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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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Allison berry barbieri

@Rose, your statement:
The only part that annoyed me was with matt, why didn't he get vamp blood to heal his wound.. if a vampire hunter is strolling in town, wouldn't it make sense to cover up something as obvious as a neck bite??? That aggravated me too. I mean, obviously they couldn't do it right there in church, but why not after?

Allison berry barbieri

@Hookified, we don't know that Katherine can drink from anything...I've only seen her drinking from people mostly...plus, that was just a theory I think. And, it also has to do with Elena being "new"..

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Just got back to states, watched both episodes back to back! Wow! Yes I needed my box of Kleenex, I miss Alerick, Damon needs a friend now, I wonder who will fill that roll?

Allison berry barbieri

@Miranda Wicker: Totally agree about the Originals...I love Klaus and Bex, but I'm glad they weren't there this episode...it's kind of what made it great. Also, did anyone else catch the way Damon looked at Matt when he allowed Elena to feed from him? It was like...he almost respected him.

Allison berry barbieri

(continued, see below) There did seem to be a few people missing among "the ones we lost" at the lantern ceremony...but, then again, so many people have died who can keep count?? All in all, a truly, satisfying episode!!

Allison berry barbieri

This episode was, without a doubt, the best among more recent episodes and among the best of all time. And you know why? Because the story still had supernatural elements and mythos to a degree (yeah, what IS up with the bullet markings and the tattoo only Jer can see?), but it was still so....human. It didn't rely on witchy ju-ju to fix things, or convoluted histories and spells...it was so simple in so many ways. It felt like a return to Season 1 in so many ways, and I was thrilled. I also was,um...intrigued...by that whole blood sharing thing...kind of erotic in a way! And the writing was top notch...the amount of quotable statements and witty quips were staggering...and the, the final scene, it's the first time TVD truly brought me to tears in a while. Finally, I actually am proud of the writers for reintroducing some gore into a show about vampires...Elena puking blood was grossly awesome. There did seem to be a few people missing among "the ones we lost" at the lantern ceremony...but, then again, so many people have died who can keep count?? All in all, a truly, satisfying episode!!

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@ nicole OMG your so right he said heightened for everything when he said it that last time when they were drinking i was like can someone give him another line and i agree about how damon was always there for elena i think it just has to do with the fact that he is jealous that there mit be a chance elena would want him anyways i think this episode was one of the best i hope we get to see alaric again i wish he didnt have to go i want more damon and alaric and i cant wait to see katherins return to mystic falls its going to be INTERESTING she hasnt been around for awhile

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I loved it & I am still hoping Elena will be with Damon..

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I think Stefan was a little harsh in this episode. BTW if he says heightened one more time I'm gonna punch someone. Anyway, Stefan overreacted to Elena going to Damon for help. Stefan has a right to be upset but at the same time he put Elena through hell last season and Damon was always there for her. Stefan acts like he never did anything wrong and Damon's the bad guy. It's the same thing over and over. I hope that Elena and Stefan have a big fight this season and throw a couple tables at each other because Stefan treated her like crap and they both need to let it all out. I really enjoyed Damon and his remarks this episode. He was hilarious. I'm excited about the new hunter because he takes things to a whole different level. Great episode

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Daman Salvatore and Alaric Slatzman, one of the best bromances in TV history..

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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