TV REVIEW: The Vampire Diaries Season 4, Episode 1 – “Growing Pains”

TV’s prettiest vampires are back! The Vampire Diaries kicked off its fourth season in the US last week.

Season 3 ended with quite the cliffhanger – Elena wakes up after dying in the bridge accident, thanks to the vampire blood Dr. Fell used to cure her injuries. Season 4 picks up right where we left off, with Elena and the Salvatores trying to figure out how to cope with this latest development.

After several uncharacteristically weak episodes in the latter part of last season, this first episode of Season 4 thankfully did not disappoint.

Stefan and Damon once again find themselves at odds over Elena. This time, Damon is angry with Stefan (and the world at large, it seems) over his decision to honor Elena’s wishes and rescue Matt first after the bridge incident. Stefan himself is filled with regret over it; he channels that into looking for a way to break the transition cycle. Damon just goes around threatening people, trying to kill Matt, and generally being a complete ass.

Bonnie is a busy bee this episode, between helping Stefan bring Elena back and dealing with Klaus, who is still inhabiting Tyler’s body. She attempts to go over to the spirit world to bring Elena back, but she runs into Grams, who warns her that she is dealing with very dark magic and that she will be punished by the spirits. She heeds the warning and withdraws, only to be forced right back into the darkness by Klaus, who threatens to rip Tyler’s heart out if she does not return him to his own body. Bonnie relents, but she is once again warned by her grandmother, who is then attacked by the spirits as punishment for Bonnie.

Meanwhile, the Council is rounding up all vampires and confining them to a ranch out in the wilderness. This is where Stefan, Elena and Rebekah eventually find themselves. Elena did not feed before her captivity, so she is slowly dying in her cell. Rebekah is initially pleased, but after watching them profess their love for each other, she is moved to help Elena complete the transition. One of the guards is killed, Elena feeds, and voila – the newest Mystic Falls vampire is born.

It was a compelling episode, watching everyone deal with the prospect of Elena becoming a vampire. I thought the different reactions were very telling – Stefan and Matt are both riddled with guilt, but they try to help Elena however they can. Damon is angry, and takes it out on anyone and everyone in sight.

I wish that the writers had avoided falling back into the “Damon is angry at the world” trap. At some point he needs to learn how to express his feelings without anger and aggression; otherwise, he’s just not a sympathetic character. We’ve seen it before, so we know it’s in there – the writers just need to get him there again.

Stelena fans will be especially pleased with this episode, as they reaffirm their relationship and their love for each other while confined at the ranch. The episode also ends with them pledging to take Elena’s transition on together, one day at a time.

Why do I get the feeling it won’t be that simple?


Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Mirjana

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