The Vampire Diaries – Episode 4-22 Review – “The Walking Dead”

Just a couple of reviews ago I criticized the fact that the villain situation this season has been a bit all over the place.  Who is supposed to be the big bad?  Is it the Originals?  The Founders Council?  The vampire hunters?  Silas?  Katherine?  As I said, it really felt like every time a new threat was presented, they were just as quickly discarded.  Well, I promise to take all of that back if it leads to ALL of those villains returning now that the barrier is down, and banding together as one giant threat for the finale.

 

So the penultimate episode of The Vampire Diaries’ fourth season showed us that while Elena might have her humanity back, she’s not back to her old self quite yet.  Yes, her emotions have returned, but she only seems to feel the negative ones.  In addition to being fueled by her hatred for Katherine, Elena is also experiencing frustration and borderline hostility towards Damon and Stefan because of their refusal to allow her to seek out her older, stronger doppelganger.  Which brings me to an issue:  this show doesn’t seem entirely consistent with the whole “I’m older and thus stronger and therefore you can’t beat me” thing.  Elena is a fresh vampire.  She’s been one for only a year.  Katherine, meanwhile, is over 100 years old.  There really should be no competition, yet Elena borderline dominated their fight.  Katherine was actually begging her off and had to be rescued by Stefan.

 

As indicated in my introduction, I enjoyed seeing the return of the characters that we have seen perish through the course of the series.  But after Ethan Rom (of Lost fame), has any character gotten more mileage after death than Lexie?  Any time there’s a flashback episode or a case of ghosts appearing in Mystic Falls, you can count on Lexie to show up.  Not a criticism, but certainly an observation worth noting.

 

And while I do think a combination of all the season’s villains coming together to form one giant obstacle is pretty cool, I have to admit that the moments I enjoyed the most were the ones that saw the return of the remaining characters’ friends and family.  Seeing Alaric pop up out of nowhere to come to Damon’s aid in the school and having Jeremy appear to rescue Elena were very sweet moments.  It was comforting knowing that these characters, if given the opportunity, would jump right back into the fray to protect the ones they love.  And, again, I appreciated that it wasn’t Damon or Stefan that brought the “real” Elena back.  It was Jeremy.

 

While I understood Alaric’s desire to support his best friend, I found it odd that he would do it at the expense of his surrogate daughter.  I mean, I know Alaric is closer to Damon….but it’s not as if he had any sort of negative history with Stefan.  And as far as Alaric knows, Stefan has never been anything but a good, loving, supportive person to him (Klaus compulsions aside).  Surely his primary loyalty and concern should be for Elena, and not Damon.  And based on his actions, I’m not convinced Damon IS the best person for her.  I’m not disputing the fact that he loves her or that she loves him.  Or that he has done a lot of great, selfless things for her.  But he’s most certainly made decisions that have not been in her best interest.  Like I said, I understood the fact that he wanted his best friend to get the girl….I was just surprised that he seemed more concerned with Damon than Elena.

 

One thing I did love is all of the scenes with Rebekah and Matt.  Over the past two seasons, Rebeckah has really grown into becoming one of my favorite characters.  I’m looking forward to her further development in The Originals.

 

This episode also featured the most explicit reference to a future Stefan/Caroline romance that we’ve seen yet.  Wondering how they’ll resolve Caroline’s developing feelings for Klaus (so that he can move onto his spinoff) and end things with Tyler so that they can move onto that.  Honestly, though, I don’t see it.  They seem like perfect “friends.”

 

The twist at the end – where we learned that Bonnie had actually died while trying to perform the spell that would bring Jeremy back to life – didn’t have a significant impact on me.  For one, she went into full Willow mode with the dark veins (getting tired of that comparison yet?), so the scene didn’t even feel entirely original to me.  And secondly, I had never really felt much of an emotional attachment to Bonnie.  Despite virtually every character being something supernatural, what makes them likeable is their humanity.  I despised Caroline at first, but once she became a vampire and she drifted away from being the stereotypical materialistic and superficial high school diva, she developed into one of my favorite characters.  Bonnie, to me, always seemed hostile and confrontational, whether it was to Damon or her father or whoever else that she either didn’t like or she felt stood in her way.  The only time I found her consistently likable and relatable was during the build and execution of her relationship with Jeremy.  And then Jeremy is the other issue here.  He was a pretty significant death, and yet since he’s died we’ve seen him reappear as an illusion and as a ghost.  It’s difficult to invest emotionally in these deaths when you can’t help but feel like you’ll be seeing them a fair amount in the future.  Having said that, I do commend them for bringing attention to the severity of this battle by killing off one of their original characters.

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