The Vampire Diaries Review: Livin' on a Prayer

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With apologies to beach-based sunsets and the sight of puppies asleep, is there anything better than flashback episodes of The Vampire Diaries?!?

The CW smash delivered another mythology-heavy thrill ride with "The Five," as we went all the way back to the 12th century; learned of a cure (yes, a CURE!) for vampiredom; witnessed Elena lose control of both her body and perhaps her heart; and discovered a key connection between Connor and Bonnie's new mentor.

And Rebekah got staked. And Stefan struck an alliance and Klaus. And a hybrid was beheaded. Yes, it was an eventful episode...

Paul Telfer as Alexander

And with Stefan being forced to strike a deal with the devil (Klaus' words, not mine!) in order to live on the prayer of saving Elena from the pain of her first kill, please indulge me as I rundown the installment via song titles from classic rock band Bon Jovi...

LIVIN' ON A PRAYER Stefan was at his sweetest and his most rational tonight. As usual, Damon was basking in the moment, raving and drinking and dancing, while Stefan was looking at the big picture. He's like a chess player, always thinking many moves ahead.

In this case, that meant playing out Elena's new state to its logical conclusion. She will eventually kill. She will eventually turn off her humanity in response. And she therefore will be lost forever. Hence, the deal with Klaus and the desperation to cure Elena of what will soon make her... no longer Elena.

It was a beautiful sentiment all around, capped by a speech to Rebekah that, granted, may have been manipulative, but was also undoubtedly truthful. Stefan would cure himself in order to die alongside his one true love. Pass the Kleenex and come on, people. That's awfully sweet stuff.

YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME Go ahead, laugh at the girl who loved too easily, Rebekah cried right before her brother daggered her once again. The show has been steady and consistent in portraying this Original as someone who simply wants to be loved, and tonight's flashback to Alexander served its purpose well.

Credit the writers and/or credit Claire Holt, but Rebekah has always maintained an air of vulnerability and sadness, even at her bitchiest and most conniving. It was impossible not to feel for her here. I have no doubt she'll be back, but her multi-layered character - of pride and anger and bitterness and loneliness - will be missed until then.

BAD MEDICINE That's pretty much what Elena was served at the frat party. Who really thought it was a good idea to turn a new vampire loose at "douche central?!?" Aside from the danger of exposure for her and Damon, it was akin to dangling fresh meat in front of a ravenous Doberman. Pounds and pounds of fresh meat. I fail to see how this was meant, in any way, to "teach" Elena how to feed, as Damon claimed.

The main takeaway, of course, is that she's a lot more like Damon than she wants to believe. That heartfelt monologue to Stefan at the end may have been true, perhaps she does not want to be a member of a "predatory species," but she was also referring to her feelings for Damon, the ones that simply won't go away.

Elena doesn't want to admit that she has a lot more in common with Damon now - but it's safe to assume this will be a realization that she won't be able to avoid for much longer. None of the sentimental words Stefan utters will match the raw connection that now exists between Elena and Damon.

HAVE A NICE DAY I'm pretty much assured to have one any time Elijah makes an appearance. How frickin awesome is that guy?!?

SOMETHING FOR THE PAIN Yes, there's now a cure. It's out there. It's real. And it gives The Vampire Diaries the sort of through-line at which this show excels. It's at its best when there's a goal driving each crazy episode, something to tie together all the twists and turns on a weekly basis.

How did we get there? Or how WILL we get there? It's complicated: Connor has a tattoo... which he somehow got from a soldier upon his death... and it grows every time he makes a kill... and it's a map to this cure... but it's only readable via a sword that is buried with Alexander... and Connor was sent to Mystic Falls by Professor Shane, the man who took over for Grams at the local college.

That's a great deal of plot, and yet it's fairly easy to digest. I'm fully on board. I'm dying to know more about this professor, I very much buy both Klaus and Stefan's motivations for wanting the cure and by making Connor a pawn in the professor's game, the show has opened up any number of possibilities.

Who knows what else is out there, or what Shane motives may be. Remember: we still don't even know how the Council and that fire plays into any of this. Bon Jovi once sang about a "Two Story Town," but there's no conceivable way to count the number of stories now at play in Mystic Falls. I love it.

Just how action-packed was this episode? I scarcely even noticed that my girl Caroline was absent.

BLAZE OF GLORY Really, is there any series in the history of television that goes out every single week in one of these? Another terrific hour tonight, one that promises the take the show - considering Bonnie's new apprenticeship, the agenda of her teacher, Elena and Damon's growing bond and Klaus and Stefan's secret mission - in a whole new direction.

Check out the official promo for next week's "The Killer" and sound off: WHAT DID EVERYONE ELSE THINK?


Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (1539 Votes)

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


I needed some time to figure out how to put it into words, but I think I have finally grasped my feelings of the whole Stefan/Elena/Damon thing tonight. Stefan automatically assumes that she will flip her switch after she kills. Who is to say she will? Maybe she'll want to keep her humanity to remember how it felt so she won't do it again. Maybe she'll be better able to deal with it than Stefan expects. Maybe she'll be able to control herself and won't kill at all. She'll be the vampire anomaly. Whatever happens, if he treats her like she's fragile, that's all she'll ever be.
I think Damon's approach is much better here. Teaching her how to enjoy what she is and not spend an eternity feeling sorry for herself is what she really needs. What kind of existence will she have if she keeps feeling disgusted by who she now is? She needs to embrace and accept it, and I think that is one thing Damon got right: if she revels in it (or at least tries to accept it), she can control it. By hating what she is (like Stefan) she only wants to suppress her nature, and that means that when she gives in she goes too far, creating the Ripper. She can't pretend she isn't a vampire. She needs to accept it (at least until Stefan magically produces a cure for her, of course...) before she can be good at being a vampire like Caroline. So maybe Caroline should be teaching her, since she's the middle ground in the situation?


I was really disappointed by this episode, to be honest. Looking at the cure as a whole, they should have waited on that. The way they did it now makes it feel like a cop-out. They just can't stick with the decision to make Elena a vampire, they have to backtrack like everything else. If the cure had been introduced further into the season, I may have been more receptive to it as a storyline, because the idea itself is awesome. It just feels like the show has some magical fix for everything and I wish it didn't. So the main character has to go through a struggle to adapt to vampire life. Let her go through the struggle, don't introduce a magical fix to take the problem away. I want to see Elena GROW, because she remains the only character on this show who has not undergone some kind of change until this point. The way this played out has me kind of hoping the cure was just a lie by Alexander to ensure Rebekah trusted him.


Feeling lukewarm about "The Five", still it was a pretty good episode overall. There were so many great moments, but the thing that sticks out most in my mind is how great Elijah looked back in the day (WOW!). I like Stefan and Elena- just not together, they seem to bring each other down. I like Klaus, Rebekah and Stefan together, they were probably so awesome in the 20's. I am sure that Damon has an agenda all his own, because that is the Damon we all know and love, BUT I think he has the best feeding plan for Elena since bunnies and blood bags are not doing the trick. The Damon School of Feeding seems to be her best bet and she is being whiny and ungrateful. She treats Damon like crap and then she will run back to him when it suits her. Her little after party fit was totally Elena, but still disappointing. Her character is so frustratingly stale, she's almost as bad as Bonnie.


I love Stefan, he's adorable, he cares, to me his Prince Charming. He put everybody before him self, and in this episode he thought about him self for a second and I loved him for that. I think him and klaus have a great connection, maybe because they have a past but I love there keeping this secret together. Remember that episode when Stefan meet klaus and Stefan understand him. Sometime Stefan can be very boring but when he in action I just love him. Instead killing people, like Damon would, he find another way just by being there and talking. I don't think his a coward, I think smart, he has plan. Am over the whole love triangle. I want Stefan to explore more possibility.


This season is such a great comeback from last season's dead end stories about the Originals. I'm definitely loving this new goal and the intertwining stories between all the old and new characters. I was a little bit hesitant about the cure, but then again this being TVD, I have a feeling that there will be a twist by the end of all this with Elena not getting the cure...We'll have to wait and see. Fanastic episode!


Sigh, I was highly disappointed with the episode. The only charaters that I really am interested in these days are Caroline, Tyler and Damon. Why oh why must they make the rest of them so incredibly dumb? (I miss Alaric also) Comments on other sites reflected a general disappointment in the hype about a significant turn of events in the triangle. I have been thinking about that. We just sort of assumed that there would be some breakthrough in the relationship between Elena and Damon, for the better. After some consideration, I think there may be been but not in the direction that many of us would like. Last night she demonstrated her general lack of appreciation for the survival lesssons she has been receiving from Damon, which seem to be anchored in practicality in my opinion. His last words were "She's all yours". Perhaps the change Julie Plec referred to is a turning away of Damon from "miss thing". If he were a real person she would have been cut loose along time ago for her shitty attitude toward someone that would die and suffer many times over for her. I have enemies that are nicer to me than she is to Damon. Not sure why the writers have gone that direction and made her look like such a jerk. She and Bonnie are by far the most unappealing characters on the show, which is sad since Elena is the principle character. I would much prefer to actaully "like" the main character.


Fans of the books have probably just like me seen some connection of course from the previous seasons to the books, but this cure made me think about Stefan being locked up in a cell in the Dark Dimension after being lured by Damon (who was infected with some kind of malach) and Sinichi (a kitsune)to go to Shi no Shi for a cure to make him human again.


1.I love Elijah!
2. Elena actually told Stefan what she really thought, how refreshing
3. Why did Bonnie had to interrupt the scene between Damon and Elena dancing? Again, it was very refreshing to see Elena somehow not all uptight.
4. WTH?! I want to know MORE about professor Shane, that smirk was so badass.
5. Connor is so strong.
6. Rebekah and her fifth dude from the olden days was so cute together. I actually hope she finds someone, so she can be a bit less bitchy.
7. Why does Damon always have to come interrupting Elena when she says something bad about him (sort of)?
8. Klaus's hybrid annoyed me.
9. The Vampire Diaries always know how to deliver, seriously.
10. CAN WE PLEASE HAVE SOME HOT VAMP SEX ALREADY?! I'm desperate for some Stelena action (and some Delena action, by all means).


I was so glad to see Elijah in this episode! It just makes the show a lil bit more tolerable. You know, the more I watch Elena, the more I am convinced she does not deserve any brother - she is just so dull.


episode was great but didnt like what happen to rebakh... stephan should have done something.....

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The Vampire Diaries Season 4 Episode 4 Quotes

Klaus: I was feeling benevolent.
Stefan: You're never benevolent.

You're the one whose getting me through this, no matter who teaches me how to feed.

Elena [to Stefan]

The Vampire Diaries Season 4 Episode 4 Music

  Song Artist
Olivia broadfield happening Happening Olivia Broadfield iTunes
Song Glamour Anders Magna
Song Sweat Hard-FI