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?


Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (2162 Votes)

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


The Elijah and Elena kissing scene was such a shocker among many other surprising plot twists this episode had to offer. Now we got an inside scoop in Katherine's psyche, it's finally time to get things going with Team Mystic Falls versus Silas.


That Katherine was so desperate to get the cure so as to keep Klaus from hunting her anymore, well after 500 years her ruthlessness is almost understandable. It did seem like she truly cares for Elijah, but if he truly knows what she is, why was he surprised Katerina killed Jeremy and lied to him? She's done worse, let's be honest. Any episode with Elijah is automatically an improvement; Gilles lends a gravity and flair to the show that it lacks anymore. I'm tired of Elena. In every incarnation she's a whiner. Caroline, however, was excellent. But they do need a payoff on Klaroline or need to back away from it. I guess Matt was working double shifts at the Grill in order to get the $ for the property taxes on his new digs.


I don't think Stefan will leave (for good anyway). And I think Damon's reaction to the news was one of sadness. Even though he wants Elena, he doesn't want to lose his brother.

Spindae 2o

hmmmm! This was a good one! Elijah and Elena! Some mighty scenes between them. Carried the episode throughout! Nina Dobrev did a good job! Elijah and Katarina, him just calling her Katarina is magnificent and shows how much he loves her. Her giving the cure to him was a nice honest moment. And this shows me that she there will probably be an end to Katarina this season cause I don't see Elijah staying with her in New Orleans. Stephan, Damon and Becca were just a pain in the as*! and besides Becca's scenes with Katarina they were useless. Klaroline! Candice showed she is a MIGHTY ACTRESS. I hope she goes big after her TVD career. She being Silas was really deep. I mentioned that I see her being possessed by him but this was better.


why is it a surprise that Katherine wants her freedom? what? and she didn't tell Elijah, she told the random person she'd compelled.


LOVED this episode and YES for the return of Elijah and Katherine ! such a strong one.. reminded me of the old what a strong woman Caroline has become and how she no matter what will not give into Klaus. I liked them this episode and I loved that Klaus allowed Tyler to come back for her. The Elijah/Katherine stuff was interesting but I want Steferine.... I mean come onnnn thats basically what was 1/ 3 of the season 2 these two having moments together ! Plus it'll offer character development and a good story for both of them. And an exuse for Katherine to stay on the show ! Plus Elijah's leaving for the spin off and I highly doubt Nina Dobrev has time to do both shows. loved that stefan recognized that they were just repeating history with her and that he was leaving her once they get the cure for her ! Interesting to see where he'll go/ I dont think the writers would have him say that if there was no use. I really want Elena to get her humanity back because this is really annoying.

Sarah silva

It is not letting me vote but I give it 4.5/5.
It was nice having Elijah back! I was surprised that he and Katerina (love that he calls her that) were a couple, but I liked it.
I also liked seeing Elena and Rebekah over power her a little bit, at least for a short while.
I knew Rebekah did not take the cure, it would have been way to quick of a resolution for the cure storyline.
I really like when Damon and Stefan work together, I think they are at their best when they do.
The new Elena is not to be messed with, that scene and the end was crazy! We will never get the old Elena back.
I do not mind the Klaus and Caroline scenes at all.
It will be a long 3 weeks!

David and sabrina 2014

Once the cure is found,who knows who will take it and what events will occur but I hope that it will bring the show back to normal even though there will be scars left behind. ;P =|


Brilliant episode!!!!!!!!!! I honestly have no words! The best episode of the season! Props to Nina Dobrev and Joseph Morgan for their perfomances! I could literally feel Klaus' pain and Katherine-Elena were amazing! Now i agree with everything this review refers to! 110%! The Originals are such a masterpiece! Seeing Elijah and Rebekah and Klaus is the best thing that has happened ever! Love Elijah so much! Can't wait for their show!
As far as Klaroline is concerned, i was a huge supporter for over 9 months now but i m kind of over it! They don't intend to make it happen- give us a good closure and let's move on! (But not with Hailey) Amazing Episode again! Reminds me of the good old TVD- S4 has been indifferent but this ep made quite a difference!


@Herewego Speak for yourself. Also the "multiple Stelena sap soaked seasons" were by far much better than this one. Although after everything that's happened, I think Stephan's character development would highly benefit from a new and real love interest. What he said to Damon at end about moving on with his life and being over the love triangle was good to hear and as sensible as he’s been in a while. Damon’s reaction to his brother’s statement was funny, it seamed like he couldn’t rap his head around that one.

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The Vampire Diaries Season 4 Episode 18 Quotes

Katherine: It's a beautiful place to die.
Rebekah: You're right. This is a beautiful place to die.

Resist me all you want, Klaus, but until you bring me the cure I will bring you nothing but misery.


The Vampire Diaries Season 4 Episode 18 Music

  Song Artist
The civil wars forget me not Forget Me Not The Civil Wars iTunes
Don gallardo days long gone Days Long Gone Don Gallardo iTunes
Song Why Try Young Summer