Review of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES – Memorial (2012)

"The Vampire Diaries"

“The Vampire Diaries”

There’s a time to kill, a time to breathe and a time to remember

Tonight’s episode was a beautiful reminder that everyone needs time to grieve — even vampires, or perhaps vampires most of all because death surrounds them every day and yet they never really stop to mourn. They don’t mourn those that they have killed, those that they have lost or even the loss of their own humanity. Yet even for the undead, they cannot really move forward without taking time to reflect on what has been taken from them. Elena was absolutely right when she said that her life has been a never-ending funeral. From the death of her parents to the deaths of Jenna, John, Isobel, and Alaric to the human deaths of Caroline and herself, it was time to stop and remember all that they have lost: people, lives, futures, and humanity.

Damon may also be right that a paper lantern is but a candle in the sky, yet someone taking that moment to light the candle and set it free in the darkness is allowing each of them that moment they need to grieve. Grief is a luxury in Mystic Falls which really none of them can take time for, as death comes a calling almost every day. So there just isn’t time to stop and remember. But for vampires, emotions are heightened. They feel loss perhaps even more keenly, with an ache that will never go away. They may chose to ignore it and go on with their daily lives, but it haunts them. This is why Stefan remembers each and every one of his victims and why Elena, who always bore the brunt of every life taken, now is nearly crippled by the grief she feels and which surrounds her. Vampires are a lightening rod for emotion. They feel rage, anger, love, lust and even loss to such an intense degree that it is a wonder that more of them do not choose to flip the switch on their human emotions just to get some peace. But that is the miracle of life, feeling every sweet agonizing moment through human emotions. Even a vampire knows that losing that would be losing the one thing that truly mattered. So Elena grieved.

With her body rejecting animal blood, bagged blood, and even vampire blood, and her mind not quite ready to accept that she could only sustain her existence with fresh human blood direct from the vein, Elena understood that she must stop and grieve. It would ease the ache in her heart, sooth the raging emotions in her brain, and give her a moment of peace. For grieving honored those who lived before. To be remembered with love and affection, or simply just to be remembered. Our lives are but a collection of memories we leave behind with those who remember. The bones and dust buried in a grave are not what makes us who we are — but what we meant to others, that is who we truly are. And remembering and grieving for a person’s lost life, that is the greatest honor of all.

To Alaric, who we lost most recently on THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, we remember you. And we miss you too.

Points of Interest

1. Gotta love it when Damon told Sheriff Forbes, “Don’t look at me, I always take credit for killing people.” The quintessential Damon — he’ll be the first to admit he killed someone.

2. Hey, what good would grieving be without a little grief-relief sex. Nice touch having Caroline and Tyler reuniting in bed, only to find Caroline feeling guilty that they are enjoying themselves when so many people have died. But it was fun moment when Tyler then said, “I love you. How’s that for sensitive?” and Caroline smiled and replied, “I love you too.”

3. Tyler got to play the hero tonight when he took the brunt of Connor Jordan’s new vampire-hunting weaponry. Fortunately, Tyler is not just a vampire — he’s a hybrid, which makes him a bit more resistant to Connor’s wily tricks and weapons, and as Stefan told Tyler, “If you were a normal vampire, you’d be dead.” But that first run in served them all as Tyler then knew he could draw Connor’s fire in church and survive. It really is great to see that Tyler has finally learned the importance of teamwork, and taking one for the team. He knew he was the only one who could survive being shot by Connor and he did not hesitate to make himself a target in order to save Caroline, Elena, Stefan and Damon. A true hero.

4. Then the big question of the night will be: what in the world did Jeremy see on Connor’s arm? Jeremy thought he saw a tattoo, but Matt didn’t see anything. So what did Jeremy see? And what will that mean to Connor?

What Worked

One of the bigger issues of the night was whether Elena would succumb to the lure of human blood and lose all self-control, or if she would adapt to feeding on non-human blood and learn to resist the natural vampire blood-lust. However, that question was really not answered. We only saw the struggle Elena had with both types of feeding, and she did not take to either very well. In fact, her body rejected almost all forms of blood: animal, bagged, and vampire. It was only once Matt offered his blood willingly that she was able to feed without rejecting it. As Damon noted, being a doppelgänger, perhaps there are special rules on the kind of blood Elena can consume — and it may require to be offered willingness and not blood that is simply taken. Some curses survive death, and if there was an exception to be made, Elena would be it. Damon may have been right when he told Elena, “You’re a vampire, Elena. Be a vampire.” Yet, what if Elena is now something more? If Tyler can be a hybrid werewolf-vampire, perhaps Elena is also something more than just vampire. It’s an intriguing thought.

Then on a different note, while it was entirely wrong, it still felt great watching how aroused Damon was as Elena fed on his blood. He definitely knew it was wrong to share his blood with her, and that Stefan would view it as unforgivable, but Damon just couldn’t resist it. If he was not going to get the girl, he could still enjoy a few stolen moments with her — albeit in a more sexually-charged fashion. Damon has fallen back into his dual role of the provocateur and protector of Elena. We all secretly cheered when Elena succumbed to the lure of his blood and then again when he came to rescue at the church, keeping Connor at bay while she cleaned up and changed. Plus, Damon’s “germa-phobe” zinger was priceless.

But, by far, the best moment of the night was Damon in the graveyard mourning Alaric. It was the most heart-breaking moment last season, Damon watching the life drain out of Alaric. To revisit that painful goodbye was perfectly done. While it was still touching to watch Stefan, Elena, Jeremy, Matt and Bonnie light candles and release the Japanese lanterns into the sky, our hearts still ached. We knew it was too soon and too hard to say goodbye to someone who had been such a big part of their lives — and ours. As Damon drunkenly said, “Well, I’m just going to pretend someone’s there, because the alternative is just too damn depressing,” we knew exactly how he felt. It was simultaneously hilarious and heart breaking as Damon then mused, “You what they are? Children. Like lighting a candle is going to make everything okay, or even saying a prayer, or pretending Elena is not going to end up like the rest of us murderous vampires. Stupid, delusional, exasperating little children. I know what you’re going to say: ‘It makes them feel better, Damon.’ So what? For how long? A minute, a day? What difference does it make? Because in the end, when you lose somebody every candle, every prayer is not going to make up for the fact that the only thing that you have left is a hole in your life where that somebody you cared about used to be — and a rock with a birthday carved into it that I’m pretty sure is wrong.” Then as the camera shifted we saw Alaric’s ghost sitting there listening to each and every word, with a hint of smile on his face. Then Damon said, “So thanks, friend. Thanks for leaving me here to babysit ’cause I should have been long gone by now. I didn’t get the girl, remember? I’m stuck here fighting with my brother and taking care of the kids. You owe me big.” To which Alaric, “I miss you too, buddy.” They may not have cried, but we did. Our hearts broke remembering Alaric, remembering Damon and Alaric’s strong friendship, and remembering that Alaric is no longer there with them. We needed to grieve too. Thank to the writers for remembering that — and letting us share in the grieving.

It was also such a nice touch that Damon kept saving a seat for Alaric at the Mystic Grill bar for Alaric, telling both Elena and Sheriff Forbes, “That seat is taken.” A small, but endearing touch. We too will save a seat for Alaric.

What Didn’t Work

It is hard to believe that Stefan was not right at Damon’s side in going after Connor. Stefan knew that Damon was not prepared to take on Connor, yet Stefan delayed long enough that Damon got shot and Connor got away. Just because Stefan is pissed off that Damon let Elena feed off his blood should not cloud Stefan’s judgment with petty jealousy such that a deadly enemy escaped. After Tyler’s fantastic demonstration of teamwork in this episode, Stefan could learn a thing or two from him.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“Memorial” written by Jose Molina and Julie Plec, and directed by Rob Hardy. ‘The Vampire Diaries’ stars Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Joseph Morgan, Steven R. McQueen, Candice Accola, Katerina Graham, Michael Trevino, Zach Roerig, Torrey Devitto, Claire Holt. ‘The Vampire Diaries’ airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.

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