The doppelgangers escape from Marcos, only to face threats to their lives from Liv and Luke, as well as the Traveler’s now completed spell. Here is a recap and review of the Vampire Diaries episode “Promised Land.”
Damon takes a possessed citizen hostage to help him find the doppelgangers, but the man says it’s too late to stop the spell that will kill all vampires. Having already been drained of much blood, the doppelgangers are secretly freed by Maria, the wife of Tyler’s possessor. Stefan and Elena wander the streets, weak and lost. While trying to hitchhike, Elena takes a moment to consider her toxic relationship with Damon – her blood can literally destroy him. Stefan jokes that she can’t take all the credit. Then, they move on to wishing Caroline, the ray of sunshine, was with them. Maria drives up and tells them to hop in.
Matt and Jeremy fill the Salvatore mansion with dead Traveler bodies because Damon hopes Marcos wants them back. The plan sort of works. Marcos finds Damon’s handwritten note and comes to the mansion, but Marcos doesn’t need the bodies for his plan. He reveals that the spell will ripple outward undoing magic, allowing his people to colonize anywhere.
Caroline suggests to Bonnie that they kill Tyler to get Julian out, then bring him back from the Other Side with Liv’s spell. Bonnie finally spills the beans that the spell doesn’t exist. Over waffles, Liv and Luke discuss how upset their coven is about the doppelgangers being taken by the Travelers, which means they have only one move left: kill a doppelganger to stop the spell. They crash Maria’s truck just as their magic and the daylight rings sputter out. The vamps are okay, but Maria’s a casualty.
With his heightened hearing, Damon hears Julian propose using the element of surprise. Marcos doesn’t know Julian’s there, so Damon slides Julian a key to free himself, then Julian tries to attack Marcos, but his fangs have vanished. Chanting Travelers fill the town square, squashing vials of doppelganger blood in their hands. It’s happening.
While Matt and Jeremy head into town, Damon and Elena try to outrun the spell, and Stefan opts to stay behind to wait for Bonnie and Caroline. Caroline arrives, and so does Julian. He becomes enraged when he learns of his wife’s death and starts a fight with Stefan that ends with him ripping Stefan’s heart out. Caroline watches Stefan die, then he crosses over through Bonnie. What?!
“Promised Land” served as an amazing set up for the finale, ensuring that everything that could go wrong at this point did go wrong. For all of the drama that took place, there was a surprising amount of comedy that was utilized in the beginning of the episode in order to create a more radical shift in tone once the Travelers began their spell. It left off with quite an unexpected cliffhanger that further compels the audience to tune in next week to see how this will all play out.
Stefan can’t actually be dead dead, right? (I know I mentioned it a few weeks ago, but it fascinates me that The Vampire Diaries has different levels of dead and the audience still understands them all.) Considering the severity of the fan backlash that would occur if Stefan was gone forever, I doubt that this is the case, but, nevertheless, it didn’t reduce the amount of shock that that moment caused. It was perhaps the most unexpected moment of the season, or at least second to Katherine being the one to receive the cure. It just goes to show the level of bold storytelling that this show operates under, especially since Bonnie and Tyler are also facing uncertain futures, and it’s plausible that one of them could possibly die die.
Aside from the ending, the most noteworthy aspect of “Promised Land” was that it finally spelled out in crystal clear terms the effect of the Travelers’ spell. Waiting so long after the Travelers’ introduction to reveal the extent of damage they intend to generate has had both positive and negative repercussions. While the audience’s lack of knowledge contributed to the mysterious perception of the Travelers and hopefully fostered a sense of intrigue about them, it has also been hard to grasps why they should be feared as much as Liv has been saying. But, now that the fate of literally every character on this series is in jeopardy because of the spell’s power to wipe away the magic that’s kept them all alive, the Travelers’ threats has been materialized and amped up enough that they can truly be seen as worthy antagonists.
The Liv and Luke diner scene created a desire to meet the rest of their family and/or their coven. Since Luke was not shy about expressing some less than warm feelings toward the coven after he had witnessed how great it was that the Salvatore family and its adopted members are always trying to protect one another, it made me curious to learn more about Liv and Luke’s life struggles. They have both been delightful additions to this season, so hopefully they continue to stick around. Even though witches have been a fixture in the town since the beginning of The Vampire Diaries, we have yet to see how a full-fledged coven operates. Disclaimer: I’m very behind on The Originals, so I’m not sure if they’re doing this over there. But still, I find it to be a missed opportunity for stories in Mystic Falls. Sure, it’s a show primarily about vampires, but the inclusion of werewolves shifted the series to a more inclusive supernatural one that an exploration of witchcraft seems like it would be an appropriate arc.