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The Vampire Diaries Review: Witchy Washy

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Perhaps it was due to my constantly high expectations for The Vampire Diaries. Or the extra couple weeks fans had to wait this season for the October premiere. Or simply an off episode that was used more to set the stage for what's to come than thrill and shock on its own.

But I was let down by "Growing Pains."

Stefan in a Panic

Chalk it up to a combination of predictability and confusion, starting with the most pressing issue of all: Elena as a vampire.

We all knew she was going to turn. There wasn't much drama in whether she would feed within 24 hours, removing a lot of the suspense and sadness from that (very well-acted) scene between Elena and Stefan in the barn.

Granted, we still aren't sure what sort of blood sucker Elena will make. Will she gorge on rabbits or humans? Give in to her heightened emotions? Or put up an icy exterior to fight them off? All questions for the season ahead, all likely to come after she and Stefan have some seriously passionate vampire sex.

Another question: How did she, Stefan and Rebekah break out of their cells? Actually, one more question: How did the council get access to the Salvatore collection of Vervain? The episode glossed over a few key details, leading to my biggest issue with the premiere:

Bonnie. Grams. Spells. The Other Side. And... WTH?!?

I applaud Elena's bestie for taking proactive action to save her pal, but The Vampire Diaries really needs to stay away from its reliance on spells and ghosts and the after-life. Aside from being a easy plot device (Bonnie can fix anything!), it's simply confounding. The rules, if there are any, have never been fully explained.

Bonnie was able to visit Elena in the barn because Elena is dead? Even though she isn't actually on The Other Side yet? And Grams stopped by from that Other Side to alert her granddaughter that she was playing with dark fire? And then Grams died... again?

It's just a confusing mess and far too much of the episode was dedicated to Bonnie's unclear actions.

A large chunk also featured the re-configured Council, with a major promotion given to Pastor Young. It felt a tad sudden, but I enjoy the potential dynamic at work here. My favorite aspect of True Blood is the ever-delicate balancing act between humans and vampires, with the latter out and about and known to all on that show. Did the Pastor's seemingly suicidal act to close the premiere aim at bringing attention to Mystic Falls? In order to make the presence of the undead no longer a secret?

I could be intrigued by that. Realistically, there's only so long so many supernaturals could reside in one place in secret.

We are the beginning. Of what?!?

What else did I like about "Growing Pains?"

  • Michael Trevino as Klaus. He was convincingly bad ass, though I'm sure female readers are wondering how Caroline was able to pick up on the "love" usage when the actor was shirtless. It's possible for brain cells to function when in the vicinity of such a sight?!?
  • Klaus cutting off Rebekah. Let's just hope this is once and for all. The siblings' relationship has changed course on numerous occasions. But a scorned/vindictive Rebekah is an entertaining Rebekah and, damn, can Claire Holt cry?!?
  • The depiction of Elena's enhanced senses, from the lights to the sounds and the sights. Very well filmed.
  • Stefan telling Matt to "earn" his second chance at life. Very Saving Private Ryan-esque. This gives Matt a storyline outside of serving drinks at the Grill. Finally.
  • Elena sticking with Stefan. It was a nice touch to have her remember Damon's declaration of love, but the triangle needs to be put on hold for awhile. She chose Stefan. She clearly loves Stefan. There best not be any more back and forth any time soon.

So that's where we are heading into episode two. Elena is a vampire. Bonnie has traveled down a very dark and dangerous path. Klaus and Tyler are back in their respective bodies. Matt feels guilty. Forces within Mystic Falls are closing in on our heroes and heroines.

What did you think of the Season 4 opener? Watch The Vampire Diaries promo for next week's "Memorial," sound off in the Comments and grade the premiere now:

 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
  • 4.1 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (2142 Votes)

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

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As always, true to herself, Caroline Forbes is my girl! It took a few second to register but she spotted Klaus right away . I agree, he wasn’t trying very hard to hide himself, speaking as he always does. I didn’t want this body switch to end to long but I was surprised that is was resolved so easily… I guess it helped not to drag it for too long but at the end there were no dragging at all (the hiatus obviously doesn’t count^^) and I feel like they missed an small opportunity because now Caroline knows, with Tyler back, and Jeremy and Bonnie, Klaus’ “you cannot tell anyone I’m back� just killed itself in the egg. That’s why I guess he didn’t free Rebekah to keep his presence unknown only until he got his body back…But who I am to complain: Joseph Morgan is BACK! Yeahhh!!

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just wish when they bring Delena, they do it a way I can actually buy Elena's love for him.
In the same way, I didn't like at all Stefan's comment to Matt, not at all!!! But for me Damon's behavior was still way worse, despite what some people who blame Stefan's words ( rightfully) but don't blame Damon because it is who Damon is, bla bla, say. I don't like the fact that Damon changed, not because he changed, but because he did it only concerning toward Elena... Yes, the switch is on, he can love and be badass at the same time, but seing him without any consideration for human life, still deciding to kill only because he's angry just put me off a character I love...

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At the end, I really liked the episode, except for one thing (see my review for this because I don't have the heart to write it all again): Damon. I'm not a shipper, Stelena/Delena I don't really card but it saddened me that I know Delena is coming soon when I don't buy it at all with the current events. At this point, I don't really see how they could be together, only because I can't really think why/bow Damon could be in love with her when he doesn't even understand her way of thinking...he still doesn't care about human life as long as it doesn't touch Elena or Stefan. And I had a lot of trouble seeing him bad handling Matt that way...yes, he would have saved Elena first, that I can totally understand from him and wouldn't have blame him but I didn't like at all his behavior toward Matt. It's like he hasn't evolved at all and it's even worth because at the beginning he didn't had his emotions but now he doesn't have any excuses, he just doesn't care! I just wish when they bring Delena, they do it a way I can actually buy Elena's love for him.

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(Cont.) To all Delena shippers out there, I hope you are too. Delena is coming, I may or may not be happy when it does regarding the issue I addressed before, but I would have felt cheated if Delena was because of the “who-I-met-first� issue. For now, I’m happy the way it turned out. Believed me, I’m the first to be surprised but this episode kind of made me interested again in Elena and I’m happy for that. Believe me, it’s not fun not to like the main character of a show!

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I think the writers handled very well the whole Stefan/Elena/Damon triangle and Elena’s choice. Of course she had to stick with it (it’s only been a day!) and I hope she will stay with Stefan at least for a little while so it can give “her choice� a real impact and look like a real stand out from Elena, because as Damon said it himself, she’s made so many “choices�, changes of hearts in all her uncertain mind last season that it would be good to see her affirm herself. And what’s even better in their storyline is that they did address her coming-back memories of Damon, without pushing it too hard. I found the scene in her bedroom lovely. Nice touch! And I’m obviously relieved, and I guess I am not the only one, that Elena didn’t have a sudden change of heart because she just remembered she met Damon first, ppfffioouuu! To all Delena shippers out there, I hope you are too. Delena is coming, I may or may not be happy when it does regarding the issue I addressed before, but I would have felt cheated if Delena was because of the “who-I-met-first� issue. For now, I’m happy the way it turned out. Believed me, I’m the first to be surprised but this episode kind of made me interested again in Elena and I’m happy for that. Believe me, it’s not fun not to like the main character of a show!

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I think the writers handled very well the whole Stefan/Elena/Damon triangle and Elena’s choice. Of course she had to stick with it (it’s only been a day!) and I hope she will stay with Stefan at least for a little while so it can give “her choice� a real impact and look like a real stand out from Elena, because as Damon said it himself, she’s made so many “choices�, changes of hearts in all her uncertain mind last season that it would be good to see her affirm herself. And what’s even better in their storyline is that they did address her coming-back memories of Damon, without pushing it too hard

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On the town council twist: bring it on!! I was very enthusiast until I saw that pastor blow everyone out. I hope they won’t bring them as ghost! Please, please, don’t! However, I guess the whole council wasn’t there and they could blame the blow on the town vampires, which would led to an openly human/vampire conflict. It’s an interesting twist other than a big villain and I’m curious to see it develop. The now ex-Sherriff Forbes and ex-mayor Lockwood as allies also brings more to it! Great! They are not enough parents present for this supernatural but still teenager children.

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Also, Stefan got to be with the one he loved - Catherine.. while Damon loses out in both centuries.. sort of unfair. Again, Damon loves Elena more... nobody, no matter how noble they are, is going to allow the love of their life to die (i.e. in the case of Elena and Matt's car accident). True love is obviously selfish. You want that person to yourself at all costs and are willing to make the most insane sacrifices... sure, Stefan could have perceived that allowing Matt to die could have destroyed Elena, but it easily could have destroyed Matt too since he was the one driving and whatnot. And, from initial Stefan's knowledge, at least one of the them (Elena and Matt) would have died anyways. Both Elena and Matt could have been ready to die in the sense that they both lost loved ones and wanted to potentially see them in the spirit realm/"the other side". It had to end up this way though anyways.. pretty unfair to everybody who's lives have been ultimately ruined by Elena's existence, whether that occurred through turning into a vamp, losing a loved one, etc. So, eventually, Elena had to become a vampire to strike that balance... and for a tv show, season 4 is pretty fitting to accomplish that.

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I think the council explosion is going to have something to do with the witches. They are probably going to come back somehow stronger or more able to defeat the vampires. As for Bonnie, would love to see her be relevant to the plot either as a regular human being w/o powers (or hardly using them/being used all the time for them) or as a super witch who doesn't necessarily turn to dark magic... or maybe she can, but it would have to be a pretty awesome script bearing significance to the plot! If the writers can achieve this, it would definitely be great for the show and likely attract all the magic-loving viewers who were distraught by the cancellation of the Secret Circle. As for Alaric, don't really know or understand why people are so saddened by his loss.. his candle-light vigil wasn't even that sad to begin with (and was way overplayed since he came back the same night anyways; only as his darker side).. esp since he was always sort of boring.. good guy, but overall boring and hardly relevant anymore.. which, I guess, is why he's gone. sweet. The writers need to develop a very clever way to just send Stefan packing and to just allow Elena's heightened emotions (specifically the way she feels about Damon) to just absolutely consume her. Stefan is boring - ripper or not - he's boring and arguably doesn't love Elena as much as Damon does. Stefan is only under control b/c he's guilty for all the "ripping" he's done (for basically making Damon a vampire) and whatever else... if the roles were reversed -- that is, if Stefan was alone and if Elena were with Damon -- then Damon would be the tamed one and Stefan would be... well, jack the ripper..

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Disliked the Bonnie scenes, but otherwise a good episode. I think Elena's transition was shown very well. Not sure what Damon meant by that's not all Elena remembers...also, I miss the Elena/Damon chemistry. It seems she is all focused on Stefan now like she was in season 1. Damon deserves to be happy too :( Also, loved Tyler as Klaus. And Caroline's line about having to sterilize her mouth after finding out she kissed Klaus made me LOL! :D