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Review #2487: The Vampire Diaries 2.20: “The Last Day”

Posted on the 29 April 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Having covered some of the red herrings in the previous episode, this installment focuses on how the various subplots earlier in the season tie into Klaus’ master plan, and how the main characters are forced into a corner as a result. Elena must come to terms with her choice to sacrifice herself for the good of her loved ones, and plans to circumvent fate apparently come to naught.

Review #2487: The Vampire Diaries 2.20: “The Last Day”

All the best villains have a Plan B, and it’s not hard for one to believe that when the heroes are still in the process of recognizing just what the real endgame is. It certainly doesn’t help that the Salvatores are at each other’s throats. Both act in accordance with their established personalities: Stefan struggles with but defends Elena’s personal choice, while Damon decides to take matters into his own hands, Elena’s will be damned. I continue to enjoy how the writers avoid domesticating Damon overly much; even besotted as he is, he continues to take rash action.

I’ve often said that “The Vampire Diaries” is the “Twilight” story written correctly, and this episode makes the case. Confronted with the possibility of becoming a vampire as a solution to the whole doppelganger problem, Elena makes it very clear that she loves Stefan, but has no intention of becoming like him. At the end of the day, she wants/wanted a normal life: to grow up, to have children, to grow old. Elena couldn’t have been more plain in her meaning. (And they address the age difference head-on in the process.)

The implication, of course, is that she confesses this to Stefan because she expects to die. The inevitable conflict between her human desires and her love for Stefan, in her perspective, is never going to be an issue. And Stefan, accepting Elena’s agency, can safely accept it. But should Elena survive intact and human (not necessarily a given with this show), both of them are going to have to deal with what Elena has said. It’s a great seed to plant at this stage of the game.

I’ve been pointing at Jenna as fodder for the end of the season for a while now, and this episode certainly supports the theory. That’s too bad, because her brief Buffy impression with Alaric gave me some hope that she would stick around for a while. Do we need another cute vampire, considering Caroline already fits that mold? Perhaps so, especially if there is a rift coming between Elena and Stefan.

It was nice to see Tyler (and Jules) again, if only to remind us how much Tyler has evolved since the beginning of the series. This is one of the strengths of this show: the supporting cast gets just as much attention and growth as the apparent main cast, and sometimes more. Even Matt, a character that was sidelined seemingly forever, is stepping up to the plate in some interesting ways.

What’s most telling about this show is that the majority of the time was spent exploring how the characters were dealing with impending fate, either through fighting or accepting it. It made what could have been a cloying episode a lot more intriguing. Add to that the shock of Jenna’s conversion and the revelation that Damon has a fatal werewolf bite (thus justifying the Rose subplot earlier in the season all too well), and this is a great start to the finale. And now that we know a third season is on its way in the fall, we can sit back contently and watch it unfold.

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

Final Rating: 8/10

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