The Vampire Diaries: Welcome to Paradise Review

After keeping the stakes high for weeks, The Vampire Diaries nails it in Welcome to Paradise. Here is our review.

The Vampire Diaries nailed it this week. In fact, my beloved Teen Wolf, which made so much this past season of exploring the more human elements of its ensemble, should look up and take notice. That’s right — let the streets know, The Vampire Diaries perfectly landed the tricky “teenage” element of the supernatural teenage drama. That may not seem like much of an accomplishment to someone who isn’t passionate about the genre, but it’s not something to gloss over in a fit of dismissive cynicism.

A supernatural teenage drama (okay, mostly we’re talking about melodramas, yes) has to be hyper-vigilant where its story is concerned. True, an attention to story never hurt any form of serialized entertainment, but a supernatural teenage drama lives or dies on the knife’s edge of its story. It’s got to be well-ordered, cohesive, and well-maintained. In order to keep the stakes (ha, I said stakes in an article about The Vampire Diaries –– but no time to laugh about it now) appropriately high from week to week, this can mean sacrificing things like a character’s emotional journey. That happens on Teen Wolf almost every single episode.

It’s one thing to put your head down in a crisis and just get through it, but every human falls apart — even those contending with the supernatural. Buffy the Vampire Slayer handled this extremely well and often. Remember when Buffy basically went into a total depressive state after being brought back to life? The show didn’t back away from that stuff, they grappled with it because they knew that, if handled well, it could be just as compelling as monster of the week.

This week on The Vampire Diaries, while we technically visited hell (can we call the ‘90s era place where Bonnie and Damon are dwelling hell? Just for clarity’s sake?) and hunted vampires and/or fled from vampire hunters, the emotional focus of the episode was on Elena moving on to a new and presumably Damon-free chapter of her life. It was nice to see a less tortured Elena fannying about the show’s peripheries, but not as nice as it was to see Caroline and Stefan’s situation become more fraught.

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At this point, storywise and my own desires aside, it seems like a romantic relationship between the Caroline and Stefan is inevitable. Caroline ugly-cried over Stefan for two episodes in a row: As far as TV goes, they are as good as engaged. It was a fun foil to Damon and Bonnie bickering in hell. Though newcomer Kai indicates that their fighting must mean they care about each other more than they let on, this didn’t set off any new relationship warning flags for me about a potential new-couple alert. Damon’s prickly with EVERYONE, especially with the people he cares about. By Kai’s logic, for all we know Damon still has a shrine built to Alaric up in his private dressing chamber which he contemplates daily while fondling himself. As entertaining as that premise may be, it’s also highly unlikely.

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4 out of 5