Tension is high from start to bloody end in the season finale of “The Vampire Diaries” as the sinister town council prepares their final vampire solution with the help of Johnathan Gilbert’s ancient anti-vampire weapon. By the end of the night, the vampire genocide will leave no family safe — even the ones you least expect.
Completing an incredibly strong 22-episode run, “The Vampire Diaries” ended its first season not just with a bang, but with an explosive, fiery, violent, sexy bang that tied up some story threads and created other deliciously unexpected ones. This was an episode that gave a lot to fans, a tense piece of storytelling that offered plenty of hints and foreshadowing and delivered on clues dropped throughout the season.
In the season finale we had to say goodbye to a few characters (one beloved, others not so much) — but as we all know, nobody is truly forgotten in Mystic Falls, even in death. More importantly, as vampire hunters and vampires and the humans who love them found themselves hurtling toward an explosive climax, Elena and Damon found themselves hurtling towards each other.
(And kudos to episode writers Bryan Oh and Andrew Chambliss, along with director Marcos Siega and the entire “Vampire Diaries” team, for giving us an ending that made us all go back and rewind our DVRs.)
Get ready to squeal, Delena fans.
[Full recap of Thursday’s (May 13) “The Vampire Diaries” after the break…]
Back in 1864, Stefan and Katherine are getting primped and laced up for the Founder’s Day. Or is it Stefan and Elena in 2010? They look THE SAME, who can tell? Anyways, today at Mystic High everyone’s in retro mode to celebrate the town’s 150th birthday. Damon catches up with Stefan, who’s wearing period garb, and the brothers revive last week’s “Hands off Elena” discussion; Damon tells Stefan he doesn’t have to worry about him stealing Elena, because she’s so not Katherine. But as Elena she approaches in full 19th century curls, corset, and hoop skirt, she looks just like her.
Jeremy’s dressing for Founder’s Day when Anna shows up. She suspects that Uncle John killed her mother, but Jeremy explains that it’s only because Uncle John was trying to protect the townspeople from the angry tomb vampires. But Pearl and Anna had left the angry vampires and just wanted to be left alone, and he killed them anyway! Now Anna wants to skip town, and she wants Jeremy to come with her — as a vampire. She gives him a vial of her blood to ingest, and delivers her pitch; vampires don’t have to feel all of these uber-emo feelings he has. They can turn them off if they want to. Plus, doesn’t eternity with Anna sound awesome? Jeremy, however, has reconsidered the vampire thing. As he turns her down (yet again, I might add), Anna vanishes. Poor Anna.
Stefan tells Elena about Damon’s suspicions that Uncle John is her birth father. She wonders if she should confront Uncle John. She might as well have him hate her, since Jeremy hates her too. Stefan reassures her that Jeremy will forgive her on day. Because siblings forgive. Let’s hope it doesn’t take 145 years!
Tyler, dressed as a Civil War era soldier, tries to make up with Matt, but Matt’s still pissed. So’s Jeremy, who shuts Elena down when she tries to patch things up. Who will forgive first, the guy whose BFF made out with his MILF, or the kid whose sister had his memory erased? Jeremy’s still upset at Elena and marches away in his Confederate getup.
Alaric has had his class recreate the famed Battle of Willow Creek for their float, which carries Elena, the newly crowned Miss Mystic Falls, Caroline Forbes, and their dates. Damon chats up Bonnie on the sidelines to thank her for erasing the Gilbert gadget spell, which could have killed him. He tells Bonnie he owes her one and leaves her to watch the parade and look guilty, because we all know she didn’t un-magickify the gadget.
The parade marches past the old Gilbert office, where Uncle John gives Mayor Lockwood the Gilbert gadget, which they plan to use tonight since good intel has it the tomb vampires are planning their attack. Now activated, the gadget will emit a high pitched sound that forces vampires to reveal themselves, at which point the council’s team of cops will inject them with vervain and subdue them. What a perfect way to kick off the Founder’s Day festivities! As Uncle John and Mayor Lockwood hatch their plan to ambush the tomb vampires, Anna walks into the hidden lair of vengeful vamps as they’re planning their attack.
Damon finds Elena at the Mystic Grill after the parade and compliments her outfit. Elena doesn’t that Stefan warned Damon not to steal her away, but she asks him to stop with the flirting for all of their sake. Elena finds Jeremy pushing food around his dinner plate at a table and asks what she can do to fix things between them. Jeremy tells her what she can do: She can go to hell!
Damon overhears the exchange and follows Jeremy outside. He tells Jeremy to cut Elena some slack and grabs him by the arm, threatening to just shut him up. Stefan interrupts and calmly tells Jeremy the truth: none of the Vampire Vicki affair was Elena’s fault, because Damon turned Vicki and Stefan had to kill her to keep everyone else safe. Jeremy doesn’t seem to care; he’d still rather have known the truth. When he leaves, Stefan asks Damon why he’s playing the protector when HE’S Elena’s boyfriend and therefore the only person who gets to threaten people into being nice to her. Even though Damon wants to play nice now, Stefan points out that he’s only doing it to get something in return — Elena’s favor.
Mayor Lockwood and Uncle John take their Founder’s Day vampire-hunting plan to Sheriff Forbes, who objects to using the townsfolk as bait. Sheriff Forbes is mostly worried about their children, who will be out among the townsfolk bait — and since Uncle John is Elena’s dad, you’d think he’d be worried, too — but Uncle John and Mayor Lockwood have already set the plan in motion, using Sheriff Forbes’ own deputies without her knowledge. Uncle John argues that this is what the secret council was created for, or at least that’s his interpretation. Somewhere in here I know there’s a Bush/war/Constitution analogy, but I’m too busy thinking about hot vampire boys to figure it out.
Uncle John speaks privately to Sheriff Forbes to convince her to give the go-ahead. And by “speaks privately,” I mean he punches her in the back of the head and handcuffs her to the ventilation pipes so that she can’t interfere.
Now that dusk has fallen, Damon saunters around the Founder’s Day celebration where Anna shows up to tell him something important: the tomb vampires are planning to attack tonight, and they’re targeting the founding families. Anna only attended their planning party earlier to get the inside scoop, and she knows that once the fireworks go off, the vampires will attack. Damon figures out that Uncle John is planning on using the Gilbert gadget against them, but Damon still thinks it doesn’t work. Anna reveals that the tomb vampires are already in place and preparing to attack.
Cut to the tomb vampires, there and preparing to attack. Their leader warns them that some people may have ingested vervain, but it won’t matter because they’re there to kill, not eat.
Amid the bustle of the Founder’s Day celebration, the now-alarmed Damon walks through the crowd on a mission to find Alaric. This is just like a festival in Stars Hollow, only with vampires! Damon sends Alaric to fetch his vervain darts and locates Elena by the sound of her goofy giggles, strolling arm in arm nearby with Stefan. Damon grabs Elena’s free hand and under Stefan’s direction to spit it out in 15 words or less, explains: “Tomb vamps are here. Founding families are the target. Get her out of here. Now.” Fifteen on the nose! Stefan and Elena run off to find Jeremy.
At the Mystic Grill, Caroline sits in a booth consoling Matt, who’s still stewing over his BFF feud with Tyler. Mayor Lockwood arrives in search of Tyler, who’s ignoring Matt by playing pool. When Tyler defies his father’s order to go home, Mayor Lockwood grabs his arm and Matt and Caroline jump to Tyler’s side. Geez, these Lockwoods are hot heads! (I wonder if it’s a full moon tonight?) Mayor Lockwood calms down and nicely asks his son to go home; sensing his father’s worry, Tyler complies and heads out with Caroline and Matt.
Anna finds Jeremy coming out of the bathroom post-urinal (gross) and takes him into the ladies’ room (hot!) to explain it all (not so hot).
Meanwhile, Mayor Lockwood has begun the Founder’s Day proper celebration with a speech about how awesome Mystic Falls has been for 150 years. Angry tomb vampires stand undetected among the crowd of tasty, fleshy humans. Mayor Lockwood gives the signal to start the fireworks and start the vampire party while Uncle John waits in the old Gilbert building, preparing to activate the Gilbert gadget.
The leader of the tomb vampires shadows Mayor and Mrs. Lockwood as they hurriedly make their escape before the killing begins. Bonnie, meanwhile, is shuffling her Debbie Downer way through the crowd when she accidentally bumps into the tomb vampire, distracting him long enough to allow the Lockwoods to escape. As she apologizes, Bonnie’s witchy Spidey sense is activated and she follows the tomb vampire out of the celebration.
Damon walks into the old Gilbert office to confront Uncle John, but John activates the Gilbert gadget and a horrible sound brings Damon to his knees. It’s like nails on a chalkboard mixed with the most annoying sound in the world, as screamed by Lloyd Christmas himself. Outside the sound drops Stefan, who was halfway out of the celebration with Elena, and Anna, who was in the middle of explaining to Jeremy why she dragged him into the ladies’ room. Uncle John injects Damon with a syringe full of vervain while Mystic Falls deputies do the same to the tomb vampires outside.
Miles away, as he’s speeding toward home in his dad’s car, Tyler hears the noise — but neither Caroline nor Matt can! It’s as if Tyler has SUPER DUPER HEARING! Tyler’s head contorts in pain and he loses control of the car, which crashes into a gate.
Elena tends to the still-writhing Stefan as the crowd begins to notice him. A deputy starts speed-walking towards them, but Alaric stops him and directs him to another vampire. He and Elena drag Stefan down into a stairwell for cover, and Alaric and Elena figure out what’s going on: the town council is rounding up all the vampires. (Duh.) Meanwhile, police officers rush to Mayor Lockwood’s side and inject him with vervain, because he’s fallen completely unconscious from the sound, blood pouring from his also-SUPER DUPER sensitive ears. Surely he’s not a vampire! BUT WHAT IS HE??
Officers also find Anna and Jeremy in the ladies’ room. One cop injects Anna and drags her away as another restrains Jeremy, who has no idea what the hell is going on. Elsewhere, Uncle John stops the gadget and removes the key, placing it back into the Johnathan Gilbert pocket watch. Bonnie is gonna be in SO much trouble.
Uncle John makes his way downstairs to the basement, where the cops have dragged in all of the vervain-drugged vampires. Damon begins to come to and watches as Uncle John spots Anna among the vampires he’s about to torch. Uncle John goes out of his way to grab a stake and coldly stabs Anna in the heart! Poor Anna turns her head and dies within seconds. Uncle John douses the remaining vampires with gasoline and sets them on fire. As the flames make their way toward our precious, helpless Damon, Damon turns his head toward the camera, as if begging US to help him! Okay, maybe he’s just looking at the wall. I prefer to think he’s making eye contact through the magic of television.
Meanwhile, Elena and Alaric are still sitting with Stefan, who’s getting back to his normal self now that the sound is gone. More importantly, how long have they been sitting there? Hop to it people, Damon’s getting fried! The trio figure out more of what we already know — that Uncle John used the device to get the vampires, which means Bonnie didn’t “unspell” it like she said she did — and Elena sends Alaric to find her brother while she and Stefan search for Damon.
Mrs. Lockwood discovers a now-conscious Sheriff Forbes and frees her from her own handcuffs. Mrs. Lockwood is worried about her husband since the deputies took him along with the vampires and she hasn’t seen him since. Down in the fiery basement, the vervain is starting to wear off and Damon spots Mayor Lockwood among the remaining living prisoners. He admits to the Mayor that he’s a vampire and asks why the Mayor’s down there. The whole thing freaks Mayor Lockwood out so much that he crawls away from Damon and into the tomb vampire leader’s lap, who promptly breaks his neck.
Speaking of Lockwoods, Tyler is being examined by paramedics at the scene of the crash, where Matt and Caroline are shaken but seem unhurt. Tyler is unconscious on the ground and his pulse is steady, but his eyes — they’re awesome! All black and orangey-red and freaky-looking! And someone’s caked a ton of guyliner around his long and luscious eyelashes! Tyler comes to with his eyes back to normal — but Caroline has collapsed!
Back at the square, Stefan hears the burning vampires screaming and he and Elena head toward the old Gilbert building, where Uncle John stands victorious. Inside, Damon struggles to his knees as the ceiling comes down. Elena and Stefan approach Uncle John, who invites a conflicted Stefan to go ahead and try to save his brother. Uncle John is certain Stefan won’t make it out alive, but (of course!) Stefan goes in anyway. Uncle John grabs Elena as she attempts to join Stefan, but she asks him, as his daughter, not to sic his cops on Stefan. That humdinger stuns Uncle John long enough for Elena to slip by and head in to rescue Damon.
Bonnie stops Stefan as he’s about to enter the burning building, warning him that the fire will kill him. He goes in anyway, because that’s what brothers do! Bonnie then stops Elena as she’s about to enter the burning building. She grabs Elena’s arm and begins chanting a spell that calms the fire long enough for Stefan to vampire speed-walk in and save Damon. Yay!
Stefan and Elena regroup a little later at the Mystic Grill — because no place says “discuss our cover story in public” better than the Mystic Grill — but Damon’s disappeared. The lovebirds talk about how much they both care about Damon, and Elena reassures Stefan that he’s the Salvatore she like-likes the best. Loves, even! Stefan’s jealousy fades, for now.
Back home, Jeremy contemplates Anna’s vial of blood before tossing it in his desk for later. He turns around to find Damon brooding in his doorway. Damon cuts to the chase and tells Jeremy that Anna is dead and that he watched, helpless, as she was killed. He’s come by to do the good Samaritan deed and make Jeremy forget, just like he did before when Vicki died. But a tearful Jeremy tells Damon that even when he erased the memories, he still felt the sad feelings. Damon seems to understand that Jeremy’s thinking about turning so that he can shut off all the hurt, but Damon nips it in the bud; he’d been wrong to turn Vicki. Their heart-to-undead-heart turns to the subject of life; is it easier as a vampire? Damon admits that it was, when he’d turned off his feelings. But now he’s a fully feeling, fully-hurting, super emo vampire like his brother.
At the hospital, Matt and Tyler make up while waiting for word on Caroline. Sheriff Forbes tells them that Caroline is going into surgery to stop internal bleeding. Finally! For the first time in weeks, Matt appears to care about Caroline! Sheriff Forbes breaks the news about Mayor Lockwood to Tyler.
Well, Damon’s “life sucks” pep talk seems to have backfired, because Jeremy takes Anna’s blood out and drinks it. He finds a bottle of Elena’s old painkillers and dumps them all out on the counter.
Back in town, Stefan runs into Bonnie. Or rather, Bonnie runs into him, to explain that she only saved him and Damon because Elena cares about them, but that if Damon keeps being bad — which he isn’t anymore, we promise/hope! — she’ll take him out with her Hogwarts skillz. Ugh. This brand new, surly Bonnie may be way more empowered now than at the beginning of the season, but girl needs to lighten up. Stop staring Stefan down with that stink face all the time! Here’s hoping for a happier Bonnie next season…
Elena comes home to find Damon on his way out after visiting Jeremy, and they stop to have a chat on the porch. Damon thinks it’s such a trip that he used to want to kill Mystic Falls, and now he wants to protect it! He admits that he’s a bad boy. He’s figured out that Bonnie helped Stefan save him because Elena wanted to save him, and steps in close to what some folks might consider KISSING DISTANCE. Damon leans in to thank Elena for saving him with a kiss on the cheek. A kiss on the cheek that leads to FULL ON MAKING OUT!
Aunt Jenna interrupts with her first and only act of responsible parenting all season. She sends Damon on his way with a horrified look, ordering Elena inside. Elena doesn’t want to discuss it. Meanwhile, upstairs Jeremy has taken every single one of the painkillers. He settles into his bed to die and be reborn a vampire.
Downstairs, Uncle John is startled in the kitchen by Elena, who’s suddenly looking all bad-ass in her black leather jacket that I didn’t notice before — or maybe it’s that “I just kissed the bad boy” afterglow. Whatevs. She starts putting away clean knives from the sink. Uncle John breaks the ice by telling her how he met Isobel, and how turning into a vampire totally ruined her personality. Surly Elena thanks Uncle John for sharing, then grabs a butcher knife and chops off his fingers, severing him from his life-preserving magic ring. Uncle John suddenly realizes that this isn’t his innocent illegitimate daughter, Elena — it’s Katherine! She says hello before stabbing Uncle John in the stomach, revealing her veiny vampire eyes.
AND THEN, Elena comes home, gabbing on her cell about how her clothes went missing from her locker. She’s going to check on her now-dying brother and then meet Stefan at the hospital to see how Caroline’s doing. She tells Stefan she loves him before hanging up and heading upstairs, but hears a clatter and Uncle John’s groan and starts walking toward the kitchen… and toward Katherine!
Okay, folks. Start rewinding that DVR.
“The Vampire Diaries” returns next year, so until then, tell us what you thought of tonight and the entire first season!