“The Vampire Diaries” Season Finale – Graduation Day

In which a bunch of kids who never go to class graduate high school, plus vampires and dead guys

The stage is decorated, the chairs are set up, the diploma covers are in bloom as Mystic Falls High School Class of 2011 prepares to graduate. As scattered figures cross the football field (stay classy, MFHS!) Kol takes to the mic. He rants about the supernatural massacres that the so-called good guys perpetrated for their selfish ends. The products of those massacres, the twelve redshirt hybrids and the twelve dead witches, have gathered to finish unleashing hell on Earth. Title card!

As Bon Jovi’s “Shot Through the Heart” (nice callback) blares through the halls of Casa Salvatore, Lexi dances and Stefan drinks.

Damon enters and kills the music. Stefan sarcastically re-introduces him to Lexi, whom he no doubt remembers from shagging her in the 1970s and killing her in season one. She zoops up and throttles Damon a bit before assuring him that any time she has left she won’t be wasting on the likes of him.

Damon acknowledges this and reminds them that Lexi’s continued presence means that something has gone wrong with the re-installment of the veil between here and The Other Side. Stefan reacts with mock horror at his own self-centeredness, celebrating a few precious moments with his dead best friend instead of saving the world. “I should be upstairs, grooming my hero hair!” Damon demands to know if Stefan is drunk. Stefan: “I dunno Mom, am I?” I love snarky Stefan, can he play all next season? Damon wonders what went wrong.

Cut to what went wrong, as Bonnie tells Caroline on the phone that she “hit a snag” in re-raising the veil. Is that a ghostly cell phone or did Bonnie rob her own corpse? Caroline replies that a bad yearbook picture is a “snag”. This is a “tsunami”. Oh Caroline, it’s only been a couple of months since that killer wave hit Japan. Too soon, girl. Caroline objects to graduating in the middle of a “ghost-filled Expression triangle” which leads Bonnie to cast a despairing glance back at her rapidly cooling self. She suggests canceling since she’ll have to wait until the full moon rises to tap the power she needs to finish tidying up. Caroline practically howls with outrage at the thought of canceling and makes Bonnie swear that this will be a “friend day”.

Bonnie hangs up and Grams tells her to go on. She’ll make sure no one finds her body but Bonnie has to…Bonnie cuts her off, saying she’ll tell them but doesn’t know how. Grams means no, be sure to say your goodbyes.

Elena, Jeremy and Alaric are having a picnic at Jeremy’s grave and the boys are tearing into their burgers like there’s no tomorrow.


And yeah, stuffing my face and tossing back a few drinks (which they are also doing) would be two of the three things I’d do one last time in their situation. Jeremy reaches for the bottle but Elena keeps it away, marking the only time in four seasons that a minor has been denied a drink.

They’re having a wonderful time and I’m so happy to have the three of them together one more time but the mood turns somber when Elena starts to tear up. Jeremy reminds her of the no tears rule since they have so little time. Elena assures him that the crying is happy crying since it means her emotion chip is fully functioning.

Her cell phone rings, breaking the happy mood. Let it go to voice mail, Elena! It’s the Grill so she figures it’s Matt. It’s not Matt. It’s Connor, the Hunter she killed in self-defense in an earlier episode. Elena makes her worried face.

Cut to Connor’s old Grimm trailer, which they apparently stashed at a used car lot? Why didn’t they burn that thing out? Original Hunter Alexander marvels at the secret compartment filled with modern weapons, noting how far man has come from “throwing stones”. Oh come on, you’re from 1109, you had way better ways of killing people already. Rebekah and Matt are there as well, Matt being perched atop a pressure switch rigged to a explosives. “Basta andare Rebecca, sarò bene,” Matt implores. She refuses to leave him. Alexander holds up a vial to remind us of the existence of *sigh* “werewolf venom” to set up the next scene where Vaughn shoots Damon with a wooden bullet infused with *sigh* “werewolf venom”.

Next scene. Vaughn shoots Damon with a wooden bullet infused with *sigh* “werewolf venom”. He has a message from Qetsiyah. Presumably the same message Connor delivers to Elena, to deliver Silas and the cure to him or everyone at the Grill gets it. Alaric heads out.

Damon grouses about why Vaughn shot him since he didn’t kill him. No, but you left him to starve to death, as Vaughn reminds him. He was alone on the other side until Qetsiyah found him and reminded him of his “supernatural destiny”: to cure Silas and then to kill Silas. Destiny is immediately thwarted when Stefan takes Vaughn from behind, yanking out his heart. I guess because Vaughn is already dead the Hunter’s Curse is off the table?

Elena keeps Connor on the phone long enough for Alaric to arrive at the Grill. They chest-thump at each other for a minute until Alaric says, “This is my bar; nobody blows it up.” The guy who’s already blown this bar up once triggers his vest bomb but Alaric zoops him out before it explodes, shattering some windows but otherwise averting catastrophe.

Back at Mystic Falls Pre-owned Murder Van Emporium, Alex taunts Rebekah, pointing out that while she’ll likely survive the blast young Matt won’t. “Basta ignorarlo,” Matt says. “Basta pensare a qualcos’altro. Laurea. Quali sono i vostri piani? College? Viaggiare? Solo perché non sono mai uscire da questa città non significa che non si dovrebbe vedere il mondo.” Becky declares that her future plans are now set and they are to show Matt the world, starting with some church in Italy that according to Alexander is popular for weddings (and I think for burying Hunter swords), then she’s going to show him the Northern Lights and the great Wall of China and the Louvre. Matt’s in and Becky says they’ll enjoy it even more because they’re alive (half-right) and not some icky ghost stuck on The Other Side. A pissed off Alex hurls a knife at Matt’s head. Becks catches it but in dodging Matt’s balance on the board becomes precarious and Becky steadies him.

Katherine accosts Bonnie in the halls of MFHS. Bonnie: “And here I was hoping the ghost of anyone would have killed you by now.”

Funny thing you mentioning death, says Katherine, since you owe me that immortality spell and all. Bonnie explains that only Qetsiyah knew the immortality spell and with her not showing up Katherine’s out of luck. This cues a rant from Katherine about how Elena has all the luck and how Elena’s life is so much better than hers and Elena Elena Elena! Calm down there, Jan Brady. Katherine threatens to kill Elena if she doesn’t get that immortality spell and Bonnie threatens to crush Katherine’s skull with her brain but before these ladies can really start mixing it up some random students arrive in the hall. Katherine zoops off.

Elena finds Damon at home and gives him “we need to talk”. Uh oh. Before she can begin Damon hands her the cure as a graduation present. Elena refuses it despite wanting it, because the Hunters have made it clear that they will kill everyone in town if they don’t get it and Silas. Seeing as how one Hunter is blowed up and another is heartless, elevating the threat level assessment seems unnecessary. Just keep blowing up the Hunters and yanking out their hearts until the moon rises. Problem solved. Anyway, Damon tells her he really really wants her to take the cure and she refuses, proving that the sire bond remains broken. Thank god, and can we please kick dirt onto any last smoldering embers and pretend that this sire bond nonsense never happened? Jeremy joins them and rather than encouraging her to take it as Damon wants, he tells her he’ll love her no matter what she chooses.

Lexi ponders dead Vaughn, wondering how long it will take for him to return again from The Other Side. She notes Stefan is missing out on round eleventy-billion of the should Elena take the cure debate. “What am I supposed to do, tell her that it’s her choice? Because that worked out so well.” When, Stefan? When have you or any other man on this show other than Jeremy right this second said that Elena can make her own decisions?

Besides, he’d rather talk about how with the sire bond gone and Elena’s emotion chip installed so she knows how she feels. Lexi asks what it would mean if Elena’s feelings are for him. He would go back to her in a second, but if her feelings aren’t for him then maybe that will motivate him finally to leave town. Sure. Vaughn revives and no one instantly rips his heart out again.

Damon and Elena continue to argue over the cure because he cannot respect her agency any more than his brother can. It is then that Elena notices the rash on Damon’s shoulder from the *sigh* “werewolf venom”.


She orders him to take off his shirt. Damon: “Elena, please, there are children present!” Elena panics and wants to call Klaus but Damon notes he and his spin-off are too far away. Jeremy suggests Damon take the cure. As a human the *sigh* “werewolf venom” will have no effect. Damon declines and, hearing Vaughn stirring and not having his heart instantly ripped out, joins the group in the library. Damon tosses Vaughn the cure and offers to take him to where Silas is buried. They leave together.

Damon leads Vaughn to a quarry, claiming he sank Silas in it and offering a helpful physics formula for calculating how far Silas traveled. “Guess I shoulda told you to bring some scuba gear.”

Mystic Falls Pre-owned Murder Van Emporium. Alex snarks about how cozy Becky and Matt look together and clambers into the Grimm trailer because the plot demands it. “Così, sembra bello” Matt remarks. Becks giggles and admonishes him not to make jokes or she’ll lose her balance. “Sto indossando l’anello di Gilbert e non può essere ucciso da nulla soprannaturale. Quindi, forse, se tu sei quella che fa esplodere la bomba non voglio morire,” Matt speculates. Rebekah immediately vetoes that plane, saying he’ll be blown to bits along with the ring. “C’è solo un modo per scoprirlo,” Matt replies. She babbles something about doing what you’re most afraid of and kisses Matt and since I don’t believe this relationship for a second I am unmoved.


Matt, however, is not unmoved as during the kiss Becky has somehow maneuvered him off the platform. He protests even though this is exactly what he asked her to do literally ten seconds ago. She orders him to run. He does, just as the plot allows Alexander to emerge. Becky says something about falling for one of the good ones and zoops off, leaving the Grimm trailer and Alex engulfed in the explosion.

Elena’s freaked over how Damon and Vaughn just walked right out of the house without anyone ripping out Vaughn’s heart or anything. Stefan tells her that this is a stall tactic by Damon since there hasn’t been time to bury Silas yet. Jeremy declares it settled; she is going to her graduation. Elena doesn’t want to go if he can’t be there but he insists. He hands her her cap and gown.

MFHS, home of the Fightin’ Timberwolves. Caroline harangues Klaus via voicemail, threatening to call every ten minutes until he agrees to come save Damon. She meets up with Bonnie and demands to know where everyone is. “Io sono qui!” calls Matt, and Elena and Stefan join them moments later. There is group hugging.


Mayor Rudy presides over the commencement, because the season is over and there is no budget to hire an actor to play the principal. There isn’t even enough money to let Sheriff Liz see her daughter graduate. Seriously, could someone not have aimed a camera at Marguerite MacIntyre last week for thirty seconds beaming and clapping in front of a folding chair?

Rudy takes an extra moment with Bonnie, telling her how proud he is of her. Bonnie, knowing this is likely goodbye, thanks him for everything. She retakes her seat and as the rest of the students proceed, Kol leans in behind her. He has two dozen dead supernaturals seeded through the crowd, ready to unleash havoc on his say-so. Bonnie reminds him the veil is going back up tonight so maybe he should find something more productive to do with his time. That’s the thing, Kol doesn’t want the veil back up. He wants it down permanently so he and his can live again.

Bonnie leads Kol into the cavern, remarking that the Kol she remembers was opposed to Hell on Earth. Kol, having spent time in Hell, much prefers Earth. He spots Bonnie’s corpse; she tells him she died last night. She doesn’t want to be on The Other Side with unfinished business. More than anything she wants to stay. Well let’s get to it, says Kol, let’s do it together, as he bungs right into a barrier spell Bonnie’s whipped up. It will hold him long enough for her to restore the veil. But what about all those things you said, Kol wonders. She meant every word, “but we don’t always get what we want, do we?”

At the quarry Damon taunts Vaughn about dredging up Silas, then winces as the effects of the *sigh* “werewolf venom” spread. Vaughn spots it and susses that the bullets are dosed. He also realizes this is a delaying tactic and starts pumping rounds into Damon, demanding to know where Silas is. Damon is one round away from death in minutes but before Vaughn can fire Alaric zoops in and takes Vaughn from behind, snapping his neck and hurling him into the quarry.


He’s remembered to snag the cure.

As commencement continues Stefan and Alaric teleconference about what to do about Damon. There’s still no response from Klaus and there’s no time regardless. Should Alaric force-feed Damon the cure?

Before Stefan can answer he, Elena and Caroline are struck by psychic feedback. The Head Witch In Charge who Caroline killed is inflicting the Mother of Mystic Migraines. Before she can inflict any permanent damage, Klaus takes her head off with a flying mortarboard.

“There are plenty more of these to go around. Who’s next?”

Later that night at Casa Salvatore Damon provides us with some much-needed gratuitous shirtlessness.


After assuring herself that he’s all healed up, Elena slaps him square in the face. Lexi delights in overhearing it and a proud Alaric declares he’s the one who taught Elena to chickfight. Stefan chides them for eavesdropping.

Elena joins them and asks after Jeremy. Alaric says he went to find Bonnie. Elena calls Stefan aside. “This could get interesting,” Lexi muses. “It usually does,” Alaric replies, having forgotten on The Other Side just how excruciatingly boring Stefan and Elena’s relationship drama is. They talk about The Other Side and how Lexi believes there must be something else out there, something that passes for peace, and she figures that once they’ve served their time for the bad things they’ve done, it’s just a question of letting go and moving on. Alaric wonders how they’re supposed to do that when the “knuckleheads” they care about can’t get their stuff together. Lexi concedes the point. They’re cute together; I hope they get to hang out on The Other Side.

Speaking of excruciating relationship drama, Elena thanks Stefan for completely and utterly ignoring every decision she has made this season in favor of trying to force her to comport herself to his standard of conduct. God, I hate her. Elena wants Stefan to take the cure because the only person worse at being a vampire than Elena is Stefan. One word: Vicki.

After the ceremony Caroline is cleaning up the caps and gowns for some unfathomable reason when Klaus joins her to exposit that he was already on his way in response to her graduation announcement. Her sending him an announcement might just be my favorite character moment ever, rivaling “you suck” from season one.


She will accept a mini-fridge in lieu of cash but Klaus has another gift in mind. He will allow Tyler to return to Mystic Falls. “He’s your first love. I intend to be your last, however long it takes.” Creepy!

Elena finds Damon in front of the fire and there is talk of selfishness and bad choices and questioning everything. They both know what a terrible mistake they are but as the music swells Elena declares that she loves him and they kiss.

An eavesdropping Stefan hears everything.

Stefan loads Silas into his car to dump him in the quarry for real. Damon offers to come with but Stefan’s taking Lexi. Damon turns to go and Stefan calls after him. He explains that he’s not happy about Elena but he’s not not happy for Damon.

Jeremy tracks down Bonnie to be with her when the veil goes back up. He left a letter for Elena because he couldn’t get through saying goodbye without tears. Ge’s ready. Bonnie concentrates and the torches flare.

Alaric checks the moon and notes to Damon that it’s full. He asks after Elena and Damon says she’s gone to find Bonnie and Jeremy. As Damon pours himself a drink Alaric smiles at him. “You got the girl, man. Now don’t mess it up.” Damon looks down to pour Alaric a drink and the camera passes behind his head; when it clears Alaric is gone.

Lexi throws out possible destination cities in the car with Stefan. New York is too close and Vegas is too touristy. Whatever he decides, she insists, Stefan is leaving town. Stefan wonders if Elena really was the one. Lexi says she was absolutely the one, but there is more than one the one and the only way to find another the one is to let go and move on. The camera shifts to Stefan as he suggests Portland, then he notices Lexi’s seat is empty.

Elena arrives in the school basement in search of Bonnie and Jeremy. Kol finds her instead, hurling her to the ground. He moves in for the kill but vanishes behind the veil. Elena clambers to her feet only to be met by Katherine, who attacks her.

The veil is almost closed and Jeremy has a million things to say to Bonnie and none of them seem right. “Then don’t say anything,” she suggests, and they sweep into each others’ arms for a kiss. The torches extinguish behind them and Jeremy staggers back, gasping for breath. Bonnie tells him she cast a spell and brought him back. Jeremy rushes back to her but his joy is short-lived when he realizes he can’t feel her hands on his face.

She tells him things will be OK. She has the witches and Grams and since he can see ghosts they can talk whenever they want. She asks for one favor, that he tell everyone that she’s traveling for the summer with her mom. “For the first time in forever my friends are OK. I don’t want to take that from them.” As Grams arrives to escort her tp The Other Side, she promises again that everything will be all right. Not to be indelicate, but what about her body? it’s just lying there unattended.

Rebekah arrives at Tyler’s Matt’s place and he agrees to go traveling with her and I still don’t believe a second of this relationship so moving on.


The Doppelganger fight continues and the show has finally remembered that older = stronger so Katherine is cleaning Elena’s clock. She’s also raving about how she never got a prom or a graduation or a life and Elena did and that just is not fair. Jesus, this story was beyond tiresome when Rebekah was living it.

Look, Katherine, it sucks that 500 years ago Klaus figured out you were the Doppelganger and you had to engineer your transformation to thwart him and that set you up for a five century game of Hide & Seek. But if you couldn’t find a single stretch of ten months where you could settle in one place long enough to attend the same high school and go to prom and graduate, maybe that’s on you? Why do you value proms and graduations anyway? It’s not like either you or Rebekah came of age in a time when those things had value or for that matter even existed. Shut the hell up about prom, I guess is what I’m saying.

Also Elena? Why are you not running away?

Katherine snaps off a wooden mop handle and jabs the point into Elena’s throat. This triggers a flashback of Stefan returning the cure to her. She gets the vial, which has somehow survived this ultra-violent confrontation intact, out of her pocket and into Katherine’s mouth, where it easily shatters under the slightest pressure. Katherine collapses and Elena lapses into unconsciousness.


At the quarry Stefan sorts through rubble in the bag that’s supposed to contain Silas. Silena appears behind him and vomits out some truly incomprehensible extension of the immortality/cure mythology and Stefan is Silas’s Doppelganger. Not content with swiping all of Buffy season 7, the show now steals the clifhanger of Angel season 3. Silas knocks Stefan out, locks him in that safe that he has somehow managed to haul from Casa Salvatore and shoves him into the quarry. The safe quickly sinks and fills with water.

And so ends this incredibly frustrating season of The Vampire Diaries. Going into a graduation episode the creators had to know that it inevitably would be compared to the graduation episodes of Buffy and they made a lot of smart choices to thwart those comparisons. Having a series of small confrontation rather than an all-out battle and keeping most of those confrontations away from the graduation ceremony itself being among the more successful. So many of the character moments were great, especially those involving people from both sides of the veil. I did not twig that Katherine would get the cure until the middle of her fight with Elena and I’m looking forward to seeing how Nina Dobrev will play Katherine next season.

I was so interested at the beginning of the season to see how Elena Gilbert would experience the world as a vampire and we got about three minutes of that before it became all about the men in her life refusing to allow her to make her own choices, first literally via the sire bond and then through every action they took relating to the cure. The cure storyline dominated far too much of the season and the Originals continued to be a millstone around the show’s neck. They’re sorted out with the spin-off but now Silas is poised to be every bit as much an albatross as Klaus ever was.

I want season five to be small.