The Vampire Diaries season 4 episode 18 review: American Gothic

Daniel Gillies makes a very welcome return in this week's episode of The Vampire Diaries. Here's Caroline's review...

This review contains spoilers.

4.18 American Gothic

Welcome back Elijah – we really missed you. With his mere presence, Daniel Gillies manages to make a pretty standard, talky episode of The Vampire Diaries memorable, meaningful and interesting. It makes you really glad that he’s sticking around for The Originals, doesn’t it?

As well as Elijah, American Gothic also saw the return of Ms Katherine Pierce, whom Elena and Rebekah catch up to in Pennsylvania. They’re after the cure but know they can’t get to it without some sneaking around and backstabbing beforehand, so the entire episode becomes a tactical game played between the three girls, with Stefan and Damon lagging behind as usual. After they controlled Elena’s actions for over three seasons, it’s really rather satisfying to see them chasing after her now that she has her own wants and desires outside of the Salvatore family.

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And the hour was really about Elena’s right to choose, and whether forcing her to take the cure would be a necessary measure for her own good or a massive betrayal. She certainly thinks the latter and even Damon isn’t sure which side he’s on. Elijah, on the other hand, still believes in the goodness and innocence buried somewhere deep within Katherine, and is having the same predicament as Stefan over his own doppelganger. It’s nice to see this parallel between the two girls emerge again, with Elijah’s certainty that he can help Katherine only solidifying Elena’s belief that they’re all crazy.

The B-plot this week involves another long chat between Klaus and Caroline, as she feels compelled (not literally) to help him remove the remains of the white oak stake from his chest. It gives them a chance to work out their differences while he’s vulnerable, and the result is a tentative friendship based on the fact that he’s not actively trying to kill Tyler anymore. I know that this show has a twisted sense of morality, but I can’t believe that one day spent together would make Caroline forget all of the horrible things he’s done. She knew Carole Lockwood, after all.

The whole thing seems like preparation from Klaus’ departure from the mother-show, and there was plenty of this from Elijah and Rebekah, too. Having the three of them on the show at the same time demonstrated how brilliant The Originals might be if done right, but the jury’s still out on what form the three characters will take once they’re shipped over. Will Rebekah get the cure? Katherine has put her faith in Elijah and given it to him for safe keeping, so it’s really up to the most level-headed original as to who gets to be human. My instincts tell me that the three of them will remain undead, which means that the cure has to go to someone else.

Seeing the vulnerable side of Katherine makes a great case for her, and how interesting would it be if Elena and Katherine switched places so completely? Then there’s Elena herself, of course, but she’s hell-bent on making sure that doesn’t happen. The final scene was shocking and intriguing after spending so long trying to preserve her humanity. She’s now killed someone for no reason – not even to feed – and I wonder how she’ll feel about her actions once the switch turns back on. The assuming it will, and there’s no guarantee that we’ll ever get the old Elena back.

Its prom time on the next The Vampire Diaries, as Caroline’s carefully laid plans are ruined by Elena, hell-bent on retaining her independence while Damon and Stefan start competing for her affections again. Love triangle aside, parties in Mystic Falls are always fun. See you on the 18th of April.

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Because the Night, here.

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