The third season of ‘The Vampire Diaries’ had one of the most intense, bold and daring endings any show has ever done, ever. Our lead character and subsequent guide through the world of Mystic Falls, the very human Elena Gilbert, was left a vampire. It was shocking, truly, but it wasn’t a shock for shock’s sake. It was an earned moment and a natural progression for a series that burns through plot faster than a sprinter runs a sprint race (which is definitely what those races are called, by the way), but it also changes the dynamic of the show completely.
For three season’s we saw Mystic Falls through Elena’s eyes and this made sense because, like Elena, we are human and are drawn in by the idea of vampires. We must be or we wouldn’t be watching a show called ‘The Vampire Diaries.’ Now we’re kind of alone. Sure, we’ve been here for a while and we sort of know the lay of the land, but without Elena to guide us, how will we adapt? It’s something to think about and my gut tells me we’ll be relying heavily on Matt to ease us into this even newer new world. There is nary a writing staff on television that I trust more than that of ‘The Vampire Diaries, so I suspect we’ll be alright and I, for one, am looking very forward to the ride.
The Season Four premiere, last night’s “Growing Pains,” felt a bit like a stop gap episode. We know Elena was turned into a vamp at the end of last season and we know she’ll still be one at this episode’s end, but, of course, the Mystic Friends are going to try and figure out a way to fix it and that was “Growing Pains.” Inevitably, it doesn’t work and Elena must feed on human blood to complete her transition, one she’d rather not, but ultimately does because well, because STEFAN Y’ALL!
“Growing Pains” wasn’t short on action, however as the Council was busy rounding up the vamps and herding them into the home of a Reverend I don’t remember ever seeing before. Yes, this includes Elena WHO HASN’T FED AND COULD MAYBE DIE, BUT SHE WON’T OBVIOUSLY! Bonnie, tasked with trying to stop the transition before it should have to happen, literally dies in order to try and save Elena. People on this show are super willing to die for Elena. Bonnie does not succeed, but now she’s played with some serious black magic that, moving forward, will have some dire consequences.
Of all ‘The Vampire Diaries’’ characters, none have been as problematic as Bonnie, but I really enjoyed her scenes in “Growing Pains” and I am rooting for Kat Graham to get a storyline that will really take the character to the next level.
Also on the docket was the whole Tyler is Klaus and Klaus is Tyler fiasco. I don’t mean to give this little play here, but it’s 3:30 in the morning and I need to be up in about four hours, so let’s just say Klaus is back to being Klaus and Tyler is back to being Tyler.
Ultimately, though, this was Elena’s episode and it should have been. Elena Gilbert is one of the best and most complex characters on television and it’s a testament to Nina Dobrev, one of the most underrated actors on television. Though “Growing Pains” wasn’t the slam, bang ‘Vampire Diaries’ we’re accustomed to, there are some great quiet scenes that the show does with equal panache. Elena watching Damon tell her he loves her and then compel it away is a watershed moment and one that will have a ripple effect throughout the season. All in all it’s a new show (sort of), so let’s enjoy it.