I'm still scrubbing my brains off the wall, so this is less of a recaplet, and more of a group therapy session for fans with PTSD. For the love of all that is holy (and un-), if you haven't watched "The Departed," please do not spoil yourself by reading this. I'm not going to summarize the plot. I'm going to discuss it. You ready? Okay!
First up, congratulations to the diehard Stefan and Elena fans. You win this round, but don't get cocky, darlings. There are undercurrents which threaten to capsize the good 'ship Stelena and guide the good 'ship Delena to (a probably not at all) safe harbor. Goodness, did I really use 'shipper portmanteaux? In my defense, I already told you my brains are still on the wall.
Via a series of flashbacks, "The Departed" plays fast, loose (and a bit heavy-handed) with parallels between the present, and that fateful day sophomore year, when Elena Gilbert lost her parents -- the day that Stefan Salvatore saved her life. That day was a life changer. This one will be, too. DO YOU GET IT? Even before the tragedy, Elena is already pulling away from high school sweetheart, Matt. Everyone is telling her she's got to make a choice. She's got to come clean with him. She must set him free. Sound familiar? Yes, a little too so.
"The Departed" takes great pains to put Stefan and Elena together in the now. Arguably though, Stefan is the current day's Matt, no matter who is kissing or choosing whom for the nonce. Why do I say that? Think back to season one, when Elena and Stefan discuss the lack of passion she felt for Matt. Now consider Elena's current-day conversation with Matt -- about her feelings for Stefan and Damon (and if you like, recall that recent steamy kiss between Damon and Elena).
Elena does still love Stefan; I'll give you that. She's truthful when she tells Damon she never "unfell" for his brother. It's the way she describes Damon though, that is most telling. She tells Matt that Damon "consumes" her. Since, by episode's end, Miss Gilbert is a vampire, and since vampires feel everything more intensely, a good argument can be made that next season, Elena is going to sizzle whenever our smoking hot Evil Pixie Monster enters her orbit. Feel the burn, Girlpire!
There's also that whole business with Elena telling Damon that maybe things would have been different, had she met him first. Thanks to a flashback, we soon learn that's exactly how it went down. Elena just doesn't remember, because Damon compelled her to forget. I have to revisit the episode in which Caroline was turned, but I think, now that Elena is a vampire, she's going to recover that memory. If you are sure of this point in canon, please tweet me.
I don't mean to pee on the Stefan and Elena parade. This triangle remains viable because each character is devoted to the other two. It's surely significant in the Stefan-y sense, that even though Damon is all alone, and likely an hour from death, Elena chooses to return to Stefan and friends in Mystic Falls. Similarly, it means something when Elena tells Damon she "cares" for him yet "loves" Stefan. Part of me thinks though, that it mostly means the writers like to poke the 'shippers. Since Elena is now a vampire, I expect next season we'll be playing a brand new game, with a different set of rules. The morality on this show has always been an amorphous beast. As a vampire, Elena may not be constrained by exactly the same ideals that guided her as a human.
Now how about Tyler and Caroline? Are your hearts breaking for them? Caroline, in the first flush of young love, will go anywhere. She'll leave hearth, home, family and friends, provided her Pudding Pup Tyler is by her side. Once Vamparic stakes Desikklaus, and Tyler learns his moments are numbered, he's bravely relieved that at least Caroline will live what he knows will be a beautiful life. Um. Unless that was already Klaus wearing Tyler's mighty fine meat suit. I have to admit, I'm still a bit foggy on that. What do you think? When did Tyler stop being Tyler and start being Klaus? Tweet that at me, too.
How about Team Human? Are Jeremy and Matt bold, brash, and way out of line? Yes, but they are gutsy. They're tired of this vampire crap infecting their lives and being a constant threat to Elena's. When they see an opening, they take it. Hooray! Speaking of Matt, since Elena insists Stefan first rescue my Pudding Pop, I am deciding he lives on. I will brook no insolence on this point. (Do you feel me, Julie Plec?) My heart hurts for Jeremy that he will think, even for the littlest of whiles, that his sister is forever lost to him. I'm going to worry about him all summer, which I'm pretty sure means I need help of the psychiatric kind.
Then there's our witch. Which old witch? The wicked witch. Miss Bonnie is going rogue, which means she might matter, next season. Please, Show. Don't let us down. I couldn't care less if she uses her agency for good or ill. I'm just thrilled to pieces that she is exercising it.
I don't know what to think about the Klaus/Tyler switcheroo. I'm disappointed that none of the Originals really bit the dust last night, but since Klaus is the sire of the Salvatore line, I guess that's a good thing. I'm just not sure who we're going to see next season -- Michael Trevino or Joseph Morgan -- and I really can't decide whom I'd rather see. One thing is certain; I'm still suffering Original fatigue. I hope the summer hiatus is enough of a breather. Wait. Let me take back that Original fatigue whinge, because any episode that gives me some Elijah is sure to leave me smiling, even while I'm cringing, shaking, and crying. It's Klaus as Big Bad and Rebekah as Big Baby, of which I've had more than my fill.
I'm so grateful for the tender scene between Jeremy and Ghost-Alaric. If he had bowed after beating the daylights out of poor Damon, I would be celebrating Ric's death. I don't want to celebrate Ric's death. He's been our anchor. If he is to be lost to us, I want to feel that loss. I want to mourn it. Having his ghost visit Jeremy and promise to always look out for him, was a beautiful moment between the actors and the characters, as well as a grace note for a shell-shocked audience.
"The Departed" is not without its missteps. Vamparic seems nearly omnipotent and omnipresent -- so much so that he strains credulity. Also, there are a couple of scenes that are more confusing than they should be. The parallels between sophomore year and now are sometimes ham-fisted. The script telegraphs a bit much at times; the episode signals what is to come, more than it should. Still, even though I expected Elena to be vamped, and knew Bonnie was up to something with Desikklaus, I was on the edge of my seat throughout the episode. In the end, "The Departed" leaves us sitting both prettily and perilously, in anticipation of season four. Well done, Show.
I'll be back with the full weecap, ASAP. In the meantime, please grade the episode up top and join us in the forum, where the disembodied voice of Damon keeps yelling at us.
Caveat lector: EW.com published an interview with show-runner Julie Plec. I'm not going to pretend I haven't read it, because it answers a few questions I had. I discuss those answers in the pages ahead, because I don't think of them as spoilers. If you're one of those fans who goes into anaphylactic shock when you're exposed to any information that goes beyond, "The show returns in the fall," then you should not read this weecap. This is your only warning. All right, let's get to The Vampire Diaries Season 3 finale, "The Departed."
Previously, on The Vampire Diaries, Stefan loves Elena, but knows she has feelings for Damon. Elena makes out with Damon. Esther lets loose her inner Eloise Hawking, and turns beloved history teacher/guardian/souse Alaric into hateful temporary Original vampire-vampire slayer, Vamparic. Once Elena dies, Vamparic will die. Klaus turned Tyler and he also claims to be the originator of the Salvatore vampire bloodline, which includes Caroline, as well as Bonnie's useless mother -- Abby Abandoner. Bonnie wants to desiccate Vamparic, but ends up desiccating Klaus, which gives us Desikklaus, but before Klaus is desiccated, he drains Elena of nearly all her blood. When the Salvatores ride to the rescue, Elena gets caught in their Klaus kerfuffle. She hits her head and is knocked out. Stefan and Damon set out on a road trip to dump Desikklaus in the Atlantic. At home, late at night, Elena passes out and is bleeding from the nose, which seldom ends well.
Gilbert Gables: Elena's alarm goes off at 6:45 AM. The clock is sitting atop a book. One reader thought the title reads Our Love Will Live Forever. I can't tell what the title is, because the stupid CW has an even stupider "Game On! CWINGO" graphic over the second half. The words I can see read: Our Love Is..., so gentle reader, you're close enough. It's certainly something schlocky, and likely telegraphs Elena's choice.
Elena springs out of bed, cranks up the radio, and bops to P!nk's "So What." That's right, girl. You are a rock star. Smiling at her pretty self in the mirror, she gathers her hair into a ponytail. She picks up her pompoms (not a euphemism) and tosses them across the room. They land on the window seat, where waits not her oh so emo diary, but rather, her cheering uniform. Clearly, this is a flashback, so please give us some Aunt Jenna. Please. Please. Please!