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Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Vampire Diaries says goodbye to "The Departed"

CW's The Vampire Diaries ends its season with "The Departed." Big bad vampire vampire hunter Alaric (Matt Davis) resists the others' attempts to fool him, and locates Klaus (Joseph Morgan). With the Original who turned the entire main cast of vampires staked, everyone awaits their deaths, and begins saying goodbye. This is surely the series finale, right?

Not so fast. With the popularity of The Vampire Diaries, it's hard to ever build suspense over whether Stefan (Paul Wesley) and / or Damon (Ian Somerhalder) might die. They won't. Tyler (Michael Trevino), sure, and maybe even Caroline (Candice Accola), but never the brothers. Which means that either Klaus lied about creating their bloodline, or he isn't really dead.

Spoiler alert! It's the latter. But what is really shocking is how he manages to survive. That really is Klaus's body that Alaric stakes, but clever Bonnie (Kat Graham) transfers Klaus's essence into Tyler's body. So it appears that actor Morgan is gone, but the character remains. What an interesting and unexpected way to go!

Tyler is likely chosen because of his bond to Klaus. After all, Bonnie wouldn't do that to one of her friends if she had much of a choice, would she? She allows Klaus to hijack Tyler's body because it saves the life of Caroline and her own mother, primarily. Does it also save Tyler? Is he still aware in there somewhere? Will Bonnie be moving Klaus to a new host? This particular plot point provides much more mystery than anything, and the rules about this transference are not at all known. What is probable is that Klaus is not lying about the bloodline, so he must stay alive somehow in order to keep the main characters breathing.

As Tyler writhes in pain in front of Caroline, one may be forgiven for assuming he's dying. The whole sequence is built very well, to provide maximum ramp up. But there's also a sneaking suspicion that, perhaps by turning into a werewolf, he can somehow avoid the death. It's a very touching moment when Caroline and Tyler must say goodbye, one of the best scenes yet for these two performers. The delight that the characters live on erases any cheapening that might happen because the goodbye is premature.

It is likely that Klaus won't want to leave Tyler's body anytime soon. After all, he is in love with Caroline, and Caroline loves Tyler. It's hard to imagine that Bonnie won't spill the beans, rather than watch Caroline be fooled. Unless Klaus holds some sort of threat over Bonnie, which also seems pretty likely, given his track record.

The simple fact of the matter, though, is that The Vampire Diaries has killed off so many main characters, they can't kill off many more without gutting the cast. Last season's finale is a bloodbath, but "The Departed" can't afford to be. Alaric is permanently dead, sadly, and gets a very sweet goodbye with Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen), though Jeremy is more upset about someone else at the time. But that's it. Though how cool would it be if Alaric could become Jeremy's permanent ghost companion, thus keeping the actor in the series? Alas, that does not appear to be the path that The Vampire Diaries is choosing.

Jeremy and Matt (Zach Roerig) step up to the plate in "The Departed." As Elena's (Nina Dobrev) only human friends left, they decide that they need to remove her from this crazy vampire war, so they drug her and sneak her away in the night. These two have contributed to the good fight before, but somehow this seems more heroic than past deeds. It might be sneaky, but Elena needs protection, and they strive to offer it. Sadly, they fail, as Rebekah (Claire Holt) succeeds in killing Elena, thus removing Alaric's threat towards herself.

Elena is now a vampire! This may just be the biggest twist The Vampire Diaries has ever embarked upon. Watching Elena die is completely unfathomable, and fans wait with baited breath for the other shoe to drop. But to make her a vampire, despite the precedence set by Twlight (and possibly The Vampire Diaries books?), it's still hard to see coming. This will change her life and her character forever. Now, at least everyone can stop whining about protecting her!

What will Elena's transformation mean for her? For one, she will have increased appetites. This just might make her rethink her decision about which Salvatore brother to love. See, earlier in "The Departed," when Elena believes both Stefan and Damon are dying, she asks Matt to take her to Stefan. This is a very clear choice, one made, in part, she claims, because she meets Stefan first.

But Elena did not meet Stefan first. She met Damon, and he (kindly?) erased her memory of the encounter. Being a vampire now, this memory will come back. Also, Stefan saves Matt, leaving Elena to die. Yes, this is Elena's choice, as she signals frantically for Stefan to do so. But might she also hold some sort of grudge that Stefan didn't manage to dive back into the lake and save her, too? Plus, Stefan has vampire strength. After he frees Matt, couldn't he pull Elena out, too, and take them both to the surface at once?

Really, Elena's new self is a total game changer in her relationship with both Damon and Stefan. And without yet seeing this new vampire Elena, which is only glimpsed in "The Departed," it is impossible to predict in what ways the game is going to change. Arguments can be made for her to fall for each brother, depending on which way the writers decide to go with her personality, and how she is affected by this.

Also, it must be said that Damon watching Alaric die, knowing that it means Elena is dying, too, is truly wrenching. Never has Damon been exposed so raw, and Somerhalder really sells the scene. What a triumph for the show!

Huge episode! The Vampire Diaries is known for delivering, and "The Departed" exceeds expectations! Thank goodness it has already been renewed, and will return to the CW next fall!

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