There’s this moment in the season 4 premiere of The Vampire Diaries where Elena and Stefan are sitting on a rooftop, talking about how awful their lives are because people keep wanting to kill them and whatnot. They sit there (with better greens-creening than Revenge, might I add — how is that even possible?) and Stefan places a ring on her finger (foreshadowing? pandering?) and decides to ease her pain and fright.
“You don’t need to tell me everything’s going to be okay,” Elena offers. And Stefan nods. And for that moment, I thought: okay, this is good. Because, you see, the series up until that moment has always been about everyone telling Elena to not worry, they’ll handle this or that, they’ll save her from whatever apocalyptic morally ambiguous someone is after her week after week. When Elena woke up in the morgue during the final shot of season three, this is what I yearned for — I felt this urgency of basically needing for the series to step up its game and have Elena take responsibility for anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or if it’s bad, but the characters of Mystic Falls have this tendency to view everything as anyone else’s fault. It happened in this episode as well. Stefan thinks he should have saved Elena (let’s not get into how he’s a vampire and seriously could have carried two bodies). Damon thinks the same. Damon thinks Matt should have died.[*] Matt thinks it’s his fault for…I don’t know, being unconscious and having no say in the matter. Damon confronts Rebekah.
[*] This, by the way, is a storyline I did not like in the least. On one side, you have Damon using Matt as his plaything for basically zero reason, which I thought he had evolved from and which made the weird retcon flashback of last season’s finale even more glaring; and on the other hand, you had Matt sulking because I have no idea and also because that’s so original for him.
Meanwhile, Elena almost screeches at everyone to stop taking on the guilt for this or that. It was her decision to sacrifice her life for her friend. She demands that Damon stop being mad at other people for not only being undead now but also for choosing Stefan at the end of season 3. And I know, I know, Elena does a lot of these what I call “MAH FAULT” moments, but I can only hope that her message was heard loud and clear tonight. Because if nothing else, if making Elena a vampire won’t allow her to start fending for herself and fighting her own battles, I hope it at least puts an end to this magical aura that surrounds Elena and makes people view her as this do-no-wrong entity…in the characters’ eyes.
That said, what I’m reviewing is this one hour, not the future. And I have no proof or even suggestion that the show will continue into that area or not; all I have is hope. In this hour, however, people were treating Elena like Most Perfect Human Ever as they usually do. Let’s begin at the top with the love triangle.
Ah, the very-much loved and not at all tiring love triangle, may I say that — surprise, and no sarcasm here — you were handled quite well tonight. In fact, the only problem with tonight’s triangle side of the story is that it was, once again, so blatantly obvious how the series wants you to view both sides of it, just in case they haven’t hammered it in enough. We get it — Stefan honors Elena’s wishes and Damon is “just that selfish.” Whichever way to love someone you think is best, I guess that’s up to you. For now, however, Elena seems to prefer the one where her suitor decides to make good on her wishes. That said, the bottom line is this: when it came to the final moments in which Elena was about to die, Stefan thought having Elena feed early on in the day would have been a better option than waiting around all day for Bonnie to save her.
Speaking of, I guess if Bonnie is going to continue being a plot device (this is almost a trope of Vampire Diaries reviews now), at least she does it in a way that they try to explain it. The series decides, “Well she’s done a lot of magic now so she has power she didn’t have before” and that’s how they explain this never-before-explained newfound magic. The show’s got to keep on rolling, so in this episode, I wasn’t as annoyed with it as in the past. However, what still irks me is Bonnie’s continued declarations of being her own woman but constantly being coerced by everyone, including Klaus.[**] Whenever Klaus threatened her in some way this episode, I just kept hoping she’d do magic that hurt him or something? Fight back, Bonnie! Something!
[**] Also, now that I think about it…what was even the point of Klaus going into Tyler’s body? Perhaps I forgot something, so if someone can explain that to me, thanks. It was like thirty seconds later and Klaus was like “Yeah put me back in my body, thanks.” Why did you go in Tyler’s body in the first place? What?
Let’s talk about Klaus. Actually, no, let’s talk about Rebekah, who I find infinitely more interesting. The series has tried so hard to add layers to its big villain Klaus, and what’s felt effortless is how many layers they’ve added to Rebekah. I say time and time again, I don’t know if it’s the actress, the writing, or pure accident, but Rebekah is actually one of the more fleshed out characters on the series. I know they’re using the good, ol’ “she wasn’t loved enough” bit here, but for me it feels so organic (I think that’s the actress, then). After witnessing Elena’s declaration of love to Stefan, and how she stated that even though she is about to die she doesn’t regret choosing him and going back to be with him, Rebekah goes with that emotion over to Klaus’s. Here you have someone who, after a century or so, has never felt unconditional love in that way. I know, Elena is not Stefan’s sister, not in the least, and while Rebekah hasn’t found companionship in that sense either, the root of all her issues there begin with her family. Her mother was more than fine with killing them off, and Klaus was okay with her being captured or tortured or killed as long as it wasn’t him. Hell he even saved someone he’s only known for a few months! Stefan and Elena have only known each other for a few months, too, if you think about it. And after a thousand plus years, the bond between Rebekah and her family seems to be hanging by a thread. There’s no doubt she’s affected by the warmth of Elena and Stefan’s conversation and the brittle cold of Klaus’s abandonment.
Besides, hybrids suck and those blood bags needed to be burst.
Tonight’s outing relied on the plot much more than anything else, in true Vampire Diaries fashion, but personally that’s when this show excels most. So let’s not be prude here and say anything less; this was an entertaining episode — and it surely made more sense than the most entertaining episode of season 3.5, the penultimate one. For someone surely expecting the worst out of this season, given its disappointments last season, I may have been sold to stick around for much longer. I just hope it continues on an upswing and doesn’t derail into a shadow of its former self.
A few (vampire) bites…
- The Vampire Council. What are they doing trying to act relevant? No, I kid. But I was surprised at how little setup was needed for me to take them seriously. I don’t know if I do, yet, but I am intrigued at blowing everyone up. My first guess was that they’re going to die to become vampires…to fight vampires because that’s the only way they can, and then I realized how stupid that was.
- Bonnie’s “darkness.” Tonight there was only a lot of mentioning that this magic is dark by Jasmine Guy (and then she…re-died?). And, if you know me, you know I’m extremely intrigued by that.
- I kind of loved Michael Trevino playing Tyler as Klaus in Tyler’s body.
- Speaking of, I wasn’t disgusted by the almost-sex. Mostly because Caroline got a slap in.
- Is Elena just okay with people dying for her to drink their blood and not die?
- Guy getting stabbed with a gun was awesome. But I still feel like “These are awful vampire beings and we should not be desensitized to humans dying,” right? Maybe I’m just a prude.
- Elena remembering what she was compelled to forget: I liked the way this was handled (sans Elena appearing as if she were bored by looking at YOUR OWN UNCOVERED MEMORIES ELENA, COME ON LIGHTEN UP), but I was kind of hoping for more. I wasn’t a fan of the retcon, but I was a big fan of the “I love you” scene when it happened, and just felt that if you’re going to retcon something, I guess it might as well be meaningful. It kind of wasn’t.
- Either I wasn’t paying attention or I just didn’t notice but apparently everyone hates the new opening sequence and now I have to see it.