The Vampire Diaries season 4 episode 9 review: O Come, All Ye Faithful

Review Caroline Preece 17 Dec 2012 - 15:13

The Vampire Diaries' mid-season finale is a mixed bag of disappointment and brilliance. Here's Caroline's review...

This review contains spoilers.

4.9 O Come, All Ye Faithful

Nothing in this episode of The Vampire Diaries made a lick of sense. As winter finales go, it made me want to sit in a dark room and figure it all out rather than come back for more in three weeks, and it’s feeling more and more like a show that’s tangled itself in knots out of sheer desperation.

Starting with Damon and Elena, we have to watch the couple try to find a moralistic path out of their sticky situation. It’s hard to care when nobody asked for or wanted an obstacle to their relationship, but the writers are keen to keep them apart anyway. The worst part about it is that it probably means one of them will take the cure at the end of the season, meaning that Elena’s vampirism could be temporary. More interesting would be Damon taking the cure, but I doubt that’d happen in a show so reliant on the cast’s superpowers. He orders her to stay away from him at the end of the episode, but that doesn’t mean she loves him any less.

And that’s what doesn’t make sense. We’ve heard from various sources that the sire bond doesn’t affect someone’s feelings, just their actions. This gives them two options: either they stay together and have Damon not give any direct orders, or they split up and pine after each other for all eternity. Which option feels like doing the right thing by Elena? This is just one of those lazy storylines that smacks of contrivance. They had a good thing going with the love triangle and, understandably, they’re keeping it around for as long as possible.

The trouble is that it’s making Delena irritating and sad, and making Stefan a nosy ex-boyfriend with major jealousy issues. His reaction to hearing about their closeness was a little bit extreme, and Caroline is becoming an obnoxious nosy parker by association. Fans have been waiting three years to see Damon and Elena finally get together, and keeping them separate doesn’t make it epic, it doesn’t make it anything.

Moving on, the meat of the episode came from Tyler and his plan to free Klaus’ hybrids. Originally, his fool-proof scheme was to transplant Klaus’ spirit into his own body, and then encase himself in concrete and bury the brick. Apparently, this is temporary, but I’m not entirely sure who would dig him up when the time came. Of course, no one’s particularly happy about this, and Stefan does his best to stop Klaus from being removed from their lives considering he’s vital to finding the cure. What Tyler doesn’t know, of course, is that Hayley is in cahoots with Professor Shane, and his plan is sabotaged.

This is where the episode gets good, as Shane’s plan to sacrifice twelve hybrids (to what end, we still don’t know) comes off brilliantly. Hearing about Tyler’s plan, Klaus goes on one heck of a rampage, and it’s as gruesome and shocking as The Vampire Diaries has been in a good long while. Throw in the fact that Klaus is now pretty much one of the good guys (with a love triangle to call his very own), and it makes it even more so. Twelve of Tyler’s hybrid friends have now been slaughtered, Hayley and Atticus have gotten what they wanted, and, for some reason, April saw the whole thing.

There’s something fishy going on with April, but I wish the show would hurry up and get to it already. She has contributed absolutely nothing in the first half of this season, and the assumption that she’s somehow important may turn out to be a complete misnomer. She looks primed to free Rebekah, though, and anyone who allows Rebekah back on the show is alright in my book.

Shane, Jeremy, Bonnie, Elena and Damon have taken up refuge at the Gilbert summer cabin while all of this is going on, where they attempt to cure Jeremy of his pesky urge to stake his sister. Considering Elena stabbed her brother in the neck a couple of weeks ago, it hasn’t been a very functional year for the siblings. I’m disappointed that Jeremy’s problems have been solved already, as I was looking forward to him becoming a pseudo-villain for the season. He hasn’t had anything interesting to do in years, and now that he’s his own creature the writers seem overly keen to fritter away the storyline’s potential.

In fact, almost everything interesting introduced in the first few episodes have been squandered in the last three weeks. Damon and Elena being together has been tainted, Jeremy being a hunter doesn’t seem to be going anywhere further than interesting body art, and Tyler’s freed hybrids are all dead. Even Elena seems to have adjusted to her new identity quite nicely, and the promise of a cure isn’t as exciting as it might have been in previous seasons. Now, we have to wait and see what Atticus’ ultimate plan is, and whether he really knows the way to a cure or not.

Complaints aside, the end of this episode was quite brilliant. We had been promised a significant death to go into the break with and, while this wasn’t the most earth-shattering of departures, Klaus’ vengeful murder of Mayor Lockwood will certainly have a lasting effect on Tyler and the rest of his friends. He’s been on his best behaviour so as to possibly woo Caroline, and I don’t know how she’ll react to him killing her boyfriend’s mother in cold blood. With this show, they’ll probably just politely ignore it so as to further their own goals, but it’s still an interesting prospect.

I hope the issues season 4a has had will be ironed out for the second half, but The Vampire Diaries still has more guts than anything else of its ilk. The love triangle stuff is getting tedious, but I hope the new mythology that’s been introduced develops into something as interesting as promised. Until then - Merry Christmas!

Read Caroline's review of the previous episode, We'll Always Have Bourbon Street, here.

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