I watched this episode of The Vampire Diaries with a non-fan (non-hater neither guys, don’t worry). While explaining some of the back-stories to her, I pointed to Elena and said, “Basically everyone she’s ever loved or cared about has died.” That turned out to be the through-line of this second episode of the season, “Memorial.” Now, I wasn’t around to recap last week’s premiere, but here’s a few points you might want to get caught up on.
Elena told Stefan to save Matt after the car accident. She died with vampire blood in her system and so she came back (say it with me now) as a vampire. The Salvatore brothers tried to prevent Elena from turning, but by the end of the episode she had fed and the transformation was complete.
Bonnie, in trying to bring Elena back from the dead, upset some kind of magic balance and the spirits took it out on Grams. (But she’s already dead, so it’s really anyone’s guess what that actually means. She seemed to be being tortured and her veins popped out—as veins are wont to do in this universe.)
At the very end of the episode, Pastor Young stands in his ranch with the Council, unplugs a gas line, and lights a match. Why does no one stop him when he’s talking all dramatically? I couldn’t tell you. So boom (literally) the problem of Pastor Young is solved but….
This week’s episode starts with Elena in the forest, trying to learn how to feed off of animals. Stefan and Damon have been fighting over how to best acclimate Elena to her new bloodthirsty life. Stefan wants to teach her to survive on animal blood so that she won’t go too far and kill someone. Damon thinks the best way for her to learn to “control the bloodlust” is to experience the bloodlust. They have different ways of wanting to protect her that correspond to their personalities, you see. Oh wait, you get it because it’s the theme of the entire show? Oh ok, good.
Back in the woods things start to get hot and heavy between Elena and Stefan, but she runs away quickly and vomits blood. I guess she doesn’t really have a taste for deer. (Opening title card)
Next, we meet new character Connor Jordan (who insists on introducing himself as Con Jorda . . . so I had to keep rewinding it to get his name) who finds a note marked “April” in the oven at the ranch-turned-crime scene.
April, if you guys don’t remember, is Pastor Young’s daughter who’s now back from boarding school and sort of flirting with Jeremy on the schoolyard.
At the Salvatore Boarding House, just as Stefan and Elena are about to enjoy some champagne (to celebrate her eating deer’s blood for the first time), Damon calls to inform them about the Council’s demise. Elena goes to meet Damon at the Grill and confides in him that the deer blood just isn’t doing the trick. Damon takes Elena to the bathroom and tells her to feed on him. Now, clearly Elena doesn’t know the significance of this action (we don’t really either, but clearly it’s “kinda personal”), because she sucks away at his hand as he strokes her hair.
Cut to Tyler and Caroline in bed. Caroline doesn’t want to get busy, because of what just happened to the Council. Tyler justifies it as “grief sex” and continues, “Besides, if we stopped having sex every time someone died in this town, we’d explode.” (Non-fan friend: “Is that the Jeremy guy?” To be fair, they all do look alike at first.
Connor Jordan comes a-knocking at Tyler’s door with questions for Tyler’s mom about the obviously-not-an-accident fire at the ranch. He enters the house uninvited. I fully believe he comes in without being asked to prove to us that he’s not a vampire. Connor shakes Tyler’s hand and Tyler screams in pain. Connor’s got some kind of sneaky vervain glove. Instantly, Connor shoots Tyler.
Tyler escapes and we next see Stefan pulling specialty bullets out of him at the Salvatores’. The bullets “burn to the touch” and Stefan says that if Tyler weren’t a hybrid he’d be dead. Thank God he is, because I’d miss those abs.
At the church ceremony for the deceased Council, Elena has a heart-to-heart with April. Elena asks her “Are you gonna survive this?” I think this question shows some excellent writing. Elena’s been around enough death to know how to not sugarcoat grief or pain. She doesn’t ask the usual “Are you going to be ok?” because she remembers giving her own lie to similar questions. April confides that she’s worried about what to say and also that no one will want to say nice things about her father. Elena tries to comfort her, but begins to see April’s wrist veins throbbing—heightened senses are a pain—and runs away quickly.
There’s a particularly graphic scene of Elena throwing up huge amounts of blood in the toilet and then in the sink. Blood spatters on her dress. Elena calls Damon to bring her another outfit but as she’s waiting (Damon’s so near!) the vampire hunter (Conna Jorda) comes to the door. The scene of Elena trying to mop up all her spewed blood is just pathetic enough to make its graphicness easier to handle. Damon gets to the church bathroom and passes Elena her dress, refusing to shake the hand of Connor who is waiting near the door. Smooth, Damon!
Shock number… let’s just say a bazillion at this point, comes when Connor sneaks up on April, who is sitting on the church’s balcony, and stabs her. What the what?
Outside the church, Damon gives Elena a blood bag, but it’s still not enough to satiate her. Elena goes inside, but Stefan shows up at the church to see Damon pick up the bag. Damon obviously reveals all to Stefan, taking pleasure in telling Stefan that Elena fed on his blood. I guess in the vampire world, feeding on another vampire definitely classifies as “cheating-cheating.”
The scene in the church is one of the most expertly constructed scenes of the episode. Dying April sits on the floor of the balcony, with Connor becoming a sniper, ready to attack his vampire victims below. We know all the vampires we love in the church are in danger if any of them make the wrong move (after all, the bullets are deadly). As Elena goes up to speak at the pulpit, we wonder if Connor has figured her out. April’s blood drips from the balcony into the holy water below. All the vampires can smell it, but know not to move. Yet Elena has the hardest time resisting her urge to feed.
After the commercial break, Stefan helps Elena back to her seat, Matt offers to let her feed on him (she really can’t control her urges). Connor watches as Elena and Matt make every correct move, positioning Elena’s sharp-fanged bite in such a way that it looks as if she is grieving with her head on Matt’s shoulders. But there’s still no escape and April is dying. Finally, Tyler knows what to do. He stands up to give a speech about the importance of teamwork. As he is talking, Connor fires and everyone scatters. Talk about taking one for the team.
Damon runs out to Connor’s car ready to kill, but Connor shoots him and gets away.
Back inside the church, Caroline is, as usual, proving that she means business. First, she pulls the stake out of Tyler. Then she saves April from Elena. You see, Elena wants to save April, but the smell of all that blood proves too much for her to handle and she almost attacks. Caroline not only stops Elena and calms her down, but she helps her by convincing Elena to compel April into believing that everything is going to be ok.
There’s a short scene at the Grill here where Jeremy sees a tattoo on Connor that no one else can see. What does it mean? Seriously, what does it mean? Ugh… I want to know so badly. What is Jeremy? Can’t we see more of him?
At a desk, Connor reads April’s note from her father. Apparently a greater evil is coming. So that is Connor, right? What else could it be?
At the Salvatores’, Elena finally admits that she has had enough of all the death and destruction around her. “My life is like a never-ending funeral,” she cries. Seriously, like three people die per every episode.
In the end, Stefan decides to throw an impromptu memorial to help Elena. The team lights lanterns for people who they have lost. Damon doesn’t want to do it and leaves. Elena gives a dedication to her family and everyone who they have lost and, heartbreakingly, adds herself to the list. It’s true that Elena has to come to terms with dying, even if she’s still on earth.
The final scene is like a gut-punch. Damon sits in the graveyard, drinking per usual, and complaining about how silly the whole idea of those lanterns is. It’s Alaric’s grave, and you see his spirit just the right amount of times in this scene. Damon concludes about death, “Because in the end, when you lose somebody, every candle, every prayer is not gonna make up for the fact that the only thing that you have left is a hole in your life where that somebody that you cared about used to be. And a rock with a birthday carved into it that I’m pretty sure is wrong.” It’s a reminder that Damon processes pain differently than Stefan or anybody else, but it has just enough darkness and sincerity in it to work. We know he’s right that things aren’t going to get better in Mystic Falls, but we can’t help but feel like it means something that he can say exactly how he feels.
So what did all you Delena fans think of this episode? It sort of seems like this whole “choice” thing still means Elena just uses whatever brother is convenient for her. I don’t really mind yet, mainly because I find the idea of any of the main character’s alone entirely devastating.
Also, let me know what you guys want to see in these recaps: less plot, more adjectives to describe Ian Somerhalder’s eyes (is “dream pools” a thing?)? I aim to please.
Screencaps via the CW