At one point in last night’s episode of The Vampire Diaries, Kai asked, “Is anyone still alive out there?” He was talking to a roomful of people he’d killed, but the question easily could have been directed at the audience. We knew going into the Season 6 finale that it would be Nina Dobrev’s final episode and we’d have to watch our favorite characters say goodbye to Elena. Given the way the previous episode ended, we knew there’d be plenty of heartbreak to go around in addition to those goodbyes. But even with all that information upfront, it was impossible to be prepared for the emotional punch the hour delivered.
“Thinking of You All the While” will be one of those episodes that fans of the show will never forget. It was equal parts beautiful and heartbreaking and believe it or not, it also managed to be extremely hopeful. After six seasons, one of the main chapters has come to close, but this is by no means the end of the story. We got a small glimpse at the end of the episode of what’s to come and thanks to each of Elena’s heartfelt goodbyes, the characters who loved her are going to be able to move on without her…at least for the next 60 or 70 years.
Our normal Top 5 Moments format is not going to work for this episode because nearly everything that happened during the hour could easily have been a number one moment in a different episode. So let’s start off with the aftermath of what Kai did. Jo was dead in Ric’s arms, Damon whisked Elena off to the hospital, Kai broke Stefan and Caroline’s necks and then he apologized to Alaric for “killing his twinsies”, but he explained that he didn’t want the competition. Then he said that if his family wanted to believe he was the worst, he’d happily oblige and that’s when he stabbed himself in the neck so the entire Gemini Coven would die along with him.
Liv and Tyler had somehow been thrown outside the reception and he was dying from a stab wound as she tried to figure out what happened to her and he explained that Kai had killed himself so she would die too (this was NOT the ending I had in mind for these two, writers). Tyler professed his love to Liv (aw!) and she doesn’t want it to end like this either and tells him to turn (it’s a full moon) so he’ll heal. She reminds him that he told her once that she gave him a second chance and he wouldn’t waste it and she tells him that she loves him and wants to do this for him. Tyler kisses her goodbye and she whispers not to waste it and then he kills her, triggering his curse. My heart hurts, but this scene brought them full circle. I will miss you, Liv.
Meanwhile, Enzo arrived at some point to kidnap an unconscious Stefan and Caroline so he could take them to deal with Lily. She continued to refuse to hear reason or care about her son so Stefan washed his hands of her, but first, he wanted to know what she gave Kai in order to get her friends back. She tells him that it was her blood. I pretty much assumed Kai would turn into a witchpire the second he stabbed himself because even killing his whole family would not be worth his own death in his mind. But I didn’t realize Lily gave him her blood so props for that twist. Kai woke up and headed outside where a devastated Alaric had just put Jo’s body in his car (Jo’s death is going in my ‘never forgiving the show for this one’ column). Alaric attempted to shoot Kai, but he was immune so he tried to shoot himself in the head, but there were no more bullets. That’s when Tyler arrived and promptly bit Kai (YES!) before running off so he wouldn’t hurt anyone else.
Elena remained unconscious in the hospital and Damon called Bonnie to make sure she was safe (aw!). She didn’t understand why Kai left her alive and Damon filled her in on the wedding from hell. She planned to head to the hospital, but she found a video message Kai had left for her as the man in question arrived to ask Damon what was happening to his neck. Ric managed to send Damon a text message warning Tyler was a werewolf and Kai was a vampire so it wasn’t hard for Damon to put two and two together. He offered to head to New Orleans to get the cure for Kai as long as he told him what he did to Elena because she was in perfect health, but not waking up. As the scene alternated between them and Bonnie and Matt watching the video, we learned that Kai put a sleeping spell on Elena that would preserve her exactly how she is – young, beautiful and full of life. But she wouldn’t wake up until Bonnie died. So Damon had the choice: let Bonnie live and be without the love of his life or kill Bonnie and have Elena wake up and hate him. That’s sadistic and typical Kai, but also genius on the writers’ part. No one would believe Elena simply left town and no one wants to see the main character die after she become human again. This way, we have hope of seeing her again (in a flash forward many decades in the future – do not kill Bonnie).
Bonnie tracked down Kai at the reception hall and used her magic to bring him pain. Kai realized that werewolves were magic and that meant their venom was too and he syphoned it out of his neck and turned it into magic he used against Bonnie. He explains that he can’t undo the spell on Elena because it became permanent when he died (again, well played, show). Damon arrives when Bonnie is crumpled on the ground, dying from a collapsed lung. Kai taunts him and says that he can just leave her to die and he wouldn’t be blamed. Damon’s holding Bonnie’s hand and he tells her that he’s sorry and kisses her forehead before he leaves. Bonnie is shocked and sad, but Kai is genuinely baffled because he believed Damon would have to at least weigh his options, maybe flip a coin, heads he lets Bonnie live – and that’s when Damon literally knocks Kai’s head off (YES!). He rushes back to Bonnie and feeds her his blood and jokes that he hasn’t run out of nickname options for her yet before he carries her out of there (my heart, you guys). I knew Damon would do the right thing and I love that he did it in such dramatic fashion.
Side note: I’m going to miss Chris Wood. He’s a fantastic actor and Kai was absolutely the villain and I’m not sorry he’s dead because there was no redeeming that guy, but I loved having him around this season. And that is all due to Wood and how well he adapted to the different layers of Kai. He always brought humor and nuance to the character and even in the end, in the middle of horrific violence, he still made it believable that Kai felt that he was driven to this by his family’s rejection (by the way, that doesn’t mean I feel sorry for him. I’m just saying that it’s believable that Kai believed it). Anyway, I will definitely be watching Wood in Containment next season.
Before we get to the goodbyes, I want to talk about Stefan and Caroline for a moment. In Elena’s hospital room, Caroline asked Stefan if he would be okay without his soulmate. Stefan told her that he didn’t necessarily believe Elena came into his life to be his soulmate. He acknowledged that they loved each other in a way that he’d never imagined possible, but she was also the only person who believed Damon was worth loving. In doing so, she brought Stefan and Damon back together and in the end, he realizes that he needs his brother more than he needs her (*insert me being a broken record that Stefan and Damon’s relationship has always been the heart of the show*). Later, Stefan showed up on Caroline’s doorstep to tell her that he understood she needed time and why she felt loving him had been a disaster. But loving her (!!!!!!) had changed him too. He talked about all the ways she was there for him and everything she did for him (including making him dance) and he promised that he’d wait for her and when she was ready to be with him, he’d be ready too (have I mentioned Stefan is my favorite character on TV? Go ahead and imagine how much I swooned watching this speech).
I loved that all of the goodbye scenes and the way they touched on big moments in the show. I also love that some of the scenes took place throughout the hour and not just after everyone gathered at Casa Salvatore. Basically, I just loved everything about this episode, even as it broke my heart so enough about me, let’s talk goodbyes:
Jeremy: I’m glad they brought him back for this because it’s really sad that Elena will likely never see her brother again. But at the same time, I think the goodbye they shared when Jeremy left town was even better than this one. He promised he’d be happy doing what he’s meant to do (killing vampires).
Tyler: Elena told him to get out of Mystic Falls and find what makes him happy and fight for it. She also told him to embrace being a werewolf and let it be what makes him extraordinary.
Matt: On the bridge where she “died”, Elena told Matt she wanted him to be a cop and to keep fighting for people like him. She told him he was good and loyal and human and she believed they’d defy the odds and see each other again (no doubt Matt will live forever even without being immortal).
Alaric: In a training session, Elena urged him not to give up and he told her that he didn’t have anything left to fight for. She wanted him to let in the pain, even though it felt like it would never end. She told him to drown in it and come out stronger the other end (I’m really worried about Alaric going into next season).
Caroline: Since they’d see each other again, Caroline selflessly gave up some of her time for Bonnie. But Elena asked both her friends to live their lives and be happy and write it all down for her (someone’s got to keep that diary) so she could read about her friends when she woke up.
Bonnie: Sorry shippers, but this was actually my favorite of all the goodbye scenes. Elena assured Bonnie that they’d both have long, happy lives, just not at the same time. She also told her that since Bonnie had spent her whole life sacrificing herself for Elena; it was her turn to make the sacrifice for Bonnie. This was beautiful and the epitome of human Elena Gilbert, who never once asked anyone to step into the line of fire for her. Then she asked Bonnie for one more favor – she wanted her to float the feathers from her pillow again. I can’t even talk about how perfect this was.
Stefan: As they hiked to the spot where she told him in season two that she didn’t want to be a vampire, Elena and Stefan struggled with how to say goodbye to one another. She acknowledged that he knew her better than anyone and she thanked him for bumping into her that day in the hallway and saving her life. She told him that she loved him and couldn’t wait to find out in the future all about how he lived his life (he assured her it wouldn’t be high school). Elena asked him to be happy (I’ll just be here crying).
Damon: On the road where they first met (before Damon compelled it away), Damon told Elena that she could have told him what to do (regarding Bonnie). She said she knew what he would do. Damon was surprised she trusted selfish Damon Salvatore to make the right choice, but Elena reminded him that she believed the love of her life would stand by his best friend, even if it meant being without her for a little while. He considers letting himself desiccate while she’s gone, but Elena tells him to be happy and enjoy his life and then they start to dance (with their hands up, a perfect throwback to season one). Finally, Elena asks if he’s ready and he says he’ll never be ready. They exchange an “I love you” and share one last kiss (so beautiful it hurts).
Of course that’s not quite the end because this is The Vampire Diaries. It turned out Kai had brought back Lily’s family after all and she and Enzo were reunited with them. Then once Elena’s coffin was safely in the Salvatore crypt, we flashed forward and found a practically deserted, rundown Mystic Falls that looked like it had been bombed. Windows were boarded up, there was garbage in the streets and Officer Matt drove slowly through the town in a patrol car while Damon watched the scene from the top of the clock tower. And with that, a fantastic season came to a close. See you guys in October…