The Vampire Diaries season 4 finale review: Graduation

The Vampire Diaries delivers a busy finale resolving a number of the season-long arcs. Here's Caroline's review...

This review contains spoilers.

4.23 Graduation

We all love a happy ending, don’t we? Against the odds, every single character on The Vampire Diaries bar one got exactly what they wanted, making Stefan’s supremely bad day all the more tragic. As is the tradition after a plot-driven penultimate instalment, this finale is about the couples and the reshuffling of affections made all the more prominent by the presence of lost loved ones. Yup, the veil is still down, and Jeremy, Alaric and Lexi play a big part in the fight against Kol and his witch/hybrid army.

Connor, Vaughn and Rebekah’s ex (do any of us even remember his name?) also try their best to get the cure from our gang, placing poor Matt on a explosive pressure plate, threatening to blow up the Mystic Grill and forcing Damon to take them to Silas’ watery grave. Nothing works, least of all an attempt by vengeful witches on Caroline’s life, interrupted by Klaus, and everyone walks away relatively intact. It’s all used to force characters into each other’s arms – Caroline into Klaus’, Elena into Damon’s and Matt into Rebekah’s – and, as massive threats teased across an entire season go, this is pretty underwhelming.

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But, though this isn’t close to the league last year’s The Departed sat in, it had to happen this way to tie up all of the loose ends created by a confusing and meandering season. There’s minimal time offered to writing Klaus and Rebekah out ready for their New Orleans adventures, for example, but – credit to the writers – they managed to do away with the Originals without destroying the pairings fans have fallen for. Klaus has allowed Tyler to return to Mystic Falls because he is Caroline’s first love (“I intend to be your last, however long it takes”), and Matt goes on a road trip with Rebekah largely so she’ll stop pining after him.

And there’s finally some resolution to the love triangle – hurrah! Elena chooses Damon in a gloriously fan-pleasing moment designed, I’m sure, to make up for the weird sire bond-mess the writers saddled Delena fans with earlier in the season. Elena has her emotions back on, she isn’t sired to anyone, and she still chooses Damon. The moment is only made sweeter by Damon’s exchange with Alaric (“you got the girl man”), a much missed dynamic on the show that’s sadly no more all over again. This is where Stefan’s bad day begins, however, with him listening in to the girl he loves choosing his brother – that’s gotta hurt.

It continues when, as mentioned, Bonnie brings the veil back up. But her last spell worked – she managed to keep Jeremy in the mortal realm – and she instead walks off into the afterlife with her Grams. I assume this means that, for now, Bonnie has been written out of the show but, knowing The Vampire Diaries, it won’t be permanent. I really hate the fact that Jeremy has been resurrected, not because I would have preferred Alaric to return, but because I foresee no interesting use for him as a character. His death forced Elena to grow up and let go of her human life, and now she’s got her emotional crutch back I fear it’ll all be undone.

We’re left with two very intriguing pairs of doppelgangers – one with Nina Dobrev’s face and the other with Paul Wesley’s. During a particularly brutal fight, Elena forces the cure down Katherine’s throat, meaning that they have now essentially swapped places on the supernatural spectrum. How Katherine is going to deal with her new humanity is a fascinating tease, almost as good as how Elena would deal with her vampirism at the start of this season, and I can’t wait for Nina Dobrev to add a fourth (or fifth?) version of the character to her repertoire. After what she did with emotionless Elena this year, I have no worries.

The big twist of course, is that Silas isn’t just alive, but he’s wearing Stefan’s face! It turns out that Elena and Katherine aren’t the only people in Mystic Falls who are sharing, but Stefan is also a doppelganger (in human form) to the immortal Silas – at least we know that, providing Stefan didn’t have a secret love child back in the day, he’s the only one remaining. This is where Stefan’s bad day, starting with Elena choosing his brother and developing with Lexi returning to the other side, comes to a climax, as Silas throws him into the river and plans to take his place. This is the best cliffhanger since, you know, Angel did the exact same thing back in 2002.

This finale was pretty busy, probably because the show forgot to achieve anything over the last 22 weeks, but it gives me high hopes for a better, and tighter, fifth season that, for the first time in three years, will be a Klaus-free zone. Providing they keep the love triangle resolved, don’t make good on Tyler’s return, and forget that Jeremy is alive again, I’ll be happy. Katherine and Stefan’s ultimate fates are both exciting, especially since Paul Wesley is at his very best when he’s playing evil, and giving the show’s first villain exactly what she never wanted is a cruel and fitting resolution to her arc. I’ll see you back here in the fall for more fun and games.

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Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Walking Dead, here.

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