December 15, 2012



Among other things, the midseason finale of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES gets credit for the season’s most subversive use of Christmas carols, playing cheerily under ancient vampire Klaus (Joseph Morgan) as he first slaughtered a dozen vampire-werewolf hybrids, and then cold-bloodedly drowned Mayor Lockwood (Susan Walters) as a blow against her son Tyler (Michael Trevino), who had launched the abortive hybrid revolt against him.  Have yourself a merry little Christmas, indeed.

Vampire Diaries never runs out of plot.  Under the supervision of co-creator/showrunner Julie Plec, who co-wrote this week’s episode with Executive Story Editor Michael J. Cinquemani, there’s no shortage of complicated schemes by which the various supernatural inhabitants of Mystic Falls plot to get secret information from each other or avenge long-held grudges.  This season has been dominated by the giant twist that ended last season:  the transformation of Elena (Nina Dobrev), previously the show’s most prized human, into a vampire.   Many consequences followed, some of them romantic:  since it was the blood of bad-boy vampire Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) in her veins when she died as a human, she’s bonded to him as her sire, obedient to his every whim.  That means that her apparent post-vampiric love for him may not be real–although since it’s been latent for a while, maybe it is real.  In any case, the pair finally had hot vampire sex, before Damon did the right thing at this episode’s close and sent her away, but not before breaking his (mostly) good-guy brother Stefan’s (Paul Wesley) heart.

That’s just the beginning.  It turns out there may be a cure for vampires, but in classic Vampire Diaries style, it can only be found via a map that gradually appears on the arm of a mystically-compelled vampire hunter (one of “The Five”) with each bloodsucker he kills, and then interpreted either with a sword controlled by Klaus or by finding the grave of some ancient vampire whose location had been known by Professor Atticus Shane (David Alpay) before he was inconveniently murdered by Klaus this week.  Luckily, or maybe not so luckily, Elena’s brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) has become one of those mystical vampire hunters.  And Klaus actually wants to help cure Elena, not because he cares about her, but because her human blood is (don’t ask) the key to creating those vampire-werewolf hybrids that are bonded to Klaus for eternal life… unless they undergo an agonizing deprogramming procedure that Tyler’s pioneered.

There’s more, including the Miss Mystic Falls who’s apparently about to return Klaus’s sister Rebekah (Claire Holt) from the semi-dead, and the hybrid Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin, who wasn’t trustworthy on The Secret Circle either) who led her fellow hybrids to the slaughter as part of some deal with Klaus.  Suffice it to say that things are never dull on The Vampire Diaries.

Apart from its impressive array of complex but (on their own terms) logical storylines, Diaries has become a pleasure that’s only moderately guilty thanks to the sardonic humor of its dialogue.  Most of the best lines go to Damon, Klaus and Rebekah (the most murderously mean of mean girls), but everyone gets some self-mocking bits (well, except Jeremy–Jeremy is just dull).  There’s a love-hate relationship that’s been going on since last season between Klaus and vampire Caroline (Candice Accola) that’s so delicious the two could topline a very bloody rom-com spinoff of their own.   The proceedings never become overtly silly as on True Blood, just funny enough so that it’s clear the characters (and writers) are as aware as we are that things around there are seriously haywire.

In its fourth season, Vampire Diaries remains a tremendously entertaining mix of suspense, humor and supernatural sex, as well as being CW’s biggest hit.  Since vampires, unless otherwise terminated, go on forever, there’s no reason to think the show won’t continue for some lifetimes to come.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."