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The Vampire Diaries: “Ghost World”

Illustration for article titled iThe Vampire Diaries/i: “Ghost World”
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If you’re a supernatural show that has as high a body count as The Vampire Diaries does, eventually you get to have a little fun with it. “Ghost World” did just that, bringing back a bunch of old faces and fan favorites for an hour that straddled the line quite deftly between fun and sentimentality. This appears to be the end of the “Jeremy sees ghosts” era, and although it wasn’t my favorite thing the show has ever done, it definitely went out in style.

Jeremy’s little parlor trick has been probably the shakiest thing of the season so far. It made for a really fun cliffhanger at the end of last season, but before last week’s Vicki story, it never really felt very connected to what was going on with the rest of the show. It always felt a bit like it was waiting for its true purpose to be revealed. Between last week and this week, I’d say the purpose was definitely realized.

The best thing about the way all of the ghosts were brought back was how it managed to take a story that’s completely a cheat and make it feel inevitable. Let’s face it: Bringing back a bunch of ghosts via a magic spell is pretty darn stupid. What The Vampire Diaries always manages to do with stupid things like this, though, is meticulously weave them into the fabric of the plot in a way that makes the story seem incredibly smart. (They did something similar with the whole Sun and Moon curse last season, which was highly, highly dumb and also the very important—and very successful—narrative thrust for the entire season.) Jeremy and Anna were never viable long-term, and instead of unnecessarily dragging out their angst, the show managed to use it to not only deepen the arc as a whole but to affect the arcs of the rest of the characters as well.

Before the ghosts got all tied up in the emotional arcs of the characters, though, they were just plain fun. One thing about TVD’s tendency to kill characters before the audience is necessarily ready to be rid of them is that when they come back, we’re very happy to see them. Mason, who spent his entire entrance just torturing the hell out of Damon, was an absolute blast. For him to then turn around and make the rest of his visit about helping find a way to kill Klaus in order to help Tyler? Well, Mr. Lockwood, you are awesome. I’m sad Damon decided to do something he didn’t have to do when he ripped out your heart last season.

Also returning for some unfinished business was Lexi, who brought her badass self back to help Stefan snap out of his Ripper phase. Lexi, the character I am most sad is forever dead, just absolutely owns Stefan, detoxing him of human blood and basically torturing him in order to break him down enough so she and Elena can get through. It’s very telling that the first emotion you see on Stefan’s face when he encounters Lexi is fear. She is not one to be trifled with. Still, she doesn’t get the chance to stay long enough to truly turn Stefan around, but Elena assures her she knows what to do now. What is that exactly, Elena? Keep him locked up forever? Or at least until Klaus is dead? You know it isn’t going to be that easy.

The final big return was none other than Bonnie’s grandmother, Miss Sheila. After all of the great discussion on Bonnie’s character in the comments last week, it was definitely nice to see her interact with her grandmother again. Unfortunately, she wasn’t around long enough to do much more than help Bonnie figure out how to send all of the ghosts back to where they came from and tell her she was proud of her. Now that Bonnie and Jeremy seem to be over and Bonnie has possession of Elena’s necklace (which is connected to the original witch and appears to be much more powerful than originally thought), I hope she can get a true arc of her own this season.

Though bringing back the ghosts was fun, the way they went back to the other side was really the shining moment of the episode. Most impressive was Anna’s exit, which brought her character full circle by having her recognize she was no longer supposed to be in Jeremy’s life but giving her the happy ending of being reunited with her mother so they could go to the other side together. I can normally stay strong through a ghost goodbye, but seeing Pearl was an emotional punch I wasn’t quite expecting.

The Vampire Diaries used to be a show I enjoyed but wasn’t emotionally invested in, but sometime around the end of last season, it turned the corner and really began to develop these characters enough to make them emotionally compelling and not just fun quipping plot devices. Goodbye, Anna, Mason, Miss Sheila, and Lexi. Maybe someday another witch will cast a spell, and we’ll see you again.

Stray observations:

  • Alaric saw cave paintings? In Mystic Falls? I don’t think I understand the way history works. Also, great job by The CW of completely undercutting that wondrous cliffhanger by revealing what the cave paintings are less than 30 seconds later in the promo for next week. Networks, ugh.
  • I wonder how the Sheriff explains things like Tobias Fell’s mutilated corpse being strung up for the whole town to see. The town slogan must be Mystic Falls: Come for all the parties; stay for the random dead bodies!
  • Where was Tyler tonight? Dining on randoms? Braiding Rebekah’s hair? I know every cast member can’t be in every episode for budget reasons, but it would have been nice for Tyler and Mason to at least see each other, if only for a moment.
  • Elena’s “I won’t love a ghost for the rest of my life” was a nice tie-in with Jeremy’s Anna problem. Those poor Gilberts really need to just fall in love with some normal humans for once.
  • Damon and Alaric are the best. I’m so glad Daddy and Daddy aren’t fighting anymore.
  • “There’s not much to do on the other side except sit and watch other people screw things up.”
  • “Well, let’s just find it first, and then we’ll choose between boyfriend ghost dramas.”
  • “I am having a bad day.”

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