The Vampire Diaries 4.01 "Growing Pains"

A tv review article by: Shawn Hill


God, I hate Klaus. That guy is such a complete tool. Admittedly, he’s easier to take in Tyler’s hot body, and Michael Trevino runs with the (all too-short) chance to channel Klaus through his much more jock-ular form. Unsurprisingly, Vampire Barbie figures out he’s Not-Tyler pretty quickly, and when that jig is up (and thus the chance to get willingly into her pants), Klaus is ready to kill his borrowed body if it will get him back in his own (charred, but otherwise still intact) body sooner rather than later. As Caroline would say, what a freak!

All of that mumbo jumbo involves Bonnie continuing to tap into her new besties the Dark Arts, so much that a visitation from ghostly Grandma Whitley (wow, was A Different World really so long ago that Jasmine Guy could be this little girl’s grandma? Technically, I suppose so, if everybody got busy as teens; well, it is set in Virginia) is called for, one that doesn’t go well on any plane of existence.

What’s she’s trying to do, despite Klaus’ pestering, is keep Elena from becoming a full vamp. There’s our A-plot. As everyone knows this is the season where that happens irrevocably, so there are just mostly silly delaying tactics underfoot until she gets her first, game-changing taste of blood. They really make her work for it, which is odd, because she doesn’t seem that conflicted about it happening, distracted for most of the episode by the sensory overload that accompanies the transition.

We’ve already seen Caroline’s dad make the noble sacrifice, once bitten, to not drink human blood and die a real death. But Elena hardly knows she’s a vampire now at all, she acts (as always) on pure instinct. The message of the show, already expressed so eloquently by Vampire Barbie in her every waking moment, is that unlike in other vampire fictions (I’m thinking of the Vampire Lestat, for example, where his first love Nicki became a monster after the change, and Louis became a whiny moper for all eternity, or Buffy, where almost no one gets to survive their demonic possession), becoming a blood-drinker doesn’t alter one’s essential nature, just amplifies it (and gives you nifty non-human gifts).

One of which is the power of immunity to other vampire charms: so we’re more concerned this episode with Elena realizing all the times Damon messed with her mind (often for either her or his own good) than we are about whether she’s going to jump at some fresh neck. And the one time she does vamp out, it’s to save Matt (ridiculously blaming himself for Elena’s “death”) from a bitter Damon, IE to attack another vampire, not a human.

Which means I can’t wait for her and Katherine to come into contact, as I really doubt there will be much purpose to two Evil Elena’s vamping around. They’re going to be as at odds as ever, only this time Elena can’t be physically hurt.

The brothers at least cleave to their essential natures, Damon ever the fatalist about Elena’s demise, already looking for revenge, while Stefan broods and hopes and wishes things were some other way. No, she didn’t choose this destiny, Stefan, but she will still choose to live, always.

It’s more bad news for Rebekah, I’m afraid, as she’s held captive with Elena and Stefan and realizes all over again how much luckier Elena is than she, with her family of rabid dogs. She does at least make sure Klaus (who lets her get captured in favor of Caroline) can’t raise any more hybrid dogs of his own, gleefully destroying his last bags of Elena’s human blood. Best move she ever made.

Did I forget anyone? Oh, the villains, a trumped up posse of vamp-haters whipped into shape by Alaric, who briefly arrest the Mayor and the Sherriff before literally going up in flames. I’m actually not sure what that last weird cult-like note was all about, we’ve never seen this Reverend or his flock before, and I wouldn’t put it past them to revive them as fire demons or vengeful ghosts or who knows what other mystic malady to befall Mystic Falls. The writers do like drownings, burials and deaths by fire; this episode was neither a reset button nor a clear new direction, just one major change for the main character that has many more acts to unfold.

Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at

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