It figures that just when the show was getting really good, it ditches us with a cliffhanger ending until next season. But what a great season finale for the show; I'm actually looking forward to watching Season 2 (I might even re-watch Season 1).
Two notes before I start:
1. People die this episode. More than one. And some may or may not be dead as of the next episode.
2. Much as it pains me to spell it "Founder's" rather than the correct "Founders'," someone at the show clearly doesn't know how to use apostrophes, and consequently is making us all suffer. Since the official title is "Founder's Day," that's what I have to go with. Even though it makes me twitch. (By the way, Founder's would be fine if there were only one founder of Mystic Falls; alas, that's not the case).
Okay, on to the review...
So, "Founder's Day" is the big shindig that the entire season has been leading up to. The opening shots switch between Stefan and Elayna, both getting dressed in nifty period costumes. Elayna looks even more like Katherine than she usually does, and when she enters the room just as Stefan and Damon are discussing how she really isn't Katherine, both of them stop and stare. (For the record, Damon also made a point of saying that Katherine is now out of the picture.)
Jeremy is also dressing up for the big day, in his case as a soldier on the "Battle of Willow Creek" parade float. They sure know how to party in Mystic Falls! He and Anna talk about how she's been. She knows that John killed Pearl, and Jeremy clumsily tries to explain that John only did what he thought was best, and even though Pearl wasn't out for revenge there's a tombful of vampires out there who are. Anna realizes she can't stay in Mystic Falls anymore, and she wants Jeremy to come with her. She offers to turn him, explaining how vampires can turn off their emotions (a plus for the endlessly tormented Jeremy). She also gives him a vial of her blood. Jeremy takes it but tells her he can't do it. When he turns around she's gone.
Back at Miss Mystic Falls base camp, Stefan tells Elayna that John is her biological father. She's not too happy about it but at the moment she's more upset about the situation with Jeremy and his newly unleashed hatred of her. She tries repeatedly to make things right with him, but Jeremy tells her it's not going to be that easy.
Considering all the build-up, the parade is over far too quickly. I would have liked to get a slightly better look at the floats. From stills I could see that the Battle of Willow Creek one was pretty cool looking, but you don't get a sense of it during the show. Shame that.
As Damon winks and grins at Elayna from the sidelines, Bonnie asks him what he wants. Rude. Damon says he's just watching the parade, so she starts storming off (I will refrain from saying anything about PMS). She tells him to leave her alone, but Damon stops her and, in a surprisingly touching moment--thanks her. By deactivating the device she saved his life; he doesn't take that lightly, and he is in her debt. If only he knew the truth. Not that he won't find out soon enough.
Speaking of the device, John is busy explaining how it works to the mayor. Apparently the thing will only work once and only for about five minutes--long enough to incapacitate any vampires in the vicinity so they can then be shot up with vervain, brought back to Graydon Gilbert's old office, and killed. He knows that the tomb vampires are planning to kill the founding families later that night, just after the start of the fireworks. Scenes of John urging the mayor that they have to go through with it and kill all the vampires once and for all are juxtaposed with scenes of the tomb vampires planning their attack. The last scene is of the tomb vampires as Anna shows up to join them.
Back at the festivities, Damon catches up with Elayna. He tells her he likes her better out of the period clothes--they don't suit her. Elayna says he needs to stop with the flirty little comments and the "eye thing" he does (what eye thing, he asks as he does it again). She tells him not to make her regret their friendship. He suddenly gets serious and nods, agreeing. She's not even his girlfriend and she's already got him wrapped around her little finger. Really, Damon? Anyway, Elayna goes off to try once again to make amends with Jeremy. She asks him what she can do and he tells her to go to hell. Ouch. As Jeremy strides away, Damon follows, warning him not to talk to Elena like that again. He tries to tell Jeremy that what happened with Vicky wasn't Elayna's fault but Jeremy's in a mood and not bothering to hide it. As Damon starts getting a little rough Stefan steps in and calms the situation down. Stefan repeats that Elayna had nothing to do with the Vicky situation, and that Damon turned her and he himself killed her, for which he's sorry (but it had to be done). Jeremy snaps that they shouldn't have erased his memory, and then he leaves.
Once Jeremy's gone, Stefan turns on Damon and tells him to leave Jeremy alone, that it's none of his business. Damon smirks at Stefan's "jealousy," but Stefan retorts that he knows Damon isn't doing any of this for the right reason. When Damon scoffs, Stefan informs him that the right reason is helping because he wants to do good rather than because he expects to get something out of it. That de-smirks Damon pretty well.
As all this is going on, John and the mayor are trying to convince Liz that John's plan is the right thing to do. Liz is horrified at the thought of using the town as bait, and as Sheriff her word is the final one. She says no. John asks the mayor to give him a minute to talk with Liz. She probably shouldn't be in law enforcement because she doesn't even see John coming. He knocks her out, takes her weapons, and handcuffs her to the nearest immovable object. And somehow no one checks on her or finds her, and her deputies are content to take orders from John and the mayor. Clearly, no one respects Liz's authority.
Outside again, Anna suddenly shows up and approaches Damon. She tells him about the tomb vampires' plan, and also that they think she's with them even though she's not. When Damon asks where the vampires are now, it turns out they're already there mingling with the crowd (most of them wearing handy orange t-shirts for easy identification). Anna leaves to find Jeremy and Damon, believing the device has been rendered harmless, goes to Alaric. He tells Alaric to go get any weapons he has because they're going to have to stop the tomb vampires themselves. Then he tells Elayna and Stefan what's going on before taking off again.
Meanwhile the mayor finds Ty goofing off, and shows his usual restraint where his son is concerned. When he notices that Matt and Caroline are also there he calms down and asks them all to please, please just get in the car and go home. Now. He can't tell them why but they're smart enough to listen.
While Anna finds Jeremy and tries to tell him what's going on, the mayor gives a speech to the crowd. As soon as the fireworks start he grabs his wife and starts walking away, and the vampires start closing in. Meanwhile Damon confronts John, asking him if he has any idea what he's done. John's pretty confident he does.
Switching on the device, it emits an ugly high-pitched sound. Suddenly vampires start collapsing everywhere, clutching at their heads (feel free to curse Bonnie--I did). Driving home Ty hears it too. He loses control of the car and crashes. Meanwhile all the vampires are being injected with vervain and carted away. Just as Stefan is about to be apprehended, Alaric steps in saying he's got Stefan and pointing out another vamp to the cop. Elayna and Alaric help get Stefan to safety. Anna isn't quite so lucky. As the cops drag her away Jeremy screams and pleads with them to stop.
Interestingly, the mayor has also collapsed. Unlike the vampires he's got blood oozing from his ears. You'd think the mayor would garner a bit more respect (especially since he agreed to the plan) but he's injected with vervain all the same and hauled down to the office basement along with the vampires. Welcome to the witch hunt (so to speak), kids!
The device is done doing its thing and all the vampires are rounded up (except for Stefan, of course). Most of them are awake and somewhat alert, but the vervain is keeping them down. John is busy pouring gas over and around them. Is it just me or is he completely evil? As he walks by, Anna weakly grabs his leg. He recognizes her and fetches a stake. She pleads with him not to, but as Damon watches helplessly, John kills her. This was upsetting as I like Anna a lot. At first I thought John was a complete bastard for staking her, but then I realized it was a merciful act--staking has got to be better than burning alive, right? I'm sure the vampires writhing in the flames and screaming in pain would agree.
The fire hasn't reached Damon yet (*insert sigh of relief*) but he still can't really move. He and the mayor notice each other and are equally surprised. Damon realizes the mayor isn't affected by the vervain, so couldn't be a vampire. What is he? Freaked that Damon turned out to be a vampire, the mayor is slowly backing away. Unfortunately, he backs into the leader of the tomb vampires who then proceeds to break his neck. Forgive me for this, but ooh, snap!
Meanwhile Stefan describes the pain as needles piercing his skull. He figures out it was the device and then has to convince a disbelieving Elayna that Bonnie didn't actually deactivate it. Finally Elayna asks Alaric to find Jeremy and take him home so she and Stefan can find Damon.
After the mayor was carted off, his wife finds Liz and tells her what happened. Then we check in with Ty, Matt, and Caroline. They're alive but not necessarily okay. Ty is unconscious, and when the paramedic opens his eye to take a look he finds a crazy-looking inhuman eye staring back at him. It's actually very pretty--multicoloured and almost cat-like. Ty wakes up after that, looking his usual self. Meanwhile it's apparent that Caroline, who's been insisting all along that she's fine, really isn't.
Back in town Stefan can hear the fire. They realize it's Elayna's father's old office and that John is out front looking pretty damn pleased with himself. He urges Stefan to go get Damon--it'll save him the trouble of killing Stefan himself. The risk is enormous but Stefan still has to try, so Elayna tells him about a utility entrance at the back of the building. When Elayna tries to follow Stefan, John stops her and says that if she goes he'll alert the deputies that they missed a vampire. When she asks him not to, he claims that it doesn't mean anything to him. Her response: "As my father, it should." He's shocked that she knows. She tells him she wasn't sure, but now she is. Crafty. He lets her pass.
As Stefan is about to go into the burning building, Bonnie stops him saying if he does he'll burn. But there's no way he can leave Damon down there. Elayna shows up and tries to follow him. That's too much for Bonnie; she grabs Elayna's arm and starts chanting. Suddenly the flames go down enough to let Stefan by. He finds Damon and speeds him out of there, just as Bonnie stops chanting and the flames blaze again. There's a second when we're not sure whether Stefan and Damon made it out, but then they stumble outside. Elayna is thrilled but Bonnie looks rueful.
In the aftermath Damon takes off, and Stefan and Elayna head to the bar. In another moment of super efficient Mystic Falls bureaucracy, there's already an official cause for the fire: old wiring. She's just glad Stefan's okay. Then she mentions how much they both care about Damon. Cluing in that Stefan's worried about what might happen between her and his brother, she reassures him that she loves only him, and there's nothing to worry about where Damon is concerned. Stefan doesn't seem entirely convinced, I suspect not only because he doesn't trust Damon, but also because Elayna's reassurances have a slight tinge of protesting too much. She leaves Stefan so she can go pick up her parade clothes and then check on Jeremy at home.
Damon beats her to it, however. He goes to Elayna's house to let Jeremy know about Anna. Damon says he watched it happen, thinking the whole time that he wanted to help her, but he couldn't. He then offers Jeremy the choice to be compelled in order to erase the pain. Jeremy claims the compelling didn't really work before, that even though his pain over Vicky was supposed to have been erased, he still felt it--he felt wrong and empty. Damon apologizes for his role in what happened to Vicky--and he really seems to mean it. Then Jeremy asks if it's true that vampires can switch off their emotions. Damon confirms it, saying that's what he used to do a long time ago, and it was easier. This new emotion switch thing is a good way to explain and exonerate (at least in part) Damon's past evil behavior--and to make him a "good" character now that he has emotions again. I was wondering how they were going to achieve that.
At the hospital, Ty and Matt finally get over the tension between them. Luckily neither of them is seriously hurt, but Liz shows up and tells them Caroline suffered internal bleeding and is in surgery. Will she make it? Do we care? Liz also tells Ty he needs to call his mom. It's about his dad.
Bonnie, meanwhile, decides to have a chat with Stefan. She tells him she only saved him and Damon because her best friend, Elayna, loves Stefan. But Damon has to change. She's apparently the all-powerful witch now, as well as guardian of all that is good and right, so if Damon spills one drop of innocent blood she'll take him down. Even if that means taking Stefan with him. Yeah, I don't really like Bonnie anymore. And she's pretty self-righteous for a pyromaniac. But at least Stefan knows where he and Damon stand.
Back at Elayna's it seems Jeremy's had enough. He downs the vial of Anna's blood before emptying a bottle of what look like painkillers onto the counter. After he takes the pills he lies on his bed seeming depressed and out of it. Still alive and still human...for now.
As Elayna arrives home she runs into Damon as he's leaving. He's having some kind of mid-century crisis or something. He claims that he found himself suddenly wanting to protect the town rather than destroy it, and it doesn't feel right because he knows he's not a good person. Elayna suggests that maybe he is. He's in a grateful mood this episode because he then thanks Elayna for deciding he was worth saving. He kisses her on the cheek, but doesn't pull away completely. There's a long moment of gorgeous tension as he slowly moves closer. Elayna doesn't stop him. And then they're kissing, proper-like. Very nice indeed. Until Jenna opens the door and tells Elayna it's late and to come inside. Their reactions in this scene are great. Elayna's kind of hunched over and Damon's turned away, as though in shame. (By the way, anyone else think Jenna's being a touch judgmental here? Hasn't she dated the entire town?) Once Elayna's inside, Damon looks thoughtful and slightly uncertain as he leaves.
Elayna startles John in the kitchen, which somehow prompts him to spill his guts about himself and Isobel, claiming he just wants Elayna to understand. He says he never would have sent Isobel to Damon if he'd known she'd wanted to be turned. He asks Elayna if she understands. She's staring intently at his immortality ring so I'm thinking she's going to grab his hand and pry the ring off or something. Instead she grabs a knife and cuts off his fingers. That was definitely a shock, especially for John. She pushes him against the fridge and he's freaked right out. Then he looks at her closely and asks "Katherine?" Elayna suddenly vamps out, says "Hello, John. Goodbye, John," and shoves the knife into his stomach. That's got to be one of the worse ways to die. But who cares about that--WTF--Katherine? More on that in a second...
The next shot cuts to Elayna coming home, telling Stefan over the phone that someone took her stuff from the parade grounds. Once she steps inside she calls out to Jeremy, but then is distracted by a crashing sound in the kitchen. She starts walking over to investigate, and...black screen--end of season.
I have to say, this was the first time watching The Vampire Diaries that not only did I not check the clock once, but I was amazed that the show was already over. It doesn't really get any better than that (as long as the season premiere doesn't ignore everything that happened in the finale and go in a completely lame direction, as I have seen happen far too many times).
The unexpected appearance of Katherine got me thinking, and I came up with a crazy theory that somehow is making more and more sense (to me anyway) by the minute: Elayna is Katherine.
I've been noticing the last few episodes that characters keep emphasizing that Elayna isn't Katherine. It was awkward enough to stand out, and as I learned in my long-ago media class--nothing on TV is accidental. There's also the sudden introduction of the vampires' ability to instantly switch their emotions on or off; that too has been mentioned an inordinate amount of times in recent episodes. Why do these things keep being pointed out? I have a strong feeling that when her emotions are switched off, she is Katherine and when her emotions are back she is Elayna (only Elayna doesn't know she's both of them).
I keep finding other clues that point me to this conclusion. Katherine had the loyalty of witch Emily; Elayna is best friends with Emily's equally witchy descendant Bonnie. In "Founder's Day" Katherine and Elayna had identical clothes and hairstyles, not to mention the same voice. No one can perfectly mimic a voice. And even though one person might look a hell of a lot alike to someone else, no one--usually not even twins--looks identical enough to fool close family and friends.
Then I started thinking--what if there was no baby Elayna? The entire story could have been concocted and the family compelled into believing it; after all, there's no record of Elayna's birth. Or maybe the real Elayna died and Katherine took her place (compelling could again be involved). I'm not sure why Elayna can tolerate vervain and wasn't affected by the device, but good old Emily might have made Katherine impervious to both. Or Emily might have even worked some mojo to give Katherine a double personality and a double life--so Elayna really is human, even though she's half of vampire Katherine. I know, I know--that's a lot of "what-ifs," but I think I could be onto something here. Time will tell, but remember you read it here first.
Appearance: Human until the vampire emerges, then dark eyes and prominent dark facial veins. Dead vampires leave behind extra veiny corpses.
Strengths: Super speed, strength, hearing. The power to compel (hypnotize) humans. The power of sudden, silent arrivals and departures.
Weaknesses: Fire, vervain, stakes, the device, witches.
Damon: (to Stefan, re: his period costume) Look at you, all retro.
Mayor: What are you doing here?
Damon: I'm a vampire--what's your excuse?
Stefan: I try so hard to hate him [Damon]. I guess it's just pointless.
Elayna: You care about him, Stefan. So do I.
Damon: Life sucks either way, Jeremy. At least if you're a vampire you don't have to feel it if you don't want to.
The Vampire Diaries, Season 1 Episode 22 (Season Finale) "Founder's Day." Written by Bryan Oh and Andrew Chambliss. Directed by Marcos Siega. From The CW.
Read my previous Vampire Diary reviews:
Episode 1 "Pilot"
Episode 2 "Night of the Comet"
Episode 3 "Friday Night Bites"
Episode 4 "Family Ties"
Episode 5 "You're Undead to Me"
Episode 6 "Lost Girls"
Episode 7 "Haunted"
Episode 8 "162 Candles"
Episode 9 "History Repeating"
Episode 10 "The Turning Point"
Episode 11 "Bloodlines"
Episode 12 "Unpleasantville"
Episode 13 "Children of the Damned"
Episode 14 "Fool Me Once"
Episode 15 "A Few Good Men"
Episode 16 "There Goes the Neighborhood"
Episode 17 "Let the Right One In"
Episode 18 "Under Control"
Episode 19 "Miss Mystic Falls"
Episode 20 "Blood Brothers"
Episode 21 "Isobel"