Written by Duana

The finale. I never thought I’d get so emotionally involved in a show I didn’t watch until two months ago…

Previously, if you didn’t know, why are you here? Elena/Katherine doppelgangers, Elijah gives information to kill Klaus and he’ll finish the job, but then of course he doesn’t because he likes his family, Damon shoved some vampire blood into Elena, and Damon got bit by Tyler Lockwood.

Elena stares in at Sleeping Jere. Her straight, straight hair mocks me and the effort I’m unwilling to put into that kind of precision. I guess they’re at their own house, not the mansion – and Elena sadly closes the door on Jenna’s bedroom, which, I don’t mind telling you, has a fabric lei over the headboard. Oh, Jenna. Even in death, you remind me of your earthly, questionable choices.

Damon happens upon Elena and whispers that it gets easier. She hisses back that she doesn’t have time, and she elicits an apology from him for forcing her to drink his blood. He’s sorry – but she says she needs time. Maybe a lot of time. So despite John Gilbert’s pledge, is E a vampire? This is unclear.

Damon comes home to the sounds of a tinkly piano – Vanessa Carlton is somewhere putting together a lawsuit – and immediately hits the scotch. He checks out his secret arm bruise of werewolfy death (it’s still gross) and basks in some sunshine. Then – pulls off his ring and drops it! He begins to scald in the sunlight – and the music tells us he’s feeling pure about it –

-when Stefan jumps him and takes him down. Tells him not to do this. Damon grits that he knows what happened to Rose, but Stefan doesn’t care. He pitches Damon in a dungeon and tells him “You’re not dying today”. Stefan says he has Bonnie looking for a cure, but I’m all excited because Bianca Lawson’s in this episode! You guys, Kendra! If you’re not a Buffy fan, then – the girl from SBTB: TNC! Damon hacks like a sad old man and coughs up blood. Stefan is unmoved –

and suddenly we’re in a beautiful sunny garden – with Klaus? And Elijah. What IS that hair, Elijah? Klaus appears to put on pants, as Elijah tells him he’s been out for two nights of a full moon, was a werewolf, and Elijah’s been ‘cleaning up his messes’. Gross. Now Elijah wants the other half of Klaus’ bargain, and are we thinking this might not work out, in some way? Klaus smugs that nobody can kill him now, and Elijah asks again for their family. Klaus will bring him ‘soon enough’ and Elijah has the look of the duped about him.

Grill. Alaric is hammered. Bartender rolls her eyes. Stefan phones, and Alaric passive-aggressives that nobody let him come to save Jenna. And then Stefan says Damon’s dying, and Alaric finds room in his heart to say “what do you need?” and there’s heartwarming music as we’re out in the sunshine, watching people dressed up and posing at an outdoor screening of “Gone With The Wind”.

Jeremy and Elena have arrived for a ‘three hour distraction from reality’. He believes it’s a ‘girl movie’ but Elena says going through the motions of sleeping, waking up, eating and distractions are the only way to get through the chasm of pain. Presently, Caroline arrives with picnic baskets. Jere still behaves not like a boy who’s lost his last surviving parent but like a kid who’s bummed his free passes to Six Flags were expired. Caroline perks that they ‘made it through the war’, and they’re going to move on and have fun. OK, you guys. Elena steels herself.

Dirty mansion. Bonnie tells Stefan it might not work, what he wants her to do. Which is apparently contacting Emily Bennett. Of course, as soon as Bonnie begins her incantations, lots of camera flames go up and back, up and back. Then, I guess, Bonnie channels Emily. Who says there’s no cure for a werewolf bite. Stefan thinks Bonnie, or Emily, won’t give a cure because it’s Damon, not because there isn’t any. Then, as Stefan pushes, Bonnie screams in pain – they don’t want them there, they think she’s abusing her power. But she heard them – saying “Klaus”.

Sherriff’s office. Mrs. Lockwood and Sherriff Forbes exchange brittle pleasantries (Lockwood’s still wearing an arm sling) and begin snapping about how much Forbes is or isn’t doing to contain and or quell the vampire problem. She gets the old ‘If you can’t, I’ll find someone who will’ snark, and Forbes looks worried.

Stefan saunters into the movie grounds, asks Elena if she’ll walk with him, and Elena basically heaves a giant sigh as she says she can’t deal with more drama at least until tomorrow. Too bad for her, eh? Stefan tells her about how Damon got in the way of Tyler’s werewolf-teeth, and Elena immediately guilts herself because she told him to go away this morning. Stefan lies that there might be a cure, but just in case Elena wants to say goodbye – er, hi….

Then he tells her he’s going to get the cure from Klaus, and she’s immediately sure Stefan will be killed. But Stefan owes this to Damon. All he wants Elena to do is go flirt with his brother.

Damon, meanwhile, hallucinates. Or remembers, it’s your call. He watches a dark haired girl – and at first I thought it was Elena, but it’s Katherine, and they’re speaking in Victorian proper, but since she asks him to undo her corset strings, it gets a little naughty. She asks if he’ll miss her while he’s away in some battle or other, and she hopes he’ll hurry back. He’s all “Won’t you be with my brother?” and then Katherine says she’ll want them both, and then Elena appears in Damon’s reverie, and I know. I know I’m a broken record, but you guys, Elena and Katherine even stand differently. Way to go, Dobrev.

Elena tells Damon Katherine was just toying with him – even as Katherine strokes his face. She says he could say no and walk away. Damon wakes up, and that’s a trip. You’d think is dream Elena could be a little gentler. He checks his wound, and it’s grosser.

Stefan enters what I assume is Alaric’s, because Katherine is still under Klaus’ compulsion and really super-pissed about it. Stefan apologizes that they ran into snags, and Katherine slams him up against a wall. You’d think this would be a bit much considering she got herself into this situation, but in fact it’s because Klaus and Elijah have walked in and she’s all “Hey baby, you’re back!”

Stefan just starts right in with ‘I need a favour for my brother’. Klaus says ‘yeah, tell me about it. I got obligations’. Elijah whines that Klaus promised to reunite him with his family, Klaus stabs Elijah with a silver dagger, so that’s THAT then – geez, this guy doesn’t even look attractive in ash-colour – and then slams Stefan up against the wall all “Now, what am I going to do with you?” Katherine looks appropriately shocked, but because she’s Katherine and I love her, she’s also smirking, just a bit.

So Klaus has the dagger up in Stefan and is apparently tickling his heart from the inside. EW. Stefan begs and begs – he’ll do whatever Klaus wants - , and Klaus pulls the knife out as he pours himself some blood and muses that Stefan might be useless now.

Back at the tomb, Alaric is all jocularity when he goes to see Damon and pours him a drink. They say sometimes all you can provide is company. But I don’t understand why they won’t let him out of his cell. Then I do because Damon indicates he’s on ‘suicide watch’. He then says he’s the reason Jenna got killed, which…sort of, I’d pin that one on Katherine, really – and Alaric doesn’t grieve for Jenna. Really? Damon continues to provoke Alaric, hoping he’ll kill him, and in fact tries to choke Alaric into doing it – but they’re both sort of stumbly and drunk and Alaric stabs Damon’s wrist into letting him let go.

Elena’s about to go into the Savlvatore mansion when she hears something. I’m not going to get into how this girl should NOT BE ALONE AT NIGHT. Anyway, she gets grabbed by – the Sheriff! Then, sheriff has a gun on Alaric, and is all “where’s Damon?” He more or less tells her and more or less gets locked out. As usual.

So then she goes into Damon’s cell, he’s lying there passed out – and then he suddenly disapparates – and is standing beside her to slam her/throw her against the floor. Damn, Damon still has something…

Gone With The Wind screening. Forgot this was happening. So Bonnie (who’s allowed out now, I guess) and Caroline and Jere watch a movie when Alaric calls all in a panic. He wants to know where Elena is, but Jere apparently didn’t think there was anything wrong with her going to see Damon alone, so no. Anyway, Alaric says “Damon’s on the loose, so if you find her, call me”.

Bonnie goes into crisis mode and tells Jere he can’t come. Jere’s all “you do this every time!” I’ve got the DVR paused at 24 minutes and nobody’s even died but Elijah, so I start to get fears going in my stomach. This is, after all, the season finale. He gives a slightly predictable speech about how he can’t be stopped.

Klaus is whispering with Stefan. About a vampire who was always ‘on and off the wagon. A true ripper’ when he was off. Stefan says he hasn’t been that guy in forever. But that’s the guy Klaus wants. Klaus summons Katherine, and bites her. Then makes her suck some of his blood. And with that experiment, we see the only cure for a werewolf bite is Klaus’ blood. Oh, damn…

Damon is consumption-coughing all through the Gone With the Wind screening. He hallucinates a Katherine apparition in front of him. Jere finds him, and tries to help Damon home.

In Forbes’ office, Elena wants to know where Damon is, and I finally have to accept that the actress who plays the sheriff is not so much ‘making acting choices’ as she is ‘trying to stay afloat’, because she is Not Good. Anyway, she barks that Elena should hate ‘them’, Elena says she’s wrong, and GOD Elena, could you not be empathetic for once? Throw a tantrum, child! A getting-his-SAG-card officer says Damon’s at the grill, and Elena is made to remain behind.

Jere and Damon stagger into the grill. Jere calls someone, to say he’s there. Damon looks up to see the Sherriff. He sees her about to shoot, disapparates out of the way – and Jeremy takes the bullet straight in the chest.

So – there we are. Sherriff ineffectually calls for paramedics as Bonnie and Caroline race in, Caro all “what’d you do, mom?” Mom rather pathetically says she was aiming for Damon. Jeremy is alive and trembling, here. Bonnie is doing shit-all except whining in this situation – so Caroline chomps into her own wrist and feeds it to Jeremy. Her mother is semi-grossed out and kind of calm, all ‘what are you doing?’ But Jeremy doesn’t drink.

Alaric rushes in – and the girls are in tears. Bonnie says she has to take him, and poor Sherriff all ineffectually says it’s a crime scene. But Caroline barks at her, and they leave with zero problem…

Elena paces her not-actually-all-that-secured cell before finally busting out via throwing a chair through a window. This, Elena, is what I’m talking about.

Klaus whispers about how Stefan and he are going to have a great decade together as he wields a bottle of his blood for Damon. He fakes Stefan out, pouring it down the drain – but Stefan stops him, and even drinks human blood like Klaus asks. Katherine watches all “sh*t’s gonna get real!” Klaus’ deal is that he’ll save Damon if Stefan does everything he says. Stefan, he’s not exactly trustworthy. Just remember that as you go in for seconds on that human blood. Which he does.

Bonnie’s underground sexy witch lair. She prays to her witches for help. Alaric is all “what is this crazy voodoo?” Bonnie whines (I’m sorry, but she does) that they’re mad at her from coming back, and that there will be consequences for helping her. Alaric, whom I have to assume has PTSD, is all “well, tell them to shut up!” Apparently the current consequences involve an earthquake.

Bonnie’s nose and gums bleed as she cries and pleads for Emily. Jere continues to lie dormant as Bonnie sobs that she loves him.

And then all of the candles blow out.

And Jere lies in Alaric’s arms. And despite how much I was hoping for the other, he wakes up. Bonnie weeps her thanks. Alaric looks like he’s not sure it was worth it.

Elena races through the town square and behind the moviescreen. Damon is framed by the flames of the south. Elena desperately wants to get him out of there and then he flashbacks to Katherine, begging him to chase her – he slams Elena up against a tree like he did Katherine – he and Katherine flirt about blood. Sweaty Damon can’t distinguish between Katherine and Elena in 2011, he wants to bite her neck – Katherine lets him, Elena protests that he’s hurting her. Feverish, sweaty Damon realizes he’s drunk from Elena and falls to his knees, upset. Elena is now in the physically awkward position of pressing on her own neck with her other wrist, and supporting ol’ consumption-face with her other arm.

Caroline tells her mother Jeremy’s alive. Sherriff sighs in relief. She thought she killed him. Caroline’s all “yeah, here’s the thing. I told you all about it, but you were compelled to forget. But now I’m telling you minus the compulsion.” She swears she’s still her mother’s little girl, and the Sherriff lets Caroline hug her. It’s tearful, and it should be sweet, but I can’t buy it.

Jeremy searches “Back From The Dead” on bing, which I have to remember to do. Then Bonnie skypes him, they have a sweet moment, and she says he can thank him tomorrow and the next day and the next day. Which means…

Alaric makes like he’s going to leave Jeremy alone for the night, then says he’ll stay. Makes fun of Jere for his stupid schmoopy conversation with Bonnie. Which I predict he’ll regret.

Elena is curled up with her consumptive, feverish totally platonic friend in his bed. Because it’s totally normal to cuddle your boyfriend’s brother’s head against your bosom, or perhaps that rule applies only when he’s dying. He gasps out that nobody made him love Katherine. He could have chosen to not. He begs Elena to tell Stefan he’s sorry.

But their whispering love of Stefan may be misplaced, as the ‘good’ brother has drained like 20 bags of blood, and I agree with Klaus who thinks he might be enjoying it. Klaus reminds him the choices are ‘Stay in Mystic Falls, watch Damon die’, and “Let Damon live, leave town with me.”.

Klaus compels Katherine to take his blood to Damon. She’s all “you want me to leave?” Stefan barks no, but Klaus says yes. She vamooses. Stefan says she’ll never take it to Damon, but what can he do, really?

Damon is pillow-talking to Elena, whispering that as bad as he’s been, as terrible the choices which make him deserve to die, at least they brought him to meet her. To which she responds by snuggling down into his chest. He loves her, he says. And she nods, visibly in pain. She knows. They lie in bed all cuddled together as he says she’d have liked him in 1864. She whispers that she likes him now, and then, this look comes over Elena, like “what else can I do here?” and she lean in and kisses him, and she doesn’t even look regretful might away. Maybe she thinks it can’t hurt because he’s dying. At which point Katherine saunters in, and you just KNOW she saw, all “Hey, so, anyone want an anecdote, or what?”

Katherine snarks that she thought Elena was dead, who could only say “I was”. Katherine says she owed Damon one and feeds him the remedy. Elena asks after Stefan, and as always, Elena/Katherine conversations give me the shivers. Katherine explains Stefan’s paying for the remedy for Damon. She wouldn’t expect him to come home anytime soon. Then she twists the knife, all “Good thing you have Damon to keep you warm. PS, it’s OK to love them both. I did”. Elena looks all outraged, as though Katherine and she aren’t pretty much the same at any given time.

Damon, covered in sweat but regaining his strength, looks at Elena with the guilt of the man who has only now awakened from a horrible drunken night and realizes what he’s done.

Klaus packs Elijah away in a coffin. He kept his promise to reunite him with their family, har har har. Oh Klaus, never change. Stefan hysterically gets a text that reads “Damon’s okay. Where R U?” Like, does she want him to pick up pizza on the way home? Klaus reveals he knew Katherine was on vervaine, because this ain’t his first rodeo. He’s not worried, because Stefan will help Klaus find her. Stefan’s all ‘about that….’ Klaus wants Stefan to be his buddy all over the world, and to make sure he will, Klaus brings in some girl, drinks a bit from her, and tells Stefan to finish her. And he looks worried, and he wonder- and then he takes her. Shakey cam and all. He looks horrified, but also completely shocked at just how good that just felt. Klaus is now ready to go.

Jeremy’s peaceful bedroom. Sounds and shadows. He yells out of his open door for Alaric, no answer. He also sleeps on top of the covers, which I’m sure is indicative of something. A shadowy figure appears behind Jere, then disappears. Because he’s adorably useless, he doesn’t see it. And wait a second, is that Vicky? But who Jere sees in front of him is that other girl he loved, Anna – and, the end.

No, like, the End. Show’s over.

Whoa. So, Elena’s a traitor, Katherine’s on the run, Stefan’s with Klaus (ish), Jere’s about to have a three-way with his dead girlfriends, and I could have SWORN Bonnie was going to bite it. Seriously, all that tomorrow-and-tomorrow-and-tomorrow business did it’s work on me.

My favourite part, probably not surprisingly, is that Elena isn’t just good. I know it took the death or betrayal of everyone in her life to get her there but I’m still delighted that she, not just her alter ego, has a part of her that doesn’t always swing toward the noble (though I’m sure she’ll sell it that way next fall).

Not going to lie, a bit less of a stomach clench than last week –but plenty to think about over the summer. Thank you all SO SO much for getting me into this addiction – it was your idea, after all - and to the writers and cast for keeping me so entertained.

Attached - Ian Somerhalder at the Style Icon 2011 Luxury Gifting Suite in Kentucky earlier this month.

Photos from Jeff Gentner/Gettyimages.com