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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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Most excellent episode. I love Damon, he's so real and how he tricked Elena into drinking from him (how sexy was that) Geez!!!. His brother new what he did and was pissed cause obviously that was very very intimate. I'm still laughing about Stephan hitting Damon when he was down, that was hilarious.

Marisa1983

Agree Rose, they should be more careful and cover their tracks. By the way, seeing from the promo for next episode it seems that Matt is planning his revenge on Rebecca or setting up the hunter...

Marisa1983

Yeah, Jeremy's list made me realise Elena and he are the ones who lost more people.

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To the comment below me, Katherine can drink anything .. now.. but remember she was turned a vamp in 1491 or something, there were no bloodbags, the only supply was straight from the vein... Elena obviously can drink both, but maybe early on she needs to just drink straight from the source. I have a feeling Connor is old school.. maybe his markings are a spell cast many years ago keeping him around.. He obviously knew how to pick them out without having to touch them all.. He knew Damon was a vamp, and he obviously knew Elena was one as well. The only part that annoyed me was with matt, why didn't he get vamp blood to heal his wound.. if a vampire hunter is strolling in town, wouldn't it make sense to cover up something as obvious as a neck bite??? it was funny, even with the romantic scenes between stefan and elena, I still thought the blood sharing scene was more sensual then all the others.. I really enjoyed this episode.. looking forward to the return of Klaus as well

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i think theyre a breed that have supernatural vampire hunting skills and jeremy has it.
also damon said she is rejecting everything she needs to drink from the vein, katherine always did. lol

Danielle50

I also find it funny that Elena can only drink from the vein because of her doppleganger side but Katherine can drink anything. How is that?

Miranda-wicker

@lalalala, I loved that, too. It was so very Damon.

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I loved how Damon kept saying "This seat is taken," obviously because that's Alaric's seat

Miranda-wicker

Okay. Whew. Now I'll try: 1. Connor is a BAMF.
2. So is Tyler.
3. I loved how they all helped Elena in different ways. They all taught her something.
4. ALARIC SALTZMAN.
5. I feel more sad for Damon than I felt for the rest of the gang combined.
6. The length of Jeremy's list made me laugh. I expected him to start counting on his fingers and then move on to his toes.
7. It was SO REFRESHING to have an episode sans any Originals.

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I agree! That was a very beautifully written episode. Damon and Alaric scenes are always touching, so I was also holding back the tears :( I miss him on the show! Connor is going to be a great addition to the show I think, very interesting character. Right now, I can't wait to see what happens next!

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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