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Review #2459: The Vampire Diaries 2.18: “The Last Dance”

Posted on the 15 April 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Whenever there’s going to be a party on “The Vampire Diaries”, it’s time to get worried. Because really, how many parties in Mystic Falls end without someone dying or at least some significant bloodshed? (Perhaps unfortunately for the characters, there seems to be a party on the show every few episodes!)

Review #2459: The Vampire Diaries 2.18: “The Last Dance”

The 60’s theme was a good excuse to get everyone looking hot. Caroline was really cute in her Jackie O gear, and Boone and Elena made that faux-hippie look work incredibly well. But this is “The Vampire Diaries”, not “90210”, so while there was a bit of sexual tension in the air, it was nothing compared to the dread. Bad things were on the horizon, and only some of the characters knew the full extent of it.

Using Alaric as the “meat suit” for Klaus is a stroke of genius, because it makes certain that the audience will anticipate the moment of revelation that much more. Knowing that the gang’s biggest threat is standing right there, listening to all the plans and adjusting his tactics accordingly, gives the episode even more dramatic heft.

This was a huge episode for Bonnie, and they even made me care a little bit about her relationship with Jeremy by the time it was all said and done. Considering the tendency to let the casualties mount on this show (really, only a handful of characters are “safe”), I really thought she might have been killed off without ruining the story. With the writers having set her up as the only viable weapon against Klaus, it would have been a dramatic punch to the gut.

Still, her survival was a bit predictable, because she is a main cast member. The writers had to know that, so they did the best they could with the situation. Making it all a big ruse to confound Klaus, thus allowing Bonnie to prepare in secret, was a great plan, and it was awesome to see Damon’s involvement with the strategy.

My only concern is that Damon and Bonnie made the right call to keep Elena, Jeremy, and Stefan in the dark initially, and they really should have kept the truth to themselves until the final endgame with Klaus. After all, as seen in the scenes with Katherine, Klaus can compel anyone, vampire or human. The more people who know the truth about Bonnie, the easier it will be for Klaus to discover she’s still alive. I can’t help but wonder if this apparent plot hole will turn out to be a plot point before all is said and done for the season.

One of the other ingenious layers of the episode involved Caroline. Caroline has no idea that she has outed the vampires in Mystic Falls, so for her, being with Matt is getting things back to normal. Just as Damon and Bonnie execute a cunning plan to draw out Klaus and fool him into a false sense of security, the Salvatores and Elena have no idea that is coming. My suspicion is that Sheriff Forbes and her human allies are going to strike at the absolute least convenient time.

I also really liked how the evolution of the “love triangle” continues. It’s not really much of a “love triangle”, actually, because Elena and Stefan have never shown interest in anyone else. Damon just puts himself into the mix with his actions and declarations of loyalty. Instead of having Elena return interest, they have her invest in his reformation. It’s a nuanced and complex approach, and far better than the pseudo-“Twilight” overtones in the promos make it appear.

After this episode, I was left wondering just how much more intense the season could get leading into the season finale. “The Vampire Diaries” has gained a reputation for managing to make nearly every episode so momentous that they often overshadow the season finales of other shows in the process. This makes the show quite a rollercoaster ride, but it also means that the writers risk pushing too hard, painting themselves into a corner, or disappointing the audience with a payoff that doesn’t hit a climax of sufficient scale. For now, I trust the writers, because they’ve been setting things up beautifully.

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 3/4

Final Rating: 9/10

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