Our smaller (again) but continuously robust panel – our TVD “originals,” Jen and Kelsey – reconvened to discuss the dysfunctional but smoldering brothers Salvatore and the rest of the motley crew hailing from fictional Mystic Falls as our panel engaged in part one of a two-part CPU! series in which Couch Potatoes Unite! says our own protracted goodbye to The Vampire Diaries. In the first part of this miniseries, our panelists delve deep into recapping TVD’s final half season, in which our characters battle the Devil named Cade, his siren servants, and the Salvatore brothers, no longer engaged with their “emotion” switches and, therefore, their innate humanity, as they go on vampire binges to harvest souls at Cade’s behest. The supporting characters, meanwhile, attempt to move on with life in their own ways, though no none in Mystic Falls can stay away from the Salvatores for long.
In the second part of our miniseries, which will publish next week, CPU!’s TVD panel will engage in one of our “Looking Back” discussions, during which we will reflect upon TVD as a whole and whether we think this series will hold up over time or whether it will age, wither, and decay like a staked vampire in Mystic Falls. While our panel’s particular devotion and/or sire bond were frequently tested in TVD’s later seasons, we still have lots to think and to talk about, particularly as we reflect upon the show’s ending moments. Give this first episode a listen with your vampire super-hearing, and see if you agree or disagree with our thoughts.
This first part of our two-part TVD goodbye was recorded in June 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the second half of the eighth and final season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!
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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Next week, we will publish the second part of this two-part goodbye series, in which our TVD panel Looks Back at the show as a whole in one last chat, for this particular panel and for this particular show, around the water cooler. Stay tuned!
Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations
1) What is the artifact that Matt’s (Zach Roerig) dad had, and what does it do? Who has it now? Do we still care about it?
ANSWER: After wracking my brain and after searching Vampire Diaries wiki pages for the information, I do not have an answer for this question. Damon (Somerhalder) “found” it in Peter Maxwell’s garage, but whether it was actually used, I am not sure. Was it related to the Maxwell Bell? Was it an amulet or talisman? If you remember, let us know in the comments. Considering that it was so unmemorable, though, we probably do not need to care about it anymore.
2) Will Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) return to The Vampire Diaries to see it off as one of the original cast members?
ANSWER: Jeremy made the briefest of cameo appearances in the series finale, without speaking lines, as an ending montage showed the viewer glimpses into each of the characters’ futures. The panel felt that this appearance was both anticlimactic and probably unnecessary, considering that he did not even get to speak and did not even appear in the “heaven” part of the montage. Listen to the podcast episode for details.
3) So, Elena will return. How? Kylie predicts that, in order to save Damon, Bonnie (Kat Graham) will sacrifice herself, so that Elena might awaken from her coma and draw Damon away from the darkness of his emotional void once more. Kelsey predicts that Enzo (Michael Malarkey) and Bonnie might snuff themselves together, in a fantastic Thelma and Louise or, perhaps, Romeo and Juliet type fashion. Kylie further predicts that Stefan (Paul Wesley) might not survive the series – he may decide to remain the Ripper, and the other Mystic Falls residents, Caroline (Candice King) included, may be forced to stake him; or, the writers will cop out, and Stefan and Caroline will reunite for their happily ever after. What will happen? How will it all end?
ANSWER: Kylie’s first prediction was half right. Enzo emerges from the sirens’ grasp, and Bonnie, with his help, protects Elena’s magically comatose body by hiding her coffin in a bed and breakfast that Bonnie and Enzo purchased for this purpose alone. Damon, fighting for his freedom from Cade and attempting to protect his epic love, wants to extract Elena’s blood to recycle the vampire Cure by using it on Cade, in an epic Hail Mary to end the Devil’s attacks on Mystic Falls and on innocent souls the world over. Ripper Stefan, in service of Cade, susses out this plan and shows up to put a stop to it. One way in which he derails it is by ripping out Enzo’s heart in front of Bonnie. Bonnie immediately retaliates by injecting the newly extracted Elena’s-blood-infused Cure into Stefan.
In the meantime, Bonnie’s magic, though largely dormant, along with her deep feeling and passion for Enzo, ensures that his soul/essence/consciousness is still around and still psychically linked to Bonnie after his unfortunate death. Katherine (also Dobrev), however, returns from hell to wreak her own brand of havoc and wants to ring the Maxwell Bell, a talisman and town historical artifact used to seal the gates of Hell by the Bennett witches when Mystic Falls was founded. Katherine, basically, seeks to unleash hell-fire on Mystic Falls. Bonnie’s heartbreak over Enzo’s death is so palpable, he realizes that her love plus some element of her magic must be keeping him from moving on. He ultimately encourages her to sacrifice their psychic link in order to restore her magic fully in an effort to stop Katherine. Bonnie does so with aid from Enzo in the the almost-beyond, and this act serves also to break Kai Parker’s (Chris Wood) magic, responsible for trapping Elena within her magical coma since Season 6. So, Bonnie sacrifices herself (not expecting to survive) and her link to Enzo to save Elena and everyone else, but she ultimately does survive, and Elena further awakens, human and alive.
Kelsey’s prediction – though it was probably more of a hope – was not correct.
Kylie’s prediction that Stefan would not survive the series was correct. Katherine achieves the ringing of the Maxwell Bell via the cursed, hell-bound spirit of Vicki Donovan, Matt’s long-dead sister who is on earth due to the weakened barrier/gates between Hell and Earth, but Damon and Stefan concoct a plan to redirect the hell-fire through the magically imbued Armory tunnels (even though the Armory above is destroyed), so that Bonnie can use her magic to send the hell-fire back to Hell. The catch? Katherine has to be back in Hell also in order to be trapped there once the hell-fire is magically returned by Bonnie, as Hell’s gates will firmly close once more, meaning someone must sacrifice her/himself to stab Katherine, with a very handy knife, as hell-fire incinerates them both. Damon initially volunteers, ever the older protective brother but, guilt-driven, also convinced that he must atone for his many sins and misdeeds; he attempts to compel Stefan, who has been human since Bonnie installed the Cure via retaliatory syringe in the wake of Ripper Stefan’s murder of Enzo, to leave the tunnels. Stefan, however, has been ingesting vervain since reacquiring his humanity. The compulsion, therefore, does not work, so the viewer discovers in a twisty reveal. What is more, Stefan injects Damon with his blood, redirecting the vampire Cure to Damon and transforming the elder Salvatore vampire brother into a human in the end. Stefan thereafter grabs Katherine, stabs her, and jumps into the path of the hell-fire flames, sacrificing his very human existence to save everyone else.
Stefan, as of the end of The Vampire Diaries, is no more.
4) Will the twins be factors in saving the brothers Salvatore from themselves or Alaric (Matt Davis)/Caroline/anyone else from Stefan and Damon?
ANSWER: The twins, though present and magical and siphon-y, do not really play any part in any events involving the Salvatores. Bonnie saves Stefan by making him human; Stefan sacrifices himself to save Damon and everyone else, after curing Damon’s vampirism, which allows Damon to live a normal life until his death and until the brothers’ eventual reunion in the afterlife.
5) Damon ripped out Sybil’s heart on his way out of town with Stefan in the mid-season finale, but we know that Sybil can heal due to her magical deal to keep her immortality, which she made with Cade in exchange for selling out Stefan and Damon. Will we still see Sybil, and how will she factor into the overall end? Where did Seline go? Are we done with the Siren Sisters?
ANSWER: Sybil and Seline return momentarily to lord their newfound freedom from Cade over Mystic Falls in their own special ways. Sybil particularly, who retains her Siren powers to some extent, even attempts to mess with Damon and Stefan during their soul harvesting phase. Anticlimactically, however, and though the sisters eventually agree to help the Mystic Falls Scoobies in their attempt to fend off Cade, because he is angered by their ultimate betrayal, Cade magically snaps their necks, simultaneously ending the reigns – and the long lives – of the Siren Sisters.
6) Who or what is Cade – really? Who came first: him, the Originals, or the Witches? Will we see a mutual crossover with The Originals, the spin-off of The Vampire Diaries, this half season? If so, can it be the whole cast and not merely an exchange of one character, like Klaus and Stefan, as happened last season?
ANSWER: Cade is, quite simply, the Devil in The Vampire Diaries universe. He is the most evil being, determined to retaliate for his martyrdom by harvesting souls in order to grow his psychic prison, what the show deems to be “Hell.” Because TVD aired before The Originals this past season, we do not get to see any crossovers on TVD, except by reference, as Klaus donates a sizable sum of money to Caroline and Alaric’s new Hogwarts school of Special Supernatural children, which is not its actual name but which is featured in the ending montage. As far as who came first, Cade, the Originals, or the Witches, TVD does not answer that question.
7) What will Damon and Stefan do as Cade’s new soul harvesters? How will their brotherly bond be affected? Ripper Stefan is kind of a dick, but Damon also has his emotion switch off. We’ve never seen both brothers with their emotion switch off at the same time except during flashbacks of their initial days as vampires. How will this manifest, and what will they do?
ANSWER: The brothers mostly get along great, at least early on in their harvesting careers. For the first time, both brothers are vampires without the governance of their emotion switches, and even though they occasionally disagree about tactics, this mutual state allows them to simultaneously enjoy the kill and each other’s company, at least for a time. With Damon, though, we know his love for Elena and her general influence on him have ever changed him, and he quickly grows bored, particularly since Ripper Stefan, as was mentioned, is kind of a dick. Damon’s boredom and wist for Elena, plus some helpful persuasion from Bonnie, ultimately spurs him to defect, even as Ripper Stefan takes his Ripper-ness to new heights in the second half of Season 8.
8) What will the Mystic Falls Scooby Gang, particularly Caroline, do to try to save the brothers from themselves?
ANSWER: Bonnie and Enzo attempt to help Damon and, for the most part, mutual forgiveness goes along way to help Damon reengage his emotion switch. Caroline does not really participate in any saving of anyone; in fact, during Stefan’s latest Ripper phase, she throws her engagement ring back in his face. It is not until Stefan becomes human, through Bonnie’s actions, that Stefan begins his short-lived road to recovery.
9) Why was Cade not introduced sooner, if he’s truly the “devil?”
ANSWER: Still a question. The panel feels that he is an intriguing character that probably should have been flushed out over more of the series, rather than over one shortened season.
10) What is “Hell” truly? How did the pre-devil version of Cade become psychic?
ANSWER: Questions without answers, actually. Hell is a psychic prison but also, seemingly, a physical place. The show never parsed out these metaphysical concepts in more detail, since they were introduced so late into the series’ life.
1) The chronology of who was created first: Witches/Originals or Cade.
2) Why Cade was not made a bigger Big Bad for a larger part of the series.
3) The true meaning of Hell.
4) Cade’s back story.
5) Exactly how Heaven worked and why Elena’s moments were with all of her family but not Jeremy – and why they were all the same ages as when they died.
6) How long each character lived before the dead characters died and appeared in the ending montage.
7) Why Stefan and Lexie were never a couple. Oodles of chemistry but no payoff.
8) Whether or not Caroline and Klaus will end up together on The Originals. Stay tuned.
The panelists all agree: it was time for The Vampire Diaries to end. While all three panelists (your Chief CP included) are relieved that the show ended, decked out and tied up, in neat, fan-pleasing bows, many convenient story shortcuts and continuity breakaways occurred before the show was able to achieve its clearly sought after happy ending. Stefan’s end on the show felt the most real and the most earned, while Damon and Elena’s reunion lacked any semblance of emotional punch, owing much to the actors’ behind-the-scenes drama and interpersonal dynamics – and apparent lack of professionalism. Bonnie and Matt surviving the series – and Matt without ever becoming supernatural like all of his friends – surprised and relieved our panelists, while the ending montage felt hokey and largely forced, with so little Jeremy or actual through-line that did not confuse, even as it tugged at heartstrings and made us all feel and cry. Most if not all of the panelists are both happy and sad that The Vampire Diaries is done, and while some of us might re-watch the series in future, none of us will be quite ready to do so for some time – which is not to say the series is bad or lacks entertainment value as much as the series ending landed messily and without leaving any of us with much satisfaction at the last. The panel believes that TVD became guilty pleasure TV that ultimately did not follow its own logic/story rules by the end, so much so that a lingering disappointment mars the engagement and devotion our panels directed toward this series for eight seasons.
The Vampire Diaries has officially ended, but the CPU! TVD podcast panel is not quite finished! We will publish a second part to this mini podcast series saying goodbye to TVD, in which we will Look Back at the series as a whole, next week! Stay tuned, subscribe, like, and follow to keep abreast of that publication, and tell us what you think in the comment forums. What’s more, review us on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, or YouTube, and check out our other podcast episodes related to a growing array of TV shows! Until next week! Stay tuned!