Kevin Williamson promised "epic epicness" on Twitter. If the TVD writers earned a nickel for every plot twist in a single season then they could buy themselves a few combo meals at Quizno's. The twists continue. The epic epicness becomes more epic. At one point, my mother (who barely watches the show) wondered if "The Last Dance" was the season finale because of the heavy plot being dealt with in a single episode.
The show continues to build, build and build the tension and anticipation of the conflicts between Klaus and the rest of the group. The stakes continue rise like a thermometer in the Canyonlands of Utah. I've said it maybe seven times thus far but TVD is a clinic in excellent arcing and structure. TVD smartly uses simple devices to drive their episodes sometimes. The writers manage to subvert audience expectations. The body-shifting device can be tiresome and lazy in some genre shows, depending on the quality of the writing staff but TVD made it feel fresh, fun, exciting and tense.
The previews for "The Last Dance" spoiled the Alaric twist. Klaus possessed Alaric's body to scout the group of do-gooders and figure out their plan of attack against them. The device is seemingly ageless because no matter how many times a show uses the body-shifter device it is exciting and tense. Alaric, while useless for the majority of the season, is actually very useful when an original vampires to use someone to scout the opponent. As a simple history teacher, he interacts with Elena, Bonnie, Stefan and Jeremy multiple times per day. For a major function like a school dance, he can act as chaperone. Plus, Alaric's such an unassuming individual that Klaus would have to behave strangely for the other characters to suspect anyone. Any time Klaus-as-Alaric entered a scene, one's anticipation went up a notch. Klaus found himself in some favorable situations. He learned about Bonnie's power. Katherine, under compulsion, provided him a decent amount of information as well. In turn, he made her stab herself in the leg repeatedly. Once Klaus gathered enough information, he planned to murder Bonnie.
Now, TVD has killed many characters over the course of the series so far. They've also tricked the audience into thinking major characters were dead only for the show to resurrect said characters. I expected the show to kill Bonnie because the various scenes suggested her death was inevitable in this very episode. Naturally, the show's twist was that Bonnie actually survived. She had a massive throwdown with Klaus before the great power within her caused her death. Or not. Bonnie lived but she had to make Klaus believe that she died in order for the gang to regain the advantage. Only she and Damon knew though so Elena wasn't spared from the intense pain she felt when watching her best friend willingly sacrifice herself for her life. When Bonnie turned around seconds before her death to share one last glance with Elena, there was something so Jossian and LOSTian about the moment. TVD shares commonalities with both shows. TVD's about sacrifice, love, friendship and family. Despite each show's supernatural overtones (for lack of a better word), each have very spiritual elements as well as Christian elements like resurrection and martyrdom. The women of TVD, specifically, have traveled down their own martyrdom paths this season. That theme bonds the women together and, in some sense, makes femininity more empowering than simply having powers (if that makes any sense at all).
Aside from such musings, Bonnie's story was both thrilling and gut-wrenching, especially with poor Jeremy's investment in her survival. It'd be cruel to kill off his last two girlfriends. Bonnie's come a long way from the girl who used to wonder about her psychic premonitions in the initial episodes of the series. She's now as strong and influential as Elena Gilbert.
Damon briefly played hero. He brought the idea to Bonnie and the idea succeeded. Afterwards, the dormant triangle between he, Elena and his brother emerged from hibernation as Damon told Stefan that he'd be responsible for saving Elena's life at the end of the day and not Stefan. Later, he told Elena that he'd let the witch die before her because he loves her. She and Damon shared a dance at the 60s dance before Klaus ruined the fun. The triangle is quite active again.
As for Klaus, he's definitely dangerous but he felt like a small threat in the body of Alaric. Once he's in his own flesh, he'll be more tangibly dangerous. He was a vulnerable figure in the body of Alaric. It's time for the badass Original to show up. Klaus told Katherine that he'd rather not remove the dagger from Elijah's body because Elijah has the nasty habit of trying to kill him. Unfortunately for Klaus, Elena removed the dagger from Elijah (thus restoring that quarter-throwing so and so's life). If the witch is out of commission for the time being then it won't hurt for an original to be on their side.
Meanwhile, Sheriff Forbes and Matt continue to keep tabs on Caroline and that's it. I expect the culmination of this particular arc to end with blood spilled. Caroline may not be able to recover from betrayal by her mother and boyfriend. But this is a wait-and-see.
Overall, "The Last Dance" was packed with plot. The Klaus arc didn't advance very much but the internal conflicts between the characters advanced like the tension between the Salvatore brothers because of Elena, Jeremy-Bonnie, the Caroline arc. There's plenty of story left for the final three hours of the series. Michael Narducci wrote the episode. John Behring directed it.
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