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The Vampire Diaries Season 4, Episode 1 Review

The Vampire Diaries Season 4, Episode 1 Review

vampire diaries season 4‘Growing Pains’

For television lovers such as me, autumn is an exciting time of the year. As the leaves turn golden and the days draw shorter, the realisation that winter is rearing its frosty head begins to sink in. Whilst many will feel sad at the prospect of saying au revoir to summer, the square-eyed television junkies of the world will be happily saying bonjour to better and brighter television listings.

This autumn brings with it a surplus of brand new series to UK screens, as well as the return of a host of widely loved programmes, marked by cheers and squeals of fan joy. Last week saw the return of one of my favourite guilty/not-guilty-because-I-love-it-so-much pleasures, in the form of The Vampire Diaries Season 4. With a change in time-slot (still on itv2, but now showing on a Monday instead of a Tuesday), followers of the show have eagerly anticipated the new season of VD and the first episode did not disappoint.

Last season was a riveting plethora of excitement, thrills, tears and heartache as the town of Mystic Falls was terrorised by the original vampire family, led by the delightfully devilish Klaus (Joseph Morgan). With the storyline focusing on the centuries old originals, Stefan was pushed begrudgingly in to the dark side and the bond between Elena and Damon was given a well-needed chance to develop. Witches, ghosts, werewolves and hybrids enthralled us, with love triangles abounding. There were mysterious deaths, heart-breaking deaths, fake deaths, vampire deaths, generally a lot of people dying…including the show’s leading lady, Elena Gilbert.

The first episode of Season 4 picks up where we left off, with Elena gasping for air. The heart-stopping final moments of the Season 3 finale saw Elena and Matt crash off Wickery Bridge and plunge into the river. When a trapped Elena begs Stefan to save Matt first he does, but not without a cost. He’s too late to save her. But this is The Vampire Diaries and if there’s anything that true fans know is that 9 times out of 10 characters never stay dead in human terms. In this instance it’s Elena who comes back to life, though she’s technically no longer ‘alive’.

Elena died with vampire blood in her system, which means in this first episode she’s transitioning. The big question she faces throughout is does she taste blood and complete the transition, or does she resist and ultimately die. For Elena this is not a decision she takes lightly. She never wanted to be a vampire, but she can’t bear the thought of leaving her loved ones behind. Whilst best friend Bonnie and brother Jeremy desperately try to find a magical way to rectify the situation, Elena and Stefan are captured by a group of towns people who have decided enough is enough, the vampires must go. This ultimately robs Elena of her choice and seals her fate.

Meanwhile Klaus, who is locked inside hybrid Tyler’s body, forces Bonnie to abandon her search to find a cure for Elena and instead perform a dangerous spell to free him. With Bonnie meddling in the darkest of magic, she is warned that it will have horrible repercussions. As usual we can thank Klaus for that, as he’s been the root of every problem since Season 2. After thinking that we’d seen the end of him in Season 3, we can all rest easy in the knowledge that he was never gone, just dormant.

Whilst everything in Mystic Falls appears to be changing, some things still stay the same. Elena is vulnerable and dying, Stefan is locked up and powerless, Damon as usual is killing people to save Elena and his brother.

However, the surprise in this episode comes in the form of Klaus’s sister, original vampire Rebekah (also captured and locked up), who helps to save the day or at least ensure that Elena doesn’t die, again. Elena essentially has no choice but to drink blood and by the end of the episode she’s a fully-fledged vampire. Cue even more drama in subsequent episodes.

Fans of the books would have already known that being a supernatural individual was written into Elena’s future. I had my doubts that they’d stay true to the book, but they ultimately have and the turn of events is both sad and thrilling. Sad because part of Elena’s charm was in the fact that she was human, she could be hurt, she could die. Stefan and Damon had to protect her, now she can protect herself. It is however all the more thrilling because we have no idea where this will lead. Will vampire Elena simply be a more powerful extension of her former alive self, or will her character change and progress into a more complex and complicated Elena? I hope the latter is true. I’d like to see a different side of Elena. Now that she’s vampire it definitely gives room to explore this.

Vampire Diaries quite simply never disappoints. It gives fans what they want, whilst throwing unexpected curveballs and always being unpredictable. This episode has opened up a whole new world for the show.

The most exciting part of the episode though is discovering that Klaus is now back in his own body (thanks to Bonnie’s dark magic spell), meaning he’s ready to set the world on fire once more. Hallelujah!

★★★★★

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