Holy shit.

“The Vampire Diaries”

Season 6 Finale

After last week’s return of Malachai “Kai” Parker (Chris Wood) from a 1903 prison world, it may have looked like Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) would be dead as quickly as she became human again, but I was certain executive producer Julie Plec would do better than just let Elena die a tragic death. I knew, in my heart of hearts, there had to be more.

Surely enough, in a whirlwind of a finale Thursday, there was more. Kai, using his witch magic, tethered Bonnie Bennett (Kat Graham) and Elena together, so that Elena, though physically stable, would not be able to wake up unless Bonnie died.

When the news broke months ago that Dobrev would not be returning for the remainder of “The Vampire Diaries” seasons, I burst. It was ridiculous! Why keep a show prolonged more than it had to? Why not end it at Season 6, at a place which made sense?

This is why: Elena Gilbert has been far from the most complex character on the show. In fact, her character is so shallow that while the show has revolved around her — in particular, her existence — the plot evolved through six seasons not by developing Elena’s character, but by developing every other relationship on the show around Elena. Elena was merely a symbol, a figurehead, the fulcrum at which all the complex, beautifully written characters and talented-beyond-compare (for a CW show, at least) actors could each meet. And now, those relationships are strong enough that they can go on without Elena.

Elena’s just not needed anymore. It makes sense.

I have spent a semester being unfailingly 10 minutes late for 9 p.m. Thursday meetings after being glued to television screens (note: sorry The Michigan Daily Web Team, but don’t say I didn’t warn you). I have spent a semester sitting on the brink of my chair for each episode, only to realize that somewhere along the 60 minutes, I’ve broken into tears. This week was no different. I cried, but somehow, I wasn’t sad. Somehow, I came fully prepared to watch Elena’s last moments in Mystic Falls because, at the end of it all, it made sense.

The episode began back at the spot in Season 1 where Elena and Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) first met on the streets of Mystic Falls. Soon enough, it was clear from Elena’s unscathed bridesmaid dress that the scene was a fantasy from her head, and that Elena was at her last moments, saying goodbye.

Taking viewers back to the brutal wedding scene from last week’s episode, in which Jo, pregnant with the unborn twins of the Gemini coven, is dead, Kai — who traded Lilian Salvatore (Annie Wersching) her hybrid family for vampire blood — kills himself, bringing down the rest of the Gemini coven, and resurrects to take the rest of his revenge.

Lying outside of the wedding chapel, Liv Parker (Penelope Mitchell) and Tyler Lockwood (Michael Trevino) share their last moments together. To allow his werewolf anatomy to heal himself, he takes Liv’s life — in what may have been one of the most jaw-dropped scenes of the finale — before she passes away with the rest of her coven, turning into the werewolf he has been fighting all season. Later, he, in a werewolf trance, injects Kai with his venom.

It may have seemed as if Damon would have to make the choice between saving Bonnie’s life and taking back that of Elena’s, but after tricking Kai, who has siphoned magic from the venom and his vampirism, into thinking that he’s left Bonnie, dying, he snaps Kai’s head and saves Bonnie with vampire blood.

Oh, the irony. After a season of scanty attempts to put Kai down for good, from prison world to reality, back to prison and then again reality, it was that easy.

Setting the series up for Season 7, Lily, with Enzo’s (Michael Malarkey) help, is reunited with her hybrid family.

The episode masterfully intermixed Elena’s farewells with Kai’s bloodlust for revenge during the first half of the episode. Over the last 20 minutes, though, one by one, Elena drifts into the minds of Alaric Saltzman (Matt Davis), Matt Donovan (Zack Roerig), Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), Bonnie, Caroline Forbes (Candice Accola), Jeremy Gilbert (Steven McQueen), Tyler and Damon, dedicating her goodbyes. Damon and Elena share one last dance and promise to find themselves together after 60 years when Bonnie dies a natural death, giving hope that, someday, Damon and Elena will have their human life together.

As Caroline questions Stephen on whether he will be OK when Elena, his soulmate, doesn’t wake up, he answers by saying that Elena wasn’t his soulmate to be with him forever, but to reunite him with Damon. In a way, he says, she needed him more.

While the climactic dance scene between Damon and Elena seemed unnatural, it brought us back to the Miss Mystic Falls pageant where Damon and Elena’s saga first began. Though Caroline and Stefan’s storyline has been irrefutably frustrating, their separation leaves next season open for possibilities.

The episode ended with a time lapse around the coffin where Elena lies, locked with Bonnie’s magic, to some indefinite future. We get a glimpse of Matt as a police officer, driving around what seems to be Mystic Falls in shambles. As he drives past the scene, Damon is seen to be on top of the clock tower, distressed.

Goodbye, Elena. I’m ready for what’s next.

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