“O Come, All Ye Faithful” S4 / E9
- B+ Community Grade
The Vampire Diaries has always excelled in bringing a plan together. This is partly because plotting is the show’s bread and butter—the one thing that almost always succeeds even when other things are failing—and partly because of the way every single plan anyone in Mystic Falls has fails in the most spectacularly entertaining way imaginable. After a long stretch of frustrating yet fascinating episodes, “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” finally felt like The Vampire Diaries again, in that everyone's plans failed miserably. Merry Christmas to all, indeed!
Throughout all my talk over the past few episodes of how the show was on the wrong path with sire bonds, vampire cures, and lost character agency, the one thing that’s always been right about this season was the plot. The story of Professor Shane and his still somewhat mysterious quest to open Silas’ grave and retrieve “the cure” evolved slowly, deliberately, and almost quietly, touching all of the characters in different ways; from Bonnie’s ill-advised mentor relationship with Shane, to Connor’s badass vampire hunter rise and fall that led to Jeremy’s new destiny as a hunter, to Klaus and his quest to cure Elena so she can help him make hybrids again, to Hayley’s quest to help Shane and find information about her parents, literally everyone in the entire cast is wrapped up in the story somehow, and it is weaving a web I can’t wait for the show to fully untangle.
Tonight’s winter finale was the first step in bringing everything together, bringing Tyler’s quest to use his unsired hybrids to defeat Klaus into the fold as well. What we know about Professor Shane’s ultimate plan is that it involves “expression” magic, a magic so evil it only works with human sacrifice, and Pastor Young blowing up the 12 members of the council in the season premiere was just the beginning. Whatever Shane is up to, it requires at least 12 more sacrifices of the hybrid variety, and Hayley’s job was to deliver them on a silver platter. So while Tyler believed he was unsiring hybrids to ultimately have them rise up against Klaus and defeat him for good, Hayley was working an entirely different agenda, one that ended with her offering up all of the hybrids to Klaus for him to slaughter in a murder montage so incredible it literally sent me into a fit of gleeful cackling.
Klaus is such a tricky character—invincible, wounded, strangely sensitive, and evil-but-not-always—that he needed a moment like this to feel whole again within the world of the show. Klaus is a great character, and Joseph Morgan is a fantastic actor, but an invincible bully who sits around drawing pictures of horses just isn’t compelling in the long haul. The Klaus presented here tonight, the one who has absolute power but whose soul suffers because of it, the one who kills Tyler’s mother because he knows that’s a much more evil punishment than killing Tyler himself, that’s the Klaus the show needs.
The other big thing this episode needed to deal with was the sire bond between Damon and Elena. Despite all of my reservations about the implications of this storyline, discussed ad nauseum over the past few weeks, the sire bond is what we’ve got, and the show managed to deal with it in what appears to be the best way possible. I still hate how the sire bond takes away Elena’s agency, her choice to be with Damon or not, but what I think the writers are actually trying to do here is for Damon’s character, and in that regard, it’s been pretty fantastic. The sire bond is ultimately about Damon’s realization he would do anything for Elena—even if that means sending her away. By doing this for Damon’s character, if he and Elena find their way back to each other, their relationship has the potential to be even stronger. So yes, this story does have an upside. But no matter how much Damon’s journey resonated tonight, I still believe there was a better way to get here than sacrificing Elena’s agency.
The most notable discussion tonight, however, had nothing to do with the sire bond: It was Stefan and Caroline finally realizing that their merry band of vampires, witches, and hybrids aren’t the moral pinnacle of the universe. The show’s strange moral relativity has always been a bit of a sore spot, so Stefan realizing that Klaus isn’t necessarily that much more evil than he is feels like a pretty essential character moment. This could just be a way to bring Klaus more into the fold, to recognize that they’re more alike than different and develop him as a legitimate love interest for Caroline, but it also could be the first step in Stefan remembering that his actions aren’t that different from Damon’s either. And that would probably be the most important point of character actualization anyone on the show could ever have.
But what does this all mean for the show when it returns in January? Damon will be working with Jeremy to help him kill enough vamps to complete his tattoo. Elena will be back in Mystic Falls, far away from Damon. Klaus and Tyler will be headed toward an epic confrontation. And Professor Shane will be doing anything possible to fulfill his evil plan, which more and more looks like some sort of plot to resurrect his dead wife and child.
And we we all know from Stephen King, nothing good could possibly come of that.
- I feel pretty ripped off that we didn’t get to see Klaus in a Santa hat, but I suppose the extended sequence of amazing violence will have to do.
- April discovering Rebekah’s daggered body was perhaps my favorite part of the episode. Finally, all of that “Have you guys seen Rebekah?” foreshadowing pays off!
- So Jeremy’s still in love with Bonnie, then? That was a plot point the show completely dropped for a while and then suddenly remembered just in time to be useful. It’s like Jeremy forgot Bonnie existed, which is understandable since the show does sometimes, too.
- Why do vampires have safes if everyone they know can just rip the door right off? New business idea: Super strong safes for super strong supes!
- Elena: “I have to meet Bonnie. She’s teaching Jeremy how not to kill me.”