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TV Review: The Vampire Diaries – “The Birthday”

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The CW’s The Vampire Diaries just happens to begin its third season on Elena’s (Nina Dobrev) 18th birthday, hence the title of the episode, “The Birthday.” Caroline (Candice Accola) throws Elena an unwanted party, and ends up hooking up there with Tyler (Michael Trevino). Too bad Tyler’s mother, Carol (Susan Walters), shoots Caroline with tranquilizers as she tries to sneak out post-relations. Elena doesn’t enjoy her party because she’s concerned with the still MIA Stefan (Paul Wesley). She’s not too happy to learn Damon (Ian Somerhalder) has been secretly tracking Stefan… or rather, the path of bloody bodies Stefan is leaving.

What may be most shocking about “The Birthday” is that Stefan’s actions don’t feel so surprising. He’s a vampire who is good in every episode of the past two seasons, but going bad suits him. It might help that The Vampire Diaries doesn’t actually choose to show Stefan’s brutality towards innocent humans on screen very much, saving the torture for a new werewolf named Ray Sutton (David Gallagher, Seventh Heaven). Telling us that Stefan rips bodies apart and puts them back together instead of showing it almost makes it seem untrue. A few tortured glances, and an anonymous phone call to Elena, show that the Stefan that fans love is still in there, so it’s not as big a deal as one might think.

Oh, except for when he kills Damon’s “girlfriend” right in front of his brother. That’s pretty wicked, and not at all expected of the “nice guy.”

Damon’s actions are understandable, as despite being more of a jerk than Stefan, usually, he is a very honest character. What you see is what you get. He has been hiding what Stefan is doing from Elena because he doesn’t want to see Elena hurt. Damon genuinely cares for Elena, no matter what he says, and the kiss they share last season makes him act a little more kindly towards her. He probably doesn’t really expect to win Elena as a romantic partner anytime soon, but he does want to protect her, and he would like to be with her. Both of those things motivate him to only tell Alaric (Matt Davis) what is going on.

What is going on, exactly? All that is known for sure is that Klaus (Joseph Morgan) wants to make more of his own kind. Roy becomes the first, presumably, since Klaus feeds Roy his blood, then snaps his neck. By next week’s episode, Roy should be the newest vampire / werewolf hybrid on The Vampire Diaries. Whether such a “gift” will win Roy over as an ally, and spur him to lead Klaus and Stefan to his pack, remains to be seen. What Klaus plans on doing with his creations, possibly an army, also remains a mystery thus far.

As for Elena, it’s hard to know what she will do. She seems a bit desperate in “The Birthday,” trying to be happy, and also holding out hope for Stefan. She is somewhat warm towards Damon until she discovers the secret he is keeping from her, but still holds her heart for Stefan. Will she blame Damon, the messenger? Will she be able to forgive Stefan? Either is possible, and both are hinted as likely. But it would certainly help her if Alaric didn’t move off of her couch, as she seems to need someone else around, and when her friends and family keep dying, the possible list of companions is short.

Caroline and Tyler are breaking some sort of serious vampire / werewolf hate pact with their sexual dalliance in “The Birthday.” Yet, the chemistry between the two, building for awhile now, is strong. This must mean that the hatred between the species is a learned behavior, not the way things must be. That’s good news for the happy couple, but bad news for the townspeople who think werewolves are OK, but vampires are evil. Of which Carol must be among the group. Tyler cares enough for Caroline that he will probably defend her from his mother, if he learns what is happening on The Vampire Diaries.

Which might not be the case. After all, Tyler is sound asleep when Carol assaults Caroline. Since Carol is never involved in the town’s anti-vampire stuff, it’s kind of unexpected that she takes this action, and definitely knows what Caroline is. What she will do with Caroline is certainly a question left hanging.

It’s a shame, because that sex scene between Tyler and Caroline is all sorts of hot. Tyler needs to get back, immediately! After all, where else will he and she satisfy their “super horny” supernatural urges?

As obvious from last year’s finale, Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) continues to see dead people. Namely, former love interests Vicki (Kayla Ewell) and Anna (Malese Jow). Is it happening more now because Bonnie (Kat Graham) is out of town, or does that just give Jeremy more time to dwell on it? Either way, it’s enough to keep Jeremy’s mind off of his dead aunt, and on to more immediate concerns. Hopefully, the horrors won’t drive him back into the hard drugs; he already indulges in a little pot in “The Birthday.” But there is hope when he finds a brand new buddy to bond with over the whole thing: Matt (Zach Roerig).

Matt still misses Vicki, his sister, and with the whole supernatural world of The Vampire Diaries only recently visible to him, he surely has lots of questions. Elena is busy, and while there are still some unresolved issues with Caroline, he doesn’t want to be around her much right now, understandably. So he finds his way to Jeremy, providing a pairing the series hasn’t tried up til now. Considering they are two of the few humans left in the cast, it makes sense. With Matt entering this world with an angry revelation, maybe Jeremy can ease him into things a bit more gently. If Matt doesn’t die first, since at this moment, Matt seems the most expendable main character left.

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • malami

    i loved this episode so much it was very sexy and charming