The Vampire Diaries season 4 episode 8 review: We’ll Always Have Bourbon Street

Caroline hopes next week's mid-season finale loses the love triangles and gets The Vampire Diaries back to business...

This review contains spoilers.

4.8 We’ll Always Have Bourbon Street

I had an extreme reaction to many things that unfolded in last week’s The Vampire Diaries, and this week’s episode doesn’t go very far towards fixing the problems dredged up by the series’ suddenly made up vampire sire rules. Fans get a pretty saucy Delena scene the morning after their first encounter, but their happiness, just like Damon and Elena’s, is short-lived. I realise that a show originally pitched as ‘a girl torn between two vampire brothers’ has to have some drama, but couldn’t we have at least one week off from the perpetual love triangle?

The episode didn’t seem overly concerned with all those life or death crises that are still looming, as we spend the hour with Damon and Stefan as they take a trip to New Orleans. The point of this isn’t clear, as the one-in-a-million chance of a human being tied to a vampire has apparently happened to Damon twice. Thinking that he’d cured his former sired girlfriend back in forties, the brothers search for the witch who had promised him the problem-solving spell. The only problem is that Charlotte has been hanging around their meeting spot for seventy years, hoping he would return one day.

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This doesn’t bode well for his finally-realised relationship with Elena, who is spending the weekend with Caroline and Bonnie. The sleepover, fuelled by the extensive Salvatore wine collection, starts off in the irritatingly girly way you’d imagine (lots of giggling over absolutely nothing), and then descends into a mess of judgement and resentment. Coming mainly from Caroline, who is of course aware of the power Damon may have over her friend, it seems boys can still drive a wedge between the friendships of teenage girls, no matter how super-powered they are.

I liked how Elena brought up Caroline’s brief relationship with Damon, even it was under compulsion (or abusive/rapey/just wrong). No matter how much it seems like the writers are trying to alienate half of their audience, which is what I immediately assumed last week, I actually think this sire bond sub-plot is designed to make the Damon/Elena romance the epic couple of choice for fans. This makes them more of a forbidden romance than they’ve ever been, and has forced Stefan into an impossible situation in which he’s reacted selfishly. He may want to restore Elena to her ‘original Team Stefan factory settings’, but we’re clearly not meant to want the same.

We’re left on a cliffhanger, somewhat ruined by the teaser for next week’s mid-season finale, as Elena pushes against Damon’s desire to order her out of his life. The only way out of the sire bond, which only happens when a human has feelings for her vampire before they’re turned, is to force them to move on. This might be one rule too far in a MacGuffin-filled season that’s testing even the most experienced The Vampire Diaries fans’ patience. We already have a sire plot going on with Tyler and his hybrid army, and to introduce another variation on these rules this late in the game just insults our intelligence.

It doesn’t help that the ongoing Tyler vs. Klaus storyline is really, really dull. At this point, Caroline’s allegiances are to Stefan more than anyone else, and it’s not clear whether she and Tyler are even in a relationship anymore. We meet a new hybrid every couple of weeks, when they either get killed or turn against alpha-Tyler, and there’s absolutely no time to get to know the most important one – Hayley. Secret Circle fans will know and love Phoebe Tonkin, but those just being introduced to her as Hayley will have no sense of the actress’ talents.

She, and her relationship with Professor Shane, are the most worthwhile parts of this episode however, as it’s revealed that she’s promised him twelve un-sired hybrids in exchange for information about her biological parents. At the end of the episode she’s told that they’re actually dead, but Atticus promises her that she could see them again. I smell a resurrection plot line, which could mean that the Pastor’s assignation of the Founder’s Council was all part of a larger plan. It obviously wasn’t a random event, and I’m intrigued as to how this might play out this year.

Which is the point, isn’t it? I might be the only one, but isn’t The Vampire Diaries more interesting when it’s preoccupied with things more important than the love stories? The show is at its best when these relationship issues are wrapped up in action and intrigue, and to have several episodes entirely focused on who Elena is in love with is a big snooze for a certain section of viewers. Next week is the mid-season finale, and I really hope it gets back to business.

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