Because The Vampire Diaries does death so often—and most of the time, it doesn’t stick—it’s easy to lose sight of just how well this show actually does it. And tonight, we said goodbye to Sheriff Forbes in a way that felt like a combination of Rose’s death and Alaric’s death for me. Of course, the Rose thing ties in with Caroline using her vampire abilities to get inside her mom’s head, but it reminded me of Alaric’s death in the way that everyone gathered in her room. Sure, some people were missing, but you got the point.
And when this show is at its best is when all the people we love are together… and also when it’s throwing a twist at us, which was another thing this hour did when Jeremy decided to become a vampire hunter instead of going to art school. Add the tears with the shock factor, and tonight proved to be a strong hour for the show.
We start in a flashback to the day that Elena’s parents died. Liz is at work—back when Carol Lockwood’s alcoholism and bonfires were her biggest issues—when she gets a call about the accident at Wickery Bridge. Cut to present day, and as Liz cleans out her office, she decides to open up her box of ongoing cases. Pretty soon after that, she decides Damon’s the man to help her find some answers.
But before Damon can head to Liz’s office, he has to first compel Jeremy’s principal to give him a high school degree despite his attendance issues—and his lack of spelling ability. But instead of showing the principal a video of Jeremy ripping his shirt open—which I, personally, think would’ve done the trick–Damon uses his vampy tricks and rewards Little Gilbert with both a degree and some weed from Jo’s stash.
But Jer is way ahead of Damon, already taking going-away shots with Matt and Alaric. (Tyler gets a pass because he dumped Liv.) However, the party gets interrupted in record time when Enzo calls Matt with a little surprise… and in walks Sarah Salvatore, who’s been hired to take some photos for The Grill. But as Matt will later find out, she’s just as good at posing for photos as she is at taking them. More on that later!
Away from Mystic Falls, Caroline and Stefan spend the episode preparing a surprise for Liz. They’re setting up an old cabin to be the perfect place for her to rest in her final days. Once at the house, Stefan quickly gets to work fixing exposed wires, but Caroline seems more concerned with his exposed biceps. But despite him telling her that there’s no place he’d rather be, she’s still convinced that he’s only helping because Liz asked him to look after her.
Cut to a little bit later, and Caroline is opening a bottle of booze she bought for her mother—mostly because she can’t decide what book should go on Liz’s bedside table and potentially be the last thing she reads. And then a little while after that? Well, Stefan and Caroline are having a moment on the porch. This show and front porches, am I right?
On the porch, Stefan tells Caroline that he’s realized that it doesn’t matter what book is on the nightstand for Liz because life isn’t about your final moments. It’s about the moments that led up to them. Caroline knows, but as always, she just wanted a little control. Taking her hand, Stefan tells her that if anyone can control death, it’s her. Quickly falling into Stefan’s beautiful green eyes, Caroline pulls herself back by telling him that she knows that he’s only here because Liz asked. But that’s not why. “You’re my friend,” he tells her. Plus, Stefan knows what it’s like to lose a mother. But most importantly, when she told him she hated him, it was pretty much the worst thing he’d heard in a long time.
Of course, she never really hated him. Brushing her hair away from her face, Stefan looks at Caroline in a way he hasn’t before. And then, backlit by the sun, they kiss. It’s incredibly slow and incredibly beautiful, and it’s followed by some incredible dialogue.
Caroline: “One of us should probably say something.”
Stefan: “Go for it.”
Caroline: “Not that.”
There’s something oddly comforting about the fact that even vampires aren’t good at transitioning from friends to something more.
NEXT: Goodbye, Liz (and Jeremy)
Back in town, Damon helps Liz solve a stack of her unsovled cases—99 percent of them were him… but the one percent that he had nothing to do with is the Wickery Bridge car accident. And when Liz plays a voicemail that Miranda left her two hours before the accident—one saying she had something “urgent” to talk to Liz about—Damon’s in.
But considering that Liz is a good cop, she’s not done questioning Damon just yet. She asks him why he and Stefan were in town around the time of the accident, and Damon informs her that it was around the date that his mother died. And whenever his emotions are “on,” he puts flowers on his mother’s grave. Apparently she died of consumption, which Damon tells Liz as they start to drink. Although, in a great moment, Liz claims that alcohol isn’t what made her a bad sheriff. “I’m a terrible sheriff because my best friend is the perp in half my cases.” Oh, I love these two.
When Liz reveals that there were no skid marks at the accident, that the route choice was strange, and that there was luggage in the trunk, Damon decides they need to bring Elena in. The catch? Elena’s busy getting stoned with Jeremy. Yep, on Jer’s last day in town, Elena decides to try her hand at doing something “normal” with her brother for once, which means getting the munchies and reminiscing about cars, losing their parents, and such. Long story short, Jeremy wants Elena’s car, Elena’s been a great sister, and people in Mystic Falls still think Alaric is dead? That’s beyond confusing.
But when Damon finally gets through to Elena, she heads over to meet with Liz, leaving Jeremy to get his face stepped on—which was very harsh, Enzo. He uses Jeremy as bait so that Enzo can convince Matt to take Sarah to some dark tunnel along the river. Once there, Matt and Sarah talk briefly about the nudes on her camera—her roommate took them “for an art class”—before Enzo, you know, runs Matt over with a car. Why? So that he could feed him vampire blood, freak Sarah the hell out, and then run away. Not cool, Enzo.
Back at Liz’s, Elena doesn’t have any answers about the accident, mostly because she was texting Bonnie when it happened, but she agrees to ask Jer. Jeremy, who’s surprisingly helpful for once, reveals that Miranda had called Sheriff Forbes as a joke to scare Jeremy, whom she’d just caught smoking pot for the first time. And when the rest of the question marks can be answered by a big storm that had come through town earlier, Liz is forced to accept that it really was just an accident. And when she nearly collapses, Damon takes her home.
With Liz sick, Jeremy wants to delay leaving, but Elena convinces him that he should’ve left years ago. She hugs him goodbye, tells him to expect an SUV-size package from her in a few days—he gets the car!—and then lets Ric take him to the airport… and by airport, he means bus station, where Ric hands him his vamp-hunting tools. Ric found a town about 30 miles north of Santa Fe, where there have been reports of animal attacks. So now, Jer is off to do what he loves—”kicking vampire ass.” And Ric is so proud. Ric’s final promise to him? He’ll call if Bonnie ever comes back.
Real talk: Jeremy is not that good at hunting vampires and will probably die in a week, right? He’s no Alaric Saltzman. Also, if he dies one more time with that Gilbert ring on, he’s screwed anyway. (Sorry to be such a downer.)
After Liz gets into bed, she finally breaks down to Damon. She lived a good life, did everything right. But as he tells her, “Sometimes really terrible things happen to really amazing people.” Then again, at least there’s a certain amount of peace in knowing she’s one of the few people in Mystic Falls to die an ordinary death. “I’m exceptionally ordinary, and I’m okay with that,” she says. “Caroline is anything but. She was meant to be extraordinary.” Liz needs her daughter to know how proud she is, and we can only hope that Damon relays the info, because after Damon promises to write Liz’s eulogy—he missed his chance with his mom—Liz is rushed to the hospital.
In a beautiful scene, Caroline shows up in a panic that she didn’t get to say goodbye to her mom, but Liz is still stable and Stefan has an idea of how they can be together in Liz’s final moments. Grabbing her mom’s hand, Caroline meets up with her mom in Liz’s memory of the day she taught Caroline to ride a bike. In dialogue that mirrors the moment at hand, Caroline tells her mother, “Don’t let go. I’m not ready.” And as Liz let’s go of the bike, she tells her daughter, “Yes you are.”
Surrounded by Damon, Elena, Stefan, and Matt, Caroline weeps, and Liz dies.
To be honest, I never knew how much I loved Liz until that moment. Losing her really is going to affect the show. Jeremy, on the other hand, feels like less of a big deal in an odd way. Maybe it’s because he’s alive or because we’ve been here before, but it was time for him to move on.
Goodbye Liz. I’ll always miss your amazing haircut. And goodbye, Jer. I’ll never miss your haircuts (but I will miss your abs).