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Review #2517: The Vampire Diaries 2.22: “As I Lay Dying”

Posted on the 13 May 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

After the fireworks in the previous episode, I was dreading the character fallout in this season finale. The writers and producers have been gleefully pointing out that the finale could be bloody, and they certainly delivered. The status quo is looking to take a massive shift for the third season.

Review #2517: The Vampire Diaries 2.22: “As I Lay Dying”

When it comes to “The Vampire Diaries”, death is often far from final, and Elena’s survival is a good example of that. We’re all used to seeing characters fall, only to rise again in some form or another. They rarely come back fully intact. In this finale, Damon appears to be on the way out, but another little detail of Klaus’ true nature provides a surprising solution.

That solution means a sacrifice, and after having put himself forward as lamb to the slaughter to save Jenna in the previous episode, Stefan offers himself up to Klaus in exchange for Damon’s survival. Not that Stefan isn’t emo enough on a regular day to sacrifice himself, but this feels like the inevitable consequence of his conversation with Elena a few episodes ago.

The nice thing about Stefan’s descent into bloodthirsty killer is that we know, from all those flashbacks, that he was once a lot more decadent and amoral than Damon, and that’s saying something. So we know it’s not good, and Klaus is unlikely to point his new weapon too far away from Mystic Falls. Oh, and since this is “The Vampire Diaries”, when a vampire gets the bloodlust, there’s every reason to think victims are going to pile up left and right.

I was expecting Katherine to be discarded by Klaus, so I was very happy to see her survive. Elena serves her purpose in the story, to be sure, but I love Nina Dobrev as the slinky vixen Katherine. She can make the most mundane scene seem dirty. In a good way. With enlightened self-interest at the forefront of her every action, her decision to save Damon was a bit of a welcome shock.

Of course, it came as Elena finally gave in a bit to her attraction to Damon, so Katherine could mess with Elena’s head a little bit more. As much as I’ve always found Elena’s interaction with Damon a lot more compelling, I hope they don’t soften Damon up in the process. He needs to retain his edge if he’s going to deal with Stefan and, presumably, save his brother while keeping Elena safe in the process.

That’s another nice thing about this show: the bloodletting is hardly the only messy part. Elena’s weak moment with Damon may have been a matter of his impending doom at the time, in a great callback to Damon’s last moments with Rose, but is there are doubt that this will have lasting consequences?

Speaking of lasting consequences, the really nasty plot twist was Jeremy’s death and Bonnie’s decision to use her powers to bring him back to life. This never, ever ends well, and Jeremy is already getting a taste of what it means to come back from the other side in this manner. I wasn’t expecting the dead to come calling, and it really felt like the tip of a really nasty iceberg. And it’s almost certainly going to have serious consequences for Bonnie as well.

On a seemingly positive note, we see Sheriff Forbes come to terms with Caroline’s nature, and recognize that vampires aren’t inherently evil. I doubt it’s going to mean a complete reversal of the town council’s stance on vampire hunting, and I’m sure this moment of amity will pass once Stefan starts his inevitable rampage. But at least Caroline is still a part of the show, which is a major plus.

People are often surprised when I tell them that this is one of my favorite shows on the air right now. Part of the problem is that it is promoted as a “Twilight” clone. But I always point to a different comparison: “The Vampire Diaries” is a network television version of “True Blood”. And I mean that in the best sense possible. Hopefully, unlike that show, “The Vampire Diaries” will continue on its path of excellence when it returns for its third season in the fall.

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

Final Rating: 8/10

(Season 2 Final Average: 8.3)

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