THE ONE WHERE Elena is tormented by supernatural dreams resulting from killing a Hunter.
VERDICT At least we didn’t have to endure months and months of Elena guilt-tripping about her first kill. It’s quite a relief that her hallucination at the end of last week’s episode actually turns out to a hex-induced fall-out from the Hunter’s death. It’s almost a dramatic sleight of hand, compacting down what could have been endless tedious episodes of navel-gazing self-doubt into one snappy, concise episode. The fall-out also brings about a sudden and unexpected shift in the Damon/Elena/Stefan triangle. And it means Elena accidentally stabs Kenny… Jeremy in the neck. Brilliant opening to the episode. Sadly he’s wearing his resurrection ring, and wakes up bearing no ill-feeling. Hell, it’s happened to him enough times.
In many ways, this is a consummate Vampire Diaries episode. It ticks all the usual boxes, and it does the job efficiently. It’s intrinsically linked to all the arc plot elements, yet has an independent, neatly-packaged story of the week. It has a new supernatural threat, which, after a bit of research and infodumping, has a handy solution. But that solution comes at a price, of course. A price that tears apart established relationships. Klaus gets to be creepy and controlling. Damon gets to play hero. Stefan has to play the martyr. Then, at the end, Stefan and Elena have a heart to heart…
The fact that this particular heart-to-heart doesn’t have the usual “Let’s bimble on as we were with a Damon-shaped elephant in the room” outcome is the real strength of this episode. Finally Elena admits that becoming a vampire has amplified her feelings for Damon. What she doesn’t say is that it hasn’t amplified her feelings for Stefan. She doesn’t need to. You can see that’s exactly what Stefan’s thinking. So they agree to split up…
In a show as full of histrionics and melodrama as The Vampire Diaries usually is, it’s a refreshingly honest, quiet and simple scene, yet entirely gripping. It changes everything with a whimper, not a bang, which somehow makes it all the more effective.
It’s just a shame that this wonderful moment follows another scene that leaves a rather more bitter aftertaste. Last week I made a joke about how whenever a supporting hybrid suddenly gets a few lines, you know they’ll be dead before the end of the episode. But Chris’s death is particularly harsh. Only a few hours before Stefan stakes him and Jeremy beheads him to save Elena, Chris has been helping the good guys to free Elena from Klaus’s clutches. Well, there’s gratitude for you.
Joking aside, it’s a stunningly callous act by Stefan and Jeremy. There’s no sign of them having any sort of moral quandary here (maybe it was cut – if so, bad decision); if Elena is to survive then anyone is expendable, apparently. And hybrids are little more than plankton. No wonder Tyler was pissed off. Seriously, why isn’t he declaring all-out werewolf vs vampire war, not just drowning his sorrows.
Thus must be consequences to this action, surely? Because at the moment Stefan and Jeremy (and Damon, Bonnie and Caroline – who creepily agrees to go on a date with Klaus to make him give up Chris – who were all complicit too) are so blinkered in their defence of St Elena, they don’t seem that much better than Klaus himself. Okay, Damon’s always been like that, and you can buy him killing indiscriminately in the name of Elena, but the others? They’re becoming the creatures they once despised.
TITLE TATTLE “We All Go A Little Mad Sometimes” is a quote from Hitchcock’s Psycho. The Vampire Diaries executive producer Kevin Williamson also referenced the line in the first of his Scream movies.
SLAY WHAT? Maybe we’re getting a little over-sensitive to Buffy The Vampire Slayer references, but if The Vampire Diaries wants us to stop making comparisons, it really shouldn’t give Matt lines like, “What are you? The next chosen one?”
MIRRORING To save Elena, Damon throws her from Wickery bridge into the river below. Stefan has previously saved Elena by pulling her out of the river at the same spot.
BEST LINE Stefan [to Klaus]: “You’re using your calm voice today. Who’s getting killed?”
New episodes of The Vampires Diaries season four debut in the UK on ITV2, Mondays at 9pm