When it was teased that the final scene of The Vampire Diaries‘ series finale would take place in the Salvatore mansion, a crucial piece of the puzzle was missing.
The CW staple indeed dropped its curtains Friday on a shot of Stefan and Damon embracing in the doorway of their childhood home, but not all was as it appeared. Following a whole mess of CGI shenanigans — which we’ll break down in depth, I promise — the brothers were reunited in some sort of heavenly afterlife, one where everyone looks eternally as they did in Season 8. (Or in the case of the special ghost stars, including Uncle John and Aunt Jenna, they look however they did before they died.)
OK, time to hit the rewind button…
Following a brief encounter with Elena (and Enzo!) in the spirit realm, Bonnie returned to the land of the living — thanks to Stefan, who channeled his inner Tom Avery and performed CPR on her — just in time to witness all hell break loose in Mystic Falls.
While Matt (sort of) attempted to keep Vicki from ringing the bell, Damon and Stefan returned home to find an empty coffin waiting for them, along with… Elena? (Yeah, you wish.) While I’ll admit to being tricked, Damon knew fairly quickly that the woman he was swinging in his arms was actually Katherine Pierce.
And our girl has been busy since being sucked into hell back in Season 5. As Katherine explained — somewhat ham-handedly, but whatever, I’m just glad to have Nina Dobrev back — she’s had Cade wrapped around her finger all along. In fact, the only reason he sought out the Salvatores in the first place was because of her. This led to the reveal of Katherine’s “perfect revenge”: Burn Mystic Falls, burn Elena, and burn… well, whichever brother decides he can’t live without Elena.
Stefan eventually tracked down Elena’s body in the boiler room of Mystic Falls High School, but when he discovered that a spell (courtesy of Kai!) was preventing her from leaving, it was time to move on to Plan B. Also known as “Project Hail Mary,” the plan would require Bonnie to redirect the hellfire through the tunnels to the Armory, where she’d be waiting to send it back to hell. Then came the catch: Katherine would need to be in hell when the fire returned in order for it to destroy her, which meant someone had to stay behind and stab her with the hell knife. (Does that thing have a name? Does everything always have to have a name?)
Damon, naturally, volunteered as tribute, insisting that he needed to “pay for [his] past mistakes.” And while Stefan offered a decent counterargument for sacrificing himself, Damon compelled his human brother to leave the tunnels and never look back… or so he thought! Stefan, who has apparently been taking vervain since losing his vampirism, stuck Damon with his own blood (aka the Cure!) at the last minute, before grabbing Katherine and jumping into the path of the flames. (For those of you keeping score at home, that meant Damon became a human and Stefan became… obliterated.)
But before we arrive at the truly heartbreaking portion of our recap, I feel like we should discuss something that reduced me to instant tears: every single interaction between Stefan and Caroline. I didn’t think it could get any sadder than their farewell in the hallway (“Family first!”) until she left him that devastating voicemail: “I love you. I will love you forever. … I understand.”
She wasn’t sure if Stefan received that voicemail, but he did, as he explained to Elena while their spirits crossed paths. (“I heard her, and I will love her forever too.” Boom. Heartbreaking.) He then crossed over to his own heaven-like plane, where good ol’ Lexi was waiting for him with arms wide open.
What came next was equal parts sad and confusing: We saw Bonnie wake Elena up — a feat she could have apparently performed this whole time — paving the way for a “Delena” reunion, as well as a relaying of Stefan’s message to Caroline. Then… pretty much everybody died. I mean, it took a while, but after a long life together, Damon and Elena ascended to that heavenly plane I mentioned earlier, where they were reunited with the family members they’ve lost.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? | Like any good series finale, the closing moments of Friday’s episode revealed what happened to everyone after the battle against Katherine. Y’all ready for this? … Still a sheriff in Mystic Falls (with his own damn park bench!), Matt is considering running for mayor; Bonnie is living life to the fullest, traveling the world with Enzo’s ghost by her side; Elena is doing the medical thang in Mystic Falls, living out her days with a now-human Damon; and Alaric and Caroline are transforming the Salvatore Boarding House into a haven for supernatural kids, with a little help from Jeremy.
And how are Alaric and Caroline keeping their new venture afloat? A generous donation from a certain Mikaelson is certainly helping them out. Read Klaus’ letter to Caroline in full below:
Dearest Caroline, I have often imagined the paths your life might take, but your chosen future is more noble than I ever fathomed. Please accept this contribution to your virtuous cause. I do look forward to thanking you in person someday… however long it takes. Yours, Klaus.
I’ve got to say, I’m just as surprised as anyone that the TVD finale featured such a strong nod to Klaus and Caroline’s relationship, especially after making her a widow. If you’ve been following my coverage over the past few seasons, you’ll know my position on this pairing has shifted a bit. Though I was initially baffled by the alleged connection between them, I came to appreciate their unique chemistry — so, yeah, I loved this little moment.
And there you have it, friends — The Vampire Diaries is over. What did you think of the finale? Any favorite moments? Least favorite? Grade the episode below, then drop a comment with your full review.