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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
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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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Marissa

Good episode. I knew that the cure rebekah took wasnt the real cure. I truly felt bad for Katherine and believed her when she said they didn't really know her and that she loved Elijah. I believe that she does love Elijah or atleast she did 500 years ago and still has feeling for him but she's also sill a bitch sometimes and that makes it hard to like her. I love no humanity vampire Elena she's more fun and she seems like the only real one on the show right now everyone els is acting like the way they where when they where alive or trying to get back the person they loved but Elena is just being a normal vampire having fun and killing people she's not pretending with anything. I can't wait till the 18th when the show returns it looks like a good episode.

Ilkvomit

This wasn't the outstanding episode I was hoping for, but Elijah finally gracing the screen is always mega points on an average at best episode.I must say, that I miss Elijah's old epic hairstyle. also this episode was way too centered around love for me. call me crazy, but that is my word and I'm sticking to it :) . . . another thing I would like to point out, is that the ending of this episode left me with the sense that they are slightly pussifying Elijah !!. I swear I will burn down all of Los Angeles if that occurs lol.

Shelly1

It looks like Elena is getting close to Stephen again in that preview for the next new episode. I'm not liking this one bit. I'm getting tired of all the flip flopping between brothers. I loved seeing Elijah though, always liked him. Caroline and Klaus will never sleep together as long as she's still in love with Tyler. But then again I've seen stranger things happen on this show.

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Why is it possible to compell a vampire to turn their humanity off but they can't be compelled to turn it back on. Couldn't they lock Elaina up until there is no vervain in her system and get Klaus, Elijah or Rebecka to compell her to turn it back on.

Ronald-simkins

Comcast dropped the CW feed tonight. Will try to watch it tomorrow. Looks good for a change.

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WOW i totally did not expect Damon and Klaus to hook up. Love that kiss they shared..

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And why the hell are they dragging Klaus and Caroline out like this? Are they keeping the originals through the rest of the season before shipping them off the New Orleans? Cuz they should just have had them sleep together tonite, then given them a few episodes to get over it. At the rate they're building this tension, Klaus won't be AROUND to see a payoff! It's like they're building for a season finale "bang", then come back next season and Klaus has disappeared? that's stupid.

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I HATE that they're using this stupid humanity switch as an "out" for having to develop Elena and Damon's relationship!! First it was the sire bond, and now it's the humanity switch! Basically, they gave us half an episode of Damon and Elena sleeping together, then they slammed on the brakes and we never got to see them as a couple!It's ridiculous now how! We can't even get a scene of Damon TRYING to break through to her, telling her he loves her or something like that. Nothing. If the writers are trying to use this as a way to say Stefan is better for her because he "won't give up on her", it irritates me to no end. Why can't they show the Damon we saw when he admitted he loved Elena?! Sooooo annoyed with this storyline...

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I can't believe you didn't mention Elena and Elijah kissing!!!! I've been waiting for this for like 2 seasons!
Amy Lynn - I think Daniel Gillies will be at least 2 more episodes before they head off to New Orleans.
I have to say that this is the first episode where I was a bit disapointed in Elijah. I get that he was in love with Katherine, and aparently still is...but like Rebekah said, I thought he was the smart one. He fell right back into her trap. Now, she may really have feelings for him (which I don't like because I like him with human Elena much better), but still. It's not like Katherine will follow Elijah to New Orleans (I can't see Nina Dobrev doing 2 shows at once)....so it reasons that Elijah will convince Klaus to give her her freedom, and then she will disappear leaving Elijah in the dust. OR she'll ask him to come with her and he'll choose his family once again.