The Vampire Diaries Season 4, Episode 19 (“Pictures of You”)
No teen show is complete without the prom episode. Prom episodes can often be over the top, but the best ones are those that don’t follow the prom fairy tale trope. In this one almost no one has a fairy tale night as Elena is cutting into anyone that tries to stir emotions in her, and Silas is lurking around every corner. The closest thing anyone gets to a fairy tale is Caroline when Tyler surprises her back at his old house so they can spend prom night together, Klaus even lets him go in order to not ruin her night. But for everyone else it is pretty much a disaster, they are all too preoccupied with Elena’s antics that they can’t enjoy it.
The Vampire Diaries uses the prom to reflect on what it means to be human. An appropriate choice considering that it is the most quintessential human experience one can have. But it is a question that the show asks a lot throughout its run. Lately there has been a large focus on the humanity switch, but what does it mean to have your humanity gone? In the humanity switch sense it is essentially just your emotions, asserting the idea that emotions are what make us human. However, even those like Klaus who we consider to be pretty low on humanity still experience very strong emotions. In fact, vampires feel emotions more deeply than humans, they just have the option to not feel. It is interesting to see how each of the characters view humans and what a human life means. Some see it has trying to do good, loving and being loved, the ability to have a family, or simply to have a more meaningful existence. Others are more pessimistic and see it only as having mortality. For some their lives got better after becoming a vampire (or witch or werewolf), while others want nothing more than to be human again.
The Salvatores attempt to use prom to stir emotion into Elena via nostalgia for her friends, her relationships, her human life. However, Elena is unmoved by their attempts at sentimentality. She knows what they are trying to do and she is still trying to make sure that Rebekah gets the cure before they can use it on her. She even has the idea to kill Bonnie in order to stop Silas. This is a stark contrast to all of the times that human Elena was willing to risk herself for Bonnie. Back in season 2 she refused to let Bonnie try and use magic to kill Klaus, Elena was willing to die instead. She was willing to die to save any of her friends and family from dying for her. To get her humanity back, the Salvatores are trying to remind Elena of what it means to be human, but she has completely lost her most defining human trait – compassion.
Rebekah has to live a day as a human to get the cure from Elijah. She has been a vampire for so long that she worries she won’t be a good human. Will she miss the power she has as a vampire? What if she doesn’t find love and happiness as a human? Klaus doesn’t think that she really wants to be human, though he is probably just afraid of losing her. She gets a lesson in humanity from Matt (who she considers to be the perfect human) when he convinces her to use her vampire abilities to save April, even though it will potentially cost her the cure. Rebekah has a very pure view of humans, striving to do what is right instead of constantly fearing your supernatural enemies. She wants to love and be loved and have people who would sacrifice themselves for her. She believes the only way to get this is to be human. Klaus sees the much darker side of humanity – Rebekah was only able to save April because she was a vampire, a human would have to sit by and watch her die and not be able to do anything. He views human life as pathetic. All he sees is mortality and weakness. He has fought his entire life against being perceived as weak and dying is the weakest thing he could do.
Episode Grade: B+
- With Elena turning her humanity off the show hasn’t had much time to dwell on the loss of Jeremy, they do a bit through this episode by showing how much Bonnie misses him. Even if she was really seeing Silas.
- Stefan still says he is going to stick around until Elena gets her humanity back and then is getting out of town. UGH.
- Elijah: “Your personal discomfort might not be sufficient reason for putting the entire world in jeopardy, Klaus”
- Caroline: “Can you please go back in your creepy trophy case of family collectibles and dig me out something of royal caliber?” That dress is pretty amazing. If the Originals have spent so much of their time running how do they have so much stuff? Not exactly low maintenance.
- Matt: “Why do I feel like we’re at a practice run of Caroline’s wedding?”
- Prom King and Queen: Matt and Bonnie, this seemed like a weird choice since we never see them hanging out with anyone else at school. Were they even running? I have never gotten the impression Bonnie would care.
- All of Caroline’s pictures for the display walking into prom were just of her friends. Did other students not contribute photos?
- Detox Cellar! This time it is Elena being locked up in there.
- The cure is now in Silas’s hands, but he needs Bonnie to do the spell…
- They began the set up for The Originals spin-off at the end of the episode sending Klaus to New Orleans to find out what a witch named Jane-Anne Devereaux knows about him. The next episode is The Originals back door pilot!
- Body Count: None!