The plan to defeat the Travelers is in full force, bringing back an array of familiar faces and killing a few along the way. Here is a recap and review of the Vampire Diaries season finale “Home.”
From the Other Side, Stefan observes the mourning over his dead body. A gusty wind pulls on him, but he’s saved by LEXI! With Damon threatening physical harm, Bonnie reveals that Enzo has a Traveler willing to help. Surprise. It’s SILAS. He wants a redo at death. Liv’s all grumpy from Luke’s slow driving, but their fleeing reaches a halt when Elena and Caroline surround the car. Elena fails to enlist their help, so Caroline snaps Luke’s neck to change Liv’s mind. Success. While Travelers move the town sign to match the spell’s border, Markos throws Julian past it, and Julian experiences Tyler’s supernatural birth in reverse. Shrinking fangs. Sizzling. Broken neck. Dead.
Lexi leads Stefan around the Grill in search of Alaric. Along the way, she brings up Caroline, but Stefan’s clueless. Damon holds class at Whitmore, explaining the plan to kill the travelers: have Sheriff Forbes gather them in one place, break the gas line under town, and blow them up. The promise of an open bar at the Grill achieves step one. During a tender moment, Damon tells Elena that he volunteered to trigger Project KaBoom. Not okay with that, Elena asks if he sees a future with her. He has from the moment he laid eyes on her, but she should respect his choice, and he promises to come back to her.
Checking on Silas and Bonnie’s spell learning, Enzo’s pulled by the wind. Bonnie and Silas rush to save him, and in the process, Bonnie lets Silas get sucked away instead. It’s time. Liv starts chanting with invisible Luke’s moral support. Matt and Jeremy break the gas line and flee. Unable to escape, Sheriff Forbes gives Damon the all clear. He hops in his car … and so does Elena. Hand in hand, they drive into the Grill and boom! Travelers pass through Bonnie, so do Elena and Damon, and they’re sent back to where their bodies lie. Elena runs into ALARIC, who’ll help his buddy, while she returns to Bonnie.
Despite knowing the anchor won’t survive the toll this plan takes, Bonnie wants Grams to come through, but Grams has another act in mind: to help Bonnie find peace. Luke, seeing Liv losing strength, passes through to the land of the living, along with Elena, Stefan, Alaric, Enzo, and Tyler – the latter of which is human again. A weakening Bonnie urges Lexi to come through, but Lexi opts to shove Markos into the abyss and find peace by not killing Bonnie before her BFF gets his brother back. Just as Damon finds Bonnie, Luke stops the spell. Damon’s stuck. Elena turns into an emotional wreck unable to hear Damon’s heartfelt goodbye. Damon and Bonnie grab hands, bracing for what’s coming. Everything turns bright white.
Starting no less intense than last week’s episode ended, “Home” was a gripping hour of television, fittingly capping off the season, while still ensuring that we’d have plenty to ponder over the summer hiatus. It freed the regular characters of the external mythology, like Silas and the Travelers, that bogged down their own chance to shine this year and thus will seemingly allow the first arc of season six to refocus on the characters building their lives. The episode itself, along with what it set up, made me more excited about the series’ potential than any other episode this season has.
Part of what makes this episode shine is that after being one step behind the big bads all season, “Home” turned the tables and put the protagonists on the offense. Most audience members prefer to see their heroes acting heroically instead of being outmaneuvered, so ending the season with them formulating a (rather alarming) plan and working as a team to carry it out was undoubtedly the right move. In addition, for the first time in a while, Elena and Bonnie were given exemplary and admirable material. They were bold in their decision making and took control of their own fates. Steadfast and sacrificial Bonnie demonstrated her commitment to the side of good, and Elena took a risk, a step outside her comfort zone for her own sake, even though it wasn’t rewarded. It doesn’t matter what ship you ship, it’s impossible to deny that that goodbye scene between devastated Elena and ghost Damon was a highlight of the episode. Not only was it incredibly well done on the writing front, but also the acting was raw and flawless and the moment was well deserved, both in terms of how their relationship unfolded this season and how he promised to come back to her.
I could not be more thrilled that Matt Davis is coming back as a series regular; Alaric possesses a sass and edge and different perspective that balances out with some of the more naïve characters. There’s a gold mine of material in him figuring out his new life and reacting to the changes since his death. Speaking of changes in series regulars, the lack of postmortem articles saying Ian Somerhalder and Kat Graham are leaving the series is a good sign they’ll be sticking around in some capacity. Given that Grams hinted at having something up her sleeve, whether a spell, a last minute anchor swap, a loophole, or a wormhole, they’ll hopefully reemerge in Mystic Falls sooner rather than later. Having Bonnie as a ghost for the first part of this season made her too isolated to sustain audience interest for that long. While the only hope for seeing Lexi again is flashbacks, I find comfort and amusement in knowing there’s a possibility that Lexi and Jenna have become new BFFs.
The most noteworthy aspect of season five was the sheer volume of mythology that was packed into it. The characters faced threats from multiple doppelgangers, the Augustine Society, the Travelers, and the Other Side. Listing them all out makes this look like a game of “one of these things is not like the other.” If it weren’t for the existence of the Augustine Society, this could have been an impressively coherent, perfectly paced, and nicely flowing season of The Vampire Diaries. It’s easy to look at this season in three segments according to who’s the big bad. First, there was Silas, then Katherine, then Markos, and with him, the drama with Other Side. The fact that the Augustine Society storyline overlapped with the first two kept it from reaching its full potential and made it feel tacked on to what was already happening. Plus, aside from introducing us to Enzo and establishing Damon’s friendship with him (which is why I’m willing to accept this storyline), the actual scientific testing didn’t carry any weight after the story’s conclusion, i.e. after everyone else involved died. At least with Silas, he played an important role in the finale that honored his original goal to move past the Other Side, and Katherine’s death started our questions about the afterlife.
This criticism doesn’t mean that it wasn’t still an enjoyable season, because it was. In typical fashion, it was highly unpredictable and generally mind-blowing, heartfelt and heart wrenching. Everyone’s love life had its fair share of ups and downs – enough breakups, makeups, and scandalous hook ups to keep you entertained. Perhaps the most amusing bit was Katherine struggling to live as a human, and here lies my greatest praise for the season. The more a character appears, the more that there’s a tendency to make him or her sympathetic, more relatable and “human.” The introduction of Nadia and evolution of Katherine as a mother was a prime example of moving my favorite doppelganger in this direction. But, Katherine’s a character that I never wanted to feel sympathy for because that would, in a way, reduce the value in the aspect that I’m drawn to and fascinated by in her: her unrelenting conviction to do whatever it takes to achieve her goal. The presence of sympathy, a sadness derived from seeing someone recognize his or her own misfortune, would indicate that she wavered or questioned herself. Luckily, she went out before I had the chance to ever dislike her, and she went out fighting, no doubt in heels.
Maybe it was necessary to surpass all of this convoluted mythology in order to make the upcoming stories more simple, more meaningful, and more absolute. It finally revamped the series to a place where death is actually something to be feared, where there’s an adult presence in these teens’ lives, and where Matt is not the only human. On a final note, I’m curious to see if this season comes across differently when it’s marathoned.