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'The Vampire Diaries' season finale: I'm a vampire, what's your excuse?

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In my first-ever Show Tracker review, I called "The Vampire Diaries" a guilty pleasure. I expected it to be "soapy and cheesy" -- not that that's a bad thing. I loved the melodrama of it all. "Broody guys with dark secrets and perfect hair!" I wrote. "Mean high school history teachers! Love triangle angst!"

I don't want to be the kind of writer who quotes herself -- hello, obnoxious -- so I'll get to the point. I was wrong.

Look, there will always be overwrought melodrama in shows about teenagers, and the supernatural element lends a bodice-ripper quality to the whole thing. But if "The Vampire Diaries" did one thing this year, it proved itself to be more than just "One Tree Hill" with bite. Story lines never drag on past their expiration dates. Questions don't go unanswered endlessly. Characters are consistent and the entire cast -- down to the tertiary characters -- is believable enough to put most TV actors their age to shame.

"Founders Day," last night's season-ender, was my most anticipated finale this spring. Every episode this season has included its share of unexpected twists and, of course, the ever-present cliffhanger. When I spoke with Ian Somerhalder earlier this week, he told me not to expect just one cliffhanger from the finale. "It'll have seven or eight cliffhangers," he said. It's going to be a long summer -- but before I start complaining about the wait, we've got an episode to watch. Press play, Show Trackers!

8:01 p.m.:
Well played, guys. I admit it, I was fooled by the Elena/Katherine bait and switch. I'm delicate tonight, OK?


8:02 p.m.:
MATT! In a suit! (P.S., Show Trackers, I finally met Zach Roerig tonight at the Young Hollywood Awards and I can confirm that he is as awesome as I expected him to be. He told me that he hopes Matt never "turns" -- he likes playing the human. Oh, and also, he was awesome. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.)

When Stefan and Damon see Elena in her Katherine costume (Founder's Day regalia, whatever) the twin looks of awe on their faces are a little bit heartbreaking. They're both looking at Elena, but they're seeing someone else. Judging by Stefan's expression, he's still feeling a little bit of Katherine's burn... try as he does to deny it.

It's a testament to Nina Dobrev's talent that, even dressed up in her Civil War era finest, she still looks like Elena here, not Katherine. That shy smirk screams 2010.

8:04 p.m.:
Anna's method of turning Jeremy is genius. She's put it all -- literally -- in his hands. He can make his decision whenever he wants.

8:05 p.m.:
Sane, sober Stefan is back, telling Elena the truth about stuff! Chuck Bass would hate this guy. "He's your brother; he'll forgive you. Just give him some time," S.S.S. tells Elena about Jeremy. He might want to warn her that in his experience, "some time" has been about a century and a half.

8:06 p.m.:
I think it's hilarious that Caroline tells Matt to hide his cast because it isn't "era-appropriate" while they're getting their picture taken in front of a giant yellow school bus.

Tyler isn't on vacation this week! It seems that Matt's still making him sleep on the couch, though.

8:09 p.m.:
Oh, Uncle John. Why you gotta go ruining all my high school parade fun with your vampire nuke?

8:10 p.m.:
Colin from "Everwood" is the head of the Vampire Revenge Army?! The only thing that could make me happier right now would be if the Winchester brothers burst in to ice some vampires while Felicity strolled by with Noel and Pacey appeared in the Founder's Day parade.

I have to say, John's plan doesn't seem very sound. Five minutes to dose all the vampires in town?

8:13 p.m.: "I like you better like this," Damon tells Elena. "The period look didn't suit you." I think that music supervisor Chris Mollere is a secret Damon/Elena fan. All the best cues happen during their scenes together. 58155

It's nice that Elena has Damon's number, and has from the start. She's never been oblivious to the way other people treat her or the way they feel about her.

8:15 p.m.: "I have so many emotions, and I don't know how to express them! Being a teenager is so hard." Oh, leave it to Damon to call Jeremy on his angst-fest. I like Damon's protective streak when it comes to Elena, but I think he's misguided here. Stefan's right -- this is none of Damon's business. It has very little to do with the whole vampire issue. This is a sibling thing.

8:17 p.m.: You tell 'em, Sheriff Mom! The Boys' Club of Mystic Falls is a little too shoot first, apologize later for me. Also, John is a jerk.

8:23 p.m.:
Please don't let Malese Jow be a casualty of this episode. The female vampires never seem to last long around here, but she's earned her keep!

8:25 p.m.:
Tyler's story has been the most subtle build toward a climax we've seen on this show. Well-executed continuity? On The CW?

8:27 p.m.:
I'm glad everything is going down during the fireworks. Having climactic scenes in the rain is so over-done now that it's gone mainstream.

8:28 p.m.:
Can't Caroline just enjoy her day as Miss Mystic Falls without getting into a car crash with her boyfriend and his werewolf bestie because of a noise that only vampires can hear coming from a device her best friend the witch was supposed to deactivate? God!

8:30 p.m.:
Remind me not to get attached to any more awesome girl vampires on this show. I hate you, Uncle John! Malese Jow is amazing; I expect to see much more of her in the future.

Is it just me, or is Damon looking awfully calm about the idea of being burned to death in a basement with a couple dozen of his closest enemies?

8:35 p.m.:
"I'm a vampire. What's your excuse?"

I can't say I mourn the loss of Mayor Lockwood. Colin-from-Everwood, you can snap that quick-tempered, life-destroying child-abuser dad's neck as many times as you want.

8:36 p.m.:
Aww, Tyler and Matt made up! They should renew their vows.

No! Caroline! This episode airs on Candice Accola's birthday. Surely they can't kill her off tonight.

8:38 p.m.:
Bring on the daddy issues. I really wish I could bring myself to care about Uncle John being Elena's dad, but mostly I just want him to leave town. He's not the kind of villain that's fun to watch; he's too cold and his motivations are too basic and unrelatable.

Oh, now Bonnie wants to save Stefan? Pick a side, girl! Nobody likes a wishy-washy witch.

Friendship saves the day again! What have I been telling you guys? Katarina Graham is other-worldly in this scene. She doesn't sound like herself at all.

58006 8:44 p.m.:
The vampires we care about have escaped the tomb (except for Anna, whom I am still mourning). The vampires we hate just got roasted. And yet... there are still 16 minutes left in the episode. This is not a good sign, folks. Sixteen minutes is plenty of time to establish a twist, but not nearly enough time to get answers.

8:45 p.m.:
Brotherly love confession time! "I try so hard to hate him, but I guess it's just pointless," Stefan says. To be honest, Damon has been shockingly good over the last few weeks. Stefan shouldn't try to hate him. Damon took 150 years to turn evil. If he's ever going to recover, he needs a little time.

8:46 p.m.:
Put that blood vial away right this instant, young man.

A few days ago, Ian Somerhalder told me that when he shot the pilot episode, he never thought he'd see the day that Damon cared about anything. It looks like that day has come. Damon may be after Elena for selfish reasons, but he doesn't really have anything to gain from being nice to Jeremy. He doesn't have anything to gain from apologizing and offering a shoulder.

8:49 p.m.:
I kind of wish Tyler, Matt, and Caroline were more involved with Elena and the Salvatores. I know that someone has to provide the B-story, but even a little bit of integration into the A-story would have helped a lot to keep the pacing of this episode more consistent.

Sheriff Mom did a lot with a very short scene there. Heartbreaking, even though Tyler's dad is a total meanie.

8:50 p.m.:
Jeremy is on notice.

8:54 p.m.:
As much as I love this tender scene between Damon and Elena on the porch... can she hurry up and get her butt inside and stop her little brother's suicide attempt? I'm DYING here. I haven't wanted to yell at a television character to get inside since "Scream 2." Oh, wait....

8:56 p.m.:
Nevermind! She can stay on the porch! She should never, ever leave the porch!

I have to admit I never thought that they'd go this route when it came to Damon's and Elena's inevitable romance. It seems so unlike her when she just finished pledging her love to Stefan. The words are practically still in her mouth. Where Damon can now taste them. Because they're making out. On the porch.

Soundtrack junkie moment (the last of the season!): "Bloodstream" by Stateless. Get it?

8:57 p.m.:
Jeremy is really breaking my heart!

8:58 p.m.:
Wow, way to give Aunt Jenna the brush-off. Surely Damon can't have rubbed off on Elena that much that fast.

8:59 p.m.:
I'm not allowed to curse on Show Tracker. If I were allowed to curse on Show Tracker, I would be cursing a lot. I'm full of all these feelings and polite words are failing me. Katherine is amazing.

Is Jeremy going to die and then turn into a vampire? Is Damon in love with Elena or could he tell that it was Katherine? Where did Katherine find an Elena jacket? Is Caroline going to be OK? What's going to happen when Elena and Katherine meet? When will Tyler become the ever-so-mysterious creature he's destined to become? Is Stefan's hair so big because it's full of secrets?

I can't believe we have to wait all summer for the answers to our questions. Especially that last one. This was easily the best episode of the season, which is an impressive feat because we've had some great ones.

Of course, keep your eye on Show Tracker over the summer for all your "Vampire Diaries" Season 2-related news. If you missed it, check out my interview with Ian Somerhalder to find out which Beatles song reminds him of Katherine, to learn which character death "put a damper on the show," and to hear about a cause very close to Somerhalder's heart.

Thank you all for reading this season. Your tweets, e-mails, and comments have meant so much, and you've made my first experience with TV blogging a really special one. Keep in touch! (Also, have a rockin' summer, see you in September, insert more cliche high school yearbook sentiments here.)

-- Carina MacKenzie

twitter.com/cadlymack

RELATED:

'The Vampire Diaries': Ian Somerhalder: 'Honestly, my heart is crushed'

'The Vampire Diaries': That's one scary mother

'The Vampire Diaries': To everything there is a season

Photos, from top: Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley; Candice Accola and Zach Roerig; Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley; Somerhalder, Wesley, and Steven R. McQueen. Credits: The CW
 
Comments () | Archives (21)

your blogs/ side comments are very fun to read, thanks a lot. pls. kip us updated esp. with damon and elena's growing affection... yah september seems like a long, long way to wait, and i juz cant wait if only they can have advance storyline about it...

Count me in as one of the people who had no idea it was Katherine until she sliced and diced Jon. Although I did think there was something strange about "Elena's" demeanor when she blew off Jenna's worries about her hooking up with Damon. Nina does play Katherine with a bit more...moodiness and confidence. Still, quite a shocking end, part of me was convinced we would never see Katherine in present day.

Definitely the best show of the season.
I gotta say that I was fooled by the Katherine/Elena switch up until she gave Uncle John that menacing look.
I can't believe Anna is dead. Poor Jeremy. At this rate the whole cast will be gone by season four. I was so not expecting that, but I think that with this show we have to learn that nothing can be expected.

Thanks for the well written account of the VD season finale! I haven't known about or read your earlier posts, but I will now. I like your minute by minute pithy comments on the episode....

Best episode of the season for sure! I loved every minute of it. I AM SO EXCITED FOR SEASON TWO! This summer is going to be soooo long.

Anyway, great review! Hope to see more from you this fall. :D

This show has been the best part of my Thursday and your blog has been one of the things I have looked forward to most on Friday mornings! I can't wait until season 2!

Great recaps! Love your work.

I was so fooled by the Elena/Katherine switch also. I couldnt believe it. The kiss on the cheek wasa so innocent and then the full make out i was floored. How will Katherine play out, didnt expect to see her ever. I miss anna already. Young teeens are going through so much i hate to see suicide on screen. I wasnt feeling that at all. And I love Bad Bonnie B**** she is is going to bring the witchiness! Well until september i have true blood

SO GOOD. So good! I am really impressed by this series and, like you, I was maaaaaybe expecting it to be more of a guilty pleasure. But I agree with all of your comments on the excellent storylines, acting, and pacing. I never get bored or frustrated with this show. I will admit that at first I saw Elena as a sort of one-dimensional character but my affection for her grew as the series went on. Added to by Nina's acting and, especially, her wonderful ability to make Katherine and Elana feel so different with just LITTLE things. She's great!

+ Haha! I love you loving Matt. Your comments on Zach made me smile.

+ Malese Jow was super awesome and I'm pretty bummed they took Anna out that way. I guess they did that as a plot device to push Damon's emotions and Jeremy's turning, but. WHHHHHHY. I cry!

+ JEREMY. KIDDO! NO. I really wonder what will happen with him next season! I am pretty much rooting for him to stay human but I guess we will see.

+ I am fond of Stefan being all fond of his brother.

+ DAMON. Is just... he's such a fun character to watch! I am sure we have not seen the last of his bad boys ways and I enjoy watching his character develop. Ian is just AMAZING. Like, perfect casting there.

+ The scene on the porch!!!! I watch with my daughter and there was fist-bumping, hollering, and general obnoxious revelry going on. Then we paused the kiss. Then we rewound it. Then we watched it again! At which point my kiddo was like, UGH, IT'S KATHERINE. And I was like, Nooooo. Wait. Yes. Wait, nooooo. Then Jenna was like, Come inside, and we were like, IT IS! Then we screamed in excitement because... we're lame, okay!

+ I LOVE me some David Anders and I think that last scene in the kitchen is one reason why. His character was so icky and unlikable, but. That last scene, he managed to tug on my heart! ANYWAY. THE RETURN OF KATHERINE. WHAT UP! I LOVE IT.

I really enjoy this series and I love your reviews. They're fun and they're fresh and I so look forward to more of the show and YOU next fall!!! Here's hoping next season is as awesome and fun to watch as this one was. <3

I've SO enjoyed your blog on TVD this season! Can't wait to see what you have to say on season 2. This season finale was spectacular! Watching it, with the amount of twists and turns in it reminded me of watching a 'Lost' finale. So much was happening, and answered. So much wasn't answered. UGH! Is it September yet?

Great job Carina giving us the Friday morning round up on this particularly awesome drama/fantasy/horror/comedy/romance production that I, too, dismissed at first as a guilty pleasure! Last night's show truly proved that it is one kicking drama with some powerhouse performances.

I've really enjoyed watching the actors progress as this season has gone along. They have improved and made the characters believable, and play off each other so well, it's a really great ensemble cast. Particular props to Nina - she has grown stronger and more complex, meaner as Katherine, just all around fun to watch. I love also how the actors really up their game whenever they are in a scene with Ian. I think because he's such a huge presence, both his character and physically, everybody just steps it up to try to match him onscreen. Bonnie and Damon together in that scene at the parade - fireworks!

I was totally thrown by the Katherine switch-aroo as well. Until Uncle John said "can I help?" and she looked down at his ring - aaaaaah!!! But rewinding the porch scene (you know you all did this many times!), then it became clear in "Elena's" strange mannerisms and how she was looking at Damon. And the annoyed, dark look she gave Jenna when she interupted them! Yes, of course that's Katherine...

I hope they get Jeremy to the ER in time! I hope Damon figures it out that he was not kissing Elena! I hope Alaric stops wasting time and lets Jenna know it's game on!

Have a great summer, miss you lots, take care and don't do anything I wouldn't do! :)

This show is great. I really have nothing to add, except I'll chime in on the Damon/Elena love. Waiting for those two to kiss for real is going to be torturous! Now that I've gotten a taste of what it could be like? SO AGONIZING!

I have to give it to Nina. Even though Katherine and Elena are the same person, she does an amazing job in making us believe it two different people. Even before she sliced John's hand, I noticed something bitchy about her, but she didnt over do it to make us wonder if something was up.

I'm in love with this show. Even my mom, who hates teenage drama shows almost as much as she hates witchcraft and mythological creatures looks forward to this show every week.

You're right. Polite language cannot express what I need to say. The whole episode was beyond amazing, but the end? Holy *&^*&%^$^%$%#%$#@$#@

When I thought it was Elena and Damon kissing, I was completely and utterly shocked. My eyes were unblinkingly glued to the screen and I was flailing my arms and gaping like a fish. I was honestly a little angry that the kiss (why do I feel like that should be capitalized?) came so fast. But then you knew it was Katherine because she CHOPPED OFF John's G-DD-MN (just erring on the side of caution when it comes to that word) FINGERS.

AWESOME.

I hadn't been quite behind Nina Dobrev as Katherine till then, but she was completely perfect. Powerful, creepy, totally lacking remorse. Basically the best character ever. When she walked into the house and didn't seem affected by (alright then) The Kiss, you just knew something was up.

And Anna. Oh, noes. Incredibly disappointed that she's gone. Amazing character. But I am anxious to find out about Jeremy. Great place to leave his story, his eyes when he lay down really got to me.

Somehow I can't see him becoming a vampire though, as much as I want it. I'm waiting for them to pull out a twist, like killing yourself with prescription drugs doesn't work properly. Now I'm just over thinking it. As opposed to the normal amount of thinking I've been doing over the past months.

I felt like I was watching a sporting event when I watched the finale. I never yell at the TV like that. I started catching your recaps around January and I love to read them the next day when my brain is full of Vampire Diaries questions. When Jeremy grabbed the pills I screamed "Don't do it Jeremy Swan!" and I have you to thank for that. I was just as fooled between 8:54 -8:56 of your recap. While I was screaming "What are you doing?" I was also rewinding with my DVR to see it all again. I am saddened that the summer will be without new Vampire Diaries and your recaps but at least I can catch up with your twitter. Gilmore Girls, SPN, OTH, a weird love of CMM and Noel, I love your twitter.

As to "Is Stefan's hair so big because it's full of secrets?" You have seen it up close, is it hair gel or bloodlust? Hmmmm

Carina, Katherine stole the clothes from Elena while she was out. Elena mentioned that somebody took her stuff on the phone while she was headed back.

I loved your tracking. Thank you, Carina. You have a place in my favourites.

Thanks for a season of recaps.....I looked forward to them every Friday. See you in the fall:)

Very interesting article! Elena was so gorgeous just like me!lol...

i wi=onder whats gooooona happen in the vampire diaries.whats gonna happen to kathrine in the season finale?????? johathan gilbert dies!!!!!!!!!!!!! TEAM STEFAN ALL THE WAY !!!!!!!!!! CANT WAIT!!!!!!!!!!! :):):):):)

I HOPE STEFAN ENDS UP WITH ELANA THEY MATCH... DAMON SHOULD GO WITH KATHRINE AND THEY SHOULD RUN AWAY TOGETHER BUT??? THEY SOON COME BACK????? GO TEAM STEFAN. VAMPIRE DIARIES RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO GO GO GO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
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