Vampire Academy 1×10 “Ascension” is a fitting finale to a first season that was less an adaptation of a particular book, as it was a re-framing of a story and a world – with the same characters. In that regard, the show works in a way the books never did, and though it’s still possible to enjoy the books as a separate thing, the show does feel like a gift for those who once fell in love with these characters, this universe.
Of course, gifts don’t have to be perfect, and there’s a lot the show can do going forward to bring balance to its storytelling and depth to characters outside the main four. But Vampire Academy 1×10 “Ascension” works precisely because the narrative doesn’t require anyone else but Rose, Dimitri, Lissa and Christian to take center stage, and they are, without a doubt, the best characters in Season 1 of the show.
So let us talk about those four, about the dominion, about the changes and about why we desperately need a season 2 as we review Vampire Academy 1×10 “Ascension”:
YOU CAN’T MAKE A WORLD YOU CAN’T ENVISION
Dimitri envisions it now, thanks to Rose, and that’s how we end up with what is probably the best line about the biggest plot issue in Vampire Academy. The dominion as it stands pretty much sucks for everyone but a few select royals – the evacuation protocols proved it, not that anyone really had any doubts about it. And with Tatiana as Queen, that’s not likely to get any better.
But that Dimitri is the one saying this, that he sees it …that most guardians can’t really deny it at this point, well, that matters. Any level of change requires the belief that change is possible. If the people that are being oppressed look at oppression as just the way things are, then nothing is ever going to get better. And Dimitri did, for so long. Not just because that’s how he grew up, but also because a part of him had somehow made his faith dependent on that status quo.
He isn’t that person anymore, he doesn’t believe in the same things. But that moment of shedding beliefs that have made you who you are is hard. Dimitri’s only constant in this world, outside of his beliefs, has been Rose. And he isn’t losing her now, as much as he’s letting her go, and promising he’ll be fighting the same fight she is, just from a different front.
That requires not just strength, it requires conviction. In the changes you want to make. In the greater purpose they’re both fighting for. And in Rose and Lissa being able to change the world. Staying isn’t giving up, no. Staying is Dimitri’s commitment to Rose and to himself. To fight for the world they both deserve — the one in which, one day, they could be together.
And though the fight is going to take much more than Dimitri, that he believes it, that Christian can fight for it, that Mia can openly be someone she never wanted to be, that Silver and even Jesse can choose each other …well, that means they are on the right track. Even if Vampire Academy 1×10 “Ascension” delivered some heavy losses (man, Andre, we barely had you!). Even if we are likely in for a lot more pain before we can get there.
WE CAN DO THIS TOGETHER
Throughout ten episodes, even while developing Romitri and giving Dragozera a better connection than they had early on in the books, Vampire Academy has remained a story about two friends. And yes, those two young women have been fighting for more than their friendship, they’ve been fighting to find – and make – their own place in the world. But deep down, they’ve also been fighting for each other.
Rose and Lissa’s friendship is the emotional center of Vampire Academy, and the show treads very carefully when it comes to the imbalance of power between the two. Of course, some things are impossible to change unless the world around them changes, and that’s what they’re both trying to do. For themselves, yes, but also for each other.
Romance is important – and feeling fulfilled in a romantic relationship is something that is often misunderstood and treated like a shameful thing. But at least it’s openly recognized. The importance of friendship is often underscored, especially in entertainment. Women can be friends, at least until x or y comes along and pulls them apart. But that’s not how friendship is, not in real life.
In real life, your best friends are like sisters. They are there for you, in good times, and bad times. They are often there for you through messy breakups, and as you fall and get up again and again. Hell, sometimes they even pull you up. And though Rose and Lissa can’t – won’t – ever be all the other one needs, that doesn’t mean that what they have, what they are to each other, isn’t important. That doesn’t mean that their love isn’t life-changing.
Vampire Academy 1×10 “Ascension” ends with the two going off together, into the world. That’s both scary and exciting. And things are bound to go wrong, at some point. Things are sure to be difficult. But together, Rose and Lissa can handle it. Just as they have everything else.
I’ve only been screaming that Christian actually gave Lissa his gift for the last three episodes, so this line felt like vindication and also a pretty fun setup for whatever is coming next for these two. I mean, they actually meant the marriage thing and the monk thing is kinda iffy, so that’s where I stand. And the fact that Lissa and Christian separate the way they do (his what? you don’t mean Tasha, you mean Evette, right? Riiiight?) also speaks to the way the show has set up a relationship between them that is actually very easy to root for.
Who are Lissa and Christian if not two people who make each other feel safe, who bring out the best in each other? For Christian, who hasn’t felt like he belonged anywhere since his parents turned Strigoi, and for Lissa, who hasn’t felt she belonged with anyone since her family died, finding a safe port in a storm is …everything. And that’s what they are to each other.
There’s a tendency on a show like this one to compare ships to each other, but Christian and Lissa are nothing like Rose and Dimitri, and that’s by design. They are different people, and they are also Royal Moroi instead of Guardians. It’s a whole different level of privilege, a whole different perspective, and a whole different journey. And that’s okay, they don’t have to mirror each other. And we can like both of them in different ways for the paths they’re on.
Rose and Lissa are leaving the dominion, they have to. But Lissa’s husband, well …he’s going to stay and fight for her. For the world they have both envisioned along with Dimitri and Rose. He’ll hopefully get to bond with Dimitri while doing so. And they will both be ready for the loves of their lives to come back and for the next step of this fight.
IT WOULD HAVE BEEN EVERYTHING
For a moment, as Rose and Dimitri talk, as they banter (pizza is everyone’s favorite food, let’s not lie), as they pretty much confess their love for each other, I found myself hoping the answer could be running away together. That Dimitri could go with Rose and Lissa, that they would get those quiet moments together. Dimitri did too. And Rose, she wanted that. It’s not that she didn’t.
But that’s not Dimitri. And it’s not Rose, either. Not what Dimitri would do, and not what Rose would let him do. And though a part of them wishes they could be different, it might be easier …deep down, neither Rose nor Dimitri would change the other. Theirs is not the kind of love that is built on a fake foundation. Rose knows who Dimitri is. That’s why she loves him. Dimitri knows who Rose is. That’s why he loves her.
And they can – and have – made each other better. But you cannot fundamentally change someone, and you cannot love someone unless you accept him for who they truly are. That’s the beauty of Romitri. They see each other. They always have, but now, as they part, as Dimitri’s lip trembles while he’s looking at Rose (Kieron, are you trying to kill us?), as Rose drinks him in (Same goes for you, Sisi), there’s a level of certainty to their feelings, to their future. It’s not about if, it’s about when.
They can be together now. They can steal time, and pretend. But that would leave Lissa in danger and put them farther away from their goal of changing the dominion, making it into a place where they can be together, truly together in ways they’ve only dreamed of. So Dimitri and Rose are fighting now. For a better world, yes. But above all things, for a world where they can love each other out loud. And even as we head into a separation, that strikes me as the most romantic thing there is.
I love you enough to run away with you is a flex, but I love you enough to stay and fight so one day we can be openly together and free. That’s some endgame shit right there.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Vampire Academy 1×10 “Ascension”? Share with us in the comments below!
The first season of Vampire Academy is now available to stream in its entirety on Peacock.