Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Vampire Diaries: Season 4 Finale Review


I took a long break from most of the TV series I was previously following, and have only recently been going back through and watching the season finales. I'm not entirely a fan of the seasons model in the US, because I find writers will overcram these final episodes with last-minute cliffhangers, which are usually resolved in the most anticlimactic ways once the show starts back up. Despite that, they are fun to watch and speculate on, and The Vampire Diaries definitely takes the cake for the most convoluted / interesting of them all this year (spoilers ahead).


My enthusiasm for TVD this season was fairly cyclical. It started out high, peaking when Delena finally happened. But then it dropped as the story dragged-out and became just short of uninteresting with the whole search for the cure, sire bond, and Jeremy's death. Both the dropping of the veil and Jeremy's inevitable return to life were plot devices I expected the moment the issues were introduced, so those aspects didn't surprise me in the slightest. I also didn't care for bitchy Elena - she's still far less interesting than Katherine.


I ended up liking the last few episodes (especially after the snore-inducing The Originals pilot), when it felt like the show was finally putting in full effort. There were even moments in the last two episodes that I was surprised and excited by, notably Bonnie's death and Katherine's consumption of the cure. Please let this mean more Katherine next season (and hopefully less Elena); the character is just way more fun and full of potential than the forever uptight Elena. In fact, I was almost supportive of Katherine when she attacked Elena - all the points she mentioned about how she was strong enough to deal with her emotions and how everyone around Elena kept coddling her were so true.


While Bonnie's death was a good twist, Jeremy's return to life didn't exactly make me applaud. First off, I suspected from the beginning that they were going to pull this, since Jeremy's one of the main cast and it's unlikely he'd get fired from the show. Second, it felt like a cheap gimmick; after all the goodbyes and final closure from Elena (which imo took far longer than necessary), they're just going to turn around and say "just kidding"?


Yes, Bonnie "died", but I don't believe her death any more than I believed his. The producers have even confirmed that Kat Graham is going to still be a show regular and have a ghost relationship with Jeremy. My suspicion is they are going to find a way to bring her back to life by the end of next season, which is honestly just disappointing. I hate shows that are too afraid to take the final step and actually kill off characters, and it's even worse when they essentially pretend to kill them off only to renege later. I also don't care for this pairing, which always felt random and short on the chemistry (plus a little weird since I see Kat as being much older than the kid who plays Jeremy). Jeremy and Anna remains my favorite of his ill-fated love stories.


Moving on, I'm happy with the official Delena declaration at the end. It was a bit surprising, but a good one, and maybe the permanence of this pairing will make me like Elena a little better (she's her most boring with Stefan, because those two are like pairing two scoops of vanilla side-by-side). Truthfully though, I'm weary of the whole love triangle, which feels like has run its course and no longer holds the zest it did in the beginning. I used to adore Damon, but now I merely prefer him to Stefan. There are much more interesting couplings to explore, including a couple I perked up to this season - Klaus and Caroline plus Katherine and Elijah. Pity both of those guys were swept over to New Orleans, and that I can no longer expect them to come and spice up the show.


Speaking of Klaus and Caroline, it took a while but the season finale definitely sealed the deal for me and made it clear that these two are the sweetest. I still don't understand why he likes her (she's easily the most shallow of all the characters), but it was fun watching her slowly open up to him, and his last line to her was just too cute to not squeal over. I don't know what The Originals means for this love line, but that's just one thing I'm excited to see answered next season.


Finally, the "big" twist at the end, that Silas has Stefan's face. It didn't work for me, and I find I hardly care. I think the writers are literally throwing everything they own at the goal of "make Stefan interesting" but are failing miserably. Ripper Stefan was still a bore to watch, and I don't expect the Silas version to be much better. I also thought it was the stupidest twist of them all - why would he look like Stefan?


At least with the Petrova doppelganger there was fun mythology set in the 1400s. I was momentarily in awe when I thought Silas was actually another Elena look-alike (which would have been a far less outlandish and more interesting twist), but I get the practical limitations. Having Nina play two characters is already a challenge, and given Katherine's human arc next season they couldn't throw in a third and essentially make this a show about the different versions of the same person. So I get that. But I still disagree with how random the Stefan-face felt in execution, and also how stupid it seems. I'm sure the writers will bullshit something up with Stefan's past to make it seem less random, but at the moment this stands as the biggest shortcoming of an otherwise good finale episode.

Despite the few finale qualms, I do think this is one of the better written TV series out there. Not because it makes sense, but because it isn't afraid to push at the limits of its mythology and to keep things moving forward. This doesn't bode well for the long-term fate of Delena, but at least it will keep things interesting. The one thing I am worried about is that they'll start throwing random crap at the wall like Stefan-Silas in an attempt to sustain a season's worth of story, but we'll see this fall.

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