This review may contain spoilers.
2.21 The Sun Also Rises
With so much happening every week in The Vampire Diaries, it can sometimes get to be a little much, confusing an audience who might not be following every plot point as closely as the writers would like. For those dedicated fans, however, this week’s episode offered everything they’ve been waiting for and more. Surprising, for an episode that’s first half is almost completely dedicated to characters talking through their somewhat limited options.
The second season of the show has relied heavily on said limitations, as the writers can then break out the surprises with little warning or subsequent fan objection. Surprises come thick and fast this week, but some work better than others. We have a full cast, too, with John, Jeremy and Bonnie popping up after an absent couple of weeks. Can’t say we’ve missed them.
Before we get into the story, though, last week’s multiple cliffhangers have to be dealt with. When we left the characters, Jenna had been turned, Matt and Caroline were being threatened by a wolfy Tyler, and Damon had been bitten. Jenna’s transition was such a turn of events that it was hard to believe there wouldn’t be a loophole somewhere, but the writers, to their credit, stuck with their decision.
And there’s some more bloodshed before the final moments. Let’s just say, the ritual goes according to Klaus’ plan, despite the best efforts of our guys. Stefan is in self-sacrificing mode again, believing he can replace a newly vampiric Jenna in proceedings. Apparently, Klaus has other plans for him.
With so much going on, it’s surprising that the episode seems a little slow at times. It takes a little too long to complete the ritual, for example.
The gang manage to avoid Elena becoming a vampire, after Damon taking matters into his own hands last week, which is a relief, but seems a little too easy. Maybe the binding magic they eventually use should have been introduced a little earlier? Still, it’s not without its own price to pay, so it’s hard to complain. There’s definitely a streamlining of useless or unpopular characters this week, gladly bringing the focus back to the main players.
Caroline, Matt and Tyler also have their own issues to work through. Although Matt’s actually become a lot more interesting since finding out Caroline’s secret, he says he wants to remain boring. You can’t really blame him. I wonder if this is it for his character, as it conveniently leaves Tyler in the role of confidant for Caroline. Both pairings have their supporters, so who knows which way the show will go. I just hope Caroline rejoins the rest of the gang next week.
No matter how you feel about certain characters, the final moments of the episode are some of the saddest and most poignant the show has ever done. Sometimes, the plot points and twists come so thick and fast that there’s no time for any moment of contemplation. Those scenes gave us some much needed room to breathe, as well as take in all that had happened in the last forty minutes.
There’s a finality to the narrative that’s surprising for a penultimate episode, as this could serve as a finale all on its own. Things aren’t completely wrapped up, but I doubt they will be after next week either. But the ticking time bomb of Damon’s werewolf bite is still unresolved and Klaus and Elijah are still at large, so there’s still plenty to be getting on with.