The Vampire Diaries and the Pitfalls of the Season-Ending TwistS

We're familiar with the phenomenon where a show is in the final moments of its season finale, and all of a sudden there's a wacky twist that the writers thought would make people freak out over the summer. Often, viewers are left wondering more "What were they thinking?" than "What's next?" As in the case of Vampire Diaries.

Until the final moments, last night's season finale was a terrific episode. It was mainly concerned with settling the various love triangles and romantic quandaries on the show — but it did so with a lot of grace and cleverness.

And this episode brought in the theme that your first love doesn't have to be your great love, and you can have more than one great love in your life. Which is a good thing to keep in mind, for sure. Also, we got a slightly new spin on the idea that these people, who for the most part have done terrible unforgivable things, are still deserving of love as long as they try to be better.

So, Elena chose Damon, after Damon refused to take the cure for vampirism to save his own life, partly because he'd rather die than be human and partly because he wanted Elena to have it. Matt finally agreed to be Rebekah's kept man, in a series of scenes that really did make me a bit of a Mebekah shipper. Klaus tells Caroline that Tyler can come home — but adds that he will win Caroline over eventually, in a lovely moment. And Bonnie and Jeremy are finally revealed to be each other's great loves, even as Bonnie gives her life to restore Jeremy's.

And the cure for vampirism turns out to have some nice payoff — Elena refuses it, once and for all, because she doesn't want to go back. Damon would rather die than take it, because he doesn't see any point in having a few miserable years as a human, getting older, while Elena is "still you." Elena tries to convince Stefan to take it, because he's really bad at being a vampire — which is actually a really good summation of poor Stefan's character. And at last, it's given to the last person you'd expect: Katherine Pierce, who's in the middle of trying to kill Elena.

All of this is pretty good stuff, and the actual plot about resurrected vampire hunters terrorizing the town to get at Silas, while Kol seeks revenge and/or permanent resurrection is entertaining and action-packed. Lots of great badass scenes, including Alaric smacking down Connor and Rebekah kissing Matt while tricking him into trading places on top of a pressure-sensitive bomb. All in all, a tremendous episode that serves as a reminder of why we love this show.

And then, the final twist. I still can't even quite grasp it — so, Silas is Stefan's doppelganger, because nature needs balance and having two guys who look alike is nature's way of ensuring that? What? It seemed unbearably random, especially given all the other fakeouts about Silas' appearance. This probably isn't just another fakeout, since it's the big season-ending twist — but with a guy who can look like anyone, does it actually matter what he looks like in reality? Oh, and also Silas created the spell of immortality himself.

This is an example of why TV shows just shouldn't try to do season-ending twists. The reason for these sorts of things usually seems to be that everything is wrapped up too neatly otherwise, and so you need to throw in a final WTF to keep people interested. But you know what? Either have all the events of the episode build to a cliffhanger, or just have a neat ending and trust the audience to come back. A twist that comes out of nowhere and seems kind of nonsensical is just a waste. Seriously.