Home Featured TV Shows All TV Shows Movie Reviews Book Reviews Articles Frequently Asked Questions About Us

Vampire Diaries: The Birthday

“Never let that go.”

The Vampire Diaries, and especially Mystic Falls, resembles the Hotel California. Even dying won’t get you out. But even if characters rarely really leave our show, they can still leave one another, which is nearly as heartbreaking. Elena’s eighteenth birthday resulted in one loss after another—some of which she doesn’t even realize yet—and even more for Damon.

Sheriff Forbes is working with Elena (via Caroline) to track Klaus. Damon has been investigating the leads without telling Elena, which means Elena is frustrated at Damon, and that Damon is not working with Sheriff Forbes. (So I guess they haven’t made up.) Damon has been hiding his detective activities from Elena because he knows the trail of bodies leads to Stefan, not Klaus.

Stefan has been going “full-blown Ripper,” which means feeding himself into a blind rage, dismembering his victims, and then piecing them back together in fits of remorse. To which I say: OMFG. That is frakkin’ dark. No wonder “on the wagon” Stefan was so morose so often. He has a lot of baggage. (Random historical side note: unlike some other on-again, off-again vampire boyfriends, Stefan is exactly the same person when evil as he is when good. No magic, just the blood habit and the resultant blood lust. It’s all Stefan. No excuses.)

Damon knows this, and experiences some of Stefan’s ruthlessness firsthand in the death of Andie, Ace Reporter. Sure, Stefan is acting under Klaus’s direction and to keep his friends and loved ones safe. But our heroes have defeated Big Bads before: why won’t Stefan trust his friends to find a solution eventually? Does a part of him enjoy the cycle of blood and guilt? He didn’t have to kill Andie, after all. Does Stefan like being miserable? Does he enjoy feeling bad about gorging, because it feels like penance, which gives him an excuse to do it again? (Lord, give me chastity, but just not yet.)

Damon probably knows that, too. His best side really does come out in emergencies: covering Stefan’s tracks, trying to keep Elena safe and ignorant. That didn’t last too long, of course. It’s probably for the best that Elena knows what Stefan is doing, but I wish she and Damon would connect a bit more. They’ve both lost Stefan, but Damon doesn’t seem to be willing to open up to Elena. Andie, Ace Reporter, was an excuse to stay distant from her. Will Damon get closer (emotionally, if not physically) to Elena as they pursue Stefan and Klaus? Or is his head still spinning from the “I thought he was going to die” kiss? And how intense was the scene where he put the vervain necklace on Elena?

Despite all the vampire shenanigans, it was Alaric leaving Elena’s house that really got to me. Sure, she’s eighteen. That doesn’t mean she’s ready to be alone, without a single parental figure, raising her little brother. Alaric isn’t screwing up as much as he thinks. Being at the party was a lawsuit (or a pink slip) waiting to happen. But Elena, Jeremy, Matt, Caroline, and even Tyler have bigger problems than a few joints and some beer pong. Alaric should be there for them. Someone needs to be. (I’m also having flashbacks to this, and all the chaos that resulted in the authority figure leaving.)

Alaric is not leaving Mystic Falls, of course. He will, hopefully, still trade quips with Damon, and eventually get his hair trimmed and his clothes dry-cleaned. Damon’s loss—of Andie, of Stefan’s companionship, of closeness with Elena after the awkward kiss and her discovery of his detective work—means he could sure use some history-teacher bromantic camaraderie.

Meanwhile: Caroline and Tyler hooked up. Caroline is smokin’ hot. Tyler is boring. And his mother evidently didn’t get the memo that vampires are cool: she shot Caroline! What an awesome cliffhanger to the emotional climax of the previous act.

Also meanwhile: Jeremy is still seeing the ghosts of his ex-girlfriends, and he hasn’t told Elena about it. I’m counting that as a loss in Elena’s scorecard: she will resent not knowing, especially now that Matt does know. Sort of.

Thirdly meanwhile: Klaus wants to make a bunch of vampire-werewolf hybrids, and is willing to use a dartboard to do it.

Bites:

• Is anyone else overthinking the passage of time? I swear the events of last season only took a few months, but now it’s summer again, and it has only been two months since Stefan left...

• Did Elena get prettier?

• This week’s hair report: Jeremy is more coiffed (and more buffed), Damon needs a trim, and Alaric has lost his razor again!

• Was Jeremy driving one of the new Fiats? They’re very cute.

• This was awfully grown-up for an 8pm show: near-naked sex, severed heads, pot…

And Pieces:

• Damon: “What if I was indecent?”

• Damon: “Too quiet.”

• Damon: “It’s your party. You can cry if you want to.”

• Damon: “You don’t want that. You want the cheap young stuff over by the cheap young people.”

• Alaric: “I am the chaperone teacher from hell.”

• Alaric: “Your fake, compelled girlfriend wants you to be a chivalrous boyfriend?”
Damon: “Well, it’s a complicated dynamic. Hold the fort down, will you?”
Alaric: “You mean the fort full of my drunk history students?”
Damon: “Drink more. It’ll feel less weird.”

• Matt: “I can’t find my truck!”
Jeremy: “It’s probably a sign you shouldn’t be driving.”

Letting go, and not letting go, were definitely the theme of the week. Can our heroes let go of their past relationships? Do we want them to? Can they let go of the emotional baggage holding them back? While the Klaus threat is very real, the emotional tension created in this episode is what hit me the hardest. Everyone needs a hug. Except Stefan, of course. I like my head firmly attached.

Three out of four dartboards.

(By the way, if you want to compare tonight’s episode to True Blood, pop over to our “TB vs. VD: Which is More Infectious?” thread and join the conversation.)

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

14 comments:

  1. Excellent start to the new season!

    I can't comment as to the passage of time, because my mind is a bit fuzzy on details from last season (such as: when did Mrs Lockwood find out Caroline was a vampire?!)

    Loved your referring back to Angel and Buffy! It does make a difference that Stefan isn't "different", it's really him (and not some soulless demon) doing all this... it's a lot darker, harsher. Hurts more for everyone involved. I don't think they're going to get him back anytime soon... and if they do he's going to be even broodier than before.

    Poor Damon, he just can't seem to catch a break in the women department! To love Damon is to be doomed to die. Stay away Elena!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I thought it was a terrific premiere (and you did a terrific review of it, Josie). Damon has always been my favorite brother, but I was surprised at how much seeing Stefan this way upset me.

    Andie's death didn't make me happy, either. I liked Andie. And I liked that Damon didn't treat Andie like he did other girlfriends earlier in the series. I liked that her death upset him so much.

    And I was doing the same thing with Caroline and Tyler -- nooooo! She makes him marginally more interesting, but Caroline needs a better love interest than the two she has.

    Elena does look prettier. I didn't think that was possible.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Did Ian Somerholder cut his hair on the hiatus, he was most definitely wearing a wig in this episode.

    Sure Elena is now 18 but she hasn't even graduated high school. What is she supposed to do about money. Hopefully the local Doublemeat Palace is hiring.

    Damon and Andie felt like an actual couple this time around, should have known they were going to kill her.

    That last scene with Stefan and Elena broke my heart, but the cliffhanger pissed me off. Why do they keep hurting Caroline.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's rather nice of the CW to bring Vampire Diaries back so soon after True Blood ended. Now there's no risk of anyone suffering from vampire show withdrawal.

    Fantastic review as always, Josie. One of these day you're really going to have share the secret of how you write them so damn fast.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for agreeing with me that Tyler is boring. And wow, Mrs Lockwood took a major level in badass. I just hope she doesn't kill my beloved Caroline.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Ripper" mode Stefan is so much more interesting than old Stefan, although it is strange that Damon is the "good" brother now...

    Tyler = snooze...

    Caroline = unbelievably sexy. There is no way the writers would allow her to be killed off. Right..?

    I also though Alaric leaving because Elena is now an adult on her 18th birthday was a bit harsh!

    ReplyDelete
  7. @Mark Greig: yes, it was really great that they didn't keep us waiting.
    @Josie: what a terrific review! I missed reading your reviews on VD. I usually watch the show and read your reviews right after, and it usually makes me connect a few loose ends.
    I think Elena is prettier. She's less skinny, that's why, I guess. But poor her.. Poor Damon, poor Alaric, poor Jeremy, poor everybody, Matt included, and now poor Caroline. Damn, being a vampire hasn't been easy for her, she's got this target on hers, she's always getting hurt!
    And thumbs up for Ian Somerhalder on his great acting. I love it when Damon is heartbroken - no, wait, I really don't, but that's when SOmerhalder does his best job, giving us a very troubled Damon, adding a fantastic layer to the already loveable character. PS: For a moment I wish VD was TB, I wouldn't have minded seeing a bit more of Damon in the "my champagne is over" scene, lol.
    I think one of the major themes of this return has been let-downs. Everyone is, or will be, disappointed by someone or something. Damon's disappointed at Stefan, Elena's disappointed at Damon and will be at her brother, Alaric's disappointed at himself, but mostly for they're not sharing. They're letting each other too much in the dark,and that's never good.
    I missed Vampire Diaries and I'm very happy it's back!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hurrah VD is BACK! What a speedy review Josie :) This was a rather melancholy return, I didn't enjoy the idea that everyone has been moping over the summer and not sharing info with each other. I like that Matt is finally in the loop about the supes and is smiling more (even if it is a stoned smile), and also that he and Jeremy are hanging out. Joe Normal VD guys unite! Except it seems that Jer has gone the way of Lafayette and gained the power of seeing ex lovers from beyond the grave. Let's hope he doesn't get posessed and have to 'puke a bitch up'!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Poor Tyler gets no love on Billie Doux! I'll step up - love the character, fascinated by the arc, applaud what the writers and actor have done to develop him. Also love him with Caroline, my favourite character. So glad VD is back!
    Also can't wait to see what happens to poor Stefan this season - he has gotten SO interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Eris,

    I know, I know. I just can't make myself like him. But I'm glad some of our readers do!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hmmm, I kinda like Tyler too.

    And I am glad they don't give Stefan
    "a soul" excuse like with Angelus. Never bought into that one btw.

    Is it me, or is the whole hybrid subplot (so far) a bit boring?

    Great review Josie and hilarious too, good to know you like your head ;)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I just marathoned through the first two seasons of VD on Netflix in a week and a half... and then forced myself to take a two week break before starting season 3. But boy was this an amazing premiere! I'm going to go against the grain on this one and say that Tyler was actually interesting in this episode! And by interesting I mean not horribly boring/stupid like he was all of the last two seasons. I also liked that they put Elena in that lacy white babydoll dress, really emphasizing that she is still basically a child. She's only 18 yet she's dealing with a murderous boyfriend, an alcoholic/tormented/in love with her brother-of-boyfriend, a pot-smoking brother, and on top of that I can't believe Alaric would leave her in the lurch! I'm also loving evil Stefan- that last scene with the phone call really got to me... and then the kicker with Caroline! VD I have missed you!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great callback to the very first episode. The first time we meet Damon, he greets Stefan with, "Hello, Brother" with all the attendant snakiness that implies.

    Tables turned. The first thing Stefan says to Damon in this episode is, "Hello, Brother" and then promptly kills his "girlfriend."

    Paybacks and all that.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Here are my random thoughts on my bingewatch so far. The teenagers on this show drink like fishes, have very little parental supervision, are mostly rich, have nice houses and cars. They are thin, beautiful, have perfect skin, nice clothes, great hair. Remember the family "cabin"? It was huge and not a speck of dust anywhere. They only go to history class once in a while, don't worry about the SAT's or college, sleep wherever and with whomever they fancy without those pesky calls from Mom. Is there a single nerdy or pudgy person in Mystic Falls anywhere? It is always summer? This was not my teenager experience. I spent mine mostly in my room reading a book or doing my homework. My parties were with my church group playing Uno and drinking fruit punch. Jeremy got a job, good for him. Elena still bores me. Smile more, make a joke. Buffy had problems too, but she was still funny. Katherine I like, the Originals, not so much. Ian/Daman has perfect vampire eyebrows. Vampires can see in mirrors in this show, right? Stefan/Paul does that sad brooding thing very well. It's also nice when we get a rare smile, joke, or sweet bonding with Damon. So far, Team Stefan.

    ReplyDelete

We love comments! We actively monitor, and feed mean, nasty comments to our cats. It’s never too late to comment on an old show, but please don’t spoil future episodes for newbies.