So, The Vampire Diaries had its final episode this week, and I have to say, they did a fantastic job with it. Grimm has three more weeks, so it wasn’t quite so powerful, but it was still a very well done episode. Once Upon a Time, on the other hand, made its grand return for what might be the conclusion, or a conclusion, and it was easily the weakest of my lineup this week. Of course, that’s not really a fair competition at this point, but, still, I found it wanting.
6.11 “Tougher Then the Rest”
Taking up where we left off last time, in the world of the wish, Emma and Regina let Robin Hood rob them, and then go about searching for another way home. They figure out that, since this version of the story never sent Emma to Earth, they might be able to use the tree that sent her there in the real world. So they go to Pinocchio, who is happy to help once the situation is explained to him, but Regina runs off on her own right then. She’s been seeing that everyone is better off without her reign as the Evil Queen, which… what, was she expecting things to be worse without her tyrannical reign? Eh, whatever, she’s going to see if Robin is better off as well.
At first, Robin says he’s living a good life, but once the two of them are capture by the Sheriff of Nottingham, the truth comes out. He’s a robber, and he’s alone, and he’s not done any good in the world. Of course he’s not really happy. So Regina tells him about the Robin she knew, who did good, had a family, and loved her. He believes it easily, liking the appeal of a better life his other self is living. Except for the detail that he’s dead, but, even then, it sounds like his life was better.
Interestingly, he has the lucky feather Robin meant to give her, and which Zelena lost. Hmmm, could this be where the real Robin’s soul ended up somehow? I mean, it had to go somewhere, and he has the feather, and he’s the only one of their friends who hasn’t aged in accordance with the passage of time in the world of the wish. It’s possible, and having to take a chance on that possibility, Regina and Emma invite him to come home with them. He accepts, knowing the risks, and also knowing that things are very bad for him in the world he’s currently in, so why not? If the sheriff wasn’t bad enough, the Rumpel of that world will be furious with him.
This Rumpel went to find Belle, and found her bones instead. With that world’s version of Regina exiled, no one was there to keep Belle alive, so she starved to death and decayed. Rumpel is not happy about that, and rescued Regina and Robin from the sheriff only so he could torture Regina to death himself. But Robin helped her escape, so… yeah, not a good idea to stay when he might survive leaving.
They step through, and the deed is done. All three make it to Storybrooke.
Meanwhile, things have been getting dramatically complicated on the home front.
Gideon tells his parents what happened to him. The Black Fairy stole him and raised him. Rumpel knows she hurt him, but Gideon says that depends, that she toughened him up. Now he hopes to become a Savior for his world – I wonder what this world is – and believes he needs to kill Emma to do that, to steal her mantle as a Savior. I’m fairly certain it doesn’t work like that. You can’t just steal heroism, ya know?
Rumpel follows after his son, trying to help him, but Gideon will have none of it. He doesn’t actually want Gideon to kill Emma, knowing all too well what it’s like to reach for a cure to one’s suffering, only to find that it’s more poison instead. But Gideon’s need for help may be Rumpel’s only way in, through Gideon’s defenses, to save him.
Belle, on the other hand, goes to Hook and Charming for help. Charming is determined to fix the mess he’s inadvertently made, and not wake Snow until that is done, which is a mistake, I think, driven by his emotions and not by reason. Hook is willing to help, though, to protect Emma. It’s all for naught, though, as Gideon and Emma find each other first, and Gideon has a clear upper hand in their fight… that is until Emma is able to steady her nerve and use her magic to defend herself. She wins the first round, without any help.
I do like the relationship between Belle and Rumpel right now. They are so clearly on opposite sides now, like light and darkness, but they still share concern for their son. They are divided, but they have a common purpose.
So, Emma and Regina return with a copy of Robin on tow, Charming feels guilty, Gideon is mentally fractured and wants to kill Emma, and his parents want to stop him.
Oh, and Emma chose her last name, Swan, after August, in his younger days, told her his take on the story of the ugly duckling. A touching little detail, that.
Still, I’m actually giving some serious contemplation to possibly dropping this show from my weekly lineup. It just lost a bit of its oomph these last couple seasons, especially since the end of the Neverland arc, ya know? Still, I have experience with the rewards of patience, so not just yet.
8.16 “I Was Feeling Epic”
The two words the come to mind, after getting through the unending assault of powerful emtions, are these: worth it.
I was once determined to never watch this show. And when I did, I binged the first seven seasons and found that it lost steam in the latter few seasons, so I didn’t think I’d ever add it to this lineup. But then this concluding season aired, and I was convinced. Then it dragged us through the deepest, muddiest darkness they could dredge up, and while I wasn’t about to drop the show now, I was wondering how they could possibly end it. Would they even end it happily?
I am happy to say: yes. After my reservations, after my doubts, after my questions… they did good.
From beginning to end, this show is worth watching, and it was worth sticking with it.
How they manage to do so much, to stick so much into this single episode, and they always stuck so much into every episode and every season, and make this the very epitome of the entire show, I do not know.
Needless to say, it ends on the very highest of notes.
And that starts right at the beginning.
Stefan is trying to revive Bonnie with chest compressions, with Caroline trying to save her with her blood, but it looks to be too little, too late. She’s dead, or on the verge of it. She even has a vision, sees Elena, says good-bye, that she’s ready… but Enzo shows up and says he’s not. It isn’t her time. Not yet. She wakes up, alive, telling her friends she saw Elena.
Vicki is ringing the bell. The only upside is that she’s not ringing it twelve times all at once. Katherine wants her to take an hour, so she rings it once every five minutes. Damon shows up and throws her out the window, but she gets right back up. She refuses to stop and she can’t really be stopped. Matt tries to plead for their hometown, but Vicki won’t hear it. This isn’t her home, she was never happy here, and this is her only shot at getting out of Hell, a place of endless torment. She prefers ceasing to exist to spending eternity in the flames, and if she has to ring a bell and destroy a town for that, then so be it.
Matt can’t stop his sister, so he calls for an emergency evacuation of the town. It’s time to cut and run.
Everyone scrambles to grab what matters most: their loved ones and their most irreplaceable necessities. For the Salvatore brothers, that means grabbing Elena, but… she’s missing. Katherine appears, momentarily posing as Elena, just to taunt them. She’s stolen Elena from them, and put them in a position where they can’t wiggle out in the limited time left to them. She intends to take, at the very least, Damon, Stefan, and Elena to Hell, to be her playthings. That’s what this has all been about. She wrapped Cade, the “Devil,” around her finger the moment she entered Hell, whetting his appetite for Stefan Salvatore, which brought on his acceptance of trading the sirens for the Salvatores, and drove the rest of his fascinated behavior as well. Katherine was watching them the whole time, loving the sight of them scurrying around to kill Cade, all to suit her own ends.
They kill Katherine with the bone dagger, but she keeps coming back, this time with her trademark curly hair that just speaks of the woman we all love to hate. 🙂
Stefan and Damon search frantically, and once Caroline sends Alaric, Bonnie, and the girls to the Armory, she joins the search, though she promises to get out in time to be safe. It’s Stefan that finds Elena, down in the boiler room beneath the high school. Katherine chose quite the poetic location, and had Malachi spell the entrance so Elena couldn’t pass through. Caroline’s daughters might have been able to siphon the magic away, but they’re too far away to come back and help and then get safely out again.
Elena is stuck, Damon will never leave her, Stefan has to try to convince him to abandon Elena, and Caroline has to leave them all behind for the sake of her daughters. The emotional twisting never lets up.
Not even when Bonnie figures out how to save the day. On the contrary, it only gets all the more intense from there.
She takes Alaric and Dorian’s idea for destroying Hell and uses it. The problem with the plan was the extreme lack of psychic energy needed to hammer Hell open like a cracked egg. But Bonnie realizes that there’s about to be an abundance of such, in the form of hellfire. And thus is hatched the plan: Bonnie will use her magic, newly reawakened and strong, to draw the hellfire down, through the tunnels to the Armory, then send it back through the tunnels, through the bell, back to Hell. It’s like a cosmic judo maneuver: taking the enemy’s own strength as they attack, amplifying it with a little of your own, and sending it back at them.
Small detail: to be properly successful, they need to make sure Katherine is in Hell, meaning in the path of the hellfire, exactly when Bonnie is sending the hellfire back.
Thus enter Damon, willing to do whatever it takes, even get swept up in hellfire on its way to Hell, in order to save Elena, and destroying Katherine is a wonderful bonus to that. So he keeps her occupied and in his grasp until the big moment arrives. But before then, Stefan arrives to take Damon’s place. They argue, Stefan pleads his case, and Damon chooses to compel Stefan into walking away. Yet again, Damon’s continued existence is validated in his willingness to sacrifice himself. The good side of Damon that has been trying to claw its way out of the darkness for so long has finally done it.
Small detail: Stefan knows that trick, and he’s been drinking vervaine. He goes ahead with his plan, outwitting Damon.
Caroline arrives at the Armory just in time to evacuate with Alaric and the girls, leaving Bonnie behind. Alaric explains in the car, and Caroline can only cry, and try to call Stefan. She leaves him a message, saying she understands, and loves him. Her husband of a few hours is choosing to lay down his life, and all she can do is support him from afar.
As Katherine is gloating at Damon, trying to say how impossible it is for Bonnie to succeed, how she’s savoring her victory at long last, everything comes to a head.
Matt and his father visit Vicki. She tries to put on a strong facade, to show the steel of her resolve. But they aren’t there to stop her. They aren’t there to watch her terrible fate. They’re there because they want to see her one last time. In the face of that, she breaks down, crying and hugging her father. After, they don’t go far. The rest of the town is evacuated, but the Donovans stand across the street from the clock tower, looking up at Vicki. Whatever happens, they’re by her side to the end. She sees them, and, tears in her eyes…
…she rings the bells a twelfth time, vanishing in the eruption of hellfire.
Bonnie is ready, and invoking her magic, and calling for all the mystical help she can possibly get, because she desperately needs it. The first half the plan works, she draws all of the hellfire down, through seven miles of tunnel, to the Armory, straight to herself, and then she holds it back. Bonnie Bennet the Witch is back, the strongest of them all. She stands before the wall of hellfire, holding it back, pushing against it, much like she has done for the entire series, defiant and determined to live.
Enzo can’t resist appearing, commenting on how it’s now she’s ready to live, when she’s facing down Hell. Heh. It figures.
He’s there to encourage her, but even with her renewed strength, she can’t turn back the fires of Hell alone. Good thing she’s not, then. Her grandmother appears at her side, taking her hand, chanting with her. Then Beatrice, the witch who sealed the sirens in their long prison after watching her entire coven burn in these fires. More and more, the entire Bennet line of witches stand behind Bonnie. Lucy, her cousin, who we saw only once back in the second season, and who was killed by someone connected to the Armory after they used her to access and then seal up the sirens’ prison again; Ayana, the witch who was a friend to Esther the Original Witch; the witch who created the five Hunters to destroy Silas and the Originals. On and on, throughout the long and storied line of witches, they come to Bonnie’s aid.
These women, together, turn back the fires of Hell itself. Which was just a plain awesome scene. 🙂
Back through the tunnel goes the hellfire. Back towards the bell. And Damon is dragging Katherine into its path, until Stefan hits him from behind, dosing him with his blood, the cure, turning him human, and taking his place. Katherine was spiteful towards Damon, but with Stefan holding her there, she changes tactics, pleading with the man she claimed to love. He doesn’t give an inch, and the fire swallows them both, taking them with it through the bell, back to Hell.
After that crescendo of chaos, everything is quiet.
Bonnie stand triumphant, alone once more, collapsing from the strain.
Matt and his father stand at the base of a tower that has now singed, but still standing.
And Elena sees a vision in the middle of her slumber.
She’s walking the halls of her high school, experiencing all the memories, how everything began for them. She sees Stefan, on his way to the afterlife. He’s stopped in to say good-bye, to explain everything that’s happened, and why he chose to die. He saw Damon, the real Damon, the big brother who looked after him, the son who volunteered for the Civil War to please their father, he saw that Damon again, for the first time in a very long time, that night. And he really wanted to give Elena the chance to get to know that version of him. Just before parting, he gives her a message to give to Caroline: he heard her, and will love her forever.
And with all the important things said and done, he turns, and walks away, into the light. He’s met by his best friend, Lexi, last seen in the fifth season’s finale. She found peace and went to a better place, so when he arrives, she’s there to greet him. They embrace, and drive off together.
Elena wakes up for real this time, to find Bonnie standing at her side. She’s a witch again, and it took her quite some time, but she figured out how to undo Malachi’s spell. They find Damon and Caroline at the Salvatore family crypt, where they’ve put a marker for Stefan. His brother and his wife talk about Stefan’s fate, and Damon wonders if he found peace. Caroline is sure he did, and they’ll see him again in due time. Damon thinks he won’t, that he’s going to the other place. Caroline disagrees. But until then, there is happiness to be found as the living reunite: Damon and Elena kiss, and the three best friends, who have been through so much, are together again.
The living have one last funeral for the death of Stefan Salvatore, this one most definitely permanent.
The first words we heard in this series were spoken by Stefan Salvatore, telling us this is his story. And so it is, and was. It’s the story of his life, beginning to end, including all the good and bad he ever did, and all the people who mattered to him, explained and understood. It’s the story of how he arrived at his final destination.
The series also began in the first person, with Elena and Stefan telling us the story. And so, to end it, we go back to that, to each of the central cast telling us what they did with their lives. As Elena says, after all the chaos and death: “And life goes on.”
Matt remained sheriff, and the town gave him a bench. His father stayed in town too. He’s thinking of running for mayor. He doesn’t see it Vicki and Tyler looking on, smiles on their faces, but feels that his sister at least found peace.
Bonnie, once Elena was awakened, determined to keep her promise to Enzo, and live her life to the fullest. In her case, she intends to see the world, travel every corner of it. Her connection to Enzo’s soul is gone, but he’s still there, watching over her.
Alaric and Caroline, with Damon’s input, opened the Salvatore Boarding School for the Young and Gifted. He’s opening the box holding their new sign, and hugging his girls, with their mother, Jo, looking on with a smile, unseen.
Caroline has help at the school, including Dorian and Jeremy among others, and she gets a donation, and a letter, from Klaus. She’s the last vampire standing on this show, capable of watching over the school for a very long time. Will we see her again on the spin-off, The Originals? Possible, I suppose. Alaric mentions how Caroline, with all her experience managing things, wanted to make the school a success, to make her mother proud. She doesn’t see her mother right beside her, beaming with pride.
So, it seems like, with the Other Side destroyed and Hell hopefully destroyed, death isn’t so bad anymore. Their loved ones aren’t so far away, and they aren’t in pain or in prison. They’re all together, watching over the living, smiling.
Elena went to medical school, then came back home to Mystic Falls. As at the beginning of the series, she is sitting alone in a cemetery, writing in her journal. But now it’s a place of light, not darkness. The raven is just a raven, nothing ominous about it. She and Damon grew old, lived a long and happy life together.
Yeah, the show spends its last moments driving home its final point from the characters’ perspective, and that point concerns life, and everything it is, and death.
Life is, and was, and will be, so many things: weird, messy, complicated, sad, wonderful, amazing, epic.
And death? Well, without the meddling of witches and psychics to create imprisoning dimensions, and without our sins to hold us back, we can find peace. In the end, after all the horror, the violence, the sadness, the tragedy, the sacrifice, and everything else… death is going home, to our families.
When Elena dies, in due time, she goes to her old house to find her mother, her father, her Aunt Jenna, and even her biological father all waiting to embrace her.
And Damon? After a lifetime of regret for well over a century of bloodshed, he goes home too, to find Stefan waiting for him.
The first exchange we saw between the brothers had these words: “Damon,” and “Hello, Brother.”
The last thing we see is an echo of that, under much better circumstances.
Yeah. An emotional grinder, this. And worth it.
6.10 “Blood Magic”
What is the one thing that kills everything, and never fails to do so?
It doesn’t matter what you do, what kind of life you lead, whether you are human, animal, vegetable, or anything else, it is a simple fact: time will kill you. If nothing else does so, then sheer aging will finish the job. Eventually, the body will simply give out, and sometimes the mind does so first.
Dementia is not a happy thing even in the most normal of people, and among wesen, it can be flat-out dangerous. People suffering from it can turn violent, and among wesen, that includes changing into their beastly forms, becoming stronger and fiercer, but without any of their previous intelligence to direct their more savage instincts. It’s dangerous for any nearby person or creature, dangerous for the elderly wesen in question if their prey can defend itself, and dangerous for the entire wesen community as a whole, what with how it could expose their secret world. They’ve suffered plenty of painful, gruesome, horrific deaths at the hands of humans as is, they really don’t want to attract attention.
So, what do they do?
There is a specific kind of wesen, referred to as a Godfather of Death. He’s an insect wesen, capable of injecting a poisonous saliva that, in sufficiently large quantities, will kill a person in question in their sleep, peacefully and without pain. When the wesen becomes dangerous, their loved ones call this Godfather. He comes quietly, opens a window to let the spirit of the soon-to-be-deceased out, closes the door if necessary, and administers the poison. Thus, the danger, a very real danger to everyone, is averted with the most humane method available.
I am going to say, I am flat-out against putting people to sleep in the real world. Life is precious and even when it is so very difficult, it is worth holding on to for every last moment. No one has the right to end the life of another person just because they are inconvenient, or even because they are suffering. I am against suicide, assisted suicide, and against anything puts death on the table for discussion just because someone is inconvenient.
However, this is a peculiar case where the “patient” isn’t just inconvenient, they’re an outright danger to themselves and those around them, the vast majority of which are completely unaware of the looming, very real, threat to their lives. I do not support assisted suicide, but I do support the death penalty when such is necessary to protect the public. So, as difficult as it may be, and as cold as it may seem, I’d say there is a very valid reason to kill wesen when they are suffering from dementia, and a painless death is easily the least of all evils.
So, to get to what actually happened in this episode:
This week’s case is a double feature, both involving senior-citizen wesen.
One is an elderly lady who is vividly recalling her younger days, when she went hunting in the woods. She would run, catch, taste sweet blood in her mouth. They don’t say whether this was human or animal blood. I shall hope this was animal blood, but either way, she attacks her orderly, her friend. He defends himself from the monster that is suddenly in the room, attacking him, shoves it against the wall, choking it, only for it to turn back into the old woman under his care. Her injury was superficial, but the Godfather visits her later that night, and when she turns up dead the next morning, the orderly is facing prison for her death. Small “oops,” that.
Nick and Hank are able to believe the orderly, and both the medical examiner at the retirement home and the Portland PD’s coroner are able to verify his innocence with medical expertise. Still, the woman who runs the place, and walked in on the attack at the worst possible moment, is out for blood, and they need to be absolutely sure that the orderly is innocent. So, they go to talk to Munroe and Rosalee.
Munroe and Rosalee are able to fill Nick and Hank in on the Godfather, revealing that they’ve agreed to call such for one another if it comes to that. This shocks their human friends somewhat. Several years in, and they’re still learning new, important things about the wesen community. Nick has to give his word that they won’t arrest the Godfather, and then they agree to call him for a talk. It gets a little worrisome there for a moment, when Rosalee improvises and says she needs him to put Munroe down in order to get him there, but once he arrives, Nick and Hank just verify that it was he who killed the woman, not the orderly.
Interestingly, this Godfather is the same medical examiner who works at the assisted living facility. Small wonder about that, it’s a perfect place to observe elderly wesen who don’t have anyone to call him, and he’s able to protect the staff and other residents as well. It’s also perfect for gaining an expertise in judging the signs for when his services are truly necessary. In the case of the old woman, he just waited a little too long, and he’s willing to testify, if necessary, to protect the orderly from the worst of the fallout of that mistake.
Unfortunately, right as they’re talking, the Godfather gets a phone call. There’s another one in need of his services, and the situation is urgent: an old man threatening his wife right at that very moment.
That’s the second part of this case. The old man was so restless at night, he’d go walking, and without having any control of himself, he’s attacked and killed two innocent people. Now he’s out and about again, thinking that he’s searching for his wife. There’s a girl who is darn lucky not to be his next victim, and then Nick, Hank, and Munroe are able to restrain him, take him home to his wife and the waiting Godfather. The evidence that Wu was able to gather verifies that this old man is the killer they’ve been looking for, but they know they can’t take him in. They can’t handle this as cops, because it’ll never go to trial and the man could change any time within his cell, hurt the guards. That’s not a viable option. So they back off, and let the Godfather do his work.
Which is one of the most tender and heartbreaking scenes Grimm has ever had.
Elsewhere, both Renard and Eve are becoming single-minded in their quests.
Renard’s quest is to protect his daughter, which I wholeheartedly endorse. He calls Adalind, demanding answers, and demanding to see the tunnel Diana saw the symbols in. Adalind has very few answers to offer, and she directs Renard to Nick regarding the tunnel. Not only is that tunnel his emergency escape from the loft, but everything about this situation ties back to the stick that they have very carefully not mentioned to Renard. To explain anything, Nick has to explain everything, and he refuses to do that unless Renard shares his information first.
As for Eve, she’s been attacked by this creature on the other side of the mirror, she knows the creature is aware of Nick, and it’s possible it could come after Diana or hurt any of their friends. So, she wants to find a way through the mirror, to learn about this creature, so they can fight it. She’s a bit obsessive, though, mixing in some nature as a loner, now looking for redemption for past ill deeds, and willing to sacrifice herself. So, Nick and Adalind are very right to be worried that she might try something alone, by herself, without backup.
As she goes through some books that belonged to Adalind’s mother, she puts together some pieces, including the possibility of using blood as a means to open a portal through a mirror. When she gets back to Munroe and Rosalee’s place, eager to tell them what she’s learned, and finds they aren’t there, she goes ahead and performs the improvised spell alone. She cuts herself, wipes her blood on the mirror… and for a moment nothing happens. Then, just as she’s wondering what she did wrong – which, by the way, includes both doing this alone and opening a door she, and therefore the creature on the other side, could step through – the portal opens. And she steps through. Alone. With only a handful of clues left behind to inform anyone.
Eve! Yes, we know you are eager to get this done, but you don’t have to be so freaking stupid about it! Sheesh!