If you saw last Friday’s episode of The Vampire Diaries, then you already know what I’m talking about. Everybody else, prepare to smack your head and say, “Oh no, fuck. Really? FUCK NO, Vampire Diaries. Just... fuck.” Spoilers ahead!
So yeah, The Vampire Diaries picked the most awesome month to kill off its two lesbian characters in the most pointless manner imaginable. Nora and Mary-Louise die in a blaze of ignominy, for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Given that The CW is already on everyone’s shit list for the last pointless lesbian death, this might not have been the best moment to murder two of the few remaining women-loving women on the channel. [Edited to add: And apparently they also just killed off the lesbian character on The CW’s Jane the Virgin, too.]
But don’t watch the above video until you watch this one first:
The second video, the one in the convenience store, is why you should care about the first video, the one where that nice couple dies for no reason.
So basically, Mary-Louise and Nora are a pair of lesbians from the nineteenth century. They were trapped in a netherworld where time stands still, for over 100 years, because they were part of a coven of half-vampire half-witch badasses. It’s confusing. And then they emerge and find themselves in 2016, and women can get married to each other, and there are short skirts and Taylor Swift and other things that didn’t exist in 1906. But they clash over how much to embrace modernity, and their relationship goes through a rocky period—and then they break up for a while, over whether to support Julian, the psycho leader of their coven. Etc. etc. etc.
So the second clip, in the convenience store, is where they finally get back together, and it’s a sweet moment until they get gunned down by a character whose name I honestly haven’t bothered to learn. (She’s the long lost sister of Enzo, a character whose name I regret having bothered to learn.) The “candy ring” moment is the latest in a series of beautiful moments involving these two, including the whole “let’s get married” subplot earlier in the season where Mary Louise tells Nora, “Marry me. 133 years is not enough. I want eternity.”
Anyway, after they both get shot and captured by the Armory, the secret organization that Enzo and his long lost sister work for, Mary-Louise gets experimented on by being fed pills made from the blood of Rayna, a vampire hunter with a magic sword. These pills are poison or something, and Mary-Louise is dying. Nora finally gets Mary-Louise out of there, but it’s too late. And then Nora gets marked by Rayna’s magic sword, meaning then she has to be on the run from Rayna forever and she’ll die when Rayna dies. (If this sounds overcomplicated, then ding ding ding ding.) So instead, Nora decides to destroy the magic sword, sacrificing both her life and Mary-Louise’s.
So leaving aside the horrendous timing, at least these two women got to die semi-heroically. I mean, by the standards of The Vampire Diaries, a show where absolutely everybody is selfish and heroism consists of “being slightly less petty and self-centered for a brief moment.” They weren’t just collateral damage, and they did get to accomplish something in their final moments.
But at the same time, it still felt incredibly pointless. This is, in large part, because I don’t care about Rayna and her magic sword. I don’t care about the Armory and whatever they’re doing with their vampire experiments. (Maybe they can team up with the people at Whitmore college who were doing vampire experiments a year or two ago!) I don’t care about, basically, any of the plots on this show since they got rid of Julian the Klaus wannabe, to be honest.
More than that, I don’t actually understand what’s happening on The Vampire Diaries any more. Like, Stefan and Damon were stabbed by the magic sword and consigned to a hellworld, and they were supposed to have nightmare visions forever—and those visions lasted, what, one episode? Also, Damon tried to light Elena on fire, and then two episodes later they let him get in a coffin next to her comatose body? The rules regarding Rayna and her magic sword seem to change every five minutes. Oh, and the show has gone all-in on this three-year time jump, which seemed to be originally just a way to generate some mystery and keep everything from feeling too stale after the departure of its actual star, Nina Dobrev.
So it’s incredibly hard for me to feel anything about the circumstances of Nora and Mary-Louise’s deaths, because none of it feels real to me. You might as well say they died destroying a magic tie-pin after Papa Smurf poisoned one of them with bad molly. It would mean just as much to me. The Vampire Diaries always had plot devices, and storylines, that felt somewhat pulled out of a hat—but at its best, the show was better at making them feel concrete and like something I should care about. I’m honestly just bored with the Armory and Rayna.
I did, however, feel something about Nora and Mary-Louise while they were alive. In a show that is sorely lacking in emotional machinery, this couple had a real bond that I could root for. Their relationship had real problems, based on grounded emotions, and felt somewhat more solid than the current Stefan-and-Valerie romance, for example. I actually kind of rooted for Nora and Mary-Louise. So their deaths felt like this show throwing away one of its few remaining emotional lodestones.
So pointless, and yes, tasteless as well. Because certain characters on this show wear bulletproof plot armor, no matter how many times they “die” or seem to be at death’s door, and these two died in part because they were among the few characters remaining on this show who were deemed disposable.
If the CW wants to take the acclaim and jubilation when it takes the daring step of featuring an actual lesbian couple on the show, then it has to be prepared for the anger and frustration when those characters are subsequently tossed on the bonfire. And the channel needs to know the message it’s sending by piling on all these queer deaths, one after the other, in a time when LGBT folks are under attack in real life. It’s just depressing as well as infuriating.
[Edited to add: Showrunner Julie Plec offered a defense over at EW that boiled down to, “Oh was this a trope? We didn’t know!”]
The Vampire Diaries is looking at its best days in the rear-view mirror at this point. This show’s main mission statement was to be a heterosexual love triangle, in which two brothers both wanted the same woman and absolutely did not have any homoerotic Wincesty longings for each other. That woman is gone now, and so is the show’s main point. But this show could have found a new energy, by embracing the characters who most challenge and complicate its straight teen romance ethos, and by giving us a richer and more interesting love story. And it blew that chance up.