02 June 2011

The Vampire Diaries Season 2 Finale "As I Lay Dying"

Spoilers Ahead

When I first watched the Season 2 finale I was less than impressed. Not only did it seem weak overall but it looked like the writers had chosen to blatantly disregard established TVD mythology. When I watched it again I happily discovered it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd first thought. Not that it was great, mind you--there were a couple too many convenient plot points and a new addition to the mythology that came out of nowhere. But it was okay. And for those of us itching to see Damon finally win Elena it was pretty damn good. The problem is what's going to happen when those two aren't onscreen?

"As I Lay Dying" starts at Elena's with a surprise visit from Damon. He offers her a heartfelt apology and (knowing he doesn't have a lot of time left) says he needs her forgiveness. Elena doesn't know about the werewolf bite so she doesn't accept his apology, pouting that she needs more time. Lots more time. Am I wrong in thinking Elena is making way too big a deal about this? So he fed her his blood without her permission--there are far worse things in the world. Not to mention that he did whatever he could to try to make it right and that it ended up working out in the end. But Damon is far more understanding about it than I am; he accepts her refusal to forgive and tells her to take all the time she needs.

When Damon gets home, though, it seems he might have less time than we anticipated. He has a drink, opens the drapes, stands in the sunlight for a moment, takes off his ring, and starts burning. Good thing Stefan's there to save Damon from himself. He manages to wrest Damon into the basement cell and lock him in. Stefan swears he's going to find some kind of cure for the bite but Damon is less than impressed. He's getting sicker by the minute and has resolved himself to dying.

After calling Alaric over to watch Damon, Stefan meets up with Bonnie at the witch burial ground to consult the spirits for a cure. The dead witches are getting tired of Bonnie's demands (I can't say I blame them) but although they refuse to help her she still gets a flash of the answer. Surprise, it's Klaus! Good thing they failed to kill him.

Speaking of the were-vampire, he's spent two days in the woods as a wolf while Elijah watched over him and cleaned up his 'messes' (read: corpses). Klaus is pleased that he can turn into a wolf at will not least because it makes him invincible. Elijah only cares about seeing the rest of their family. Klaus assures him he'll take him to them soon.

The young folks, meanwhile, decide to celebrate their continued survival with a day of normalcy, i.e., watching a screening of Gone with the Wind in the town square (I like how the teens keep trying to have "one normal day." You'd think they'd just give up already). Caroline is in perky cheerleader mode when they first meet up, which is as bizarre as it is infinitely annoying. I really hope she doesn't revert back to her season one persona; I only just stopped grinding my teeth every time she appeared onscreen. At least the movie provides an interesting visual background to the various scenes that take place around it.

Stefan and Bonnie soon join the others and Stefan takes Elena aside to finally tell her about the werewolf bite. He says he owes it to Damon to find him a cure so he's going to see Klaus but if Elena wants to talk to Damon she really shouldn't wait. Maybe she should have forgiven him when she had the chance. Just saying. At this point (still locked up) Damon has started hallucinating both Katherine and Elena.

Stefan starts his search for Klaus at Alaric's. He finds Katherine there still trapped there. She's been waiting two days to find out what happened and she's not happy about it. But they don't have a lot of time to discuss it because Klaus and Elijah walk in. Convenient timing, don't you think? Stefan announces that he needs Klaus's help but Klaus responds that he has a prior obligation to reunite his own brother with their family. That's when he stabs Elijah with one of the special daggers that work on Originals. Hmm--I thought any supernatural creature that used the dagger would die along with the Original (didn't they make a big deal about that and how John tried to get Damon killed that way?) And since Klaus must have done the same thing to the rest of his family you can't use being a hybrid as an excuse for why he's apparently immune to the dagger's dual effect. Big ugly hole in the story there, guys.

Anyway, Klaus then stakes Stefan, pushing the point of the stake right up against Stefan's heart. Stefan saves himself by offering to do whatever Klaus wants if he'll give Damon the cure. Klaus removes the stake but also accuses Stefan of being too "domesticated" to be of any use to him. He reminisces about Stefan's past as a "true ripper" and claims that's the vampire he can make a deal with. I'm not sure why Klaus would even want to work with Stefan, ripper or not--surely he could find a more amenable sidekick.

Plot hole number two comes when Klaus shows Stefan the cure. He partially wolfs out and bites Katherine. Then he reverts to his vampire form and bites himself before feeding his blood to Katherine. Miraculously the bite heals! But wait--Rose's bite also initially healed, which is why she and Damon believed fatal werewolf bites were a myth. Only later did the wound return and start killing her. So Stefan accepting the instant healing of Katherine's bite as a cure is short-sighted, to say the least. It's also sloppy writing and editing. Moving on--after filling a bottle with his blood Klaus tells Stefan he'll give it to Damon if Stefan goes on a decade-long bender with him (is it just me or does Klaus really need some buddies to hang out with?) He then starts feeding Stefan bags of human blood to encourage the return of the "ripper."

The complications continue when Acting Mayor Carol Lockwood goes to see Sheriff Liz and reams her out for not showing any results on the town's vampire issue. She threatens to hire someone else to do the job if Liz can't handle it. Of course Liz can't have that. What I find impressive about this scene is that women are running the town. That's got to be a first, onscreen and off. Way to go, TVD!

As Alaric watches over Damon (who first tries to goad Alaric into killing him, then begs him to do it) Liz shows up with a couple of deputies. After grabbing Elena on the doorstep they proceed to lock Alaric in one room while they go after Damon. He's looking harmlessly unconscious in his cell but when Liz enters the room he knocks her out and runs. Alaric calls Jeremy and fills him in on the situation, prompting Jeremy to go looking for Elena. A short while later Damon is in the town square hallucinating Katherine again. Jeremy finds him and helps him stumble to The Grill (which looks completely deserted so how did Jeremy get in?)

Somehow Liz catches up with them (what--it was only a blow to the head--I'm sure she can still move just as fast as Damon). As she points her gun at Damon he notices and gets out of the way. Jeremy, who was behind Damon, ends up with a bullet to the chest. Here's where things get iffy again. A moment later Bonnie and Caroline show up and start panicking. Caroline is reassured that Jeremy is wearing his resurrection ring but Bonnie pipes up that it won't work because "she" (that is, Liz) is human. Huh? Since when does the ring not work if the person doing the killing is human? True, every instance I can think of when the ring was put to use involved a supernatural being killing the ring-wearer but was it ever actually articulated as one of the rules? I don't remember anyone ever saying that the ring won't work under those circumstances. It might be a legit addition to the mythology but to bring it up out of the blue the way they did is lame. No, scratch that, it's Lame. Anyway, Caroline tries giving Jeremy some of her blood but he's gone. Just as Alaric shows up Bonnie realizes what she has to do. She and Alaric grab him and head to the witch burial ground. Sigh. After tears and pleading and general melodrama (including a warning from the witches that there will be consequences) Jeremy returns to the land of the living. And there was much rejoicing.

When Caroline gets the call that Jeremy is okay she and her mom are relieved, although Liz is also pretty damn confused. At this point Caroline gives a heartwarming speech about not wanting to lie to her mom anymore and not wanting them to be afraid of each other. At one point she even reassures Liz that she's still her little girl. First of all, ugh. What teenager would ever say such a thing? Secondly, if that's true then what are all the vampires complaining about not being human anymore? If you remain exactly the same person after being turned then what's the difference? Why not turn everyone? Why would some people (*cough*Elena) be so adamant about not wanting to become vampires? As far as I'm concerned this scene is a big fat fail and is clearly indicative of writers who don't get the concept of vampires or the show's own mythology. If this is how it's going to be with Caroline then they'd might as well not have turned her.

Meanwhile Elena has managed to break out of the sheriff's office and she and Damon find each other in the town square (this is one of those instances of a good use of the movie in the background: Elena and Damon meet as Atlanta's in flames). Unfortunately Damon is hallucinating again and thinks Katherine is offering him her blood. He bites Elena but she manages to get through to him before too much damage is done. Somehow Elena manages to get Damon back to his place, where she promises to stay with him until the end.

Back to Klaus for a moment. Satisfied that Stefan is well on his way to falling off the wagon, Klaus compels Katherine to take the bottle of his blood to Damon and come right back. Of course Katherine can no longer be compelled after sneaking vervain so she's out of there as soon as she's released. Stefan is devastated knowing she'll never take the cure to Damon.

Knowing he's going to die (and convinced there is no cure) Damon shares a few deathbed confessions with Elena, among them that he was wrong to blame Stefan for turning him and that he deserves to die. Elena finally forgives him. He also tells her that he loves her. Elena then surprises us by kissing Damon. Is it out of pity? Are there any romantic feelings behind it? There's no chance to analyze because a moment later Katherine has arrived with the cure (she figured she owed Damon one). Right away Elena's all about Stefan again. Katherine informs them that Stefan gave himself over to Klaus to pay for the cure and not to expect him anytime soon. Katherine also brings up the intriguing possibility of Elena loving both brothers. Those boys really should just learn to share. But in any case Damon is all better and now he and Elena have ample time to get to know each other without Stefan being underfoot.

Speaking of Stefan, we next see him and Klaus at a warehouse where Klaus is sealing Elijah into a coffin and putting him into long-term storage. Stefan gets a text from Elena saying Damon's okay and asking where Stefan is. He doesn't respond but he does tell Klaus that he won't be seeing Katherine again. But Klaus already knew she was on vervain and he's not concerned, confident she won't get far. Before he and Stefan take the next step and leave town, however, Klaus needs to be sure that Stefan's truly on board. So he brings out a frightened (teenage) girl. She tries to run. Stefan chases her down and drains her. As he's doing this there's some really odd, shaky camera work (reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project). If this is supposed to symbolize the staggering shift as Stefan crosses over to the dark side it's a really poor choice. It just looks amateurish.

The episode ends with Jeremy. Apparently he's been feeling "weird" ever since he was resurrected. Suddenly he hears something and heads downstairs to investigate. OMG--it's Anna and Vicky! Meh. I suppose they couldn't have Jeremy be an ordinary boy anymore so now he sees dead people (well, dead vampires). Woo hoo. Not loving this new twist, particularly in light of Elena also having come back from the dead yet suffering no such after-effects. And Jeremy, John, and Alaric have all come back from the dead before via their resurrection rings so why the drama now? I think what the producers should really do is kill off most of the characters and give Damon his own show. Now that would be worth watching.

Although it wasn't horrible TVD's season 2 finale was generally mediocre. Aside from the potential between Damon and Elena none of the setups for next season are particularly compelling. I have the feeling Stefan won't be with Klaus for too long and then it'll be a whole lot more melodrama over his human-blood addiction. Usually season finales leave you wanting more and wondering how you're going to make it through the break. This time I'm simply not that bothered. Pity.

Fang Files

Appearance: Pale human until the vampire emerges, then dark/red eyes, dark facial veins, prominent fangs.

Strengths: Super strength and speed. Ability to compel humans (Originals can also compel other vampires).

Weaknesses: Werewolf bites, sunlight (unless in possession of a daywalker ring), stakes. Originals can be "killed" by a specific dagger dipped in the ashes of a particular tree (but they only remain dead as long as the dagger is in their heart). Vervain (although some of the vampires dose themselves with it in order to build up an immunity as well as to reap its benefits, such as preventing compulsion).

Mythology: Once invited into a home vampires apparently have no compunction about coming and going whenever they please. Klaus's blood is the cure for a werewolf bite. Vampire blood is healing to humans.

Sound Bites

Damon: [delirious] Elena?
Alaric: Elena's not here, Damon.

Damon: I know you love Stefan. That it will always be Stefan. But I love you. You should know that.
Elena: I do.

Katherine: He [Stefan] just sacrificed everything to save his brother. Including you. It's a good thing you have Damon to keep you company. Goodbye, Elena. Oh, it's okay to love them both; I did.

The Vampire Diaries, Season 2 Episode 22 (Season Finale) "As I Lay Dying." Written by Turi Meyer, Al Septien and Michael Narducci. Directed by John Behring. From The CW.

Read my previous Season 2 reviews:

Episode 1 "The Return"
Episode 2 "Brave New World"
Episode 3 "Bad Moon Rising"
Episode 4 "Memory Lane"
Episode 5 "Kill or Be Killed"
Episode 6 "Plan B"
Episode 7 "Masquerade"
Episode 8 "Rose"
Episode 9 "Katerina"
Episode 10 "The Sacrifice"
Episode 11 "By the Light of the Moon"
Episode 12 "The Descent"
Episode 13 "Daddy Issues"
Episode 14 "Crying Wolf"
Episode 15 "The Dinner Party"
Episode 16 "The House Guest"
Episode 17 "Know Thy Enemy"
Episode 18 "The Last Dance"
Episode 19 "Klaus"
Episode 20 "The Last Day"
Episode 21 "The Sun Also Rises"

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