The golden beauty of “Stay” lingers for one more scene. The flashback to Caroline riding a bike for the first time without training wheels while her mother watches concludes. Caroline fell off the book, scraped her knee, her elbow, and she thought she’d die from the fall. Liz tells her daughter that she won’t, which leads to Caroline wondering if her mother will die. Yes, Liz says, but not for a very long, long-time, not until Caroline’s grown up. Caroline replies, but I’ll always need you, Mom. Alas Children, no matter how old, always need their mother and father.
Damon’s best dialogue of the episode was during the teaser. The eulogy he wrote for Liz represented him completing the eulogy he didn’t finish for his mother. He gave a gift to Caroline, which he did not give to his brother. Damon’s dialogue shined in the teaser and resonated more than a repetition of a scene the audience saw a week earlier. Caroline goes for a glass of water. Damon sits at a table, stumped about the eulogy. Caroline doesn’t want to bond with him on the worst day of her life. Damon cautions her that the day of her mother’s funeral won’t be the worst day of her life. The day of the funeral and the day after are filled with friends, family, well-wishers, and no one wants to make her feel alone. The weeks after are when she’ll feel it the worst. Caroline eventually turns off the switch so that she won’t experience the worst parts.
Julie Plec and the writers divided “Let Her Go” into three separate parts that did not cohere. The A story follows Caroline’s mourning for her mother, the funeral, her feelings about Stefan, Stefan’s uncertainty about her, Elena’s concern for Caroline; The B story involves Kai asking his sister for her magic because he doesn’t want to die, and he knows she doesn’t want the coven to die with him; the C story involves Bonnie trying to leave the hell loop dimension, and she’s randomly thrown back to 1903 to meet Damon’s mother. Damnit. His reminiscence always leads to a long-dead character becoming a thing for him.
The A story celebrates Liz’s life. The police department honors her. Matt cries and feels inspired to join the police force. Caroline struggles to keep it together. Stefan’s reluctance to tell her what she wants to hear further motivates her decision to turn the switch off. The story is a progression of Caroline’s grief and it culminates in her snapping Elena’s neck. Before she left for her house, she told Elena that she’ll never forget what she did for her. Elena realized her friend wanted to turn it off. Caroline shoots back at her, during the solo intervention, about Elena turning off her switch and about Elena wiping her memories during her most trying times. That’s the only way that scene could go. Caroline choosing to mourn the hard way has great narrative potential, but Plec and staff chose the other option. Caroline without the switch should be fun for an episode, but the ‘turn the switch off’ story isn’t engaging long term.
The writers contrived to get Caroline to the right emotional state. Stefan had to doubt. She had to feel alone. The Stefan thing services a certain segment of the fanbase. His great love in The Vampire Diaries was Elena. Elena’s love for Damon was explained by her vampiric transformation. Stefan did not transform. If he feels love for Caroline, his insane fanbase will think he didn’t truly love Elena. Shipping for characters isn’t an issue, but a writer directly writing to a particular shipping subset is bad. Stefan needed to hear Caroline sing to know. He’s too late, of course, because she already snapped Elena’s neck and flipped the switch (plot contrivance, delay what fans want, blah blah).
Bonnie came home at episode’s end after traveling between time. She experienced two recurring cosmic events within minutes: the wondrous northern lights and the eclipse. Oh, the eclipse. Bonnie endured a stretch isolation, she almost died, she broke two toes, and had an ear infection. She tried to kill herself until her broad-chested bodybuilder boyfriend rescued her before disappearing into the toxic gas that accumulated in the garage. Bonnie accidentally filmed Damon’s mother from 1903 because why not. I expected his mother to transport to the present with her. She probably did. Bonnie’s the most badass independent character on this show.
The Kai storyline took a not wholly unexpected turn. The magic merge still affected him. The side effects include vomiting blood, in addition to the empathy he developed. Jo healed him. Alaric didn’t interfere. Jo didn’t question or look sideways at her brother. Kai explained the stakes clearly: he dies, she dies, they all die. The decision to give Kai more power did not bother Alaric. Alaric stood by as a protective boyfriend would, but he only wanted to keep an eye on Kai in case of murder. Alaric and Jo didn’t bother to discuss the inevitably that Kai will cease to feel emotions soon and how that will indeed be a very bad time for them and everyone they love. Perhaps it’s not a matter. Jo gave to Kai the only thing he wanted: magic.
Kai parts with good news for Jo and Alaric. Alaric, between helping Jeremy begin a clandestine vampire hunting life, impregnated Jo. Pregnancy storylines seem a bad idea in a soap, especially a teenage supernatural soap, but Alaric committed to Jo. He proposed. She accepted. Meanwhile, Caroline’s about to change her hair style and get all switched off.
-Gosh, what a terrible last sentence to the review.
-The title was reflected in various parts of the episode. Caroline had to let go of her mother. Elena had to sort of let go. Hell loop dimension had to let go of Bonnie. Kai, in a way, let go of Jo. Stefan began to let go of his love for Elena for a chance to experience love with Caroline. Tyler did not let Liv go.
-Tyler looked perplexed when Matt handed him an application for law enforcement. Matt’s first move could be not taking Enzo’s shit.
-Julie Plec wrote and directed the episode. It was her directorial debut. I’d like for more creators/co-creators to write and direct multiple episodes a season. Joss Whedon did it. Greenwalt did it, too, for ANGEL. Let’s go, Plec.