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The Vampire Diaries, Ep. 4.05, “The Killer”: Poor dialogue, character decisions hamper episode

The Vampire Diaries, Ep. 4.05, “The Killer”: Poor dialogue, character decisions hamper episode

The Vampire Diaries, Season 4, Episode 5: “The Killer”
Written by Michael Narducci
Directed by Chris Grismer
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on the CW

Every now and again, The Vampire Diaries does something to remind viewers of its less-than-stellar beginning. Earlier this season, it was the reintroduction and prevalence of the high school. Here, it’s bringing back the diaries and, more significantly, the voice over. Voice over is tricky at the best of times, and though it can be incredibly useful when employed creatively, it’s usually a bad call. Nothing we hear in voice over is something we don’t already know; it’s repetitive and, given the simplistic and overwrought dialogue, downright annoying. One would hope that Elena would have more to say about her experience than the bland lines she gets here. This is supposed to be her diary, her safe space. Instead, it’s a tool for emotional “Previously on…”s.

The opening narration isn’t the only example of cringe-worthy expodumping. Much of the beginning of the episode is spent with characters telling each other either things they all already know or what they are currently doing or what they are planning to do. The adage of “show, don’t tell” is one this series usually gets right. Here, unfortunately, it doesn’t.

Once things get going, however, the episode picks up. The central conflict, Connor’s hostage-taking, works well and his utter competence so far this season, as well as the inclusion of potential red shirt April, makes the threat very real. Elena finally gets into the action this week and, though she seems lost at the end, it’s about time she took control a bit and had some agency in the events surrounding her family, surrogate and not.

One can’t help but be concerned, however, that the characters have taken the wrong lesson away from Elena’s killing of Connor. (Side note: when are we going to get at least a mention of how this was not a good guy/innocent she killed? One would expect a line about this from Damon, but nothing so far.) Whereas the moral of the story should be that when they keep secrets from each other, bad things happen, it appears her actions are leading them farther down the rabbithole. The same could be said for Jeremy and Matt, though perhaps Jeremy’s caution is warranted, given that Matt is such a willing participant in April’s compelling.

Hopefully these fears will be disproved in the coming weeks, but this is beginning to look like an unfortunate pattern for the series. It’s one Supernatural fell into a few seasons ago as well- the leads on both shows have done the keeping secrets thing, paid the price for it, and learned that they should trust each other (and that when they don’t, very bad things happen). But then, as soon as the plot dictates it, they regress and repeat the same pattern. It’s a surrogate for the will-they/won’t-they pattern so many series fall into. The Vampire Diaries is a better show than this. Hopefully it will be again, and soon.

Elsewhere in the episode, we get a very pleasant surprise in the Hayley/Tyler/Caroline drama. It should be fun to see where that goes. Klaus takes most of this week off, which is a definite plus, as does Rebekah, who gets a much-needed break. The final chunk of the episode deals with Bonnie and her new best bud, Professor Shane. It helps that the audience knows he’s probably tied in with this Big Bad approaching Mystic Falls, but still, any Professor who goes by his first name and invites you to his office for an unorthodox session where he hypnotizes you, causing you to lose time? Not a good guy. These sessions? Not a good idea.

As soon as Bonnie realizes she’s been compelled to take off her earring, she should be out of there. Instead, she smiles. This reviewer wants to like Bonnie, but when she does stupid stuff like this, it’s really hard to do so. The scene in the premiere with Grams was incredibly effective- it’s frustrating to see Bonnie so easily push that experience aside. Yes, she has supposedly been struggling with this offscreen, but as we haven’t seen it, it doesn’t feel real. We’re still early in this arc and there’s plenty of time to turn this around, but for a show that usually has such strong, empowered women, seeing Bonnie so willingly subservient to a man she doesn’t remotely know is frustrating.

What did you think of this episode? Any predictions about Elena’s hallucination? How long do you think before Jeremy gets the full tat treatment? Anyone else bummed Connor petered out so disappointingly? Post your thoughts below!

Kate Kulzick