In all the excitement over last week's premiere, I forgot to mention one thing. I wrestled an angry giraffe and won! Haha no, just kidding, I forgot to mention TWO things. The other thing was how much I adore the new "previously on" montage that happens right before the cold open. You know, for way too long we had to put up with that shot of Stefan looking out the window at whatever the F, all moping about how old he was or something. But now we have this vivid and engaging, near full-cast breakdown of the monster population of Mystic Falls and the various conflicts between them. PLUS this week's seemed to integrate actual events from last week, making it both a super general rundown of the series so far, plus some short term things to keep in mind. I think the reason I love it so much is that it finally, finally places the emphasis on this show's stellar ensemble rather than the exhausted love triangle. I mean, sure, I realize a majority of the show's teenage lady fans are only invested in which Salvatore Elena will end up with, but for the rest of us civilized grown-ups, this is a top-notch serial with an insanely deep pool of talent beyond the primary three characters. You know? It's about time that TVD began to promote itself as the epic that it is!
But another reason I'm all into this new "previously on" thing is that it serves as a reminder that no matter how much has gone down in the past three seasons, this show has achieved a sort of reliable rhythm and stasis. It's not that important things haven't happened to these characters, it's that SO MANY important things have happened that they've all cancelled each other out and we're back to basics again. No really, take a step back and see that while some characters may have switched species and/or fallen in or out of love, the relationships, struggles and dynamics remain largely the same as how they began. From Bonnie's doubts about her role in this clique, to Caroline's need to make things nice, to Damon's snark, Stefan's well-intentioned sanctimony, Elena's compassion. The new cold open suggests that we can go ahead and clean the slate of labyrinthine details of these kids' adventures; their journeys have been simpler than we think. Anyway, this all ties into "Memorial," a truly great episode of The Vampire Diaries that was not only hecka (or even hella) exciting and intense, it also served as a much-needed spiritual housecleaning for the show moving forward. That, plus TONS OF BLOOD VOMIT.
It's cool if we talk about it right?? (Oh dear God I hope so.)
In what had to be the weirdest camping trip since Stefan shared a sleeping bag with Klaus down in Tennessee, Elena and Stefan woke up in the woods and made various attempts to stalk and kill animals. The whole sequence was artfully intercut with Stefan and Damon bickering over whether Elena should even attempt to drink animal blood. Damon reasoned that basically 100% of all new vampires end up murdering someone accidentally so Elena should just go ahead and break the seal on that and get it out of the way lest she bottle up the urge and turn into a ripper down the line. But Stefan was trying to honor Elena's wish to successfully transition into a vampire without hurting anybody, a wish she clung to even harder now that their vampirism had HEIGHTENED her compassion. (Did you take a drink every time someone said "heightened"? No you didn't because then you'd be chillin' with the angels in heaven after drinking yourself TO DEATH.)
So yeah, watch out baby animals, Elena was on the loose!
Unfortunately she didn't really like the taste of baby deer blood, plus she felt too bad to actually kill the poor thing. But it was hard for her to stay sad because every time Stefan touched her she got HELLA HORNY.
Until she'd suddenly get NOT HORNY, that is.
Haha, don't take it personal, Stefan. It's probably not the first nor the last time somebody will run away from you and vomit blood in the forest. Anyway, yeah, it was clear that Elena's body was rejecting all forms of blood that weren't human and seasoned with murder.
Oh, meet our newest villain!
Connor was some kind of mysterious, powerful new vampire hunter. As a vampire hunter I'm sure that incompetent local governments that work in accord with vampire communities were nothing new to him, but Mystic Falls must've represented a new low. When he arrived to investigate the Pastor's exploded kitchen, the place had sorta been investigated but the police hadn't thought to look inside the same oven that had caused the gas explosion. Just good investigating, Mystic Falls.
At Mystic Grill, Sheriff Forbes was doing the bare minimum of work required to get to the bottom of the deaths of DOZENS of people. By that I mean she just sorta asked Damon if he'd murdered them.
In no other circumstance would an authority figure just take a murder suspect at their word, but Damon did make a convincing case that he's not really one to lie about murdering people. Except when he does lie about things and/or compels people to forget, etc. I don't know. Sheriff Forbes should've probably asked at least one follow-up question, you know? It's in the handbook. Anyway, the vampire hunter arrived and claimed he was an "independent investigator" looking into the explosions and would the Sheriff please give him full access to the evidence? I don't mean to shock you, but the Sheriff just immediately agreed without even looking at credentials. Crime stoppin'!
So here's April, the daughter of that jerk pastor who burnt up his own face, neck, head, chest, legs, body, and soul. She'd been away at boarding school, but had decided to move back to town now that her father was dead and she was an orphan? I don't know either. But the fact that she walked directly up to Jeremy and started doing an Anna impression made it seem pretty likely that THIS WAS HAPPENING.
So one of the primary plotlines was how almost right away Elena started going behind Stefan's back to get Damon's help in feeding. In vampire stories drinking blood is basically a metaphor for sex, so in this situation she was going outside of her vanilla relationship and getting quickies on the side with someone else. The weird part was, her thing was Stefan was only vanilla because she'd insisted on it. So she was in essence pulling some virgin-whore type shenanigans that usually only dudes do. You know what I mean, like when guys want to do racy sex things but never with someone so pure as their wives or girlfriends? It's a weird logic, and in my opinion that's what Elena was doing in this episode.
So here was a new thing we learned about vampire lore: When one vampire drinks from another vampire (which I guess is a thing vampires can do?) it's considered super intimate. Good to know! I was hoping they'd go further with this idea, like you can taste the vampire's emotions and memories and stuff, but no. It seemed to be mostly just a moralistic vampire society thing.
Meanwhile Tyler and Caroline were up in his room sexin' but she was feeling too guilty because of all the dead people. Tyler made a very astute point that too many folks die in this town on the regular for them to be not sexin' because of it. Then they both said how much they loved each other and then did a forehead touch.
Meanwhile Mayor Lockwood had to take break from holding a glass up to the door and go downstairs to speak to a surprise visitor:
Connor was NOT having the Mayor's excuses as to why the deaths of the vampire council members weren't really being investigated. The whole thing had been ruled an accident, which LOL! First of all, how is it that 10 seconds of leaked gas killed an entire room full of people? Like fully killed? No survivors at all? People can survive plane crashes, but a quick blast of 3rd degree burns is 100% lethal? Firefighters didn't arrive to find any people screaming about singed eyebrows and how much they hate their pastor now? Maybe they cut out a scene where after the initial flash, a huge crate full of exotic snakes opened and finished everybody off? Anyway, Connor was not very impressed by any of it and forced his way into the house.
So Tyler came downstairs (still putting his clothes on, because this household is very pro-Tyler sex) and shook Connor's hand only to realize his glove was made of vervain! At this point, Connor reacted FAST.
Tyler did NOT expect to be shot a ton of times. Fortunately he was able to get his bearings while Connor was reloading and get out of there.
Tyler eventually showed up at the area's finest mahogany vampire hospital for some five-star vampire medical treatment.
Stefan deduced that because the bullets were wooden and covered in mystical insignias, that Connor was probably a vampire hunter. Good guess! There was also the time when Connor tried to murder a vampire ON SIGHT, but Stefan made good points also.
This episode was called "Memorial" because there was to be a town wide memorial service for all the people that got blowed up in the pastor's kitchen. It's getting to the point where I'm thrilled to see ANY new parts of Mystic Falls, so I'm pretty sure this church was new? I definitely don't remember having seen it before, or maybe just from this angle. But I appreciated the effort being made to introduce us to more locations and exteriors in this world. Makes Season 4 feel even fresher, you know?
While setting up, Elena ran into April who was busily writing a eulogy for her father. Elena tried to comfort her the best she could.
But their heartfelt moment was cut short when Elena started licking her lips at the sound of April's audible pulse.
And so Elena ran away, locked herself in a bathroom and then THIS happened:
HAHA OMG. Obviously this part was hilarious and the best, and is already on my Best of 2012 list. I love what a terrible vomiter Elena was! Just totally missing the toilet, then standing up and vomiting all over the mirror and sink and then HERSELF. I mean, I'm not trying to brag, but I hate throwing up more than just about anything in the world, but I am still really good at it! It's actually not that hard to NOT vomit all over the entire bathroom. Again, not trying to brag, but NOT covering a bathroom in vomit is one of my skills, I put it on my resume and everything.
Over at Bonnie's house (which, oh right! Bonnie!), Stefan paid her a visit even though she was still pretty bummed about Grams dying (again).
But in case you were wondering, no, Stefan would not have dropped by to check on Bonnie if he didn't need something from her. In this case he wanted her to look at the wooden bullets he'd pulled out of Tyler's abs. As you might have guessed, Bonnie had no idea what the symbols meant. "What are these things even, George Washington's teeth?" Bonnie did not ask this but in my mind she did.
Anyway, I feel like now is a good time to mention that I liked Bonnie in these scenes because she basically dropped the whole chip on her shoulder toward vampires thing, allowed Stefan to be her friend, and even seemed resigned that she'll never get back in good with her ancestors so F 'em. Would love to see a much less mopey Bonnie this season, especially if it means she stops dwelling on her (admittedly understandable) misfortunes and just gets involved because magic is fun? In my dream reboot of this series Bonnie walks around with a glass of scotch and a lit cigarette and gets people out of jams, but not before telling them off good. Even in this version of the show, there's a rich history of sassy witches, so I think that kind of personality shift could totally be squared with Bonnie's big heart, you know? Fingers crossed!
But yeah, back to Elena's bathroom drama. It was so disgusting and hilarious and tense! Connor, of course, showed up to rattle the doorknob while she was trying to figure out what to do about all the blood-vomit.
She ended up calling Damon who brought her a new dress and even distracted Connor while she changed. All jokes aside, THAT is a good friend, for real.
I loved how awkward it was when she came out of the bathroom and tried to explain all the commotion inside. Even Connor, who as a vampire hunter may have suspected vampire shenanigans, must've at least considered the possibility that Elena was dealing with a Montezuma's revenge situation. I'm willing to bet he didn't so much as pop his head into that bathroom after she left, just didn't want to take that risk.
Damon brought Elena a vampire Capri-Sun, but it STILL didn't do the trick.
So at this point it didn't even matter that it was human blood, what Elena craved was blood straight from an artery. She craved only the finest. So Elena was a vampire foodie basically!
At this point Stefan caught Damon giving her human blood and was all butt-hurt about being left out of the equation (understandable). But then he got LIVID when he found out Elena drank some of Damon's blood. But in my opinion Stefan needs to relax, and for one reason.
STEFAN IS IN NO POSITION TO CRITICIZE ANYBODY. Sorry. I still don't think he sufficiently apologized for his stint as North America's most prolific mass murderer in centuries. Or for killing Damon's girlfriend or openly terrorizing the woman who loved him. So yeah, deal w/it Stefan.
So a few things about the Memorial service, which was AWESOME. First we saw Connor stab April for some reason, then when she didn't stand up to eulogize her father, Elena took it upon herself to do it instead because LOL.
Oh yeah, and Connor was aiming his cross hairs at everyone from the balcony.
Meanwhile April was bleeding to death and it was dripping down into the holy water basin.
So that was his plan! He wanted to drip human blood in the room so that vampires would start acting a fool and he'd pick them off! Hey Connor, not to call your expertise into question, but you do know that humans can smell blood too, right? And they can also SEE it when it drips from the ceiling into the holy water basin? And they can also SEE huge men with sniper rifles on the balcony, particularly when those humans are standing on stage facing the balcony? But then again, this is Mystic Falls, the nation's leading exporter of obliviousness. So yeah, perfect plan!
There was a nice moment when it seemed like Elena would literally die or go nuts if she didn't drink blood, so Matt let her feed on him and made it look like a hug.
My favorite part was when the choir was singing in honor of the victims and Tyler INTERRUPTED to start talking about playing sports or whatever. It was such a perfect Tyler moment. Unfortunately Connor did NOT agree.
Whoops! Another public shooting! You know the drill, Mystic Falls, citizens. I honestly don't know why these people even leave the house anymore.
After Connor made a hasty exit, Damon gave a hasty chase.
Haha, I love few things as much as I love when car doors get ripped off. Connor seemed SO annoyed when Damon ripped the door off his truck and I don't blame him. Pretty soon they were tussling on the ground, and pretty soon Damon was on the receiving end of the Connor Specialty.
Before Connor could finish Damon off, Stefan came out and chased him away. Phew!
Unfortunately Stefan was still all pissy from earlier. Stefan is such a cool dude. Remember when Damon spent a lot of Season 3 patiently trying to heal Stefan? Stefan didn't!
Meanwhile Elena found April bleeding to death in the balcony and her vampire instincts took over!
Fortunately, Mystic Falls M.V.P. Caroline stepped in and stopped her from shredding the poor girl, and it was easily one of the most touching things that has happened on this show. Caroline talked her down from a bloodthirsty rage, healed April, assured her that despite almost being murdered just now, she's safe, and then encouraged Elena to compel her back into a state of innocence.
If you ask me, Elena went a little too far, compelling her not only to forget that Elena almost ate her, but also that she'll be her bestie and look after her from this day forward. So basically Elena went and compelled a guest-star into becoming a series regular, right? That's fine, April seems interesting and it's cool to have another human being in the mix. On the other hand, poor April? Maybe when her father died in a mysterious murder-suicide that should've been her first hint that moving back to Mystic Falls was not a great plan? Oh well, good luck, girl.
After a long day of attempting a public assassination, Connor was just relaxing at Mystic Grill. He half-way hassled Matt about the obvious vampire bite on his neck, but the main thing was that Jeremy spotted Connor's "tattoo" and complimented him, as teenage boys are wont to do.
The twist was, there wasn't no tattoo! Or more specifically, his tattoo was a ghost! Connor got a ghost tattoo, you guys! Which I guess means that this vampire hunter (and his mysterious sigil-inscribed bullets) was somehow in league with ghosts?
That would seem to be the suggestion from the dead pastor's letter to April: Lots of portentous promises about how his death was just the beginning, and part of a plan, and BTW a much greater evil was on the way, etc. Interesting stuff! Not so interesting that Connor didn't wait 10 hours to read the letter, but still.
Okay, can we talk about the Mystic Falls Courier for a second?
There were at least three hilarious things printed on that front page:
- "Career Zone: More than 500 local job opportunities"
- "Workplace: How women's changing influence our environment [sic]. A special report."
And my favorite:
- "OPINIONS: Do cultural events divide or connect our community? Officials do not always agree."
Anyway, Stefan finally confronted Elena about having gone behind his back to get blood from Damon.
OR because she's turning into a monster and in love with someone who is often a sanctimonious NIGHTMARE. He was definitely trying to have it both ways: Be the understanding mentor helping her transition without letting her emotions get the best of her WHILE ALSO being super emotionally manipulative? So yeah, Stefan, she started sobbing when you berated and guilt-tripped her, what did you THINK would happen?
Anyway, Elena seemed pretty fixated on how much grief she'd been feeling about all the death in her life recently, and to me it seemed like that was a big factor in why her body was not transitioning properly. To his credit, Stefan actually had a GOOD idea at this point.
See, he can be a pretty cool guy when he's not awful. You know? In this case, he gathered up the whole gang (well, not everyone; Tyler was faking recuperation at the E.R. while Rebekah and Meredith were up in the club or whatever), but most of the original gang anyway. And he gave everyone floaty Japanese lanterns and they all ceremoniously bid adieu to all of the grief-thetans that had been weighing them down recently. We were treated to a very touching roll call of all the people these characters had lost over the past three seasons.
And then they released their paper lanterns into the night sky.
It was a lovely image, and for a split-second I was concerned about fire safety, but then I remembered that this town would be LUCKY to burn down. What was the harm?
Damon was NOT having the lantern shenanigans, so instead he went to Alaric's grave (which, wait, how long ago did Alaric die in this timeline? Three days ago?) and started bitching about all the other characters and how it's his lot in life to babysit them, etc. Well, yeah, dude, you hang out with high school students. Anyway, all his crabbiness was just Damon's way of demonstrating how much he missed his drinking buddy (and only real friend).
Boom. Oh no my eyeballs are leaking!!
Guys, "Memorial" was a high-stakes episode that not only introduced some compelling new characters and situations, it was filled out with dread, poignant moments, and even poetry. And SO MUCH BLOOD VOMIT. I can't impress this on you enough.
Me gusta. BYE
... Is Connor a good villain? What's his deal?
... Is April basically this show's version of Dawn?
... Do you feel bad for Tyler and Caroline for not getting to do all the sex?
... Are you good or bad at vomiting?