The Vampire Diaries 5.21 “Promised Land” Review

by Emma Fraser / May 9, 2014

Promised LandMystic Falls is falling and time is running out on The Vampire Diaries as Markos gets the penultimate episode upper hand. Magic is being stripped away and the plan is to flee, outrunning the spell for as long as they can. There’s a variety of reactions including those who don’t accept their fate until it happens and those who believe there is no hope. Relationships are mended and the episode ends with the most unexpected heart grab this show has produced so far as Julian rips Stefan’s from his chest.

That’s right, Stefan is now lying dead dead with his heart flung somewhere else as Julian’s grief at his wife Maria’s demise, coupled with his desire to stop the spell has resulted in one dead doppelganger. Julian might be wearing Tyler’s face, but he has no loyalty to Tyler’s ex-girlfriend and sometimes friend who stand in front of him. It’s shocking conclusion and yet it’s hard to buy the permanence of something like this (despite what Paul Wesley tweets) as pretty much everyone has died on this show at one point or another and Stefan is high on the important character list. Even the characters that seemed like there was no chance for a return like Jeremy still found a way back. On the list of things they are trying to achieve, bringing people back from the Other Side is high on the agenda, so unless Stefan gets sucked into the inky abyss I can’t see him not being around next year; it will be genuinely shocking if he isn’t.

Prior to this moment there are a lot of moving pieces. Damon attempts to get one over on Markos by taking the bodies from the caves (and leaving a pretty hilarious “Found” note), but he doesn’t really have more to his plan other than taunting Markos. Damon is on fire with the levels of snark this week and yet he still gets called out by Caroline on his general “too cool to care” attitude. Caroline knows him better than this and it’s where the optimism that Stefan and Elena have been discussing comes into play as she is going to fight for the ones she loves, no matter how futile.

Caroline and Enzo are similar in this respect and Enzo’s resilience comes from his decades-long captivity and his ability to cling onto the sliver of hope there always is. This kicks Bonnie out of her own sense of nihilism, even if her plan gets scuppered pretty quickly with Maria’s quick exclusion from the Other Side into nothing. The plan was to use the same spell as Markos used to pass through, now they need to find another willing Traveler to share.

The episode starts and ends with characters scattered; Elena and Stefan have been ‘doppelnapped’ and are getting drained of their blood after last week ended with the Travelers finding their not so secret cabin in the woods. Draining them makes them weak, which is why they have quite a trek from wherever they are back to Mystic Falls. This gives Stefan and Elena the chance to talk and there’s such an ease between these characters, even when they are discussing Elena and Damon. Stefan thinks it’s pretty simple; Damon and Elena should be together if they want to be. Of course Elena still believes it is a toxic relationship, but Stefan points out that all vampires are toxic as it’s in their nature and she shouldn’t use it as a reason for not following her heart.

By reuniting Elena with Damon at the end it puts them in the same position as they were in when Stefan was trapped in the safe underwater as without realizing it they are inadvertently abandoning him prior to something pretty devastating. This is all slightly contrived and considering there are 5 of them (Stefan, Damon, Elena, Bonnie and Caroline) to me it makes more sense for them to stick together and go in one car. Instead, Damon and Elena leave first – on Stefan’s suggestion – and this is when Stefan loses his heart. They really don’t need to clear out their dorm room, which also feels like a set up for contrivance sake and even though Caroline questions the need for doing this she goes ahead and does it anyway.

It’s all looking very perilous and without a “Big Bad” like Klaus around, this season has at times felt a little uncertain of exactly who they wanted the villain to be. This meant there has been a variety of mini villain arcs with some being more successful (Katherine) than others (Dr. Wes). Considering Markos is threatening the overall fabric of this world, the stakes are pretty high and even though everything is stacked up against them at the moment, you can be sure a plan will be formulated and executed. Who will survive the fray?

Other thoughts 

– “Time to strap on the hero hair” Damon snarks about this, but you know he loves this look.

– When the Travelers drain Elena and Damon of their blood they sure do waste a lot by letting it drip on the wall and floor.

– Collect calls are still a thing.

– Elena likes Damon’s “whole savior of the universe voice.”

– Luke gets in on the nicknaming act calling Enzo “Casper the English ghost.” Luke and Liv have become pretty much useless thanks to the Travelers spell, with Stefan dead does this reactivate their power?

– If a Caroline Forbes hat was a physical thing what would it look like? It would definitely be yellow.

– Matt and Jeremy have been dispatched back to Mystic Falls to be the eyes and ears. Matt proved to be very useful once again as he practically yelled “tunnels” at Stefan and Elena after their daylight rings stopped working.

For promo photos from The Vampire Diaries season finale head here.



Emma has a passion for both ends of the pop culture spectrum and you are just as likely to find her watching HBO as you are The CW. All that matters is a great story or if that fails some amazing fashion. Emma would most like to hang out at the offices of Olivia Pope & Associates or Apartment 4D. Follow her at @frazbelina or over at