Season 4, Episode 2 (“Memorial”)
The dark tone of the season premiere continues through this episode as Elena learns to deal with her transition and the town mourns the death of the Founder’s Council. Though there is some plot developments, the show is really taking its time early in this season to deal with all of the emotions surrounding Elena’s transition. It really highlights how good this show can be at character development. Though it is more well known for it fast paced plot, the thing that keeps me coming back to it is how attached I feel to all of the characters. Some of these early season 4 episodes are some of the best the series because of how much they let the emotions of the characters carry the story instead of relying on insane plot twists.
Elena is really struggling with her transition as Damon and Stefan fight over the best way to teach her how to be a vampire. Stefan is trying to spare her as much pain as he can by teaching her how to survive on animal blood alone. He is afraid that if she feeds on human blood she will end up killing someone which will be too difficult for her to handle. Damon thinks she needs to go through the bad vampire experiences so she can learn how to get past them. They are both trying to make her into the kind of vampire they think she should be instead of having her figure it out for herself. Both of their hearts in the right place, but Stefan is being especially misguided. You can’t shield people from experiencing pain, especially when you are transitioning into a vampire. Sheltering people from pain doesn’t help them when they inevitably face it. Damon definitely makes the better point about her needing to go through the motions, but he is also too adamant that she needs to be what he thinks a vampire should be. Caroline probably has the best teaching moment for Elena when she teaches her how to compel April so that she can take her painful experience away and remember her father’s memorial in a good way, even if inaccurate. She is showing Elena the good parts instead of focusing on how to keep her from the bad.
After the memorial for the council, the characters takes some time to mourn all of the losses in the show thus far. Elena has been overcome with grief since her transition, her emotions are heightened now so she is feeling it all more intensely. This leads to Stefan organizing a memorial for the whole squad to take a moment and recognize what they have been through. Usually when someone dies they have no time to mourn as there is always something else to deal with, so it is nice that the show recognizes it here. Damon is having a particularly hard time with Alaric’s death. He is keeping his seat at the Grill open, not letting anyone sit there. He can’t deal with the memorial that Stefan sets up and instead opts for a private graveside mourning. He doesn’t feel like he has anything left in Mystic Falls worth sticking around for now that he lost his friend and the girl. With Elena’s transition there was not much time to mourn the death of Alaric in the season 3 finale. I was happy to see they didn’t just move past it like they have for some of the other deaths and actually took some time for it.
For plot development, there is a new vampire hunter in town named Connor and he is making things very difficult. It is not clear where he came from but he is determined to figure out who the vampires are, and then shoots them with some special bullets. He uses the memorial to suss out the vampires, injuring April Young so that she is bleeding in the upper pews during the ceremony. The more experienced vampires are able to resist the smell of the blood, but it is very difficult for Elena. Especially considering that she hasn’t been able to feed since she can’t keep any of the blood down. There isn’t much news on the who blew up the council other than a note that Connor found intended for April from her father. The note stating that he was sorry for what he had to do but it was the first sacrifices of many to come.
This was another really good episode. As I stated up top, I think the early episodes of season 4 are some of the best that the show ever has. I like the darker tone they take on as the reality of what these characters have gone through really sinks in. There has been a tremendous amount of loss and pain, and it is not going to get better. Elena is going to have to figure out what being a vampire means for her and not get too caught up in what each of the Salvatores want.
Episode Grade: A
- “If I was going to kill 12 people, I wouldn’t blow them up. I’d have a dinner party” This is very true, I don’t know why anyone suspected Damon of being the one to blow up the council.
- April Young is an awkward character. At first she seems like she just doesn’t care about her dad’s death but later when she is talking to Elena it seems like she just doesn’t know what to say. Her dad was responsible for the death of 11 people, accident or not, it makes mourning tricky.
- If vampires can survive on blood from other vampires, why is this not a more common practice?
- “If we stopped having sex every time someone die in this town, we’d explode”
- “We have a new vampire hunter in town” “Oh. That’s bad timing”
- I really enjoy the scene in the memorial when all of the vampires are talking to each other but not sitting next together. Their super hearing allows them to communicate without anyone hearing and for some reason I find it fun to watch.
- Jeremy can see a tattoo on Connor that no one else can… intriguing.
- “I miss you too buddy”
- Body Count: None!