Sunday, May 1, 2011

"The Last Day": The Calm Before The Storm

As i've said it before, but it bears repeating after this stunner. The show's propensity for shocking twists in the final moments is something fans know well, but this week's concluding sequence probably left even more jaws on the floor than usual. For this week's TVD episode The Last Day what had been a slow-building, somewhat melodramatic episode suddenly changed course with not one, but two huge developments heading into next week.

Just when you thought you knew how things were going to go down, Klaus pulls out a Plan B that no one saw coming. Which Damon learns the heard way.

This isn't to say the episode was boring prior to 8:58. Coming into "The Last Day," I assumed the title ominously referred to the final day before Klaus' big sacrifice. It did, but it also referred, potentially, to Elena's last day as a human. Now as far the season build-up is considered - to a climactic battle with Klaus, the Salvatore brothers have been battling with each other over how to deal with Elena's part in Klaus's ritual. Stefan held firm in his support of Elena's wishes, but as expected, Damon took matters into his own hands, force feeding Elena his blood to ensure that she would survive, even if it was as a vampire. Ian Somerhalder was compelling as the desperately reckless Damon who acted emotionally, as he often does, and then remorsefully struggled to fix the mess he created.

While Stefan taking Elena on that hike felt cheesy and Twilight-esque, they had to discuss the elephant in the room eventually, and now Damon forced it on them. Unlike Bella Swan, Elena doesn't want to be a vampire. Bless her heart and the writers. This is true to her character and presents a new, complex moral dilemma. Nina Dobrev was heartbreakingly sincere as she admitted she had no desire to be a vampire and grieved the impending loss of her human life. Paul Wesley was no slacker in the angst department himself; in the end he let Elena do as she wished and go with Klaus, although the misery Stefan felt was plain to see.
Also returning to town were Tyler and Jules, lured by Klaus ostensibly so that Tyler could be the werewolf in his ritual. Caroline and Tyler's reunion was on the awkward side of things, but luckily they had plenty of time to talk things out while they waited in the tomb. Just as Candice Accola has grown Caroline from the shallow and vain cheerleader we met in Season 1 into a capable and contributing member of the team, Michael Trevino brought a more grown-up Tyler back. No longer panicked about his situation, he didn't even seem that shocked about waking up chained to a wall, waiting to be sacrificed in a vampire ritual. He just took it all in stride.

Matt was packing heat with wooden bullets, making you wonder what would have gone down had he gotten to the tomb first or found only Damon there and not Maddox. After they all escape the tomb, the full moon begins to rise over the horizon. Tyler can't hold off the transition, so Caroline and Matt take shelter in the Lockwood cellar. That was a close one, but everyone's safe ... except Klaus wasn't about to be played so easily. You learn a thing or two when you've been planning this for a millennium.
Just as it seemed like Damon had foiled Klaus's plan, the episode took its most shocking and disturbing twists. Not only did Klaus have a backup plan, but it was horrifying. Instead of using Caroline, Katherine or even Damon as the vampire he needed for his ritual, Klaus had newly minted Jenna as a vampire. I sure did not see that one coming. My first thought? That poor Alaric has no luck with women. Following on the heels of the revelation that Jenna was turned, there was the added twist that Damon was bitten by Tyler as he was changing into a werewolf. Since werewolf bites are fatal to vampires, we were left with a few burning questions. Is it possible that The Vampire Diaries would really kill off one of the Salvatore brothers? With Jenna already being turned into a vampire, will Elena become one too?

With just two more episodes remaining this spring, things are certainly falling into place for a truly epic conclusion. What that entails, however, is anyone's guess. If The Vampire Diaries has taught us anything, it's that the game and its rules change by the minute.


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