Have yourself a very bloody Christmas

The Vampire Diaries Season 4, Episode 9 (“O Come, All Ye Faithful”)
Joseph Morgan (Image: The CW)

“O Come, All Ye Faithful” is the first Christmas episode on The Vampire Diaries, and one of the few instances where we are given any indication for what time of year it is supposed to be. Putting the implausibility of the timeline aside, I really enjoyed this episode for the most part. Some of the plot lines are less interesting than others, but they are all linked together through the theme that the bonds we have with other people are what make humans do the right thing (an idea currently being championed on The Good Place). It is a pretty appropriate theme for Christmas. There is also some great murder scenes.

The best part of the episode was Klaus. He finds out that his hybrids have been un-sired, with the help of Tyler, and that they were to kill him. He responds by killing all 12 of them (while “O Come, All Ye Faithful” plays in the background). All of this happens after he gives a speech to Stefan about why both of them memorialize the people they kill (Stefan by writing their names on a wall, and Klaus by keeping letters they wrote to him). He says they do it because they are lonely. It was surprising to see him so self aware. He knows that it is a vicious circle, but he keeps in it anyway because he doesn’t have anyone else.

Stefan recognizes that the only difference between them and Klaus is that they have family they can trust. They all do bad things. Stefan has killed an untold number of people during his ripper days, and is still willing to kill if he feels he must. He realizes the only thing that really separates him from Klaus is that he has people he can count on that keeps him doing the right thing. Klaus knows this as well which is why he gets his revenge on Tyler by killing his mom instead of him (this time to the tune of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”). Carol was the last of the family Tyler had, killing her is much better revenge. Despite being a Christmas episode, there wasn’t a lot of actual Christmas happening, but having both of Klaus’s murderous scenes happen with Christmas music playing, was pretty great.

Stefan trusted that Damon would do the right thing about Elena and “set her free”. But in fact, Damon hadn’t gone through with it and he hid the fact that he and Elena slept together. Throughout the episode Damon is struggling to do what he knows he should. His bonds with Elena and Stefan keep him doing the right thing, but the sire bond is testing that. He is successfully keeping himself from being physically involved with Elena, but he can’t break the emotional connection. At the end of the episode he does go halfway in doing the right thing by sending Elena back to Mystic Falls while he stays at the lake house to help Jeremy. As I said in my previous review, the whole sire bond storyline is best viewed through the lens of the effect that its existence has on the various characters, mostly Damon. His resolve to do the right thing is being tested over and over as he struggles to go through with it. The real problem is that it makes Elena passive in her own love story. She can protest all she wants and insist that her feelings are real, but Damon holds the power to either give in or cut it off.

Jeremy’s bond with Elena is one that has typically kept him on track. But since being awakened as a Hunter, his feelings towards her have turned to hatred for her kind. Shane tries to reprogram those feelings by teaching him to remember that familial bond, but it doesn’t really work. Damon has the idea to use Bonnie instead. When he uses his bond with Bonnie, he is able to make the choice to not kill Elena and ends up embracing her instead. This theme is one that the shows comes back to again and again. It is interesting to see how it changes for people throughout the series. For vampires these bonds are essential to retaining their humanity, and as they lose their biological family, they have to form their own.

Overall I really liked this episode. I was never that interested in the un-siring hybrids storyline but I like this as the end to it. Using Klaus to murder the only people he had around him was brilliant. After they were un-sired there was no one who would be loyal to him. He has driven his family away and everyone else hates him. He continuously makes his own loneliness by refusing to form real bonds. He cannot trust and thus has to force loyalty. When it is gone he kills them, starting the cycle over again. Damon knows that to maintain his relationship with Stefan, he has to stay away from Elena as long as the sire bond is in place. He also knows that he has to get rid of it in order to have any real relationship with Elena. It isn’t what he wants to do, but he has to or he risks losing both of them.

Episode Grade: B+

Other Thoughts:

  • On timeline: they do not hold to the typical teen show model of one season = one school year, likely to milk the number of seasons they could have the teens in high school. But we do know that season 3 started their senior year and by that logic, everything that happened in season 3 and up until now, would have taken place over about 3 months. This is pretty absurd, but they are certainly not the only show to have done this – Pretty Little Liars is probably the worst offender with their senior year taking place over 3.5 seasons.
  • Event of the Episode: Winter Wonderland Charity Event. Not sure they ever mention what the charity is.
  • Klaus: “What is the point of my hybrids being sired to me if I can’t maximize on the benefits of free labor?”
  • Damon: “What the hell is Professor Shadypants doing here?”
  • Caroline: “If we’re going to be nice to each other then I will need that glass of champagne”
  • Shane: “You’ve already threatened to kill me, what, like three times already this week?”
  • Bonnie: “Yeah she came with Damon, who is being slightly less horrible than usual”
  • April Young is becoming a bit of a problem – Caroline accidentally told her a bunch of things and then she un-daggers Rebekah.
  • Mystic Falls is down another parent and another mayor.
  • Body Count: 13, the 12 un-sired hybrids and Carol Lockwood – all by Klaus.

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