'The Vampire Diaries' season finale: I'm a vampire, what's your excuse?
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.
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.
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 MacKenzietwitter.com/cadlymack
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