It's the season finale of The Vampire Diaries and while the gang gets ready for graduation, every remaining supernatural being is waiting for the moment to strike.
While Kol gives his "rousing" speech to all of the resurrected supernatural people, Stefan drinks with Lexi but Damon's clear head knows that they need to be ready. Bonnie is trying to deal with being dead but doesn't want that to kill the graduation buzz for her friends. Knowing that she has to close the veil later that night, her Grams suggests that she enjoy her time but say her goodbyes to the ones she loves. Elsewhere, the Five hunters have returned and are still dead set on destroying Silas and will kill everyone remotely related to Elena if she doesn't give them the cure. After getting shot by Vaughn's bullet laced with werewolf venom, Damon is running out of time and Klaus is too far away to cure him. He leads Vaughn to where he may have disposed of Silas's body but it's just a ruse. Luckily for him, Alaric just finished dealing with Connor Jordan and is there to snap Vaughn's neck and take the cure back before tossing Vaughn's body over a cliff. Before graduation, Katherine confronts Bonnie about not giving her true immortality but it is too late and Bonnie lets her know that without Ketsya, there is nothing that she can do. During graduation, Kol surprises Bonnie with the news that the resurrected will kill everyone whenever he gives the word; so Bonnie traps him in a basement where no one can hear him. Luckily for Damon Salvatore, Klaus show up and gives him the cure and just as he appears to have given up all hope of winning Elena over, she confesses her love for him. Stefan isn't overjoyed by the news but he decides to leave Mystic Falls now that nothing is holding him back but not before dumping Silas's stone body into the quarry. It's after Bonnie closes the veil and leaves this world that her spell is broken and Silas reawakens, revealing his true form to be Stefan's. To balance the scales for an immortal, the world created versions of him that can be killed in the form of doppelgangers. Stefan learns that he is Silas's doppelganger shortly before being staked, locked in a box and thrown into the water, leaving Silas free to live on in his image.
Unfortunately, Graduation was just as disappointing as I thought it would be. The episode failed at every turn to gain any momentum or sense of urgency as the Five hunters may have been immortal but were far from invulnerable. Stefan killed Vaughn (the first time) while he was drunk and Alaric easily stopped Connor from blowing up the Grill. Their return was meant to evoke a shock but they went out with a whimper as each of them was killed with ease. To make matters worse, Kol, the witches and the hybrids all returned but not one had any meaningful impact. Bringing back familiar faces can be a plus but not when it's for the gimmick rather than substance.
Speaking of returns, Jeremy, Alaric, Klaus and Lexi each got to have their own special moments. Seeing Alaric and Lexi is great whenever it happens and their brief scene together perfectly encapsulated their characters: how can they leave when they when they worry about the ones they love? With Joseph Morgan starring in his own show, it was fitting to see him return with some humour and humility during his time with Caroline. He knew that she wouldn't leave with him but he will always have a place on The Vampire Diaries. I waited for a while to mention this but while Jeremy's permanent return may be a good thing for Elena, I don't think it was the best thing for the story going forward. By all accounts, Jeremy had nowhere else to go after becoming a medium and a hunter and finally dying during Silas's resurrection. Maybe he will feel a compulsion to kill Silas or be the only one that can sense something if off about Stefan next season but it would have been best to watch him leave with Bonnie as they both disappeared. Speaking of Bonnie, I'm uncertain if Kat Graham has permanently left the show (you can never tell) but if so, it's for the best. Bonnie has become a plot device over the seasons and the writers need to come up with new material that doesn't end with Bonnie casting a new spell or enchanting another piece of jewelry to stop the latest threat.
After years of wondering if they would or wouldn't, Elena chose Damon over Stefan. It provides some much needed resolution to the long gestating love triangle at the heart of the series but Paul Wesley stole the show every time the subject came up. Wesley was back to the brooding Stefan but this time he had good reason since the love of his life chose his brother over him and his best friend has gone back to the afterlife. Stefan is truly alone and was then sent crashing into the bottom of a quarry in an iron box thanks to Silas. Now that the cure has been used on Katherine, is there anything that can stop the first immortal?
All in all, the seasons have not been kind to The Vampire Diaries. With each year, the stories have weakened and this season was no exception. Season four was largely predictable and the stories seemed to drag on without any sign of resolution or effort to fill the gaps along the way. Remember when Rebekah found Atticus Shane alive and then just said he was dead the next episode after he played such a big role in the Silas story? Or when Vaughn apparently starved to death without us knowing? Or that only four hunters returned this episode when the legend says there are five? The focus on Elena was too much this season as we watched her struggle with being a vampire and then lose her humanity only to regain it again. It was a prolonged journey that consumed too much time this season and took away from other stories that were far more engaging. Longer seasons only exacerbate these issues as the writers need to focus on having stronger stories that don't rely on tired cliff hangers at the end of an episode and the season. I would go as far to say that season four was the worst season of the show yet.
Graduation was a mediocre finish to a boring season of The Vampire Diaries. Hopefully this is not the standard going forward but we'll keep our fingers crossed when the show returns this fall.