‘Vampire Diaries’ Recap: Growing Pains



Becoming a vampire isn’t as sexy as it once seemed. Sure, it comes with a heightened sex drive (and Elena’s sudden desire for hot, vampire sex in the woods might suggest), but for Elena, it also comes with one very uncomfortable side effect: vomit. Lots of vomit. And she’s not throwing up a sandwich, or something normal that we could handle. She’s throwing up blood, and she’s throwing up often. It’s all just part of the growing pains of a baby doppelganger vampire, I suppose.

The Vampire Diaries is practically a new show now that its protagonist, Elena, has gone all pointy-toothed. Season 1 through 3 were all about Elena coming to terms with and learning the ways of the supernatural world, to the point that she even started arming herself and learning her to defend herself from blood-sucking tormentors. Now, she’s completed that journey. She picked Stefan and with that, ended her mortal path. With her change to vampire, she’s starting a whole new life, and while she’s “chosen” Stefan, her life, her mentality, her needs are all different. She’s on a new path of learning, and it’s not just about learning to drink blood for sustenance.

That is, however, a big step in her new life, and one that Stefan is certain he knows how to teach. After going on more than one ripper rant a few times in his life, the last thing Stefan wants to do is teach Elena a feeding method that could send her off the deep end and turn off her humanity. He takes her into the woods, where he teaches her to feed on animals, but as Damon told him, it doesn’t work.

Damon insists that as a baby vampire, Elena needs to feed from a human vein and that she needs to learn control rather than avoiding the situation altogether. (And in truth, Damon is actually making a lot of sense. It’s like teaching someone to ride a bike by showing them pictures of one.) Still, Stefan is sure she can subsist on Bambis and Thumpers alone. The problem is, she can’t.

When her heightened sensibilities ramp up her sex drive and she pins Stefan against a tree, all the excitement forces her to throw up the deer blood she just drank, but she hides this fact from Stefan, choosing instead to confide in Damon.

When Elena hears of Pastor Young’s murder suicide with the council, she rushes to question Damon at the Mystic Grill, where he denies having anything to do with it. (And gives the lamest Damon line ever, “Am I wearing my ‘I blew up the council t-shirt?’”) But it seems Elena didn’t really approach him to talk about the council. She has other motives: she wants his help. He tries to get her to drink from one of the Mystic Grill patrons, but she won’t, so he offers another solution: She can drink his blood. Students of vampire lore know that drinking a vampire’s blood is an erotic act, though Damon only tells Elena it’s “personal.” She quickly takes his easy out and drinks from his hand while he leans his head back in a repose that suggests ultimate pleasure. This scene is almost too erotic for network television. (Not that I’m complaining.)

And as selfishly brilliant as Damon’s plan was, it doesn’t work. Elena attends the memorial services for the fallen council members and all it takes is touching the wrist of Pastor Young’s daughter, April, when Elena tries to comfort her to send her into a vomiting fit once more. She throws up blood all over the church bathroom, and her conspicuously light pink dress, and Damon comes to the rescue with a darker, black dress. A signal of her transition, perhaps?

The problem is that while Elena’s dealing with this feeding issue, the council’s antics have drawn out a vampire hunter, who’s yet to get a name, so for now we’ll call him Buffy. Buffy arrives in town ready to take down vamps, and he catches Tyler in no time. During a visit to the Mayor’s house, he shake’s Tyler’s hand with a vervain-soaked glove and then shoots him in the chest with wooden, vervain soaked bullets. Tyler goes to Stefan’s for help and Stefan realizes the bullets have interesting markings when he begins to pull them out of Tyler’s chest. Bonnie later confirms that the markings aren’t magical, which means we’re dealing with a new form of evil.

After failing to capture and kill Tyler, Buffy seeks to ferret out vamps at the memorial, where the whole town is gathering. First, he waits outside of the bathroom while Elena is throwing up blood, but luckily, she and Damon are able to fix the situation before Buffy can get any visual proof. However, Elena still needs to feed, and the human blood bags Damon brings her from hospital aren’t working because the blood is cold and not straight from the source. Elena suggests that she’d rather be dead than dealing with this problem, but Damon brings her back from the brink and they go inside, but not before Stefan learns that she confided in Damon and drank his blood. This all gets to fall to the wayside in the face of the greater threat: Buffy is staking out the church.

And it’s not just any old stakeout. Buffy establishes that unlike the council, he’s not out to help or protect his fellow humans. He stabs April in the stomach and keeps her on the balcony as bait for the vampires on the main floor. He lies in wait with wooden shotgun shells, just waiting for the first vamp to react. This is a huge issue because Elena is losing it. Not only is she a baby vampire with uncontrollable cravings, but she’s yet to really feed. She goes up to the podium to speak for April since no one seems to be able to find her, which is probably the worst thing she could have done, but she’s just too damn compassionate. She’s willing to help others, even if it risks exposing her identity to a vampire hunter.

Next: Do Elena and friends fall prey to the vampire hunter’s ploy?Luckily, Stefan is a good baby vampire sitter and walks up to the podium to take her back to her seat, and to onlookers it simply appears that he’s comforting a weeping memorial attendee. Still no visual proof for Buffy. But the blood is starting to drip through the floor and it’s killing all of the vampires, especially Elena. Damon is ready to run up top and rip Buffy’s head off, and Elena’s about to break. Seeing his friends, and specifically Elena, in trouble, Matt takes the opportunity to repay Elena for giving up her mortal life in order for him to live. He offers up his neck to her. While Elena drinks from him, to outsiders it simply looks like she’s crying into her friend’s shoulder. Still no visual proof for Buffy, and Elena finally keeps some blood down.

But Buffy is restless. He wants to kill something. And the vampires are losing their patience and control. Tyler, who’s already been outed as a vampire, takes one for the team. Literally. He takes the podium and tells a story about Pastor Young teaching him the importance of supporting a team (in this case, team Elena’s Friends), and without hesitation, Buffy shoots him right in the chest. While everyone scrambles from the church, Damon tries to take down Buffy, but he gets away, and Elena and Caroline tend to April, who’s not quite dead yet.

Elena is ravenous still and jumps at April, fangs out and ready to feed. Luckily, Caroline is there to help her friend, hold her back, and convince her not to feed on this ailing girl who is her friend. Caroline heals her with her blood and April is still petrified, scared of anyone who isn’t a face she knows. She needs Elena to comfort her, but she’s covered in blood. Elena sucks it up (well, figuratively anyway) and helps her friend by compelling her to forget the violence and instead, remember the memorial as something beautiful, where everyone said nice things about Pastor Young (though most of the town now hates him). With that, she’s accomplished three important steps of new vampiredom: Feed on a human without killing him, resist a pool of blood in the name of friendship, and compel someone. Of course, it’s hard to move forward without hearing Damon’s warning in our heads: he thinks she will break, and she will go on a rampage, because it’s part of the process. While it will be hard to see our Elena go through that growth and pain, it would make for an interesting couple of episodes.

But, for now, Stefan is willing to forgive his naive girlfriend for her mistakes (drinking from Damon) and comfort her by having their entire friend group (minus Damon, who’s talking to Alric’s grave about losing “the girl”) put floating lanterns into the sky in remembrance of all the people they’ve lost over the years. (And that’s a lot of people.)

Still, it’s not all smooth sailing for this new vampire and her friends. Buffy has escaped to his lair, where he’s reading the letter Pastor Young meant for April. It says that while there is evil in Mystic Falls (the vampires), something more evil is coming. Could that mean Buffy? It certainly seems that way, especially considering one the final scenes in which Jeremy (who’s got that supernatural connection after being temporarily dead that one time) sees the “ink” on Buffy’s arm that Matt, with his normal human vision, can’t see.

The only question now is: what other kind of evil is there? We’ve covered witches, vampires, werewolves, and hybrids. What could this vampire hunter possibly be? Are we foraying into demon territory?

Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler

[Photo Credit: CW (2)]


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