A number of previews for the final few episodes of the season hinted that we would see the big showdown before the actual finale, and sure enough, that’s what happened. I can’t say that it was entirely unpredictable, because a number of the elements were in line with expectation. The only thing I found surprising was Klaus’ survival. Yes, Elijah staked his brother, but he also ran away with the body; if Elijah could come back, so could Klaus.
Still, that’s not something likely to happen anytime soon; the writers just like to keep a certain number of antagonists available for future plotting opportunities. As always, the real worry is the fate of various protagonists, because in pure “Vampire Diaries” fashion, there is absolutely no guarantee that favorite characters will survive.
For that reason alone, I’m not sure why anyone would have been shocked by Jenna’s death. It was telegraphed for quite a while now, and her role in the ritual made it unlikely that she would live to see another day. As I said in the review for the previous episode, Caroline’s role as the hot young fledging vampire meant that Jenna wasn’t needed in a similar plot capacity; it would have taken away from a more popular character’s unique place in the cast. So Jenna, unfortunately, was cannon fodder as soon as she started to figure out the truth.
I am under no illusions, however, that this is the end of the culling process, since the writers rarely let an episode go by without someone either dying or coming close enough to count. I don’t see the multiple slayings in this episode as a conditional reprieve for the finale. If anything, the fact that Damon’s situation with the werewolf bite is ongoing and worsening is a very troubling sign. I don’t know that the series could survive the loss of its most popular character!
I wasn’t particular surprised that Stefan would offer himself as the substitute sacrifice for Jenna. While he was willing to accept that Elena was going to sacrifice herself for the good of her friends, it was leaving him with a huge hole in his world. Stefan’s always been somewhat emo, so this gesture was completely in-character. Of course, it was also utterly futile, which they should have seen coming a mile away. It’s not like Klaus has hidden his villainy.
While I didn’t think Elena would end up dead or a vampire, given the premise of the series, I did think that the latest loophole in the rules was a bit much. It allows the writers to have their cake and eat it, too, which is nice, but they basically pulled the same stunt with Bonnie not so long ago. It’s not the most galling turn of events, since there was probably no other way out of the situation, but it was a little too easy. (Though John may ultimately pay the price.)
I’m not so sure that things are going to continue to go well for Caroline, and that’s taking into account the rift between her and Matt now. Matt and Caroline’s mother are still not pleased with the vampire population in town, despite their love for Caroline, and if Damon manages to survive the werewolf bite somehow, I suspect there will be a major conflict between human and vampire in the very near future.
That’s the thing with “Vampire Diaries”: even when there has been a massive showdown, it’s just another prelude to the next catastrophe. It makes for a very fun show, since the plot is constantly moving, but the writers have to be careful not to burn out the audience with the constant high drama. Thankfully, there’s more than enough character drama waiting in the wings to give the writers time and space to tell smaller stories with equal impact.
Final Rating: 9/10