The Vampire Diaries, Ep. 4.19-20, “Pictures of You” and “The Originals”: Uninspiring eps tread water before final push

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Promo pic for The Vampire Diaries, "The Originals", S04E20

The Vampire Diaries, Season 4, Episode 19: “Pictures of You”
Written by Neil Reynolds and Caroline Dries
Directed by J. Miller Tobin

The Vampire Diaries, Season 4, Episode 20: “The Originals”
Written by Julie Plec
Directed by Chris Grismer
Airs Thursdays at 8pm (ET) on the CW

This week, on The Vampire Diaries: It’s Prom night in Mystic Falls and, later, Klaus heads to the Big Easy

Mystic Falls loves a dance. From Founder’s Day to Miss Mystic, the town at the center of The Vampire Diaries holds gala events at the drop of a hat. Maybe it’s to distract everyone from the chaos and death surrounding them, maybe they get a really good deal on streamers and look for excuses to use ‘em, but at this point, there’s little doubt that the people of Mystic Falls know how to throw a party and the inclusion of a prom episode, then, comes as no surprise. What is surprising, and disappointing, is the build up to and shading of the characters within the dance sequences.Candice Accola in The Vampire Diaries, "Pictures of You", S04E19

It makes sense for Caroline to be excited about prom to some extent, she is Miss Dance Committee after all, but every character in the series, excepting the Mikaelson brothers, gets drawn into the festivities as well. They all care about this one rite of passage despite the craziness surrounding their lives at the moment and the myriad other balls they’ve all been to (wasn’t there a Decade Dance only a few episodes ago?). Bonnie wakes up on fire and that isn’t enough to distract her from the pageantry of the big dance. Elena’s become such an uninteresting, petty character that her childish desire to ruin everyone’s fun makes sense, but Caroline going to Klaus to get a prom dress is ridiculous. She’s become such a joke of a character, at least in relationship to Klaus, that it’s hard to care for her in the slightest. Her brief reunion with Tyler is almost meaningless as well, as it doesn’t mark a stepping stone to any change for him, her, or the show, but rather exists for one reason- so Klaus can not kill Tyler and we can think slightly better of him.

Elsewhere in “Pictures of You”, we get the more meaningful return of Jeremy, in photos as well as ghost/Silas form. The photo montage outside the prom actually is rather lovely, as is Jeremy’s brief dance with Bonnie before revealing himself as Silas, but the Silasy reveal only serves to cast Bonnie in a negative light once again. The series needs to decide the extent of Bonnie’s power and her overall mental state. Is she incredibly powerful, as when she takes down Elena, or almost clueless, as when she doesn’t recognize Silas? Is she hardcore in Silas’ camp, or utterly against him? The wishy-washyness of the character has been a growing annoyance and that only continues here.

Another example is Stefan’s return to some level of affection for Elena. While it’s completely normal for his love of her to come to back to the surface in this romantic setting, the show has run Stelena v. Delena into the ground. The Vampire Diaries is usually at its best when it lets the Salvatores work together, when they can be a team, not rivals. Fingers crossed that this is a blip, rather than an indicator of a renewed love triangle storyline coming next season. With Elena locked in the Salvatores’ dungeon, one can only hope we are nearing the end of the rather shoddily handled SwitchFlippedElena arc. The less said about it, at this point, the better.

Promo pic for The Vampire Diaries, "The Originals", S04E20

That’s unfortunately also rather true of the backdoor pilot, “The Originals”. Set in New Orleans, though an utterly unconvincing and ridiculous version of this vibrant, distinct city, the episode introduces a slew of new characters and locations. It gives us a surprise Mikaelson baby, explaining the extraneous, rather unearned sex scene from a few weeks back between Klaus and Hayley, and sets up Elijah, though perhaps not Rebekah, for a prominent role in the series, should it happen. While some of the new characters prove charismatic, particularly Charles Michael Davis’ Marcel, the defining factor for whether TVD fans jump onboard with “The Originals” is their thoughts on Klaus. If he’s still interesting, they’ll bite, if not, they won’t, and for this (at this point, former) TVD fan, Klaus hasn’t been interesting in at least a season.

Klaus is childish, not particularly deep or layered, completely humorless, and worst of all, invincible. Any notion of peril or stakes flies out the window as soon as the main character in a pilot is shown to be indestructible. It’s why everyone and their grandfather has a stash of Kryptonite in Superman stories. It’s why Peter Parker runs out of webbing cartridges. The Vampire Diaries destroyed Klaus as a viable character ages ago when they decided he was almost unkillable and that, if he were killed, his entire line (which the main characters all seem to believe includes them) would die too. He’s inflicted ridiculous amounts of pain on characters we care for and remains completely selfish- even a little consideration shown towards Elijah would go a long way towards humanizing him, but the writers have Klaus consistently choose not to embrace his family. When he starts whining about wanting Marcel’s power, the respect and love his people show him, it’s very hard to care, and that’s not a great sign for the potential viability of this as a spinoff. Only time will tell whether the PtB at the CW bite and order up The Originals; for now, this critic only hopes Klaus’ new focus on New Orleans will keep him out of Mystic Falls for a while.

What did you think of these two episodes? How did the Prom rate for you, compared to the myriad other dances in Mystic Falls? Anyone else feel like Klaus’ long, deep connection to New Orleans came out of nowhere? Would you tune in for The Originals? Post your thoughts below!

Kate Kulzick

1 Comment
  1. Deepayan Sengupta says

    The CW formally gave a series order to The Originals yesterday, so now I guess it’s a waiting game to see how the show turns out.

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