The Vampire Diaries “Gods & Monsters” Review (Season 7 Finale 2016)

TVD 12

On the season finale of “The Vampire Diaries,” we got both an ending and a beginning, as well as an uncertain future for several characters- including a somewhat expected non-ending for Bonnie and an admittedly surprising one for Damon and Enzo alike, in “Gods & Monsters.” But was any of it satisfying? Let’s take a closer look.

We began with Damon unsuccessfully trying to gain entry to the Armory, as Enzo paid a visit to Virginia (a returning Aisha Duran) for the skinny on what exactly was in the Vault in the first place and how they could combat it- or if they even could in the first place.

Damon comes up with another, more dubious plan to get into the Armory, involving getting Caroline and Alaric’s kids, Lizzie and Josie (Tierney and Lily Rose Mumford) to siphon out Bonnie’s magic just enough to get them inside.

Naturally, Caroline balks, but Alaric is shockingly on board with it, knowing that if they don’t try, it could mean bigger trouble on down the line, what with Caroline already marked as it was, which was only going to eventually put the kids in the line of fire anyway.

Besides, the kids were already showing signs of having magic, as Lizzie had struck out at Caroline when she got angry at her, nearly knocking her out in the process. So, the sooner they learned they had powers and how to control them, the better.

TVD 2

Bonnie calls Caroline to warn her that she’s swiftly approaching her car, so Stefan takes matters into his own hands, turning the car around and heading the wrong way down the interstate and nearly running into her head-on, if not for Matt getting loose and steering Bonnie off the road and into a ravine.

Stefan gets wind of Damon’s crazy plan and tells Caroline to go on without him as he tries to stop Damon. The first part involves his chartering a plane, so Stefan gets rid of the pilot, making that impossible, much to Damon’s chagrin.

Bonnie wakes up in no time from the crash, leaving Matt behind in the truck as she goes to find another vehicle to pursue everyone in. Matt wakes up as well, finding himself trapped under the caved-in dash and unable to move.

After a point, he starts to hallucinate, seeing Penny, who tells him not to give up and hang in there and that life still has plans for him yet. Eventually, help arrives in the form of a rescue team, and aside from word that Matt ends up leaving Mystic Falls for hopefully greener pastures, that’s all she wrote for Matt for this episode.

Stefan and Damon have a heart-to-heart, in which Stefan points out that Damon’s actions aren’t made out of love like he says, but rather out of fear- namely, fear that he can’t trust himself to do the right thing in the clutch. So, instead, he takes drastic, oft-crazy actions that sometimes result in self-fulfilling prophecies, only proving his worst fears to be true, failing as much as they succeed. In other words, Damon is his own worst enemy.

TVD 11

Alaric arrives at the Armory with the twins and he and Caroline talk to them about their powers, telling them that their mother needs their help and if they don’t, someone might end up hurting their mother. They get it right away and open the Armory doors without hesitation or the least bit of trouble, which means they should be magical forces to be reckoned with in the near-future.

While all this is going on, Enzo is intentionally leading Bonnie away from the action, telling her to focus on chasing him instead, which she does, even though she knows if she catches up with him, it likely won’t end well.

Meanwhile, Damon and Stefan investigate the Armory, finding everyone in sight dead, but no sign of any sort of beastie on the premises…yet. Caroline sends Alaric and the kids away from the immediate premises as she waits to see if Stefan and Damon will return.

Bonnie catches up with Enzo, who stopped on purpose at the cabin, hoping that the memories between them will be enough to stop her from killing him. They aren’t and she almost immediately attacks Enzo, shooting at him with her super-spruced-up shotgun.

Stefan and Damon find nothing in the Armory proper, so they know the only place left to look is the Vault itself. Damon asks Stefan to hang back while he goes in, saying that he wasn’t going to let him take this particular bullet for him this time around. For better or for worse, it’s time to let Damon make his own decisions and trust that it will be okay.

TVD 1

Stefan isn’t thrilled, but lets him go after the two hug. He goes back outside to wait with Caroline to see what comes out- if anything- from the Vault. Will it be his brother, having defeated the evil within- or something else? Caroline hugs him, as a worried Alaric spots them from afar, knowing that trouble is brewing between them.

Bonnie and Enzo continue to fight, and it isn’t looking good for Enzo. At one point, she even tries to strangle him with a guitar string from his own guitar! That’s what he gets for being a crappy music teacher, I guess.

Then Bonnie shoots him in the side, putting him down in a compromising position on the floor. Bonnie begs him to keep fighting and hold her back, but Enzo recognizes that she’s stronger than he is now and basically surrenders, telling her to remember the good times, not this one, and that their brief time together was the best times of his often lonely, painful life.

They tell each other they love one another and Bonnie goes to deliver the final blow, but at that very moment, Damon finds what he thinks is the creature’s body and sets it on fire. This seems to break Bonnie’s connection to the Everlasting and stops her in her tracks, just in time to keep her from killing Enzo.

Everyone’s scars from Bonnie’s previous attacks vanishes and all seems well in the world again. Bonnie and Enzo kiss and Alaric goes to take the kids home, telling Caroline to stick around and talk things out with Stefan, recognizing unfinished business when he sees it.

TVD 8

Alaric thanks Caroline for all her help and says he couldn’t have done it without her, but that their relationship was always more one of convenience than love. There were times they were in sync, but that they almost always revolved around the kids, not each other. Both wanted the perfect family, and they would always have a place in each other’s lives because of the kids, but love just wasn’t in the cards.

Damon texts Stefan to let him know it’s done and he’s on his way out. He relays the message to a relieved Caroline and she admits that the two had a few moments on the road in spite of her anger towards him and maybe there’s hope after all. They kiss.

Damon calls Bonnie to make sure she’s okay, and she confirms she is, but that she hasn’t completely forgiven him- but it’s clear she’s well on her way, after his actions. Enzo chimes in and jokes that it would have been nice if Damon had done whatever he did sooner before he got his ass handed to him and Damon jokes right back that he thought he had dawdled around long enough for Enzo to get himself killed, but no such luck.

Of course, we all probably knew it wasn’t going to be so easy, so just as Damon is almost out of the Vault and home-free, he hears what he thinks is Elena’s voice. Enzo warns him that it couldn’t be her and to get out of there, but Damon insists on checking it out. Bonnie and Enzo rush to the Armory, and all concerned investigate.

While no one is paying attention, Enzo heads to the Vault and is able to get inside it, knowing the code. Sure enough, Damon is still there, and is acting stranger than usual, saying that what was down there wasn’t so bad. Enzo hears voices as well, and we see a creature crawling around and then he is snatched into the darkness.

TVD 4

After days of waiting, no one comes out of the Vault and no one is able to get inside, either. Alaric is finally able to crack the code to get inside, but they don’t find anything when they check the place out, but no bodies, either, at least. Chances are, they simply walked out of there, closing and locking the Vault behind them and sneaking out some back exit Enzo knew of.

Bonnie realizes her magic is completely gone now, leaving her powerless altogether, but at least she’s no longer a bloodthirsty Huntress, so there’s that. Still, poor Bonnie- she can’t win for losing, am I right? Jeez.

Stefan continues to check the news for any signs of Damon and Enzo, noticing at some point that there are great swaths of people going missing along the West Coast, at least 60 or more. Assuming that it might be them, Stefan informs everyone concerned- including Elena via a diary entry- that he’s going to go and try and find them.

Sure enough, we see that it is indeed Damon and Enzo that are doing the kidnapping, and not only that, but that they are torturing and killing people en masse- and having a blast doing it, with seemingly no regrets to speak of. The camera pans out and we see what looks like a hangar or an abandoned factory filled to the brim with dead people, all of which are apparently Damon and Enzo’s handiwork.

That is where we leave things, and I can only imagine how upset some people are going to be by all this, being as how it effectively tables the whole notion of any sort of coupling with Bonnie for either concerned. No wonder Julie Plec and company weren’t stressing it- the choice to do what they did must have been there for some time, meaning that the whole issue was completely rendered moot in the process.

TVD 9

How do I feel about it personally? Well, that’s one way to go, that’s for sure. I can’t help but wonder if they ended it like this because it was always intended to end this way, or if they ended it this way because of the enormous outcry against the whole Benzo thing and how divisive it all was. In other words, which came first, the idea of taking it off the table or did taking it off the table come about because of the uproar?

After all, it would have been easy to have just gone with Damon going bad in the end- they didn’t have to involve Enzo at all. But the fact that they did makes me wonder if they only did it to silence the Benzo haters- or if they never cared in the first place, knowing that it was going to happen anyway for some time. Hard to say.

It will be interesting to see what side of the fence Plec and company fall on in that regard- and whether we can believe them in the first place. It would be easy to claim they planned it this way all along or, at the very least, before Benzo was even a thing- except that allusions to that were made pretty early on, so…I’m not sure if I’d buy that.

It seems more likely that they had initially planned for it to be Damon who went bad and then tossed in Enzo at the last minute in order to cover their behinds after reactions to the whole Benzo thing weren’t as positive as they hoped. Chances are, we’ll probably never know for sure.

It’s like the whole “Charles” thing from “Pretty Little Liars” all over again, for those of you that follow that. Did that show’s writers only throw that subplot in to divert attention to the fact that so many people were onto them- or did they always plan to do it that way, as they claimed was the case? Hard to say, but I suspect they were just trying to prolong the inevitable and get people off the scent of what they were up to.

TVD 14

Here, we have a case of the show-runners trying to shake things up by, like “PLL,” doing a whole time-jump thing to catch people off-guard. That accomplished, they were then basically locked into making sure that everything lined up in a way that made sense, which, to their credit, it did plot-wise.

The problem was, character-wise, it was a bit of a disaster, as the writers seemingly threw darts to determine who ended up with who, and in some cases, simply buried their heads in the sand altogether, as with the decision to have Damon take himself out of the proceedings by decissicating himself on purpose.

Yes, yes, I’m well aware that some people thought that was the height of romance, as it basically said: “It’s Elena for me or nothing!” To a certain degree, I get that, but it’s also sort of boring, plot-wise, so naturally, the writers had to write themselves out of the corner they found themselves in by figuring out a way to get one of the most beloved characters out of that coffin and back in action.

The solution they came up with was to introduce a new Big Bad, Rayna the Huntress, but in doing so, they basically spit on their own initial Big Bads, Julian and the Heretics, as if to say, “Yeah, we realized they weren’t a great idea, either.”

Alas, Rayna proved to be a dubious idea as well, but there wasn’t enough time to really do anything about it, so having made their bed, they had no choice but to lie in it and ride things out. Along the way, other interesting ideas were introduced, like Alex St. John and the Armory, but all of that was also cast aside when it served its minimal purpose.

TVD 15

In short, what we have here is writers with the attention span of a group of cats with ADD. I mean, honestly, pick an idea and stick with it, for God’s sake. Even “Buffy,” which I just adored- but I think we all know had its occasional ups and downs, plot-wise- at least had the courage of their convictions and stuck it out until the end with a given Big Bad storyline, for better or worse.

Here, it’s as if they are throwing darts week-to-week at a whiteboard full of potential ideas and just going with whatever it sticks to, which is not a good way to do things. It’s like writing a season based on Mad Libs everyone filled out at the beginning of shooting.

It’s no wonder Nina Dobrev jumped ship- say what you will about her character and what it had become over the years, even she recognized she was on a sinking boat and it was time to bail while she could and retain what dignity she had left. More power to her, I say.

On the plus side- and yes, there is one- it’s not too late to right the ship. Just as “Buffy” pulled it together for one last solid season, so could “The Vampire Diaries,” especially if they know enough to quit while they’re ahead and end strong. It seems from their comments to the press that both Kat Graham and Ian Somerhalder are also leaving the show at the end of next season, anyway- why push your luck?

Now, as to what that might look like, who can say? It’s obviously not up to me- I can only critique what they come up with. But if I had some say, I’d suggest going back to basics and concentrating on the core group of characters we’ve come to know and love over the years and focus in on that and bringing things to some sort of reasonably fulfilling conclusion.

TVD 17

I’ve always dug the flashback stuff, especially if there was a point to it, so it would be cool if they could fill-in-the-blanks with some information we don’t know, bringing back past characters for cameos as it makes sense.

It goes without saying that it’d be nice to get Dobrev and Steven R. McQueen to pop in before the end, but I’d also get a kick out of appearances from fan faves like Marguerite MacIntyre (Sheriff Liz), Sara Canning (Jenna), David Anders (John Gilbert), Jasmine Guy (“Grams” Bennett), Torrey DeVitto (Dr. Meredith) and especially- in my case, at least- “sexy” Lexi herself, Arielle Kebbel. Naturally, “The Originals” are easy gets, no doubt, and also welcome anytime.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a non-stop cameo/flashback parade, but it would be nice if, assuming that the next season will be the last, if it had a sense of finality and coming around full circle and I think stuff along that lines would go a long way towards making that a reality. Nothing like nostalgia to make one feel all warm and fuzzy inside, am I right?

As for overall plot-lines, it’s once again hard to say- I’m not sure how I feel about Damon and Enzo being the Big Bad for the entire season, but at the same time, I’d rather they do that than changing it up every few weeks because the writers get bored or whatever.

That said, there’s something to be said for both Damon and Enzo in “bad boy” mode as it were- it’s just more fun that way. Hell, better that, than to make them both into the saps they were in grave danger of becoming this season, that’s for sure.

TVD 16

But if they’re going to go there, they need to go big- I’m talking they need to kill some major characters off big, just so that we see they’re not playing around. Otherwise, we’ll just have an entire season of them killing off randos we don’t know or care about and that’s no good.

I wouldn’t hate it if there were other Big Bads to contend with if they were introduced early on, rather than one at a time and amounting to nothing like this season. Like perhaps a sort of “The Hidden” type of thing, where this creature possesses various other people and it becomes not just Damon and Enzo our heroes have to worry about, but a host of psychos out there to contend with.

Kind of like where they seemed to be headed at one point, when everyone was hunting down Rayna’s vampires, except here it would be innocent people who were possessed by a creature that could be helped, but if not, they have to kill in order to stop them. Then again, that basically is “The Hidden” (or at least a variation of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”) so maybe not that.

Oh, who knows? It’s not my show, obviously. It’s up to the show-runners where they take things next. There’s something to be said for ambition, and this season was nothing if not ambitious in many respects, it just didn’t follow through and was way too scattershot to be as effective as it could have been.

Whatever they end up doing, so long as they maintain focus, I can live with it. Or maybe not. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what they come up with. Until then, at least this season is in the books and we can finally move on in earnest. Let’s just hope whatever follows puts them back on the right track!

We shall see.

TVD 5

What did you think of this season of “The Vampire Diaries”? Did you like some of it, hate it all, or did you actually really enjoy it? There are no wrong answers here, so feel free to be honest, if you liked it more than I did.

Ultimately, it had its moments, as all over the place as it could be at times, but it just didn’t grab me as much as I would have liked. It happens. (So do other things ending in “it”- but we won’t get into that, lol.)

Look for a final wrap-up on things in the next few weeks, once I’ve had a little time to sit with things…

Until then, sound off down below and see you next season!