Start the countdown — time is running out for Mystic Falls and The Vampire Diaries.
Episode 16 of season eight, the series finale, brings viewers back to the moment episode 15 left off. Bonnie and her magic managed to save Caroline's twins from the explosion, but her body couldn't take it. She collapsed and was left unconscious.
The fate of Bonnie
We find out that Bonnie is in a bizarre dream where Elena is asleep on a big white bed in the middle of the woods. Obviously that's the most comfortable place for someone to sleep while in a magically induced coma.
Elena wakes and the two old friends have the reunion that's been in the making since Elena was cursed by Kai in season six. But it's short-lived. The ghost of Enzo appears to break up the party and tell Bonnie it's not her time yet. Sorry BonBon, you got to suffer in Mystic Falls a little longer. (Seriously though, hasn't this poor girl been through enough?)
Bonnie might be alright, but there is still the small problem of Katherine trying to blow up the town. Damon zips on over to the hell bell to stop Vicki from ringing it, however, she's determined to finish ringing the bell for Katherine.
Apparently hell is so terrible that Vicki would rather burn up in hellfire than go back! Time is ticking and there is no point in continually snapping Vicki's neck. He leaves the job to Matt, warning him that if he fails to stop his sister, the whole town will go up in flames.
Welcome back, Katherine
Damon and Stefan return to the Salvatore mansion to find Elena's coffin open and empty. Bonnie did say she saw Elena — so does that mean she's alive? Elena emerges from another room and reunites with the brothers. But wait! Is this the real Elena or her evil doppelgänger? Of course, it's Katherine.
It turns out Katherine wants to play one last game with Damon and Stefan. She hid Elena's body in order to ensure that she'll burn with the town.
Stefan stakes her to send her back to hell, but they only have a limited time until she returns. They have to find Elena, and they have to find her fast. So, where does one look for an unconscious young woman? Why not check the high school! All roads lead back to Mystic Falls High, and Stefan finds her body in the boiler room. I personally would like to think this is a nod to Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the show's 20th anniversary. Bad shit always went down in that high school boiler room.
Anyway... Stefan finds Elena, which means they can all escape Mystic Falls before it burns down. But Katherine has one more trick up her sleeve. There is a spell blocking Elena's body from leaving the room.
Damon's ultimate sacrifice
The bell is ringing and time is seriously running out because Vicki won't listen to Matt. Bonnie is the magical MacGyver, though. With a little quick thinking, Bonnie realizes that as long as Katherine is in hell, she can perform a spell that will bring the hellfire from the center of town to the Armory. The only issue is that someone has to stay behind to make sure that Katherine is in hell when Bonnie begins her spell.
It's like The Vampire Diaries meets Hunger Games. Damon volunteers as tribute to sacrifice his life to make sure that Katherine is in hell. He's done a lot of horrible things over the course of his supernatural life and he's ready to pay the price. Stefan's not willing to let him die. He tries to make the argument that he's done worse things — but are we forgetting something here? Stefan has been married to Caroline for less than 24 hours! Why is he volunteering to die? He hasn't even been given any attitude yet about not doing the laundry properly or forgetting to take out the trash.
Damon's got the leg up on Stefan. Remembering that Stefan is now human, Damon uses compulsion to force him to leave. Pretty smart move.
The end result
Vicki rings the bell for the final time and Bonnie begins her spell. She manages to drive the fire from the bell in Mystic Falls into the armory, but the magic begins to overpower her. Fortunately she's got some ghostly backup. Gran's ghost shows up with a bunch of other Bennett witch ancestors to give Bonnie a hand. Together they send the fire straight back to hell. The good news is that the town is saved. The bad news is that it looks like Damon and Bonnie are dead.
Elena wakes up to find herself in the high school with a lot of questions. Is this hell? Who keeps changing my clothes while I'm unconscious? How do I look so good after being locked in a coffin for years?
Well, actually she's wondering more about how she's awake. Stefan has to be the one to break the bad news. He's not sure about what happened to Bonnie, but Damon is definitely... alive!
Yes, in the ultimate twist, Stefan's compulsion broke in time for him to put in place a pretty brilliant plan. He took vervain and injected his blood, which holds the cure, into Damon. Stefan sacrificed his life so that his brother could live. He tells Elena that Damon's decision to sacrifice himself allowed Stefan to see the older brother he used to look up to, the Damon he knew when he was a kid. He knew Damon was the better man, and wanted to give him the chance to live that way. What's even better is that Stefan got to be the one to kill Katherine once and for all. "Burn in hell."
Stefan says goodbye to Elena, but not before whispering something in her ear. Stefan walks into the light and is reunited with his old friend Lexi. "I was feeling epic," he says when he sees her. The line is the title of the series finale, and a nod to a moment between Stefan and Lexi in season one.
Following Stefan's death, Elena wakes up in the Salvatore mansion to find Bonnie standing over her. Bonnie's alive and managed to figure out a loophole to break the spell. Meanwhile, Damon is mourning Stefan with Caroline at the old Salvatore crypt.
The entire group reunites outside the mausoleum and Elena's able to tell Caroline what Stefan whispered in her ear: "One day when you wake up, tell Caroline I heard her and I will love her forever too."
So, this is going to be one of the series finales that fans will debate for a long time. The series jumps forward to reveal how everyone moves on. Matt is honored with a bench in Mystic Falls after saving everyone during the evacuation. The ghosts of Tyler and Vicki watch the ceremony with a smile on their faces. Bonnie is taking her second chance at life and using the opportunity to travel.
But Enzo is still watching over her every step of the way. Alaric and Caroline open up the Salvatore Boarding School for the Young and Gifted, where Jeremy returns to teach. Jo's ghost watches on lovingly as Alaric plays with their daughters, while the ghost of Caroline's mother watches her proudly run the school. We also learn Caroline is being courted by a certain someone in New Orleans. Could a Vampire Diaries character moving over to The Originals soon?
As for Elena and Damon: Elena finishes med school and it's assumed the two get married because she has an engagement and wedding ring on as they walk hand in hand. But this is where things get hazy. Elena reunites with her dead parents, Aunt Jenna and Uncle John on the steps of her childhood home. A voiceover of Elena talks about the "promise of peace" and how "one day after a long life we find each other again."
Meanwhile, the final shot of the series is of Stefan opening up his front door to find Damon standing in front of him. "Hello, brother," he says before the two embrace.
Does this mean that Elena and Damon died? I'm not sure if we'll ever know.
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