As we anticipate The Vampire Diaries Season 5, we thought we’d show some love to our favorite episodes from last season. Narrowing down the field was extremely difficult and we had to rewatch a lot of episodes, but hey, nobody said this fansite thing would be easy. Right? Just kidding! It was totally easy and were really just looking for an excuse to watch our favorite episodes again. And again. And maybe a few more times after that, just to make sure we got all the details right. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!
Elena: All of the hurt, I feel like it’s trying to explode out of me.
Written by: Jose Molina & Julie Plec | Directed by: Rob Hardy
Crissy: I was in Iceland when Memorial aired, and I remember feeling reluctant to watch it. On my first proper vacation in ages, I was all Waterfalls! Fiskur! Tall Nordic men!, and not really in the Elena-is-a-newbie-vamp headspace, despite having loved the season premiere. But then I watched the episode, tucked away in a quiet corner of the apartment me and my pals had rented in Reykjavik. And I was riveted. I bawled my eyes out. I lost my damn mind when Alaric showed up at the end, having been beside Damon in his grief the whole time. To me, this episode is a calling card of all the glorious things The Vampire Diaries is — surprising, fast as lightning, bloody violent, unexpectedly hilarious, full of heart and full of despair. The series shines when the gang rallies together, and never have I loved Tyler more than when he stood up in front of the congregation and took one for the team. From pitch-perfect character moments to insane amounts of blood vomit, Memorial will not be soon forgotten.
O Come, All Ye Faithful (EP409)
Carol: Klaus, please. Don’t hurt him. He’s my son. He’s all I have.
Klaus: And you’re all he has. There’s a beautiful symmetry to that, don’t you think?
Written by: Michael J. Cinquemani & Julie Plec | Directed by: Pascal Verschooris
Kate: It took three and a half seasons for Mystic Falls to get to celebrate Christmas, and what a Christmas it was. (Given the trauma that ensued, I’ll forgive them if they decide to wait another three years – or thirty – before attempting it again.) I’m one of those ridiculous Christmas-obsessed people who’s inclined to love the Christmas episode of any show, but I thought this one did a particularly good job of using the melancholy that often lurks under the cheerful trappings of the holiday to highlight and take stock of how alone so many of the characters are and how far they’ve come from any semblance of “normal” life or family. But let’s face it: The main reason why I love this episode so much is the gorgeous, terrible scene in which Klaus slaughters his hybrids as “O Holy Night” plays in the background. I’m a sucker for violent scenes set to classical music, and the Christmas lyrics add another layer of devastating beauty to this scene. It reminds us of how human Klaus’s motivations are – no one wants to spend Christmas alone and betrayed – and how they combine with his incredible power to make him truly dangerous.
Catch Me If You Can (EP411)
Professor Shane: You’re accusing me of orchestrating a mass murder. Do you know how ridiculous that sounds?
Sheriff Forbes: It’s Mystic Falls. It’s actually one of the least ridiculous things I’ve heard.
Written by: Brian Young & Michael Narducci | Directed by: John Dahl
Vee: Look, I know this pick might be mildly controversial, especially when The Killer (EP405) didn’t make this list, but if there is an episode that continues to delight with every single rewatch, it’s Catch Me If You Can. It is a straight-up whirlwind of crazy, with oodles of nasty fun and killer one-liners all up in the mix. It also has one of the season’s best pre-title card sequences, with Matt, Jeremy, and Damon getting their hunt on in the deep, dark woods, and Klaus’s Near Dark tribute in a backwoods bar. Then enter Elena, coming to Matt and Jeremy’s rescue as a flock of newbie vampires descend. The pace doesn’t let up for the next 40-plus minutes as the gang works to complete Jeremy’s mark, Damon fights Kol’s compulsion to kill Jeremy, Bonnie finally sees Shane’s true and creepy colors, and Stefan and Rebekah let wit and sparks fly. Fun is, in fact, possible on The Vampire Diaries and, next to American Gothic, this may have been TVD at its everything-but-the-kitchen-sink zaniest, capped with Elena’s downright Machiavellian master plan, not to mention one of the most devastating Stefan and Elena conversations ever: “You don’t know what I look like when I’m not in love with you.” Ouch.
Stand By Me (EP415)
Elena: There’s nothing here for me anymore, Stefan. Every inch of this house is filled with memories of the people that I love that have died. My mom, my dad, Jeremy and Jenna and Alaric . . . John, even John. They’re all dead. Everyone is dead.
Written by: Julie Plec | Directed by: Lance Anderson
Red: As Vampire Diaries fans, we’re all used to the emotional roller coaster that this show frequently has us riding, and Stand By Me stands out in this regard, sending the characters and viewers on a whirlwind trip through the five stages of grief in the space of one short hour. We have it all: Elena’s heart-wrenching denial that Jeremy is gone, clutching at any flimsy hope that he’ll still live; Damon’s anger at Katherine, Silas, and even himself that it’s come to this; Bonnie’s bargaining with Silas to bring the dead back, tumbling into her own spiral of madness; Matt’s depression as he deals with his own losses while still trying to give hope to Elena and function as a human in this crazy supernatural world; and Elena’s chilling acceptance that Jeremy is gone, that the price to bring him back is too high. Finally we, the viewers, have to accept that there’s no Hail Mary coming for Jeremy at this point in time, as the Gilbert house – the home we’re all comfortable with and have known from the beginning – is turned into his funeral pyre. While that chapter of Mystic Falls life is firmly closed, the fire brings new beginnings, as Elena’s emotions are switched off and we wait with great trepidation to see just what the new Elena will turn into…
(We also hope that Elena’s teddy bear survived that fire. It was over at the Salvatore boarding house, right? RIGHT?)
American Gothic (EP418)
Katherine: Did it ever occur to you that you have no idea who I really am?
Damon: Did it ever occur to you that you’re not that deep?
Written by: Evan Bleiweiss & Jose Molina | Directed by: Kellie Cyrus
Abby: I admit, I was predisposed towards this episode on the grounds of title alone (I still haven’t forgiven CBS for cancelling that show back in 1996), but this episode had some great stuff in it. Agonized hallucinations! Doppelgänger hijinks! Don Juan Elijah! Furious Caroline! And let’s not forget the cafe scenes between Rebekah, Katherine and humanity-free Elena. (“Your shoes. I want your shoes.”) I mean, come on, how many of us spotted the fishless-fishtank and yelled “IT’S RIGHT THERE!” only to be double-crossed right along with Rebekah? How much skepticism flooded Twitter when Katherine gave Elijah the cure? Throughout the hour, there was a consistent mix of snappy dialog and genuine emotions, with smooth transitions so that none of it felt forced. Joseph Morgan really outdid himself in this one, playing a side of Klaus that we almost never see, and the Salvatore heart-to-heart (not to be confused with a Salvatore “rip out your heart-to-heart”) was a nice display of character growth for both Stefan and Damon. Put all these things together with a last minute murder and you end up with an episode that’s just plain FUN.
Stefan: I’m not happy about Elena, but I’m not not-happy for you either. I just want you to know that.
Damon: Thanks, brother.
Written by: Julie Plec & Caroline Dries | Directed by: Chris Grismer
Holly: Graduation episodes have a high bar to meet at Holly HQ. They’ll always be measured against Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Graduation Day I & II. They need to be both an end and a beginning. TVD’s Graduation succeeds because, like Buffy, it reminds us of the bond between this group people we’ve watched for four years and gives us hope for the next four. Far beyond vampires and werewolves and hybrids and hunters, The Vampire Diaries is about families, the ones we’re born with and the ones we choose. Most every character on the show gets their chance, in this episode, to remind us and their found family of who they are and how they’ve grown in the years since we began this journey on the first day of school years ago. Elena is at peace with being a vampire, and reaffirms her bonds with Jeremy, Alaric and her friends. She gets her moment of triumph, in a great callback to the books, when she defeats Katherine. Stefan and Elena remind us that, even if they’re not together, they never give up on each other. Damon impulsively tries to save the day, as we would expect, and he finally gets to hear that Elena returns his love. The Salvatore brothers prove why they’re my favorite love story of TVD, in a subtle scene that gives us hope that their bond isn’t broken. Caroline is still Caroline, but with the maturity and grace she’s earned. Bonnie Bennett is not gone, but she’s a ghost, the most drastic sacrifice yet in her never ending quest to protect her friends and the town. Alaric got a last drink with his best friend and a meal with his kids. And y’all, Matt Donovan graduated. Bring on the next chapter.
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