This show has always been great at ghost stories. It was always worried about the afterlife, about what comes next, after immortality has run its course, or been abruptly withdrawn from monsters who thought they were safe and powerful. It never really figured out its spirituality, as the witches at first seemed all female, then all racial, until finally just seeming like another species more than followers of a belief system. They were, I suppose, always a coded symbol of otherness, whether slaves or travelers or Native Americans or even the northwestern Heretics, largely portrayed in contrast to the brooding good old Virginia bad boys in love with the cheerleader at the story’s center. The demons we’ve seen are all too human, usually victims empowered by rage or greed or the lust for control. And they were all in competition to cope with their many resentments and failings and old grudges, with new MacGuffins to squabble over with every season. The stakes on the show were always almost petty, or at least basic: love, family, survival, happiness. If the residents of Mystic Falls hardly ever knew how to hold a party without it going off the rails due to a “gas leak” (“yes, again,” lies Matt for the last time as he evacuates the town) or something much worse (never mind several actual explosions), they did know how to mourn their losses. There was no way for this finale to be something to everyone, while also bringing Elena back home one last time. I appreciated the way they fit in so many cameos, calling back to old relationships and loyalties from seasons past. I liked that Vicky (and Kelly last week) and Matt and his father had a central role. As Caroline is the best of the vampires, Matt is the lone human who somehow survived to the end. And though the producers promised not to go ambiguous like Lost in the wrap-up, I guess they never promised not to go epic like Six Feet Under on the way out. Nina Dobrev didn’t have much to do or much time to do it in for her return, so she spends most of it as Katherine, Elena’s saucy and nerve-wracking doppelganger. She’s usually just flash and bravado, but she gets in one last version of her favorite trick, impersonating Elena to the brothers so she can feel the love they stopped offering her long ago, if only for a few seconds. Then it’s a fun jaunt of repeatedly killing her while hoping that Bonnie can somehow reverse an impending hellfire conflagration the little devil’s arranged as everyone’s just deserts. Elena is revived, at first perhaps in dreams and then for real, and the brothers get to fight over who goes down with Katherine. Damon has centered on good (it’s what saved him from Sybil) this season, but Stefan has become human and can feel guilt, so it’s the usual standoff between the two intertwined siblings, who want not just the same goals but the same prize, at the same time. With Elena asleep for two years, the show has spun its wheels with the Salvatores, repeating earlier lessons and losses with the aid of a few flashbacks (to Damon’s Civil War suffering, to Stefan’s near fatherhood with Valerie) that at best added some new wrinkles to the mythology. Bonnie gets to up her game from last week (when she saved herself and the girls from a real explosion at the wedding, to this week) saving the entire town from a mystical one at the Clocktower. Of course, she can’t do it alone, as her Bennett ancestors return as a Wiccan force of righteousness to take out Katherine and foil her plans for good while preventing Bonnie’s demise. They didn’t approve of everything she did over the years, but it’s not her time to die. Enzo is there encouraging Bonnie to accept her magic again, and we also got scenes in the clip show before the episode that harken back to Bonnie’s first hints of her power, shared with BFFs Elena and Caroline. Little about the bell-ringing, tunnel-flooding, Hell-destroying fire cataclysm makes rational sense, but it’s a great visual and a needed victory for Bonnie. In the end, one brother lives to spend his days as a human, and another meets old friends in the afterlife while Elena awakens (Bonnie is so strong now she takes Kai’s spell apart off-camera) and goes to med school. Seeing Elena in scrubs and with Nina out of the old wigs and in her new short do is the right kind of wish fulfillment, as her one gift in college was brief medical training. Even if 60 years have to pass in a second for us to reach final happiness for our core trio. Interestingly, for Elena, it’s coming across her mom, dad, aunt and bio-dad on the porch of their old house (the one she burned down as a vampire, and also where she killed Kol). For the two brothers, it’s not the women in their lives that matter at the end, but rather enjoying drinks by the fire with each other for eternity. The idea of one of them being dead for good for sixty years was poignantly portrayed, and we’ll have to guess at the life of love enjoyed by the other, but these core reunions underline the emotion and passion the show could once capture at its most exciting heights. The Vampire Dairies 8.16 “I Was Feeling Epic”Shawn's Rating4.0Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.