The Vampire Diaries season 8 has been filled with old storylines, old events, old quotes and old props. Nostalgia is great but is it starting to get a bit… well, old?
A wise, elderly man by the name of Damon Salvatore once said, “nostalgia’s a bitch,” and I have to admit, I’m starting to agree with him. Now that we’re in the final season of The Vampire Diaries, the show is paying homage to many of the elements that we loved in past seasons. It’s nice to step back into some of our favorite moments, but when is enough, enough?
Of course, there are some really awesome things that The Vampire Diaries is doing to tie in earlier themes and invoke nostalgia. The addition of Matt’s family, and their involvement in the “bell” storyline has allowed us to return to the true nature of Matt’s character and his plight amongst his friends and a town that he’s never truly felt part of. The bell’s connection to the old Mystic Falls, and even the Wickery bridge, only supplement a meaningful extension of Matt’s story arc.
Along the same lines, the recent return of the vampire transition brings back both fond and difficult memories from past seasons, while still serving our characters well. The Fell girl’s transition reminded us of Caroline and Elena’s transitions at a similar juncture in their lives, while allowing Caroline to take on a new role in the process. Also, Bonnie is now seriously considering this weighty decision for the first time, whether or not it’s possible, for her.
Little bits of nostalgia like these, that make us feel for the past while still allowing our characters to grow, have been the best part of The Vampire Diaries season 8. The bell, the transition question, the flashbacks to the Ripper of Monterey, and the return of old characters in meaningful ways have all been wonderful additions to the season.
The problems I have with the nostalgia factor in The Vampire Diaries season 8 come when it’s added in a way that doesn’t make sense for the current landscape of the show, when it slows down the story, or when it’s just plain overdone.
For example, the Miss Mystic Falls pageant. An absolutely iconic event in The Vampire Diaries series, yes, but one that frankly doesn’t make any sense to have in season 8!
When Salvatore and co. last spent time in Mystic Falls at the beginning of season 7, the town was in shambles and had been completely evacuated. The Mystic Falls we had come to know and love over six seasons was effectively dead. Now, somehow it’s been rebuilt. Over the three year time jump in season 7 and the gap between season 7 and 8, there was plenty of time for Mystic Falls to regroup and become a town again, but it’s not really the same town that we left.
Without any concept of how the town was reformed, we have no sense of what it is, and what place Salvatore and co. have in it. Every pillar that could’ve grounded us in the original Mystic Falls, like Mayor Lockwood and Sheriff Forbes, is gone, leaving the town feeling like a shadow of its former self.
For this reason, it just didn’t feel the same to see Caroline, the former Miss Mystic Falls, running the event, or even to hear the “Fell” name, once again. Really, the event just served as a way to relive old Delena moments. Listen, the Delena dance from the first Miss Mystic Falls pageant is one of my favorite television scenes of all time and even I was rolling my eyes by the end of the episode.
The Miss Mystic Falls pageant isn’t the only culprit. Returning to other old venues that don’t make sense, bringing back old characters just to immediately kill them off, continued rehashing of old lines and habits and a continuous loop of the same flashbacks are all part of the same problem.
Flashbacks have always been key to The Vampire Diaries, since Stefan and Damon had already lived so much before we met them. The flashbacks helped to fill in the blanks of how they became who they are, and how Mystic Falls became what it was.
However, continuous flashbacks to things we’ve already seen do nothing for the story! I miss Elena as much as the next person, but I don’t need to keep reliving the same few scenes, just because she’s in them.
The problem with all of this nostalgia-for-nostalgia’s-sake, is that with only seven episodes left in the series, we just don’t have time for it. Damon’s storyline has been so messed up to include as many Delena flashbacks as possible that I truly have no idea what’s going on with him. Stefan has reverted back to a version of himself that we’ve seen him overcome, many times before.
We have only a few episodes left to get to a meaningful and satisfactory conclusion to this story. Only a few hours’ worth of moments with these characters that we’ve come to love so much. Yes, it’s fun to see things that we’ve loved in the past, but we’re also dying to see these characters take on new challenges, and grow in new ways. These characters deserve an ending worthy of their epic, eight year story. In order to achieve that, every moment has to count!
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