May 15, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “The Vampire Diaries”


At the close of its 6th season, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES finds itself at a crossroads.  The ratings are way down, and for the first time since it premiered, the series isn’t one of CW’s biggest hits, but just a mid-range performer.  Viewers didn’t seem to respond to the witch-centric narrative of the season, or the fact that much of the early stretch took place in an eerie alternate universe jail-world where the same day repeated over and over, or the Big Bad that Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Bonnie (Kat Graham) found there, Kai Parker (Chris Wood), who despite his powers came off more like a sociopathic serial killer than a supernatural being.  On top of that, the series has now lost leading lady Nina Dobrev, who decided not to renew her contract.

Cleverly, the season finale written by series co-creator Julie Plec and co-showrunner Caroline Dries, and directed by Chris Grismer, didn’t quite kill off Dobrev’s Elena Gilbert.  Instead, she was placed in a sort of magical coma (but one that requires no feeding and during which she apparently won’t age), an unbreakable curse that ties her life to Bonnie’s:  she won’t wake up until Bonnie dies.  That allows Dobrev to leave yet opens the door for a potentially happy ending down the road, since Damon, the love of her life, is an ageless vampire, and even if Bonnie lives a full human lifespan, Damon can be right there waiting for her to return.  (In the way of Vampire Diaries, it also frees Dobrev for occasional cameos in non-material form, which is how she appeared in most of this episode, as other characters entered into her mind to say their farewells.)

Other characters were less lucky.  Kai had his head ripped off by Damon after being bitten by back-to-werewolf Tyler (Michael Trevino), who had previously saved himself by killing his dying-anyway girlfriend Liv (Penelope Mitchell)–at her request–and turning on his wolf power.  (Trevino, too, will be leaving the show.)  Jo (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) and her unborn twins were indeed dead at Kai’s hand at what was supposed to be her wedding to Alaric (Matt Davis), and since Kai was dead, all of his and Jo’s family died too.  (It was like Vampire Diaries honchos Plec and Dries had watched the Red Wedding sequence in Game of Thrones and decided to do likewise.)  The only happy character by the end of the hour was crazy Lily (Annie Wersching), mother of Damon and Stefan (Paul Wesley), who finally found her woken-up “family” of presumably deranged witch-vamps, whose faces were carefully obscured so that they can be cast next season, when they can be expected to wreak havoc.

Despite all the bloodshed, it was largely a emotional farewell episode for Dobrev, who had extremely noble farewell scenes with just about everyone, and whose influence in the real world was felt in Damon’s decision to let Bonnie live, even though it meant he’d have to wait probable decades for Elena to wake up from her Sleeping Beauty-esque rest.  Meanwhile, the show has been building up Candice Accola’s Caroline all season as its new romantic lead, and although she and Stefan still weren’t an officially a couple at the end of the episode (they have issues), they were clearly getting there.

Vampire Diaries will be paired for the first time with its spin-off The Originals next season, a sign that the network now feels both shows could use the support of a related hour.  Although it’s difficult to be canceled from CW (that Netflix money comes in whatever the ratings are), the network certainly doesn’t want to see the show’s numbers continue to dip.  It remains to be seen how an Elena-less Diaries will do, especially since Damon will presumably be pining for her for a lengthy period, and with these hybrid witch-vampires already set up as villains.  If those elements don’t work, a course correction may be necessary.  Although Vampire Diaries is still an entertaining, well-told genre drama, with notably charismatic leads, the zeitgeist moment for its vampire ilk seems to have passed; if the ratings go much lower, the network may consider taking The Cure itself.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."