Confession: historically, I have always absolutely loved Vampire Diaries season finales. These episodes tend to be so jam-packed with twists, turns, and tugs on the heart that they seem to lodge themselves in my memory with unusual perfection and take a special place in my mental pop cultural rolodex. Spoiler alert: nothing has changed. I absolutely loved this episode, even if it ripped my heart out like whiny Julian on a tangent.
The gang needed Liv to cast a spell to bring Stefan back, but to get her to do it, they needed an incentive. I know that plenty of TVD fans appreciate Caroline's take-no-prisoners attitude when someone she dearly loves is threatened, and I count myself among that number. I laughed so hard at that part, even though I can sympathize with Luke's situation. Because what that scene represented was the fact that it's enough already. The witchy twins, the Travelers. As we've all discussed herein, they've gone from underwhelming to annoying as plot devices or villains. But now, they were messing with the very tenets that underpin the emotional makeup of the show. When it comes to the loves and the friendships on TVD, it's going to take a hell of a lot more than some really bad monologuing (hello, Markos) or some "suddenly I'm here, so you should care" situations (hey there, LivLuke) to defeat our core characters or divide them permanently. After seeing the gang jerked around by the Travelers and witches last week, it was really good to watch them get comeuppance in this episode.
When Caroline killed Luke, it was intense proof of how much she cares for Stefan, and a fantastic progression to the darker side of her character that basically fascinates me. How far can Caroline go to protect the ones she loves while keeping herself and her ability to respect herself intact? In many ways, I think that's her main arc as a character.
"I’ve saved you from metaphorical darkness and actual darkness. I think you owe me a beer." - Lexi
As much as I have always enjoyed Lexi, because Arielle Kebbel knocks it out of the park every time, man, this might have been the ultimate Lexi episode. Certainly, in terms of defining what friendship means in its utmost and most unfathomable lengths, Lexi met and exceeded that ideal. I also effing loved that it was Lexi who expedited Markos' journey to oblivion. I can't imagine a more satisfying end for a hated, ineffectual villain, than to be given his due by a much-loved character who just hasn't been in the show as much as she ought to be. There might be some tiny part of my brain that rooted for a When Harry Met Sally situation for Stefan and Lexi, but hey, seriously, there's something so much deeper and more heartfelt in their platonic friendship's profundity, what with Lexi being a total Steroline shipper. Wow.
"Friendly advice: when you finally get the girl… don’t blow her up." -Alaric
Elena: "Please don't leave me."
Damon: "I don't have a choice, baby. You are by far the greatest thing to have ever happened to me in my 173 years on this earth. The fact that I get to die knowing that I was loved, not just by anyone, but by you? Elena Gilbert? That's the epitome of a fulfilled life. It's never going to get any better than this. I peaked. I love you, Elena."
Once Stefan and Caroline reunited, they were also united in the grief of losing so much. Caroline still hadn't recovered from losing Stefan, or so she'd feared. Okay, well now, Lexi and Damon, the two people that Stefan had cared for the longest, were obliterated from existence (for now, guys, for now). And Bonnie was gone, too. The sight of Stefan and Caroline embracing in such mutual and comforting sadness was as melancholy as it was bonding and heartening. Also...I think Stefan protests too much about not knowing the extent of his feelings for Caroline. I believe he knows them all too well, though he doesn't care to admit it, as indicated by his easy response to Lexi when she prodded him about the unfortunateness of him dying before he had his first date with Car...awww, in the mix of all of the craziness, so cute.
Certainly, no series since the heyday of Buffy and Angel has had me so shockingly compliant with going from deeply hoping for one couple to be together (Caroline and Klaus), only to be pretty much okay with one of them being with someone else (Caroline and Stefan). Klaroline, Steferine, Steroline, and Caroline/Enzo (what are we calling that, people?)! Guess what, I like them all...maybe not equally, but yes, TVD has managed to suck me into multiple, weirdly coinciding romantic hopes regarding Caroline or Stefan with seamless precision, despite the obvious chaos of the gambit. It just brings me back to the days of feeling as if Buffy and Angel were endgame but then being completely cool with Buffy/Spike and Angel/Cordelia. It takes la creme de la creme of shows to achieve this feat with me, let me tell you. And when I stated that list of Caroline and Stefan ships above, mentally, I did want to flip my head back and forth like Faye Dunaway in Chinatown ("my sister, my daughter!" "Klaroline, Steroline!").
This is something of a sidebar because I was so taken with the rest of the episode, but I can't let this go unsaid: I loved seeing Silas again in all of his haughty glory, and seeing him taken down deservedly by Bonnie. "Bygones." Very satisfying. Enzo was, again, awesomeness defined, and never more so than when he stalked back into the human world with a flirtatious line to Caroline.
Matt and Jeremy didn't have all that much to do in the hour, but I'm always glad they are both there. Matt's wonderfully simplistic and self-aware quips are soothing ("Can we talk about the irony of killing the only place dumb enough to hire us?") and Jeremy's concern for Bonnie was -- while not as epic as it should have felt -- significant and at least indicative of the way her character has been bound so long by self-sacrificing plotlines that she doesn't put much value on her own life, though others thankfully do. The scene between Bonnie and Grams was also touching in this same light, and I wonder what Grams did to help her granddaughter find peace. What is going to happen to Bonnie's soul, to Damon's, to Lexi's? This rather harkens back to the mystery of seeing Katherine sucked away to oblivion/hell (?) earlier in the season...there are certain aspects of the afterlife that have not been fully explained on TVD and I want to see them explored.