The Vampire Diaries Season 4, Episodes 22 & 23 (“The Walking Dead” and “Graduation”)
The last two episodes of season 4 are essentially one long episode so I am once again combining the two into one review. A lot happens though as Bonnie brings the veil to the Other Side down (bringing back a lot of previously dead characters), we finally find out what happens with the cure, and Silas is defeated, temporarily.
In “The Walking Dead” Elena, is channeling all of her emotion into rage against Katherine, obsessing over getting revenge by killing her. She is avoiding feeling all of the grief and guilt from the things she did when she had her humanity off. By the end of the episode though she realizes that killing Katherine won’t change anything and she finally lets it all in and apologizes to everyone. She ends up getting her revenge though in “Graduation” when she shoves the cure down Katherine’s throat, forcing her to become human. I was very happy with this resolution for the cure. It is a fitting punishment for Katherine who has been ruled by her survival instincts, no matter the cost to anyone else. Giving her a mortal life, stripped of all her vampire privileges, is the best way Elena could have gotten her revenge. It is also a good use of the cure. It goes to an important character, but not a central one. And no one is really going to miss having Katherine around for eternity.
Bonnie is able to use her expression magic to bring the veil down to the Other Side, but only within Mystic Falls. This leads to the return of a lot of previously dead characters, some good like Alaric and Lexi, and some bad like Kol and dead vampire hunters Connor, Vaughn, and Alexander. Bonnie does it not to help Silas but to bring Jeremy back for good, however it ends up costing her her life as the magic is too much. She was willing to trade her life for Jeremy, another example of Bonnie sacrificing herself for Elena’s sake. Though Bonnie also loves Jeremy so she probably wanted to bring him back for that reason as well. She probably didn’t think she was going to die, but even though she has the option to bring the veil down permanently and remain with her friends, she chooses not to. She knows that the cost is too much. The tragedy of Bonnie in this show is that she has all of the power to do whatever it is she wants, but it always ends up being used to help others, often at her expense. Even though she is dead, she doesn’t want it to interfere with everyone’s happiness. With Silas defeated (or so she thinks), everyone is doing good for the first time in a long time and she doesn’t want to mess that up so she doesn’t tell anyone, except Jeremy, that she is dead. She doesn’t want him to tell anyone either, which isn’t very fair to make him deal with on his own. He will still be able to see her, but no one else will.
Many of the dead from the Other Side want some sort of revenge on those they feel played a part in their death. Kol and Connor both attempt to kill Elena, Alexander tries to kill Matt since he can’t kill Rebekah, and Vaughn shoots Damon with werewolf venom-laced bullets so that he is slowly dying. Without Klaus around to heal him, Elena thinks that he should take the cure to save his life. Damon however does not want that. He would rather die than take the cure and live out a human existence while everyone he loves is still a vampire. He wouldn’t be able to have a real life with Elena so to him, it wouldn’t be worth it. This leads to them both laying out how they feel. Damon is who he is and he isn’t going to change, he loves her, but he also knows that he has done things that hurt her. Elena is for the first time all season able to definitively say how she feels and it is essentially what she has been saying all along, just without the complication of the sire bond. She loves him too, despite all of the bad that he has done. He has changed her and made her feel alive in a way that no one else could.
Poor Stefan has to listen to all of this, but it finally forces him to accept that his relationship with Elena is over. He was holding out hope while the sire bond existed and she had her humanity off, but there are no excuses now. Luckily he has his reunion with Lexi to help soften the blow and encourage him to move on. But before he is able to drive off on his own, he is confronted with Silas who he was attempting to bury in a safe, under the water. Bonnie had turned Silas to stone but when she died, the spell was broken and he was able to get out. He reveals his true form to Stefan which is another doppelgänger, but of Stefan’s. The creation of his doppelgänger was nature’s way of balancing out his immortality, creating another version of him that was mortal. So similar to Elena and Katherine, there have been multiple versions of Stefan throughout time. Silas puts Stefan in the safe and pushes him into the quarry. Stefan has had a rough season with the girl he loves turning into a vampire and then falling in love with his brother, and this is the cherry on top of all of that.
“Graduation” is a fitting end to a season that had a lot of ups and downs. It resolves the major questions surrounding this season including whether or not Elena truly loved Damon and who was going to get the cure. So far, most of The Vampire Diaries‘ season finales have been very strong, each one getting better than the previous, though I would say this is where that ends. It doesn’t have the big plot twists that make you want to watch the next season. For season 1 it was the return of Katherine (as she chops off John’s fingers), in season 2 it was Stefan agreeing to leave town with Klaus to save Damon’s life setting up a big flip in the status quo of the show, and in season 3 it was Elena turning into a vampire. I guess for this one the big twist would be the reveal that Silas is Stefan’s doppelgänger, but it is a twist that fails to be as interesting as the others. The others felt immediately like they would have a big effect on the characters, whereas this one is just a plot complication that is bound to be resolved early in the next season. Bonnie’s death doesn’t even feel like that big of a deal. She is a witch that was able to bring Jeremy back, she is probably going to find a way to bring herself back, and she will still be visible to Jeremy as he wanders the Other Side. Silas is still going to be around as the big villain next season, but he is just not as interesting as Klaus.
Episode Grades: “The Walking Dead”- B, “Graduation”- B+
Season Grade: B
- Poor Matt: No one to send graduation invites to. He’s also never left Mystic Falls, but at least he and Rebekah are going to spend the summer traveling the world!
- Rebekah tells Elena that she isn’t familiar with the emotional switch – can Originals not turn theirs off? How can she have been around for 1000 years and not be familiar with it?
- Alaric proved to Damon that he is not Silas by showing him which locker he hid whiskey in. It was great to see the bros back together.
- Silas compelled Caroline to continuously cut herself just to keep her occupied.
- Rebekah: “That’s the Caroline I know and loathe” how can anyone loathe Caroline?
- How are any of them graduating? They don’t even go to school.
- Stefan: “I should be upstairs grooming my hero hair” – Sassy Stefan is my favorite Stefan
- Damon/Stefan: “Are you drunk?” “I don’t know mom, am I?” Why is Stefan only like this with Lexi?
- Alaric and Jeremy coming back from the dead and just wanting to eat was very relatable. I would miss that too. Especially if you could watch everyone eat but you can’t!
- Caroline: “Klaus, now is not the time to decide that you are over me!”
- Caroline was excited that they all made it to graduation, did she forget Tyler?
- Klaus’s entrance was amazing and probably one of my favorite murder methods yet. Who knew a graduation cap could be used to slice someones head off?
- Alaric and Lexi talk about finding peace, something beyond the Other Side. “How are we supposed to do that when the knuckle heads we care about can’t seem to keep their lives straight?”
- Klaus officially pardons Tyler – though I don’t think he was ever really going to hunt him down.
- Klaus: “He’s your first love. I intend to be your last” Klaus is playing the long game. Learning some patience. He is also a bit busy on The Originals but maybe they wanted to keep the option open.
- Damon: “There’s no apology in the world that encompasses all the reasons that I’m wrong for you”
- Elena: “In death, you’re the one that made me feel most alive”
- Stefan: “I’m not happy about Elena… but I’m not not happy for you either”
- Body Count: I think Bonnie was the only real death… everyone else was already dead.