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The Vampire Diaries Review: EM Marks the Spot

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That damned cure.

It’s been a driving plot point ever since our beloved Elena became a vampire and, honestly, the whole thing started boring me episodes ago... until tonight’s “American Gothic” episode, written by Evan Bleiweiss and Jose Molina.

Caroline with Klaus

In the past on The Vampire Diaries, a road trip away from Mystic Falls often felt like a stand-alone episode in that there may have been a goal that fed into the overall plot but, in the end, it still felt a lot like filler to prolong getting to the good stuff.

But with Elena and Rebekah working together at the top of the hour to find the holder of the cure – bad ol' Katherine – the installment was filled with action, suspense and some definite movement in the plot; it also did what The Vampire Diaries Season 4 has failed to do for me a lot over the past few weeks: it left me wanting more.

Executive Producer Julie Plec has done one thing right throughout the series – she brings Katherine in only when necessary and then she lets her fly. But this time there was more than just watching Katherine outwit and outbitch everyone in her path. In this episode, we got a little bit under the surface and actually felt a little sympathy for her. Shocker, right?

With the reveal that Katherine and Elijah have been dating, it fed into the mythology of their story and the fact that love is something most of these characters have never truly known... yet desperately want to. And when Katherine told Damon and Rebekah that they didn’t know her, call me a fool but I believed her, which only made Katherine telling Elijah later in the episode that she wants the cure because she wants her freedom all the more touching.

That was probably the biggest surprise in the episode.

And that’s saying something because “American Gothic” was an episode filled with true nail-biting moments, which I’ve been missing a lot of this season. When Rebekah took what we thought was the cure, I honestly wasn’t sure what was going to happen - and was dying to know. Being surprised by Silas taking on Caroline’s appearance was one I didn’t see coming. And seeing Rebekah in the same frame as Elijah late in the episode only made me more excited for The Originals.

Finally, making it all very clear why each individual wants the cure (and, in Elena’s case, why she doesn’t want it), only amps things up brilliantly for the rest of the season.

However, the episode wasn’t a slam dunk and here are a few things that had me groaning at my TV:

  • Either give us a payoff to the Klaus-Caroline sexual tension or let’s move on. While it has always been clear that Klaus has feelings for the blonde vamp, we’ve seen Caroline moved a bit by his words and more valiant actions. Sure, the guy is more bad than good. But isn’t being a teenager (especially an eternal one) all about making mistakes, including sleeping with the wrong guy? Pay this off or let’s move on.
  • The humanity switch. The moment it was brought up, it felt more like a storyline contrivance more than a piece of brilliance. I couldn’t help but think how the same idea has worked in a good way over at Once Upon A Time but this is The Vampire Diaries and for all its fantastical elements, it’s a show that’s always had at least one foot grounded in some kind of reality. The humanity switch just seems too easy for the show.
  • There’s absolutely no dramatic tension anymore when anyone gets their neck snapped. Unless we’re going to get some really great, different consequences from the act, can we please stop overusing it?

Overall, thumbs up on “American Gothic” and I’m geared up for the rest of the season. Bring it! What did YOU think of this episode? Are you excited for the coming episodes, which don't return until April 18?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
  • 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (2161 Votes)

Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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For the first time in a long time I am not that interested in the Elena-Damon-Stephen dance. While I did really like Damon and Elena together, the sire bond storyline just sort of spoiled everything for me. Their first major love scene was interrupted with Carolyn and Stephen dialogue... And now with Elena turning off her humanity she is so unlikable ..even Katherine seems sweeter than Elena now.... I am actually more interested in the other characters now! Elijah, Carolyn, Silas, etc..

Spnlover7

Elena is probably the most annoying vampire on the show right now ever since she has become a vampire, the show has been all about finding the cure for Elena and her with her humanity off is even more annoying she just keeps killing people and hurting her friends, there is no substance to her character anymore, I really wish she was human because human Elena was so much better than vampire Elena as for the overall episode it was really good I love that Katherine and Elijah both came back

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Silas didnt impersonate anybody, it was an illusion, like the white oak stake was an ilusion. Besides, Klaus probably will have a baby wolf to worry about. The show wouldnt make him sleep with Hayley for no reason, I think a little wolf might ne on the way.

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With no logical progression for her transformation.
-Klaus and Caroline have great chemistry i don't deny that, but i wanted to skip over their scenes as much as Klaus/Hayley. That "relationship" is as lame now as the main love triangle.
-the plot holes are getting bigger.
-the Buffy plotlines are becoming uncomfortably obvious. Silas looks like a really bad ripoff of The First. Whose he going to impersonate next? Jeremy? Kol? Bonnie's grams? Alaric? Aunt Jenna? Please, its okay to use something as inspiration but the ripoffs are piling up. And it's obvious.

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This episode was okay.
Pros:
-Elijah's return is always a plus and can improve even the worse of episodes. Seeing him is always a welcome.
-it was great to see Katherine again and acting like the complex, enjoyable character of earlier seasons. Nina did a terrific job balancing both characters. I was expecting Elena and Katherine to not be that different from each other but there was clearly a difference in this episode: Katherine is a deeper character with goals and flaws, Elena is not.
Now for the Cons:
-the Salvatores bitched throughout the entire episode.
-Rebekah being an all powerful original vampire just makes me think that she got lucky. Everyone can say she's the most in touch with her vulnerbility but i just say she's very weak. And irritating.
-I'm over Badass Elena, she's still annoying. She behaves like a whinny brat with as much depth as she had when she was human. I don't know how the writers expect us to cheer for a "supernatural heroine" if she's unlikable and with no logical progression for her transformation.

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Correct me if I'm wrong but if Katherine trades the cure to Klaus for her freedom, isn't it what most of them want? If Klaus has it, he'll force Elena to take it and that is what Stefan and Damon are working towards, correct? So what's the problem then?
Elena really needs to take this cure already. I have a feeling she'll never turn back into a human. I don't really enjoy her as a vampire. If I wanted to see a bad side then I can just watch Katherine. I also don't necessarily think she'll wind up choosing Stefan if she turned. While I prefer her to be with Stefan, I have a feeling they may be over for good.

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Evan Bleiweiss and Jose Molina did an outstanding job!! I absolutely loved this episode!! cant wait for the 18th!

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Stefan," I'm done, I can't keep reliving my life like this."
That should have been his response to Elena. Back when she told him," I kissed Damon." Character accuracy , a little late huh. PLOYS and Girls. Elijah and Katherina nuff said...

Drea-xoxo

ok now to stop my woman and man crush and focus on the episode at hand.
every scene with my katerina and elijah 5/5
everything else 3/5. beks needs to go now, she's too vulnerable and one trick pony for my liking. damon and stef, darlings i know its difficult to accept but elena isn't the baby in the corner no more. she's your worse nightmare, katerina 2.0 but worse. least with katerina she pretended to care but elena just as per selfish! other than that, don't care to much for klaroline tbh because both characters annoy me. overall THANK YOU GILES FOR COMING BACK AND NINA TRANSFORMING INTO MY KATERINA AND PLEC FOR ORCHESTRATING IT.

Drea-xoxo

erm I AM SO HAPPY AHHHHHHHH!!!! PLEC FINALLY YOU HEARD MY PLEA OF BRINGING MY KATERINA AND ELIJAH TO MY SCREEN!! this episode was the best since season 2. i am content with however you want to bring the series now i have had my glimpse of elijah!!! can everyone now see why he is the best original!!! elijah and katerina, 500 years and you were reunited!! i want him to believe her because for once katerina tuned into her emotions!!!