The writers at The Vampire Diaries, had a huge task ahead of them when writing the season 6 finale. The show, known for it’s jaw-dropping death-filled cliffhanger finales, had to not only wrap up the events of an excellent season but also say goodbye to the show’s lead character – Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev).
Nina Dobrev announced earlier in the year via her personal Instagram account that she would be leaving the show. Fans were beyond shocked and questioned how the show would continue without her. After all, she is the lynchpin that holds the Salvatore brothers – and some would argue the whole of Mystic Falls, the fictitious hometown of vampires, witches and werewolves – together.
The season finale followed on from the disastrous wedding of Elena’s father figure Alaric to Gemini witch Jo. The episode saw Jo’s devious twin brother Kai return from a parallel world and in a move that George R.R. Martin would applaud, stab his pregnant sister in the stomach while she said her wedding vows. What happened next, set the stage for the finale. Kai blew up the whole church, which caused the now human Elena to be knocked unconscious. However, as the finale revealed, Elena was not only unconscious but she would not be awoken from her comatose state until best friend Bonnie died as revengeful Kai had linked there lives together. This move meant that Elena was asleep for her last hour on the silver screen. The remainder of the finale saw Elena asleep in a coffin with her friends gathered around her saying their heartfelt goodbyes using newly found psychic abilities, that had only been explored this season, that even humans Matt and Jeremy could tap into somehow.
One of the most emotional goodbyes was between Elena and Bonnie. The vision saw the girls return to Elena’s teenage bedroom and to the scene where Bonnie first showed Elena that she could do magic by making feathers from a busted pillow float around them. Elena encouraged Bonnie to write her life down in a diary, which hints that season 7 will be returning to the original diary/voice over format. The goodbye between the girls felt so emotionally raw as both characters wept as they realised that they would never see each other again, unlike the rest of the immortal vampire population of Mystic Falls.
However the real tears came when Elena said her goodbye to lover Damon Salvatore. The vision saw the couple dancing in the middle of the road where they first met. Not many words were spoken between the pair, apart from those of Elena’s wishes for Damon not to be waiting around miserably for her, but to live his life to the full until they were reunited in eighty or so years. The scene ended with the couple that fans had been passionately routing for since interest was spiked in season 3, dancing under the glow of the moon and stars. It was beautiful and extremely heartfelt, and exactly what this couple needed.
However was Elena’s eighty year sleep a cop-out? Was it fair that she did not die unlike other fan favourites like Jenna and Lexi who met untimely deaths? I believe Elena was given a fitting ending, if she was actually killed off for no apparent reason, the previous five seasons would have been for nothing. At least here her slumber – though probably not the ideal ending for the character and possibly an after thought from the writers once realising Dobrev would be leaving the series – means that Damon, Bonnie and Stephen have something to look forward to.
Elena’s legacy is not that she has the cure to vampirism in her veins or that she’s a college graduate but that she was able to turn Damon from a vengeful psycho killer into a humorous and loveable anti-hero. This was proven in the finale where Damon chose to save Bonnie’s life instead of letting her die and instantly being with Elena forever. Instead he saved her, sacrificing the love of his life by letting her sleep for eighty years. He is no longer the selfish killer that entered Mystic Falls in 2009 but a selfless and loyal friend – this is all thanks to Elena’s love for him, proving that he can be a good man. She has given him hope.
Another reason why Elena did not die was because show creator Julie Plec has stated she did not want to kill Elena so that she can return, one day, for the eventual series finale. Plec liked the idea that Elena being the person that she is, would sacrifice her own life and happiness so that her best friend could live out the rest of her life to the full especially after all the sacrifices Bonnie has made for her in past i.e. dying twice, loosing her witch abilities and being kidnapped numerous times by crazed vampires, most notably original vampire Klaus Mikaelson.
Overall, Elena’s ending was disappointing as it was not as spectacular as one had hoped for, but it was fitting for the character, and she has left a legacy in Damon and hope for him to be reunited with his one true love in what we can assume will be a flash-forward in the series finale, which Plec expects to be in season 9 or 10.
The Vampire Diaries will return for Season 7 in October 2015.