May 14, 2015, 8pm (EST), The CW
It’s not easy saying goodbye. So, The Vampire Diaries decided to postpone it.
Elena (and Nina Dobrev) bid farewell to the show in its sixth season finale. But Elena’s absence isn’t for good – just for as long as Bonnie is alive.
Indeed, season-long bad guy Kai devises the perfect revenge against Bonnie for leaving him behind in the prison world. He puts a spell on Elena that keeps her in a magic-induced sleep until Bonnie’s death, at which point she will reawaken in perfect health. While Elena sleeps, her friends come to her side and connect to Elena in her mind for a series of goodbyes that are interspersed with the rest of the action in this episode.
In a show primarily populated by vampires, a human lifespan isn’t so long. Damon, Caroline, and Stefan say their farewells to Elena with the expectation that they’ll see her again one day. But this is the end of the road for the character to viewers. And, as a result of this disconnect, we end up with a series of goodbyes that are sentimental but ultimately fall flat, as they are more about Elena telling many of her friends to move on with their lives and without her until she can return.
The most affecting goodbye was between the characters who truly believe they are seeing each other for the last time. Bonnie and Elena meet in her mind in a room that resembles the one in Elena’s old house, re-enacting a moment in the first season when Bonnie first realizes her skills as a witch. The two friends laugh as Bonnie makes a bunch of feathers float, reminding us of a very different time in their lives.
Caroline and Stefan also get a nice moment to connect as it becomes clear that Elena will likely be missing from their lives for the next handful of decades. As Stefan looks upon the sleeping Elena, he tells Caroline that even though Elena was his soulmate, the most significant impact she had on his life was in helping to reunite him with his brother Damon. This is a major revelation by Stefan, indicating that his relationship with Damon was in the end more important than his relationship with Elena. Though this may be slightly undermined by Damon essentially coming to a very different conclusion last week in deciding to become human again, it paves the way for an interesting dynamic between the Salvatore brothers next season. Later in the episode, Stefan also promises to wait for Caroline to be ready for him, suggesting another relationship that will be built upon in future episodes.
The rest of the action follows Kai after he crashed Alaric and Jo’s wedding, killing the bride and her twins. In the first of many times throughout the episode, Kai seemingly dies – by killing himself to end the Gemini line and the lives of all his family members. But we later learn he had been given Lily’s blood and returns as a vampire to cause more havoc. Moments later, he gets bitten by a werewolf – newly-turned Tyler, who must become a werewolf to overcome the fatal injuries he sustained at the wedding – and Kai is seemingly a goner once again. He then later uses his siphoning magic power to eliminate the effects of the werewolf bite before Damon takes him out for good – with a swift punch that blows his head clean off.
The twists and fake-outs are as tiresome as they sound, but the emotional beats are still solid. As part of Kai’s revenge against Bonnie, he puts Damon in a position where he could easily kill Bonnie and have Elena immediately return to him. But Damon manipulates Kai into believing he will let Bonnie die before setting up a surprise attack that finally takes out Kai for good. The moment where Damon makes it clear that Bonnie’s life would never have been in jeopardy for even a second is well-earned after a season that has seen a friendship grow significantly between these two characters despite some rough patches.
Alaric and Tyler also face significant turmoil after having to watch the people they love die right in front of them. Alaric in particular has seen several women he’s loved get killed over the years and, in a moment of pure despair, puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger. The gun is out of bullets, so he lives to mourn another day, but it is hard to imagine him bouncing back from this one. Meanwhile, Tyler kills an already-dying Liv to trigger his werewolf curse and eventually leaves town at the end of the episode to try to find his place in the world now that he is once again a werewolf who goes through a painful transition once a month.
“I’m Thinking of You All the While” also sets up some storylines the show clearly intends to tackle next season through Lily and her witch-hybrid family. The group she has been so desperate to see return finally reappear in the present in this episode, ready to reign terror on Mystic Falls.
And, in the final shot of the episode, we see what appears to be a flash forward – with Mystic Falls in rubble as Matt patrols the streets as a cop and Damon observes the ruins from above. Overall, this episode caps off an uneven sixth season with a sentimental send-off for Elena as it charts new territory with a cast shake-up next season.
- “All this time travel has been hard on the camera.”
- “You didn’t happen to pet a fuzzy four-legged vampire-killing-machine, did you?”
- “In the end, I needed him more than I needed her.”
- “We’ll both get everything we want. We just can’t have it at the same time.”
Overall, this episode caps off an uneven sixth season with a sentimental send-off for Elena as it charts new territory with a cast shake-up next season.