The Vampire Diaries

Thursdays 8:00 PM on The CW
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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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Jovanica007

I cried my eyes out at the end of this ep. :(

Danielle50

The best part was Damon over Alaric grave. That still did not felt like grieving on Stefan and them part but more like letting go. Connor is great but too bad he will die at the alter of Elena just like everybody do so they should not mourn people they help kill.

Avatar

I'm very curious as to why Jeremy is the only one that can see the ink on his arm ... should be interesting to find out why.

Miranda wicker

I have so much I want to say about this episode that I don't even know if I can for coherent thoughts!!!!! So, so good. SO GOOD.