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The Vampire Diaries “As I Lay Dying” 

Photo Credit: Annette Brown/The CW

Slow isn’t a word I’d generally use to describe The Vampire Diaries, but the season finale seemed almost downright leisurely compared to recent episodes and last year’s nailbiter finish. It could also just be my own viewer fatigue after everything that’s gone on this season, that I couldn’t buy into the drama. Aside from Jeremy’s maybe demise, I was pretty sure Damon and Stefan weren’t going anywhere, and with next season already picked up, I was mostly expecting some sort of big hingy cliffhanger, but we didn’t get it. Sure, several characters are in piss-poor predicaments, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those are resolved pretty quickly out of the gate come fall.

As for what actually went down… We begin as Elena sadly reflects on her and Jeremy’s lot. She closes the door to Jenna’s empty room and then Damon arrives to request forgiveness. When she doesn’t give it, he goes home, downs a drink, opens the drapes, ditches his ring, and attempts to flambé himself before Stefan arrives to knock him around and then lock him up.

Elijah brings Klaus a change of clothes, and ever the attendant brother, he helps him dress, reminding Klaus of their deal. Carol Lockwood sashays into the poilce station and lays it out for Liz that she wants more vamp victories, pronto. Elena carts Jeremy to a park screening of Gone with the Wind and Caroline joins them, toting a picnic basket for good measure. They’re on a mission of happy, dammit.

Then Stefan arrives and abandons his “don’t tell Elena” stance, pulling her aside to spill the sidgey details about Damon in the hopes she’ll talk him into being hopeful. Meanwhile, Damon wafts in and out of hallucinating Katherine and Elena. Stefan also recruits a half-in-the-bag Alaric to help babysit and he trots over to sate Damn with drink and drugs.

Elena arrives at the Salvatores and runs smack into Liz’s police operation. When Alaric warns Liz to stay out of Damon’s cell, she disregards it and Damon promptly disarms her and flees. He turns up at the park mid dream state and wanders around the grounds until Jeremy finds him and secrets him to The Grill.

Next up, Stefan goes to see Bonnie and she works some mojo which reveals that Klaus is the key to Damon’s recovery. So Stefan, being slow, goes to see Klaus on his own without telling anyone. As soon as Klaus and Elijah return home, Klaus stabs him and he turns ashen. Silly boy. Klaus leaves the dagger in his chest, so I’m guessing it’s not a permanent death.

Liz carts Elena to the station and Elena makes the case for vamps being worthy but she’s interrupted when the deputy arrives to tell them Damon just went into The Grill. Liz leaves Elena in her office with the deputy on guard and then scoots to The Grill. Jeremy is calling Alaric to tell him where they are when Liz rushes in and aims her gun at Damon. He flashes out of there as she fires at him and her bullet hits Jeremy square in the chest. Caroline, Bonnie, and Alaric arrive immediately and Caroline feeds him her blood while Liz loses it.

Alaric and Bonnie take Jeremy back to witchy manor and Bonnie weeps and Latinates and proclaims her love for Jeremy. Her nose is bleeding and she’s a snotty mess and then Jeremy finally opens his eyes. Bonnie says there will be consequences for saving him. Elena breaks out of the station and heads to the park. She finds Damon and in a pique of delirium, where he imagines her as Katherine and bites her. He finally realizes it’s Elena and then collapses. Caroline and Liz come to mediated settlement of acknowledging that she’s a vampire but still Caroline, and Liz has to just sort all that out.

Back at Klaus’s, Klaus agrees to help Damon if Stefan will reripper himself. He proves the cure by biting and healing Katherine. Then he forces Stefan to drink blood to the point that Stefan is seemingly complicit in the decision. Satisfied, Klaus releases Katherine to deliver the blood and Stefan freaks right the hell out that she won’t.

Somehow Elena gets Damon home and she has the deathbed scene with him that he had with Rose. He says he knows now that Stefan didn’t make him who he was, and he asks her to tell Stefan he’s sorry. He apologizes to her for everything wrong he’s done to her. He tells her he knows her heart belongs to Stefan and always will but he loves her and he needs her to know that. She says she does. Then in a scene that reminded me of this one, he tells her he wishes she’d known him in 1864, that she would have liked him then. And she says she likes him now, as he is. He closes his eyes and she cries and then softly kisses him. Just them Katherine arrives to save him and taunt Elena that her true love has sacrificed himself.

We pick up with Klaus packing up Elijah and a variety of coffins and confirming his deal with Stefan by offering him a girl on him, of whom Stefan partakes. Two side notes here, though–he comes clean about the vervain, which Klaus said he already knew,  and he’s still in contact with Elena, getting a confirmation text from her that Damon is OK. So he’s not full on ripper (yet).

Jeremy is safe at home and Alaric stays with him. Bonnie is still in hiding so she and Jeremy sign off via Skype. Later, Jeremy wakes up and senses someone else in the house. As he descends the stairs, Vicki appears behind him, and when he gets downstairs, she says his name and he turns to find her gone and then turns back to find Anna in front of him. These would be those pesky consequences…

And scene! Until September

I’m glad for Paul Wesley that he’ll get to do unhinged Stefan for a stretch next fall, but hopefully they’ll dial it back in fairly soon. As for Damon and Elena’s deathbed smooch and detente, it sort of gave me a Legends of the Fall vibe. Susannah loved all the brothers, and even married Alfred, but she never, ever got over Tristan. I don’t see Elena getting over Stefan, even if she entertains Damon’s fancy while Stefan’s on his bender. I’m not really invested in them getting together and the drama that will ensue when they learn the full extent of how Stefan bartered his humanity for Damon’s life.

I thought it interesting that Katherine got to say Rose’s (cut from her last episode) line about “It’s OK to love them both,” and then add “I did.” I was surprised that Katherine just stayed quiet in the background while Klaus instigated Stefan’s dive into ripper territory. Maybe she sees that Stefan as more likely to hook back up with her again? Say it with me, shudder.

The Jeremy resuscitation with a side of dead exes was awesome for those actresses. Malese Jow was just on Desperate Housewives and I thought then how much I missed Anna. Will be very interesting to see in what context the ladies are back–flesh and bone or figments of Jeremy’s psyche.

I was glad for Caroline that she got to show her mom the useful upside of being a vampire, and that they reconciled. Boo that Tyler (and Matt) sat the episode out when we just got him back. Appreciated the in joke of Gone with the Wind being set in Atlanta and TVD shooting in Atlanta.

Everybody got to do very good work because the characters believed in the life-or-deathness of the goings on even if I didn’t. So kudos to the cast on knockout work, and the writers for another breakneck year. Y’all set the bar for balls-out storytelling. Enjoy the hiatus! Get some rest!

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