'The Vampire Diaries' Season 4 Review: New Season, New Vampire
'The Vampire Diaries' Season 4 Review: New Season, New Vampire
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
There's a new vampire in town when The Vampire Diaries season 4 begins. But a newly undead Elena is not the only thing happening on the show. Romance, betrayal, death and a whole lot of bloody intrigue are coming back as well.

Does it all work in The Vampire Diaries season 4? In a word, yes. In a lot of words... Read this review to find out.

WARNING: There are very minor Vampire Diaries season 4 spoilers contained in this review. But don't worry -- they will not ruin anything for you.

Season 4 of The Vampire Diaries begins a short time after the tragic events seen in the season 3 finale. Elena -- fed vampire blood and then killed in a plunge off Wickery Bridge -- wakes up in transition to become a vampire.

Needless to say, she is not very happy about this.

Neither is anyone else, and the TVD season 4 premiere spends most of the rest of the episode dealing with everyone's reaction to the newest vampire-to-be. Meanwhile, we also get a look at the fallout in the Founders' Council after Alaric outed the many vampires.

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Do these plots make for a compelling season 4 premiere? Mostly...

On a basic level, The Vampire Diaries season 4 premiere has everything that fans love about the show. Romance is a central factor in every decision. Our heroes find themselves in grave peril. Magic solves some problems and causes others. People die in various and violent ways.

But the season premiere is not perfect. A little too much time is spent on the issue of whether or not Elena can be saved from a vampire fate. Considering that the impossibility of this is made clear right at the beginning of the episode, it's hard to believe that Elena and the others will succeed in keeping her human. Thus, 40-ish minutes wondering feel like something of a waste.

The villains in the premiere don't help. We haven't met most of the Founders' Council, so they do not make for the strong antagonists we are used to on The Vampire Diaries.

None of this, however, ruins the episode. And there are a lot of great moments as well. A scene that could have been hokey or sentimental -- the return of Elena's memories about Damon -- is instead handled with care and appropriate reactions from the characters. Meanwhile, each character truly feels anguish at this impossible situation. They express it well, and the emotions carry over to the audience.

And then there is the performance of the episode -- Michael Trevino ditches his Tyler persona and almost effortlessly embodies the cultured menace of Klaus. Trevino wisely avoids fake accents or strange actions and instead uses speech inflections and facial expressions to make us believe that a new character is living inside his skin. It's an impressive job from one of the show's usual supporting characters.

The flaws I saw in the premiere episode fortunately do not continue into the second episode of the season, "Memorial." The issue of Elena's transition out of the way, The Vampire Diaries easily settles back into its usual fast-paced, high-stakes plotting. The premiere episode may be just an average TVD offering, but the follow-up is excellent.

The quality of The Vampire Diaries has not died with Elena. It lives on, fully alive and not undead at all.

The Vampire Diaries season 4 premieres on Thursday, October 11 at 8pm on The CW.

(Images courtesy of The CW)