The Vampire Diaries 4.02 "Memorial"

A tv review article by: Shawn Hill


I was looking forward to this episode. TVD often starts weak and then picks up steam, and settling in more deeply to Elena’s new vampire status is only going to strengthen this new direction for the show. How do you have your beautiful perfect heroine also be a ravening creature who preys on other humans, sometimes out of her very control? You can’t have it both ways, having Elena be different than every other vampire ever, no matter how much Stefan wants that. Damon, every the truth-sayer, knows that’s not possible. So as usual, the boys are opposed with Elena in the middle.

But what one forgets is that Elena is, always, her own person. Though her choice is often self-sacrifice, it’s her choice. Just as loving a vampire was her choice. Just as working with Klaus and Elijah when she thought it pragmatic was her choice. She’s always been incredibly sensual, in the sense of making all her decisions from an emotive base. She always knows how she’s feeling, and that’s actually the part that scares Stefan the most: who does she become if she turns off her humanity (in horror at herself), the way he has so many times as Ripper? Is she still Elena without any feelings at all?

That’s so not a problem yet, however, because the bigger problem is that Elena’s body wants one thing only, and that is human blood. Not animal blood. Not recycled Damon blood. But fresh from living veins human blood. The scenes of her upchucking the wrong red stuff are pretty graphic and horrible, as in you know she wore the unusual pink lace dress at the beginning of the episode just so she could mess it up with dark red stains sooner rather than later. When Damon brings a change of clothes to the church (yes, in honor of the recently kabloo-ied Council, there’s a Mystic Falls Memorial Ceremony already under way; these locals are like lambs to slaughterhouses of their own devising, time and time again!), it’s back to basic black which just makes so much more sense.

There’s also a new player in town, an intense bald dude I first took for a witch (witches tend to be part of black family lines on this show), but he’s more a vampire hunter with some sort of trickery literally up his sleeve (Jeremy can see his tattoos, invisible to non-I-see-dead-people normals in town). His magic gloves reveal who’s supernatural or not with a handshake, at which point he instantly pops out a wooden bullet gun and starts firing. And nobody arrests this freak because he’s only shooting at supernaturals, who aren’t really there anyway? This is one f-ed up town.

Tyler, the first victim (saved by his hybridity as a vamp-wolf), takes it like a man, and refuses to hide his head even when the likelihood of being targeted remains high. In fact he does his most heroic act ever at the memorial (next to surviving the horrible pain of his monthly wolfing out), taking one for the team by making himself a target. I love that there’s a team now, and he knows he’s part of it. Of course he’d use a sports metaphor to explain it, but that’s just Tyler.

In other significant news, Elena is not yet targeted, because Matt clandestinely feeds her (maybe he’ll start getting over his guilt at her death now), and even better, when she comes across a wounded potential victim, Caroline uses her year of experience as a vamp to talk Elena out of monster-mode and into nurturing caregiver mode, pretty much saying: “She isn’t food, she’s your friend.” As timid as this show can be with Elena refusing to chase and hunt little bambies in the woods, it gets quite gross and direct when it needs to. She even has trouble using her super-speed, which is just too coy where we’ve seen Katherine rip out people’s spines.

Sentimentality is at issue, as the memorial becomes a lantern lighting exercise where everyone mourns the dead who still haunt the show (Anna, Vicky, Alaric, Elena and Jer’s parents, Tyler’s dad, Caroline’s dad, Bonnie’s gram, Lexie, Alaric, Jenna and mostly, Alaric) except for Damon, who goes to talk to Alaric’s grave and get drunk. He’s not feeling the na├»ve wishes of the “children” and Alaric’s ghost even hears him, which is a pretty cool touch.

On the Salvatore front, Stefan punches Damon for giving blood to Elena (which is a sensual experience between vamps), and Elena hides her suffering from Stefan but tells Damon, it’s all their usual “you’re perfect but bad boys are hot” junk, I’m going to stop talking about it until all three wind up in bed where they belong. She loves them both, why should vamps (who openly scoff at holy water and crosses; in fact, someone’s blood drips into the baptismal font throughout the entire episode) have to worry about anything resembling human morality? Those two need to finally leave the Civil War behind.

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

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