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The Vampire Diaries Review: Witchy Washy

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Perhaps it was due to my constantly high expectations for The Vampire Diaries. Or the extra couple weeks fans had to wait this season for the October premiere. Or simply an off episode that was used more to set the stage for what's to come than thrill and shock on its own.

But I was let down by "Growing Pains."

Stefan in a Panic

Chalk it up to a combination of predictability and confusion, starting with the most pressing issue of all: Elena as a vampire.

We all knew she was going to turn. There wasn't much drama in whether she would feed within 24 hours, removing a lot of the suspense and sadness from that (very well-acted) scene between Elena and Stefan in the barn.

Granted, we still aren't sure what sort of blood sucker Elena will make. Will she gorge on rabbits or humans? Give in to her heightened emotions? Or put up an icy exterior to fight them off? All questions for the season ahead, all likely to come after she and Stefan have some seriously passionate vampire sex.

Another question: How did she, Stefan and Rebekah break out of their cells? Actually, one more question: How did the council get access to the Salvatore collection of Vervain? The episode glossed over a few key details, leading to my biggest issue with the premiere:

Bonnie. Grams. Spells. The Other Side. And... WTH?!?

I applaud Elena's bestie for taking proactive action to save her pal, but The Vampire Diaries really needs to stay away from its reliance on spells and ghosts and the after-life. Aside from being a easy plot device (Bonnie can fix anything!), it's simply confounding. The rules, if there are any, have never been fully explained.

Bonnie was able to visit Elena in the barn because Elena is dead? Even though she isn't actually on The Other Side yet? And Grams stopped by from that Other Side to alert her granddaughter that she was playing with dark fire? And then Grams died... again?

It's just a confusing mess and far too much of the episode was dedicated to Bonnie's unclear actions.

A large chunk also featured the re-configured Council, with a major promotion given to Pastor Young. It felt a tad sudden, but I enjoy the potential dynamic at work here. My favorite aspect of True Blood is the ever-delicate balancing act between humans and vampires, with the latter out and about and known to all on that show. Did the Pastor's seemingly suicidal act to close the premiere aim at bringing attention to Mystic Falls? In order to make the presence of the undead no longer a secret?

I could be intrigued by that. Realistically, there's only so long so many supernaturals could reside in one place in secret.

We are the beginning. Of what?!?

What else did I like about "Growing Pains?"

  • Michael Trevino as Klaus. He was convincingly bad ass, though I'm sure female readers are wondering how Caroline was able to pick up on the "love" usage when the actor was shirtless. It's possible for brain cells to function when in the vicinity of such a sight?!?
  • Klaus cutting off Rebekah. Let's just hope this is once and for all. The siblings' relationship has changed course on numerous occasions. But a scorned/vindictive Rebekah is an entertaining Rebekah and, damn, can Claire Holt cry?!?
  • The depiction of Elena's enhanced senses, from the lights to the sounds and the sights. Very well filmed.
  • Stefan telling Matt to "earn" his second chance at life. Very Saving Private Ryan-esque. This gives Matt a storyline outside of serving drinks at the Grill. Finally.
  • Elena sticking with Stefan. It was a nice touch to have her remember Damon's declaration of love, but the triangle needs to be put on hold for awhile. She chose Stefan. She clearly loves Stefan. There best not be any more back and forth any time soon.

So that's where we are heading into episode two. Elena is a vampire. Bonnie has traveled down a very dark and dangerous path. Klaus and Tyler are back in their respective bodies. Matt feels guilty. Forces within Mystic Falls are closing in on our heroes and heroines.

What did you think of the Season 4 opener? Watch The Vampire Diaries promo for next week's "Memorial," sound off in the Comments and grade the premiere now:

 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
  • 4.1 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (2142 Votes)

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

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Ilkvomit

What happend to Bonnies cousin from season 2 ? Remember she was Katherines witch and she kind of looked like Wendy Williams lol.In regards to the post about Bonnies witch backup,they should bring her back.She said she would see her again "Cuz" but never did.

Serenityq2

started out weak but got good around the middle. love the mysterious psycho religious ending. "we are the begining" the begining of what???? love bonnie as always she is my favorite character, witch power!!! only really watch the show for her. love that now i can actually HEAR her spell cast. i wish she would have ignored grandma and saved Elena then Klaus could have stayed in Tyler a little longer. and the boy does not know how to keep a low profile. he was telling everyone who he really is. really? all in an all a c, a for bonnie

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I also gave the episode an A. I must agree with MrsMorgan that Tyler/Klaus stole the show! Michael Trevino was simply brilliant in my opinion. I also love the fact that Elena chose Stefan and I hope she stays with him so that the show can focus on other plot lines while occasionally revisiting the lust fest called Delena...For now Damon can stick with Rebecca, after all he has been there and done that. Pining for a brothers partner (not just one partner but two) is off putting. Even friends have a code talk less of brothers.

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I agree, where is the show heading, Can't say I enjoyed last nights show, It absolutely made no sense. Elena, just really annoyed me intensely, changing into a vampire, has not done anything for her at all, or for the rest of the cast. It was just bad, nobody shined last night.

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I really wish they would stop bringing in new vampires and bring in some more of the Bennett bloodline. Bonnie needs some help with these vampires consistently using her to their own means. Give the girl some back up!!! Read more tv spoilers at: http://www.tvfanatic.com/profi...

Amygirl

I had to mute Bonnie during her spell casting mumble jumble. She was too loud, and it's not like I understood her anyway. I hate the character Bonnie I skip through every single one of her scenes except I was watching it on my laptop so I couldn't.
This episode felt more like a continuation of the last. It was predictable, and I didn't like the Stefan and Elena scenes. I get they're making DE fans wait, but it's becoming tiresome and I'd much rather see her alone than with Stefan.

Amy-jackey

I give it an A

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Someone here asked about direction of the season. Really good question: Where is this show heading? The main story or problem?

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I was also a bit dissapointed with this season's premiere and while I was anticipating it for quite a while to see where they would go after the GREAT season 3, I was saddened find me at the end of the 1st episode filled with a bitter feeling that,perhaps this season will NOT even come close to the fun and the excitement the last one had!I just hope that the writers can come up with some Fresh new Exciting ideas for this year in Mystic Falls..!
I believe there's somthing else behind that crazy suicidal move the pastor did..I believe that all this group of people perhaps will form some sort of protective group from beyond(or the other side)that somehow will find a wierd way to fight the vampires later on and thats why he equiped all of them with lots of vervein(the plant that hurts vampires)
I also AGREE 100% that this whole Magic thing has grown very tiring indeed..since Bonnie who started by lighting candles,now can actually DO almost ANYTHING,sudennly she is this powerful witch when she hasn't even finished highschool and when all other witches we have meet so far(last 3 seasons,while much older,very few,2-3,showed us that possesed that kind of power)It Is,most definately, the Easy way out of things,when they get rough,for the plot and it's not very appealling,..the only thing that she hasn't done YET,is to create her own line of ORIGINAL Vampires(originals#2) that can't be killed!..But who knows,maybe we'll just have to wait and see,maybe in this season she does!After all she is Bonnie the most Powerful witch that have passed thru Mystic Falls,all of a sudden!I believe they should go back to basics..back to just Vampires' raging wars and romance,and slow a wee bit down with the supernatural branching,cause its bound to get tiring and hard to follow after too many branches!!

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Grandma no longer gets to live in peace on the other side, and that knowledge will torture her, but what did that really accomplish? I was hoping we’d get to see something like her powers being taken away, or the character stuck on the other side, trying to get back. That would put the whole ‘other side’ plotline to good use, in my opinion.
Caroline… not a whole lot going on for her tonight. I hope there’s more later!
Pastor Young… I have no idea what’s going on there, but it intrigues me. I wonder if they’re supposed to come back or something with the help of the witch spirits? This will be one of the things which keeps me tuning in… for now.
All in all, an episode that hopefully sets up for a good season!
(wow I had a lot more to say than I thought!)