This review contains spoilers.
3.22 The Departed
Wowsa. There’s certainly a lot to get through this week on The Vampire Diaries, with The Departed seeing almost every character maimed, killed, almost killed, or killed and revived, before it settles down for a familiar, yet still exciting, fourth season tease. The episode itself is actually very uneventful compared to last week, but that’s the pattern the show has established over the years, with the big finale actually coming the week before the more subdued season ender.
Instead of event by event, I’ll go through the episode by character, as if you’re anything like me, the last 15 minutes left you quite perplexed by the whole thing. I’ll start with Klaus, Caroline and Tyler, whose fates are even more intertwined than usual this week. Last week, Klaus was desecrated and taken away for hiding, but Elijah soon comes to Elena with a proposition. Though Damon is wisely against trusting another original, Elijah has always been pretty loyal to his word, and the gang decide to hand over the body with the promise that he won’t be woken up during her or her children’s lifetimes.
But Alaric is still hanging around, and still on a mission to wipe out the vampire race, he promptly stakes Klaus in the heart. Presumably, this means that our entire cast would die along with him, so after some awkward goodbye phone-calls (I’m not surprised Elena’s phone ran out of steam part way through), Stefan, Damon and Caroline just sit tight, desperately hoping that Klaus was lying when he claimed to be the head of their bloodline. One character given no such grace was Tyler, however, and he and Caroline endure an excruciating farewell before he dismisses her from his death scene.
But it’s revealed during the final moments that Tyler (or at least his body) is actually alive and well, explaining his urgency when trying to send Caroline away. Bonnie, who Damon unwisely left alone with Klaus’ body earlier in the episode, has actually sacrificed Tyler for the lives of her friends and family, swapping their bodies just in time for kick-off. Does this mean Tyler is dead? Klaus, with Tyler’s essence inside of him, was staked, but the fact that the original vampire is alive and well elsewhere means that none of the other characters needed to be sacrificed. Caroline, now on the run from the pitch-fork carrying townsfolk rallied by Alaric (yes, really), has no idea, but should probably be pleased that her two love interests have now been combined.
But these events leave Bonnie in a very precarious position. Have the writers finally figured out how much their audience hate her? Bonnie becoming next season’s big bad might be a little bit of wishful thinking, but wouldn’t making her a villain alleviate the hatred of her character somewhat? She’s been getting darker and darker this year, resenting her friends more and more, and switching to the dark side would actually make a lot of sense for her character. And what would the rest of the group do without Bonnie to save the day with a spell? What if they were actually protecting themselves from their former witch-for-hire?
I wasn’t sure what to make of Matt in this episode, either, as he’s more present this week than he has been in years (maybe ever?). Though we were told Elena would be choosing between Damon and Stefan before the season end, I couldn’t have been the only one thinking that a relationship with loyal, supportive Matt would be quite healthy at this junction. The flashbacks revealed how troubled their former dating life had really been, but present day Matt was actually the most hell-bent on saving his friend, when everyone else had all but abandoned her while they tried to figure out their own situations.
But the big story of the week, the season, and the whole show, has been the love triangle. Always a bit more complicated than the similar Twilight love story, her choice is similarly between the supportive boyfriend and the dangerous, yet passionate, bad-boy. She’s been stringing both along for years, and fans are almost equally split between the two boys. But after all that, the decision is a little underwhelming, and doesn’t really feel clean-cut. Her reasons for choosing Stefan are very wishy-washy, almost citing obligation and a sense of safety for her choice. She never actually turns down Damon, either, telling him that, if only they had met first, she might love him more.
While that might sound like a ludicrous argument, it’s actually a very well-placed line that would go on to dangle a carrot in front of ‘Delena’ fans in time for next season. As Damon fights with Alaric hundreds of miles away from Mystic Falls, he passes out and remembers his first meeting with Elena, hours before Stefan saved her from the car wreck. Drawn to her, just like Stefan, by the striking resemblance to Katherine, they have a brief chat in which he tells her the kind of relationship she craves, all-consuming and full of danger, before compelling her forget the whole thing. She did meet Damon first, and that fact will certainly effect her decision next year.
Deciding to protect herself instead of sticking to the deal, Rebekah heads off to kill Elena, thus wiping out the Alaric threat and letting her live her life. We like Rebekah, so it’s unlikely people will hold this against her. On the same bridge on which Elena’s parents died, she drives the car off the road, and Matt and Elena end up stuck underwater. Earlier in the episode, Damon explained the fundamental difference between he and Stefan, stating that, while Damon would rather Elena be alive than love him, Stefan is the other way around. Rather than save Elena from the car wreck first, he does as asked and saves Matt. He’d rather Elena be dead than hate him for letting Matt die, which is a bit messed up.
But, deep breath, the final twist reveals that, after her fall at the end of last week, Dr. Fell fed Elena vampire blood. Lying in hospital in a very Bella Swan-like fashion, Elena wakes up, signalling a major fourth season shift. Elena is now a vampire, and when your main character changes that much, the show changes with her. I, for one, can’t wait to see what the writers can come up with, as we shouldn’t forget that Elena will now get all of her compulsion memories back.
So, a final body count has Alaric dead, Tyler dead, Klaus alive, Elena a vampire and Matt undecided. That’s quite a lot to fit into a 40-minute episode, but it’s what The Vampire Diaries does best. See you next season!Read our review of last week’s episode, Before Sunset, here.