The Vampire Diaries review – 4×01: ‘Growing Pains’

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With a shocking cliffhanger that left us all hanging for a dreadfully long few months, The Vampire Diaries returns with a vengeance.. and a new approach that I’m not quite sure about.

Let’s bitch it out…To be honest, I spent the summer hoping that dear old Bonnie (Kat Graham) would come to the rescue and finally succeed in saving something. I just can’t grasp Elena (Nina Dobrev) as a vampire so as the episode begins I am firmly in Stefan’s (Paul Wesley) camp, holding out hope that something will bring her back to life. But as the episode goes on, I remember that I’m hanging my hat on Bonnie saving the day. Let’s be honest: Bonnie is better at screwing things up rather than actually coming through. So, am I disappointed when Elena drinks the blood and completes the transition? Yes. But am I surprised? No.

I get that the show needs a new direction, but I’m just not sure this is what I am looking for. We’ve spent three seasons listening to how much Elena wants to stay human and live her life, and to change things up the writers throw this at us?! This is definitely something I’m going to have to get used to.

Of all the relationships on the show, I most look forward to the interactions between Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and Rebekah (Claire Holt). Even in an episode dedicated to Elena’s decision and her pain, I am most affected by this duo. The bond they share is one of  love and hate, and I find it endlessly fascinating. Tonight is no different, culminating with a fight that is the most moving aspect of the episode for me. I am glad that Rebekah finally does us all a favour and gets rid of the last of the doppleganger blood. Not sure if it’s just me, but I got really tired of hearing how the hybrids were going to be Klaus’ new family. You know, when he’s literally talking to his actual family.

Courtesy of The CW

One thing I am definitely happy to see is that Elena has finally made a choice between the brothers and seems to be sticking to it, even in death. She is so sure of her decision and her declaration of love to Stefan, she actually gets Rebekah emotional enough to help save her. I mean, that in itself is a miracle. That must be some powerful love. But then again, it might have been Stefan’s tears that got Rebekah in the end. I’m not sure though.. I couldn’t quite see through my own. *sniff*

A few other observations:

  • I’m really hoping that this season Matt (Zach Roerig) gets more of a storyline than the “best buddy” who supports the vampires. The human contingent is severely dwindling and I’m not counting the lovely Dr. Meredith Fell (Torrey Devito) yet…Time will tell if she makes it as a full time cast member on the show (and into my heart).  There has to be more they can give Matt and Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) to work with than just being the humans who are used as a blood bank and occasional sidekick.
  • Oh how I’ve missed Caroline (Candice Accola). I adore her wit and sarcasm, and how she puts Klaus in his place. She is always a pleasure to watch and I’m glad she’s back gracing my TV screen.
  • While some of you may think that Elena belongs with Damon (Ian Somerhalder), I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. Not because I’m a Stefan lover (I am), but because Damon is so much better being bad. The show wouldn’t be the same if Damon went all soft and  “in a relationship” on us. So it is nice to see him a little out of control in this episode – it makes me feel like things are right in my world again.
  • Finally, this episode is severely lacking something: Daniel Gillies’ Elijah. I miss him when he’s not around but my heart is at ease because based on the promotional photos for this season, he will be back.

So, what did you think of the season four premiere? I can’t be the only one who thinks Bonnie is more trouble than she’s worth, can I? I feel like things changed forever in tonight’s episode when Elena became a vampire and I’m a little wary about how different things are going to be now. Do you agree, or do you think this was a genius move by the writers? Sound off below!

The Vampire Diaries airs on Thursdays at 9pm EST on The CW

13 thoughts on “The Vampire Diaries review – 4×01: ‘Growing Pains’

  1. I actually really like how Elena is a vampire now, it’s like finally! From what I’ve heard this seasons going to be really good; Damon gets a new love interest! Woohoo!
    The main thing that bummed me out so bad about the episode was that when Elena finally turned and confronted Damon about remembering everything he compelled her to forget, nothing happened. Like hello? That’s not fair at all – you can’t just remember all those adorable amazing things and not still love him and just want to jump him right there and then! Hopefully there’s something more between them that will show later on, but with the talk of a new love interest for him, there’s not much hope. Another thing that’s got me thinking is like, what in the world was that pastor on about when he blew the council members up? Are they going to travel through the other side and be brought back by some dark evil witch? I remember reading in the books that there was some dark eerie presence that starts preying on the vampires in the town, could that be them? The council members? Guess we’ll just have to see.

    • According to Julie Plec (she’s Kevin Williamson’s showrunning partner) there’s a lot more to come from the developments with the Pastor and the Council, even though they blew themselves up. I kinda hope it’s not ghosts again (that was last year!), but we’ll have to wait and see what they’ve got up their sleeves.

    • Actually, you brought up a good point! I spent a good amount of time thinking about that this summer.. Since she’s a vampire now, wouldn’t she remember meeting him first and would that change her mind about picking Stefan. As a Stelena fan, I was obviously happy with her reasoning, but I also kinda wanted her to have a bit more of a reaction to it. I loved it when she was in her room and remembering when Damon compelled her to forget saying he loved her. What a great scene, even from a Stelena fan! That got me worried for sure haha!

  2. Oh Bonnie… So helpful. I’m sure she will eventually help them all right into off a cliff. It’s like she’s the Diaries own Sabrina… she never get’s anything right.
    That said, I’m not sad she failed (again) at saving Elena. I just found the actual transformation a little lackluster. Where is the bad ass vampire transformation à la Vicki? At least Vicki got a Damon dance off and kick ass Halloween party before she met her death. It was sad and yes a few tears were shed, and it brought me back to team Stephan… for now. But, I felt like most of the storylines left as great cliff hangers were tidily wrapped up and put away. I don’t know if it’s just me but I like my Diaries a little messy with lots of love triangles thrown in!
    I’m hoping in the next few episodes they really crack out some powerful new story lines. Klaus/Tyler/Caroline has more juice in it I‘m sure! Now that the hybrids are out, Elena is well and dead, and the Stelena is back, I wonder what comes next… Hopefully some more bad assery by Damon (my fave!) who is just so good at being bad.

  3. Thanks for writing this! I must admit, although I’ve been a viewer of The VD for three seasons, after the first 15 minutes of the premiere, I deleted the remainder of the episode and the timer on my DVR! Your review/synopsis was much more enjoyable than the screen. I think I’ll just keep reading your fun posts and save myself 45 minutes of meh.

  4. I was pretty disappointed with this episode. I mean if you compare it to last seasons’ opener, the show really has slipped. I’m still hopeful about this season though. I felt like this episode was just a resolve to the season finale and that’s why it was so – dare I say it – unexciting. We all knew Elena was going to transition, so all the tension was gone from there too.

    I actually like that Elena is a vampire now. The drama with the Originals last season was so dragged out in the end, it’s about time the show headed in a new direction.

    I think the pastor is going to make like Darklaric last season and come back as a vampire. He already had Dr. Fell’s supply of blood.

    Also: Plot holes anyone? I thought that Bonnie’s gran had finally found peace last year in Ghost World? Somehow she’s still drifting around the other side. And how did Elena and Stefan break out of their cells?

    One last thing. Elena saved Matt’s life, even with blood everywhere. Is she going to pull a Bella and have some sort of super control? I’m hoping not.

    I’m really looking forward to next week. I heard it’s going to be really tense and return back to the standard we’ve come to expect from VD.

    • Hahah Darklaric! That’s awesome. I haven’t heard that before but I love it. But that’s something else I’m bitter about. I absolutely loved Alaric and I miss him. But I agree, obviously we didn’t see the last of the council, but how they return remains to be seen.

      I feel like I’m betraying someone if I say out loud that I found this premiere so not exciting. I heard next episode is supposed to be back to what we can expect from previous episodes so im holding out hope it will get better!

  5. Isn’t this TV series based on a book or book series? In which case, does Elena become a vampire in that medium? That would mean it wasn’t the writer’s decision unless they brought about the change earlier in the Vampire Diaries chronology

    • It is based on a book series, but I haven’t read them. I have a friend who has and from what I understand, they ventured off the path of the books back in season one and only use some ideas that tend to work with their plot points and the outline of characters, etc.

      But yes, she does become a vampire in the books but I was still holding out hope anyway. A girl came dream that it wouldn’t be so predictable. Because, as a reader above commented, now I fear we are on our way to a Twilight type storyline. I loved how they dealt with Caroline becoming a vampire but they seem to be addressing it differently here. But it’s only the first episode. I have faith!

      • One rumour I heard is that they only purchased the option for book 1, so they’re on their own for everything else. But yeah, there’s pretty significant differences (ex: Elena has a younger pre-teen sister, not a teenage brother; she’s also a blonde!)

      • sigh. You know how on many series every good looking character eventually sleeps with every other good looking character. I guess the vampire version of that is eventually everyone becomes a supernatural creature of some sort. Perhaps the best twist would be to come up with a cure for Vampirism.

        maybe you could live a life, become a vampire for a few centuries, go mortal again. Wash, rinse repeat.

    • The series is based on a book series, and Elena does turn into a vampire in the book however during her transition she remembers only Damon and her friends and falls madly in love with him. But when she finally has blood and completes the transition she goes back to Stephan. Clearly the people working I the tv series thought it was stupid to put that in and have completely disappointed the whole Delena fan base.

  6. I agree with you completely with Stefan and Elena vs Damon and Elena. Damon just wouldnt be as fun if he was with Elena. Stefan and Elena also have so much more magic. Stefan’s love is more pure and epic. There is passion with Damon and Elena..but true love I do not see. Damon will save Elena’s body but Stefan will save her soul. I did disagree with you on the magic in this episode. I thought the scene with Stefan and Elena in the sell was gut renching emotional… Loved it! I also loved the beautiful sunrise scene at the end. The Klaus/Tyler and Caroline scene was wonderful as well… and the scene with Damon and Elena at the end..