The Travelers rid Mystic Falls of all magic

The Vampire Diaries Season 5, Episode 21 (“promised Land”)
Paul Wesley, The Vampire Diaries

As the end of the season nears, Vampire Diaries is really raising the stakes for the finale. Mystic Falls has been rid of magic, meaning almost none of the main characters can even step foot inside it without dying. Bonnie still has no idea how to save herself or bring anyone else back from the Other Side, which is a big problem since Stefan is over there now. Considering how highly unlikely it is that the show would kill off both Stefan and Bonnie in the season finale, and as the list of people who need to come back grows, we can assume she will come up with something.

Despite Damon’s efforts to bargain with Markos using the real bodies of the Travelers, he is successful in executing his plan in Mystic Falls. He rids the town of magic so that no vampires, hybrids, or anchors can live there. He was willing to sacrifice the Travelers bodies and let them live in the citizens of Mystic Falls permanently. Earlier in the season I felt the Travelers were sympathetic. They had been denied a home for two thousand years, forced to move around, never settling or having a life. It didn’t necessarily give them the right to take over a town and its residents, but their motivations were at least understandable. However, with the actual return of Markos I find them less sympathetic. He is not a great villain, he himself is underwritten and not greatly acted. But his desire to rid the entire world of any magic, other than Traveler magic, just makes him look like a power hungry, world domination type villain which is less interesting. I do like that this plot brings Mystic Falls in as an important part of the story again. At the beginning of the show the town itself was an important setting with a lot of history. That has mostly been abandoned in the past couple seasons though.

Bonnie finally reveals to Caroline that she wont survive the collapse of the Other Side. She has hidden it from all of her friends because she is willing to make the sacrifice and she doesn’t want to concern anyone with it. This is the same thing Bonnie did earlier this season when she was actually dead and on the Other Side. She made Jeremy keep the secret of her death so her friends wouldn’t have to deal with the grief. But knowing that you are going to die and not letting your loved ones say goodbye is cruel as well. Though I can also understand not wanting to spend your last few days with everyone freaking out over something you can’t control. Now however, she has to worry about bringing back Stefan which will motivate her more to find a solution. She is fine making the sacrifice for her life, but she isn’t going to be so willing to sacrifice Stefan’s.

So far the show has been unwilling to permanently kill any of the main characters. The biggest death to date has been Alaric, who was great but not an integral character. So putting Stefan on the Other Side pretty much confirms that Bonnie will have to figure something out in the next episode because the show isn’t going to kill a Salvatore. Bonnie is their main witch, so she too is unlikely to be dead for good. This is a bit problematic in a supernatural show that has a lot of fighting and near death experiences for their characters. At no point in watching the show am I concerned that the Salvatores, Elena, Bonnie, Caroline, etc. are actually going to die. So what are the stakes? The show has generally been very good at making their plots about more than who might live or die. Many of the plots are centered in who the characters are and their relationships with each other. Which is much more interesting anyway. However this season has generally suffered from the lack of personal stakes. We will just have to wait until the finale to see how this plot is resolved, or not, and what it means for everyone.

Due to Stefan’s advice and their impending deaths, Elena gets over her issues with Damon. The frustrating part of this is that they didn’t really work through anything, Elena just decided she didn’t care. All she needed was for Stefan to tell her that it is okay that she forgives Damon for all the things he has done, because they are vampires. Part of what he says is valid, but it also sweeps their, very real, issues under the rug. He tells her that vampires can’t be ruled by human morality, which is true. They survive by drinking blood and have heightened emotions and strength. But that isn’t a blank check to do bad things. It felt out of character for Stefan to both excuse Damon’s behavior and tell Elena that she can too. Honestly, they could all use some vampire therapy.

This episode did a good job of setting up the finale and getting me excited to see what happens with the Other Side and everyone on it. It was also a fun episode to watch on its own. I enjoyed all of Damon’s stuff with the Travelers bodies, but it loses points for Markos trying and failing to match Damon’s wit. Stefan and Elena walking the backroads of Mystic Falls while starving was also fun, and they rightfully recognized how much better off they would be if Caroline was there. Next up is the season 5 finale! Despite so much of this season being meh, it ends on a pretty interesting note.

Episode Grade: 8/10

Other Thoughts:

  • Damon: “It’s going to be a busy day for me Stefan, time to strap on the hero hair”
  • Caspar, the English ghost
  • Matt: “Why don’t you do us all a favor and start dating Elena again?” Even Matt is over their drama.
  • Damon: “Aren’t we all a little sick of Tyler?” Unfortunately this season has found very little to do with Tyler making him seem like an unnecessary character. If I had to guess anyone was going to die for real in the finale it would be him.
  • The note Damon left for Markos was fantastic. “Found, cave of wannabe witches. For more information call Damon Salvatore”. However he didn’t leave his phone number but Markos calls him anyway. Did he really have Damon’s number? On TV shows everyone always just has everyones numbers even if it is unrealistic that they would have swapped numbers at some point.
  • Body Count: 3, Stefan’s heart is ripped out by Julian, a townsperson who has been taken over by a Traveler kills her husband, and Luke/Liv kill Maria.

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