magic-zone of Mystic Falls, with Damon and Bonnie in 1994, Stefan in Savannah and Caroline not herself, it would have made sense that Elena and Tyler would have become closer friends. But we never saw it. Therefore, seeing Tyler's goodbye scene allotted the final slot while Caroline didn't even get a true one stuck out like a sore thumb and even more so because there was nothing special about the setting or specific to Elena and Tyler about the dialogue.

If they had to give him a goodbye, have it second and then have him run into Jeremy as he was leaving for a little moment with them. Because, you know, *that* would have been nice: Having a Jeremy and Tyler moment. Of course, there may have been one but it was just cut since Caroline Dries indicated that Tyler left with Jeremy to go vampire-hunting in a post-finale interview, but actually seeing it on the show would have been nice. Regardless, the point is that since there has never been any kind of significant friendship between Tyler and Elena, the goodbye didn't feel organic to their relationship on the show, but rather a show-produced moment because both actors were leaving. Still, while it may have been the last goodbye between Elena and her friends and family, it was not the last goodbye of the episode. No, that was saved for Damon. Of course. And whereas the other goodbyes featured a specific callback or memory, if you will, Damon and Elena's goodbye (for now) was just overflowing with them.

I will say that when first watching the episode, I was a wee put out by the fact that the Damon and Elena dance was intercut with the Stefan and Caroline talk because I just simply could not enjoy my beloved Stefan and Caroline or you know, my pretty, pretty Damon and Elena and their moonlight dance. I wanted to get back to Damon and Elena and their pretty, pretty moonlight dancing. I would start to get all caught up in them and then boom, it would cut back to Stefan and Caroline and I would be like "Go away!" then we'd go back to the dance (*sigh*) and I would get swept up into it and then damn, cut to Stefan and Caroline and I'm like "GO AWAY!" Then back to Damon and Elena, swept away, and then grr, Stefan and Caroline (and I luff them!, but not now!). *double sigh*

But this was my first watching of the scene when I just wanted DAMONANDELENA!SQUEE!DAMONANDELENA!SQUEE!DAMONANDELENA!SQUEE! After a rewatch (or two), I'm able to better appreciate what the intention was by including Stefan and Caroline. Or rather, intentions. Firstly, as was perfectly clear, the goodbyes were meant to recall important moments that Elena shared with those closest to her and there were so many callbacks in the Damon and Elena goodbye overall to various scenes. This Stefan and Caroline intercutting between their dance was just one of those callbacks. I mean, what Damon and Elena fan can forget the infamous breakaways to Stefan and Caroline the first time that Damon and Elena made love in "My Brother's Keeper?" Seriously? That's pretty much the ultimate callback. You can't say that Julie Plec and Caroline Dries do not have a sense of humor. Hahahahahaha!

There were plenty, plenty other callbacks, but there were also other reasons to include Stefan's speech to Caroline during that beautiful Damon and Elena dance. There was his list of reasons as to how loving Caroline had changed his life.

Stefan: You were by my side when I needed a friend. You made me laugh. You made me dance. You told me that I would find love again.
Other than the last line which doesn't apply because Elena didn't tell Damon that, the rest all apply… however, if you watch how the scenes play over the dialogue, the writers, director and editors understood that and placed everything together perfectly to show that. The first line, You were by my side when I needed a friend. is spoken over Damon and Elena dancing. The second line, You made me laugh. we see Stefan and Caroline but then it switches back to Damon and Elena and you see Elena laughing as she leans into Damon and the scene remains on them as Stefan's next line, You made me dance continues. And then it returns to Stefan and Caroline as he says You told me that I would find love again, and then we see this look from Damon to Elena…

     

… making it crystal clear that Damon found love again with Elena (because he did think he loved Katherine once upon a time), so that everything that Stefan was saying to Caroline applied to Damon and Elena as well. Finally, by combining the Damon and Elena, and Stefan and Caroline final *love* scenes it felt in a way as if the show was passing the torch because after all this isn't The Damon/Elena Diaries, but The Vampire Diaries. So, yeah, I'm OK with the final scene blending the two especially since (a) both scenes were filled with such love for and to each couple equally, (b) the focus was heavily skewed towards and ended on Damon and Elena, and (c) it was easy enough for me to separate and make a lovely Damon/Elena only version. See:

     

As for all of those other callbacks I mentioned above, well, aside from the, erm, lovely, one to "My Brother's Keeper," we also had the Damon on the road where he and Elena first met. And what was nice about this one is that it was a combination of both Elena as a human and as a vampire. She was a human when they met, but only remembered the meeting as a vampire, and now of course she's a human once more remembering both the meeting as a human with a human's sensibilities and remembering it as a vampire did. Why does this matter? Because in all of the callbacks that there are with Damon and Elena there are a mix of when she was human and when she was a vampire, and this one contained both and began the callbacks being at the start of the episode. But again, why does it matter? Because with everyone else (except Jeremy and Tyler whose goodbyes didn't contain a particular callback), the memory was from when Elena was human.

I didn't see this as saying that her friends saw her as less when she was a vampire or that they loved her less, but rather that once she became a vampire, she found her soulmate in Damon. And think of how it is in real life, when someone finds the person they plan on spending the rest of their life with, that person more or less becomes the center of their world. That's just life. Their home, their children, their decisions, etc. become about that person, their lives.

So it makes sense that her friends' most cherished memories would go back to her in the pre-vampire days because post-vampire Elena was more wrapped up in Damon. And, yes, it is also true that unlike everyone else Damon unconditionally accepted and loved her as a vampire just as much as he accepted and loved her as a human. And by showing vampire and human callbacks with only Damon, it did show in a small way that as much as they loved her, her friends were always most comfortable with her as a human and knew her best as a human. *sigh*

And now for funsies, here are even more parallels that were seen a'plenty during the dance itself...

 
 
 
 
 

And another parallel, I think, is the fact that the song played over the dance was "Hunger" and it was sung by Ross Copperman. Ross Copperman, of course, sang "Holding On And Letting Go" the song that played over Damon and Elena's first real kiss in "The New Deal." Knowing that out of all of the artists in the world, they chose a song sung by the same guy who performed the song that played over their first kiss just gave me all the feels in the universe. And what a song! And, here's the other thing. Now, I haven't read the books, but I do know that Julie Plec has read at least some of them and I also know that in them, Damon and Elena are known as "Twin Flames." I bring this up because I can't help but think that another reason they chose the song "Hunger" is because of that "Twin Flames" connection. I mean, look at the lyrics of this song!

"Hunger" by Ross Copperman

One look and I can't catch my breath
Two souls into one flesh
When you're not next to me
I'm incomplete
'Cause I'm on fire like a thousand suns
I couldn't put it out even if I wanted to
These flames tonight
Look into my eyes and say you want me too
Like I want you

Oh love, let me see inside your heart
All the cracks and broken parts
The shadows in the light
There's no need to hide
'Cause I'm on fire like a thousand suns
I couldn't put it out even if I wanted to
These flames tonight
Look into my eyes and say you want me too
Like I want you

It's like a hunger in me
And it is never ending
Yeah, and I burn for you (I burn for you)
It's like a hunger in me
Yeah, it is never ending
Yeah, and I burn for you (I burn)

I'm on fire like a thousand suns
I couldn't put it out even if I wanted to
These flames tonight
Look into my eyes and say you want me too
Like I want you
I got a hunger in me
I got a hunger in me
That seriously calls out to the whole Twin Flames concept there now, doesn't it? And I've listened to the song about a gazillion times and I didn't even catch onto it until recently. (Although I'm sure others who've read the books have.) I just can't imagine that Plec and co. did not make this choice intentionally. Therefore, yet another lovely, lovely gift to the Damon and Elena fanbase.

As was that ridiculous, over-the-top, fancy, schmancy, sweep-me-away dance at the end there. I was so not expecting that. But. I. Loved. It! I don't care if it was ridiculous. And over the top. And fancy, schmancy. And came out of nowhere. I. Don't. Care. I loved it, loved, loved it. It made me swoon and sigh and I just loved it and I love it every time I watch it. Fanbases seriously don't get this type of stuff anymore. I mean, we just don't. But, uhm, we did! We actually did. Damon in a tuxedo, Elena in a fancy dress, dancing beautifully, romantically in the moonlight, in swoops and fancy turns, dipping and swaying and it was just blissful and gorgeous and unbelievable. I loved every moment and I'm so grateful to Caroline Dries and Julie Plec for giving this to me as a Damon and Elena fan. Not only could I have not asked for more, I couldn't have even imagined anything possibly better than what they gave us. But more on that later, first my favorite moments of the dance in particular…

I loved, loved when they began and they did the no-hands touching that we first saw in "Miss Mystic Falls." Oh dear Lord, I was slayed. Just slayed dead. And the looks they gave each other. Oh. My. Sweet. Heaven! *sigh* Elena holding back tears one moment, laughing another. And then those three twirly turns were absolutely hands-down my favorite, favorite, favoritest part. I just loved it so hard. I rewound that section about a billion times. It was just so, so, so, soooo pretty! ALL OF IT!! SO, SO MUCH TO LOVE!

See?!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pretty, pretty, pretty! It was all so, so very pretty.

And I am happy with where this is now and where this will wind up, even if we aren't there yet. Elena is human. And when Ian Somerhalder is ready to leave the show, Damon will be human with her. And it's always been leading to this. I've seen this coming all along. And nothing, absolutely nothing at all felt wrong, felt off or untrue in any way to Damon and Elena and their love story AT ALL. So everything in Damon and Elena's story that played out in this episode felt so right, so true to their love story, to their characters. I just loved it so much. I am so happy!

And what I said above about not being able to imagine the show possibly giving us anything better than they gave the Damon/Elena fanbase is true. Everything I thought of, all I came up with, none of it compared to the utter perfection that they presented. I am in complete awe at what they managed to do and am in complete love with them for what they pulled off.

Caroline Dries and Julie Plec managed to make Damon and Elena's love story COMPLETELY sacrosanct until Nina Dobrev comes back to usher Ian Somerhalder off the show so that Damon and Elena can live out their human lives happily ever after. This could have gone down so terribly in so many ways for this fanbase. They could have easily ended Damon and Elena. She becomes human and is compelled for her safety to leave town and move on with her life. Or she becomes human, realizes she can't be with Damon as he is as a vampire so that's why she leaves town. With the loss of her memories, she doesn't fall back in love with him and leaves town. Or the worstest... she becomes human and dies.

Instead, even without her memories, even becoming human... Elena still madly, forever loves him, chooses him, wants him. She is willing to give up humanity for him. He is willing to give up vampirism for her. They literally proved they have the truest, purest, most absolute love of all. It is real; nothing can come between them. And where we've known that Damon will ALWAYS choose Elena, now we know that Elena will ALWAYS choose Damon. And with the Sleeping Beauty set-up, their love story is simply put on pause until Ian Somerhalder leaves the show. Once Nina Dobrev comes back, they figure some magic witchy-woo to wake her up (which the writers no-doubt already have done) and voila!, Damon and Elena get their happy ending and walk off into the sunset.

I mean, holy cow! It's just freaking amazing! And by setting it up this way, Damon is not going to have another love interest. He's going to be occupied with what's going on with his mother and her new "family" and the holy hell that has been wrecked onto Mystic Falls. Besides he already has his girl, he'll just be waiting until it's time for her to come back to him. And as stated above, it's not like Elena will be forgotten. I mean, yes, it sucks that we won't see Elena (so hard!), but, the show couldn't have made it any clearer that when Damon leaves Mystic Falls it will be when Elena comes back and then they (and we) will get our happy ending.

Elena's presence will still absolutely be felt as I mentioned above. Elena's name is going to be mentioned a lot I have to imagine. Again, we still hear about her parents and Vicki and other characters that left years ago. Elena Gilbert will NOT be forgotten and Damon and Elena's love story will continue to be a significant part of Damon Salvatore's story. So as I talked about all the way at the top of the post, no, the last episode didn't feature a last kiss, a last anything. The Damon and Elena love story is not over. It's just on hold while she sleeps in a coffin in his family crypt. Meanwhile, the show has made it abundantly clear that Damon is completely in love with Elena and she's it for him. He waited for Katherine and was celibate for 60 years. He'll have no problem waiting for Elena.

And in the meantime, Damon will be Damon without Elena and yes, yes, no doubt, many of us have heard that he will the "Big, Bad Damon" from season 01 but frankly, I think they're overselling it. Why? Well, a couple of reasons. Firstly, that is what they always do in promotion, oversell the hell out of things and then when the product hits the screen it's not quite what was promised. Secondly, Elena didn't tell Damon to save Bonnie because she knew that he would make the right choice. She knew that he cared about Bonnie and wasn't going to kill her or even let her die because whatever he tries to tell people, that's not who Damon is.

For those people on his list (as he told Alaric), he will take care of them, he will protect them, he will do what's right. And Damon Salvatore has always done that. Even in season 01. When he was big, bad Damon Salvatore. The only difference is that in season 01 Damon only cared about Stefan grudgingly and he didn't want to admit it, Elena and that took time to happen, and the town which didn't hit him in the feels until the end of the season. However, now Damon cares about Stefan, Bonnie, Alaric, Enzo, and yes, Matt, Caroline and the town. So he will be making the right choices and doing the right things a lot more... he'll just be doing them in a much less heart-on-your-sleeve way than he has of late.

And who will be one of those driving forces to keep him on the do-the-right-thing train? Bonnie! It took a while, but I'm glad that we got back to seeing Damon and Bonnie as more how we saw them 1994 Mystic Falls than rather how we'd been seeing them in the present. Hopefully this carries over next season. I have hope that it will, especially considering the circumstances of their last scenes. Damon can't pretend at all anymore that he doesn't truly care, and Bonnie can't ever throw it in his face anymore that he's an unfeeling monster. So things have to change for the better. Uh huh!

What I liked is that the show used Kai's knowledge of Damon and Bonnie's relationship in 1994 and at the same time used the lack of Damon's true self that others have to build tension over what Damon would do. Obviously anyone who's been paying attention to the narrative and doesn't blindly hate the character of Damon Salvatore knew that Damon was going to kill Kai to save Bonnie, but it was still so awesomely directed and acted that I just loved it. Kai's confusion and disappointment, Bonnie's fear, disappointment and sorrow. Damon's faux-regret, joy (at killing Kai) and then relief and tenderness. All so, so good.

And I just loved the little moments in this scene, Damon telling Bonnie she can't die yet because he has more nicknames for. (So much love for that.) And my favorite, favorite, favorite bit! Damon not only beheading Kai, but fulfilling an earlier promise.

 

Oh Damon, may your awesome forever reign! And I'm sure it will. I just hope that certain residents of Mystic Falls will *finally* pick up on it. Matt! Matty, Matty, Matty! You still got some learning to do about Damon, doncha? Why do you think that Kai chose Bonnie? Silly, silly Matt. For serious, though, I hope that the reason that bit there with Matt and Bonnie was included was because it was supposed to be a counterpoint to the final scene that will lead to a deeper, more understanding relationship between the two next season. I mean, maybe Matt thinking that Damon would kill Bonnie because he only cares about Elena (and being so wrong) was included because we will see next season that Matt now knows that such is not the case. In that end shot, it looked like Matt was protecting Mystic Falls from below, while Damon was protecting from above–tag-teaming as it were. We'll see. I sure hope so. But then you all know that my dreams of a Matt/Damon bromance will always have wings that fly ever upward and onward!

As for that other relationship I so loved, even if it's placement in one scene wasn't exactly my favorite… Paging Stefan and Caroline.

First off, I have got to say it one more time for the road. I am telling ya!, Caroline Dries has a checklist this season and she checked the last one off her list in this episode. I couldn't believe that they actually went there in the Stefan/Caroline scene in Elena's hospital room, but they sure did! Booyah!

Here was Caroline standing over Elena's hospital bed and she's thinking about poor little Stefan's heart and how it must be aching for Elena. Because, nope, Caroline just can't get past the idea that Elena still must come first after all (which is why it really, really would have been nice to have had a goodbye with Elena and Caroline where Elena kicked her in the ass and told her how amazing she was and that she is totally number one and that Stefan never, ever fought for her like he's fighting for Caroline, but I digress!). Anyhoo, it was actually nice to have this moment for them because it gave Stefan at least the opportunity to completely blow that idea to smithereens. He basically was all, 'Nah!' And he just explained that the real reason that he and Elena even got together was so that she could eventually be with Damon and then could re-connect him with his brother. AND that his brother was more important to him than Elena was.

Excuse me while I take a bow.

Because I've only been saying this for, like, oh, EVER!

Finally, because there really wasn't that much Stefan and Caroline isn't this episode what with all of the goodbyes to Elena and the Kai-machinations and Kai-killing and killing-Kai and fancy-schmancy Damon/Elena dancing going on, I did want to touch upon their final scenes among Damon and Elena's final scene before it became just Damon and Elena's final scene (for now).

Stefan made a list! O.M.G. Stefan Salvatore made a list for Caroline Forbes. I love it so hard! Just like Caroline was always making lists! Stefan made a list for her! So perfect for each other!! And she looked so happy. And he was so understanding of why she needed her time, and he just needed her to know that he understood but that he loved her and why he loved her and that he would be waiting and it was really, really beautiful you guys. And, and I know I've been blubbering on and on about how much I love Damon and Elena and how I really do think taking the season as a whole they've done an amazing job with this final full Damon and Elena season. However, I have to say as a first full season of Stefan and Caroline as a couple, I am beyond thrilled as well. Stefan and Caroline have been pretty much perfect. I have literally zero complaints. Z-E-R-O!

 

Caroline's face in this last gif? My face when thinking about just how perfect Stefan and Caroline have been this season. Surprise and joy that a new couple could be written this well because, damn! Go Caroline Dries. I ♥ you so.

OK then, time for randoms…

- I know I mentioned above that I was disappointed in the lack of a solo Caroline and Elena goodbye (and I was), but I won't deny that the little bit we got of them and the bit with the three girls wasn't beautiful. So I did make a few gifs of that.

 

- I was glad to see Jeremy back, but sadly his arrival and departure did rather show that he no longer fits on the canvas. And until I was writing down my thoughts on him, I actually didn't even think about him and Bonnie at all and the fact that they didn't interact. Ah well. My sunshine and puppies couple really is lost to me.

- Figures, the first episode that actually features Steven R. McQueen is the first episode where they take his name OUT of the opening credits.

- *sigh* I should have felt sad for Alaric when he put his dead-non-bride in his trunk and sat all tear-stricken in his car and pulled the gun out, but I just was thinking—I don't care. I don't know who this guy is. He's certainly not Alaric Saltzman. *double sigh*

- Tyler killing Liv in the same way that she saved him from going all werewolf-y by killing that car crash victim of his was heartbreaking. And yet I couldn't help but think in the midst of it, oh, Tyler, you really are a cockroach. Nothing will ever kill you, will it? I just couldn't help it. Still, that was a beautiful scene. One of the best death scenes a character has been given on this show, I think.

For me it wasn't about Tyler making that choice. It wasn't at all about TYLER. It was about LIV. Liv was going to die. There was no two ways about it. Nothing was going to save her. She was dying. Tyler was dying. Both of them were going to die. It was literally a case of they both die, or one of them lives. And because she loves him, she said take my life with my blessing because I love you and this way we both don't die. So that at least I can live on in your memory. So that I can die at least knowing that you lived... and that you lived because of me. That I was able to give you that, and that Kai wasn't able to take that from me. I loved that Liv was given that power in her final moments.

- Once more, Tyler... a human-werewolf-cockroach hybrid. And on he lives.

- There's not much to say about Lily and her "family" at this point, I don't think, as it was more of a set-up as them being the "Big Bads" for next season.

- Hmm, I do think that Stefan walking away from her with his pronouncement that he's done with her may wind up having repercussions for him and Damon though.

- Oh, man, Kai, a few of his quotes slayed me. "Sorry about the twinsies" to Alaric. So wrong, so very, very wrong, but I so inappropriately snickered. Kai is the most hilarious worst. And then after Tyler bit him: "Bad doggy." LOL! I will miss my precious Kai. I really will. Hands down, THE best villain this show has ever had. Chris Wood, I love you.

- So I'm wondering how much time passed in that fast-forward in the end? Two years? Five years? Ten years? Matt is obviously a deputy now. Damon looks like he's watching over things too. The town is a wreck. I'm thinking that, yeah, Lily and her family have something to do with it. Uh huh. Hmm.... I am all a'curious indeed.

- Speaking a bit more of Matt and Damon, that final scene (which I really *do* think is Damon watching over things) and diving into the whole Damon/Bonnie supposed potential brought on by *that scene,* well, here be my take on it. The writers are not shippers; they don't write the show with shipper goggles (for the most part–that Damon/Elena dance–so done FOR the shippers, but considering Nina Dobrev was leaving, that was intentional). We see a guy carrying the "damsel-in-distress" for two reasons:

1. For the sweeping romantic moment.
2. To show that said guy is A hero.

The purpose of that scene was for scenario #2. We can't look at the moment in a vacuum, but rather at the whole narrative. There was a reason we had the earlier scene with Matt and Bonnie where he told her to leave town because Damon would choose Elena over everyone and would kill Bonnie. There we have the first two players setting up Damon in "A Hero scenario." Then we come to the scene with Damon and Bonnie where he carries her in his arm, saving the damsel-in-distress, featuring the next pair of players.

Then note how the scene is shot. Once Damon picked Bonnie up, he doesn't look down at her, there's no tenderness. Instead he is looking straight ahead, intensely focused, absolutely in HERO mode. Also, there is no full-shot of him carrying her so you don't get the whole swooning, romantic effect. The whole point of the scene is Damon saving the day and his focus of doing so, of making that tough choice. Finally, we have the final scene with Matt driving down the street keeping watching below over Mystic Falls, and Damon above keeping watch over Mystic Falls, the final two players in "A Hero scenario." Matt appears now to be working to protect the town in tandem with the guy in the beginning he thought would choose Elena over everyone else. That middle scene with Bonnie was not about "hero saves the girl;" it was about "despite appearances, this is A hero."

Scene 1 - Matt/Bonnie
Scene 2 - Bonnie/Damon
Scene 3 - Damon/Matt

It all ties together. And that, I believe, is setting us up for Damon and his journey–"despite appearances, this is A hero"–next season. There's a reason that was the final scene of the episode and WHY they included that bit of dialogue in there with Damon and Elena about her knowing that he would make the right choice.

So that was this episode. I know it may seem like I didn't totally love it what with some griping above, but really those were just minor issues in the scheme of things. I adored the episode so hard. So, so, so, sooooo hard. I don't know if it's my favorite finale, but it might be. I thought that Julie Plec and Caroline Dries did an amazing job writing it and that Chris Grismer did a fantastic directorial job. Really, other than the Elena/Tyler scene, I have no real complaint, everything else is just nitpicky. It was just splendid, beautiful, amazing, a capper to a really wonderful season.

Speaking of… here are some thoughts on the overall season. No, it wasn't perfect, and these were the three big issues I had with it and one small-ish issue.

Firstly, I wasn't happy with how the Jeremy situation was handled. I felt there was no conclusion; there was nothing about Elena finding out that he's not in art school, but rather off hunting vampires. The character was misused. I honestly think that if they had decided to build on Damon and Jeremy's relationship when Damon came back and have him confide in Jeremy about Bonnie, it would have beefed up Steven R. McQueen's role and he may have stayed. In that way, Jeremy would have fit in the show still and it would have created a connection between the vampires and non-vampires/vampire hunters. As well, it also would have helped strengthen and continue the growth of the Elena and Jeremy connection which just seemed to fall to the wayside this season.

Secondly, oh boy, Alaric. Alaric, Alaric, Alaric. As a friend said, Matt Davis was just brought back to play the boyfriend in the Gemini story. He certainly wasn't brought back to play Alaric Saltzman because all the things that we love about Alaric have not been present in this guy but for a few random scenes here and there sprinkled throughout the season. I had really believed that there was an explanation. I had a fabulous theory for it and everything. I tied it into his time in the Other Side, his conversion by Esther, etc., but yeah, none of it came into play. Nope, he was just a pod person.

As I mentioned above I didn't even feel anything in the training scenes during the Elena/Alaric goodbye because this guy ain't Alaric, and I didn't care about him and his love story with Jo...another character I didn't care about. They were both fictional nobodies who were thrust onto my show, and one of them was a pod person who took over one of my previously-favorite characters, and the other was a condescending bitch who was mean to my favorite character and took the afore-mentioned one of my previously-favorite characters and sucked him into a vortex of suck. So, again, I didn't care. She's dead... YAY! and next season hopefully the pod person that replaced him will have gone to the grave with her.

Then comes the third biggie and it would something that I referenced in one of my write-ups: The lack of friendships being highlighted. Ironically, the next episode featured some great friendship interaction, but it was one of only a handful of episodes. There was how we rarely saw Matt and Jeremy interact past a few scenes of Matt shaking his head and scolding at Jeremy's drunken mess. Or how beyond a few bromantic moments, we rarely saw Damon and Alaric interacting when Alaric wasn't being an ass, Damon wasn't absurdly apologizing, Ric continued to being an ass and then suddenly everything was fine.

There was Damon, Jeremy and Matt just about not interacting at all. Damon and Bonnie barely interacting once they were both back in present-day Mystic Falls except when they wanted to use each other, exchange things and/or fight. Which led to the sweet, but mystifying statement from Elena to Damon when she said that Bonnie was his best friend. We know that, but how the heck does Elena? We certainly were given nothing onscreen that would indicate her knowledge of this other than Bonnie's knowledge of him wanting to go human, but Elena was surprised by that. Was that supposed to be how we knew? If so, that was way too much filling in the blanks. In previous seasons we would have had scenes with Elena that showed these two were best friends so there would be no doubt that she knew.

As for Elena, Bonnie and Caroline? Friends? What? Pfft? Those three are friends? Really?! Yes, yes, I'm exaggerating, but still we saw less with them and in situations when we should have seen more with them. Damon and Enzo? Hell, those two might as well have never met considering they shared roughly two, maybe three scenes the entire season. And, yes, I adored the Damon/Bonnie friendship in 1994 and in the final episode, but in between? Not so much. Finally, while the Damon/Liz friendship was perfect, prior to this season, ALL of the friendships have been (for the most part) perfectly shown throughout the entire season. Those friendships have been threads that have strengthened and highlighted episodes in beautiful and moving ways. This season, the lack of them has weakened story and character arcs which is a shame and very unlike this show. I truly hope to see a return to strong friendships next season.

Lastly, the one small-ish issue is the casting of Jo and Lily. Honestly, this would have been more of a big issue prior to last season but after the casting of Olga Fonda as Nadia I know just how bad it could be, so considering that both O'Keefe and Annie Wersching can actually act, this is relatively minor.

To be fair, it's easy to blame my issue with Jo on her portrayer, Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, because I'm not particularly fond of the actress. I've seen her in other projects and she's a bit too hard, a bit too cold for my personal taste. However, when thinking it through that's only partially the issue here. There were scenes where O'Keefe genuinely came through and that was because the chemistry between the actors AND the writing of the character worked. (Jo & Liv's scene at the Thanksgiving dinner comes to mind, finding out the connection there helped to bring a softness and humanity that the character had lacked up to that point.)

But the two main problems were that we didn't know who she was as a character because there was little consistency with her. Either she was a condescending, hard-assed bitch, or she was helpless and weepy because those were how she was presented, those two extremes. O'Keefe could play both, but which one was Jo? Not that it would help much, because frankly, both were annoying. And then we come to the second problem. She wasn't a part of the Mystic Falls family. We should have seen her with Ric's friends; she should have been made a part of the group. A few scenes with Elena at the hospital, being a bitch for no reason to Damon, awkwardly showing up at Thanksgiving and then, yes, the great scenes with Liv, don't count. We should have seen her actually hanging out with Ric and Damon (and her being sympathetic to what had happened to him).

Have her hang out with Elena, Caroline and Bonnie upon Bonnie's return—she and Bonnie are both witches, that's a pretty damn big commonality, not to mention the Bennett link. Hell, it certainly would have made the bachelorette party and wedding stuff seem way less forced and random. Instead, all we saw was her with Ric or involved with the Gemini stuff which was all about her and her family. So I don't know how much of this was a writing or a casting problem. Could a better-cast actress have made the character work? Possibly. Probably? I didn't particularly like how Meredith was written, and she wasn't worked that well into the canvas, but I really liked Torrey Devitto. In fact, there was dialogue as delivered by O'Keefe that I particularly didn't like that I actually imagined Devitto saying that would have worked for me. So I'm leaning towards that casting could have fixed the issue for me at least. Probably, yeah.

As for Wersching's Lily. Totally casting. I loved the story they came up with for Mama Salvatore. Every single thing about it. And Wersching, I think, is a very good actress, I just can't stand her. The fact that I think that the story and character for Lily Salvatore is so well-defined and that Wersching can act is the only thing that keeps me from screaming every time she's on screen: "NOOOOOO! Why her?! Of all things good in the universe! WHY HER!?!??!" Ah well. It could have been worse. They could have re-cast Olga Fonda in the role. But seriously had they cast an awesome actress as Mama Salvatore, I'd probably be erecting an altar in her honor. Awesome story, so freaking cool. I've been waiting for Mama Salavatore forever and I love, love, love what they came up with... and then they cast, well, her. Ah well.

So those were my issues with season 06. However, I loved everything else. A LOT. Damon and Elena. Stefan and Caroline. Damon and Stefan. The Liz storyline (even if she died {{SOBS}}, it was still incredibly well-done). Damon and Bonnie. Damon and Elena. The Gemini coven. Kai, my glorious Kai. Mama Salvatore. Damon and Elena. Enzo became a real boy. Ms. Cuddles. Alaric and Enzo. Liv and Tyler. Damon and Elena.

Yeah, I really, really, REALLY loved what we got for Damon and Elena.

What the showrunners did this year for the Damon/Elena fanbase was insanely awesome. This show was BUILT on a triangle COMPLETELY across the board and they DECIMATED the other half in every way, shape, form, whatever you want to call it, possible. They killed it dead. And I can't thank them enough. And this was their last chance to do that with all three players on the canvas. (AND. THEY. DID. IT. BOOYAH!) But, but, but, but.....

{SOBS} ELENA {SOBS}

I will miss Elena dreadfully. I mean terribly, terribly, terribly. I love the character of Elena Gilbert. A lot. But Nina Dobrev wanted to spread her wings (good for her!) when her contract was done. I think that the showrunners did an admirable job in writing out Elena in such a way that did justice to the show and the character, and in such a way that when Ian Somerhalder chooses to spread his wings, Damon and Elena *will* get their happy ending. This season, I think the show did everything they could to give Damon and Elena fans a season worthy of their couple. They made them THE couple. We got to see them fall in love again without a triangle, without any confusion on Elena's part. That was something that had dogged their first falling in love so relentlessly. Elena's "I don't knows" and torn feelings over Stefan. None of that was here this time.

We got flashbacks, and we got kisses in the rain. We got love scenes and we got "I love you's" and sweet and sexy kisses and hot and heavy make-outs. We got talk of future plans and those plans made. We got proposals and all but a wedding. We got dances, we got callbacks. We got every dig that has ever been made about Damon and Elena from those against them ruthlessly stripped away and proven false. We got everything a couple's fandom could dream of... this was the season of Damon and Elena. And, again, at the end of the day, I just don't see how Damon and Elena don't get their happy ending.

As for Elena Gilbert (and Nina Dobrev as a series regular), well, I thought as a farewell, this episode did a wonderful job. It certainly hit me in all the feels, and I very, very much look forward to next season. But, damn, I will miss my Elena... and yes, my Damon and Elena on a regular basis. But my faith—which was rewarded beautifully in this one—remains as constant as ever.
Tags: #2, alaric saltzman, bonnie bennett, caroline forbes, damon salvatore, damon/alaric, damon/bonnie, damon/elena, damon/jeremy, damon/liz, damon/matt, damon/matt/jeremy, ep discussion-tvd, ian somerhalder, jeremy gilbert, matt davis, matt donovan, nina dobrev, stefan salvatore, stefan/caroline, the vampire diaries, tv
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