*Potential Spoilers Ahead, Turn Back Now If You Don't Want To Know
As an avid fan of The Vampire Diaries, I was looking forward to season four and how Elena and those nearest and dearest to the doe-eyed beauty would handle her new life as a vampire. Every book, show, movie, etc. has its own set of rules or mythology when it comes to the supernatural and TVD has created an intricate one throughout the program’s first three seasons. So it was obvious that Elena’s transition would be uncharted waters for the audience. Add to that, several middling villains, the world’s oldest immortal, very black magic, several love triangles and (gasp) a cure for immortality, and now it feels like the show’s creators have taken on too much. The Vampire Diaries is weeks away from the final episode of a convoluted and inconsistent season. Can TVD regain its shaky footing in the upcoming weeks and go out with its usual jaw-dropping flair, or has TVD strayed so far from the elements that made it work that even the show’s fans won’t follow?
As the season started, Elena struggled through the transition of going from human to vampire. It was disappointing to see her weak and still dependent on the Salvatore brothers for her survival. I mean Caroline was ripping the throat out of a guy less than 24 hours after she changed. As Elena projectile vomited blood that she didn’t drink from a vein and started favoring the companionship of Damon over Stefan, we learned there was a chance to get the old Elena back; a cure for immortality. Here was a way out of the demise of Elena and Stefan’s love story and a way to restore Elena to her previous doppelganger form. Never mind that the entire concept was ridiculous. Hey, Elena makes a really pathetic, crappy vampire, but we can just put her back the way she was before she drowned. As it turns out, the subsequent search for this magic elixir allowed for character development as all of TVD’s primary players have a vested interest in who ultimately takes it.
While everyone was scrambling to pinpoint the actual physical location of this cure, it was revealed that Elena’s intensified feelings for Damon were due to a sire bond; his blood was the blood that caused her to change. One contradiction to this theory that was never addressed was why Caroline didn’t have the same connection to Damon, or why none of the existing vampires, had the same tie to their creators. The point was to make Damon doubt whether Elena’s feelings for him were genuine and put him in the position of possibly losing her love if he cured her. This also gave Stefan a shred of hope that the disintegration of their previous romantic relationship might be temporary. The sire bond story line was already exhausted, having been explored in great depth through Klaus’s control over his hybrids, particularly Tyler.
Stefan hoped to keep some small part of his sweet girlfriend intact by making sure she didn’t take a human life. Like most of Stefan’s plans, this one too fell apart. It was inevitable that Elena would wind up killing someone. When Elena reached this milestone, most viewers could have guessed, or hoped, that it would be someone deserving or evil. It turned out that since it was a vampire slayer, she had to endure a curse until the new slayer, her brother Jeremy, made a his first kill. Making Jeremy flush with supernatural powers was a blessing and a curse for TVD. Getting rid of one of the few remaining re-occurring human characters eradicated a source of vulnerability for the remaining characters which also left the audience less emotionally invested. In shows of this genre, the inclusion of humans keep the protagonists grounded a bit more in reality: True Blood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teen Wolf and Supernatural all keep at least a few key characters human.
Mystic Falls hasn’t seen an infusion of many new human characters except for April Young, whose appearances have been sporadic. Not only that, but she was compelled so many times that Jeremy took pity on her and rustled her up some vervain laced jewelry. The compulsion card has been used excessively as a quick fix allowing for characters to obtain information or avoid repercussions for offenses. Katherine even managed to compel an entire town.
Another human introduced this season was Bonnie’s father, but the two aren’t close making any threat to him of less importance to his daughter than if it were Caroline or Matt. Jeremy and Elena shared a deeper bond with Alaric and they weren’t even related. As acting mayor he has some authority but when it comes to dealing with Bonnie her magic renders him impotent.Matt is still alive but his role is definitely a peripheral one at best. The writers have failed to integrate him into any major plot lines.
Once the location of the cure was revealed, almost everyone with agenda on how it should be used went to retrieve it. Of course, things went terribly wrong. Katherine Pierce reappeared, killed Jeremy and disappeared with the cure. Why would Katherine bother obtaining the cure to barter with Klaus? Even when he found her in season two, he didn’t kill her, and he hasn’t spent any time looking for her since. Because Elena’s Achilles heel as a vampire are her emotions, the death of her brother was the perfect excuse to reinvent Elena’s character traits as an immortal. So, now the” humanity switch” comes into play. It’s not literal so that leaves figurative and metaphorical. Damon compels her to turn it, off guaranteeing that she feels nothing. This has been a recurring element of TVD’s folklore. Vampires have the capacity to experience emotions or not on a whim.
So, does anybody like Elena better this way? No, not really; nobody that is except Elena. Yes, I wanted a badass Elena whose fragility didn’t always make her a target and who could kick some ass. The damsel in distress Elena was getting old. This Elena isn’t very interested in being cured as she proved by breaking Damon’s neck and taking off with former foe Rebekah to track down Katherine. Her only agenda is procuring the cure so that the Salvatore brothers don’t get it and try and force it down her throat.
Elena has fully crossed over to the dark side having killed an innocent waitress as a warning to Damon and Stefan. However, the compassionate Elena will re-emerge either because she takes the cure or she finds the balance between sappy wimp and Kill Bill nasty. Fans know she can’t stay wicked forever. Why doesn’t Damon compel her back into feeling? Elena lacked the free will to flip her own switch but then she burns her house down, gets a fetching new look and all of a sudden has complete control over whether she ever chooses to feel again.
While a great deal of attention is being paid to Elena’s permanent case of PMS, Silas, who has awakened, is starting to slowly wreak havoc in Mystic Falls. He has both Klaus and Bonnie on team Silas and isn’t far from unleashing a flood of formerly deceased supernatural beings from their purgatory-type resting place and out into the world. Silas shares a strong resemblance with the biggest bad ever fought during Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s seven seasons, The First, which could also assume the form of any person it chose. Although, the unleashing hell on earth was more Glory’s speed in season five of Buffy. One area where TVD has always excelled has been in having a unique voice and carving its own niche. When I watch it and am reminded of another show, it’s disappointing.
Is it possible to restore some order in Mystic Falls? One thing is certain; the cure is taken by a vampire in the season finale. It is easy to narrow that list knowing that Damon, Klaus and Caroline have no interest in becoming human again. Klaus is also off to New Orleans for his own spin-off The Originals, and what fun would he be mortal?
Since new alliances have formed and familiar faces have returned, the group is fractured by more than Elena’s bad behavior and Bonnie’s inability to control her use of black magic. They are going to have to find a way to work together to prevent Silas from his ultimate goal. Is it too late to give Silas the cure, or will the mystical potion wind up consumed by the original immortal as intended when it was created? Plec also hints that some familiar faces (Jeremy? Tyler?) might return and even play a pivotal role in restoring Elena’s humanity.
I’ll continue to watch and hope that a very uneven season finishes strong. Since it is The Vampire Diaries, I don’t expect a happy ending for all, if any, of the characters. I’m just hoping the death toll is minimal, that gimmicks like compulsion and flipping switches are replaced with more traditional vampire characteristics and Elena stops acting like such a bitch.