Saturday, May 14, 2011

"As I Lay Dying"

Its finally done......the season 2 of the vampire diaries is finally over.....but not without leaving us with loads of questions. Thats right - after last week's episode with the climactic face-off with Klaus, the ritual in which Jenna, Elena and Jules were all killed, and John's sacrifice of his own life to bring Elena back, this week's episode aka the season finale "As I Lay Dying" seemed almost calm by comparison.

Don't get me wrong I love action but character development is also necessary, so any complaints that this episode did not have enough action will fall on deaf ears, as far as I'm concerned. The episode was packed from beginning to end. The biggest character moment was Stefan's apparent choice to leave his life in Mystic Falls, including his relationship with Elena, in order to save Damon.

Instead of massive amounts of death, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) slowly grows weaker as the poison of the werewolf bite consumes him. His brother, Stefan (Paul Wesley), goes to evil original vampire/werewolf hybrid Klaus (Joseph Morgan), quite likely the most dangerous being on the planet, as Klaus's blood is the only thing that can cure Damon. But Klaus will only hand it over if Stefan gives up the restraint he has carefully constructed and go wild evil himself. It's a tough decision. Can Stefan save his brother knowing that the consequence may be Stefan will not be able to stop killing innocent humans ? But even without watching we know what Stefan would do.

Long have viewers heard of the "evil" Stefan, who is a ruthless hunter, ripping out scores of throats of hapless victims. Never has he been seen. Klaus begins activating him by forcing Stefan to chug blood bag after blood bag, sparking the lust and powerful instincts within him. There is no telling if Stefan can come back from this. He has before, but it is unknown how. It is easy to believe Stefan is just playing along at first, knowing his limits. But to save Damon's life, Stefan may have passed what he can handle.
The series gave us a glimpse into Stefan's dark past on "The Dinner Party," but I never dreamed we'd see that side to him again. Remember his conversation with Elena on that episode? Where Stefan was said to be a monster in the original John Gilbert's diaries. And that's what he now is again. It was shocking to see Paul Wesley with blood tricking down his mouth this week, a sight only made more disturbing by the faint smile on Stefan's lips as he embraced the beast that had been bottled up for so long. A noble act to save his brother? Perhaps. But Katherine pointed out the other side to that seemingly benevolent coin upon delivering the cure to Damon: didn't Stefan also abandon Elena by doing so? And how many innocent lives, starting with that girl Klaus served up, will now die as a result of Stefan's decision?

Oh, the cruel irony. Damon chooses to accept his fate. Just as Stefan was paying the ultimate price for what he deemed to be his ultimate mistake - turning his brother - Damon was realizing that he has no one to blame but himself for the events in 1864. He was manipulated by Katherine back then, he made the decision to love her anyway and it was that triangle which sealed his and Stefan's future. An amazing job, as always, by Ian Somerhalder, bringing every painful emotion to the forefront as Damon lay dying.

During the scene with Klaus 'turning' Stefan by getting him to drink copious amounts of blood, I especially loved the way Katherine watched from the shadows. She was horrified at what was happening to Stefan, but as usual, she had self-preservation at the front of her mind and did nothing to try to stop him from joining Klaus. Nina Dobrev has done a great job throughout the series making Katherine and Elena into two distinct personalities; here she added layers to Katherine without needing any dialog at all.

While Katherine escaped the second she was able to leave, she somewhat unexpectedly followed through and delivered the cure to Damon. It was a less surprising move after she told Elena that it was ok to love them both. Katherine and Elena may both love Stefan, but they have strong feelings, at the least, for Damon as well.

In another reference to a previous episode, when Damon finally reached the end of his strength, it was Elena who came to him, holding him the way he held Rose when she died. Just as Damon's emotional walls were breached by Rose's death, watching Damon succumb to sickness from the werewolf bite brought Elena's compassion to the surface. Any feelings the two of them confessed for each other was obviously colored by the fact that he was about to die, but there will likely be some fallout in Season 3.
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. The consequences Bonnie was warned about turned out to be much creepier when later that night Jeremy found himself face to face with two dead girlfriends, Vicki and Anna. What this is all about remains to be seen.
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.

The season has ended and we are left with a wealth of questions waiting for next season in the fall. What is going on with Jeremy and will he see more than just dead ex-girlfriends? When will Elijah be resuscitated so that we can meet the rest of his Original Vampire family? What will Sheriff Forbes do now that she has seen that not all vampires are automatically evil? With Stefan off creating chaos with Klaus, will the role-reversal be completed by Damon changing his ways after his brush with death? The show would lose a lot of what makes it so fun if Damon were to clean up his act entirely.


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