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Posted by | October 24, 2012, 7:52 (MST) | 45 Comments
Category: In Review, The Vampire Diaries TV

Vampire Diaries In Review: Memorial (EP402) - United In GriefLet me start with an apology for taking so long to get this post written. But really, it’s not my fault. This episode left me in tears, and stunned at the show’s continual mastery at delivering a highly emotional but action-packed and sexy and funny and supernaturally interesting story. The bar is so high for TVD, and yet again I am blown away. How can I write about Memorial? I have too many feelings to think! Elena isn’t the only one with heightened emotions — we, the audience, are right there with her and the rest of the Mystic Falls team.

That there was nary an Original in sight wasn’t the only thing about Memorial that gave it a season 1 vibe. It was the unrelenting concern with grief. Mystic Falls is once again mourning its dead — 12 council members blown up in the “accident” — and we meet April, a charmingly awkward girl made an orphan just like Elena and Jer. In the wake of Bonnie’s dark magic spell, she is grieving for her Grams, isolating herself and feeling as broken as when Grams died in Fool Me Once. On the flip side, Tyler and Caroline indulge in a little grief sex — totally natural! — while new vamp Elena feels the weight of grief even more acutely than when she was human. The series began with an exploration of grief: Elena trying to get back to “normal,” to be more than a gloomy graveyard girl, but in that perfect moment near the end of the episode, she realizes she’s never stopped crying, never stopped feeling the incredible losses that have befallen her, her family, friends, and community.

For me, the combination of the deeply relatable — loss, grief, denial — and the tension of the supernatural high stakes — Elena needs blood from the vein, there’s a badass vampire hunter in town — was perfectly balanced in Memorial. The vampire-hunter plot drove our characters together, to act as a united force in new ways. Tyler stands up and literally takes one for the team. Matt takes the chance that Elena will suck the life from him in order to save her. Caroline prevents her friend from making the mistake of a lifetime when she helps Elena control her bloodlust and teaches her compulsion. And Stefan and Damon? They do all that they do best. I loved both Salvatore brothers intensely in this episode: from Damon’s devil-may-care posturing to Stefan punching his brother for blood-sharing with Elena, the boys were in top form. It was like each character was in a heightened (but absolutely bang-on) state.

As in the season premiere, Elena’s transition story continues to diverge from those we’ve seen before with an emphasis on a different aspect of the mythology: a newbie vamp, who hasn’t properly fed, hungers for human blood from the vein. That this show doesn’t trot out and rehash the same plot points over and over is another reason why I love it so. In Memorial we get a story driven by character and complemented by established mythology — and punctuated by insane scenes of blood vomit. Terrifying for Elena, and amazing to watch.

Elena’s an “everything’s going to be okay” girl, and in this episode that manifests in her trying to give Stefan what he wants for her — a seamless transition to a bunny diet. Faced with a smiley Stefan and a bottle of celebratory champagne, who would mention a blood-barfing session in the forest? Her keeping the truth from Stefan reminded me how recently those two got back together, and of Stefan’s similar choices in the past — when he wanted to keep his monstrousness away from Elena and her impression of what kind of vampire he was. What can be a natural instinct in a relationship — to protect the one you love from ugliness — often backfires, as it does here. As Elena wanted from Stefan in their early days, so Stefan wants from her — the truth, to share in her darkest and fearful moments, to be open with each other. But in Memorial that’s what Elena feels she can easily do with Damon: believing he’d understand, she turns to him for alternative food sources and for comfort. What I found especially evident in this episode was how integral both these relationships are to Elena — as are those of her friends. She is part of a true community that cares for and protects each other. (A bond that is wonderfully represented as they stand separately in pews but are able to communicate, thanks to their superhuman hearing.) Damon is there for her as she struggles with her hunger. Stefan, in his singularly Stefan way, finds a way to give the whole gang what they need — a time to grieve. Tyler steps up to redirect the hunter’s attention away from Elena. Caroline helps Elena with April. And dear darling Matt gives her what she needs the most — guilt-free blood straight from the vein — to keep her from falling into the trap of the new environmental clean-up man in town.

What a great introduction to Connor the vampire hunter. This guy does not eff around; he shoots to kill. He’s clearly not operating by the same set of rules that town council members have in the past. He recklessly endangers April’s life and leaves her to die — on the day of her father’s funeral. Whether Connor’s human or not, there’s a lack of humanity in that choice. He’s able to tussle with Damon and hold his own — does he have superhuman strength? Is he powered by that mystery tattoo? Who or what brought him to Mystic Falls, and what’s his endgame? So many questions! Besides being a fresh and scary baddie for our heroes to deal with, Connor’s tactics brought the core of vampirism back to the forefront of the show. Memorial embraced traditional vampire tropes, and all the messy, messy blood that comes with the territory. Connor lays a trap for them in the church with blood dripping from the ceiling into the holy water. And is there anything more delightfully vampiric than Damon smirking as he saunters into the church crossing himself?

Of course, a core preoccupation of vampire stories is death. And Memorial didn’t shy away from exploring the ways we all grieve. Though this wasn’t a Bonnie heavy episode, the scene between her and Stefan was one of my favorites: there was a honest subtlety to it, and to Kat Graham’s performance; you could just feel how quietly destroyed Bonnie was in the wake of her hurting her Grams. Contrasted with that was Elena’s heightened response to grief, which culminates in her angry and frustrated feeling that she’s been crying since the day her parents died. Stefan feared that Elena’s compassion would be her Achilles’ heel, that she would turn off her humanity if overwhelmed by feeling for a victim. But it’s her grief that threatens to swallow her whole, as it has since we first met her. Though everyone lost in Mystic Falls has been to supernatural causes, the paper lantern memorial (and Damon’s rejection of it) was powerfully relatable. Like for our Mystic Falls gang, there’s always something to preoccupy us from acknowledging our own grief, whether for loved ones lost, relationships gone, or imagined futures no longer ours to dream of. And in that moment with the lanterns, Stefan gives his friends a way to manage that grief, which just builds up beneath the surface, and in doing so they embrace what makes them human. In a heartbreaking but oh-so-Damon response, Damon rejects the memorial and instead strikes out alone to mourn in his own way. Still holding a seat for Alaric at the Mystic Grill, still talking to his absent friend to mock the corny Japanese lanterns, Damon refuses to “consider the alternative” — that Alaric is really and truly gone. Though Damon can’t see or hear him, his buddy is right there with him — always and forever — missing him back.

If Memorial is an indication of the caliber of TVD that awaits us in the rest of Season 4, I am almost frightened by the prospect of having so many feelings. One of my favorite episodes of the series.

Compelling Moment: Seeing Alaric again, graveside with Damon. That seat was taken.

Compelling Moments, the Runners-up: The tension of the church scene. Tyler standing up at that pulpit. Elena feeding on Matt. Elena feeding on Damon. Stefan, in that suit, punching his brother in the face.

The Rules: We’ve long known that a new vampire has incredible bloodlust, but Elena’s initial refusal to drink human blood shows us that her system violently rejects any substitute. Hopefully, blood-sharing will be explored more in future episodes, but Damon calls it “personal” for the vampire whose blood is consumed and he certainly looks rather euphoric as Elena drinks from him. Caroline tells Elena that the key to successfully compelling a human is to believe in what you’re saying.

Foggy moments: May I plead jet lag on this? Didn’t notice much out of order except for one little thing (which could be explained by Elena’s newbie status). Elena compels April to believe that people said lovely things at the funeral, but if April talks to anyone about the service, they might just mention that it was awkwardly cut short by Tyler being shot. Won’t April seem like a crazy person not to remember that?

Thoughts & questions before The Rager (EP403):

  • Why was April sent away from Mystic Falls? How did April’s mom die?
  • What is the deal with Connor’s tattoo? Jeremy could see it, Matt couldn’t (despite Matt being able to see Vicki post-drowning in The Reckoning). Does Jeremy have a stronger connection to the Other Side? Is the tattoo an Other Side thing at all? Is it connected to black magic, which Bonnie used on Jeremy in Before Sunset?
  • What do the marks mean on Connor’s bullets? Could it be magical writing that Bonnie is just not familiar with? Like…dark, deathly magic?
  • Will Elena be able to keep blood-bag blood or animal blood down now that she’s had a from-the-vein feeding? Does her doppelganger blood factor into her vampirism? (Katherine gives us no clues on this front, as she’s a dedicated from-the-vein girl.)
  • What was Pastor Young warning April about in his letter? What great evil is headed to Mystic Falls?
  • More blood-sharing please!

Crissy Calhoun is the author of the Love You to Death companion guides to The Vampire Diaries: Season 1, Season 2, and Season 3. Find her online at and tweeting @crissycalhoun.

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  • shamsadh

    I also thoroughly enjoyed this episode :) In particular, I appreciated the return to high-paced action-esque scenes which I felt was lacking from the previous episode and has made for some of the best TVD episodes in the past (Let the right one in, Masquerade, Rose, The Reckoning, just to name a few). Also, I’m looking forward to exploring the mystery surrounding Connor – mythology has always been my favourite part of TVD.

  • Lilli

    I think Stefan actually punched Damon for letting Elena feeding on him aka bloodsharing, not because Damon feed on her :)

  • Vee

    Ah, thanks for catching that typo; fixed!

  • vampyrfan

    Great review ;)
    Seeing Alaric again made me very emotional, too. I miss him and I will miss Team Badass.

    Connor’s tattoo: I’ve read somewhere that the mystery won’t be solved until episode 5 or 6 (?). Has anyone noticed that Jeremy has the same tattoo on the “holy” promo picture? I wonder if that means that he’ll become a hunter.

    I don’t care at all about April. I think she was introduced because there are no unaware humans on the show.

  • 8Dana8

    I’m disappointed that April looks and speaks and acts like Anna. Sooooo disappointed. Did we really need a carbon copy of her for Jeremy?

  • Manon

    Crissy, don’t you think it was weird that the police hadn’t investigated the entire blown up house? Connor just had to look in the oven to find that letter =/ 

    I also found it weird that Elena could stop drinking from Matt so easily. Isn’t she supposed to be taken over by her bloodlust in the beginning? I seriously hope they don’t do this like Meyer did with Bella Swan (one of the reasons I can’t like Twilight). That was so ridiculous. Elena should have difficulties while dealing with her transition. Please don’t let her be so special that she can control her bloodlust so easily!

    Another weird thing was when Tyler got shot by Connor, Stefan was all like “If you were a ordinary vampire you’d be dead.” How so? Was he shot in the heart? From what we’ve seen, the bullets were shot in his upper body, not his heart. And we know vampires don’t die from wood shot in their body, it just hurts freaking bad. Only a stake/wooden bullet in the heart can kill them. 

    The rest of the episode was amazing, though. My favorite was Damon and Alaric in de cemetery. One of my favorite TVD scenes ever. Very touching, from both sides. 

    I like it too that Connor as a vampire hunter seems to be an actual thread for our vamps. As we all know, the council can’t do their jobs well, and Alaric turned out to no be a thread. Even Evilaric wasn’t.

    I’m excited for the rest of the season! Glad the ridiculousness of the second half of season 3 (which really dissapointed me) is gone.

  • Elenasfan

    Elena’s relationship wit Stefan doesn’t make sense at all. It feels artificial and pretty much “forced”. Stefan judging Elena because she went to Damon was hypocritical. Elena is not his personal property, she is still her own person. Last season he did what he wanted to do, he didn’t care about Elena’s feelings or anything else and now he wants to see a perfect Elena, not a bloodthirsty vampire as himself.
    It looks like Elena has a lot more in common with Damon than she likes to admit. She is in love with him and he is better suited to her than boring, “saintly” Stefan. No offense to Stelena fans. Elena always goes to Damon because they have a deep relationship. Hope this blood sharing stuff will get explained and explored in further episodes.

  • Manon

    Noticed that, too. And I was dissapointed that it’s so obvious that she’ll be a love interest for Jeremy. 

  • Stevie1421

    I’m starting to think you’re right. I always used to think both brothers loved Elena unconditionally, but these past two episodes, with Stefan so eager to keep her human and then refusing to hear her when she tells him she can’t do animal blood… I don’t know… I’ve been getting this strange feeling that Stefan has a very specific idea of who Elena is and I don’t think he likes the idea of her changing; but it’s inevitable. 
    But Damon, on the other hand, I feel like he will always love her, and she must’ve thought so too, on some level, because she went to him for help, not Stefan.

  • Shannon

    All I have to say is that I LOVED this episode, wayyyy better than the first episode!!! I’m gonna keep this short,(running out of time)….All of Damon’s lines had me laughing, every last one of them. Delena’s scene was hot hot hot!! Loved the memorial scene, all of them using their vamp hearing to talk to one another, Tyler taking one for the team, by getting shot, Caroline, owning her vamperism trying to teach Elena the ropes. Glad Forwood didn’t have sex(that’s all they seem to do)….LOVED seeing Alaric!!! Miss him so much!! I rewinded that scene with him and Damon so many times…..Stefan’s an idiot for thinking there was a way AROUND Elena drinking from the vein, smh that’s all i’ll say about that…..Conner needs to die, hate him already,(I’m thinking he’s a zombie of some sort) I don’t trust April….and i really wish Jeremy could have a way of telling the dead from the living, “Nice ink.” Dead give away…(pun, too soon? haha ah Damon.) The VIPs of this episode went to Damon, Caroline, and Tyler, in my book. And i felt the episode was much better w/o Klaus and Rebekah.

  • CLR

    Just loooves your posts!! Thanks.

  • nelly

    • When we will find out the meaning of Connor’s arm tattoo, which was visible to Jeremy but not to Matt? “We will know what that tattoo is and what it means by the end of episode 4,”(julie plec) . Watch this photo we are finally going to see the original petrova .

  • Kari

     Still holding a seat for Alaric at the Mystic Grill, still talking to his absent friend to mock the corny Japanese lanterns, Damon refuses to “consider the alternative” — that Alaric is really and truly gone. Though Damon can’t see or hear him, his buddy is right there with him — always and forever — missing him back.
    Awesome, just when I think I’ve cried as much as I could over that scene, that description gets me tearing up at my desk at work. Obviously, I mean this as a huge compliment Crissy :) Your recaps are always awesome! 

  • 8Dana8

     I’m Delena shipper but I always try to analyze stelena relationship. It seems to me – after the 2 epis of season 4 – that Stefan might have been in love with Elena’s “humanity”. He did not love her, but her humanity. It was a catalyst that she looked like Kathrine and that she was so human unlike Kathrine. Stefan wanted to have humanity by his side so he “thought” he was in love with Elena. Damon, on the other hand, seems to be missing his humanity more (officially) however he loves Elena for Elena.

  • dman

    “If you were a ordinary vampire you’d be dead.” “How so?”
    What Stefan meant is that the bullets were supernatural or magical in some form, so if him or any other non-vampire hybrid were shot, they would’ve been dead. The fact that Tyler is part werewolf is one of the reasons the bullets doesn’t have that effect. They were specifically meant to kill regular vampires.

    Technically, vampires can die in a variety of ways. Yes, there’s the all too familiar stake in the heart, but other ways include: fire; exposure to sunlight; decapitation; a witch’s spell. I think stakes are used more because they’re convenient, and they’re also one of the most efficient ways of killing a vampire. Besides, there’s a great deal of tradition and cultural significance behind it.

  • Iansfan

    … that´s an interesting interpretation… I like it!

  • Manon

    I know the various ways of killing a vampire :) I was just referring to the only way they can ket killed by wood is to put it through their hearts.. But indeed, that wasn’t very clear in my response to the article. 

    Anyway, thanks for the answer.. I must have missed the part when it became known that those bullets were supernatural/magical.

  • whoneedsthecullens

    Great recap, Crissy,  I expected no less, LOL. I wanted to add just one more thing that troubled me at the lantern scene:
    Stefan mentioned Uncle Zach and Lexi, and I guess he named these two to piss off Damon. Because Damon killed them. Stefan didn’t look too annoyed when Damon walked off. But the others  named their parents (Elena’s parents, Bill Forbes, Mayor Lockwood), and actually I believe Stefan should have named his father. Granted, he killed him. But he instantly regretted it and I think he never really mourned for him. And did anyone notice that neither Elena nor Jeremy mentioned Uncle John? He gave his life for Elena, he deserves a minute of remembering, too. Although he was responsible of the fire in ep 1.22 and he did horrible things – still, he was Elena’s father. And I don’t think Elena thought of him when she said “parents”.
    This being said, I LOVED every second of this episode. Thanks for putting all my feelings into words.

  • katherine_fan

    Lexie was Stefan’s best friend.Of course Stefan had every right to mention her.It’s not all about Damon.

  • whoneedsthecullens

    Of course Stefan had the right to mention Lexi. She was brave and fearless and she was his best friend during his darker times. But I still think it would have been kind of decent by Stefan to mention their father, too. It would have been a subtle sign from him to Damon to acknowledge that both of them have done unexcusable things. And that they regret them. Maybe not all of them. But some.

  • katherine_fan

    I like this comment but I didn’t like the previous one.”Stefan mentioned Uncle Zach and Lexi, and I guess he named these two to piss off Damon. Because Damon killed them.”I didn’t like this part and that’s why I posted my previous comment.I’m surprised Stefan didn’t mention his father too.

  • Iansfan

    Yep, I´m completely with you. How did Stefan believe Damon would stay when the first two people to be mourned are exactly the two Damon killed… He could have lit the candle for Andie Starr, too as a sign for Damon that he made mistakes too.

  • whoneedsthecullens

    In my first comment I wanted to say that I assumed Stefan was furious about the bloodsharing and so I think that he seized the moment to retaliate on Damon – and I thought that wasn’t so decent, that’s all. But on the other hand Stefan seems to understand what the gang needs (it makes them feel better), and this is a trait I truly admire with him.

  • dman

    I don’t doubt Stefan’s love for Elena, but I think he has this idealistic view of her that he desperately holds on to. To him, she’s the anti-Katherine, the love of his life he was meant to have, all those years ago.  If, somehow, she wasn’t able to live up to those lofty standards, he would lose that hope he gained when she came into his life. The world would then return to the same terrible place it was. 

    Elena holding on to her humanity is vitally important to him. So he coddles her and micromanages her life in order for her to do so. He doesn’t want her to become the monster he knows she can be if she doesn’t adjust properly to her vampirism. But what Stefan fails to realize is that Elena has other people in her life that loves her, and wants the best for her. They’re fully capable of providing help when she needs it. (Maybe not the “it’s personal” kind of help. Haha!) The problem is that he projects his fears and insecurities on her, thereby limiting her options to his way of thinking. He needs to relax and allow her the opportunity to be her own person. Let her learn from a variety of people, so she can become the best vampire she can be.

  • dman

    Stefan’s father died over a hundred and forty years ago. I don’t think it was necessary to mention him. That moment was more for the people that died recently.

  • Stevie1421

    Yep, that’s a really good way of putting it, I think you’re right. Stefan definitely idealizes her, but that’s not going to be easy for her to live up to… especially now. I’m just not sure that idealizing a person is the same as unconditional love, he has to love who she is, not who he wants her to be.

  • From Beginning To End

     Ooh thank you!!!

  • From Beginning To End

     He did look right at him when he said it, I think he might’ve meant to do that a little. I guess he has a right to still be mad about that though.

  • dman

    I think that was one of the reasons Damon left too. By Stefan mentioning Uncle Zach and Lexie, it bought up the guilt and shame Damon felt having being responsible for their deaths. 

    I can’t really blame him for walking away. First, that scene is not his type of thing. Second, who wants to stay in that situation when you’re basically responsible for a third of the people mentioned? So he did what a lot of guys would have done in that situation: he walked away, wishing to be alone with his grief.

    It’s funny, I thought about Andie too. It’s amazing how Stefan “conveniently” forgot to mention her. It must have slipped his mind. lol  If Damon really wanted to stick it to him, he should’ve stayed and mentioned her. He really missed an opportunity. 

    Damon’s inner monologue if he stayed, having mentioned Andie: “Yeah, that’s right Stefan, you’re a monster too. I’m not the only one who killed someone. Take that! By the way, I deliberately wanted Elena to feed on me, and I loved every minute of it. Haha. Also, thanks a lot for not saving my girlfriend, I mean, Elena. I really appreciated that. One more thing: I told you I liked that shirt on you, well, I lied”

    I’m a 100 percent Stefan fan, but no one is above criticism, or from time to time, light teasing.

  • Tia Serena

    Did Connor run out of magic bullets???
    What kind of bullets did he use to shoot Damon? He seemed hurt, but ok after the fight with Connor. No need to extract magical bullets with iron forceps…
    Despite burning to the touch and having strange symbols on them, what told Stefan those bullets would be deadly?

    Really: Bonnie is super powerful, but she is an un-educated witch (she did not even believe witches existed one year ago!) How can she just LOOK at the markings and declare they are not magical? Even Giles would pull down a few volumes ( or the whole library) before declaring the meaning of a symbol. They could even have her “mystically ask” the books before declaring the symbol was not in any of them.

    Also super-kudos to Carol Lockwood! Isn’t she the best mother a vampire-werewolf hybrid could wish for? From waking him up after he was shot, to deciding to call an ambulance as a cover up “the whole town saw my son get shot” she was the star!

  • Tia Serena

    By the way, what took Caroline so long to come down from the bedroom? We all saw she did not bother to dress… And why didn’t anybody superspeed chase Connor? He is only driving a truck….

    Has the cast been stealing wardrobe from Glee? Elena’s pink dress could have came from Rachel’s wardrobe…

  • Nelly

    Salvatores’ dad killed his sons. Perhaps this is the reason why they didn’t named him.
    You wrote that he never really mourned him. I agree with you. My theory is that the fact that he has killed his father is the reason for his Ripper side. I think he couldn’t handle it…his father has shot them, he has stabbed his father and after that he has became a vamp by his father’s blood. Weird and not a good beginning :(

  • whoneedsthecullens

     Oh, I never thought about that. You think that the special circumstances of Stefan’s transition are responsible of his ripper side? Interesting theory. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see whether the writers will someday give us an explanation. Or, since this is kind of the season of transitions, maybe sooner than later.

  • Agnieszka Ehlert

     I like your point of view. My thoughts exactly :)

  • ihatepeople

    I think he did mean it as a little dig. I know he’s pissed about the blood sharing thing but I can’t help but wonder if there is some of that residual Ripper left in him. He recovered from that quickly not in 30 years like he told Elena. He could be trying to hide it. Also there has always been that fundamental difference in behavior between Damon and Stefan. Stefan points out Damon’s flaws to others making himself look like a good guy. Damon let’s it happen and doesn’t point out the good things he does. Instead he let’s people think what they want. Also Damon doesn’t typically point out Stefan’s flaws to others. He gives him a reality check in private. This was an example of their behavior.

  • ihatepeople

    That’s a great summation. It ties in to what JP said over the summer about Stefan not really being who he shows on the surface. She said he has just a little humanity that he holds onto for dear life. Elena’s resemblence to Katherine drew him to her but her humanity is what he loved. It helped him hold onto the little he had.

  • ihatepeople

    You’re right it’s not the same. How can you love who someone really is if you can’t love yourself for who you really are? Holding someone to an unrealistic expection is a recipe for them to fail.

  • m.kyleen

    Connors bullets shot at Tyler would have killed a regular vampire, so says Stefan. So why didn’t they kill Damon?

  • dman

    Because he didn’t shoot Damon with them.

  • Cona

     He didnt shoot him with them or he missed his heart?

  • Cona

    Oh I just cant imagine life without TVD.I really love mad Stefan, the “bite me”, the punch, everything and the glance Liz gave Damon at the grill, adorable!Great review as always I just need to add a few things.
    -Stefan is still so protective over Elena and so worried about her humanity and all that but I think that eventually Elena will realize that she is no longer human and when she starts accepting that and behave and think more like a vampire, Stefan will relax and just be at her side,”solving problems” as equals.I really hope for that.
    -I dont think that Conor’s gloves had vervain,like Tyler said.Vervain doesn’t affect hybrids from what I remember.I think that maybe had to do something with his tattoo which is on that hand, think about that.

  • Tia Serena

    Why not??? Or maybe Stefan’s guess was wrong, and the bullets with the magic symbol is not enough to kill regular vampires.

  • dman

    Go back and watch the episode. You’ll get your answer then.

  • Tania Rahman123

    I thought that Elena not being able to feed on animals or bloodbags was an interesting point, something Katherine never brought up before, actually come to think of it, she has drunk bottled blood, in ‘Katerina’ which Elena gave her. So what’s with Elena’s system rejecting it? Have the writers just thrown in a plot device to have Elena on her way to becoming a Ripper?

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