This review contains spoilers.
I’ve said it a million and one times, but The Vampire Diaries’ current season really is top-notch. This episode, one that could easily have leant on the nostalgia of Jeremy leaving, or the obvious emotional pull of Liz Forbes’ death, instead decided to be poignant and dramatic and funny and just interesting from a television perspective. It was excellent, in other words, and that’s worth noting on a show in its sixth year on the air.
It was billed as Jeremy’s farewell episode all week long, and Jeremy did exit Mystic Falls for an undeterminable length of time, but the bulk of the episode was really about Caroline losing her mother. But it wasn’t just about Caroline losing her mother, but also about Liz and her experience leading up to death, which is a distinction that made all of the difference in practice.
Having Damon be the one she shared scenes with, along with adding an extra dash of tragedy when Caroline realised she hadn’t been there in her mother’s final moments, was a masterstroke in that it allowed her to talk about her daughter without it becoming overwrought. Damon is the perfect person for these types of storylines in general, because there’s still a layer of snark and cynicism even in his most earnest moments, and his friendship with Liz is one that’s been around since the earliest days of season one.
The non-investigation into the Gilbert’s death was also perfect, because it completely played with the audience’s emotions and expectations, producing in them the same sense of anti-climax/contentment felt by the characters on-screen when it turned out to be a dead-end.
Looking for clues and evidence and explanations where there is none was a lovely way to explore that side of grief, mirroring Caroline’s own inability to accept her mother’s condition on first diagnosis a few weeks back, and it highlighted the ordinariness of Liz’s world right when it counted. As she said in one of the hour’s most heartrending scenes, she’s okay with being ordinary, because Caroline is anything but.
Looking back on it now, it’s a wonder how the episode was only an hour long, with so many storylines continuing despite two huge departures also being dealt with. While Damon and Liz spent her final day together, we also had Matt dealing with Sara Salvatore, Elena seeing Jeremy off with a joint and some apologies, and Caroline and Stefan finally giving in to their feelings.
That last one is the second best thing about the episode, and is at the complete opposite end of the happiness spectrum to the first. This relationship has been built so slowly over the years that, now that they’ve finally kissed, it feels pretty monumental for the show. This is a series where characters are constantly falling in and out of love and it can get so, so tiring (looking at you, Delena), but everything about this feels fresh and exciting. The sunset was pretty in that moment, too.
With all of this, though, Jeremy’s farewell did feel a little tacked on, not helped by the fact that his final scenes were (understandably) shared with Elena – a character long past being interesting to watch. He’s not going to art school like we thought, either, but instead going off into the sunset to become a real vampire hunter, which is kind of great and kind of tragic, depending on what shape he’s in when he eventually returns for Christmas or Thanksgiving.
Saying goodbye to characters on a show like this is always hard, but The Vampire Diaries made the right decision not to hold back on the emotions. It helps that Candice Accola is a wonderful crier with a gift for playing romance, but really it was down to the near-impeccable way this season has framed Liz’s story.
She’ll be greatly missed, as will the littlest Gilbert, but it’s fitting that they left in an episode that combined all of the romance and sweetness and heartbreak that makes up the show at its very best.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Day I Tried To Live, here.
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