This review may contain spoilers.
2.22 As I Lay Dying
So, as the final curtain is drawn on season two, Vampire Diaries does what it does best. It kills off most of its cast in new and inventive ways. Last week, we were left with the very real possibility of fan favourite Damon’s death from a werewolf bite and, with the main villain dealt with for the time being, the focus here is well and truly on him.
The quiet and detached series finale has worked well for shows in the past, as the action is tied up in the penultimate instalment, leaving the final hour to intimate character moments and relationships. It works well again here, but the episode definitely isn’t devoid of excitement.
We begin with a visit from Damon to a very sombre Gilbert house, as Elena and Jeremy cope with life without Jenna. Elena tells Damon she needs some time, and he leaves without rebuttal. This is such a strange teaser for such an action-packed show like this, and it catches us off guard in just the right way.
I’ll be honest, I was expecting an episode that centred entirely around Damon and his werewolf bite, a kind of day in the death, which would have been a brave move. Unfortunately, there was simply too much the writers wanted to pack in before season three, so it’s a pretty standard, although well done, finale.
The Gone With The Wind backdrop to many of the scenes is a beautiful framing of events and adds some old-style romance to the blood and tears in the present day. While it brings certain moments a more ‘epic’ feel, many of the most successful scenes throughout the episode are intimately enclosed inside the mansion. A particularly poignant scene between Elena and Damon is comprised entirely of close-ups, as they shut out the world around them. This sort of episode thrives on two-hander scenes like this, and it’s a far cry from the fast-paced drama of last week.
My only criticism is the sheer amount of bloodshed that goes on. Although there are hints that it will go beyond ‘mere’ death and resurrection, one casualty in particular pushed the body count over the edge this week. Last time, we lost a few people, so I think some breathing space was needed.
Much loved characters are regularly thrown away without a care, and it’s only a matter of time before viewers start to get angry. Once they run out of useless characters like Jenna, favourites will have to start looking over their shoulders.
The most exciting plot point for next year looks to be Stefan’s coercion into the dark side. His story this week had more than a taste of Mitchell’s story from Being Human, but only time will tell where the writers will take this. If Vampire Diaries is anything, it isn’t predictable.
The relationship between Damon and Elena looks to be given more time next year also, much to fans’ delight, I assume. “It’s ok to love them both,” Katherine says near the end of the episode. And we do. We really do.
Read our review of episode 21, The Sun Also Rises, here.