Vampire Diaries Season Six Finale Recap – Goodbye Elena, Hello Steroline

I have a hard time letting go. Of people. Of moments of time. Of things I love. Even TV shows, as silly as they may sound. When they’re over — for the season or for good — I am usually stuck in those last moments for a little while, thinking, processing. And just when I think to myself “Ok D, time to move on, you’re being silly,” I think no. That’s what they are about. Shows, and books, and movies, and music, they are meant to make us feel. To think. To watch and question and discuss the lives of others because in doing so, we may better understand ourselves, our own lives, and the world around us. Yeah, TV does that, at least for me.

Say what you will but TV has turned out some of the most powerful performances I’ve seen on a screen, TV or silver.  The end scene from last year’s season finale of The Originals. The series finale of Being Human, when Aidan gets his door. The closing sequence of Lost’s grand exit. Those were some of the most thought provoking, heart wrenching moments for me.  And that’s just a few that I like. There are countless others, but those are a few that no matter when I watch get me every. single. time.

So, what’s the most recent finale to grab my heart? Last week’s finale of The Vampire Diaries, “I’m thinking Of You All the While.” Saying Goodbye to Elena …I will admit, it got to me. And not just because we were saying goodbye to Nina Dobrev, but because we were saying goodbye to that chapter of the series (and some will say the series ultimate demise because which show can go on with the exit of its main character) and moving on to a new one.  It will no doubt be a new show without its main character, and after the traumatic events at Jo and Alaric’s wedding, I’m curious how the show can go anywhere but into darkness. I have always loved the Salvatore brothers and do think their story is at the heart of the show, so it’s anyone’s bet really.

I’m into this show. And no, not in that “I am almost 40 and think I am a teen” kind of way. I am into it because it’s a really, really good show. Julie Plec is an amazing writer and has done a great good job over the past six years turning this little show that could, into a dramatic, exciting, heart warming, sad, comedic, and emotional program that makes the lives of vampires and witches and werewolves something you can’t help but watch. You want the characters to find their slice of happiness. You wanted Elena to be human again. You wanted Damon to save Bonnie, even though it meant saying goodbye to his soul mate for the next 60+ years. You wanted Stefan to proclaim his love for Caroline, and for Tyler to trigger his werewolf curse and move on. And Kai – the villain we loved to hate – we wanted him to die, but knew it meant that with it, meant having no way of freeing Elena from his spell unless it meant the death of her best friend. And the goodbye scenes between Elena and her friends… So. Many. Feels.  Each a throwback to some of the shows first moments.

Damon and Elena’s last scene together, that dance…what can I say. I had a lump in my throat. It was everything we wanted for these two since their first dance back in season one. It was the moment of tenderness between two who fought hard to be together and when it mattered most, wanted just one more dance to be together before having to say goodbye for what would feel like forever. But we know it wasn’t  forever. Just a few decades. Or until Bonnie dies. And since Ms. Dobrev has left the show, that’s most likely when the series comes to a close since Kai snuck in that sneaky little clause that if anyone tried to break it, both would die.  (But on a side note for a moment: if anyone did want to try to break it, I know of two powerful witches over on The Originals who despite being relegated to ash will most likely reappear again sometime, as always, and hey, they could try their magic on Klaus’ spell. They are the mother of witches and vampires after all). But back to the dance…It was beautifully shot and the music, Ross Copperman’s Hunger – so perfect. Not to mention, a sneak peek at the next epic love that will pull us in, Stefan and Caroline. Wow, how far has this show come in six years for that to happen.

I know there are many who will stop watching – without Dobrev there’s no triangle, no Katherine Pierce, no love for Damon to center his every action around. But I am. I want to know where Julie Plec will take us. With the introduction of Heretics (vampire/witch hybrids) we know she is capable of taking us somewhere  we never thought possible – I mean really, she figured out the perfect way to allow Nina Dobrev her exit and not by killing the character. And then there’s TVD’s spin-off The Originals. That show is incredible.. And with the focus being on the Salvatore brothers — their  at the heart of the show for me, since the beginning — it’s anyone’s bet really. I think we’re in for quite a ride.

Until next fall, you can find me listening to the season six soundtrack and watching that exquisite dance over and over, thinking of it “All the While.”

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Cool Songs in Movies (and on TV): Mariah, Mercy, a McDonald and a Matthew

I was disappointed in Oz The Great and Powerful. As far as movies go, I was left wanting more. I thought the colors were incredible, but the talent of Rachel Weisz and James Franco incredibly wasted, and Michelle Williams too soft and vapid. Mila Kunis was gorgeous, but her Wicked Witch of the West paled in comparison to Margaret Hamilton, who to this day is the only actress to portray the character beyond imagination. I said all this months back when the movie first hit theaters. You can check out my review here.

All this said, now that it has hit the Starz channel and on rotation nearly daily, I’ve had a chance to watch it again and while I still think it was capable of so much more I did discover the second go around, a gem – a song during the end credits that I may have caught had perhaps I stuck around the theater long enough the first time. But I hadn’t. I broke my golden rule. Credits = music, and assuming the score would be as much of a bore as the flick, I hightailed it out of there instead of sticking around for hidden surprises like behind the scenes outtakes, sneak peek’s at future movies and well, music. After all, the end credits were the best part of the first Twilight film; the samples from the soundtrack that accompanied the millions of names scrolling up the screen  worth the hour and a half of bad teen angst acting.

But I digress….

Back to Oz.

I had to Shazam it because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. For a music lover with a deep appreciation for the human voice, I was stunned. The tune was glorious in the way only one accompanying a major Hollywood film would be, but it was that voice. It was familiar, but almost forgotten; its divinity  lost years ago.  It was …Mariah Carey? A non-shrieking, solid vocal performance from the diva whose music I once sang along to before she got all Honey on me? Mon dieu!

I have never heard this song until a few days ago, but have to say, I was impressed and hope there is more tricks left in MC’s bag. I sure hope so. The Emancipation of Mimi album was LONG overdue and I am anxious for another solid album.

“Almost Home” by Mariah Carey

Two other recent discoveries come from the CW’s new show, The Originals. I am a huge fan of The Vampire Diaries’ spinoff. Set in the city of New Orleans (my kindred soul mate, if a city could be one), the show focuses on the remaining members of the original vampire family – siblings Klaus, Elijah and Rebekah. The acting is solid  – both Joseph Morgan and Claire Holt incredibly talented, stealing many scenes of TVD episodes over the past few seasons – and plot line compelling, a well written new spin on the witches vs. vampires tale started over on TVD and carried deliciously over to The Originals. And…like most CW shows, the music featured in each episode is just the way I like it: indie and emo, with a tad of edge to keep it interesting.  Many of the artists featured in episodes so far I was introduced to through TVD. But so far this season a couple of favorites are singles from Mercy and Moby featured in episode 3, “Tangled Up in Blue.”

“Mercy” from Hurts

“A Case for Shame (with Cold Specks)” from Moby

I also must share a new tune discovery from one of my fun favorites Drop Dead Diva – a show which thankfully found new life after having been cancelled by its home network and producer, Lifetime.

Sometimes the emotions in a friendship are stronger than words can describe, and Shawn McDonald’s song “Through it All” was the perfect song choice for Season 5’s Episode 11, which saw best friends Jane and Stacey finding meeting in the middle after…well, you just need to watch the show because it’s too hard to explain. But it was after an “oh no she didn’t!” moment that I thought nothing could repair.

I found the version of the song they used in the episode on iTunes, but all of the videos on You Tube are a different version and trust me, the one from the show was incredible.  So, for now, a small clip will have to do. Click here and then click on the song title, “Through it All.”

And lastly, this ethereal beauty was discovered in last week’s episode of Witches of East End on Lifetime. And before you judge me, I will say the show is fabulous! I thought it would be a cross between Desperate Housewives and that tragic show about scandalous maids on Lifetime, but it’s not. It’s fabulous and wicked and I hope (fingers crossed) good enough to make it another season.

Matthew Perryman Jones’ “Canción de la Noche” caught me totally by surprise.  It was quiet, and simple, and haunting, and everything about music I love. A song that reached into my chest and squeezed tight. It’s a powerful song, telling a story that seems to be of both this world and another. Check it out, you’ll see.

That’s it for now. But I have a ton of shows to catch up on, so don’t be surprised if you see another post in the days following with more delightful discoveries. Until then download these finds, slip on your headphones, and drift slowly off to sleep.

The power of relationships in supernatural reads

People ask me why I am such a fan of supernatural genre stories, YA specifically. There’s lot of reasons but at the core, it’s because they’re not just about monsters and demons, but so much more. They’re about the power of our relationships, familial and first loves. About coming of age and the journey one goes through as they evolve from teen to adult. They’re of love and loss, of hope and despair – of all the incredibly confusing, incredible, breath taking emotions we are given the opportunity to experience, no matter whether we are mortal or immortal.

Take The Vampire Diaries for example. I’ll admit I like the show better than the series for a few reasons (read main reason: Ian Somerhalder), but the part of the books that’s always stuck with me is the bond between the Salvatore brothers. The show has nailed to perfection. There has been many times Damon and Stefan have been there to save the other, and while the love triangle is usually what gets hearts aflutter, it’s the strength of their brotherhood bond, of family, of willing to do anything to protect the other, no matter the status of their relationship at the time, which is the excellence for me.

When my novel Aberration was reviewed by a book blogger a few months back she called it “an emotional book that deals with past and family and the way our perceptions of events change over time, as they become memories and how our friendships shape us but can also hold us back.”  For me, this was the ultimate compliment because I’d successfully done for one reader, what so many YA writers have done for me: taken a simple element of young adulthood and connected it to a much larger point of exploration.

When beginning a story in addition to starting with the ending, which I’ve written about before, I also pick an emotion and use it as the fuel for my character. In my next book (Bound, out this summer) the emotion I chose was anger. Some may think its confining to choose one emotion, as it may limit the character’s range in what they will think or feel. But it doesn’t. In fact, it’s the opposite. It gives them a place in which to start from and evolve. It can lead to the discovery of such incredible new emotions – the character’s journey a rich and exciting experience to create.

Writing is so many things for me, creating new people and places a complete and total joy. But it’s also about evolving me a little bit through my characters. Learning from their experiences and growing as they grow. Its a journey of self discovery of myself that I don’t realize I’ve been on until the last sentence is written.

I can’t wait for everyone to read my next book. I’ve grown, my characters have grown, the themes I am exploring have grown. It’s exciting and exhausting and…well, you’ll just have to see.   Until then, keep reading and don’t be afraid to feel. After all, it is what makes us human.

Running up that Hill

I will admit – I owe a lot to Pandora for helping me to discover new artists.  The list of music in my iPod is incredible and diverse, with brilliant music from lesser known artists I would have never knew existed, if that clever witch didn’t “suggest” them to me. Of course once upon a time I could have looked to MTV for fresh new music, but we all know what happened there.

I love discovering new music – well, music that to me might be new, but to others might have been around for awhile. Artists who perhaps once packed small bars in Boulder  (i.e. Big Head Todd) or played at SXSW (i.e. The Boxer Rebellion) long before it became THE conference to attend.   But while yes, Pandora is part of my discovery engine, there is another engine that I must give credit to: the TV show preview.

So often we hear a song used to tease the arrival of a new show or season and there goes the band. Overnight success! This happened with The Fray, through the use of their song “How to Save a Life” in the trailer for Grey’s Anatomy, which is anything but the indie band it was once upon a time. But now they’re not just using music to lure us into the show via trailers, but keep us connected every episode. Episode playlists are filled with new or lesser known artists, becoming a launchpad of sorts for many.   The WB was one of the first networks to create the “as heard on tonight’s episode” wrap up after its shows. The CW has now mastered this. But they’re not alone, TV around the world has become a successful place to find great music – both those who might have been around, under the radar, and new.

Case in point #1: Portishead. Formed in 1991 in Bristol, England, they’ve been around a long time. I danced to them at the Ministry of Sound in London in 1995, but didn’t realize until “Machine Gun” was featured in the UK’s hit TV show Skins in season 3the only version of the show one should watch, not that tragic wannabe version on MTV — that I realized how unique a band they really were. Despite the hundreds of fan vids on YouTube that have been developed using the song as their soundtrack, I find their music pretty awesome. For the past few years they have become a group I frequently put on when I need to dive into my writing with full force.

Case in point #2: Placebo. Covered Kate Bush’s epic “Running up that Hill” in 2006, but I didn’t discover until it was included in episode 1, season 1 of the CW’s series, Vampire Diaries. Now it seems like it’s on replay on Pandora (and of course I have the soundtrack for the show) so I never stop hearing the song. It’s another writing muse for me and despite being wildly popular online, it maintains its great vibe. Not to mention incredibly cool official music video uses clips from fan vids, too.

A favorite right now, newly discovered via TV….”Bloodstream” from Stateless.