The Vampire Diaries, “The Last Dance”

With Klaus ready to make his move, everyone on Team Elena has their own opinion on not only how to kill him, but the best way to protect Elena in the interim. Different perspectives and plans of course brings conflict, and that’s really what this whole episode is about. All season has been about protecting Elena from Klaus in theory because he is such an old, mysterious and powerful figure that it seemed so far out that he would actually show up. This is particularly true since Team Elena had to deal with Katherine, werewolves and Elijah first, so they’ve been a bit busy. But in general, the hope was that by the time Klaus actually did show up, Damon, Stefan and everyone else would have a plan to take him down. Unfortunately for Team Elena, that time is now and as the events of “The Last Dance” unfold, it’s clear they only have one real option: Bonnie.

I sometimes get a little bored with supporting characters always trying to sacrifice themselves for a series lead and all the legwork done to protect Elena tended to wear on me early in the season, but now it seems that most of that was actually fairly important. Elena’s constant needling that she would A.) protect herself B.) deal with the consequences of whatever Klaus wanted with her or C.) just sacrifice herself beforehand feels useful now that Klaus is actually here and ready to do some work. So of course much of this episode is about keeping Bonnie’s super-powered death on the hush-hush because Elena would never go for something like that. She wants to do things “her way,” which means going to school, playing it cool and trying to not worry about things that may or may not come. This is…”smart.”

Meanwhile, Bonnie and Damon have their own perspectives on what needs to be done to protect Elena: anything. Now that she’s fully powered, Bonnie is both confident at peace with the fact that she can probably take Klaus down, but die in the process. She is a witch who hates vampires and the baddest and oldest of them all is coming to kill her best friend, it makes since she might be willing to take a supernatural bullet for the team. And of course, Damon is so single-minded in his desire to make sure that Elena stays alive that he’s most certainly up for Bonnie offing Klaus (and having Bonnie out of his life wouldn’t be so bad, just sayin’). Damon sees himself as the only person who is willing to get his hands dirty, and he’s probably right.

Stuck in the middle of all this? Stefan. It’s always hard being the good guy who wants to make sure everyone lives and in this case, the stakes are really as high as they can be. He must protect Elena no matter what, but what happens when that means letting other people like Bonnie, Alaric or Jeremy die in the process? Damon isn’t shy about letting those things happen and continues to trumpet that throughout this episode. Stefan is not and it’s telling that as this episode’s big plan is slowly unveiled, Stefan is just as clueless as Elena about what’s actually happening. But after Damon gives Elena the big “I will always choose you speech” at the end of the episode, is Stefan kind of screwed? His personal beliefs and compassion don’t really help in circumstances like these, and it’s very possible that Damon becomes the big hero of this story because he’s willing to do what’s necessary for Elena, even if she doesn’t like it in the aftermath. I sort of hope that doesn’t become THE reason why Elena finally decides that she might want to have a go with Damon, but it’s certainly not the worst reason that a series like this has given us.

OK, enough of that kind of analysis, how about Matt Davis as Klaus?! As I’ve mentioned almost every week this season, Matt Davis hasn’t been given much to do as Alaric, so it was sure fun to watch him open up and not only get something to do, but actually something very different from what he’s usually used to. His Klaus was muted, cunning and ultimately pretty creepy because of it and you could totally tell that Davis was having a hell of a time in the role. Even though the CW promos made this look like an action-packed Klaus-fest, I actually liked how “The Last Dance” didn’t overdo it with the character because keeping up the mystery and keeping him unpredictable is much better for the story. It’s one thing for the characters to know that he’s out there and not really know what he could do next, it’s something else entirely for them to know that he’s in Alaric’s body, but still not really know where he is and what he is going to do next.

And of course, Bonnie’s “death.” Mid-episode deaths are sort of common occurrence on this series so it’s hard to take any of them seriously, but this one was shot in such a way that it didn’t seem like a swerve at all. The actors did a nice job of selling it, but so did the direction and the music, it really felt like the air had been taken out of the room the second Bonnie’s body hit the ground and Klaus disappeared. In the back of my mind I was waiting for her to come back to life, especially since Damon was so adamant about taking care of the body, but the episode did one heck of job of trying to tell the back of my mind to shut the hell up and just be sad that Bonnie was dead. In the end, I don’t think Bonnie’s faux-death is really that cheap of a device, because not only doesn’t it emphasize the bonds between these characters, but it crystallizes all those things I was talking about at the beginning of the review. Damon and Bonnie were willing to do what was necessary while Stefan and Elena were totally left in the dark. That seems like it’s going to be a problem, especially now that Elena has taken action herself by pulling that dagger out of Elijah, presumably so she can use either one to kill Klaus. Smart, but risky. But at this point, Elena has no choice. She’s not willing to risk her friends, but she’ll step up to the plate when necessary. And that really leaves Stefan out in the cold.

Even though this episode wasn’t as action-packed as originally suggested, that doesn’t really matter. The character interactions were enough sustain this one, and we were given the perfect, small taste of Klaus before the final four episodes.

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