TV Report Card | 'The Vampire Diaries' Season 4 Review

Overview: Elena finally turned into a vampire which sent everyone in town in search of “the cure”. Along with finding immortality she also managed to cross hooking up with Damon off her bucket list. Question, if you are a vampire can you have a bucket list?

Storyline Development: This season felt like a reboot of the entire series as Elena’s life as a vampire began. There was so much fresh energy when the season started, so many possibilities. That feeling would quickly fade away. The push and pull of the show made for a less than smooth ride and the momentum of the series suffered greatly. For instance, Elena is a vampire.

Wait, for the first time in the mythos there is a cure for that! Elena is in love with Damon and is finally ready to admit it. Wait, it might not be legitimate because she’s suffering from sire bond syndrome! Jeremy has been killed off. Wait, for the first time a character can be brought back from the dead despite being set aflame!

Wait, no one thought about that before on the show because it took the most boring character on the show dying to incept the idea! These are just some of the examples.

You could never get used to a plot turn because the next thing you knew the rug was ripped out from under the viewers. Make a plan and stick with it. It almost felt like they were being bold with a decision and waiting to see what the fans reaction would be so they could change things accordingly.

That doesn’t make sense given the production of the show and yet that is how much of a whiplash the show would do. It’s great that they are listening to the fans however; flipping between such extremes was too tumultuous.

The cure was one of the most drawn-out wild goose chases ever depicted. The most glaring plot hole of the entire storyline was whether or not; a vampire, after taking the cure, couldn’t just be turned back into a vampire afterwards. That might be explained next season and if it was explained this season it wasn’t reinforced enough to stick with me.

For this reason, the stakes were always in question and the outcome couldn’t be invested in as a result. The idea of giving the cure to Rebekah was beyond ridiculous. She should have so many enemies that the moment she became human, they would retaliate and then the cure would’ve been wasted for no reason.

Stefan going on and on about the cure so that he could have Elena back for himself was the epitome of pathetic. At some point, Elena should’ve been advised to break out “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” for him, so that he could get the message.

As exciting as it was for Elena to finally be a vampire, it felt a little cheap because we have spent the last 4 years watching most of her friends become one already. After spending all of this time watching her be the bridesmaid instead of the bride, the momentum had shifted to just wanting an elopement.
The moral acumen of the show continued to hit new lows. Tyler’s mom was killed by Klaus and he wanted revenge for about .2 seconds. Instead, he spent the remainder of the season pouting and resenting Klaus for keeping him away from his main squeeze, Caroline. Are you freaking serious? That is how much his mother meant to him? He joins Stefan in the world known as pathetic.

As for the most morally bankrupt character, Klaus, the Showrunners believes that he is so compelling that he warrants his own spin-off. This character is not redeemable. Let us move on. If they wanted to center a show on Elijah, that would be understandable.

Choosing Klaus instead, is pushing it too far. There is nothing that could redeem the character and centering an entire show on an antagonist is nonsensical. It has to be acknowledged that the finale for the season was the best the show has ever put on and that is an accomplishment in and of itself after being 4 seasons in, at this point a veteran.  

Production Caliber: The production was nice and they did a pretty convincing job of making Atlanta feel like New York City. The quality of the show is on par with series that have twice the budget and that is because of a really talented crew that make things go far.

Performance Quality: Nina Dobrev did some of her best work this season as Elena. She has evolved into a greater finesse as an actor; her portrayal of Elena’s journey down the rabbit hole was played with subtleties that heralded a sturdier performance. She made some really strong choices by holding back from the use of over the top theatrics that would’ve been easy to rely on and crafted something more genuine as a result.

Ian Somerhalder continues to make the most out of a character that is constantly treated by the writing team as a second thought. His sarcastic humor and dark charisma has clearly translated with the viewers as his popularity is rather blatant.

Why he had to take third billing on this project continues to be perplexing especially given he was one of the most established members of the cast. Dobrev having top billing is a no brainer as she is the lead of the show but third billing? It makes no sense.

Daniel Gillies (Elijah) was magnificent every time he was utilized and that was sadly, a too rare occasion. Kat Graham showed some impressive range as Bonnie teetered on the edge of darkness. Her performance was nuanced and carried quite a few layers. She played Bonnie’s realization that she’d gone too far and her willingness to go further despite knowing that, made for a quite compelling turn.

Four seasons in and still waiting for Marguerite MacIntyre (Sheriff Forbes) to get a storyline, she always knocks it out of the park when given the opportunity. David Alpay as warlock professor Atticus Shane gave a charismatic performance that gave his character a lot more leeway than he might’ve deserved.

Musical Score: “Vampire Diaries” has one of the best soundtracks of any show and any artist, who gets played on it, can quickly acquire a very passionate fan base. It is always a thrill to hear someone that you’ve been a fan of finally get their due and get the opportunity to be played on the show. Such an event happened when Delta Rae’s “Dance in the Graveyards” was played during the finale.

The music directors are highly skilled at finding the rising stars of the singer-songwriter community. The standout music moment was difficult to narrow down and yet it was the first one I thought of. It was Ed Sheeran’s “Kiss Me” playing during the much anticipated Damon/Elena love scene. It was equal parts forlorn, sweet and angst riddled; the perfect accent piece.

Overall Grade: B+, the season swung back and forth between cold and gold. It eventual settled in an amazing finale that topped all previous excursions. It gave great hope that we are in for a much better season next year. The big issues are settled. Elena is a vampire. Elena is finally with Damon.

Jeremy is alive to die another day. Bonnie is way too good a friend. Klaus is finally off of the show, albeit on his own one. Things are looking up for “The Vampire Diaries” and all of the big issues being settled the way they have can only mean one thing, we may be looking forward to the best season yet.

[Image by The CW]