The Vampire Diaries season 6 episode 18 review: I Could Never Love Like That

Elena's endgame kicks into motion with the latest episode of The Vampire Diaries...

This review contains spoilers.

6.18 I Could Never Love Like That

Suddenly the timing of the announcement that Nina Dobrev would be leaving The Vampire Diaries makes a lot of sense. If it had come after this episode, I Could Never Love Like That, Elena’s emotional arc would have had far less weight to it and, knowing that there’s a ticking clock on her character, it’s hard not to speculate.

Will she end up taking the cure, and skipping town either out of compulsion or through her own choice? It’s certainly the option being posed here, but it’s not the only route the show could decide to go down. Notably, this is really the first time since season four that we’ve focused on Elena’s regrets after becoming a vampire – the possible family that’s been taken from her. She’s got her man, but not a real future in the human sense.

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It was always something that hit you square in the soul, knowing how much she cares for Jeremy and how happy that ending would have been for her. She’s been a vampire for so long now that it was easy to forget how much she lost when Stefan decided not to save her from the car wreck.

That said, as important a set-up as it might prove to be over the next few episodes, the episode laid it on a little thick. Her reaction to Jo’s pregnancy, her conversations with Damon and Damon’s mother – all heavy-handed manipulation. But, give me a speech from Matt Donovan, and I’m immediately sold.

Really, though I’ve always been the #1 fan of Matt since season one, this year has done such a good job with his character. He’s still always just around, with hints at a storyline of his own never really panning out, but it’s that quality that makes moments like this one in the hospital so brilliant. The fact that is was Matt – the guy who’s been with Elena through thick and thin since the very beginning – is the one to drive the message home was perfect.

He’s completely over how hard his life has been since the Salvatores came to town (never forget – Damon killed his sister), and he’s realising now that even Elena and Caroline shouldn’t be exempt from his no-vamp-drama rule.

Where does his epiphany come from? Another near-death experience, obviously, with Caroline playing sadistic games with the boys who dumped her. I’ll reiterate my love for Matt here, but I’m not so sure Tyler didn’t deserve a good non-fatal stabbing. He was only really concerned with his own werewolf curse as his best friend bled out on the floor, which says everything you need to know about his character.

I want to talk more about the brief glimpse we got of Matt and Tyler in police training, I do, but it would just be guttural noises of delight.

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Going back to Caroline and Stefan, they’re still on a rampage at the beginning of the episode, but the most nonchalant vampire rampage you’ve ever seen. There are compulsion games in near-empty bars, karaoke and an actual stabbing in the back when Caroline realises her partner in crime may soon be donning his white hat again. Because – surprise! – Damon’s plan to slip Stefan’s switch with the sight of his long-dead mother actually worked.

I didn’t expect it to work, but now the twist is that she doesn’t actually love her family anymore. She lied to Stefan just to get her hands on the ascendant, which we’ve learnt will probably lead to six (seven including Kai) uber-powerful witch/vampire creatures that used to be part of the Gemini coven. After six seasons, The Vampire Diaries just managed to create an entirely new type of mystical bad guy, and they sound just swell.

This was billed as an Enzo-centric episode, which absolutely nobody wanted to see, so I’m happy his flashbacks were only a small part of the hour. It turns out Damon’s mother turned Enzo back in 1903, adding another strange layer to the already bizarre relationship those two have with each other, and Sara has fled town with her memories intact. That’s definitely not the end of this dead-end storyline, which is a shame.

But for the first time in a couple of seasons, I want to spend some quality time with Elena. Some of that is down to evil-Caroline outstaying her welcome, and Bonnie not being in this episode, but mostly it’s because there’s nothing like having an end-date for a character you used to love to make you re-examine why you used to love them. Cure or no cure, I’m ready to find out what Vampire Diaries has in store for its original heroine.

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Bird In A Gilded Cage, here.

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