Damon and Elena head to NYC while the 3rd massacre is completed in Mystic Falls

The Vampire Diaries season 4, episode 17 (“Because the Night”)
Ian Somerhalder and Arielle Kebbel, The Vampire Diaries

Season 4 has been dark. It started with Elena’s transition, her first kill, the Hunter’s curse that almost made her kill herself, then Jeremy died, Tyler was run out of town, Bonnie started using dark magic, and now there has been three massacres of innocent humans, hybrids, and witches. Even the one thing that was supposed to offer hope, the cure to vampirism, has been lost. Elena turning her humanity off has mostly been a fun reprieve from all of the darkness so far. She isn’t a ripper like Stefan so she isn’t killing a bunch of people, she mostly just seems concerned with having fun, something she doesn’t typically allow herself to have because of all of her grief and guilt. This episode continues Elena’s humanity-less adventure while also reminding us that even the best vampires have darkness in them.

This is the second flashback episode of the season but it functions a little differently than the previous flashbacks the show has done. This time we are checking in on Damon in New York City in the 1970s. There is lots of punk rock and they make a reference to the Son of Sam killer who was at large at the time. Typically flashback episodes on this show are used to fill-in backstory, usually relating to the relationship between Stefan and Damon or their encounters with other important vampires (like the 1920s episode where Stefan meets Klaus and Rebekah for the first time). However, with this one we don’t really learn anything new and Stefan is nowhere to be seen. We already knew that Damon has spent large portions of his 160-ish years as a vampire alone and humanity-less. It is a pretty fun flashback though and Lexi is a heavy feature which is always a great. This particular flashback mostly parallels what is happening in the present day portion of the episode, both with Elena having her humanity off and Damon revisiting the club he used to frequent to find information about Katherine.

Candice King, The Vampire Diaries

Back in Mystic Falls Stefan, Caroline, and Klaus are trying to stop the third massacre (this one of witches) needed to complete the expression triangle. However they are unsuccessful. Caroline had to make the choice to save Bonnie or kill the 12 witches. She makes an impulse decision to save her friend, and the cost is not just the lives of the 12 witches, but the potential to drop the veil to the Other Side and bring back every dead supernatural being there. It was an interesting choice to have Caroline be the one to do it since she is usually very restrained and thinks before she acts. They probably chose her because of her generally good morals and low body count. All episode Caroline is telling Klaus how terrible he is but then she kills 12 people for what she perceives as a good reason. How could she let her best friend die? It is always interesting when the “good” characters are forced to make decisions that go against their moral guidelines, blurring the lines between the good and bad vampires.

Speaking of Caroline, she is mad at Klaus for running Tyler out of town and is being particularly mean to him (not that he doesn’t deserve it). Though she is rightfully mad at him, she is even more mad at herself. She’s mad for thinking that he could be saved, that there was good in him, and mostly that deep down she is attracted to him on some level. She hates herself for that. Klaus tells her that “good people are drawn to darkness” which could apply to so much of this show. Elena being drawn to both Salvatores, even if Stefan is the “good brother” he is still a vampire with a very dark past. Caroline is probably one of the best people on this show in terms of morality and overall goodness, but she too has been drawn to the dark side of vampirism. Last season she admitted to Alaric that when she killed that guy when she first turned, she actually enjoyed it. Bonnie as well has been drawn to dark magic this season in order to get her powers back. Being a vampire is dark. No matter how hard these characters try to hold onto their humanity, that dark side is always there, pulling them towards it.

Despite all of this darkness, it is still a fun episode. Even if her humanity is off, it is good to see Elena actually enjoying herself as a vampire. Her transition so far has been treated as a terrible tragedy that she will never be able to live with. Then with the sire-bond they made it even more problematic. Being free of it has helped things immensely and I am enjoying this last section of the season much more than I did the middle. Humanity-less Elena has also allowed for her character to have more agency, she is taking matters into her own hands. She doesn’t want the cure and she knows that if the Salvatores get it they will try to force it on her. I am excited for the next episode to see Elena and Rebekah teaming up to find Katherine.

Episode Grade: B+

Other Thoughts:

  • Psycho Killer!
  • Elena got a new haircut and some hot-pink highlights. Wonder how she will feel about it when she gets her humanity back.
  • Silas has revealed to Bonnie that he is not Professor Shane and she is following along anyway. Is his mind control that good?
  • I dig Lexi’s 70s hair.
  • “You look like you are in need of comfort, why don’t you find someone less terrible you can relate to?”
  • Body Count: 14, Damon kills 2 people in the opening flashback scene and Carolines kills the 12 witches.

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