The Vampire Diaries Review: “Stand By Me” (Season 4, Episode 15)

From start to finish this episode of The Vampire Diaries delivers. Fourteen mediocre episodes and forty-two minutes makes up from every useless second of dragged out plot line.

It’s sad that the best episodes of this show revolve around the death of a major character e.g. season 2 with Aunt Jenna (Sara Canning) and Uncle John (David Anders), and season 3 with Alaric (Matt Davis), but on a show so tied to life and death it’s almost unavoidable. That’s not to say there haven’t been powerful moments anchored around love and hope, because that would be ignoring some key moments in the development of the series – however, some of the most powerful episodes of The Vampire Diaries are arguably ones of involving loss. And nothing helps to reinvest us in the character of Elena more then watching her suffer through the loss of yet another person she loves.

Elena (Nina Dobrev) has been an emotional train-wreck since she escaped death and awoke as a vampire at the beginning of the season. She has lost virtually everyone that she cared about family-wise already, and even though I was sure Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) would somehow escape death – he is now gone too. Elena has been essentially motivated by two things this season. One being her love for Damon (Ian Somerhalder) – which she finally allowed herself to admit – and two being her sense of responsibility for her brother.

We watched Elena choose at the end of last season to return to Mystic Falls to say goodbye to Stefan (Paul Wesley) when she thought his death was imminent over going to Damon. A choice that in dramatic fashion she ultimately paid for with her own human life. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Elena fell out of romantic love with Stefan. If she had been willing to admit her feelings for Damon and headed further out of town to where he was – alone at that – she would have never crossed Rebekah’s (Claire Holt) path, and still have been able to be a part of Jeremy’s life without all the hassle. With the uncontrollable tendencies associated with being adjusting to vampire life, Jeremy’s safety was a concern from the start. Although it soon after Jeremy took on the hunter’s mark and the threat was reversed. All of these events stemming from her decision led them to search for the cure which caused Jeremy’s death – so in a roundabout way, Elena is at least partially responsible for all this.

Regardless, losing Jeremy is the straw that broke the camel’s back. We are about to see a side of Elena that has never been fully developed before and will probably look a lot more like Katherine then the Elena we think we know. I’d wager that she would even give Katherine a run for her money now. Now that she doesn’t have her humanity, the characteristics that we’ve become accustomed to – and sometimes are completely annoyed by – are no longer restricting her behavior. She is about to find out what it’s like to really be a vampire. One with no sense of right or wrong, who throws compassion out of the window.

Character development is a big part of what keeps a series interesting and propels it forward. Happily ever after is for the end of fairy tales, not long running television shows. The Vampire Diaries is long overdue for a twist – and an Elena with no reservations sounds like an excellent choice. Beyond that we have the body snatching/imitating Silas to look forward to. He’s already convinced Bonnie (Kat Graham) of her limited option to join his side, and who knows who else he’ll try to recruit next.

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