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:


Editor Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (2148 Votes)

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


To be entirely honest, I think this should have been between the last episode of season 3 and the opening of 4. I felt like it just wrapped up all the loose ends and then created an entirely new problem. Everything was just so "here in the moment". Not to mention the plot line exploded in our faces with the whole pastor thing. I don't know - I liked watching Stefan and Elena suffer with the supposed dooming thought of Elena turning (but we all knew that wasn't going to happen), and how Elena tried to fight against it and then ended up having to fight to even fully turn before she died. And here's where it's said out loud that Damon was right. Ugh, I'm so sick up Stefan being this (no pun intended) life-sucking fiend and Damon being the behind the scenes good guy.


Obviously When elena got the blood she was probably close enough to the cop to grab the keys to the cells, or was able to pull him closer and grab him and get them, it looked like it could be possible and it was probably easier when she got her strength back.


She's nog gona 'Stick' with stefan. DELENA is gonna last forever&Etirnity.


WOW I LOVED the episode! I guess I had low expectations before watching because I thought it was all gonna be about Elena and she'll be back to "I chose Stefan but uh-oh these memories are coming back and I'm back to being confused" but GLADLY, SHE STUCK WITH STEFAN. I hope that stays because the back and forth between the siblings is getting boring. I also love Rebekah even more now. Loved that barn scene between Elena and Stefan and Rebekah listening. I also loved Michael Trevino as Klaus! I'm a Forwood-turned-Klaroline fan and in some twisted way, I liked the forest scene. ;) But I'm also glad they're back in their bodies. :) I loved the Klaus-Rebekah scene as well. I know, what an ass for a brother, right? But still... Klaus is a BAMF villain. Missed Elijah! Personally, I don't really care much about Bonnie's storyline.

Allison berry barbieri

Yeah, but they were all vampires with a lot of would Elena free everyone? On TVD, Vampires get stronger with time, age and blood. It's Twilight mythos that says newborn vampires are the strongest, but not on TVD. I am still stumped by their escape.


Bonnie crossed a line, now she knows what awaits her if she ever does it again.
Honestly, I didn't like season 3 and felt it was dragging it a little bit. Hope this season won't, but it already hasn't started well. For me anyways. I couldn't even enjoy the hot scene in the woods, laughed a little, but still... How did they get out of the prison... well Elena now a vampire, has A LOT OF STRENGTH, meaning, she freed everyone ! Ta-da !


I am disappointed. When finally Elena becomes a vampire, it has to be like this. Of course they had to try and save her, as usual ! How many people have to die for her sake everytime. Gramms had to be the one, AGAIN ! Poor Bonnie, she is the witch, ALWAYS have to rely on her for EVERYTHING ! The only thing I enjoyed was Elena's struggle to drink the blood. THAT WAS IT !
That pastor, WHO THE HELL was he ! And why did he kill everyone at the end PLUS the verveine ? And I agree, how could he access the Salvator's supply, MAYBE through Lise...she probably had a set of keys, as the Sheriff.
Tyler is BACK YAY ! Unfortunately, so is Klaus. Minus Elena's blood. Good one Bekkah ! Thought he was really gonna kill her after that. Well, so long Klaus, you are no longer welcome !
Love the memories coming back part: that scene, LOVED IT ! Well now, Elena is a Vampire, with Stefan, and Damon is angry, AGAIN. What a circle !
Bonnie crossed a line, now she knows what awaits her if she ever does it again.
Honestly, I didn't like season 3 and felt it was dragging it a little bit. Hope this season won't, but it already hasn't started well. For me anyways.

Allison berry barbieri

One last comment, I DO think it's a great idea that the writers made Elena a vampire. They planned it well...slowly had everyone stripped from her (parents, Aunt Jenna, Uncle John, Alaric) so there are no real adult figures in her life. She was left with nothing but Jeremy. It was a good time for her to turn. I also changes the dynamic of the show and is a bit of a "next chapter" I'd longer about protecting Elena all the time. More of vampires/werewolves/hybrids/witches against those that want to eliminate them. But, everyone needs to get over these "ship wars". The triangle is the premise of the show. She will change her mind 100 times while the show is still on. Deal with it and focus on the other elements of the show. Oh, I did forget to mention one other great scene...Klaus and Rebekah...beautifully acted by both :-)

Allison berry barbieri

I, just like Matt R, would like to know how the council got their hands on the vervain. And I honestly was NOT happy with all the council drama in the first place...this episode should have focused entirely on Elena: the fall-out of Stefan's choice, the confrontation between the brothers, the guilt of Matt, Elena's sadness that she was going to give up so much and get a life she didn't want. I think they gave more attention to Caroline's transformation in Season 2! And, yeah, how DID Stefan, Beks and Elena get out of the cages???? There WERE good parts: the Damon/Elena conversation, Jeremy frantically trying to revive Bonnie, Rebekah's change of heart while listening to Elena and Stefan (kudos to Paul Wesley in that scene), Caroline and Tyler/Klaus in the woods... Overall, I think the problem was too much time between Season 3 final and Season 4 premiere, which was filled with spoilers, anticipation and ridiculously high expectations.

Allison berry barbieri

As for the whole "shipping" thing, I don't really care. The triangle is the premise of the show, always will be. I loved the scene with Damon and Elena but I'm glad she stuck with Stefan for now. But she did say, at the end, "I can be with you forever...if that's what I want". I did think the way so remembered the time in her bedroom with Damon was done well! The dying Elena/Stefan scene would have been more emotional if not for four months of spoilers, interviews and confirmations from Julie Plec that Elena would, in fact, turn. Plus, no show if she didn't. Not all that emotion really.

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The Vampire Diaries Season 4 Episode 1 Quotes

Where ever you go, Salvatore Brothers seem to follow.

Pastor Young

We all know the way. You feed or you die, there is no door #3.