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The Vampire Diaries Review: A Tale of Two Hunters

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What an absolutely terrific episode of The Vampire Diaries.

While past top-notch episodes of this CW drama relied on flashbacks or major twists/turns (See: "Blood Brothers," "The End of the Affair"), "Memorial" required no such visit into the past.

It was simply tense from beginning to end, incredibly tense, featuring the introduction of a fascinating new character; taking us deeper into Elena's transition; and giving Matt something to serve aside from drinks at the Grill.

Scared in Church

Let's start there. The Season 4 premiere was a slight letdown because it focused so much on something every viewer knew was coming: Elena turning into a vampire. It felt anticlimactic by the time that act finally took place.

But this episode shifted the focus to how such a development will impact Elena's relationships, from her rekindled romance with Stefan; to her complicated bond with Damon; to her new, extremely close connection to Matt; to her mentor/student relationship with Caroline.

This storyline is at its most powerful and its most effective when we witness its impact across all our favorite Mystic Falls residents. There are multiple layers to Elena turning, far beyond the simple fact that she will now live forever, and it was interesting to watch their domino effect play out here, specifically when it came to the tension between Stefan and Damon.

To feed on human blood or not to feed on human blood, that is their question. It's a legitimate moral debate and it brings back up the history between these brothers. Stefan knows the Ripper-like consequences that can result from one's immediate turn and foray into Homosapien digestion. He wants Elena to avoid the mistakes of his past.

Damon? He's never been as forward-looking as his optimistic sibling. He's always about the here and the now and he sees the girl he loves in pain and he offers up the fastest solution possible, his blood. And now our love triangle - thankfully - has a new twist.

It had grown tiresome last season. There's only so much of Elena pining for both Salvatores that viewers can take, especially when she's listing the same reasons over and over for why this is such a difficult decision. But this feels fresh. I spent the episode sincerely wondering on which side I'd fall, Damon or Stefan's. I can understand both, and I'm curious to see how Elena balances Stefan's big-picture thinking with Damon's quick-fix blood lust.

She isn't just trapped between two brothers now; she's caught between dueling philosophies.

And she was part of maybe the most moving scene in TVD history. That ending. Wow. It was unexpected, it was appropriate, it was touching, it gave us a Lexie shout-out. For a show that prides itself on hanging off the cliff at the conclusion of every hour, this was a surprising/emotional/perfect way to conclude an episode that focused so much on death and life and the choices we make. I absolutely loved it...

... and that was before we even moved to Damon in the cemetery. My goodness, Julie Plec! Are you trying to put Kleenex out of business?!? Any regular readers of my Vampire Diaries reviews understands the soft spot I have for both Matt Davis and Alaric Saltzman and Damon's mourning of his best friend was nothing short of beautiful.

I'm going to pretend like there's someone there because the alternative is too damn depressing. | permalink

Stefan and Caroline

From saying farewell to one hunter to greeting a new one... what the heck is up with Connor?!?

An outstanding debut by this dangerous new foe, the bad ass' introduction raises a number of questions: How is he connected to the Council? Is he related to the council? What prompted his appearance in Mystic Falls? What's up with the markings on his bullets? Why can only Jeremy see that tattoo on his arm?

Easily one of the more gasp-worthy moments in recent show history, the ink sighting makes it apparent that Connor is... what? A ghost? He doesn't seem to be a regular human, that's for sure.

The entire scene in the church was gripping television at its best. With Connor and his rifle lined up in a pew, April bloody by his side, a series of supernaturals sitting down below, everyone plotting his or her next move, it was simply heart-pounding to watch.

The same can be said for the episode as a whole. I just loved every minute of it. It's hard to remember an hour that so richly developed relationships and delivered with action-filled sequences.

Who is Connor? Down which path will Elena go? Will I ever stop crying over Alaric? Following a lackluster premiere, questions abound, trouble is brewing, tears are flowing and I can't wait for next Thursday.

What did everyone else think?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (1834 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Loved it last night, but I am still annoyed by Elena, but Damon on the other hand, stole the show last night.

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This episode is one of the best Vampire Diaries episodes ever. There are so many great things I will try to fit them all in without repeating the entire episode line by line. I am a Delena fan, so of course I loved the steamy Delena scene. I also like the Stelena scenes because it shows their great chemistry, which is something that I don't always see. And YAY Stefan for finally getting mad at Elena because he just lets her do whatever. Tyler was awesome! he seems like part of the group, not just as Caroline's boyfriend. Damon and Ric brought tears to my eyes. I'm glad he went to the cemetery to mourn privately, its just his way.

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The Damon/Alaric friendship was one of my favourite things about this show, and this insight into Damon’s grief, despite his adamant declaration that he doesn’t do grief, was absolutely awesome. I can’t really blame him for wanting to do it alone, considering every single time he’s been vulnerable on this show he’s had his heart ripped to pieces… I also loved that the burned down candles suggested to me this wasn’t the first time Damon’s done this, and that Alaric’s ghost was sitting beside him the whole time. The “Miss you too, buddy� from Alaric as Damon walked away (having said nothing about actually missing his friend) had me completely. Perfect ending. Overall, this episode was a reminder of why I love this show (and Damon!) so much. Wow, ok that was so much mroe than I thought it would be... this show just gets me carried away!

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respectful of Matt. Hopefully this means Damon will stop hating him and let him live in peace…
And, to round out the night, in true, cheesy Stefan fashion, he brought the group together to grieve. While it was a nice moment, I felt underwhelmed by it. They lit Japanese lanterns even though, as Damon so adequately put it, they aren’t even Japanese! (A perfect, lighthearted to break up the two heavy ending scenes.) Damon absolutely broke my heart throughout this episode. He said he doesn’t do grief, but really, it’s just that he doesn’t do grief in front of people. The chair bit at the beginning of the episode reminded me of Rookie Blue’s Oliver saving a seat for the recently deceased Jerry. He even bought his friend a scotch! Things like that always get me. But then Damon was at the cemetery talking to Alaric’s grave, and I was just done.

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Still can't make up my mind, I'm still so affected by this episode that I can't write an appropriate comment about this episode. All I can say for now that this is an Amazing, Mind blowing, Awesome, Outstanding episode. Love it so much !!!

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Speaking of the Council, their deaths brought a whole new level of vampire hunter to Mystic Falls. I’m pretty sure my heart stopped both times he shot Tyler. And the fact that Damon couldn’t kill him? Damon’s the best of the group at murdering people, and he couldn’t succeed? This guy is definitely a force to be reckoned with. From strange wooden bullets that burn to the touch, to gloves thatwere perhaps steeped in vervain, he knows what he’s doing, and I want to know more. Especially about that strange tattoo only Jeremy could see and the letter to April proclaiming that a greater evil was coming. What’s up with that?
Finally, I just wanted to mention two more things. Matt was really trusting of Elena in letting her feed off him at the funeral. I absolutely loved the looks on everyone’s faces when he said she could bite him. They seemed so shocked that he would trust a new, starving vampire to NOT kill him, and Damon’s face was almost… dare I say it… respectful of Matt. Hopefully this means Damon will stop hating him and let him live in peace…

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One thing I definitely loved about this episode was Elena turning to Damon for help when she couldn’t keep the blood down. At least she still trusts him. On some level, I think she knew that Damon would understand her difficulties, and wouldn’t judge her for needing human blood. Not that Stefan would, but she probably felt like she would be disappointing him. I liked that Damon tried to feed her himself before going to human blood, and I don’t think he did it to mess around with her relationship with Stefan. He cares about her, and maybe this was his way of trying to respect her decision to try not drinking human blood. I absolutely loved how caring he was with her in this episode. She didn’t need Stefan being his usual self. She needed someone who wouldn’t make a big deal of it, like Damon. He was gentle and sweet when he needed to be, even after she accused him of blowing up the Council.

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(i wrote a lot so i'm trying to post it in intervals where it will make sense) Can I just say that Elena’s compassion being magnified will be very annoying this season? She cried over eating Bambi, and she didn’t even kill him! I can’t even imagine what’s going to happen when she kills an actual person… That said, the moment between Caroline and Elena as Caroline convinced her she couldn’t feed on April was great! I love that they’re all dedicated to helping her transition.

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Can I just say, for what feels like the millionth time, how much I adore Damon? He is just too awesome for words. I’m sure I’ll mention it at least four more times in the course of this.
We were introduced to a couple of new characters tonight. We met April, daughter of Pastor Young, and an intense new vampire hunter to shake things up. However, before we got to any of that, we were treated to Elena’s first hunt. Stefan and Damon, of course, were in disagreement about her diet. Stefan was all for Bambi, while Damon was a little more realistic about it. I’m definitely more in favour of Damon ripping the band aid off over babying her as Stefan seems to be so good at.

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Allison, I agree with everything except the look Damon gave when Elena fed from Matt. To me he looked almost jealous! Like Stefan said it meant alot to Damon when Elena fed from him...Im excited about the new bond that possibly created for them! And very reminiscent of the book series! I hope it keeps up! And WOW. Damon has always been my favorite and I love seeing his character revealed more and more. The end scene in the cemetary made me tear up. It honestly did! I swear you could feel his loss. Kudos, Ian! I LOVED this episode!!! Definitely a step up from last week!

The Vampire Diaries Season 4 Episode 2 Quotes

Damon: You know what they are? Children. Like lighting a candle's going to make everything OK, or even saying a prayer. Or pretending Elena's not going to end up just like the rest of us murdering vampires. Stupid, delusional, exasperating little children. And I know what you're going to say: 'It makes them feel better, Damon.' So what? For how long? A minute, a day? What difference does it make? Because in the end, when you lose somebody, every candle, every prayer is not going to make up for the fact that the only thing you have left is hole in your life where that somebody that you cared about used to be. And a rock with a birthday carved into it that I'm pretty sure is wrong. So thanks, friend. Thanks for leaving me here to babysit. Because I should be long gone by now. I didn't get the girl, remember? I'm just stuck here fighting my brother and taking care of the kids. You owe me big.
Alaric: I miss you too, buddy.

You better hope she's not a fan of Bambi.

Damon [on Elena]
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