The Vampire Diaries "Bring It On" Review: 2-4-6-8, Who Do We Eviscerate?

By Andy Daglas

Mar 15, 2013

The Vampire Diaries S04E16: "Bring It On" 

When last we left our heroes, Elena Gilbert, a woman who has demonstrated time and again that she values nothing more highly than her family and her humanity, had incinerated the last vestiges of both. So what’s the next move for someone who’s become a cold, pitiless monster with no other drive but to devour weaker beings and sate the carnal desires of youth? Go out for cheerleading! 

All throughout “Bring It On,” characters were insisting to one another that they should cut loose and have some fun after plowing through so much hardship recently, and the episode itself embraced that spirit. It hearkened back to the early, frothy days of The Vampire Diaries in many ways, from Elena replicating Damon’s "Human Speed Bump" trap to the high school existing only as a font of extracurricular activities to an act-long party scene crammed full of telegenic extras and red Solo cups. Cap it all off with an old-fashioned, vamp-on-vamp scrap in the woods and you’ve got an hour that set out to let its hair down and move past the grimness of the previous couple of installments.

Of course, all of those setpieces revolved around the fact that Off-Switch Elena is a stone-cold sadistic sociopath, but hey, 90210 this ain’t.

Even Elena rejoining the cheerleading squad signaled a reversion to an older version of herself. She may be attracted to it now because it gives her the opportunity to “throw people around”—more so than for anything approaching team spirit, let alone pep—but I still liked how it linked Evil Vampire Elena to Purehearted Human Elena. There’s a throughline to her identity, which grounds the tragic reality of what she’s become; this isn’t some demon in Elena’s clothing tearing girls’ throats out because they know how to accessorize. Importantly, it will also keep her from becoming a Katherine clone, and Nina Dobrev is fulfilling her end of the bargain by playing evil Elena with more of an bratty, icy insouciance as opposed to Katherine’s sinister playfulness.

Alas, Stefan and Caroline’s grand plan to re-establish some normalcy was thwarted. Drain one jugular and then casually allow a friend to suffer massive spinal contusions, and all of a sudden everyone’s on your case again. Try as they might to keep Elena out of trouble, she had barely emerged from her vervain nap before she pulled off a total end-run around them. Because keeping anyone of trouble is one thing nobody in Mystic Falls is very good at, at all, ever.

The party she finagled at the Salvatore abode even briefly did perennial worrywarts Stefan and Caroline a bit of good, which was nice to see. Stefan’s always more fun when he’s got a trusty blonde “sober buddy” to counter him. Elena picked up on that too, which raised the question: Was it jealousy that led her to storm off, and to later impale her best friend both physically and emotionally? And if she’s capable of jealousy (and, clearly, of enjoyment), is she capable of tapping other gut reactions, thus leaving open the possibility of re-flipping her switch whenever the writers decide to execute that particular plot device?

For now she’s still content with her easygoing nihilism, and she’s snared a veteran nihilist for an accomplice. She and Damon are road-tripping to the Big Apple, and probably not to take in a matinee of The Book of Mormon. Once again he’s on the fence between wanting to protect Elena from herself and wanting to say “fuck it ” and indulge in all the visceral pleasures of vampirehood he had so persuasively laid out to Rebekah.

Yet I doubt this is merely a pleasure cruise for him—he’s got a bead on Katherine, after running into (and immediately, if mercifully, dispatching) an old friend with ties to the city, and to her. If she’s in New York, then so is the cure. And if he can hit the town with a gorgeous and uninhibited partner before saving the day, well, such is the Tao of Damon. There’s no one better in the business at aligning the greater goal with his own desires.



NOTES & QUOTES


 God bless Mystic Falls High and its lack of any semblance of authority to notice students who only show up like five times a semester. The policy toward unexcused absences is so lenient it makes a Montessori school look like a military academy. 

– Meanwhile, Klaus and Hayley were off cobbling together a backdoor pilot for The Originals. Oh, there are all new mysteries to be explored in New Orleans? YOU DON’T SAY.

– The hybrid and the lycanthrope did bring plenty of heat, though. Between their burgeoning alliance/seduction/head games and Elena taking every opportunity to strip down, this was one of the more overtly sexually charged TVD episodes we've had in a while—again trying to inject some welcome fun back into the show after a weighty few weeks.

– As Elena settles in with the Salvatores, Matt became the proud new owner of Lockwood Manor. You get a mansion! And you get a mansion! Everybody gets a mansion!

– Stefan feels guilty for Elena’s condition, because Stefan.

– “I can’t believe you’re making me say this: Show a little restraint.”

– “I just came up with a list. It’s called Things You Suck At.”

– “I thought you were still vacationing on Numbskull Island.” Ian Somerhalder has a knack for making even the flimsiest snark lines sing.

– “That does explain your charming bravado. Abandonment issues will do it every time.”

– “I dunno. Maybe this is a better version of me.”

– “You’re like Sherlock Holmes with brain damage.”

– “Painting is a metaphor for control... Art taught me that one’s vision can be achieved with sheer force of will.”

– “Or Damon will come home and kill everyone.”

– “I admit, under any other circumstances, this would be a major turn-on.” Co-sign.

– “I’m not big on goal-setting, but let’s imagine a time when you don’t want to kill your best friend.”


What'd you think of "Bring It On"?

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  • _Fire_Ice Mar 29, 2013

    I really hope the Originals doesn't become about Klaus hunting down all the people that helped Katherine, that would get boring. I want to pull away from the whole revenge obsession the characters have on this show. Don't get me wrong I'm a vengeful person, but if you are gonna live forever might want to learn to let the little things go.

  • _Fire_Ice Mar 29, 2013

    Ok so I don't really have much to say about this other than I don't care how much "training" Elena had with Alaric, if Caroline really wanted to hurt her she could, Caroline his kicked Damon's ass she can certainly beat up Elena. I do like evil Elena it is fun to watch but it won't be for long, cause like in every other situation like the whole sire bond thing, every other character is going to spend all their time talking and worrying about Elena rather than actually contributing to their own plot. It is going to get old fast.

  • Ankh49 Mar 22, 2013

    This show should be renamed 'The Vampire Douchebags' I mean has anyone of Matt's so-called friends even bothered to ask if he is ok? His (new) best friend Jeremy is dead. His sister is dead. His (previous) best friend has left town. BOTH his ex-grilfriends are now vampire and have moved on to other relationships whilst he is single. Granted Tyler did leave him a mansion but he only did that because he wants Caroline to move on with her life and be happy. Plus which I don't think that giving a MANSION to someone as lonely and friendless as Matt is really a good idea. Talk about rubbing someone's face in it!

    Maybe I'm missing something but can't Klaus just compel Hayley to tell him everything she knows about Katherine? BTW - do you think that Hayley and Klaus were fantasizing about Caroline and Tyler whilst they were 'schtupping' on the table?

    I know it's twisted but for the first time ever I find myself starting to like Elena - with lines like "your whole world revolves around me" and the fact that she isn't whining all the time, she is much more fun. I hope they keep her like this for a while

    I know that Elena's classmates are a bit dense and possibly very self-absorbed but I'm surprised that they didn't wonder why she was throwing parties instead of grieving over the loss of her last living relative..... :-)

  • MeganWinstone Mar 21, 2013

    I thought I would hate emotion-less Elena because I always hated Katherine (especially after killing Jeremy...) but... I actually found her pretty cool. She wasn't another Katherine, she's just... Elena.... the whole character's pretty interesting because we all know Elena as the over-emotional vampire wreck she's been lately (being a vampire and all...) And now it's just very interesting to see the character stripped of her main feature and watch her react to everything in a new light.
    Also, Delena bitches.

  • JanetSleiman Mar 21, 2013

    How come when Rebekah told Damon she saw Shane's dead body he didn't catch that Shane is DEAD and whoever came with Bonnie wasn't the real Shane?!! It's weird how they ignored that

  • Goqklf56 Mar 22, 2013

    Yeah, I totally forgot about mentioning this here. That was a huge miss considering Damon's full time job is like what? 1. Survival 2. Vampire Detective

    I also enjoy the new Elena, she's different to Katherine yet different to her older self. I hope they continue to develop her character in a new way, preferably mix it up a little like I don't know LOOK FOR A GUY THAT ISN'T A SALVATORE FOR A CHANGE. :P

  • laurensuth Mar 20, 2013

    Ughh Evil Elena is a bore! Who would have thought it. It really annoys me that Evil Elena is practically Katherine except without all the good bits...! I have to admit I enjoyed the "Nothing you all haven't seen before" bit though!
    Not really sure where they are going with this whole Silas thing, but I said that with Klaus and now he is one of my favourite characters and the show couldn't work without him.
    I'm not a big fan of the Haley subplot though...I find her a bit dull as a character, love Phoebe Tonkin though.
    I liked the theme of the episode, "Bring it on", it was good that they added that element of fun back into The Vampire Diaries, something that has seriously been lacking, but I would have liked to have seen a lot more Damon one-liners with all this partying going on!
    Don't know if anyone agrees!

  • Inigo_Montoya Mar 20, 2013

    'If toast always falls butter-side-down, and cats always land on their feet, what would happen if you strap toast to the back of a cat and drop it?' - Steven Wright (GENIUS).

  • abdulay31 Mar 19, 2013

    The episode was fun with so much happening, i was the disappointed that the Silas plot was completely ignored this week but it was still enjoyable episode. I prefer the new Elena as she is straightforward and does not mope around and whine all the time. I know the show aint all about the romantic aspect but Stefan/Caroline can be explored considering they all single and have great chemistry.

  • lucasoliveira1 Mar 18, 2013

    While nothing at all happened, this was a fun episode to watch. I mean, from episodes 11-15, everything was so grim that I just feel like this little break is actually okay before it starts again (because, believe me, it will). It was a fun hour while a lot of hot moments and funny lines. I don't really like to talk about shippers because I think romance is fairly the worst part of this show and even thought I'm a Stelena fan, I'm cool if they don't end up together, because I'm honestly not too hyped-up with this part of the show. And even though I'm supposed to hate Delena and stuff, I don't. And I'm actually resigned: I think Damon and Elena are end game. I don't know if it's just me or if it actually was a foreshadowing, but I think Tyler's going to die real soon: it's a sweet way for the writers to end this Klaroline stuff, leave Caroline single and give Klaus an excuse to finally leave Mystic Falls: Caroline's hate. Also a good opportunity for Stefan to sweep in and comfort her in such a desperate time, building them as a couple slowly throughout season 5.

  • ChanX95 Mar 18, 2013

    I can't believe I'm saying this but I think bratty-no-emotions Elena is actually MORE irritating than both human-damsel-in-distress Elena AND Oh-my-god-I'm-a-vampire-I-might-kill-someone-PANIC Elena. Or maybe that just means that no matter what she does Elena is the biggest pain in the ass that TVerse has ever seen.

  • _Fire_Ice Mar 29, 2013

    My only concern is reverting back to emotional Elena and having to deal with regret and guilt. That will be a hundred times worse.

  • ChanX95 Mar 29, 2013

    Oh jesus you're right. Full-of-regret-and-guilt Elena will be a bigger pain in the ass than hemorrhoids.

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