Friday, March 3, 2017

The Vampire Diaries "We're Planning a June Wedding" Review

The Vampire Diaries will end next week after eight long seasons, and “We’re Planning a June Wedding” brought those finale vibes. This episode had nostalgia, callbacks, returning characters, and that sense of something ending. That sense of something ending isn’t unique to television because life is full of beginnings and endings, but the acute awareness of something passing, apropos of nothing, is specific to television at the end of a show’s run. Yet, with all that, it was a sleepy episode.

Also, weddings work as a good narrative device for nostalgia and heartfelt conversations. Damon and Caroline had their moment for Liz. Damon and Stefan had theirs. Damon reflected, in the light of the group staging a wedding for the sake of drawing Katherine out, that Katherine connected every key moment in the series.

This was a ho-hum episode, perhaps because I expected something to happen during the wedding, but I think that was the purpose: the calm before the storm and all those clichés, etc. What would that something be, though? Would Katherine appear and start dropping bodies? No, of course, because Nina promised Julie Plec she’d return for the finale, not an episode more. Instead, we got Kelly Donovan, returned from hell and eager to destroy Mystic Falls, with Vicki, for revenge and Katherine. For Katherine? Allright, whatever. That’s not exactly what I wanted to see. Someone needed to act as a Katherine proxy. But Kelly Donovan?

Kelly didn’t make it to the end of the episode. Vicki started ringing the stupid Maxwell bell to bring about hellfire and the end of Mystic Falls. I guess Katherine wanted to destroy the town because of her torturous time in hell. That wouldn’t improve her mood. Anyway, it’s on par with proper supernatural finale stakes. How will they save the town before it burns away with everyone in it? Will Dorian and Alaric find a way to destroy hell? Will Stefan or Damon dagger Katherine? How will Elena come back? We’ll find out next week.

A wedding happened before that hellfire nonsense, a wedding that paid off a line from season one that did not need any paying off. Caroline and Stefan married. I liked the two together in season six when they were close friends, but giving them epic love, with the clichéd trials epic love faces, made them dull. Plus, I was a Stefan/Elena guy way back in the first three seasons. I knew Stefan and Elena wouldn’t reunite at the end. Julie Plec clearly divided human Elena and vampire Elena by her love for each Salvatore brother.

The wedding had toasts, compelled guests, and residual sadness. Bonnie wanted that day for her and Enzo. Alaric wanted that day for him and Caroline. The writers gave Alaric an out-of-nowhere monologue about how losing people created a new family. The monologue worked as an overarching statement about the main characters and for his little nuclear family that still lacks a wife for him. Memories of his Mystic Falls origin story and of his wife brought out that little monologue from him. I liked Isobel.

Elsewhere, Matt seemingly left his father to die outside. Kelly’s return didn’t do anything for Matt’s personal arc except remind him that his mom sucked and will eternally suck. Maybe him and Damon will make it to the bell in time for Vicki to stop. We’ll have a scene of reconciliation.

I continually expected a slight improvement in The Vampire Diaries in the final episodes, but that improvement never happened. Season eight had one decent episode. Now, with one episode left, I don’t think it will. Sustaining a series for eight seasons, seven of which that had, at least, twenty two episodes (and one season had twenty three) is difficult, and TVD’s writers made it harder to sustain the show long-term by burning through plot so fast in the early years. The difficulty grew as they lost more and more actors and especially their star. Julie Plec, Caroline Dries, and the other writers hurt the series by anchoring so much of the story around Elena as well instead of taking risks and making a show beyond the Elena of it all. I’m not surprised or disappointed that the end is scattered, nonsensical mess. It’s hard ending a show that should’ve ended two years ago.

Perhaps the finale will surprise me, but if “We’re Planning a June Wedding” serves as part one of the finale, the rest may be as underwhelming and worthy of shrugs and the sound of a long sigh.

Other Thoughts:

-I wanted Alaric to appear at the wedding in a suit after his monologue so that I could remark that it was the most unbelievable thing in a batshit series. Tongue-in-cheek, of course.

-Bonnie had magic all along. She needed Enzo to help her realize it. That scene where they danced together was lovely and my favorite in the episode. Also, Enzo is now completely separate from the character who used to make it his life’s work to ruin Stefan’s life. Enzo acts as Stefan’s greatest champion in his private love dimension.

-This episode had more ‘The Ripper isn’t you!’ dialogue for Stefan’s benefit. It’s all so meaningless.

-Those little girls will help destroy hell, won’t they?

-Melinda Hsu Taylor wrote the script. Jen Vestuto & Melissa Marlette received the story by credit. Vestuto worked as a writer’s PA. Marlette is Julie Plec’s assistant. I think it’s really cool when showrunners give assistants credited opportunities, especially near the end. Chris Grismer, who directed many episodes of the show, directed tonight’s episode, his last TVD episode.

-See you next week for the finale and for my final TVD review.

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.