The Vampire Diaries Review: Livin' on a PrayerMatt Richenthal at .
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...
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?
Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.