The Vampire Diaries season 4 episode 4 review: The Five

The Five signals a return to form for The Vampire Diaries, with a little help from a mystical weapon and some mysterious tattoos...

This review contains spoilers.

4.4 The Five

Things are getting complicated in Mystic Falls again, as episode four, The Five, introduces us to our main mission for the fourth season of The Vampire Diaries. Thankfully, even though we do get some juicy love triangle stuff this week, the show seems to have regained focus on what draws a large portion of fans into the action. With a new object to find and the goodies and baddies joining forces in increasingly ambiguous ways, we can hope for a return to form this season.

The episode’s title forms part of the season’s big mystery, as Klaus’ surprise at Connor’s tattoos last week gets some much-needed exposition. The originals once encountered five super-hunters who have apparently spawned more present-day slayers to continue their work, and they can be identifying by their body-art. Back in the day, these tattoos were visible to everyone (rather than the ones now that only Jeremy can see), and form a map leading to the ‘ultimate weapon’ for killing vampires. There seem to be a lot of ultimate weapons hanging around the place at this point, but I suppose we’ll have to overlook it. We eventually learn that the weapon is actually a cure for vampirism, at which point Stefan’s ears prick up.

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After a quiet couple of weeks, Klaus and Rebekah have an episode almost entirely to themselves, as their twisted, violent, sibling rivalry gets hashed out across the dinner table. After seeing his sister desperately clinging onto Matt’s evaporated sympathies by buying him a new truck, Klaus sees an opportunity to prey on her vulnerabilities around men. Recalling the time she fell in love with one of The Five, only to be betrayed and stabbed for her efforts, we learn even more about Rebekah’s life-long troubles with men. Claire Holt gives a cracking performance in this episode, but it’s likely she’ll be away for a little while.

With Stefan and Klaus teaming up to trick Rebekah back into her wooden box, we can finally welcome the more interesting side of Stefan back to the show. Downstairs, he also has no problem with the capture and torture of Connor, whom Klaus is questioning over his ties to The Five. Finally figuring out that Jeremy can see the symbols, he’s brought in to sketch them and has a nice long chat with Connor in the process. We learn (even if Jeremy has now been compelled to forget) that those who can see the map might be destined to become super-hunters themselves, making Jeremy a prime candidate. Having ‘potentials’ added to the mix of creatures on the show leads us to justified Buffy comparisons, and I’m very intrigued by this new development.

One of the things that bothers me the most about the show, is that too many characters means we’re hardly ever graced with a full house. Rebekah, Klaus and Bonnie this week meant we were missing Caroline and Tyler, and Elijah and Matt are given only fly-in visits. I understand the need to concentrate on a few characters at a time and admire the show’s ability to drop characters with whom they have nothing interesting to do that week, but it means someone’s favourite is missing every week. Having said that, the tactic served this episode well since it meant we could focus almost entirely on the Originals on the one hand, and Damon and Elena’s college trip on the other.

The college trip is where the love triangle action kicks in, as Elena is taken on an undead crash course by the most professional blood-sucker she knows. I might sound a little cynical, but her excuses for not letting Caroline or Stefan help her out were a little weak. The writers at this point seem to be playing with us and, if I hear Elena cry out about Stefan straight after sharing a moment with his brother one more time, I’m seriously going to cry foul. If the writers want her to be with Stefan, then they should commit. Instead, as with all teen-centric shows that include a popular love triangle, they insist on stringing both sets of fans along in fear of losing a large chunk of their audience. 

The scenes between the two of them were all geared towards baiting the starved shippers, but there were some interesting insights into Elena’s rebooted character buried underneath the sexy dancing and blood-stained chests. With Bonnie catching the two of them having a very dark moment together, Elena comes to her senses and leaves the party. It disgusts her so much to be acting like a vampire that she’s as broken up as we’ve seen her all season, but Damon’s on hand to give her a reverse pep talk. He tells her that the trick to not killing is to revel in the feeding. Stefan doesn’t know how to have fun, and so can’t control himself when the blood-lust kicks in, but I hope Elena’s character goes further down this road.

This leads me to our brand new character, Professor Shane, who’s primed to be Bonnie’s magical mentor for the rest of the season. The final scene reveals that he has more to do with Mystic Falls than we first thought, but we’ll have to see where the character fits into the already overflowing cast of creatures. I have high hopes for the series in general after the revelations brought to us this week, but just wish Elena would settle on a boyfriend already.

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Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Rager, here.

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