The Vampire Diaries "The Walking Dead" Review: Ghost-traumatic Stress

By Andy Daglas

May 10, 2013

The Vampire Diaries S04E22: "The Walking Dead"

Let’s talk about relationships. Not the kind that lend themselves to mashed-up couple names, but the kind that exist among friends and family. Because, for as central as The Vampire Diaries’ various love polygons often are to the conversation around the show (both among fans and in the marketing), it's these non-romantic bonds that have flourished as some of the series’ greatest strengths.

“The Walking Dead” briefly brought many of those relationships back to the surface, living up to expectations that first arose when the notion of dropping the veil was explained. And it was a blast. There were Damon and Alaric pallin’ around again, as always not more than ten feet away from one of the dozens of liquor caches they’ve stashed throughout Mystic Falls. There were Stefan and Lexi falling right back into step, complete with a nod toward the echoes of their relationship in Stefan’s current buddy system with Caroline.

These were incidental scenes, comprising not much more than five minutes of total screen time, and they were all but meaningless to the larger plot of the episode, let alone the season. But that’s what made them so delightful. This has been a grim season, and these digressions crucially let things breathe. Just to see these characters so at ease with a comrade is refreshing.

Equally potent emotionally but more important narratively were the pair of family reunions. Elena reconnecting with Jeremy was powerfully cathartic, all the more so since it was almost entirely wordless—a rarity in a circle where everyone expends an awful lot of energy telling everyone else how they feel. My one quibble? I wish it’d been Elena, rather than Stefan, who snapped Kol’s neck (hilariously mid-quip). Partly for the touching Gilbert-sibling team-up quality, partly to restore some damn agency to Elena now that she can’t go ten minutes without someone trying to rescue her in some way, shape, or form.

Jeremy wasn’t the only deceased relative arriving in the nick of time this week. Not for nothing did Bonnie obtain the power to defeat Silas from Grams—the most important person in her life—instead of from ancient non-character Qetsiyah. The Ballad of Silas and Qetsiyah was a MacGuffin that got mistaken for mythos, but what promising moments it did generate focused on Bonnie’s growing power and faltering control, both of which were at the heart of Grams’ longtime fears for the young witch. Now that Bonnie’s hubris has finally pushed her too far—in a way I did not see coming, wrapped up in a pretty nifty reveal—her relationship with her grandmother could prove more vital than ever, either to revive her or to facilitate whatever existential transition the show cooks up.

As for Bonnie’s vanquishing of our much-ballyhooed Big Bad: Was it lame that the key to victory wound up being nothing more than to MAGIC AT HIM HARDER? Of course. It was a spectacularly anticlimactic turn from a show that’s specialized in delivering multiple climaxes each season. (I know, I know. Phrasing.) But that also made it a fitting end to a stupid, pointless, ill-defined villain. Drying Silas up into a nondescript husk and explicitly stating that “we’ll never know” who he was felt like the writers throwing up their hands and acknowledging this. (P.S.: Silas died on the way back to his home planet.)

That leaves us with an impending finale centered on an apparently still-open veil and a whole mess of ticked-off dead vampire hunters, including Connor, Vaughn, and some Berserker-looking ex-boyfriend of Rebekah’s. Oh, and hey, the cure is still a thing that exists and is around. THANKS ALARIC. Oh, who am I kidding, I can’t stay mad at you.


– Another opportunity to bring back Jenna, and nary a mention. Has she been retconned out of existence? Do we even know for sure whether Sara Canning is currently alive? 

UPDATE: Several commentors have pointed out that last season, Esther explained that Jenna is not on the other side. Although Jenna was a vampire when she died, she didn't do anything evil, so she got to go sit at the dead-human table rather than mingle with the supernaturals. Thanks, astute commenters! There is a lot of mythology to keep track of on this show.

– Liz, after Stefan explained the Silas arc: “I have no idea what that means.” Join the club, Sheriff.

– Anyone else cheer when Elena clobbered Stefan/shivved Damon so she could make a break for it and do her own thing? Man, I hope Elena gets to take the reins of her own life again next season. 

– Matt refused vampire blood to treat his injury to avoid the risk of getting be-vampified himself. There’s something about being willing to suffer in the name of preserving humanity that sums up Matt Donovan tidily.

– “So this is either really good or reeeeally bad.” 

– “Not every ghost has a reason to come back to Mystic Falls. Just the ones like me, looking after their idiot best friends.” 

– “Really? I’m your biggest problem right now?”

– “I thought you were gonna take care of the children.” “You heard that? Well that’s not creepy.” Aw, Damon and Alaric. 

– “So you’ve been back, what, five minutes and you’re already laughing at me?” “No, I’ve been laughing at you for a while and you just haven’t been able to see me.” Aw, Stefan and Lexi. 

– “I’m just glad I got the chance to knock her upside the face.” Aw, Rebekah and Caroline?

What'd you think of "The Walking Dead"?

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  • ChanX95 May 16, 2013

    Bonnie is dead?! If this is permanent then drinks are on me. I'll even spot for some shots too but not tequila or baby Guinness though - there is a line.

  • Arkano1317 May 14, 2013

    Can someone remind me when was it in the past (season 2 maybe?) that ghosts were resurrected as if the veil was down?

    Anyway, with Silas ending this way, this entire season feels so pointless :( I wish Bonnie didn't defeat him so easily!

  • Klara93 May 15, 2013

    In the episode Ghost world, 3x10 i think :)

    Hahah yes, my thoughts exactly.

  • Arkano1317 May 16, 2013

    Glad I wasn't the only one... I had this feeling "Didn't this happen already???" I looked it up, was it Esther's doing from the other side using Matt and Vicki right?

  • NasiaVoulieri May 14, 2013

    I expected this season to be more powerful. It did have its moments but all in all I'm kind of dissappointed. Klaus has been missing for far too long and in general there was all this fuss around Silas just to have him mummified and leave it at that... I'm in a general mood of "watching but always expecting something better" with this show... We'll see...

  • InsanelyMe May 13, 2013

    I realized this season that I actually do like Elena. And, strangely, have become defensive. Elena is not a bad character really. She isn't whining, or demanding people save her. She has been trying to die for others for a long time, but STEFAN told her she was being a martyr. Damon said he just didn't want to lose her, but these Salvatores boys have wrecked her. But hold on, the blame isn't all on the Salvatores. What are we supposed to expect Elena to tell her friends and family? "Stop trying to save me?" She did. Elena has had a serious character arc over the seasons, and she has been morphed by all these bad things. She's been a hero, "martyr" (thanks Stefan for saying that dying for others is wrong), a villain, and plain hasn't been anything but a background character due to the likes of bad writing. She wanted Kol to kill her, so she wouldn't have to deal with the pain and so that she could see her brother on the other side, maybe. She, even with emotions, stopped caring about Caroline and Bonnie and Matt and Stefan and Damon. I'm sick of people saying she relies on the Salvatores or that she cries for people to save her. They CHOOSE to save her--as in not ELENA'S choice. She obviously doesn't only care about Stefan or Damon because she just wanted to die. None of this is her fault. If I remember correctly, she didn't even want the cure if it meant Rebekah or Stefan couldn't have the only dose, and when she was emotionless, she didn't want it, PERIOD. She didn't recruit people to get the cure for her, or to save her. a small plotline was that everyone was trying to fix her when she just wanted to spiral or live or whatever. I actually really pity her character. Anyone make the connection about the line "Fated to live the same life as you" and "We're lonely"? If Kat and Elena have become the same, then Elena really is alone. How could you not feel so after your entire bloodline has died out and you have no chances of carrying it on? After your friends die and who you can trust is a question with answers that keep changing? I really see Elena as a Katherine who took the light road instead of the dark. I really like Elena, and feel sorry for her, and hate that the writers are tearing her and nearly every other character down to nothing. Stop whining about Elena when it's not her fault and just because it's not something you, a fan, would do.

  • bourbon_for_all May 12, 2013

    "Pulling a Bonnie" needs to become an acknowledged fact in the show. I mean, come on--even when she gets something right, it's still about 30% wrong. Despite all that, I'm down with the veil-dropping. If the Originals are getting shipped off to another show, I want some of our old favorites to come back and revive the show, which has limped along pitifully this season. Alaric, YES. Lexi, YES. Rose? Anna? The possibilities are awesome.

  • MarieLaureDep May 12, 2013

    What a boring finale. The cliffhanger was really lame and Elena was extra annoying. I already regret her turned-off self. The only good point was the Damon/Alaric scenes. Gosh, I hope Alaric would stay.

  • amxo May 12, 2013

    this wasnt the finale... next week is the finale.

  • MarieLaureDep May 13, 2013

    Ooh. Well, that explains a lot. Thanks for the info! ;)

  • Klara93 May 15, 2013

    You were not the only one to believe that! I, too, was sure that this was the finale and the exact same thoughts came into my mind :)

  • Phoenixheart67 May 12, 2013

    Kat Graham dyed her hair blonde?! Does this mean she's gone for good

  • Klara93 May 15, 2013

    She did that months ago and she's wearing a wig now so I don't think that's a proof :)

  • JasonMelvil May 12, 2013

    Okay, I'm puzzled by this -
    In the end, we see the four vampire hunters... 3 questions:
    1)Does that mean Jeremy is back too? Considering the amount of fans drooling over steve mcqueen I doubt he is off the show.

    2)Should we even ask we only the 4 we saw on the show are back? There should be plenty of others - aren't there?

    3)Umm... When did the blonde guy (forgot his name) die?!?
    Last I recall, he was tortured by Rebekah and Daemon on the island. Surely neither of them killed him (hunter's curse)

    So... umm... yeah... episode was neither here nor there. The stupid deus-ex-machine of getting rid of Silas was really dumb. Bringing back characters was okay, but again, so many other characters would have been expected to come back.

    I was expecting Kol to come back and go over to the originals spin offs.
    Still betting on Jeremy coming back. Maybe Alaric would return now that Cult is canceled.

    Next episode (that's the finale right?) seems pretty straight forward.
    We know that Rebekah signed off to join the originals so she's out of town.
    Elena would take the cure - Although I have no idea why. Being a vamp on this show is far better than being human. Heck, they don't even care about sunlight.
    Rebekah is just an airhead blonde and nobody else even dreams of using it.

    Bonnie won't stay dead unless we're getting another witch instead.

  • InsanelyMe May 13, 2013

    Vaughn died because Rebekah left to him to die of thirst/starvation and rot on the island.

  • coolhandkate May 12, 2013

    One of the characters said not every supernatural being has a desire to come back to Mystic Falls, so it makes sense (ha! this show?) that the ones we've seen before are the ones who are back. We could still see more, too, though I doubt it.

  • Phoenixheart67 May 12, 2013

    Didn't Silas kill the blond guy?

  • JasonMelvil May 12, 2013

    I don't think so. If I recall correctly, Rebekah and Damon tortured him, while Silas was masqurading as Prof Shane

  • jennted May 12, 2013

    I love seeing Alaric again! And I enjoyed seeing Elaina punch Stefan, I think he deserves it :) Overall I loved this episode and was a little shocked that they actually killed Bonnie even though it may not be a long term thing. I was hoping the cure would be gone...and I really wanted to see who Silas really was, ah well.

  • eliana1st May 12, 2013

    why did Stefan deserve being punched ?

  • Shreela May 12, 2013

    Berserker-looking ex-boyfriend of Rebekah’s=YUMMY!

    Had it not been for getting to see some dead-favs again, I wouldn't have liked this season finale very much, but then again, most of this season was wonky. If Bonnie is dead-dead, I'm going to be quite upset! I wouldn't mind both her & Grams coming back to stay a while.

  • miss_winnberg May 12, 2013

    This was not the season finale, there's still one more episode left

  • Shreela May 12, 2013

    Thanks miss_winnberg! I mistakenly thought it was, now there's one more episode to tie up loose ends that I thought I'd have to wait until next season for. And now that you've taught me better LOL, it was pretty good for a regular episode.

  • Shreela May 12, 2013

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