The Vampire Diaries season premiere recap: Death Becomes Her

Elena's fate is decided, while Bonnie angers the spirits again and Klaus and Rebekah have a serious falling out
Ep. 01 | Aired Oct 11, 2012

FRIENDS IN LOW PLACES Bonnie (Kat Graham) tried to save Elena (Nina Dobrev) from having to become a vampire, but couldn't.

Bob Mahoney/The CW

Let's go ahead and add this to the list of Vampire Diaries episodes that made us misty. And gave us chills. As I said in my instant react, we all knew Elena would complete her transition and become a vampire, so this episode had to deliver in emotion what it couldn’t offer in suspense. And for me, the goodbye scene between Stefan and Elena did. It's funny, I've already read comments from some people saying they felt too much was crammed into the hour and others saying it felt too repetitive. I think four things happened here:

1. They really wanted to make this episode accessible for new fans. By doing so, they had to keep rehashing themes diehards are very familiar with in dialogue, like Stefan will always respect Elena's choice and Damon won't if he thinks it's one that will cause him to lose her. The goal, I assume, was to do it in a clever way that felt like a payoff for longtime viewers and not a rerun. It may not have always worked.

2. We've been so Original and love-triangle focused that seeing all those different faces on the Council members may have felt... off. We had this intense little world last season, and opening it up left some air out of it. For now. After we meet this new vampire hunter arriving in next week's episode and begin to learn his story -- which will add to the mythology of the show and give us a direction for the season -- I think we'll feel more at home.

3. They knew they couldn't drag out Elena's decision on transitioning for more than one episode, so a lot did have to go on at the same time in this hour -- which meant a lot of cutting back and forth between story lines.

4. Delena fans don't like being reminded that Elena chose Stefan and watching her reaffirm that decision multiple times. (Reminder: I am Switzerland. Exhibit A. Exhibit B.)

Let's dig in.

Diehards will have already seen the opening scene, which was released online. It played out as you'd expect: Damon wanted Elena to feed immediately; Stefan didn't. He wanted to give Bonnie time to ask the witch spirits, who'd helped her bring Jeremy back to life at the end of season 2, if they could make Elena human again. Elena never wanted to become a vampire, so that was her preferred plan, too. "You're choice, Elena. As always," Damon said. He was pissed at Stefan for saving Matt first, as Elena had requested. "And now the world has one more quarterback. Bravo, brother," Damon told Stefan. "I made a choice that I will regret for the rest of my life. Now let me try to fix it," Stefan said.

Even though we know Jeremy's history with vampires, and that Elena is the only family he has left, I still found the words he used when he told her he couldn't lose her -- "I need my sister, not another one of them" -- jarring. That worries me. Jeremy's in need of a new story line. He wouldn't turn on Elena, right? But what about the other vampires?

Over to Bonnie, the deal Bonnie made with Klaus in the season 3 finale was that he'd leave Tyler's body and jump into someone else's. But that was when he thought he'd be a pile of ash. Fate, oxygen, and viewers' love of Joseph Morgan's devilish smile, accent, and soft eyes when Klaus feels alone and cries, intervened. Now Klaus wanted back in his own body, especially because Tyler and Caroline had been outed to the Council. Bonnie told him she couldn't do it right now -- she had to focus on Elena's problem first. Bonnie's excellent at talking when someone is strangling her: She convinced Klaus to move to the back of the line by reminding him that if she keeps Elena human, he still has his blood supply to make hybrids. In exchange, Klaus told her no one could know it was him in Tyler's body.

Speaking of the Council, Pastor Young showed up at the hospital to let Meredith know that the Council was cracking down on vampires and those who are friendly toward them. He told Meredith she should look for a new job and sent men to secure the blood bank and check the rooms. Caroline was in a room with Matt, who sadly had already put his T-shirt back on after presumably changing out of a hospital gown. Damn his layering. He felt guilty for Elena being a vampire, and Caroline felt lost because her plan to run away with Tyler had died with him. They heard a Council member coming, and Caroline was nowhere to be seen when he burst into the room. We never found out where she'd gone. The guy did a piss poor job searching the place, so she could have just hid under the bed or behind the curtain. As Sheriff Forbes and Mayor Lockwood were taken into custody for questioning and shut out of their offices, Caroline was at home packing her bags. Liz called her to make sure she'd left town and overheard her getting vervained.

NEXT: Laugh, Stefan!

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