The Vampire Diaries 3.11 "Our Town"

A tv review article by: Shawn Hill

Elena, Bonnie and Matt throw a surprise party for Caroline's 18th birthday. When Stefan and Damon can't agree on how to deal with Klaus, Stefan decides to test out his plan. Elena tells Bonnie that Jeremy's leaving town. Alaric runs into Dr. Fell at a Founder's meeting. Tyler is surprised when Klaus doesn't object at his refusal to go along with Klaus' latest demand.

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8:00 on the CW.

This is the episode the show was trying to do with the season opener. Who knew it wasn't Elena's birthday we needed to worry about, but Caroline's instead? And isn't Klaus just the slightest bit more interesting when he's conniving with those ever-corrupt town founders, rather than just ruthlessly killing everyone who crosses him? He's much easier to take as a wheeler-and-dealer than as the vampire antichrist, not to mention giving the actor much more interesting scenes than just telling everyone they're already dead, they just don't know it, blah blah blah.

It's Caroline's 18th, but as she puts it, she "technically" died before she got there, and she's stuck to live the "filler year" of 17 forever more. That's the point that really brings home the various curses of Mystic Falls to our young team of conflicted near-adults, because however many balloons and cakes and pointy hats Elena buys to commemorate the occasion, their hearts just aren't in the celebration that would have been were they not now a hybrid wolf-vamp (Tyler), a witch (Bonnie), a vampire (Caroline), Klaus's blood bank (Elena) or the one-time boyfriend of innocent Elena (Matt).

So instead of a party, they decide to have a funeral, and head to the graveyard. That's really what I've been waiting for, without knowing it, for this clan to embrace their changes. After all, they're irrevocable, and there's no going back. Even Matt, who was willing to sacrifice his life already to help Elena this season, knows that. It's macabre and creepy, but also very teenage and cool, and they still bring along the cake and the cards, plus tequila (courtesy of Matt, who thinks ahead more than we knew)! It's just that at this party, Bonnie gets to light the candles without a match, and Caroline gets to begin to say goodbye to her old life. Is she really going to stay Vampire Barbie forever?

On the Klaus front, Stefan is still screwing with him and his coffins, nobody can get inside the mysterious locked one, and as Stefan begins killing off hybrids one-by-one (not the best strategy, as Damon points out, since Klaus can always make more as long as he has Elena's blood), he comes up with a new complication. Rather than kill everyone in town, he goes to the Founders Council (wouldn't you know it, this week's meeting coincides with the Wickery Bridge Restoration Fundraiser, even Alaric is like "can we ever just have a meeting rather than a popular event?") directly and offers his protection if they tolerate his hybrids. It's smarmy and creepy, but it's probably one of the most interesting things Klaus has ever done.

And the surprises don't stop coming from him this week, as he mournfully locks Rebekah away, seems to relent on urging Tyler to kill Caroline (his bite is deadly to vamps, which is bad news since he and Caroline get pretty frisky when they have alone time), and then offers to save her when Tyler "accidentally" bites her anyway. He goes all Vampire Lestat for a second, promising Caroline a "life" of international beauty and immortal majesty, but only if she'll drink his blood and choose to live. That he does this tenderly and generously is sort of the worst part of all.

The Sherriff and Damon are not on board with all this Klaus collaboration, and they have another problem. Our new doctor, Meredith Fell, continues to put the moves on lonely Alaric, but somebody has executed her old boyfriend, vampire style. Only he wasn't a vamp.

And while that mystery is starting up, there's a lot more going on with that bridge location, as Elena ends up there with both Stefan and Matt for very different reasons. The bridge where her parents died. The bridge where Stefan saved her life before she knew who he was. And of course the metaphorical bridge from her old life to her new life, only she's just now realizing it's okay to cross it. This episode is complicated and busy, but it's also deep and poetic, making it among the best of the season.


Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at http://cornekopia.net.

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