The Vampire Diaries ‘Stand by Me’ review: The Corpse

We could argue about the great deal of fanservice and audience fodder or the infinite amount of comparisons one could make to “The Body” (otherwise known as the best episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer ever) or whatever else, but at the end of the day, this was a pretty darn good episode of The Vampire Diaries. It’s an episode that has taken every beat and theme the show has tried to delineate throughout the season and made use of it all in this hour. It’s a lot to accomplish: making the audience actually believe that anyone is this sad over Jeremy’s death.

For one, he has died countless times now (“four… or three, I think”). Second, where was all of this mourning over anyone else that has seemingly dropped dead on the show thus far? And to be honest, the show doesn’t quite deliver on those emotional beats well. At this point, it’s the nature of the series. Unfortunately, it’s hard to swallow the idea that people are beat up this badly over Jeremy’s death. And, yes, you may have been making countless comparisons to “The Body” during the hour. But if we had to gauge this episode on those scales, we’d always be setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Season four has very much been about everyone trying to deal with death and actually acknowledging that mourning is a state people go through. The past few episodes, in particular, have been great in pointing out the faults the series has had creatively in its short run, to boot. This episode wasn’t any different. (“It’s not science!”) In fact, it took all of those details that have been making the latter half of this season a bit better than the first and upped the ante. Our characters were allowed to experience emotions — which is rare and no small feat. Jeremy’s death isn’t all for naught, even; we get an Elena who’s finally going to turn off her humanity (even if the “it’s what I want you to do” is still icky as hell) and it was glorious. This was once a series where events happened and then were forgotten in just moments that caused severe whiplash. Now, it’s a series where three episodes after someone burned to death in the kitchen, Caroline is cleaning up that mark on the floor.

Those little details are often important. People sometimes mention in the comments that we get too hung up on the day-to-day nitpicks that we happen to notice. They say that we’re not enjoying the show for what it is or we’re getting to obsessed with minute details. But those details are important, even more so for a supernatural show. If you don’t focus on it and you don’t have a good sense of continuity, then nothing in your show is believable anymore — and yes, even though the show is about vampires. Those details actually show that this is a real world and it allows us to buy into the universe much more easily than we could if we’re told this is some weird limbo where people don’t have to make “cover stories.”[*] I’m glad something like that was even brought up during the hour. How has Elena been able to discuss Jenna’s death and Alaric’s death and so on? It’s not boring: it’s fabrication for this story. There is a clear difference. And, as shown here tonight, there’s great entertainment and character-building that can be found in the minutiae of the details.

[*] Anyone feel like there’s some budget cuts happening? Two series regulars are gone. A set has been taken away. Either there are cuts, or money needed to be allocated elsewhere…which if Silas is as big as his talk is, means that the season finale might be huge.

With exception of Tyler, who has grown to be an interesting character this season, The Vampire Diaries seems to be cutting off the dead weight and making its characters… well, interesting. We have Elena who hopefully, at least, be interesting to watch on screen for several episodes to come (if the slow arc building as of late is any indication). There’s Stefan, who has been as charismatic as he’s ever been after he denounced Elena. And last but not least, we have Bonnie who one way or the other, at least has an actual storyline. We can talk about how her storyline has just been a lot of people manipulating her ad nauseam, but at least they’re giving her something to do. And to be perfectly honest, she should probably just massacre her friends. (Though I love the fact that she’s just like “Guys, no big deal. I’m just gonna kill 12 people. It’s cool.” What?)

So yes, perhaps it wasn’t the absolute best thing that has aired on television. But “Stand by Me” is a great achievement in moving forward with the series both in character-driven story, actual gravitas, and hell even continuity. Not every episode of everything can always be the acme of what we’ll ever see. But taking huge strides in eradicating all that has mucked up an already muddy story is a ginormous leap forward. And for that, it gets the highest grade possible from me.

Tags: | Categories: Recaps
About the author: Michael Collado
Michael Collado
Mike's a television junkie located in Miami, where he spends all of his time watching TV with his best friends couch and cable access.

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  • twanz

    dont forget those recaps looking for em!!.. i can just think of one with tumblr exploding over bamon

    • http://nowhitenoise.com/ Mike

      I know! I know! I’ve been swamped this month! I’ve been planning to be less swamped by the end of the weekend. And I can’t even imagine how Tumblr shutdown.

      • Nay

        Hey Mike,
        Can you suggest me some good tumblr…
        Thank You

  • Monika Alem

    This was definitely by far the best episode of TVD ever. Nina Dobrev was amazing. Watching her cry and break down like that was just heartbreaking. Though, I have to agree with two points you made 1) How come this is the first time we see a death actually have this effect? Where was all this heartbreak when everybody else died? and 2) The “It’s what I want you to do” was, as you put it, icky. I definitely cringed. I was actually thinking that perhaps the sire bond will disappear now that Elena’s turned off her humanity. They were so focused on how if Elena became human, the bond would break, but I feel like it could work this way too. Those feelings for Damon that got magnified when she died that allowed her to become sired were feelings borne out of humanity. With her “shutting it off”, maybe the sire bond will broken too?

  • InvestedInYourFuture

    Honest to god curiosity – why do people STILL watch this trainwreck?

    I guess a show where the supposed lead character is not developed for three season and then conveniently loses her right of consent and gets every decision made for her might interest SOME people, but, by gods, how do you people live through all the plot holes and horrible characters?

    I mean, I hear this episode is exact example of everything wrong with this show, its writing, its sexism and misogyny twists, etc. :/

    • InvestedInYourFuture

      Also any comparisons to The Body would be ridiculous. Why?

      - Comparing N.Dobrev’s Bella Swan to SMG’s Buffy is like comparing K.Stewart’s Bella Swan to SMG’s Buffy. No, just no.

      - I am pretty sure that there’s no one in this show skilled enought o make that level of cinematography needed.

      - A lot of the Body relied on the finality of death and the fact that there are no ways to bring back the dead. That does not work in TVD as due to three fracking seasons of revivals, all this does is inexplicably change all the rules.

      - Joyce was generally A VERY dear character to a lot of the fanbase, someone who got built up and existed and cared and was more or less likeable. We saw Buffy continously care about her and be worried about her and there was a sense of them being family, being precious to each other. Germy since the end of S1 has been barely relevant to appear once in a while as characterless plot device. Someone who did not get to be built up as any sort of real family to the Mary Sue Lead, somene who got shipped off the show twice by the said mary sue lead, as well as someone who should have been dead TWICE already.

      - Joyce’s death was unexpected and hit hard like a truck, especially after a more light-hearted episode lead-in. All Germy’s death does is make me scream “oh for gods sake, finally”.

      • InvestedInYourFuture

        Overall the only connection to the Body that can be made is that its yet another Plec’s attempt to rip off something way beyond her fanfic-writing skillset.

        • http://nowhitenoise.com/ Mike

          No one is saying this is comparable in quality to “The Body” (you know that I think that’s basically one of the best if not THE best hours of television ever) but you can’t deny that there are some comparisons. I’m sure it came up in the writers’ room too. It’s hard to do a vampire episode like this one and not be compared to “The Body.” And if we were to judge this episode based on that comparison alone, it probably wouldn’t even chart. But we can’t do that.

          • InvestedInYourFuture

            Well comparisons and similarities are bound to happen, since its not the first time this show tries to borrow from other shows(case in point Bonnie’s “storyline”).

            What makes this episode pointless and not work, for me, is the SAME thing that makes The Body work so well – the previous seasons.

            The show spent three seasons pulling out the most random revival asspulls possible and now the show expects the viewer to believe that suddenly oh gods nothing can be done? And the show expects the viewer to BELIEVE that this death was final? After every single revival and ghost-stuff this show has pulled?

            THAT is the first major problem with the premise of this episode alone. The second being that there’s simply not been enough interaction between Elena and Germy to make the whole grieving realistic – For more than three seasons Germy has been an afterthought who barely interacted with her, if at all. Elena never showed a realistic worry or care for her supposed brother, so that destroys any sort of believability behind her reactions.

            Which leads to the problem of Elena not being built up as in any way relatable or interesting. There’s nothing at all for viewers to connect with her. Thus her reaction alone falls flat – we have no idea where she is coming from, WHAT she is feeling, because the show never ever bothered. to show us that, despite there being A LOT of death that should have affected her(to which she never took time to react)

            And then you have the fact that this is the Elena without her consent, which makes her reactions here pointless because her character is influenced and does nto have the will of her own. Add to that an incredibly sexist ending where a male lead MAKES a decision FOR her(essentially the show’s way of white-washing anything she would do) and you have a whole episode of writers showing a completely unrelatable and unlikeable character react to a death(that goes against the ruleset the show has) of another unrelatable and barely likeable character.

            Ironically, a lot of these points are exactly the show failing at what The Body and that whole show succeeded at.

            Even in comparison with IN-show events of, let’s say, how Vickie’s death was handled(or Lexie’s) , this falls flat because in both of those cases it worked very well because we could relate and understand those characters.

            To make it short – Germy’s death comes off more as a plot device than an emotional death. Germy died because plot called for it. Germy could not be revived by usual asspulls because plot called for it. Elena got to react to it because plot asked for that and not because she should react to it.

            It does not feel like a real and emotional death. And emotional deaths is something that has been non-existent in this show ever since Uncle John sacrificed himself for his half-brained bimbo of a daughter.

          • Didi

            I’m also seeing connections/links between Silas and the First Evil but that might just be me.

          • InvestedInYourFuture

            Not just you, sadly. Not just you. Sadly this show does NOT have a good trackrecord for the villains, so I would not put my hopes up for him being in anyway decent. Its just another case of Plec running out of ideas and trying to copy stuff that is way over the level of her capabilities. .

            Watch Silas flirt with Bonnie or Caroline next season as “even worse big bad” is introduced,. lol.

          • lavenderlilly

            “even worse big bad” haha, it is so true!

          • Pellinore

            I agree that I had a hard time connecting with her and I feel like this is the first time in a long time Elena actually paid attention to Jeremy. And he was dead. It doesn’t make sense that they couldn’t find some kind of loophole to bring him back. They just offed him for the sake of the plot and to increase the angst. And then they strip Elena of her ability to mourn. Just cut it short. I feel it’s one of those privileges of being a vampire that you don’t have to feel shit. But I feel like that should have been Elena’s choice. The guys are always saying that Elena can’t do this, Elena can’t do that, this will destroy Elena, this will kill Elena. And I’m like, well yeah, pretty much a twig could kill her b/c you don’t allow her to be challenged. She’s constantly being coddled and taken care of so it’s impossible for her to grow as a character. And part of the reason she isn’t able to grow is b/c of these two guys are always controlling her. So nothing ever seems that organic. Also I don’t feel like it was necessarily her right to burn down that house. It would have been more meaningful for me if she’d made that decision with Jeremy at least. Knowing that they’d both gone through the same things. But it’s like Elena always seems to have the final say. She determines whether or not he can stay in Mystic Falls while she gets to decide where she wants to live, what she wants to remember, who she gets to love for the most part. She took that away from Jeremy at least once or twice. It does bother me that they glamor people, perhaps to prevent trauma or to keep secrets, but it’s just such a privilege. Real people don’t get to forget trauma. They live with it forever. Some survive and some don’t. Some just go on making some kind of life but they aren’t ever necessarily at peace with themselves. But some do find peace but it’s a struggle. It’s never easy. And you get support from people. But hopefully those people never control you and they never decide what’s right for you to do with your pain.

            I see characters like Caroline, Matt, and esp Bonnie, just going at it alone. Not having someone there. Caroline without Tyler. Matt without Vicki. And Bonnie without anyone (I guess her parents went on vacation). You can’t tell me it was a good idea for them to just take her home and leave her by herself. I mean, are these people that daft? They’re never that vigilant about her. Something always happens for all the focus to be on Elena.

    • LunaticDesire

      Well it obviously still interests you a lot because you read the reviews and write seemingly endless comments about episodes you’ve never even seen.

      Maybe you need to let go. Or at least watch the episode before writing about it. Sorry if my tone seems harsh, but I think someome has to point it out to you that commenting about something you haven’t seen is like disliking food you’ve never tasted.

      • Nay

        I was thinking the same thing.
        The reason why we’re still watching is the same reason why you keep coming here, posting comments that always start with “From what I heard, this episode is….” . The show is nowhere near perfect but instead of quit watching it and always wondering what’s going on the show, and posting multiple huge posts about episodes we haven’t seen..We choose to keep watching because we want more. As simple as that.

        • InvestedInYourFuture

          So in a nutshell, TVD fanbase is a bunch of masochists who do not know when to say no and accept whatever treatment the writers drop at them?

          Let me say this – I DO NOT care about any of those characters(in fact barring for Caroline, I would be happier if there was 90 minute episode of them all getting brutally killed, especially main trio, especially Elena) and most of “twists” this show has thrown at the viewer in last three seasons make me vomit.

          The only reason I keep track of this show is because its a show that directly insults the idea of gender, racial and sexual equality and is basically as big of sexist/misogynist propaganda as Supernatural. And you do not just “ignore” that kind of behavior of the writers.

          Its the same as with Twilight – just because you have not seen it, does not meant hat you should ignore the bigotry of it. Its the case to learn on what NOT to do with your fiction.

          Yeah, this show is basically “Twilight the TV”, complete with Bella Swan and two Edwards.

          So yeah, I have no idea on why any sane person would put up with such a bad writing in a genre show? that’s as impossible as watching CW’s “Beauty And The Beast” and enjoying it.

  • cacherr1

    while I know some grimy ish is about to happen my bamon feels came back with a vengence that I really could give two ish about Jer Muscles being dead (I was over him when Kol got killed, as he was disrespectful to Bonnie’s parents and actually was demanded she do something that both her parents said she was not right in her head). So I wasn’t bother, will I miss Steven yes (as I still think DE need to address the snapping the neck issue as they been critical of everyone else’s relationship and past crimes of late).

    Bamon hug and Damon’s dialog being about Bonnie. Shonda Rhimes wrote this episode or Julie was straight up trolling Bamon fics.

    • Didi

      I agree about my Bamon love. When he hugged her and the earlier comment that Elena made that Damon loves Bonnie. I was kind of squeeing a little bit in an episode I mostly hated. It’s about times one of the other characters (outside of Jeremy) gave a crap about whether Bonnie lives or dies.

    • brittany

      ^This^ !!!
      I stopped caring about Jeremy in that moment too.

  • Didi

    I think I may be in the minority but hated this episode. You’re right. I kept thinking the entire episode, “The Body” did this better. “The Body” treated its characters with respect and gave so many people a chance to really shine. The Anya scene being a standout for me. This episode seemed to reduce Jeremy’s death as the inevitable reason that Elena “turns-off” her emotions. It wasn’t surprising. It was expected. It was all about Elena. And though I think she should have gotten the lion share of the screen time since it was her brother that died (and I give props to Nina Dobrev for delivering). I hated that no one else seemed to really get extended character beats. Bonnie had a second before she went cray cray; Matt had a few moments (which is surprising because sometimes I still question why he’s on the show), Damon and Stefan had a moment but it felt like an afterthought that they could have let breathe just a little more.

    I also hated how they treated Bonnie’s character here. Elena committed mass genocide like 2 episodes ago and everybody lauded her for her genius it felt like. Bonnie suggests massacring 12 ppl and she is labeled, “that bitch is cray.” I suppose double standards are okay. Elena can get “do whatever you need to to grieve” while Bonnie who has only loved one character on this show gets barely a mention of her grieving process. I don’t agree that she should lower the veil or whatever, but I kind of want her to because it’d be unexpected. Also perhaps, it might not be a good idea for the person who has uncontrollable magic to be left alone. You knew Silas was going to walk up and do his manipulative schnitck after that whole Matt kicked her out his car and gave her that “alright crazy” look. It would serve them right if in next episode, Jeremy is just back and Bonnie just looks at everybody and says, “What? I told you I was going to kill e’erbody. I thought by you leaving me alone, it was consent. Also thanks for not giving me a chance to say goodbye to my lover before you set his body on fire. Much appreciated that he doesn’t get a grave or a memorial or a ritual to mark his passing. Awesome!” This was not a great send-off to a character who has been on the show since Season 1. It felt like more prop for Elena and the rest of her storyline this season.

    • Pellinore

      I agree that they pretty much turned Jeremy into a prop for more Elena angst. I didn’t appreciate that. He deserved the same type of burial as the rest of the family. He deserved to be remembered. He’s not just Elena’s property. He had friends, he had Bonnie, he had other people outside of her little microcosm. It was just selfish. But I feel like Bonnie immediately crashed. It wasn’t well paced. But I understand that she was just as vulnerable but had absolutely no support. Just everyone calling her crazy even though Elena just condoned a similar act several episodes ago. I also don’t think breaking the veil is a good thing but it’s probably going to happen. No one could see that Bonnie was in pain, too. That she definitely needed some attention. I mean she’s seen her grams die like twice and then saw an illusion with grams and an illusion with Jeremy dying right in front of her. She got to see Jeremy die twice. She’s also traumatized. But at the same time being manipulated by Silas who is . . . I don’t even know. The storyline is confusing as fuck. It’s like first he’s dead or not dead, then no he’s actually not dead but stuck in a supernatural realm. And he wants to be released so he can actually . . . die? I mean, I assume he wants to be released so he can be on earth again and wreck havoc.

      And a bit off tangent but the woman who plays Rebekah is totally pregnant. I saw them trying to cover her belly, so yeah. Congrats for her.

      • JELLO

        I guess the actor who plays Shane will be playing Silas now, so we may not even see any other actor play Silas. Maybe at the end of the season or next season someone else will take over the part.

    • http://www.facebook.com/corina.ramos.7549 Corina Ramos

      I also agree with you on hating this episode, if anything it was hard to watch without rolling my eyes. I really wanted to feel for Elena, but I felt indifferent maybe because I knew it was coming. The one where I felt the emotion was from Matt (Zach is a pretty good actor and I don’t know why they don’t use him more) with his break down in the car that scene felt real to me. I also want Bonnie to get crazy and they are setting it up, but for her to lower the veil on her own without anyone knowing would be great and then if she could be just be a bad ass and just wreck havoc that would be even better. I was just pissed at the send off, it still doesn’t even feel like Jeremy is dead. I get the whole symbolism of his drawings, xbox and diary burning because it’s a chapter that’s ended, but I think if there was an actual funeral where everyone could of said their goodbyes and visiting his grave that would have felt more real, but the burning of the house was just stupid and left me saying, “really Elena!” I wasn’t happy that once again a salvatore brother made a decision for her, if anything she should of made the decision to turn it off not Damon. I swear this season is just all over the place, whenever there is a solid episode where you think it’s going forward the next one is two steps backwards.

    • JELLO

      It is possible that Jeremy will come back with burns all over his body.
      He got really beefed up to take off his shirt this season; there is no way that he
      will be gone for long.
      People stop hating on Elena; she is supposed to be sweet and innocent. I don’t find
      the character believable when she tries to be raunchy and tough.
      Nina Dobrev doesn’t have the face for mean. The character of Katherine is mean, but unrealistic since she looks too innocent to play a badass.
      The show is about Elena and the Salvatore brothers, the rest of the characters are
      supporters. That’s why I don’t have a problem when it focuses on Elena’s
      character.

  • BruNzr

    I’m too sad about Jeremy’s death to write, so I’m just gonna say I agree with EVERYTHING you wrote.

  • QMargo

    I acknowledge that the episode was great in terms of how emotional it was, how for once they did not decide to put everything on the line and be ok with Bonnie’s plan because this would have been another typical chore in the “Everything for Elena” campaign…BUT for me this emotional breaking down in Elena comes 2 seasons too late. Yes, she lost her brother, but how many friends and family has she lost prior to his death? A lot. I expected this kind of breakdown after Jenna’s death because aside from Jeremy, after the death of her parents Jenna was her only family left. And lets not forget that Elena actually witnessed Jenna being killed in front of her….thats why at this point during s4 already while its great to see, but I don;t feel for this girl’s pain and looking at the promo, I don’t think she has the right to only now start acting out.

    Also there are only 7 episodes left of this season, and how is everything supposed to be cramped up into these last 70 hours? Keeping in mind things like the sire bond, Katherine and the cure, Klaus still out there waiting for revenge… oh and also Silas brainwashing the crap out of Bonnie…..all I can say is these few last episodes BETTER deliver on all of that.

  • brittany

    I only watched bits of the episode on youtube to be honest, what bits of it i saw i liked. i was questioning throughout the clips on why elena going through the grieving process is so unacceptable that she has to turn her humanity off whereas everyone else who loved jeremy just as much are confronting the issue…well except for bonnie as she’s in brainwash mode.

  • Pablo

    Great episode, just one question, if silas killed jeremy, what happens with the hunter’s curse? is he gonna have it?

  • Fifi

    Frankly I didn’t think it was that great of an episode. I hated the fact that Jeremy’s death is being used just like a way to get Elena mad.
    I mostly hate the fact that they dragged out this whole Badass elena thing.I excepted her to be that way in the early episodes of season 4, yet the writers managed to drag this whole thing out.Kudos to Nina Dobrev though for her acting, that face after Damon turned her humanity off was so believable. ( Why does he get to make these decisions though?).
    And Jeremy’s death was so ….random.It was nothing dramatic in a theatric way.I mean snap neck and drained out his blood? For someone who has been here since season 1, it just wasn’t great.I mean remember Jenna’s death? Alaric’s ? Sad yet thrilling right?

    I just hate how they still treat Elena like a baby,someone who can’t take her own decisions. While reading the comments here I just remembered about the scene with Matt crying in his car. He’s like Elena you know : lost his sister, absentee mother, has vampire friends and seen many deaths. But he still survives, He keeps fighting. On the other side Elena doesn’t get to do that.The brothers decide she can’t handle it. So I’m guessing in the near future, Elena will acknowledge that and decide she’s better off without them, or at least she need to have her own identity,and lose that Salvatore muse status. (Hopefully we won’t hear about the triangle for a long time, a girl can dream)