Of all the returning shows this season, The Vampire Diaries has to be near the top in terms of high expectations. Losing some of its admirable momentum during its relatively unpopular third season, old and new fans were waiting with bated breath to see whether the show could tackle its biggest game-changer yet. Elena is now a member of team undead, and absolutely everyone in Mystic Falls has something to say about it. Will this be the shot in the arm the series needs or a massive mistake?
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Having now seen the results, I’m confident that it’s the best decision the executive producers ever made. Viewers already love the characters enough to overlook any change of species, but to do it to your star is an admirably bold move. We see Elena’s transition from start to finish in heartbreaking detail, from the moment she discovers her death to her eventual fate, and it’s the best outcome any fan could have hoped for. We saw Vicky and Caroline change in previous seasons, of course, but the writers have decided here to show us the process from Elena’s point of view, with memories flooding back and blood lust setting in.
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Most people would have been satisfied with an entirely Elena-centric episode focusing on her emotional journey towards vampirism, but The Vampire Diaries has never been satisfied with doing one plot line at one time. Instead, we get an action-packed premiere with resolutions and set-ups for almost all of our beloved characters, dealing with the love triangle all over again as well as Klaus and Tyler’s body-swap, Bonnie’s increased power, Matt’s guilt, Alaric’s betrayal and Caroline’s state as a fugitive. There are also some intriguing new characters and a shift in the rules of Mystic Falls that could alter the show forever.
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Predictably, Damon isn’t best pleased with Stefan’s decision to save Matt from the car wreck first, and takes his frustration out on almost everyone he meets. Not forgetting that around ten minutes before her death, Elena had chosen Stefan over her broodier suitor, we’ve been promised a darker, more ruthless Damon this season and I, for one, can’t wait. Thankfully (and this is coming from a Delena fan), the writers have decided not to do a U-turn on her decision and she’s, for now, happily in love with Stefan. That’s not before she remembers some important moments, however, but they’re not as big of a sway as many would have hoped.
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