I could not stand TVD’s Season Three finale the first time I saw it, and it derailed my recapping for a majority of the summer. Two weeks ago, I forced myself to look with fresh eyes, and found I couldn’t tear myself away (I ended up watching it twice just to soak up the nuances). Though my efforts to cover last year are rendered pretty much irrelevant at this point, here is Better Late Than Never Part 3, the official quick-and-dirty version of where “The Departed” leaves out three favorite females (because this is a girl blog, dammit, and we can do more than drool over pretty boys. Though these guys made it hard to look anywhere else this episode…)
Bonnie is “done getting pushed around”
Between surviving Storage Wars with Damon and pulling one hell of a Hail Mary-switcheroo, I think it’s finally fair to say that Bonnie has come into her own. The necessity of Klaus’ existence v. the necessity of his extinction seemed an impossible conundrum to resolve (did we ever sort out whether he was the founder of The Bloodline? Was that one of those “hiding-in-plain-sight” plot-points?) but the writers teased an unseen Door Number Three with Bonnie’s rundown of the Original Hybrid’s many sins over the season – “so what do I with you?” – that culminated in a mind-screw of a final scene between her and…TYLER?! While this initially inspired “I-can’t-believe-she-didn’t-break-the-Gilbert-device” levels of horror, the more I think about it, the more disturbingly awesome it becomes. Obviously Bonnie’s gonna have to answer for this one, but this is the year she at least has a credible, non-Jeremy related excuse, and all those dead witches can just get bent.
Caroline “would go anywhere with you”
The “Romeo and Juliet” vibe of Tyler and Caroline’s relationship went literal this round, with the added twist of their mothers telling them to run (the hunters pursuing them feature into one of my most anticipated plots of the new season). Even though we TV obsessives know that any plan to flee made in the first act will be tragically thwarted in the third, it was sweet to see these two make the admittedly smart plan to get out of dodge. My major question is why Tyler insisted on seeing Bonnie before going, unless the answer is the obvious one (self-sacrifice). Either way, this supernatural spin on The Host will be a great addition to the show’s “Times When Forwood’s Relationship Turned Utterly Twisted” Hall of Fame.
Elena fears that “every time someone walks out of this house, there’s a chance they won’t make it back home”
So Elena and the men in her life had a bit of a time this year:
On the family side, Matt went from second-string boyfriend to first-class confidante; Jeremy became a medium while trying to come into his own; and Alaric struggled with his demons before ultimately succumbing to a far more evil force. Matt’s eventual place in the circle surprised me at first – he was always portrayed more as Tyler’s bestie than any real friend to Jeremy – but then when you consider that his best friend and recent ex are now sleeping together it makes sense for him to find himself on the Gilbert side of things (plus he and Jeremy have the almighty Vicky connection). Their initially fake plan to get Elena out of “Mystic Mayhem: Part V” once and for all was inspired on two levels – as both a gambit to throw Alaric off, and a solution to the ongoing “doppleganger danger” issue, they exemplified the appropriate way to rob loved ones of their agency. Jeremy’s man-of-the-house status was further cemented by that final, beautiful scene with Alaric’s ghost, a moment that served the dual purpose of a farewell and a passing of the torch. Conversely, Damon’s having to lose Alaric all over again only highlighted the hell of a day he was having.
Said hell can best be explained as the brothers Salvatore, who reversed roles in every conceivable way over the course of this season, remaining in Elena’s eyes in exactly the same positions as always, in spite of all Damon’s efforts to sway the odds in his favor. More specifically, Damon can play the boyfriend part to realistic perfection and still be (admittedly) The Guy That Snapped Jeremy’s Neck, but Stefan’s near-crash off Wickery Bridge (this is what BREAKING UP looks like, Elena) did nothing but…send Elena off Wickery Bridge while on her way home to him. While we’ll never know if choosing Damon would result in Elena’s eventual vampirism (I’d call that one about 70-30 in favor of his mantra to protect her life at all costs) we can without a doubt say that if turning around to say goodbye to everyone but him didn’t seal her fate, Stefan’s choice to let her make life-and-death decisions while drowning shoved her off the mortal coil with a vengeance.
To be fair: nobody knew Elena had vampire blood in her system, and the episode did its best through those lovely flashbacks to show us that she cares about the feelings of others above all else (if she felt too guilty to dump Matt back in the day there was no way she was letting him drown the same way her parents did, especially when he’d spent his night driving all over Virginia attempting to alternately keep her happy and save her life). But while I love Matt, and he wouldn’t exactly be going out in a blaze of glory, I ask both Stefan and the writers “what is his purpose here?” To the latter, If we killed Mason Lockwood, a character hoarding a host of information salient to an entire subplot, within five episodes of his introduction, we can let the quarterback go, right? And to the former, 1) yes, Elena’s death was the only way to rid the gang of Hunter Alaric ( a plot point so neat it’s a repeat, from last season), but you guys are the kings and queens of Plan B; 2) as stated above, times arise when the desires of the endangered have to be overruled, and this was Stefan’s moment to do so.
The fact that he doesn’t epitomizes a difference of opinion dating back to season one, that one brother will attempt the impossible to make Elena happy while the other will do the unthinkable to keep her alive. Up until now their combined efforts have produced a successful, if emotionally uncomfortable, result, but this night Stefan over-relied on the capacity of Elena’s lungs and the extent of their luck, and now must face what failure looks like – an Elena whose eyes are pried open by forces beyond her control, whose fate has caught up with her. What will she see when she looks at him?
Next: The Season 4 premiere, “Growing Pains”. I’m finally getting caught up, show me that smile again!