Arabian (arabian) wrote,
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8.16 - 'I Was Feeling Epic, Part I' (The Vampire Diaries)

At last, at last, it is here. The first part anyway.

So, this is it for The Vampire Diaries. I've watched the finale—gulp! *series* finale—three times already. I know that it's over. I know that was the last new episode we will ever see. Yes, there is potential to see some of these characters again either on The Originals and/or maybe even on another possible spin-off. However, there is no more Vampire Diaries, and I'm pretty sure it is a certainty that we will never see Stefan Salvatore, Damon Salvatore and Elena Gilbert (Salvatore) again.

Yes, Elena Gilbert Salvatore. Ahem, Dr. Elena Gilbert Salvatore.

 

We may not have seen much of Damon and Elena in this final episode, but we were left in no doubt as to what their future was together. We were given an unmistakable shot of their clasped hands with Elena's pretty, pretty engagement and wedding ring very visible (also seen, but not as noticeably, in the graveyard scene) as Elena spoke of their "long and happy life together." (Excuse me for one moment… SQUEE! Ahem.) And from the moment they saw one another again until they died of old age—and you know they totally went together because they so just would, likely in each other's arms—they were in love and they were happy. When you think of the futures we were shown of all our characters, Damon and Elena were the only ones who got a complete and absolute happy ending. They even wound up in the afterlife with the family members they had lost… Elena with her parents, Jenna and even Uncle Daddy John. And, Damon, of course, Damon was reunited with his brother.

Now, I think it was clear enough based on what we saw in the last two scenes that Damon and Elena died in each other's arms (of old age obviously) and that's why they hadn't reunited with anyone yet. When we saw them walking down the empty street they had just arrived at their happily ever after peace. Then Damon disappeared because while Elena was seeing her family, Damon was seeing his. That made sense to me. I also know that there was discussion of having Damon and Elena in old make-up but it was decided against and I agree with that. If it was about being young, or looking the age you are when you die that wouldn't work with regards to the different actors (Grams, Liz, etc.), however, if one were to look at it from the perspective of your happily ever after peace appearance being when you were at your happiest, your most comfortable self, your most at peace. Looking at where all of our characters were that we saw at peace, that explanation does fit.

Still, going back just a bit, although, it was clear enough, I confess that I do wish that the portrayal of the afterlife had been a wee bit clearer. Because, yeah, Damon just… well, he just vanished from Elena's side. They were walking hand in hand and then Elena got a confuzzled look on her face and he was gone. Yes, it was wonderful that Elena then had her happy, beautiful reunion with her family and of course I loved Damon's afterlife endgame with Stefan. However, there was no explanation for the separation between Damon and Elena. There could have been something like Damon disappearing, Elena's confusion, and as she's looking around, she sees her family. Naturally, she would have run to them, lost in her joy over seeing them, but then glanced after back to where Damon was before Jenna (JENNA!) would have simply told her with a calm smile, "he'll be back." That would have cleared up any confusion about Damon and Elena in the afterlife.

Furthermore, based on post-show interviews, a bigger issue of clarity, in my opinion, could have been avoided and also given the Damon and Elena fan-base a lovely gift. According to Kevin Williamson, there was an intended scene with Damon proposing to Elena after she graduated from medical school. Yes, let me repeat that: There was an actual Damon and Elena proposal scene that was cut (from the script; it wasn't even filmed apparently). *sigh*

Oh, and why was it cut? *double sigh* Well, according to Williamson, the only point of it was to show that Elena became a doctor but they realized that putting Elena in scrubs would accomplish the same thing. *triple sigh* The only point? Giving your show's biggest fan-base a much-deserved moment of romance in the series finale maybe should have been considered as another point—mayhap even a bigger one?—in favor of that scene. Yes, I know that we have had a few scenes that all but played out as Damon proposing, but the actual proposal itself would have been amazing. I mean, come on, Stefan and Caroline had two proposal scenes. (And Stefan and Elena had two as well—one in Markos' dreamscape and the over-the-top fake one in the bar!)

Even going beyond the sadness of losing such a wonderful Damon and Elena moment, there is also the fact that it would have made more sense to go from the engagement scene into the final one of the two in the afterlife because of Elena's voiceover. Instead, we had Elena casually sitting in the cemetery writing in her diary, erm, while she was still alive? I thought so at first, but, no, her words made it sound like she was already dead and in the afterlife. Didn't it? I'm still not sure, honestly; it was confusing to me. The start of that scene seemed like just another flash-forward. However, as the diary entry continued, Elena seemed to indicate that she had already lived her life.

Elena: After med school, I came home to Mystic Falls. It felt right. It's where I wanted to grow old, and I did. And that's my life.

See… she said where she wanted to grow old and then that she did… as in past-tense. That made it sound like, yeah, that she had lived her life in full and was now in the afterlife. And then that was strengthened by the next scene where Damon and Elena (in different outfits than when in the cemetery) were undeniably in the afterlife. I just think that had that hand-walking scene come right after a flash-forward proposal with all of Elena's voice-over playing then, it would have made so much more sense. Instead we had a callback to the Pilot (yes, yes, I love my callbacks and parallels, but come on, there were so many in this episode that another one, especially one that was confusing, was unnecessary).

Also, why would a happy, fulfilled Elena be writing entries in a cemetery like the 16-year old girl who was dead inside that we had first met? Really, why on earth would this Elena be sitting in a graveyard writing in her diary? We never saw her doing such *after* the Pilot and there was a reason that we never saw it. It was because she had met Stefan and had started to come back to life again. Her visiting the cemetery and spilling her thoughts onto page while there wasn't about connecting with her parents. If it had been we would have continued to see Elena visit and diary there. However, we never did because when we saw her there in the very first episode—and only then—the idea was that this girl was so dead inside that she felt most comfortable in a graveyard. Meeting Stefan changed that, woke her up and let her realize that she still had life in her.

To be fair, I'll admit that questioning why Elena would be there in life (or afterlife) didn't even occur to me until thinking on the episode as much as I have. Therefore, I can let that one go (mostly). Alas, the confusing tense of the line ("It's where I wanted to grow old, and I did.") struck me from watch one. The proposal scene at her graduation, eliminating the cemetery scene completely, and leading into the afterlife would have just made so much sense. Furthermore, I seem to recall that it was made very clear that Damon would have to disappear from his old life once he became human because of enemies he had made tracking him down if he stayed amongst familiarity. So, uhm, he and Elena moving back to Mystic Falls rather contradicted that bit of information we received in season 06. Yeah. Some viewers have a Vampire Diaries encyclopedia in their minds. I'm just saying. The two in the afterlife in Mystic Falls? No problem, but before then… yeah, no. That one doesn't quite work with established canon.

Still… with all of that said, I will not lie. I did totes love the overall feel and sweet, sweet Damon and Elena-ness of the scene itself. The smile on her face, so full of love and happiness, when she looked up and saw him, and also how he held out his hand to her as she reached him. Then there was the lovely walk away hand in hand from the Salvatore crypt… away from Stefan, away from death, out of the woods and into the sun. Of all their scenes, despite my (I think, very understandable!) issues, it was still actually my favorite of the Damon and Elena scenes in the episode.

 
 

Not to say that I didn't love the others, but I'm going to be honest here. The actual reunion was not as incredible as I had hoped it would be. Damon was literally in the middle of mourning his brother at Stefan's (non)grave marker. The passion and overwhelming joy that one would have thought we would get from them seeing each other again for the first time in years and sooner than expected was just not there. Again, likely because Damon had just come from tracing the name of his dead brother in the family mausoleum. Thus, my hope that we would hear another Ross Copperman song over their reunion was for naught. However, without the expected (non-mourning) ardor on display and their coming together just a small slice amidst a greater gathering of connection between Bonnie, Caroline, Damon and Elena that makes sense. (It does give me a sadz though!)

Still, it was Damon and Elena. We did get a kiss—even if it was my least favorite Damon and Elena kiss, although I get the why of it: Elena was smiling with so much happiness that it makes sense she could barely manage to kiss him! There was definitely some sweet joy on display, and yeah, it was Damon and Elena seeing one another again and I just can't not love that. My babies! My Damon and Elena! Together again and in each other's arms! ♥ ♥ ♥

 
 

Alas I must confess, I still did like the reunion at the top of the episode better when it was Katherine pretending to be Elena. Katherine did such an excellent job impersonating her doppelganger in that moment that it truly seemed to be Elena. And how it played out, well, it just felt like more of a MOMENT! Damon looked shocked and near-dumbstruck with wonder. The way he said her name, how he went to her, hugging her so tightly and lifting her in his arms and swinging her around was so beautiful. Frankly, it just played out more like I expected their reunion would have. Had he not realized it was Katherine* almost immediately, I would have expected that sweeping hug to melt into a very passionate kiss.

 
 

*Aww, Elena would be so proud… he wasn't able to tell it was Katherine throughout the time he spent with her when she took over Elena, but this time he knew almost right away.

But back to Damon and the real Elena! Before I highlight a few other moments between and about these two that I loved, I wanted to talk about this endgame for Damon and Elena. A human Damon and Elena. *sigh* Unless, I'm mistaken, I believe that there are some who are not happy with these two as non-vampires. However, I believe that this was the only way their love story should have ended. In season 06, episode 17's "A Bird In A Gilded Cage," I wrote that:

[…] there's a big part of me that still believes the endgame for Damon and Elena will be the two of them both human at the end of the day. It's what she wants; it's what his secret wish is and he's only revealed it that one time, but that was real, it was too raw and painful to not be real.

From the moment that Damon made that confession, I expected that we would see a Damon revert to his human self somehow, someday. And when Elena begged Damon to take the cure with her, be human with her, I believed wholeheartedly that we would not only see a human!Damon, but with a human!Elena. Discussions throughout season 06 strengthened that resolve. And, honestly, had the show not ended with these two as vampires no more, it would have felt wrong to me.

I always believed that Elena would be human again. I also always maintained that it is what she wanted. I never changed my stance on it because it was what I always saw in the narrative. It was because of this—as well as Damon's fervent secret wish revealed in "The Descent"—that I never wanted to see Damon and Elena as vampires when we reached our endgame. Doing so would have gone against the narrative. There simply never was an Elena Gilbert who wanted to be a vampire. She accepted it and she made the best of it. She even found an overwhelming positive in it—being with her true love forever, but it was not what she wanted.

As for Damon, he not only confessed that he missed being a human, but throughout the last four episodes of season 06, he made it clear that since Elena wanted to be human, he wanted to be human with her. His longing to once more be human was established in the second season, the cure for vampirism was introduced in the fourth season, and the both of them wanting to live a long, happy, *human* life together was confirmed in season 06. Of course, the end of the series featured the two of them, together and human. It shouldn't—and couldn't—have ended any other way in order to be true to the narrative that had been lain six seasons earlier and been followed through upon time and time again. Needless to say, so yeah, I was very happy with where Damon and Elena ended up… and what they ended up as. *double sigh* On a less expansive note, there were a few other Damon and Elena treats in this series finale that had me smiling.

It was just a small moment but I loved what happened after Damon set down the Salvatore ring at Stefan's funeral. He turned back to the group and immediately Elena pulled away from Caroline. She and Damon just so naturally gravitated towards each other and entwined arms. Then as the camera pulled back to a wide shot of the group, there were Damon and Elena still arm and arm, looking towards one another. ♥ ♥ ♥

 

There were other moments highlighting Damon and Elena's true love throughout the episode that were shown in scenes that didn't even involve the two of them together. There was that early fake-out when Damon recognized that it was Katherine and not Elena, showing that Damon knows Elena body *and* soul now. We then had a powerful moment between Stefan and Caroline. Stefan knew that he had to try and talk to Damon, keep him from dying to save Elena. Caroline, with tears in her voice, asked if he thought that Damon would listen to him. Without any hesitation, Stefan answered in the negative. He had to try, but he knew that Damon would not leave Elena behind. Like I said, it was just a brief moment amidst the beauty and pain of the newlyweds' goodbye, but it was extraordinarily poignant in such a simple way. Damon would not live without Elena, and he would die so that she could live. Period. And Stefan knew that without a doubt.

Not so much painful—at least not for Damon and Elena fans—was Elena's initial reaction to Stefan's telling of what had gone down in the tunnels beneath the town. In fact, I actually couldn't help but let loose a little laugh at how she responded.

Stefan: Without the cure, I'd start to age. I'd be dead soon enough.
Elena: But Damon's OK?
Stefan: He's OK.

Then she expressed concern for Stefan and what that meant for him, but yeah, her immediate response was to make sure that her boo was safe! I will not lie, I totally loved it. And I totally loved the rest of their scene as well (from a Damon and Elena-fan point of view). There were a few lines of dialogue that were callbacks to Damon and Elena in earlier episodes that held resonance. In season 05's "Resident Evil," Elena had been having visions of a "perfect" life with Stefan, but she realized that it wasn't what she wanted as she told Damon.

Elena: It was everything that we wanted.
Damon: Well, we can always ask Markos to put it back.
Elena: But it's not real. You and I, we're messy and complicated, but we're real.

And then in Elena's final diary entry when describing her life, she wrote these words:

Elena: After med school, I came home to Mystic Falls. It felt right. It's where I wanted to grow old, and I did. And that's my life. Weird, messy, complicated, sad, wonderful, amazing and above all, epic.

When she said those two words, I immediately flashed back to that line in that heartbreaking scene. Heartbreaking, yes, but it was drowning in the love that Damon and Elena feel for one another. There was also a beautiful callback to Damon (for Elena) in this very episode, another to one of my all-time favorite scenes between the couple and finally one more Pilot callback. Katherine—being clueless about Elena yet again—had to throw in one more dig at Damon and his lack as compared to his brother. Oh, Katherine, Katherine, Katherine. Bitter, vindictive and so very wrong to the very end. As Stefan beautifully told Elena before he found his peace.

Stefan: Tonight I saw a side of Damon that I hadn't seen in a while. The older brother I looked up to. The son who enlisted in the Civil War to please his father. The Damon I knew when I was a boy. I wanted that Damon to live. And I wanted you to have an opportunity to get to know him. He's the better man. He's the right man.

Hearing Stefan's words, I thought of Stefan's rather creepy declaration about Elena in the Pilot but now with a play upon those words, it was apt and beautiful and heartbreaking as it related to Elena and Damon. And one more lovely and affecting touch was that when Stefan said what he did to Elena about his brother, the music that played over that part of the scene was the exact same music that we heard over those words he said about Elena all the way back in the Pilot episode:

Stefan: I shouldn't have come home. I know the risk. But I had no choice. I have to know her.

Finally, of course, Stefan's use of the word "right" had me thinking of what Damon told Elena back in season 03's "Our Town." It was the episode after their first real kiss and once again the two were having a moment on the Gilbert porch, the very spot where the amorous deed had taken place. When she told him it wasn't right to kiss her, he told her: "It's right. Just not right now." Now, finally, all of the pieces are in place, and yes, it is right and Damon is the better man, the right man for Elena.

I will say though that it was a little frustrating with Stefan expressing that he hadn't seen this side of Damon since the 1800's when he has definitely done so and more than once in the last handful of years. I know, I know, it was for the *moment* but if he had at least said something along the lines of: 'I've seen flashes of that man… but now he is fully that brother I looked up to,' well, that would have fit much better. It is a small thing though and I just can't be that bothered by it when taking in all of the Damon and Stefan in this episode that was so beautiful and, yes, right.

So let's talk about the brothers Salvatore, shall we? And let's begin at the end. The final shot of this series ended exactly as it should have… on Damon and Stefan in an embrace. I once wrote that the two brothers would someday get back to the happy bear hugs of their human days.

So could I possibly love Stefan and Damon anymore? Well, yeah, probably when they both stop denying their deep, great, true love for one another and hug it out like this beautiful moment! (See: "Lost Girls" hug below.) It will come, it will totally, totally come...

03.08 - "Ordinary People"

 

Yes, we have had some sweet hugs, but each of them were tinged with sadness unlike that beautiful hug we saw in the flashback from "Lost Girls." However, this hug, this last one, nothing bittersweet on display there, just happiness. And why wouldn't it be? Prior to Stefan opening that door to see his brother once more, we heard Elena tell us that Damon feared—despite their long and happy life together—that when his death came, he wouldn't find any peace and thus never see Stefan again. But Elena knew better (and so did Caroline for that matter!) because in the end, Damon did reunite with his little brother. Aww, my heart! *sigh* and how much did I love that the very first things that Stefan and Damon said to one another in the very first episode…

Stefan: Damon.
Damon: Hello, brother.

… were their final words to one another? SO MUCH! Beyond just the parallelism on display, there was the beauty of it because whereas those greetings in the Pilot were spoken with anger and cruelty, this last time both said them with such love and happiness.

 

That beautiful moment, while a perfect capper to their relationship as well as the series, was just one of many to celebrate for those who love the brothers, Damon and Stefan Salvatore. There was that magnificent scene down in the tunnels. It was just made of SO MUCH AWESOME! I have no words. OK, yes, I do. The openness with how they spoke to one another, the truths that they said, the desire for the other to live, damnit! and be happy was so rewarding. Their love for one another was shining without any pretense… and they even said the words without hesitation!

  

Damon was desperate to protect his brother, so desperate that he lost leave of his senses—he so should have known that Stefan would be vervained all the heck up—and compelled him because as a vampire to his human brother he could. And then came my favorite part: Damon pleading with Stefan to go because he's the big brother and he's finally gonna do a better job in that role.

Damon: You're gonna walk out of these tunnels, and you are not gonna stop until my death breaks the compulsion because I am the big brother. I'm sorry I wasn't better at it until now.

Another beautiful moment—mostly because it showed such incredible growth from Stefan—was when Stefan insisted that despite being under the control of his vampirism, he was responsible for his actions. I loved it so because it was an amazing parallel to one of my all-time favorite Damon scenes going all the way back to late season 01.

Damon: My actions, what I do, not your fault. I own them. They belong to me.

01.20 - "Blood Brothers"

Stefan: We're all responsible for our own actions. Every drop of blood that I've spilled, I am accountable for.

08.16 - "I Was Feeling Epic"

That declaration from Damon said so much about who he was. He knew that he was not a good person (at least at that point), but he owned that fact. He didn't pretend to be better than he was, nor did he offer up any excuses. Finally (*finally*), Stefan has grown enough to see that same reality about himself. Owing to the difference in the brother's relationship between Damon's comment then and Stefan now, of course, Damon defended Stefan's reality check as not really that bad. Because he loves him. Because he's the big brother. *sigh* These two. {sobs} OK, OK… there was one more bit in this heartbreaking scene that held me so captive. To be fair, the power of both of these moments had more to do with Stefan rather than the brothers Salvatore, but Damon's reaction to both statements from Stefan once again highlighted the deep love that the brothers openly were revealing now. When trying to explain to Damon that he had to make this sacrifice, but it was *not* one he wanted to make, he was showing what a true sacrifice this was. After all, he had literally just gotten married.

The anguish in his voice because he wanted so very much to go home to her. The pain on Damon's face because he wanted so very much for his brother to have his happiness. But Stefan was just as determined that Damon finally get his happily ever after. And he knew that he must do this because, unlike Damon, he was human now and he completely understood the depth of the suffering that he had caused. So, he needed Damon to let him do this for his brother, and if not him, then for himself. My heart!

Stefan: Let me do this for you.
Damon: No.
Stefan: Then let me do this for me. Please.

 

When he said that last bit to Damon, the pain, the vulnerability, the bittersweet hope on his face, in his voice was nearly too much for me. I love Stefan Salvatore so much. And while I am not happy that he had to die, I love that he went out with a beautiful purity that bespoke of the good in him. My Stefan! *sigh* Finally when it was done and Stefan had succeeded in his sacrifice to save his town, his brother's happiness and his own soul, there were two beautiful more moments that touched my heart. While on the surface much of the scene in the Salvatore crypt was about Damon and Caroline connecting for one last time, that connection was over the man they both loved so much… Stefan. And, oh my, the look on Damon's face when he reached out and tenderly traced the word "peace" under his brother's name. Gah, I am slayed dead.

 

And lastly, Damon setting the Salvatore ring atop the stone representing Stefan's grave was so simple and yet so layered. The ring—so necessary for their survival for so long—was no longer on either one of their hands. Stefan, first as a human and then, in death, and Damon, now human himself, no longer needs protection from the sun. That ring, bearing the Salvatore family crest, was the one thing that never changed between the two all during their long, long, tumultuous lives. And with Stefan's passing into mortality and Damon's into humanity… that ring could be set aside. I like to think that it was Stefan's that Damon laid on that stone so that Damon could give his own to his and Elena's son one day. And it wouldn't be about carrying on the Salvatore name (because, duh, Giuseppe) or the remnant of their vampire days, but rather as a symbol of his brother. The brother that Damon believes is at peace. And we know that because of the look Damon sent upwards after he laid the ring down. *sigh*

On a not-so-heavy note, there was one thing that the brothers shared throughout this episode that cracked me up. First Stefan killed Katherine. Then Damon killed Katherine. Oh, and then Damon again. And then finally Stefan got the last kill, the 'she's done, dead-dead-dead, no more coming back, not even from the depths of Hell' one. Hah! Killing Katherine… a brothers Salvatore pastime before they said goodbye.

Speaking of Katherine… I was wrong. Some suggested that it was Katherine in the coffin in the promo spots we saw for the finale. I just did not think that such would be the case. I even made this comment in response to the idea of it being brought to my attention.

If this were NOT the series finale, I'd think that was possible, but I can't see it happening NOW. Not enough time. (Now if the finale was 2 hours... AS IT SHOULD BE, then yeah, but not a regular-sized episode.

So, yeah, I was totes wrong. I really did not think that in the waiting-for-two-seasons reunion between Damon and Elena we would not be seeing Damon reunite with, you know, Elena. And, well, I will not lie, I'm not particularly happy about it. Especially because, as I mentioned above, I actually preferred the Damon and Not!Elena reunion better than the actual reunion. Ah well. Call it another parallel: My favorite "first" kiss of Damon and Elena's is still really the one from "Founder's Day," you know, when it was Not!Elena also. *shrugs*

However, what I *did* love is something else that I was totes, totes wrong about with regards to Miss Katherine.

I think that it was Kai that Katherine was conspiring with. I don't think it was "romantic" (if one could use that word) because Kai still seemed sweet on Bonnie (which is hilariously awful!). I think it was more platonic evil buddies who don't give a flying Fig Newton about anyone other than themselves. As for her and Cade, as fantastic as Katherine is, I just don't see Cade falling for that. Hubris was his weakness, not passion.

Yuppers, wrong again! I just can't believe that I underestimated Katherine. I mean, come on! It's Katherine! I actually thought that she hadn't gotten to Cade, but of course she had. Of course, Katherine Pierce wrapped the very Devil himself around her perfectly manicured finger. And it makes all that happened between Cade, Damon and especially Stefan make perfect sense in retrospect. Cade made the deal to accept the Salvatore brothers as his minions with very little resistance. Cade was so high on attaining Stefan, and I just thought it was too much, feeling like it was a repeat of Stefan, the chosen one. In fact, I even specifically referenced how it called back to Katherine's obsession with Stefan! (I'm metaphorically slapping my head at my own blindness!) I wasn't terribly happy with that because I felt like it was a case of been-there, done-that. *sigh*

See, this is why I try to refrain from taking issue with things that don't work for me because much more often than not there will be an explanation that makes it all make sense. As this reveal did. The easy acceptance of the Salvatore brothers with a particular target on Stefan happened because, of course, Katherine had Cade wrapped around her finger. And of course Katherine would want to torture the Salvatore Brothers. And of course, of course!, Katherine would really want to bring Stefan into the fold because it's Katherine and Stefan has always been her number one boo!

Of course! (Have I mentioned recently how much I love this show?) Erm, and I do, I really, really do. However, I did have one Katherine-related issue in this finale. The fact that there was more Katherine than Elena was a teeny frustration for me. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Katherine Pierce. Spiteful, self-serving beeyotch that she may be, but I still love her. And I adore how Nina Dobrev portrays her and differentiates her so well from Elena. I also thought the idea of Katherine being the Scooby Gang's last foe was absolutely brilliant, but, but, but… Elena is my cupcaked-face bb! I love Katherine, but I *looooooove* Elena. And as much as I like Dobrev's portrayal of the older, cheeky doppelganger, I like how she brings Elena's innate humanity and beautiful goodness to life even more. So, yeah, needless to say, I would have preferred to see more of Elena than I did Katherine.

But, yeah, that issue is only because I wanted more Elena, not because I didn't love every single moment of Katherine. Because, per usual, Katherine was awesome-sauce. My single favorite moment was her description of what would happen to Mystic Falls (or rather the denizens of the town).

Katherine: I have everything I want, Damon… or I'm about to. Once that last bell rings, this stupid town will go up in flames and everybody will go poof. Well, they'll burn alive first, but then their ashes will go poof.

Hah! I just love her so much!

 

Alas, Kitty-Kat, Damon does not. The first time Damon "killed" Katherine was hilarious. He staked her with her own bone-made-stake, took pleasure in the kill for a moment, and then the smile cleared from his face in a flash because it was time to get back to business. And his business was saving his girl, his brother and his town. Ah, when Stefan told Elena that "Damon wanted to sacrifice everything to save you, to save this town," it was such a fabulous callback to the first season finale, "Founder's Day," when Damon told who he thought was Elena that his attitude towards the town had changed.

Damon: You know, I came in this town wanting to destroy it. Tonight, I found myself wanting to protect it.

Aww! As many steps back as Damon took throughout the subsequent seasons, this particular callback, I believe, truly showed that the change of heart that Damon felt all the way at the end of the first season was the turning point for the character. His humanity was awakened and would not let go of its grip on him. There were, as mentioned, some lapses and backslides, but he did find that better man that was always inside of him, encouraged by Elena, Alaric (at least before he died and came back), Stefan, Bonnie and finally, Caroline. And proof that all of them were right to believe in him was what happened in the final moments of this final season. Damon was not only with Elena in the afterlife, but he also reunited with Stefan. So, yes, Elena *and* Caroline were right about Damon Salvatore. He was destined for peace (totes a.k.a., Heaven), not whatever Hell is left for the unredeemable baddies.

*sigh* Speaking of Damon and Caroline… they may have had only one scene, but it was amazing. Their shared love and sorrow over Stefan's loss, their easy camaraderie now that Caroline has put her issues with Damon in the past, all of it was just so lovely to see.

 

And it was especially lovely to see because Caroline could have easily blamed Damon for losing Stefan since after all, Stefan chose to literally take Damon's place with just seconds to spare. But we knew that she wouldn't blame him because of what had already come in the episode. We saw, we heard and we understood why Caroline understood why Stefan had to try and save Damon. Because of family. Because she had just been faced with the reality that when push comes to shove family comes first. As much as she loves Stefan, her daughters had to come first. And as much as Stefan loves Caroline, she knows that his brother comes first. She said so in the tenth episode of this season—and I gloried in that acknowledgement when it happened!

I have said this over and over again. For Stefan it is Damon >>>>> everyone else in the universe evar! Nice to have the show acknowledge that explicitly. I think it's safe to say that Stefan loves Caroline more than anyone else he has ever loved. She is truly the love of his life. Still, Caroline got it right when she told Stefan that she was fully aware that Damon meant more to him than she did. It's not that Stefan doesn't love Caroline deeply and for reals, it's just that, well, for Stefan it's Damon >>>>> everyone else in the universe evar!

08.10 - "Nostalgia's A Bitch"

So, yes, of course she understood.

 

Alas, understanding the reason why still can't do anything to take away the heartbreak of knowing that the day of your wedding is the last day you will likely see your husband alive again. *sigh* My poor, sunshiny Stefan and Caroline. {sobs} That whole goodbye in the high school was just the very definition of heartbreak. From that understanding, to the "I love you so much," their tears, their kisses, their love so beautifully, and yeah, again, heartbreakingly on display was just magnificent, terrible torture. My bbs!

 
 

Damnit! Well, I guess that my concerns about Stefan and Caroline as endgame were justified. It was there… throughout the whole season, they gave us signs. Damnit, damnit, damnit!

[…] things are moving along swimmingly with my other couples… or are they? Dun dun dun. […] Stefan with his humanity flipped […] is not where my concern over Stefan and Caroline comes from. […] What I didn't like was one specific line, partially because he said it to Sybil, and Sybil alone.
Stefan: Take it from me, Elena Gilbert never really goes away.
That ship has clearly sailed and I'm not worried in terms of Damon and Elena, but rather what it says about Stefan and Caroline. Had Stefan made that comment to Damon or Caroline, I would have given it no mind beyond Stefan being an asshole. However, he only said that to Sybil, and he wasn't trying to rile her up. Sure, he was having fun at the expense of her frustration, but that additional comment referencing his own past with Elena was not necessary. And not cool. Then again this is not the first time we've gotten a sign that Stefan and Caroline are not nearly as strong as Damon and Elena. See: Caroline not only not asking Stefan to go with her to save the girls, but actively telling him that she did not want him there. Also, her returning the engagement ring to him during that time period because…. well, honestly, I still don't quite get that one.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I think that Stefan and Caroline are going down a rocky road and won't recover in time for the end of the series. I actually don't even think the above issues were meant to be seen as issues, per se. The latter two were just about creating the dramaz! And the Elena comment was just another way to bring up her awesomeness to Sybil. Still… badly done […]

08.09 - "The Simple Intimacy Of The Near Touch"

Or was it? That episode was not the first of this season where I referenced my concern that maybe, just maybe, Stefan and Caroline were not intended as an endgame couple, although, I guess, technically, Caroline was Stefan's endgame ♥ … so make that endgame for one another. However, as the season continued and their love story (mostly) played out as beautifully and confidently to its endgame march, I began to let go of that concern. Still, I had wondered and I had questioned, but I let go all of that unease and allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security by that glorious, glorious wedding. Arrggh!! It was a fake-out! They got me!

*sigh* I had suggested more than once the possibility of Caroline (and Candice King) heading over to The Originals after The Vampire Diaries ended, and sure enough if there is a fifth season of the spin-off, that very well may happen. After Caroline's flashforward—and that lovely letter and quite generous donation from the Original Hybrid—the door has been left WIDE open for our Vampire Barbie to head to New Orleans and reinvigorate the Caroline and Klaus relationship. By the way, per Julie Plec, that little nod in our show's finale wasn't a promise, but it was a hope. There was also a hope that there could be another potential spin-off with the Salvatore Boarding School For Gifted Children. Of course, if that were to happen, we would see Caroline on that show rather than The Originals with her children in an institution named after her beloved Stefan. We will see, we will see…

Speaking of her beloved Stefan…*sigh* It's interesting to me that just as I was beginning this section, I thought of the notes I had jotted down relating specifically to the younger Salvatore and something hit me. I made literally no mention of Stefan's death as it pertained to Stefan. Sure, I referenced it while talking about Damon and Elena, the brothers, and of course, Stefan and Caroline, but not just, you know, Stefan. Thinking on that, I was reminded of my reaction to the only "death" that Stefan has had on the show that was actually real. In season 05 Julian (the Traveler, not Lily's boytoy) while possessing Tyler, did truly kill Stefan. Sure, he was brought back, and we knew that he almost definitely, absolutely 99.99999999% would be coming back to "life" somehow… but, when he was murdered, it felt real. Caroline's pain was real and all that Damon and Elena went through (literally killing themselves in the process) was to bring Stefan back to life.

I was deeply affected by the end of that episode, so much so that I was nearly in tears and could barely manage to write a coherent post about it. (To this day, it's one of my shorter posts because I was just too emotionally distraught to do any thinky-thoughts.) I was not feeling the same way this time and comparing the two, I think it's quite clear why. I mean, I don't love Stefan any less… in fact, I love him more now than I did in season 05 when he still had some character issues that needed a hefty dose of self-reflection. It's not only because this is the end, the last episode. Although that is one reason. Another reason is because Stefan went out so completely on his terms and in a truly selfless way. And I loved that. For so much of this series' run (and his life), Stefan has been the so-called "selfless" one who actually was the very opposite in so many instances. He only did the "right" thing, the "altruistic" thing when it fell in line with his wishes and wants. Not this time. As I mentioned above, by taking Damon's place he, beyond any shadow of a doubt, sacrificed the rest of his life, his marriage, his happiness. And he did this for the town, for his brother, for his brother's happiness and for his very soul feeling very much that the latter was not even capable of being saved.

More than anything else, the foremost reason that my heart was not ripped into a million tiny pieces when Stefan truly met his death was because we were shown what happened after he died. And it was beautiful. He could give a dear friend—one that he hadn't seen in years and believed would never do so again—his final words to not only her, but for his brother and his wife through her. Lastly when Stefan literally walked into the light and found his peace (first with Lexi—more on that later, I promise—and then with Damon), it did so much to take away the sting. It told us that when you strive to do better, be better and are better, a true forever—one filled with peace, where your humanity isn't threatened and where you don't have to go against your very nature to be—is attainable. And Stefan Salvatore found that forever of peace.

I just pointed out Stefan's goodbye to Elena and I am of two minds about it. First, I was a wee frustrated (after the episode had aired and my emotions allowed me to have any kind of rational thought) that it was Elena with Stefan that she shared an emotional conversation with as opposed to, oh, I don't know… Damon! Yeah, that guy… the Salvatore brother who just happens to be the love of her life, and words spoken, erm, at all would have been lovely, lovely, lovely for the fanbase who have been without their couple for two seasons. On the other hand… as a fan of the friendship of Stefan and Elena, I loved it. I thought this was a beautiful scene, very true to their relationship and filled with the platonic love they now share, as well as their shared love for Damon, and Caroline. In fact, their scene was all about Elena and Damon, Damon and Stefan, and Stefan and Caroline. I already brought up Elena's reaction to the possibility of Damon dying as opposed to Stefan totes gonna be done gone soon, as well as Stefan's beautiful statements about his brother.

I appreciated that the Stefan-and-Caroline-ness of it, however, was saved for later. Because of the triangle that launched the series and carried on through the first five seasons to varying degrees it was important to have their final scene featured as it was. Not only was their friendship—and friendship alone—on display, but highlighting Elena's love for Damon and Stefan's belief that Damon is the right man for her put any lingering concerns about with whom Elena's heart lay. Not that such stopped Kevin Williamson from making some very, very silly post-finale statements. Don't get me wrong, I actually understand completely where he is coming from, but it's still… well, yeah, just silly. Stating that had Nina Dobrev remained with the show past season 06 until this finale that the triangle would have been re-ignited was clearly not true. That statement from him could only have been an 'if only' for Stefan and Elena fans and, again, I get that.

However, anyone who is not delusional and has been watching the show and actually paid attention to the ending of the fifth season and everything since then would realize that there is no way the triangle was going to be resurrected. Per Julie Plec, Dobrev did not officially decide to leave the show until January. This went along with the reports from unnamed sources that began in October that one of the main three was balking on re-signing. Look at that month. October… in other words, nearly half of the season had already been filmed at that stage. Now recall that at the beginning of the sixth season—once Alaric erased the good-parts version of Damon from Elena's mind—she believed that she hated the older Salvatore. He was a monster and she had only put up with him because he was Stefan's brother. Stefan was unattached at the time, having pretty much ended things with Ivy once she was killed, and then turned (and then killed dead-dead).

Despite all of that, Stefan and Elena we're just friends, platonic and near-sibling like in their interaction. There was not even a tiny hint of romance, between the two. They played a fake "proposal" as a joke and Elena even turned a romantic eye to a different guy! Clearly, obviously, absolutely the triangle was dead. Stefan and Elena as an amorous duo was history, done, finished, finito. It had been completely closed off after the 18th episode of the fifth season, "Resident Evil" once the Travelers' spell was lifted. The 'resuming the triangle' talk was all about giving Stefan and Elena fans—admittedly a huge part of the show's fan base from the very beginning—something to hold onto. After all, the way that things ended with Stefan, and Damon and Elena—even showing them happily ever after in the afterlife—effectively put the nail in the coffin of any hope for a future Stefan and Elena.

On the subject of our lovely executive producers throwing out some head-scratching quotes for some, let's tackle Plec's assertion that the original ending offed *both* Salvatore brothers while they watched Elena from afar while she found love with someone else, probably Matt Donovan. I say "some," because just as with Williamson's statement, this didn't bother me either. I suppose it helps to know the history of that original ending referenced. Plec talked about this ending a season or two ago, but said that it was no longer possible since the Other Side was gone. In other words, this alternate finale had to have been conceived at the earliest right after season 04. Ah, but even that would have been too late based on all of the information we have at our disposal. That conclusion that Plec indicated was one that was imagined by both her and Williamson. Kevin Williamson, who last regularly worked on The Vampire Diaries in season 02. Since that second season, he has co-written only three other episodes (the third season premiere as well as the premiere and finale of this last season) while working on the creation of two other television shows. So it is very likely that this original ending was discussed between seasons one and two, at the latest after the second one.

Now had The Vampire Diaries ended after three seasons—which fits with the timeline of her and Kevin actively talking about their endgame vision—as an ending that would have absolutely worked... then! At that point in the series, Elena was in flux with Stefan and she and Damon were on the verge of "something." However, despite a few kisses and an incredibly hot make-out session, they were not quite close to being together yet. So an ending with the brothers sacrificing themselves for the girl they both love and watching her from the Other Side while she found happiness after they were gone makes sense. Of course, I would have been none-too-pleased as a Damon and Elena fangirl but shipper preferences aside, in a narrative sense it would have worked. However, it became clear in season 04 and blindingly so by the fifth season that their original ending was no longer feasible as it wasn't true to the journey these characters were on any longer. Instead the triangle had developed into the love story of Damon and Elena. Without those two getting their happy ending, the point of the journey of all of our main three would have been blunted.

Finally, and more importantly, anything that Kevin Williamson and/or Julie Plec have said, or will say in the future, about what might have happened or what could have happened doesn't bother me because those aren't the last two seasons nor the finale that we got. So yeah, I just don't care about a finale that might have been if the show had ended years earlier. We didn't get that finale. Our finale concluded with Damon and Elena living happily ever after... in life and beyond. And Stefan may have died, but he got his afterlife peace as well.

With his car! The very same 1963 Porsche that he burned to keep Rayna off of his trail in season 07. Hmm, I hope that means that Damon got his 1969 Chevy Camaro Convertible in the afterlife as well… he must have. Stefan may love his car, but Damon looooves *his* car. Anyway, back to the younger Salvatore. So, Stefan was reunited with his little red Coupe… but that was not his only reunion. As he walked out of the shadowed high school and into the bright sun of his peaceful ever after right there leaning against his car was Lexi.

Ah, Lexi, Lexi, Lexi… Miss Alexia Branson. Issues I have had with her since, well, honestly since her first appearance. Those issues have grown and grown with almost every appearance and have revolved around how she caused dissension between Stefan and Damon. Also, and especially, her form of "fixing" Stefan which essentially boiled down to a band-aid—a torturous one—that made his hold on humanity about perception and people pleasing (first Lexi, then Elena). It drove me insane that Stefan seemed completely oblivious to how much she had hampered his ripper control, not to mention how she had encouraged the brothers' discord.

However, I *finally* get it. (Took me long enough, huh?) Much like it took me until this season to finally get why Caroline took longer than anyone else to see the good in Damon:

I have long, long maintained that I completely understand why Elena Gilbert is so blind to the many faults of Stefan Salvatore. […] Elena could never not see Stefan without rose-colored glasses because he saved her life, because he was the last person to communicate with her father, because he brought her out of her depression. This has always made sense to. Funny… I never once thought of looking at the other side of the spectrum when it came to Caroline and Damon. […] Caroline continues to think the worst of Damon and it doesn't make sense, I would say. Well, it doesn't make sense that Elena—a smart, self-respecting woman—would be fine with all that Stefan did and pulled. However, she was and is. Why? Because of how their relationship began. The same applies to Caroline when she looks at Damon. The difference is that her glasses are colored a very dark shade of gray. […] just as it makes perfect sense for Elena to expect the best from Stefan because that was how their relationship began, it makes just as perfect sense for Caroline to expect the worst from Damon… because of how their relationship began.

08.10 - Nostalgia's A Bitch

Just as I finally understood how Caroline could continue to be so blind to all the good that Damon did by using insight into why Elena will always will look upon Stefan so rosily, at last I have done the same with Stefan and Lexi. Unlike with Damon and Caroline though, it's not a reversal but rather the very same thing, albeit without any romantic under or overtones. Stefan sees his best friend through similar rose-colored glasses to the ones that Elena wears when looking at him. This is because of how Lexi entered his life, helped him and set him on a new path of humanity even after he had become a monster. She came into his life when he needed someone by his side the most just as Stefan came into Elena's when she needed that spark to keep her going.

So, yes, at last, I can understand Stefan and Lexi's relationship including Stefan's blindness to her faults. Hopefully, this will make my abiding dislike of the character fade in future rewatches. I've always maintained that I will accept *any* storyline, arc, relationship, etc. in a show I love—even if it's not my cup of tea—if it makes narrative and character-driven sense. This absolutely does. So with that said… for the first time ever, I present to you gifs featuring Alexia Branson. (I KNOW!)

 

I may have finally gotten why Stefan never saw Lexi's help as the hindrance it actually was, but I cannot say the same for the difference in Alaric Saltzman upon his return from the Other Side. There definitely were moments, even full scenes and on a very rare occasion, an entire episode, where he was still the Alaric we were introduced to early on in season 01 until Esther turned him in season 03. On the whole though, he was just not the fun, awesome, Damon-bro'ing, Elena and Jeremy-dad'ing Ric that many of us fell in love with.

Instead he became fixated on a woman he knew for a brief amount of time to the point of ignoring his friends in need. And pretty much from the moment that Damon came back from the alternate world reuniting the two since Ric's Other Side time, Ric ceased to be Damon's best friend. He was uncaring and unapologetic over Damon's pain regarding the situation with Elena—that Ric had an extremely huge hand in setting in motion albeit for good reason. He also belittled Damon at just about every opportunity, turning on him without thought over circumstances repeatedly. Damon didn't matter. Elena, Jeremy, Bonnie… not a one of them mattered compared to Jo, and then more understandably, his daughters. However, he made decisions in the name of protecting the twins that came across as unjust… especially to Damon. The bottom-line is that, for me, the change in the character of Alaric Saltzman after his return—that had been so very longed for by so many, including myself—is my biggest Vampire Diaries-related issue. By far.

It just didn't have to be that way. So much of Ric's story could have been the same… if only we had continued to see his love for Damon, for the Gilbert family, for Bonnie. In this episode, when Ric told Caroline, with sincere regret in his voice, that it wasn't that he didn't care about Damon or Elena, but he had to protect his kids, I was frustrated. I was frustrated because when he said that, I literally had to rewind the scene, not once, but twice to hear Bonnie's assertion that they were aware because I couldn't help from responding to that statement aloud. I said "No, you don't." Twice, I said that without intention, it was just so instinctive because of how uncaring towards Damon (and Bonnie and even Elena in some ways) that Alaric has been for so very long. He said that it wasn't that he didn't care about Damon and Elena and I loudly told my television, "No, you don't." Twice. Unable to stop myself from doing so. Very frustrating.

And my frustration came from the fact that if we had seen *that* side of Ric, that emotion, regret, guilt… from Ric regarding choices he had made that had hurt (or, in Damon's case, murdered) his friends, this group that supposedly he considered family, I wouldn't have denied his claim of caring. I would have believed him; I would have understood why he left them behind in Mystic Falls to save his daughters. Instead, this was the very first time that we heard Alaric express any kind of sorrow for how he has treated Damon and the rest of them since his return.

The thing is that for much of season 06, I blamed the character of Jo. I blamed the casting decision of the very capable Jodi Lyn O'Keefe for her lack of warmth overall. But a funny thing happened in this episode—one that echoed my feelings that a possible Alaric/"Jo" redux in the beginning of season 07 when another soul returned in her body could work. When those two little girls ran giggling and smiling into Ric's arms in the flashforward at the end and then we saw Jo watching them, I teared up. In my first viewing of the episode when it hadn't all quite hit me yet that, yes, this was really it… it was Jo watching Alaric and their children that first caused me to cry.

 

So I'm thinking now that it wasn't Jo, or O'Keefe's performance, but rather the lack of integration with the rest of the cast and, yeah, the changes in Alaric Saltzman. Because of that, I think—hope anyway—that upon rewatches I'll be able to actually enjoy Alaric and Jo because my resentment against that character will be gone. Just as I believe that I will be able to fully enjoy Bonnie and Enzo since what wound up being their ending is exactly what I was hoping after Enzo was killed by Stefan. A few episodes ago, I had written that I hoped that Enzo would do the right thing and push Bonnie to live her life even it was without him.

Enzo won't let her live her life with a shadow… because he did love her. She will grow old, miss out on having a family, a real life while he's stuck in the purgatory of this psychic realm she created. And in that realm, he will never age, never grow, never become anything other than who he was the moment he died. So what's going to happen? Well, I think that it's possible that if Cade dies (he so is going to die), those who Bonnie knew and loved (like Tyler) may wind up in that realm of hers alongside Enzo. Maybe. Much more likely is that this imprint of Enzo will help give Bonnie some closure… enough to move on.

08.13 - "The Lies Are Going To Catch Up With You"

Obviously, I was wrong in that Bonnie's psychic realm remained around, so neither Enzo, Tyler, nor anyone else in her past had a home there. However, the key point of my thought process there remains. I believed that Enzo loved Bonnie enough that he wouldn't want her to throw her life away just because he was gone. We saw that very thing play out. Now, anyone who has read my posts knows that I'm not much of a fan of Bonnie and Enzo as a pairing, but I did love their scenes in this episode (well, two of the three… the flashforward one didn't do anything for me). Starting with the first in that in-between state of life and death in the woods of best friends and boyfriends, I was really moved by how selfless Enzo was with Bonnie.

Enzo being there when Bonnie needed him most, when she was ready to say goodbye to life emotionally and when she was *not* later in the hour was powerful. I have maintained over and over since Enzo died that if he did not return from the dead that I would understand the why of the over-the-top hosannas about his and Bonnie's truest of true love that they share. And for the most (of the most) part, I'm sticking with this. I mentioned above that I loved most of their scenes in this episode, and I did. That first scene in the in-between life and death was beautiful. Bonnie was ready to give up on life—and she is still so young—but Enzo was just not having it. That is true love; that is selfless and beautiful and just so very right. He held out his hand and pulled her back to life when she was ready to give up.

 

And on that selfless, loving note, let's head on over to PART II of My Thinking Thoughts Post of the Series Finale of The Vampire Diaries: "I Was Feeling Epic."
Tags: alaric saltzman, bonnie bennett, bonnie/matt, candice king, caroline forbes, damon salvatore, damon/alaric, damon/elena, damon/stefan, elena gilbert, ep discussion-tvd, ian somerhalder, matt donovan, nina dobrev, stefan salvatore, stefan/caroline, the vampire diaries, tv
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