Is it possible to overcome a major tragedy and still not lose your identity in the process? That's part of the premise behind the fourth season of the CW's hit show "The Vampire Diaries," which followed a group of very uniquely gifted friends. The show has come a long way from its humble beginnings, but it still has to work on a few things as well.
"The Vampire Diaries" followed newly turned vampire Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) as she tried to cope with what her life has become. She has started to turn her secret crush Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) instead of her boyfriend/Damon's brother Stefan (Paul Wesley) to learn how to be a vampire. Of course, it was revealed that her attachment to Damon was based on the fact that she was sired to him and her feelings might not be real. Her ex-boyfriend Matt (Zach Roerig) had tried to relieve his guilt by becoming a means to help Elena go through her uneasy transition. Elena also had to contend with her brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) becoming a vampire hunter who wanted to kill her. Luckily, she had good friends in Bonnie (Kat Graham) and Caroline (Candice Accola) who were both supernaturally gifted in their own ways. Caroline was caught in a supernatural triangle with Tyler (Michael Trevino) and Klaus (Joseph Morgan) that could turn deadly if either of them gets their way. What will happen if Klaus goes too far and Tyler has to pay the price for a plan that has gone awry?
In terms of questions, the show posed that question just before its winter finale and left viewers shocked as Klaus seemingly killed off Tyler's mother in response to a failed attempt to killing Klaus. It should be interesting to see the fallout when Tyler gets the news and how he deals with the betrayal of his friend Hayley (guest star Phoebe Tonkin) for her own personal gain. Trevino's evolution as Tyler has come a long way since the show's beginning. When the series started, Trevino's Tyler was a dismissive jock, but he had since made Tyler a viable leading man who was someone viewers shouldn't ignore. Trevino had a strong chemistry with Accola's Caroline that was full of enough comedy and drama to keep viewers interested. Sadly, the show has tended to pull too much of an emphasis on certain characters (Elena, the Salvatore brothers, and Caroline), while others have been more overlooked (Bonnie and Matt) a little too often. It's understandable that a show with a large enough cast that not everyone gets the same level of story line attention, but let's hope that both Graham and Roerig will get their own stories sooner rather than later.
As for breakout stars, Dobrev and Somerhalder excelled this time around because they were able to explore their rumored off-camera chemistry in a batch of episodes that allowed them to be a couple for a short time. It's a shame that the show hasn't given Elena a proper amount of time to explore a true relationship with Damon based on a biased support for her history with Stefan. Dobrev was able to give Elena a new level of strength and recklessness that allowed her character to finally let loose every once in a while. She was also able to catch a few jokes and didn't sulk as much as she did in previous seasons. Somerhalder, on the other hand, had the opportunity to the perfect anti-hero who made mistakes, but he always did the right thing even when it hurt him to. Sadly, this season's biggest casualty has been McQueen's newly crowned vampire hunter. The story line seemed silly and it hasn't delivered much complications aside from some obvious ones involving Elena. It would've worked if McQueen's Jeremy had embraced his character's choices and didn't spend most of the time fighting his feelings. Let's hope that the show will remedy this and give McQueen's character a true direction, even if it meant him leaving the show in one form or another.
"The Vampire Diaries" premiered on October 11th and airs Thursdays at 8:00 PM on the CW. New episodes return on January 17th.
Verdict: The triangle between Damon, Elena and Stefan hits new heights, but the rest of the cast is still getting equal amounts of story time as well.
TV Score: 4 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)