Vampire Diaries season 4 continues well-crafted thematic episodes
‘The Vampire Diaries’ excels at centering an episode around a theme, and “Memorial” is all about the juxtapositions: loners and teams, dead and living, symbolic versus true mourning.
Something that The Vampire Diaries does so well is to make each episode stand out in some way, even though it is a serialized drama. There’s no “case of the week” to fall back on for structure, but the writers take that extra step to make sure there’s something special about each episode, through the character interactions, reveals, themes running through the episode or whatever gems they decide to gift us with each week.
“Memorial” was a shining example of a thematic approach. You could argue it was all about juxtapositions: the dead versus the living (or the undead, as the case may be with most of our characters), real morning versus symbolic mourning, the old versus the new and the loner versus the team. Likely there were many more, but these stood out for me.
I was struck by the comparisons between the old hunter, Alaric, and the new one, Connor. Granted, we still have a lot to learn about Connor, who right now seems very black and white … but we know what happens to the evils on The Vampire Diaries. Pretty soon, he’ll be falling in love with Bonnie, helping Elena and questioning his effectiveness as a vampire hunter. Right now, though, he’s in the camp that all vampires are bad, and he’s after them with an unexplained vengeance that I’m sure we’ll get the backstory on sooner than later. Alaric started off a bit like this, but quickly joined Team Salvatore. The loner didn’t stay a loner for very long.
Which leads me to the other places loners versus teams were juxtaposed in “Memorial.” Tyler’s speech at the memorial said it all. Tyler has had his moments as a loner, but when he purposefully sacrificed himself for the team — hinting at what he was doing in his speech — it was significant on so many levels. Something tells me we won’t be seeing Tyler as an egotistical loner this season; he’s on board, de-Klaused and along for the ride.
While Tyler was delivering his speech about the strength of a team, Connor was targeting them alone. It couldn’t be done — he couldn’t bring down the unified team as a loner. Connor’s dealing with something he’s likely not met before and watching him discover this will be a fun ride.
Another perpetual loner is Damon, and he reinforced this fact in the way he mourned for Alaric. He didn’t join in the team balloon ceremony — which was very beautiful and symbolic — but really wasn’t a true mourning of what they’ve all lost. Only Damon, talking to his lost friend Alaric at his grave, truly mourned. And seeing that Alaric is also mourning from beyond the grave was heartbreaking. That was the moment in this episode that made me cry: the moment that Alaric and Damon were having together that Damon didn’t even know about, that Damon couldn’t see his friend and how much he missed him as well.
Juxtaposing the dead and living in that balloon ceremony, though, struck me as a fun shout-out by the writers to what they have become known for: killing off main characters and that no one is safe on The Vampire Diaries.