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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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Leigh r

I can't remember the last time that I really missed a character who was killed off of a series, the way I miss Alaric. RIP buddy. Great ending scene.

Charmed jenna

Beautiful episode. Just goes to show that TVD is a lot more that just fast-pacing and great cliffhangers. I love the cast of this show so much. Special props to Nina, Kat and Ian. Even though we've seen Nina with blood on her face, with Elena it all feels so fresh and inspired, a testament as to how well the actor has separated these two characters. Ian almost always impresses and not just during that last seen, when he entered the church and first dabbed his fingers in the holy water, hilarious. People here aren't really fond of Bonnie, but the few scenes she was in this episode, Kat really shined and portrayed her grief well. The scene between her and Stefan was beautiful(also the scene between Caroline and Elena). The addition of Connor was good. Again even though there have been vampire hunters on the show, his Connor's portrayal felt fresh and inspired. April's introduction was lackluster and leaves everything to be desired. These weeks go by so slow, can't wait for the next episode.

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Dear Creators, Please give me a slight hint if you will ever give us Delena or not. If not, then I would LOVE to stop watching this freaking show... There's just one lil hope for Delena and I am watching it... P.S. No matter what I still Damon..so called Monster Damon. At least he does not pretends to be who is he's not. :) I love Damon so much. More and more with each episode. :)

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@Matt Ritchenthal: You were right last week when you told me this episode was going to be awesome! THANK YOU!!

Tanner1511

Very good episode!!! Loved the STELENA makeout in the woods! I think the reason Jeremy can see it has to do with his site of ghosts... makes the most sense. Not saying connor is a ghost, obviously, but a witches spell that involves some ghost aspect. The memorial was well deserved! Finally got a goodbye for some characters aka LEXIE!! The scene in the Church was great! I have to give it up to Tyler for being AMAZING! I LOVED Stefan hitting Damon. Damon knew what he was saying just to provoke Stefan. For a brother, Damon can be a complete and utter ASS! There are times where I love that about Damon, His sarcasm is one of my favorite parts but there are others times where I just want to rip his head off! I think this is why it is so hard for me to root for him with Elena. They would never work in the long haul. I still LOVE the idea of him and Rebekah! Overall a very good episode but I wish I could have given it a 4.5 rather than a 5 (too good to give a 4 so opted for a 5)

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@marissa they said it in the episode they knew he stabbed her as a trap to get a reaction which i don't know why he thinks that makes him any better then a vampire though

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i miss damon and alaric scenes together and even if matt davis didnt say anything it was so nice to see hopefully we will see him afew more times i also hope that soon they will have katherine come to town becuase she will not take the news of elena being around forever very well so it should be intersting to watch cause you know she always hoped later on that she could have stefan back like when damon mentioned in season 2 to katherine "i don't think you want to fight forever over stefan love" i want to see how that goes down and she has been MIA for to long i think that this episode had just the right amount of intense i can't wait for next week

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I was so glad that Elena drank from Matt! Readers of the books will remember that Matt was the first human Elena drank from so it was great that the writers threw that in there, it was a beautiful scene and Matt finally got to repay Elena for the gift she gave him in the finale.

Marissa

Loves the episode. I still don't understand why Connor stabbed April because she's not a vampire and doesn't no anything about them. The ending was really sweet and something we all needed to see everyone finale letting go of everyone they lost and deciding to move on. Can't wait till next weeks episode.

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Boring episode. But I would be lying if I said the last scene didn't bring me to tears. I miss Alaric so much. Beautiful scene.

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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