The Vampire Diaries: The Birthday (Review)

The Vampire Diaries: The Birthday

Here after four months, The Vampire Diaries returned to the small screen. I must say, despite my excitement and satisfaction with several key scenes, I can’t help but admit that the season three premiere was a bit of a letdown. Just where did “The Birthday” fall short?

Vampire Diaries The BirthdayPicking up a few months after the season two finale, Elena (Nina Debrov) and Damon(Ian Somerhalder) are still diligently working to track down Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Klaus (Joseph Morgan, now a series regular). With the help of Andie Star (Dawn Olivieri) and Alaric (Matthew Davis), Damon has had success in identifying the trail left by his brother and the Original hybrid. He’s shielded Elena from the knowledge of Stefan returning to his full-fledged ripper status. Up until the end of the episode, Damon no doubt believes Stefan will come back. That all changes after Stefan compels Andie to fall to her death in front of Damon that he loses faith, calling both his and Elena’s hope foolish. It’s devastating news to Elena though her faith, shaken as it may be from Damon’s admonishment, still remains.

Aside from the primary vein of the story centering on the threesome, Klaus reveals his plan to find werewolves in order to create an army of hybrid creatures like himself. It’s difficult to say whether this is his end game in total but, knowing him (and the fact that we’re only an episode into the new season) it seems like there will be more to his plan than that (world domination, perhaps?)

Several side stories introduced last season are touched on. Alaric is still dealing with his grief of losing another woman he loved and is starting to question his worth, not only to himself but as the father-figure he’s been to Elena and Jeremy (Steven R McQueen) over the summer. Speaking of Jeremy, he’s still being haunted by the ghosts of his former crushes—Vicki (Kayla Ewell) and Anna (Malese Jow). With Bonnie (Kat Graham) out of town and Elena dealing with her own troubles, Jeremy has kept the ghostly visits to himself. One has to wonder how long he will be able to do so and, more to the point, what the ghosts are trying to communicate.

Caroline (Candice Accola) and Tyler (Michael Trevino) are chummy as ever though the UST (unresolved sexual tension for the non fanfiction folks out there) is extra spicy this episode, with both characters spitting out blatant innuendoes that are made me want to scream “Just do it already!”. Someone must have been listening as Caroline’s jealousy gets the best of her at the party when Tyler brings a date. After giving in to their baser urges, Caroline tries to slip out unnoticed when she runs into Tyler’s mom. Carol Lockwood (Susan Walters) puts Caroline down for the count with vervane laced darts in the first twist of the new season.

Though there was a decent amount of interesting events in “The Birthday”, there were a few hiccups along the way. Some parts felt a bit too disjointed—Damon going from covering up evidence for Stefan to watching Elena get ready for her party seemed to rushed, the editing just not hitting it right. Andie’s death, while dramatic in the sense Stefan being the cause, was more of an empty ploy to showcase Stefan’s new attitude (as if the two women’s bodies in Tennessee didn’t already verify that much). Though I know it was a season premiere and the need to get everyone screen time is a concern, the narrative was definitely hampered with all the subplots being established. I have no doubt it will get better when episodes are limited to the main plotline and only a couple of subplots but as it was, the clutter took a bit away from the episode’s intended power. Even Elena’s heartfelt message to a silent and tortured Stefan to stay strong would have been more poignant had the previous fifty-five minutes been a little more focused.

Despite my complaints, this was not a bad episode by any stretch though it falls well short of the power and tightness displayed throughout last season. It’s a solid effort though not one I’ll be chomping at the bit to watch again.

Vampire Bites:
  • Carol taking down Caroline did provide an interesting twist. Is she working with Sherriff Forbes, another unknown or does she have her own agenda? What will Tyler’s reaction be when he finds out his mom’s behind Caroline’s probable disappearance?
  • Nina and Ian did a great job as Elena and Damon, respectively, trading the subtle looks of two people that know there’s something between them but cannot act upon it. It will be an up and down ride as they search for Stefan and, become even closer.
  • I know what Klaus says in the preview about building hybrid comrades but you have to wonder, just what else there is to his focus…is there something that happened in the past for him to go in this direction?
  • A lingering question from last season; when Damon was fed Klaus’s blood to cure the werewolf bite, was that a one-time thing or it will it give him immunity (or at least a healthy resistance) to future wolf bites?

Rating: B-

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– Darryl (follow @djasper07 on Twitter)
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