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 don't think Alexander will be there either... I don't think that is the last we've seen the last of him... which will be intersting in the long run for REbekah, if she ever gets undaggered, which i hope she does because this is the first i've liked of her... also bring back Elijah!!!


I enjoyed this episode..i enjoy fast paced episodes, but i like when they dial it back and just give you a good storyline.. you have elena and damon.. bonnie... stefan and klaus.. connor and jeremy.. matt and rebekah.. did miss caroline this ep but we had enough on our plate.. Elena annoys me sometimes.. tonight far as she goes, there is no cure for her.. she needs to get over herself and understand how her life will be.. if she keeps letting her emotions take over, that is actually when she will lose control. tonight was actually the first time I enjoyed rebekah since they introduced her... she's always been this bratty vengeful bword.. tonight she was sweet and kind.. and showed a side of her that was likeable.. even lovable... she was betrayed by her love.. one she trust enough to tell the truth about herself even though he was a hunter. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I dont think when klaus goes looking for that sword, its going to be there.. I dont think we've seen the last of the original 5.. or at least not of Alexander.. also I hope they dont keep Rebekah daggered too long.. just as I start to like her.. she gets daggered... ALso also.. MORE ELIJAH!


Damn,how many times has Rebekah been daggered?


Boring and ridiculous.


I loved this episode. I felt really bad for rebekah in this one because all she wants is to love and to be loved back. Watching Elena and Damon together was great and I think we'll probably really see Elena loose control. When klause used the dagger on rebekah and he had that one tear it made me think he actually does really care deep down and he has feelings deep down he just never shows them because he doesn't want to get hurt. Can't wit till next episode.


There was no vampire sex!:( grrrr


There was a cure mentioned in the books that Stefan went to get for Elena but it turned Damon human. Spoilerrrr


yeah i thought this episode was boring too. the only good scene was the party elena & damon went to. claire holt/rebecca is such an incredible actress. i just wanna see her find love- find some nice guy & be in a wonderful relationship. she deserves love. i feel so sorry for her. throughout her life she's been through so much... i hope the writers have something good planned out for her.


I actually thought this episode was a little slow and boring. The only good part was any scene with Elena and Damon in the party that's all. Hopefully next week will be more action packed!


I cry in the Rebekah scenes. Claire is a amazing actress and it made ne hare both Stefan and Klaus in this episode. I knew Shane was shady but could he also be one of the five. I get that Stefan wants Elena back human but he is also saying that she can be back Klaus little blood bank. I did not really care for the other scenes.

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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