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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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Cont'.... Now, for Bonnie, okay is it just me or did someone give her the short end of the witchy witch broom cause this girl is weak. Like I have said time and time again she needs to be kick butt, don’t mess with me and my friends kind of witch but so far I don’t see it. How lame is it to kill poor grams twice…LOL! I just hope next episode tell us more and give us more just saying!

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I love the quote: Bonnie. Grams. Spells. The Other Side. And... WTH?!?
I was thinking the same thing. Well my take on the episode was that they left out a lot of stuff. They had wayyyyy to many holes. I wanted to know how did they break out of the barn, how the council was able to take over the town and where did this Pastor Young come from. I must have missed that episode last season because I have no idea who this man is or should I say was. I also notice that baby vamp Elena took down Damon a 100plus old vamp like it was nothing. Which makes me think is she going to be stronger and more dangerous then we think? Either way can you all leave the love triangle alone that was so last season…she made her choice and now let’s move on. As for Rebekah and Klaus’s family feud it needs to come to a conclusion cause I am so sick of her crying over him. The sad part is he doesn’t seem to care. Now, for Bonnie, okay is it just me or did someone give her the short end of the witchy witch broom cause this girl is weak. Like I have said time and time again she needs to be kick butt, don’t mess with me and my friends kind of witch but so far I don’t see it. How lame is it to kill poor grams twice…LOL! I just hope next episode tell us more and give us more just saying!

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"I was ready to die."
Well said, Elena. Then why were you so upset? You could have chosen to not feed, problem solved. For me, half of the episode was a total waste! We all knew Elena wouldn't die. We all knew Bonnie wouldn't be able to save her. And yet the writers chose to make these points the main part. Boring, really. The parts I liked were (just like last season) Matt, Caroline, Tyler, Rebekah, the return of Klaus. Like someone here said:
Sometimes I wish the show would ditch the triangle of doom and focus on the other characters that have so much potential but never get the chance to shine. Amen!

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It would have been better if they would have left Elena hanging in the hospital...opened up with Stefan running off w/ Elena to let her make her own decision and Damon trying to find them to force Elena to turn. It would have given Elena a reason to hate Damon again as opposed to just dismissing him. Bonnie's struggle needs to be an integral part of the show. Obviously she has inner conflict of loving her friend and also not using her powers to help vampires which her witch ancestors obviously hate. I'm wondering how Klaus will redeem himself to Caroline after this. It will be interesting to see how she handles the fact that he chose to save her over his sister. And Matt better have something to do this season besides hang out considering Stefan saved him.

Leon-alexis

I knew Klaus Is back. Some things on this show are predictable,but I don't think this ep.was bored. I liked it,I'll be watching s.4!

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I can understand why some ppl were disappointed because this episode lacked the crazy intensity that tvd has every episode, but I personally loved the episode. I felt they made up for the lack of intensity with the emotionally heavy scenes an let's face it the writing was a lot better than most of the scripts from last season. And yes I would have liked a more mind blowing cliffhanger but I still loved it.
Loved the acting from Nina, Paul, claire, kat, Michael and all of their scenes! I personally think we are in for a good season

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I thought it was ok. Agree that the Bonnie stuff was beyond boring- it seemed like 'filler' material...and Jeremy couldn't act himself out of a paper bag last night, that's for sure. Thought that Tyler as Klaus was a standout, so was Rebekah. I liked that Elena remembered the Damon stuff. Not sure where this season is going. Where is Bored Now? I miss him ripping this episode apart.

Allison-berry-barbieri

@CoCo...he was referring to her remembering the time in the bedroom that he confessed his love. When he did that, he said that he was "selfish" but couldn't be selfish with her because he loved her. The comment of "that's not all you remember", came after Damon told her that he would have saved Elena and not Matt because he wanted more for her and he WAS selfish.
I don't think there are many other times he compelled her to be honest. She's been wearing the necklace from almost the beginning, and I think we would have seen any other times...

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Thank you Vampire Diaries. This was the BEST openning of the season's. Loved every single moment. LOVEEEEEE THIS SHOW!!!

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Anyone else pick up on Damon telling Elena after she revealed to him that she remembers everything that he commented back "that's not all she remembers." I can't wait to see everthing he's compelled her not to remember! It's a whole new storyline and another side of Elena, maybe a twisted dark dirty side that will be revealed to us throughout this season :D