I’m Thinking of You All The While

You guys. You guys. How have you been? Is anyone reading this? My words are probably being publicized into a vacuum. Even so, I must write about my thoughts regardless. But bear with me; I’m rusty. This is Nina Dobrev’s big exit episode, and so I couldn’t let that air without coming back for a few words.

Elena Gilbert is sleeping in a coffin for the rest of her days. Or at least for the rest of Bonnie’s days. And I can’t help but feel as though everything about how Elena has been written off the show encompasses her character and what the show has become.

Don’t get me wrong: Elena Gilbert is The Vampire Diaries. A lot of you may disagree with me there, but I’ve defended my stance on that a couple weeks ago. You may have your favorite supporting characters, but there’s no denying that most of them were motivated by Elena’s existence this entire series. Whether that was a good thing or a bad thing (definitely the latter), it’s the truth. And so Elena being written off the show leaves it in a strange limbo—not unlike the one Elena Gilbert is in now. Can it revitalize itself come next season without her? That’s a discussion for another time.

Instead, Elena is sleeping, and it’s almost too perfect. As Elena lay asleep, whether in a hospital bed, or in the Salvatore home, or in a coffin at the cemetery, all I could think about was how symbolic it was of her when she was conscious.

Elena was a decision-maker, even when those decisions were senseless at best. But still, she decided many a-time. Last week, when she took the cure and immediately was put into harm’s way, she hatched a way to remove herself from Mama Salvatore. That guileless know-how is a majority of what made us come to love Elena in the beginning.

But if Elena is making a plan, then there’s always someone trying to exact it for her, or sacrifice themselves for her, or even do something without her knowledge. That’s been the show since day one. And we’ve been tired of it. And then, after Elena became a vampire and went through that humanity-off season, there was a more passive Elena. This season, she erased her mind to blank slate.

That was Elena’s goodbye: sleeping. Is there no more passive state than being literally unconscious and leaving your fate in the hands of everyone else around you?

But I think the biggest foul here is its sheer random happenstance. Rarely should we look outside the show when we critique it, but rumors of Nina Dobrev exiting the show circulated in the beginning of the season. People inside the show knew; they must have. And this is her exit? First, the circumstances: she’s asleep this entire episode—really? Second, the build-up: none of Elena’s actions this entire season felt in any way connected to her exiting. The Cure was only introduced a couple of episodes ago. Kai bonds Elena sleeping to Bonnie because…?

Instead this season feels so much more about making sure the characters can sustain themselves after Elena is gone. Which is important, of course. But so much revolves around Elena instead of her being directly linked to it. Stefan and Caroline forge a romantic relationship together. Jeremy leaves off to kill supernatural beings. Matt begins to show his teeth in his vampire-hate. This episode all culminates in Damon choosing Bonnie (to a degree), and all that is informed by this season as a whole, and how their relationship has grown and progressed. It’s a shame nothing about Elena’s exit feels deserved in that way for her character.

It’s not without its charm, however. This is Elena (well, mostly). She will sacrifice all she can for those she loves. It’s how she became a vampire in the first place. And Elena’s exit allows her to find her happy ending, eventually. She’s still human, and she will be able to live her life. It’s just going to take a while.

Elsewhere, so much happened this episode: Jo and her twins died. The Gemini coven died. Tyler became a werewolf and is presumably leaving. Kai died. Stefan and Caroline are in a good place. There was a time jump and it looks like Damon is reckless. Whoa. Let’s go through it quickly.

R.I.P. Jo and her babies. I liked Jo. But I didn’t realize how much everyone else liked Jo, because I liked Jo… but in a “I don’t mind if she dies way.” Killing her and her babies seemed outright cruel, but these days, that’s some of The Vampire Diaries‘s best moments. That being said, coupled with the fact that literally no one else cared that she died is what makes moments like Elena’s goodbyes hard to find compelling.

Goodbye, Geminis! That’s really it. Thank goodness.

Bye, Tyler. Poor Tyler didn’t get much of a send-off given all of Elena’s and Dobrev’s buzz. But if we’re being honest, the show never really knew what to do with Tyler since, maybe, halfway through season three. It’s been trying to give him real purpose, but it has come up short.

Kai died. Or at least that looked pretty final. Was it really that easy? Kai has been my favorite villain on The Vampire Diaries thus far. He’s hilarious, and he has loads of charisma. I’m actually sad to see him go.

Stefan and Caroline. Look, I’m biased. These two need to get over themselves and… well, I’ll leave the crude humor for your imagination. I’m for this. Also shoutout to that Bamon moment.

The time jump. You know, I’ve been saying since forever that I’ve always wanted the main villain in this show to come within our core group. For a while, the potential for this was within Bonnie. She would have made a pretty kick-ass villain a couple of seasons ago. And she’s stretched her gusto this season, to boot. The little preview the show gave us of next season seems as though Mystic Falls has come undone—and Damon is at the helm of it. I am all for this. Is it because of Elena? That seems drastic considering he just needs to wait a while (he’s a vampire!). But what is Damon without being drastic?

Strange season. But a fun season, too, I think. For better or worse, The Vampire Diaries has become an enjoyable snark-fest. These days, I don’t think that’s by accident. I just wish that I had connected a bit more to Elena’s exit. I was too distracted by the serendipity of it all to make sense of her goodbyes to everyone. Maybe without Elena, these characters won’t simply exist to meander around her. But maybe without her, they will simply just meander. Even if there’s potential for a dark, and campy, season seven. As with the end of every season, I’m hopeful that’s not the case. With Elena’s exit, the series dropped a lot of weight and other characters. It was ballsy enough to jump in time, too. It’s been needing a shake up for a while now; maybe this is just the kind of kick it deserves.

What did you guys think?

Michael

Mike’s a television junkie located in Miami, where he spends all of his time watching TV with his best friends couch and cable access.