The Vampire Diaries, Ep. 4.06-7: Psychological showcases allow strong character work

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My Brother’s Keeper

The Vampire Diaries Review, Season 4, Episode 6: “We All Go A Little Mad Sometimes”
Written by Evan Bleiweiss and Julie Plec
Directed by Wendey Stanzler
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on the CW

The Vampire Diaries Review, Season 4, Episode 7: “My Brother’s Keeper”
Written by Caroline Dries and Elisabeth R. Finch
Directed by Jeffrey Hunt
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on the CW

These weeks on The Vampire Diaries: Elena gets a visit from Katharine, Jeremy gets some new ink, Team Delena trumps Stelena, for now, and Professor Shane is still up to no good

Episode six follows on directly from the events of the previous week, immediately delivering consequences for Elena’s murder of Connor. While it’s easy to argue that her actions were justified, creating an external manifestation of the guilt Elena would be feeling anyways is a nice idea. The fight for Elena’s humanity remains an integral element to the season and bringing back Connor to haunt her works well. It also provides a very humanizing window into Klaus’ psyche, as we see perhaps one root of his psychosis. The episode really kicks in, however, when first Katherine and then, chillingly, Elena’s mother join the psychological fray.

As fun as Katherine is, her absence has been for the best. She doesn’t belong anywhere near Klaus and the other Originals and any actual return at this point would feel contrived- she’s too smart to show her face in Mystic Falls right now. That being said, with Elena’s transition, there are certainly narrative opportunities that have been missed due to Katherine being on the lam. Bringing her back in this way not only makes sense, but allows for perhaps a more honest discussion between Katherine (or at least Elena’s version of her) and Elena than would happen if the two actually sat down for a chat. Nina Dobrev has always brought charm and fun to Katherine and that is maintained here, plus it’s interesting to see most of the two characters’ differences maintained despite Elena’s new-found vampirism.

We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes

The real kick in the teeth, though, is Elena’s mother, combined with the setting on Wickery Bridge. The way the show keeps coming back to the Bridge demonstrates not only a strong series memory, but an understanding of the character. The conversation is simple, but absolutely believable as the thing that pushes Elena over the suicidal edge, as is the talk with Damon that brings her back. Elena and Damon have been a far more interesting pair this season than Elena and Stefan, mostly because of his contrived secret-keeping. Though his deceptions feel far more a product of plotting and writerly necessity than anything character-based, the interactions between the two pairs have set up nicely the show’s transition from Team Stelena to Team Delena.

That leads us to two significant red flags in episode seven. While Caroline is incredibly entertaining, particularly with her vociferous place on Team Stelena, this notion that Elena has changed drastically since becoming a vampire is not supported by what we’ve seen so far, either in plotting or performance. If there was supposed to be a noticeable difference between HumanElena and VampireElena, someone needed to tell Nina Dobrev sooner than half-way through episode seven.

My Brother’s Keeper

Secondly, while Elena being sired to Damon could be interesting, we have no way of knowing whose blood Dr. Fell gave Elena. The only one who could possibly even know that is Meredith, and she certainly hasn’t discussed the topic with anyone onscreen. For a plot point as significant as this, we needed to see Stefan or Caroline find out for sure. Instead, we get a series of coincidences strung together by an admittedly very biased Caroline. There are plenty of other issues raised by this siring, such as removing Elena’s choice from perhaps her most defining decision of the season, killing Connor, but for now, what most stands out is the lazy justification of this story point.

There’s far more positive in these episodes than negative, though. Jeremy-as-hunter has provided Steve McQueen with his most interesting storyline in seasons and while Bonnie’s blind faith in the increasingly slimy Professor Shane (another huge +1 for Caroline, calling him out to Bonnie) feels out of character and frustratingly stupid, things seem to be moving relatively smoothly to the Silas Showdown we all know is coming. April, as periphery a character as she’s been, gets a few nice moments in episode seven and her discovery and presumed rescue of Rebekah should give the show a bit of a jolt in the coming weeks.

What did you think of these episodes? Were you surprised to see Katherine come back? What do you predict for Bonnie and Professor Shane? Are you pro or con siring and Delena in general? Post your thoughts below!

Kate Kulzick

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