Arabian (arabian) wrote,

8.14 - 'It's Been A Hell Of A Ride' (The Vampire Diaries)

This took a few days longer because (a) I was sooo sick last week (the flu *and* two ear infections—fear not, I am on the mend now, yay! antibiotics!) and (b) well, this is a loooong post (a wee bit over 9,000 words, the third longest TVD post so far!) so, yeah, it took a bit of time. Hope you enjoy!

Yes, almost. This glorious, laugh-out-loud, heart-wrenching, heart-lifting, beautiful episode was almost perfect. But that almost wasn't a big enough issue for me to single it out and start this write-up on a negative note. Nope, not gonna happen. I'll touch upon it, but it will be just a small note of discontent amidst a sea of awesome.

Speaking of awesome… I was reminded of something that I wrote about for "An Eternity Of Misery," when I realized that with the bombshell dropped in the final moments here, the show managed to top even itself. It was in that earlier episode (the fourth of the season) that viewers were officially told that the Sirens worked for the Devil. His name was Cade, and once upon a time he had been a kind Mediterranean going by handle Arcadius. Alas, he was betrayed because of his psychic ability and in response… he created Hell. Yeah.

So The Vampire Diaries just basically invented their own version of the creation of Hell. Have I mentioned how much I love this show? Does it make any sense that a powerful psychic rage-out sometime before 750 B.C. created Hell? No, but do vampires, werewolves, witches, travelers, doppelgangers, heretics and all of the fancy-schmancy-fangled mythology that this show has created for their universe? Nope. None of it has any basis in the reality that we know, but as long as they stay true and fairly consistent—which they have done—to *their* mythology, it works for me. And seriously, this show! I mean, This. Show! They are going all out in their last season, aren't they? The Big Bad of the final season of The Vampire Diaries is the Devil himself. Or Arcadius, a.k.a. Cade, as we are calling him in the land of Mystic Falls, Virginia.
I thought it was amazing then, and I still do. I mean, the freaking Devil as their final antagonist… can you get any better than that? Actually... yeah. Because one of the very best things about The Vampire Diaries is that it's not the madness and chaos that drive story; rather it is how the characters are affected by it. The heart and beauty of the show is in how these characters react, fight back and (almost) ultimately triumph. So sure the Devil as the final Big Bad? Awesome. Even more awesome? Reaching back into the show's history to nab arguably their two greatest villains EVAR to close the series out. The Vampire Diaries actually managed to up the stakes in the villain department, first with Kai Parker, and then outdid even him with… dun, dun, dun… the myth, the legend, the baddest bitch of all, Katherine Pierce.

Brilliant. Still, before we move onto those two crazy kids, I want to give my due to the departed Cade. He has been a wonderful villain. WoÍe Parks has truly been outstanding in the role. From the portrayal of the sweet, gentle man way back when to the charming gentlemanly Devil with a smile on his face to the quiet menace when he doesn't get his way to the vicious violence and sadistic glee we saw on display here, Parks simply never missed a beat. The man could smile in every single one of the above situations and every single one of them felt genuine, but different… suited to whatever situation he was in. Then there was the way he looked at, spoke of and to those who would oppose him. It was always done with such a reserve, and smoothly-delivered mirth without a hint of respect. Such as his reaction to realizing that human!Stefan was planning on killing him.

Cade: Oh, you intend to kill me. How optimistic. […] Stefan, you're human. I'm almost worried you'll catch pneumonia and die in this very cave.
And he could be funny too! Truly excellent casting for our Devil. But he died in death (?) as he did in life, all burnt up.

And that brings us to the first of the two returning villainous greats, Mr. Malachai "Kai" Parker. (Psst… he doesn't play fair.) I have made clear my feelings on Kai. I love him. I love him so, so, so much. Literally every single scene with him has never been anything but awesome. In fact, I've said more than once that I truly believe he is the best villain this show has ever produced, but… nope, wait, we'll get there. Right now, I'm all about the Kai especially since this is (no doubt) the very last I will ever have of him. {{sobs}} I know, I know, he's evil, but I love him so. Phew, at least he's not dead! Oops, there I go, getting ahead of myself again. Let's start at the beginning of our Kai-palooza for the episode.

Kai and Karaoke. Singing "Knocking on Heaven's Door." (Lovely little callback to his comment last week, "I think I'm on the wait list for Heaven, but they're not returning my calls.") And then the "Crushed it. Literal mic drop." I know I keep saying it, but, damn, I just love him so much. Yes, it is partly Chris Wood. I've seen him in two other roles, and he's been good in them. He's good-looking and charming, adorable and charismatic and he can really act. However, it's more than just the actor's charms… it's the writing of the character. As enjoyable as Wood is in the other roles, they don't come close to touching the awesome that is Kai. I think this is simply one of those cases where the confluence of actor and character just so perfectly aligned to create perfection.

The little moments like mispronouncing Stefan's name ("Stefon, Steven"), reenacting iconic movie scenes ("Hello, Clarice"), the afore-mentioned mic drop, how glibly, happily casual he is about his psychotic murdering ways. His complete lack of repentance for those psychotic murdering ways—no woobie effect in play for this one!—and his pride and openness in telling any and everyone about who and what he is. He doesn't pretend to be anything he is not. He is pure, gleeful evil and he's OK with that. Then there's how he interacts with every single person who positively, righteously so hates him… as if they are all just good buddies. I think it's because of that attitude that when he offers help—such as his hilarious finger-search for someone who knows how to deal with a siphon before landing on the corner of his mouth, cue the grin—or gives them information (sure, Hell will go bye-bye if Cade goes, so says Kai, true fact then!), they actually believe him. It makes sense, he's so forthright about his sociopathic ways and, yet, at the same time seems so eager to help. Why would he lie?

I don't know… maybe because he's pure, gleeful evil! That's Kai.


On a serious note, one of the things I loved with him in this episode (OK, fine, yes, I loved everything with him, but this was one of my favorite bits) was when he was telling Caroline about his time as a misunderstood siphoning child. I implied above that it was crazy to believe that Kai ever intends to help them, but, if truth be told, he actually has on a few occasions. And what he told them about the Armory's magic (really, guys, duh! Evil siphon, big building with lots of magic, not a good mix!) and how that would be driving the twins and his own experience actually did help. Oh, and an aside, I loved his oh, so sincere query to Caroline about her plans for the twins.

Kai: Well, I chose to become a sociopath with a penchant for murder and mayhem, but I take it you might want to steer them in a different direction?
Caroline: Uh, yeah.
Hee. That he posed it as a question in the first place was hi-larious, but that Caroline answered just added a little cherry topping to the fun. But I digress, that wasn't the specific moment I especially loved, nor was Kai helping Caroline and Ric, even if it was possibly inadvertent—I honestly don't care if Kai helps our Scooby Gang or not; he's awesome either way. What I loved was that when he was talking about what it was like for him as a siphon growing up, he was telling the truth. It did paint a picture of a horrible, lonely, childhood where he was ignored and punished for just being who he was. That was some well-done acting and writing, revealing a truth of the character. Kai is ALL black, but in his evil, little heart, his pain is real.

Ah, but his heart is still evil. See: Stalking his four-year old nieces with a (not-so-small) axe. Yikes! Ooh, when I first saw the girls under the bed I sat up straighter and was all ‘OMG!' because I thought immediately of that flashback with Kai hunting down young Lucas and Olivia (the departed Luke and Liv—thanks, Kai, accomplished those kills 16 years later). These twins have no older sister to make them disappear.

However, they do have way, way better parents than any of the Parker children did. Caroline and Ric would never treat their girls the way Kai's family did because of their brand of magic. And Caroline and Ric would make damn sure that there is an escape route and a damn good hiding place that the twins are aware of in case of danger. Good thing too because of course, of course, Josie and Lizzie would hide under the bed. Isn't that where most kids would? (There or the closet.) And, of course, of course, Kai knew that too and headed straight there, driving that big-ass axe right through what would have been those two little girls. Double yikes!

All's well that ends well, though. (Well, except for Ric's genitals, but frankly he deserved a good, hard kick to the balls for the lousy-ass way he's been treating Damon, so there. Literally what I thought when Kai Parker did not play fair.) And Kai's end is an absolutely perfect ending for him. Delivered by Bonnie—who so deserved to be the one to leave him to his fate—was an awesome and oh so appropriate punishment for him. Sure, he got a little bit of joy in that he got to see her one last time—he still has a crush on her, aww!—and even appeared to have the last laugh.

Aha! I loved that it only appeared that way, but so was not the case. After he dropped his little Kat bomb, a happy-happy, joy-joy smile on his face, it seemed for the moment that he would be A-OK. But then we returned to him long enough to see that with Bonnie gone and for good, Kai realized that he was well and truly all alone. And then the strains of "Two Princes" by the Spin Doctors started up again. Death truly wasn't good enough for him. But this? A literal eternity chained to a chair listening to a song he hates ALL ALONE FOREVER. Perfect punishment.

Until that final moment though, I actually thought that we weren't done with him. When Kai told Bonnie that Hell was still around, just under another, better ruler, I figured that Kai was speaking of himself. I thought that he was playing Bonnie. I actually did think of Katherine in "Memory Lane" and how she stayed chained and vervained in the basement cellar with Stefan just because she wanted to spend time with him. I believed that Kai was doing the same thing to be with Bonnie and was going to reveal that he was the new ruler and easily break free. However, we jumped to the present and saw her tell Damon, "…what we did to her" and I was puzzled for a moment trying to think of who the "her" could be. And *then* Damon responded and I knew.

Damon: Don't you dare say it, Bonnie. Listen to me, we won. You hear me? Don't you dare say that name!
Kai: The myth, the legend, the baddest bitch of all.
Damon: Katherine.
Bonnie: Katherine.
I knew, and I jumped to my feet, hands held high in exultation and I literally whooped with joy. "KATHERINE!"

Before we get to her awesomeness, let us talk about the implications of what Kai said. Firstly, it was Katherine that he made the bet with, therefore Kai Parker and Katherine Pierce are Hell-pals. Kai is clearly a Katherine fan, not that I can blame him. (Gah, now I desperately want to see Kai and Katherine together. Imagine how insanely awesome a show about these two going around destroying lives with reckless abandonment and joyful glee would be. HEAVEN... or should I say HEAVENLY HELL!) The second point to be gained from the exchange between Kai and Bonnie, and Bonnie and Damon is that all three of them think that Katherine is LITERALLY worse than the Devil. HAH HAH! That tickled me so hard. Oh, and speaking of the Kai and Bonnie, Damon and Bonnie conversations, I thought that the back and forth between the two pairs was quite well-done. It was also a nice touch closing out Kai's time on the series (again—as they did in "Thinking Of You All The While") with just Bonnie and Damon, to a degree (since he was intercut with Kai and Bonnie's discussion). That was a nice way of bringing his character full-circle.

Now as for the baddest bitch of all… of course we couldn't end this series without one more appearance by Katerina Petrova. Now, above I was talking about how I consider Kai this show's best villain, but after the final moments in this one, I realized that he is not. Katherine is. I think the reason that I've been saying Kai is because I've never really just thought of Katherine as a villain. There is so much more to her, but in the end, when push comes to shove, Katherine will do for herself no matter who she has to hurt in the process. In addition, she certainly takes petty pleasure in causing pain and discomfort for others. Girl is nothing if not a villainess. And she *is* the ultimate villain on The Vampire Diaries and thus, absolutely, yes, she should be their last antagonist. Why I never even thought of the idea of that happening I can only imagine is because of the excellence of Nina Dobrev's performance in differentiating Katherine from Elena.

I had no doubt that Dobrev was coming back for the series' end, and I even figured that we would see her in episodes beyond just the finale, but since Katherine died in season 05 and her story was finished whenever I thought of Dobrev returning to the show it was always and only as Elena since it is her story that has yet to reach its conclusion. But… duh! Nina Dobrev plays both Elena Gilbert and Katherine Pierce so if she's coming back, of course, Katherine has to come back as well. PERFECT.

As for Katherine being the next in line to rule Hell after Cade went bye-bye, well, that makes perfect sense to me. As I said way back in the episode featuring her denouement, no matter where you put her, Katherine Pierce will connive, scheme, flirt, crush, kill whomever to survive and thrive.

Katherine was totally sent to Hell by the witches? Right? That's totes what happened? The witches were all, 'Nah, we don't want that bish hanging round here. She's even too nasty for all of us. We let her in here, she'll come up with some mess and get everyone all riled up here on the other side and get all the guys fighting each other, cause some rebellion and get the warlocks coming up with some spells and the next thing you know they'll be opening doors to the real world and Katherine will be stepping through causing havoc and it will be chaos. That girl ain't stepping foot over here! Nuh uh! Be gone with you, honey! Into the pit of hell with that one.'

You know what I'm saying? This *is* Katherine we're talking about. Totes believable.

- 5.15 - "Gone Girl"
Alas, while I am beyond thrilled to see Katherine again, I am sad because while we will be seeing Dobrev in the next episode—as we did in this one, that was not old footage* of her in the coffin, the closest shot to a previous episode wasn't as tight a shot—we won't be seeing her as Elena until possibly the closing minutes or maybe not even the finale. As I said, that makes me sad, not just because I want as much Elena as I can possibly get, but when Elena awakens, Damon becomes human and I really, really want to see Damon Salvatore human in more than just a few scenes. Ah well. It does make sense, though. I mean, bringing Elena back before the final episode would actually get in the way of ramped-up action and what-not since any drama after her return would have to be resolved very quickly. So I do understand.

* Yes, I know it's possible that the shot of Elena in the coffin could have been an unused shot from the season 06 finale and it most likely is, but it was still new Elena footage.

And honestly, seeing Stefan as he is now as a human, he's not that much terribly different—he's better, more on that below—but he's still the Stefan Salvatore that we know. I imagine that Damon would mostly be the same. We've been watching his journey over the past eight seasons into becoming a better person, a good man… and the main difference in human!Damon and vampire!Damon would likely just be his lack of desire to kill. And that he may still feel, but he has mostly learned to just not do it. I imagine if we had had a full season with Elena after waking up (or if Dobrev had stuck around with the show) that we would see more differences between the human and vampire versions of the brothers. Alas… well, we didn't and she didn't, so this is what we have. Not that it's a bad thing as is… what is has been pretty damn fantastic. And that fantastic includes the continued Elena permeation of this show that began the episode after she left and has never once let up.

I will say that I was surprised that we didn't get as much of Elena as we have in most of this last half of the last season, considering we are so close to seeing her again. Yes, she was present (literally), but her presence was fairly was more peripheral. However, there was this one specific mention of her that I really loved. It was when Cade said that Elena had a beautiful soul (and he would know). Yes, her association with the Salvatores had dimmed its luster, but like Damon told Stefan in "We Have History Together," some souls can't be corrupted.

Damon's continued insistence while he lay vervained in the hospital bed that Tara would not let him die despite the odds that Stefan had stacked against him. He held onto the belief that Tara, this girl so like Elena, was like her in spirit as well.

Damon: Toldja she'd be a challenge, hmm.
Stefan: What are you so pleased about? You're supposed to be on task.
Damon: All I'm saying is maybe some people can't be corrupted. Maybe she's just plain good.
Like Elena. Elena couldn't be corrupted; Elena is just plain good.
And here the Devil himself was confirming that very fact about Elena Gilbert. Uh huh.

I said that we didn't get as much of Elena as we have recently, but that doesn't mean we still didn't get some lovely Damon and Elena to sigh and squee over. Damon's intention to stop Stefan from attempting to kill Cade because he wasn't going to let anything happen to Elena (or Stefan) was one of those continued selfless moments of love from him for her. As was his refusal to kill himself until Cade put the fire out on his girl's coffin and promised that her soul would be safe from his Devilish hands for all eternity. *sigh* And then… oh, and then there was saying that she was at the top of the list of the people he loves; she was the great girl he hopes to marry someday.

Finally there were two, polar reactions from him towards Elena in her coffin. The first was his devastation when Cade set it on fire, contrasted with the peaceful happiness radiating from him as he looked down at her before closing the lid on her lying safely in it once more.


*sigh* Soon, soon… we will get our Damon and Elena together again! In the meantime, we got a re-introduction to the triangle that drove the show for at least half of its run, but this time in the very best way possible. "I choose me" is normally about being selfish for the good of yourself; it's about putting yourself first because your happiness matters too. I thought it was brilliantly used in this context as a subversion of that usual selfish trope. When Damon told Cade that he was choosing himself it was the height of selflessness. Cade forcing Damon to choose between Elena and Stefan put the triangle back into play but with a wonderful twist… Damon was the one in the middle, and then on top of that twist was how it revealed the very heart of the triangle. Stefan was fighting for Damon to choose Elena (and we all damn well know that Elena would have been fighting for the opposite, firstly because she wouldn't want to see Stefan die, but also because she knows that Damon would never forgive himself for that… of course, he wouldn't for choosing her either, but Elena wouldn't think of herself).

And then when Cade forced him to make his choice, Damon did the exact same thing as Stefan did (and Elena would have). He offered up his own soul to the Devil just as Stefan chose his, and just as Elena would have chosen hers. In doing as the two he loves most did and would do as well, it brought the triangle to its purest form and proved ultimately that it had never been about two brothers fighting over a girl. Damon never truly fought for Elena when she was with Stefan, and Stefan never truly fought to win her back once she was with Damon. It was also not about a girl going back and forth between the two men she loved. She was with Stefan, she stayed with him until they were done*, until she realized that she was no longer in love with him. She was in love with Damon, and once with Damon, she never looked back.

*Yes, she and Damon had a few intimate moments in between, but there truly were extemporaneous circumstances… Stefan had turned his switch off, and even when given the chance, he refused to flip it back. He and Elena were pretty much broken up then.

The triangle at the heart of this show has rather been about three people who all love each other so much that not a one of them can imagine losing any of the other two and would die first themselves. Love in its most pure form. This was reflected in what Damon told Stefan before Stefan vervained him: "I'm not gonna let anything happen to her. Or you." If you can't tell, I truly loved that scene in the cave with the three of them (and Cade). And it actually led me to expect something that did not happen. When Damon was so selfless in choosing himself and then went through with it, staking himself, I thought that Cade would find himself unable to take Damon because he had redeemed himself with that act. However, such was not to be, and hey, as Damon said in his fantastic speech to Stefan later, he likely will never be able to clean his slate of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad ways.

In my wretched, miserable life I have inflicted a fantastic amount of pain. I don't think my slate will ever be clean. But I don't need some spirit journey with a bunch of strangers to convince me that my redemption is within reach. I just need the people I love. The list is short, but profound. You're right at the top, alongside a great girl I hope to marry someday. Don't walk away from your list because you don't think you're worth it.
Damn, Damon Salvatore knows how to give great speech.


Ah, I loved every epic bro-moment between Damon and Stefan in this one. So, so beautiful. Well, OK, not every moment. I did have one little issue—this would be that "almost" I referenced at the top of the post. After Cade was dispelled into the fiery pits of… erm, nothing, I guess, and Stefan and Bonnie had their moment, Damon suddenly showed up. That wasn't my issue. I can completely buy that the strendth of the destruction of such an incredibly powerful immortal creature as the very Devil himnself was enough to push Damon back into his body since he hadn't been taken to Hell yet.

No, my issue was in the delivery of the explanation and, well, the explanation itself. I know… I'm actually dinging the delivery of Ian Freaking Somerhalder! Actually, no, I'm not. I don't blame him. Somerhalder, in my opinion, has shown himself to be the one of the best deliverer of lines in the business. He can make the most out of a single word, can find the heat, the humor, the pathos and the nuance of anything on a script and inject just the right amount of the emotion needed to sell it. So, yeah, I'm blaming the throwaway nature of the line itself and the director, Pascal Verschooris—which I hate to do because I think that Verschooris is fantastic in just about every directing aspect. The line itself was just too lightweight for the moment. I realize that his return was a deus ex machine moment, but the casual nature of the line and the lack of confusion, shock, and/or awe just made that deus ex machine blindingly obvious. Now when I watched the episode a second time (of course, I did), it didn't play as poorly as it had the first go-round, and I was able to diagnose that with more weight, and yes, confusion and wonder, the line even as blasé as it was would have worked well enough. Does that make sense?

Yes, yes, I know they've died so many times and came back but each time that was with the actual expectation of coming back. Damon did not think he was coming back. He believed that he had killed himself and that was it. He was dead-dead forever. So to not have that happen and illicit no true amazement and uncertainty didn't work for me. There was some, but it was so muted and with his history of excellence, I just can't lay the blame on Somerhalder.

However, again, that was just one line and while tonally off it may have been, there was so much prior and after that between Damon and Stefan (and Damon and Bonnie) that in the big picture, it just didn't matter all that much. Oh yeah, let's talk a bit about the brothers Salvatore. I have made no secret of my great love for the two and their relationship. So needless to say, I loved everything Damon and Stefan in this episode. As I jotted down in my notes with regards to them for me it was all the feels in the universe. From their first interaction near the top, every moment between the brothers simply shown with love for one another. Damon found out about Stefan's intention to leave and made a joke about missing out on an epic bro moment, but it was lighthearted and done with an obvious enough touch that it was clear that Damon just wanted that connection with his brother. Even after Stefan took Damon out—knowing that he would have an issue with Stefan risking his life (and, well, Elena too) by confronting Cade—there was no resentment or angry fall-out. Simply put, at this stage in the game, they both understand completely where the other is coming from in all areas. See: Damon's discussion with Caroline… but more on that later. Let's stick with these two for a bit more.

During the confrontation with Cade, I already discussed the connection between Damon, Stefan and Elena, so now I just want to focus on the brotherly aspect of it. Stefan lying there, knowing he had failed to take out Cade and because of that he had put Elena in danger and so he chose to give up his quest for atonement, pleading with his brother to pick Elena and just let him go. And then… gah, the devastation on Stefan's face when Damon chose himself instead, begging his brother to not do it. Man, the Damon's pain when he looked at Stefan and saw *his* pain was just so beautiful and heartbreaking. Ah, they love each other so much. Then, of course, adding a horrific note to the moment was Cade's expression. There was such enjoyment there; it was crystal clear that he found their pain delicious.


And painful it was. After Damon staked himself—ugh, I'm getting really tired of watching my Damon die, damnit!—we came back to the two of them and there was Stefan cradling his big brother in his arms. Such loss, such unfathomable loss, radiating from him until he saw the weapon that could avenge Damon's life. It was at that moment that the pain hardened into a determination to use that deadly blade. And succeed in using that singular weapon at last. And succeed he did. I loved that it wasn't achieved because of some mystical influence (such as the ringing of the bell), but rather two emotions that are so very human—pride and love. Cade was so filled with hubris, so much pride in his own power that he just left the weapon unattended to go and take hold of his new plaything (the soul of Damon Salvatore). And in doing so, Cade allowed Stefan the opportunity to get that blade, even through his bruised and battered pain, to find and take out the Devil. And Stefan could pull it off because the love he felt for his brother gave him the strength to succeed where mysticism and magic had failed him already.

And then came the best part… *sigh*


*double sigh* Ah, that was such a wonderfully heartfelt hug between the brothers. Stefan just threw himself in Damon's arms, and Damon just bear-hugged him in response so tightly. My ♥ !!

Also filling my ♥ with so much emotion? Damon and Bonnie. See that hug above between the brothers Salvatore? Another amazingly awesome moment in that hug was the silent communication between Damon and his best friend. (Sorry, Caroline, Bonnie has once more claimed that title. But don't worry, you're still a damn sight better as an alternate bestie than is Alaric!) In the middle of his epic bromantic moment with Stefan, Damon took a moment to share a look and a smile with Bonnie that was filled with such deep love and friendship. I loved it for its own sake—the connection and truth of their relationship on display—but also because of how the two sharing that moment *while* Damon was still in Stefan's embrace connected all three of them in the aftermath of the final confrontation with Cade.


Before Stefan entered the picture though, there was just Bonnie the (Former) Witch vs. Cade the Devil in an epic psychic showdown. I loved seeing Bonnie once again stand up and fight with all of the very great power she contains in her tiny frame as we have seen her do time and time again. What was so special about this go-round though is that it is the first time in the show's existence that we've seen someone other than Elena or Stefan fight desperately to save Damon… just Damon. But there Bonnie was going toe to toe with the very Devil and not backing down.

Oh, and seeing that intense determination to benefit her best friend was one aspect of the amazing. The other? The look on Damon's face when Bonnie made her declaration. He gazed at her with an expression of surprise and love. Here was someone fighting *for* him… risking it all *for* him. For Damon Salvatore. It was a beautiful moment. And just as beautiful was his response in turn—as hard as she was fighting to save him when he saw the risk to her, he began to plead with her to just (you guessed it) let him go. Just as he had sacrificed himself for Elena and Stefan, now here he was willing and determined to do the very same for Bonnie. Oh, Damon, I love you so!

Damon:You gotta let me go.
Bonnie: It's not gonna happen.
Damon: Please, Bon, let go or I will.
Bonnie: Damon, don't you dare!
Oh, Bonnie, I love you so!


Yeah, I totes love Bonnie Bennett so much. Alas, I still don't love Bonnie with Enzo all that much. However… if he stays dead and she buries him and decides to move on with her life, my opinion may change. I know that may sound weird, but I look at it this way. If Enzo's death remains permanent, then all of the happiness they experienced in the few months after they finally got together outside of the cabin makes sense from a narrative point of view. Therefore in any rewatches I do, how I view their romance will be with an appreciation for the overwhelming joy before the fatalistic fall. If he died before they got to have their happily ever after, their love story becomes a tragic romance seen through the beauty of the ever-poetic 'what could have been.' It will never be tarnished, but instead will live in a perfect memory that Bonnie can hold onto in any hard times ahead.

And if my dream of Matt and Bonnie having some kind of romantic future catches hold—even in a glimpse in the present that is only hinted at but shown to have blossomed in some flashforward—the above with Enzo works even better. Matt knew Enzo, had his own issues with him, but in the end saw him as someone who was there for Bonnie, someone who truly found goodness with the love of his life. Furthermore, because Matt himself loved deeply once—enough to propose marriage—and lost tragically (ironically, albeit unintentionally, to Stefan just as Bonnie lost Enzo because of him), Matt can understand the holding onto that perfect memory and wouldn't see it as something to fight against. But nothing may ever come of that dream (or the hints that they have given us, grr…). Still, there are two episodes left to see if there will be any more signs that something possibly could be happening (even at a future time) between Matt and Bonnie. Therefore, I will have hope until there is no hope left. Although, *sigh* I admit that if we get nothing in the next episode—with only one more to go after that—then, erm, yeah, I'm pretty sure there is no hope left. We shall see.

I'm either delusional or catching onto something that is intended—again, we will know soon enough—but I'm seeing signs of a better Bonnie with Enzo staying dead already. First there was the fact that we at last saw Bonnie stepping up to the plate to help her best friend again… but only now that Enzo is gone. Yes, technically, she could be with "him" in her psychic realm, but that's different because he's not really there; it's a shadow of Enzo. And to me, that was telling. Was it intentional? Again with the… we'll know soon enough. Also telling was that Bonnie chose to leave the dead (Enzo) to help the living (Elena, Damon-ish). That is a good sign for her mental health. She's not so stuck in that mindset that she needs to be with him… even if it's not really, really him.

With that said, Enzo was offering up some good sense to Bonnie before her exit. He talked to her about her capacity for good and how big it is. (Hey, Damon was right… and he said it first!) There was that reminder, plus also Enzo telling her that holding onto hate isn't only about forgiving the one that the hate is expended upon, but it's also about keeping yourself sane. By holding onto that dark emotion, it can wind up eating you alive inside. And for someone like Bonnie, who is so good, it would eat her up in a most horrible way. Those two keys from him, alongside the fact that Bonnie with Stefan's help had just defeated the literal Devil to save the person they both love so much, helped to explain why she is already on the road to forgiveness. Yes, she may have told Stefan that she hadn't forgiven him yet, but that she would say so while offering a wry smile meant that, yeah, she is getting there soon enough. Again, it makes perfect sense after fighting the Devil to his death… because, yeah, that would create a bond.

Speaking of that confrontation, I loved that we had Bonnie *and* Stefan being the ones to save Damon in the end. To me it felt like a reverse parallel to last season when Damon chose to desiccate all in order to protect Bonnie and Stefan—the two he loved the most (who were around) and who had both been punished because of him. I just thought that was lovely.

As was Stefan's apology to Bonnie. It felt so sincere and *for* Bonnie, as opposed to *for* Stefan. And that makes perfect sense when you think of the aspect of Stefan's personality that was actually magnified. I say "actually," because Stefan memorably (and laughably) told Caroline in season 02 that it was essentially his empathy that had been magnified. I laughed at that notion all the way back then, and everything we are seeing with human!Stefan confirms that I had a better handle on vampire!Stefan than he did himself.

I've always felt that Stefan's selfishness was the personality trait that had been inflated. Seeing as how he is showing the exact same level of empathy that we've seen from him since day one makes it pretty clear that Stefan was in the wrong in his assessment. (Shocker!) On the other hand, we've seen quite a major downturn in his self-centeredness. His form of apology to Bonnie was one sign of that. Another was how he rescheduled his non-Mystic Falls atonement tour when Damon told him he needed his help because Cade had Elena. In the past despite the pain that others were going through—even Damon—if helping them interfered with what *he* wanted to do, well, Stefan would do what was best for Stefan and the others could find their own way. Not this time.

Finally, his intention to leave Caroline because he believed it was what was best for her was a shining side of the new/old Stefan. Think back to the first couple of seasons when Stefan made it perfectly clear that he *knew* that he should leave Elena because he'd brought danger and chaos to her life… and yet he wouldn't, *couldn't* do it. That was his selfishness in high gear. He wanted to be with her and what he wanted was more important than what was best for her. But now… now, he's actually, truly putting the person he loves first. So why did he turn around and change his mind with regards to her? Because selfish vampire!Stefan who had made everything about himself no longer is doing that. Therefore when other people point out a different point of view, he is actually able to listen now.

One of the things that Damon fans have long loved about him is his selflessness when it comes to how he loves (first Katherine—sadly, and then—yay!—Elena). When it comes to love, Damon doesn't really know any other way than to put the other person first, to be as selfless as one possibly can be (despite his complete and utter inability to realize how unselfish in love he is—thus his constant belief that he is the selfish one, oh Damon!). So when Damon learned that Stefan was leaving Mystic Falls and Caroline, he completely zeroed in on what his brother's point of view was: He didn't believe he deserved Caroline and wanted what was best for her which wasn't he, so he was walking away. Damon can understand that motivation.

However because Damon has since learned to let the woman he loves desperately love him back without conditions despite how wrong he believes that he is for her because what *she* wants matters too, Damon can understand Caroline's point of view as well. And because of Elena showing him what true love is, he knows that Caroline is right. Furthermore, because Damon can so clearly see both sides of the equation here, he was the perfect person to lay it all for his brother in such a way that Stefan couldn't help but understand. By running away, he was being selfish and he was hurting not only himself, but Caroline too. To stay with her was not the wrong move here; leaving would be. So Stefan did right by Caroline. Even though he wanted to be with her, it wasn't selfish to stay because she wanted the same thing. The selfish move was in doing what he told himself was the "right" thing to do instead of doing what was right for Caroline. I don't think that vampire!Stefan would have been able to see and thus make that distinction.

Alas, he is Stefan Salvatore and his guilt is just as massive as ever and, while vampirism may have magnified his selfishness, in order to do so the selfishness had to be great enough to tap on its own. He may have made the right call with Caroline, but Stefan was most definitely selfish when it came to his decision to take on Cade. Yes, it was a good cause, but it arose from his guilt and disregarded the risk to Elena's life. The only positive to come out of that action was that it was yet another sign that, yeah, Stefan and Elena are done, finished, over, and nothing is going to change that fact in the last two episodes. (Yes, some people still have hope.)

And that is just silly because, yeah, thank goodness, it is finally absolutely, totally crystal clear that Stefan Salvatore and Caroline Forbes are endgame. (SQUEE!) *sigh* Such a beautiful, beautiful scene and so fitting that it took place in the exact same place as their reunion from last season's finale.


Unlike that one, though, this reunion felt much more earned and I was able to enjoy every single second, savor every word, every profession of love, every smile, every sweet kiss. SQUEE! My beautiful sunshiny couple truly together and happy once more! Aww, and it was Damon who brought them together this last time just as Stefan was the one who made the final pitch to get Damon to go after Elena in season 06 after she’d erased his memories but was showing signs of the love. Ah, parallels, parallels on this show, I love them so!

Just like I love, love Stefan and Caroline so! ♥ ♥ I loved how Stefan was nervously waiting outside for her and then as soon as she appeared and stepped out, he fell immediately to his knees and asked her to marry him. *sigh* There was no dragging it out, no dithering or blathering, just boom!down he went and then "Marry me." Took him a bit of time, but once he made up his mind, he went straight for it. I. Loved. It. Her understandable confusion and his response that he was "an idiot, intellectually challenged, maybe even blind," was just as perfect (and hilarious)! Followed by his fear that he had waited too long before *she* fell to her knees and rushed to assure him that he had not. So Stefan proposed once more and this time without the uncertainty, filled only with love, Caroline said "yes." Ah, it was such a beautiful scene!


Another great scene was one that she shared with the other Salvatore, yup, her new buddy, Damon! Caroline saying "another Salvatore brother freezing her out," was awesome not because she thought that Damon was not telling all but because by phrasing it as such she was putting Damon in a companionable category. And then it got even better because Damon showed that he felt the same about Caroline. Instead of just glossing over her comment—which he absolutely would have done in the past—he followed up on it. He genuinely wanted to know what had gone wrong with her and Stefan. She believed the sincerity in his interest and they shared an actual real conversation that involved soul searching and heartfelt connections. *sigh* It was beautiful. I love Damon and Caroline; I'm so glad that they are finally, fully out of the frenemy zone with only friendship remaining because we can finally enjoy scenes like these and they are so good!

Also, so good was not only everything with Caroline and the twins, but also all the good we got with the little girls. First there was the adorable (if worrisome) scene where Lizzie and Josie were excitedly trying on the flower girl dresses. Their reaction to the dress-up was so cutely realistic, as was Caroline's reaction. So often we tend to see parents with young children on television not getting cross and irritable and yelling at them when they misbehave. Well, OK, we see stuff like that but it's almost always based on *something* deeper and darker. In this case, Caroline was reacting as a frustrated mother would. And there was nothing especially deeper to that. Yes, she's not a happy camper right now, but again, that's realistic. When a parent is not feeling their best, they aren't going to react in the best way possible to bad behavior. So, yeah, I liked that little moment.

I also liked how realistic the twins acted even if it led to a highly unrealistic result, but hey, it's a supernatural show, what do you expect? After Lizzie started her little fire—that would be the 'highly unrealistic' part—Josie's snottiness about Lizzie getting in trouble was just perfect. I remember when Tierney and Lily Rose Mumford first appeared, I wasn't exactly kindly to the casting choice of these twins. However, I must say that I've grown attached to them now and I did truly think that they both did a good job in this episode (I actually have been fine with them for a while). It wasn't just in that first scene with the dresses that I liked them, I also thought they were sweetly believable with Caroline when she put them to bed. Then, when on the phone with Ric, the Mumford twins did a great job conveying their fear. So good on them.

And good on Ric for a few things this go-round. (Alas none of them have to do with Damon… natch!) Firstly, yes, he stopped ringing the bell which led to Stefan's inability to kill Cade. However, I can't fault Ric for that one. His five-year old twins called him in terror. They didn't know where their powerful, vampire mother was and they had just heard a loud crash. On top of that, Ric knew very well that a certain uncle of theirs—one who had killed their biological mother, tried, tried and then succeeded in killing his younger brother and sister, another pair of twins—was potentially on the loose. So, yeah, I totes get him dropping the bell and heading to his kids. I consider that a point in Ric's favor. If he hadn't done that, boy, would that have made him look like a pretty terrible father.

And then showing how smart he is—despite the stupidity with which he views everything Damon-related lately—there was his attempted takedown of Kai; it was brilliant. I admit that when I first heard the twins whispering to one another as Kai did that I thought he had found them. Aha! Nope, it was Ric hiding behind that wall knowing that the sound of their voices would draw Kai to his hiding spot. (And so believable… what parent doesn't have video of their kids doing cute things?) Sure, Kai quickly got the upper hand, but hey, then came along the aforementioned powerful, vampire mother of the twins. Booyah!

Finally, I really liked the introduction of the "Armory School for the Supernaturally Gifted" idea. What was so good about it was that it was foreshadowed earlier in the episode, but not in an anvillicious way that banged us over the head. Ric's issue with finding a school for the girls was mentioned, but it wasn't done in such a way that the Armory school reveal felt obvious. So, yeah, I liked it. Cool!

Phew! Wow, yeah, this one was long… not done yet, but all that is left are random thoughts –

- Hah! When Kai was trying and failing to siphon from Stefan, his and "Stefon's" reactions were funny. Hee!

- Also funny was Damon's reason for not being there right after Kai stabbed Stefan through the hand: "Sorry, I was picking out a song." Oh man, I laughed out loud and rewound that bit a few times. So random, but so hilarious.

- Damon really dropped the ball there in being the one to decide to take Kai to the Armory. Damon, Damon, Damon, I expect smarter from you! Ah, he should have thought of his close relationship with the Mystic Falls' Sheriff and had Matt lock him up in the town's jail. No magic there!

- When Enzo told Bonnie to not hold onto hate because it would eat her alive, I had the thought that he was thinking of Damon. After all, despite his situation, Enzo was a pretty decent vampire before he felt betrayed by Damon in the 50's.

- I loved Damon's complete lack of respect for Cade's all-powerful authority as the Devil. There he was, sassing the Devil while on the planes between Earth and Hell with zero compunction. Why? Because annoying him is right up Damon's alley. Hah!

- The first time that I watched the psychic showdown between Bonnie and Cade, it was really tense and exciting. I was really caught up in the drama of the moment. However, upon rewatch it was just a wee bit, erm, much? Still, that first viewing—which is when something like that really matters—it was aces.

- Speaking of that confrontation, I must say that the special effects of the fire imploding inside of Cade were really well done.

- Hmm, have you all noticed that Damon Salvatore seems to have a lot of "bottles" that he saves for special occasions? Yeah.

- So Damon talked about the short, but profound, list of the people he loved. That led me to wondering who is on it and in what order. This is my guess: Elena, Stefan, Bonnie, Caroline, Jeremy, Matt, and, (sadly, yeah, still) Alaric.

- Aha, there was a little throwaway line about what was in store for Kai in the last scene between Alaric and Caroline. Before they began talking about the "Armory School for the Supernatually Gifted," Ric asked her if she had talked to Bonnie, and Caroline said that she knew what to do. Niiice.

- Ah, there was so much talk of letting go and not letting go in this episode. We had Stefan saying such to Damon and that was quite a reversal of the thread of that "let him go" from season 07, huh? I figured we would revisit that theme in this season but I wasn't sure how they would do so with Stefan towards Damon since they had seemingly redone the overall point of that theme to fit just last season's arc. I can go with what they've done here. It's still about letting go of the human brother while the other is a vampire, but now it's on the other shoe. Of course, Damon doesn't fight it because he knows that if Stefan lives the rest of his long life as hoped for when he loses his brother, Elena will soon be in his arms. We also had a bit of that "letting go and not" with Damon to Bonnie, Stefan to Caroline, and Enzo to Bonnie about hate. I like the revving up of that theme since it pertains so beautifully to Damon and Elena and I wonder if we will get some sort of reprise (in the best way possible) with them.

- I wrote a post about some potential song ideas (Ross Copperman-related) that might play over Damon and Elena before the series ends. You can read it here.

- Finally, *sigh* Ian Somerhalder has really pretty eyes.

OK, only two episodes left and pretty, pretty please let the remaining two be as awesome (or even more so) than this one. Please, please! I have hope… and faith because this is The Vampire Diaries after all!
Tags: bonnie bennett, caroline forbes, damon salvatore, damon/alaric, damon/bonnie, damon/caroline, damon/elena, damon/matt, damon/stefan, ep discussion-tvd, ian somerhalder, stefan salvatore, stefan/caroline, the vampire diaries

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