Benedict Cumberbatch wears his sunglasses on set, while Martin Freeman tries to stay warm.
TV review: The Vampire Diaries season four starts well
Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley. Image: ITV
The Vampire Diaries stars Ian Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore, Nina Dobrev as Elena Gilbert and Paul Wesley as Stefan Salvatore. It's all change in Mystic Falls as Elena begins her vampire transformation and a deadly new threat rolls into town.
Everything about Elena's transition is represented excellently, with the show paying extra attention to the smaller details.
Klaus (Joseph Morgan) hijacking Tyler's (Michael Trevino) body is a plot that seems both shoehorned in and rushed. If The Vampire Diaries wasn't prepared to commit to it, perhaps it shouldn't have attempted it in the first place.
The term "game-changer" is thrown around in the world of television all too frequently. However, the third season finale of The Vampire Diaries fundamentally altered the core premise of the show and is as close to a true game-changer as can be found.
Looking back on it now, the visually stunning sequence of Elena's death and the shocking reveal of her impending transformation seem like an inevitability.
"...as close to a true game-changer as can be found."
Of course, the show was always going to eventually change her character from the one who constantly lives to fight another day to the one who'll live forever.
Season four's opener (entitled Growing Pains) deals with Elena's transition as Bonnie (Kat Graham) scrambles to keep her alive using dark magic and Stefan attempts to help her adapt.
A solid return
As potentially interesting as the other story threads are, I can't help but feel that the episode would've been best served by keeping its attention specifically on these elements.
Additionally, the Council start enacting a plan to exterminate the supernatural creatures in the town while Klaus saves Caroline (Candice Accola) and angrily forces Bonnie to return him to his own body.
Both of these stories feel rushed, but because the Council threat clearly exists to establish a season-long conflict, it is less irritating.
These villains feel creepy and they have the potential to be incredibly dangerous. By the end of the episode, they may appear to be dealt with, but this is The Vampire Diaries so I'd count on a few big twists to come.
Klaus stealing Tyler's body is a story that doesn't really end up working at all. I like how quickly Caroline pieces together what has happened but in the end, the whole thing seems to just be a way of keeping Klaus around.
Is The Vampire Diaries better than True Blood?
Thanks for being one of the first people to vote. Results will be available soon. Check for results
- 85 %Yes - True Blood is ludicrous
- No - The Vampire Diaries is overrated
I think he's probably overstayed his welcome and the show should be looking for a way to get by without him.
The best parts of the episode focussed on Elena's gradual and unavoidable transition into a vampire. Facing the finality of her death, Elena says goodbye to Stefan in a heart-wrenching scene that echoes the chemistry shared between the characters and is delivered brilliantly.
The lingering shots of blood trickling towards her just before she feeds are also expertly executed.
I can't say the love triangle that exists between Elena and the Salvatore brothers is my favourite component of The Vampire Diaries, but I'm glad the show is providing us with reasons to root for both brothers.
Damon's commitment to Elena means he'll always put her survival ahead of others; Stefan, though, honours her wishes even if it means that she'll die. They both have her interests at heart, but in very different ways.
Balancing numerous plot threads and delivering where it matters, Growing Pains gets the fourth season of The Vampire Diaries off to a promising start. More emphasis on Elena would've been appreciated, but I expect there'll be a lot of that soon. Ultimately, everything is now in place for another fast-paced and exciting season.
- Verdict: An entertaining and absorbing hour that establishes the drama for the season.
What other reviews say
SFX - "So, lots of promising new plot developments to explore this year."
Den of Geek: "A demonstration in how to re-energise a show without upsetting existing viewers."
What people on Twitter said
@EmoQuotess - "Vampire Diaries was soooo good. Watching it again because I'm obsessed!! #TVD"
@sianyborrill - "So, The Vampire Diaries season 4 first episode was pretty epic. So glad Ian Somerhalder is back on my tv screen again. #itv2 #tvd"
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