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The Vampire Diaries Review: A Tale of Two Hunters

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What an absolutely terrific episode of The Vampire Diaries.

While past top-notch episodes of this CW drama relied on flashbacks or major twists/turns (See: "Blood Brothers," "The End of the Affair"), "Memorial" required no such visit into the past.

It was simply tense from beginning to end, incredibly tense, featuring the introduction of a fascinating new character; taking us deeper into Elena's transition; and giving Matt something to serve aside from drinks at the Grill.

Scared in Church

Let's start there. The Season 4 premiere was a slight letdown because it focused so much on something every viewer knew was coming: Elena turning into a vampire. It felt anticlimactic by the time that act finally took place.

But this episode shifted the focus to how such a development will impact Elena's relationships, from her rekindled romance with Stefan; to her complicated bond with Damon; to her new, extremely close connection to Matt; to her mentor/student relationship with Caroline.

This storyline is at its most powerful and its most effective when we witness its impact across all our favorite Mystic Falls residents. There are multiple layers to Elena turning, far beyond the simple fact that she will now live forever, and it was interesting to watch their domino effect play out here, specifically when it came to the tension between Stefan and Damon.

To feed on human blood or not to feed on human blood, that is their question. It's a legitimate moral debate and it brings back up the history between these brothers. Stefan knows the Ripper-like consequences that can result from one's immediate turn and foray into Homosapien digestion. He wants Elena to avoid the mistakes of his past.

Damon? He's never been as forward-looking as his optimistic sibling. He's always about the here and the now and he sees the girl he loves in pain and he offers up the fastest solution possible, his blood. And now our love triangle - thankfully - has a new twist.

It had grown tiresome last season. There's only so much of Elena pining for both Salvatores that viewers can take, especially when she's listing the same reasons over and over for why this is such a difficult decision. But this feels fresh. I spent the episode sincerely wondering on which side I'd fall, Damon or Stefan's. I can understand both, and I'm curious to see how Elena balances Stefan's big-picture thinking with Damon's quick-fix blood lust.

She isn't just trapped between two brothers now; she's caught between dueling philosophies.

And she was part of maybe the most moving scene in TVD history. That ending. Wow. It was unexpected, it was appropriate, it was touching, it gave us a Lexie shout-out. For a show that prides itself on hanging off the cliff at the conclusion of every hour, this was a surprising/emotional/perfect way to conclude an episode that focused so much on death and life and the choices we make. I absolutely loved it...

... and that was before we even moved to Damon in the cemetery. My goodness, Julie Plec! Are you trying to put Kleenex out of business?!? Any regular readers of my Vampire Diaries reviews understands the soft spot I have for both Matt Davis and Alaric Saltzman and Damon's mourning of his best friend was nothing short of beautiful.

I'm going to pretend like there's someone there because the alternative is too damn depressing. | permalink

Stefan and Caroline

From saying farewell to one hunter to greeting a new one... what the heck is up with Connor?!?

An outstanding debut by this dangerous new foe, the bad ass' introduction raises a number of questions: How is he connected to the Council? Is he related to the council? What prompted his appearance in Mystic Falls? What's up with the markings on his bullets? Why can only Jeremy see that tattoo on his arm?

Easily one of the more gasp-worthy moments in recent show history, the ink sighting makes it apparent that Connor is... what? A ghost? He doesn't seem to be a regular human, that's for sure.

The entire scene in the church was gripping television at its best. With Connor and his rifle lined up in a pew, April bloody by his side, a series of supernaturals sitting down below, everyone plotting his or her next move, it was simply heart-pounding to watch.

The same can be said for the episode as a whole. I just loved every minute of it. It's hard to remember an hour that so richly developed relationships and delivered with action-filled sequences.

Who is Connor? Down which path will Elena go? Will I ever stop crying over Alaric? Following a lackluster premiere, questions abound, trouble is brewing, tears are flowing and I can't wait for next Thursday.

What did everyone else think?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (1834 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Ilkvomit

My guess is that Conner is going to be somewhat similar to GHOST RIDER.He's going to be the shows spirit of vengeance. Think about it,im sure if Jeremy looked upon Nic Cage as Johnny blaze in the Ghost rider films he would see him as GHOST RIDER...flaming skull and all.

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NOTHING LIKE GOOSSEBUMPS!!! CONGRATS JULIE PLEC for keeping that ending totally UNDER WRAPS!!!!! I cried and cried. I LOVE Matt Davis & the fact that we only had to wait 2 episodes to see him again on TVD screen was WAY shorter than I anticipated. It's so nice that his new show allows him to make appearances. Anyone else hoping that it actually ends up getting cancelled & Jeremy uses his ability to get fatherly advice from Alaric..

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Well hellujah!!! I have missed this version of tvd. Make my HATRED of commercials come bk with a vengence. That was some good tv. Damon was on point this ep. Jer finally has something gto do bsides be bonnies sidekick. Steph wasn't boring. Ep deserves an A+

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Oh also, while I have read the books, I'm not really a fan of them. Nevertheless the shout outs to the books in this episode were kind of nice. The little things like Elena tracing the vein on April's arm is straight out of the book (except that it was Bonnie in the book). And of course Elena drinking Matt's blood was a big deal. I kind of thought that at the end of last season that would happen. Didn't go exactly as I expected, but pretty close in the end! And finally, it seems to me that there is something more to Elena drinking Damon's blood. Obviously they already have a strong bond, but I think this could be setting up more of a Delena connection...

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@marie boring episode?? Are you kidding me?!? What the hell do they have to do to get your interest?? I thought it was a fantastic episode. It introduced so much and set up a lot of things for the rest of the season, and yet it was action packed, emotional, and just plain awesome!!

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The end was incredible, watched it twice, cried twice. TVD kills it ( too soon ;) ) with their tear provoking scenes.

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Okay so anyone who has eyes and watches this show can see the obvious chemistry going on with Delena. Sure Stefan's a nice guy and all and he does the right thing, but come the fuck on, Damon and Elena are great together. For a show that relies heavily on its erotic scene (I could hear "Jizz in my pants" by lonely island playing in the grill at that moment- side note: we have not seen the last of those two in that bathroom) they make it work. You can't tell me that if your parent walked in at that exact moment you wouldn't have blushed and been like "It's not what it looks, well...maybe, but,it's not porn... well maybe...". Couldn't exactly say the same for the Stelena scene now could we.

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Wow so much better than the first episode. Stefan was more emotional, not so bland as last time. Damon was so into Elena again and very touching speaking with the spirit of Alaric. All characters really good this episode.

Charmed jenna

Anyone else feel like April has an Anna feel to her?

Charmed jenna

Agree with Tanner1511, Jeremy seeing those tattoos probably has something to do with the fact that he's able to see ghosts. Also, although Matt Davis' appearance is always welcomed, doesn't this mean he hasn't completely moved on and given his soul a peaceful rest.

The Vampire Diaries Season 4 Episode 2 Quotes

Damon: You know what they are? Children. Like lighting a candle's going to make everything OK, or even saying a prayer. Or pretending Elena's not going to end up just like the rest of us murdering vampires. Stupid, delusional, exasperating little children. And I know what you're going to say: 'It makes them feel better, Damon.' So what? For how long? A minute, a day? What difference does it make? Because in the end, when you lose somebody, every candle, every prayer is not going to make up for the fact that the only thing you have left is hole in your life where that somebody that you cared about used to be. And a rock with a birthday carved into it that I'm pretty sure is wrong. So thanks, friend. Thanks for leaving me here to babysit. Because I should be long gone by now. I didn't get the girl, remember? I'm just stuck here fighting my brother and taking care of the kids. You owe me big.
Alaric: I miss you too, buddy.

You better hope she's not a fan of Bambi.

Damon [on Elena]
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