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+.


This episode was great! The fact the Elena wants to be nothing like Damon and hopefully won't be is so awesome. And Stefan hoping to turn Elena and himself human again and get married and have babies is so great! There is now hope again in the show and I really do believe those 2 belong together forever. Damon is such an ass for trying to get Elena to be with him on the dark side. He very well knows her and knows she would be devastated if she hurts people, yet he doesn't care at all. He just wants her all to himself and it's such BS. I hope Elena can hold on to her humanity just like Caroline did and be with Stefan.


@Bill and R.
We are slamming Stefan because he is an idiotic little shit.
"Elena's gonna kill someone, and then she's gonna grieve and then turn it off and we'll lose her forever" - Something along those lines. Ummmm, CAROLINE killed someone, Rebekah killed someone, Rose and Lexie most likely killed someone, Bonnie's mother fed, is a vampire, and has things under control! They ALL have things under control and have not turned off the switch! Both Stefan and Damon, those dumb fagatore brothers, are pegging vampires into either "super predatory" or "vegetarians" when there's ample amounts of vampires that are in the middle. Nothing was wrong with what she did at the party in fact she's getting better at it, it's only Stefan feeding her this garbage that she might become a ripper like his pathetic ass or like Damon that's scaring her. It's illogical, annoying, and inconsistent.


@Team Damon, you can't possibly be that naive. Everything that Damon is doing now in teaching Elena to be a "proper" vampire is his way of driving a wedge between her and Damon and drawing her closer to him. He is thinking of only one person - himself. He is a bitter black hearted jerk who wants to destroy any humanity that might still remain in Elena so that she will turn away from Stefan and want to be with him. I'm sure you can't wait to see Elena and Damon have hot vampire sex. But for me, that will be the end of the road. Elena will just become Katherine, or actually, a darker version of her. I have no interst in seeing that.


@SMS,I couldn't agree with you more. I get sick of all the crap thrown at Stefan because he wants to do the right thing. A coward? What a joke!! The guy was willing to give up everything to save his brother and allowed Klaus to turn him into the kind of vampire he despises the most. Now he has on the verge of lostingthe woman he loves to that same brother. Having Elena feed onhumans is just another way that Damon can drive the wedge deeper betwen her and Stefan and draw her closer to him. He's a complete a**hole and the day he and Elena become a couple or even hook up will end my following of this show. That would complete Elena's move to the dark side and she will then be just a clone of Katherine. I see nothing entertaining about that.


LOVED Stefan's 50 Shades comment, lol! And someone said Rebekah mentions a 50 shades line, too. What did she say? I missed it.


I liked the Rave/dance scene between Damon and Elena. (Btw: Who else has a beef, that Elena didn't knock that girl's rufie-laden drink out of her hand? She should have!) And I thought she overdramatized about letting her guard down and having too much fun with Damon, jeez! Wtf?! You are not allowed to have ANY fun with ANYONE other than Stefan?! Damon nailed it when he said: 'She didn't do anything wrong, she was having fun'. Elena feels guilty that she was feeling too close to Damon, is what it was, he IS her Maker..they are gonna have a bit closer connection just due to that! I can't wait for those two to get together! And...I LOVED Klaus in long hair! HOT!! Also: the whole cure possibility will be interesting. Wonder if that'll happen anytime in this show? Anyway: did anyone stop to think that a cure might wither all the old vampires into bones, when they turn human? I'm gonna have to read these books, soon! Great ep, can't wait for next week!

Sarah silva

I loved this episode! It was so great!
We all know that Elena will choose Damon before the season is over. I am team Stelena all the way but seeing Nina and Ian dancing together you can tell they have tons of sexual chemistry, which probably has lots to do with the fact they are a couple in real life.
I knew there was something off with Professor Creepy (as Damon called him). It will be interesting to find out more about how he and Connor know each other. I also like that Klaus and Stefan are working together for something good....eventhough I think Klaus will betray them all in the end, which I hope not as I like the idea of there being a cure! I think that would be a fantastic way to end the series having Stefan and Elena become human again, get married and have babies!
There was not one moment of this episode that I did not enjoy!
Matt had a couple funny lines and as always Damon did too! Withcepedia!!!


Am I the only one who was actually proud of how Elena fed? She didn't hurt anyone! What's the harm in any of that! She had fun, she ate like she HAS to, she didn't hurt anyone. She's just freaking out because she has much more fun with damon than stefan.
I hate that she hates how she likes damon (makes sense?) I don't want it to be that way. I want her to see the good in him, not think of herself as a horrible person. Damon does nothing wrong he never kills when feeding!!! This is ridiculous, give the dude a break!


Am I the only one who thinks that Stefans speech about " I will cure myself to die alongside my one true love" isn´t this sweet.
seriously I think all the vampires in the show and yes even Damon or the originals would love to become human again. I think its rather selfish of Stefan....and at the end it will be probably Damon turning human.


@SMS - Stefan a coward?! Are you freakin' serious. He ALLOWED Klaus to take Jeremy....appparently you have memory loss. Because you would realize that Klaus could stomp on Stefan like a bug if he wanted to. Stop being stupid. People are so mean in regards to Stefan. What should he do about Klaus and the knowledge about the cure? Go against Klaus? Cause that has worked so well in the past. He's desperate to find it and 'save' Elena. He will work with the devil if he has to...because he still has guilt over letting her die.
People just want Elena to become Katherine. We can't have 2 Katherine's on this would be silly.

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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