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TV Review: The Vampire Diaries – “As I Lay Dying”

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The CW’s The Vampire Diaries did most of its blood shedding last week, killing off four characters, including poor Aunt Jenna (Sara Canning, who will be missed), an original series regular. So what was left for the season finale, “As I Lay Dying,” last night? Instead of massive amounts of death, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) slowly grows weaker as the poison of the werewolf bite consumes him. His brother, Stefan (Paul Wesley), goes to evil original vampire/werewolf hybrid Klaus (Joseph Morgan), quite likely the most dangerous being on the planet, as Klaus’s blood is the only thing that can cure Damon. But Klaus will only hand it over if Stefan gives up the restraint he has carefully constructed and go wild evil himself. It’s a tough decision. Can Stefan save his brother knowing that the consequence may be Stefan will not be able to stop killing innocent humans?

Long have viewers heard of the “evil” Stefan, who is a ruthless hunter, ripping out scores of throats of hapless victims. Never has he been seen. Klaus begins activating him by forcing Stefan to chug blood bag after blood bag, sparking the lust and powerful instincts within him. There is no telling if Stefan can come back from this. He has before, but it is unknown how. It is easy to believe Stefan is just playing along at first, knowing his limits. But to save Damon’s life, Stefan may have passed what he can handle.

At first, it is easy to believe that Stefan is just playing along with Klaus’s game. He has to drink, or Klaus would stop humoring him completely But at some point, it must become more than Stefan can handle. How else to explain Stefan chasing down and killing an innocent human woman at the end of the episode? This is not a price the Stefan featured these past two seasons would deem acceptable. Yes, it is his brother’s life on the line. But Stefan has always been a pacifist who would find another way. This is a sure sign that the blood has taken over, and a different Stefan has emerged.

As for Damon, no surprise, he is healed. Damon is one of the “essentials” in The Vampire Diaries, and is in no way expendable. Katherine (Nina Dobrev) brings him Klaus’s blood after she escapes Klaus. What is interesting is that Katherine goes to Damon at all, instead of selfishly fleeing. She obviously cares for him somewhat, a fact that has been in doubt for quite some time. It is unlikely Katherine is looking to stick around with Damon for any length of time, but she has some respect for his life, or she wouldn’t even have taken the time to stop by.

Elena (also Dobrev) cares for Damon while he’s sick, and even kisses him as she believes he is dying, just before Katherine shows up. The show has always had some romantic tension between Elena and Damon, but this is the first time she has really allowed herself to return any of his affections. One wonders how involved Elena may get with Damon next season, as they will surely by looking for Stefan, spending long hours together, and the more she hears about what Stefan is doing now, the less she may want to see her boyfriend. His brother is sweeter.

In “As I Lay Dying,” an extremely important series of events occurred that will have long last effects on the entire cast of The Vampire Diaries, and has nothing to do with the Salvatore brothers or a Dobrev character, believe it or not. Sheriff Liz Forbes (Marguerite MacIntyre) aims her gun at Damon, but instead fatally shoots Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen). Bonnie (Katerina Graham) does a magical spell to bring Jeremy back, angering the witches and upsetting nature. Because the supernatural saves an innocent, Liz is able to begin to accept her vampire daughter, Caroline (Candice Accola). But Jeremy is soon visited by two dead ex-girlfriends: Vicki (original cast member Kayla Ewell) and Anna (Malese Jow).

There is no telling what Vicki and Anna are or what they are doing here. Are they ghosts? Figments of Jeremy’s mind? Can he now see the dead because he was dead and some part of his brain remains tuned into death? Will they just appear to him? Will others see them? Will they be nice or mean to Jeremy? Will they help or hurt people? Will others follow them? The questions are endless.

Bonnie made the mess, and no matter why the girls have shown up, it is a mess. Seeing dead people is never a good sign in any story, The Vampire Diaries will be no different, and it is inconceivable that it will not have to be fixed. Bonnie has grown arrogant with the great power she now has. Will this be a turning point for her, when she realizes she needs to think about the consequences of her actions, instead of just doing whatever spell she feels is necessary in the moment?

Liz has been determined to wipe out vampires in her town for a very long time. Her going soft on Caroline could have repercussions. As part of the Council, by now she has to have told others, most likely at least Carol Lockwood (Susan Walters), about Caroline, Stefan, and Damon. So will Liz be able to stand up for her daughter, when everything she has worked for her entire life has been against what her daughter has become? Can she fight against the people that were her co-conspirators in keeping the town safe? It’s a very tough position to be in, but at least Caroline has opened Liz up to the fact that vampires are people, too. They are not all soulless, murdering monsters.

Finally, Alaric (Matthew Davis) hasn’t had a lot of self-driven plot as of late. With girlfriend Jenna dead, he seems to be offering Jeremy a father figure. Hopefully, we can look forward to some good development for the teacher slash warrior, who has proven with his large heart and loyalty he deserves a place in The Vampire Diaries.

The Vampire Diaries has been renewed for a third season and will return to the CW in the fall.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
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