Damon's shocking, rash decision to feed Elena his blood at the beginning of the episode definitely changed things between him and Elena -- and just when we were starting to see her show him a little affection! As executive producer Julie Plecexplains, Damon did it because he loves Elena -- and because he's so damaged that he doesn't really understand how to handle that
He almost immediately regrets his decision, which shows that while he may not necessarily have mastered impulse control, he's certainly come a long way toward understanding the difference between right and wrong.
"Damon deserves to be loved," Plec says. "Damon deserves a lot of things, but Damon's still got issues. This thing he did to Elena is his biggest lesson to learn, in that you can love someone, with all the power in your soul, but you still have to remember who they are and what they want. we talked about it like turning off the life support on a coma patient, a loved one. What were their instructions? In brain death, do you keep them on life support because you can't say goodbye or do you give them their wish?"
Some viewers have felt that Stefan wasn't being proactive enough in saving Elena from Klaus, but his willingness to let Elena make decisions illustrates the key difference between the two characters.
"That's the difference right now between Stefan and Damon in that Stefan sees that in love, you have to take the other person's wishes into consideration. And Damon, because he's been so screwed in the head by love, and it's his Achilles heel, this episode was about him learning that lesson."
The twist gave us a chance to learn Elena's true feelings about becoming a vampire. When we spoke with Nina Dobrev during the filming of this episode, she explained Elena's feelings. "She's 17 years old. She loves Stefan so, so much, but she's kind of figuring out that there's always the Damon thing, there's always the age difference, and the fact that she hasn't lived her life yet. [Stefan has] had a lot of time to figure out his life and experience things and decide that he loves her."
Plec echoes that sentiment. "When we started this show the similarities with 'Twilight' were so extreme. This was our way of closing the book on that chapter of the similarities, because for Elena to say, 'I've never even wanted this for a minute. I'm still a kid and I still have choices to make in my life, choices that I wanted to make' -- I love that about Elena and I think that's so beautiful. We're happy to be able to let her have that introspection, when the choice has already been made for her."
The finale is about Damon's search for forgiveness. Now that he's been bitten by Tyler and he's facing his own mortality for the first time in a century and a half, he has one dying wish.
"I can't die with you hating me," Plec says. "That's his point."
Next week's episode, "The Sun Also Rises," will feature the sacrifice ritual. It's a high-action episode that easily could've served as the Season 2 finale, but Plec says that they needed another episode for Damon's emotional payoff.
"Next week's episode is enormous and emotional and that could've been it, that could've been the end of the season. But when we started the season, Stefan said to Damon, 'For the first time I see you starting to feel something, and starting to care. Do not let this ruin you. Do not let Katherine ruin you. Do not let any of this come between us. Do not take a step backward,'" she explains. "Here we are, we've come full circle, and he's made so many choices, and screwed up, and now he's at the end of his life, so he believes. He needs to come to terms with all the decisions that he's made in the year - and not just in the year, but since Katherine seduced him 145 years ago."
Stefan's journey in the finale is also one of redemption. He still feels the guilt of being a catalyst for Damon turning 145 years ago, as we saw in this episode when he shouted at Damon, "How could you, of all people, take that choice away from her?" He still remembers the fact that he took the choice from his brother so many years ago.
Now, as Damon revisits the past and seeks Elena's forgiveness, Stefan will try to do the impossible. "Stefan is determined to do anything possible to save his brother," Plec says. "Stefan's cross to bear is 'Wait a second, my brother's finally showing his humanity, that I took away from him 145 years ago -- I can't let him die now.' But there's no cure. So what the hell's he going to do? That's the finale."