Bonnie’s still unconscious, and Stefan is trying desperately to revive her with CPR. When that doesn’t work, Caroline gives her some blood. That doesn’t help, either.
As Stefan continues CPR, Bonnie slips between worlds and comes across Elena sleeping in a bed in the woods. Elena wakes up and the two friends happily reunite. Elena’s upset that Bonnie has died so young, before she got to truly live her life. Bonnie’s okay with it, since it means she can be with Enzo. She promises that she’s ready. “Well, I’m not,” Enzo says as he joins them. He tells her it’s not her time. Bonnie revives and tells Stefan and Caroline that she saw Elena.
In the bell tower, Vicki’s ringing the bell again. Damon zooms in and tackles her, but she tells him there’s nothing he can do to stop her. Really? Even throwing you out of the bell tower? Because that seems to stop you. Matt arrives and blasts Damon for killing Vicki, which isn’t really accurate, since she was already dead. Damon doesn’t want to hear from Matt, since he needs to keep his head clear now that Katherine has declared war.
Vicki returns to the bell tower and heads straight for the bell again. She tells Damon this is her chance to get out of Hell. Damon kills her again, telling Matt he’s just testing a theory. As he expected, Vicki revives. Damon tells Matt to convince her to stop ringing the bell. The fate of the town is in Matt and his family’s hands. But Damon can’t place all his hope on them, so he needs to come up with another plan.
Matt’s happy to see Vicki, but she’s focused on following orders: Katherine told her to ring the bell every five minutes until the town burns. Matt needs to save himself – that’s what Vicki’s doing. He reminds her that Mystic Falls is their home. She replies that the town means nothing to her anymore. Matt warns her not to trust Katherine, but Vicki can’t face the thought of going back to Hell. She’d prefer the final death she’ll get from unleashing Hell on Earth.
As she rings the bell again, Stefan, Damon, and Caroline meet up outside. Matt comes out and calls someone to implement the town’s evacuation protocol (for a “gas leak”). Stefan and Damon go to Vamp Villa, where Damon says Katherine finally beat them. The first thing they see when they arrive is Elena’s coffin, open and empty. Stefan notes that Bonnie briefly died, so the sleep spell must have been broken. Elena appears and asks if Bonnie’s dead. Damon assures her that they’re both okay.
He gives her a big hug, realizing in the middle that he’s once again been fooled by a doppelganger. This is Katherine, not Elena. “Hello, brothers,” she greets him and Stefan. They ask where Elena is, and she replies, “That’s for me to know and for you to…dot dot dot.” She enjoyed watching them take on Cade, who’s been wrapped around her finger since the minute she entered Hell. He only went after the Salvatores because Katherine wanted him to.
Damon demands to know where Elena is. Katherine gloats about her perfect revenge plan. At 10 p.m., Elena will burn along with the town. Katherine assumes one of the brothers will die with her. Stefan readies the dagger Peter made from Katherine’s remains as she wonders if she should place her bet now who will die. Stefan stabs her, which at the very least makes her stop talking, if it doesn’t kill her permanently.
Matt heads to the hospital, where one of the people being evacuated from the town is Tiki’s grandfather. Peter’s also there, recovering from what Kelly did to him before the wedding. He doesn’t get why the town is being evacuated, since he thinks he and Matt are the only two people who can cause any damage by ringing the bell. Matt tells him Vicki’s back.
Stefan and Damon search the town for Elena while Caroline packs up things at Fort Forbes that can’t be replaced. Alaric has the girls ready to go, and he insists that Caroline evacuate with them instead of looking for Elena. The twins need her more, and he doesn’t want to have to tell them that their mother died. Caroline promises that she’ll make it out safely.
Stefan searches Mystic Falls High, finally finding Elena in the boiler room. When he tries to carry her out, he discovers that someone put a barrier spell on the doorway. The bell rings again with half an hour to go before the 10 p.m. hellfire deadline. Stefan calls Damon to tell him that he can leave the boiler room; only Elena’s spelled in. Damon needs to get Katherine to break the spell. Katherine finds him first and tells him that the bone dagger sends her to Hell but doesn’t keep her there. Also, Kai did the spell to keep Elena in the boiler room, and since he’s “forever indisposed” now, no one can break it.
Damon’s tired of the banter he and Katherine have been volleying back and forth over the past 150+ years. He’s ready to skip ahead to what she wants. She says she has everything she wants, or at least she’s about to. She’s going to destroy the town and everyone in it. Damon accuses her of being jealous of Elena, since she knows he and Stefan will choose her over Katherine every time. Katherine replies that Elena would choose Stefan. That’s who Katherine would choose. Anyone would, since Stefan’s the better man. Damon responds by killing her.
Bonnie’s with Alaric and the twins, and they’ve driven too far outside of town to be able to help get Elena out of the boiler room. Stefan and Caroline don’t want to leave her there, and they know Damon won’t, either. Alaric tells Caroline over the phone that it’s time for her to evacuate. Stefan wants to talk to Damon, even though he knows he’ll never convince Damon to leave Elena behind. Caroline can help there, but she’s going to keep her promise to Alaric and not risk being separated from the twins.
Stefan understands and wants her to put her family first. She reminds him that they’re family now, too. She cries and asks him not to make her leave him. But he wants to be sure she’s safe before he goes to find Damon, the family he needs to put first. They tell each other they love each other and kiss goodbye.
Bonnie and Alaric take the girls to the Armory, where he tells Bonnie that he cares about Elena and Damon, but he has to put his daughters ahead of them, which means ensuring Caroline’s safety. Bonnie says that if there were something else they could do, they would do it. She spots his and Dorian’s work on finding a way to destroy Hell, and Alaric explains that Dorian came up with an idea involving a ton of mystical energy. Bonnie points out that hellfire contains what they’re looking for. She calls Stefan to present her idea, telling him that Katherine will have to be in Hell when they destroy it if they want to get rid of her for good.
Matt oversees the evacuation as the bell continues ringing. It’s now ten minutes to 10 p.m. Bonnie thanks the twins for saving her from the fire and helping her remember that she still has some magic inside her. Caroline arrives and Alaric tells her they need to keep moving. Bonnie promises that she’s going to save the world, but without their help. She and Caroline say goodbye, and Caroline tells Bonnie not to do anything stupid.
Damon goes to the tomb, and when Katherine shows up, he tells her that Bonnie figured out how to save the day. Katherine notes that the hellfire the bell will unleash will destroy everything within miles. Bonnie can’t stop it, especially since she’s half an hour away at the Armory. It seems Katherine’s unaware of the tunnels running from the Armory to Mystic Falls, which cut the trip down to seven miles. They also lead right to downtown Mystic Falls, which means Bonnie can draw the hellfire from there out of town. Damon thinks she can even send it right back to Hell. He and Katherine will be there to see it. “I gotta say, I look forward to dying by your side, K.P.,” Damon says.
Katherine thinks he’s bluffing, but Stefan, who’s just arrived, says he’s not. Damon tells him to leave, but Stefan wants to be the one who ensures Katherine’s death. Katherine tries to leave so the brothers can pick which one of them will sacrifice himself. Damon kills her and continues the conversation. He’s willing to die to atone for all the things he did in the past. Stefan feels like he needs to do it, though – he owes it to a lot of people, including Bonnie and Enzo. Damon refuses to leave his brother there to die, but Stefan refuses to let him take his place.
Damon insists that Stefan isn’t responsible for Enzo’s death. Stefan disagrees, feeling accountable for every person he’s killed. Damon notes that he’s killed more. Stefan only has a mortal lifespan now, and he wants Damon to be able to spend eternity with Elena (well, she’s human, so it won’t be eternity, but okay). Damon isn’t so interested in eternity if he’ll have to spend it without Stefan.
Stefan doesn’t want to do this any more than Damon wants him to – he just got married, and Caroline’s waiting for him to join her. But in the decades since Stefan made Damon become a vampire, he’s fought to get Damon the happiness that’s right around the corner for him. Stefan wants to do this for his brother. Damon refuses again, so Stefan says he wants to do this for himself.
The brothers say they love each other, and just when it looks like Damon’s going to give in, he makes the final decision. He compels Stefan to walk out and keep walking until Damon dies and the compulsion is broken. Damon’s the older brother, and he’s sorry he wasn’t better at it until now. Stefan sadly turns and leaves him in the tomb.
At 9:55 p.m., the bell rings an 11th time. Peter goes up to the bell tower, not to talk Vicki out of ringing the bell again but just to see her one last time. Matt’s there, too, and the three have a tearful reunion. In the car, Alaric tells Caroline that Stefan’s going to sacrifice himself to ensure the town’s safety and Katherine’s death. At the Armory, Bonnie lights candles and asks Sheila to come to her. She uses her remaining magic to start her spell.
It’s 9:59 and the last of the townspeople have been evacuated. Matt and Peter have left the bell tower, where Vicki’s preparing for the final ring. Caroline tells Alaric to stop the car so she can call Stefan. She leaves him a message begging him to call her. She wants him to know that she understands why he chose to sacrifice himself. She’ll love him forever.
Matt and Peter watch from the ground as the clock on the bell tower strikes 10 p.m. Vicki rings the bell and hellfire shoots out of the tower. Bonnie’s spell works almost immediately, though, sending the fire back up into the bell. Katherine revives just in time for the flames to shoot through the tunnels, past where she and Damon are waiting until he can kill her.
Stefan makes it all the way to the hospital before he turns around and goes back the way he came. Bonnie continues sending hellfire through the tunnels until it reaches the Armory. She holds it back with a barrier spell, refusing to let the flames engulf her. “Now you’re finally ready to live,” Enzo says, appearing next to her. He tells her to keep fighting. Bonnie isn’t sure she can do it alone, but he knows she’s strong enough to do anything. And she’s not alone.
Bonnie sees that Sheila’s standing on her other side. Sheila takes her hand and they hold back the flames together. Beatrice takes Enzo’s place and helps them. Suddenly they’re surrounded by other witches – Lucy, Ayana, the witch who created the Brotherhood of the Five, and the witches who died at Hex House. Bonnie has her own coven now, and they send the flames back up into the bell together. “I did it,” Bonnie says when it’s over, then collapses.
Still between worlds, Elena is at Mystic Falls High, looking at a trophy case and remembering her time there. She runs into Stefan in the same spot where they first met. He tells her that Damon wanted to sacrifice himself to save her and the town. He compelled Stefan to leave…but Stefan had taken vervain, so the compulsion didn’t work. In a flashback, Stefan grabs a syringe from an ambulance at the hospital and uses it to withdraw some of his blood.
In the tunnels, Damon holds the bone dagger to Katherine’s neck, waiting for the hellfire to come back and kill them both. But Stefan sneaks up behind him and injects him with his blood, along with the cure. That means Stefan will start to age and will die pretty soon, so why not take Damon’s place? He assures Elena that Damon’s okay. “I did what I had to do,” Stefan says emotionally. In a flashback, he takes Damon’s place and stabs Katherine as the hellfire approaches. “Goodbye, brother,” Stefan whispers just before the flames kill him and Katherine.
Elena’s upset to know that Stefan’s gone. He tells her he saw a side of Damon he hasn’t seen in a while – the older brother Stefan used to look up to. Stefan wanted that Damon to live, and he wanted Elena to get the chance to know him. “He’s the better man,” Stefan tells her. “He’s the right man.” He’s happy to get to see Elena one last time.
As they hug, he tells her there’s something else he needs to say. He whispers it to her so we can’t hear it. They share one last moment together before he turns and walks out. He emerges in daylight and is met by two of his long-lost loves: Lexi and his Porsche. Lexi tells him that what he said to Elena was beautiful. “I was feeling epic,” he replies before giving her a huge hug.
Sometime in the future, Bonnie does a spell. Elena voices over a new version of the first journal entry we ever saw her write: “Today will be different. Today I will smile. It will be genuine. Because today is that day that I get to live again.” She wakes up alone in Damon’s bed with Bonnie at her side. She finally broke the sleep spell. “It took some time but I think I finally figured this witch thing out,” she says. They hug happily, but then Elena remembers that Stefan’s dead. Bonnie tells her that Damon is with Caroline, saying goodbye.
“This life will be good and beautiful, but not without heartbreak,” Elena voices over. “In death comes peace, but pain is the cost of living. Like love, it’s how we know we’re alive.” Damon and Caroline are at the Salvatore crypt, which now holds Stefan’s body. His headstone reads, “Brother, husband, friend” and says he’s “now at peace.” Damon wonders if peace really exists. Caroline is sure it does, and that they’ll see Stefan again. Damon thinks he’s still destined for Hell, even if it doesn’t actually exist anymore.
Caroline heads outside and is shocked to see that Bonnie’s there with Elena. Damon steps out next and reunites with the love of his life.
Elena tells Bonnie and Caroline that she got to talk to Stefan. In a flashback, he asks her to tell Caroline that he heard her and will love her forever, too. Caroline’s happy to know that he got her message. Sometime later, the remaining members of the gang gather outside the crypt for a memorial. Caroline leaves Stefan the Mystic Falls snow globe keychain he once gave her, Elena leaves her necklace, and Damon leaves his daylight ring.
The gang takes turns voicing over journal entries about their futures as we see parts of them unfold. (Music: “Take On the World,” You Me at Six) Matt is awarded the key to the city for helping to save everyone. He’s even prouder of the bench dedicated to him. He’s still the sheriff and is thinking about running for mayor. Tyler and Vicki’s spirits look on as Peter hugs Matt at the ceremony honoring him. Matt thinks his sister found peace.
Bonnie is keeping her promise to Enzo and living life to the fullest. She’s traveling the world, and though she can’t see or hear Enzo anymore, he’s still with her. He reminds her to take her passport with her, and when she gets it out of a drawer, she finds the blood necklace. Caroline and Alaric open their school for supernatural children, not at the Armory but at Vamp Villa, now called the Salvatore Boarding School for the Young and Gifted. Jo watches her girls run around, and it seems for a moment like Alaric can feel her there.
Opening a school takes a lot of work, but Caroline and Alaric have gotten a lot of help. Dorian’s on board, as is Jeremy. Liz is there to see Caroline’s attempts to make her proud. And a generous donation from Klaus will help keep the school open. “But that is the beginning of another story,” Alaric says. (It’s called Legacies; we’ll get there.) Klaus sends along a note telling Caroline that she’s chosen a “noble” future, and he hopes to thank her in person some day.
Elena finished med school and returned to Mystic Falls, the place she’d always wanted to grow old. She’s writing from her old favorite spot, the cemetery. Her life has been “weird, messy, complicated, sad, wonderful, amazing, and above all, epic.” It’s all because of Stefan. When she met him, she was dead inside, and he brought her back to life. She’s going to live that life the best she can for as long as she can. A crow flies overhead, startling her, then making her smile. She looks up to see Damon waiting to walk her home. She takes his hand, showing off the ring on her left ring finger.
After a long, happy life together, Damon and Elena enter the afterlife together. He’s worried that he’ll never see Stefan again or find peace, but Elena’s sure that peace exists in everything they hold dear. She finds herself outside Gilbert Gables, which is once again standing and looks the way it used to. Her parents and Jenna are on the front porch, waiting for her. This is the promise of peace – finding our loved ones again. Even John is there.
Stefan’s at Vamp Villa when Damon arrives in the afterlife. He opens the door and Stefan greets him with a smile. “Hello, brother,” Damon says. They embrace, finally together again, this time truly for eternity.
Etc.: I won’t lie – this episode makes me cry. How can you not feel for Caroline, losing her husband of just a few hours? Or Bonnie, forever losing her connection to Enzo? Or Damon and Stefan, who are forced to say goodbye? And how can you not be happy that Bonnie woke Elena, and that she and Damon get to be together, and that Stefan got to reunite with Lexi, and that everyone’s loved ones are still with them, and that they get to reunite in the afterlife? THIS FREAKING SHOW!
I don’t know why but I think it’s nice that Tiki’s grandfather is still alive and kicking at the end of the series. He survived all the horrors of Mystic Falls! Good for him!
When Katherine first appears to the Salvatores, pretending to be Elena, her hair is straight. When she finds Damon later, it’s wavy. She took the time to redo her hair??
I love Bonnie being joined by all the dead witches. She shouldered the gang’s problems by herself for so long, but she wound up surrounded by powerful women who helped her save the entire town.
When Stefan leaves Elena at the school, the song playing is “Never Say Never” by the Fray – the same song that played at the end of the pilot.
They never explain how they got Elena out of the boiler room, so I assume the twins siphoned off that spell.
Damon doesn’t seem very surprised when Elena shows up at the cemetery. I think it’s because he was fully confident that Bonnie would somehow break the spell sooner or later. It was always a matter of when, not if.
Apparently they wanted to have Joseph Morgan (Klaus), Bianca Lawson (Emily), and Malese Jow (Anna) in the finale but the actors weren’t available. I don’t think Klaus’ absence was a huge loss, since The Originals was still going and his story wasn’t over. I don’t see a reason for Anna to be there, either, but it would have been nice if Emily had been at the Armory with the other witches, as part of Bonnie’s coven. She was pretty important to the series.
One of the original intended endings for the series was for both Stefan and Damon to die, and for Elena to end up with Matt. No, thanks. There was also talk of having Matt and Bonnie end up together. That’s slightly better, but after Bonnie and Enzo’s relationship, I can’t see that happening.
I like the idea of the afterlife – Heaven or whatever you want to call it – being a place where everyone, supernatural and human, gets to be together again. You can’t get a happier ending than that.
I know it was right to end on the Salvatores, but I would have loved a post-credits scene with Kai listening to “Two Princes” for the thousandth time, saying, “Actually, I’m kind of starting to like this song.” (Someone out there must have also wanted a Kai follow-up, judging by the second-to-last tweet from @CobraKai1972: “I’m gonna go ahead and change my mind. Spin Doctors? Solid tunes. Pretty catchy. A better punishment would be changing the song… Bonnie?”)