Recap: ‘The Vampire Diaries’: Remembering the fallen
If I don’t start this review with the end of the episode, I’ll be disappointing myself, disrespecting Matt Davis and cheating everyone who felt a little piece of their heart ripped away last season when Alaric Saltzman – beloved history teacher, vampire hunter, husband, guardian, friend and brother – was killed.
Tonight’s episode, aptly titled “Memorial,” saw a return to the roots of ‘The Vampire Diaries.’ There were no Originals – just the core group of characters we’ve grown to know and love over the course of the last three seasons coming together to mourn their fallen. There were references to the many, many people they’ve lost along the way, including the aforementioned Alaric, but also Jenna, Lexi, Grams, Anna, Vicki and Caroline and Tyler’s fathers. Like I said, the many.
But this wouldn’t be an episode of ‘The Vampire Diaries’ if some asshole didn’t show up and ruin the beautiful moment.
Tonight’s episode saw the arrival of the new vampire hunter in town, Connor (Todd Williams) – and he’s not a man to be trifled with, as Damon quickly found out. He’s not your average run of the mill vampire hunter. If Alaric Saltzman was Buffy Summers – tough and dutiful, but also liked to mingle with the undead from time to time – then Connor is Kendra, without the whole being killed by Drusilla thing.
Connor is all business, first methodically exploring the burnt out Young/Pastor Crazy Pants farmhouse and finding a letter addressed to someone named April. From there he makes the rounds to meet with the the two remaining Council members, Sheriff Forbes and Mayor Lockwood. Carol, having grown bolder and wiser since the start of the series, recognizes there’s something off about Connor and refuses him entry into the house.
Tyler, sensing there was a disturbance in the force, stops attempting to get Caroline to have sex (she feels bad about getting it on because a lot of people, who no one every really talked or cared about before last week, died – I know, I don’t get it either. Those same people also tried to kill her friends, but whatever, Caroline is Caroline.) gets dressed and attempts to protect his mother. But Connor’s gloves are either doused in vervain or spelled and when Tyler shakes his hand, he immediately recoils in pain and Connor pulls out a gun and plugs a few wooden bullets right into my favorite hybrid’s chest (sorry, Klaus, you’re too emotionally unstable for me. Get some meds, see a therapist … then we’ll talk.)
But Connor’s asshole tendencies don’t stop there. He’s a man on a mission – and that mission is to kill all of my favorite people. He shows up to the memorial service for the recently blown to bits and shanks April, whom we’ve learned is the daughter of Pastor Crazy Pants and also a girl Elena used to babysit before she was shipped off to boarding school.
I, of course, immediately like April because, well, she’s immensely likeable, she’s innocent and doesn’t know about the supernatural community that makes up most of the population of the town. But also because she’s a nice reminder that these folks actually had lives and other friends before Stefan and Damon returned to town.
So Connor shanks her and leaves her to bleed out in the balcony of the church in order to draw out the vampire population of Mystic Falls. But our vamps are smarter than that and refuse to fall for his tricks. Elena, confused about why she can’t keep any blood down (seriously – girl vomited an insane amount of blood that would probably make all those doctors on those medical shows go, “Hmmmm.”) and confused about where her good friend April ran off to, gets up on her behalf to say some kind words about Pastor Crazy Pants – because everyone, no matter if they tried to kill you several days ago, deserves to have nice things said about them at their funerals.
But in the middle of her speech she smells April’s blood and finds it hard to concentrate. She’s starving since she can’t keep any blood down and Super Boyfriend Stefan jumps in to save the day by ushering her away from the pulpit and pretending she’s overcome with grief and not simply wanting to rip the throat out of April’s leaking body. Stefan leads her back to the pew where she struggles to control her thirst. Being the best pudding pop he could be, and possibly still feeling incredibly guilty that he lived while Elena died, Matt offers to let her drink from him. Which she does. In public. In a church, no less!
Damon, as he is wont to do, decides that he’s had enough and wants to make a move on Connor. Dude has had enough. So Tyler awkwardly interrupts the chorus and gives a pointed speech about being part of a team and basically taking one for said team. Since Tyler is the only known vampire (I don’t think Connor knows about him being a hybrid, or even a werewolf for that matter) at this point, Connor shoots Tyler in the chest with a stake and hightails it out of the church.
Now, I’m definitely no expert on decorum, but shooting someone in the middle of a memorial service seems like a big no-no to me. And apparently to Damon, who follows Connor to his truck and attacks him. But Connor is too fast for Damon (say what?!) and he shoots him in the chest. Somehow this all goes unnoticed by everyone running from the building, but hey, this is Mystic Falls, these people have incredible selective hearing/sight/etc.
Stefan arrives at Damon’s side to make sure he’s OK and not totally dying, and once he discerns that his brother will live, straight up punches him. Because once Damon realized Elena couldn’t keep animal blood down (she went to Damon with this problem, not wanting to worry Stefan) and she refused to feed on a human, he let her feed on him.
As anyone who knows anything about vampire lore, blood sharing is supposed to be very meaningful and intimate. Elena doesn’t really seem to care, but Damon sure does. It’s obvious in the way he caresses her as she feeds on him. Knowing that the entire thing would piss Stefan off, Damon warns Elena not to tell him. But because he’s Damon, he waited about 35 seconds before telling him himself. So, alas, he gets punched by his baby bro – and then the two are totally cool.
The episode ends, as I bring this recap full circle, with a memorial service for the fallen. Elena is overwhelmed by everything that’s happened as her compassion is the characteristic that’s been magnified by her transformation. Stefan suggests the group gather and mourn the loss of their friends and family by lighting Japanese lanterns and releasing them into the sky (so very typical Stefan).
Damon, however, is having none of their childish shenanigans and wanders off to drink alone in the old cemetery at Alaric’s tombstone. Now, if the episode had simply ended with Damon confiding to Alaric’s tombstone, I’d have been perfectly happy. I love seeing Damon struggling with the lost of his best friend. The two of them shared one of the greatest bromances I’ve ever seen, and I was worried the writers would gloss over Alaric’s death and Damon would somehow just be fine.
Therefore, to see him mourning – both at the bar as he told numerous people that the seat next to him was taken, and again at the grave – made the episode for me. So imagine my excitement and surprise when the camera panned over to show Alaric’s ghost sitting next to Damon, listening to him rant and rave about how he didn’t get the girl and how without Alaric around he now has to stick around town and babysit the kids.
Seeing Matt Davis again so soon … I’m kind of at a loss for words. I always knew we’d see Alaric again, but I didn’t expect it to be in the second episode of the season. If you’ve read any of my reviews and recaps from last season, you know how much Alaric meant to me and how his death affected me. So to see my favorite character return from the dead (again!) made me the happiest little weirdo around. And because I couldn’t watch the episode until 10 PM, I am both shocked and outraged that none of you spilled the beans to me beforehand. But I’m also very happy that I wasn’t spoiled for his return because it made it that more beautiful. Alaric telling Damon as he walked away, “I miss you too, buddy,” just about had me in tears.
Some stray observations:
- Jeremy is the only person who can see Connor’s tattoo, and according to Julie Plec, it has nothing to do with being able to see ghosts, but rather something else that we will soon learn about the younger Gilbert.
- As happy as I was to see Alaric, a part of me is very sad to think that he’s alone on the other side, unable to communicate with anyone (aside from Jeremy). To sit around and watch your friends trying to pick up the pieces after you’re gone has to be painful and sad for Alaric. I wonder if he’s made himself visible to Jeremy yet?
- Elena compelled her first person – April. And she was so proud of herself when she did it. I hope Caroline continues as her Vampire Newbie Mentor. Because Team Salvatore just ain’t hacking it.
- Anyone interested in starting an office pool regarding how long it takes for Connor to become a member of the Mystic Falls version of the Scooby Gang? Because somehow, no matter how evil any of these antagonists are, they always seem to find a way to either fall in line with our favorite band of supernatural misfits or embed themselves in our hearts. I don’t know if it’s the writing or the acting, but somehow, no matter how evil they are, at the end of the day I find myself loving them, respecting them and completely understanding where they’re coming from. I should probably see someone about that, right?
What did you guys think? Were you as happy as I was to see Matt Davis’ beautiful face again? Do you think he’ll eventually be back for more episodes (because, let’s face it, there’s a multitude of storytelling opportunities now)? What did you think of Connor? And seriously, when is Bonnie going to bite it?
Note: Photo courtesy of the CW.