This review contains spoilers.
3.20 Do Not Go Gentle
Do you remember when people were killed every other week on The Vampire Diaries? And do you remember when it stuck? Well those days are over, as a fan favourite bites the dust this week, but rises again in a completely different capacity. We were promised a little while ago that there would be a big death before the end of the series, and this could well be it. I wouldn’t bet on it though, as we’ve still got two danger-filled weeks to survive before the season is out.
We begin with Esther, soon out of daughter Rebekah’s body, and Alaric working together to find the white oak stake and kill the remaining originals. The speed in which Esther is extracted from her vessel is pretty hilarious, and just another example of the writers playing with viewers’ emotions. A week ago, internet fandom was alight with the possibilities last week’s twist could bring about, but that twist is undone and forgotten before the titles even run. I would be more angry about this, but the end of the episode eclipses this problem in all the wrong ways.
Of course, a Mystic Falls dance always spells trouble for the gang (you’d think they’d stay home at this point), and the various love triangles feel refreshingly minor compared to the death and mayhem about the ensue. We know Elena will make her choice sometime in the finale, and last week was devoted to her and Damon’s smouldering relationship, so it’s only fair that Stefan get a turn here. He accompanies his ex to the decade dance, and Damon doesn’t even have much to say about it. Plus points for the writers; they’ve realised there’s more to the show than sibling squabbles and fickle women.
Caroline and Bonnie aren’t quite as confused as their friend, it seems, as both pick their men with admirable conviction. Fans hoping for a Caroline/Klaus romance won’t be best pleased with Tyler’s return, but there’s s still a possibility for a change of heart before the season is out. For now, though, Caroline is standing by her man, and keeping her distance from the sociopathic serial killer also vying for her affections. Bonnie and Jeremy barely interact, and when they do, it’s just an awkward exchange between her and the new boyfriend.
It’s also a good week for friendships, from Caroline announcing her allegiance to ‘Team Stefan’ and confronting Elena about her true feelings, Matt and Jeremy re-starting their bromance at the Mystic Grill, or Damon and Alaric’s frankly heartbreaking last drink together. Which brings me to the meat of the episode, and Alaric’s apparent departure. He’s still around (although for how long is still ambiguous), but not as we know him, so Do Not Go Gentle primarily serves as the obligatory ‘goodbye’ episode for a much-loved character.
It’s all done very nicely, even if the candle-lit vigil for him will split audiences. It might have been a little cheesy, but sometimes a little cheddar is necessary when trying to turn on the waterworks. Personally, I thought the quiet scene in the tomb with only Damon and Alaric was executed much better, and allowed Ian Somerhalder and Matthew Davis to show off their acting chops. But Alaric’s departure will have a detrimental effect on almost everyone, and Jeremy and Elena’s tears have been earnt over the last three seasons.
But whether the writers were wise to have us say goodbye before changing the game at the last minute is open for debate. The alternative of turning Rick straight away, and never having the character return as we knew him, doesn’t sound too good either. Remember Locke’s death in Lost? It would have felt like that, and it’s the kind of character betrayal that fans resent for the rest of time. If he had to die, then I’m glad he was given a good, lengthy, send-off. And who isn’t excited about what’s to come for vampy Rick? The possibilities are certainly intriguing.