The Vampire Diaries 4.11 “Catch Me If You Can” TV REVIEW
Writers: Brian Young, Michael Narducci
Director: John Dahl
THE ONE WHERE Kol throws a spanner in Klaus’s plans by compelling Damon to hunt and kill Jeremy.
VERDICT After a run of a few too many okayish to average episodes The Vampire Diaries finally reminds us what it’s really capable of when the writing's on fire and the direction is on form. “Catch Me If You Can” is almost the complete opposite of last week’s listless installment. While “After School Hours” completely ballsed up its cliffhanger (with Jeremy, Damon and Matt in a bar full of slowly awakening, newly-turned vampires courtesy of Klaus who wants to see his hunter in action), this episode shows how it should be done. The precredit sequence is edgy, nasty, icky and beautifully shot with some great use of deep focus and unnerving close-ups,
The quality rarely lets up for the next 40 minutes or so, and there are countless great moments, and a plot that keeps throwing up little surprises. Just when you think you can see where the episode’s heading – Jeremy is going to have to kill the vampires and thus reveal his mystical map tattoo for Klaus – Kol unexpected shows up and turns events on their head. You might have thought that “Catch Me If You Can” was referring to the vampires Jeremy needs to hunt down, but no. Instead, Kol compels Damon to hunt and kill Jeremy, leading some brilliantly tense chase scenes, with Damon begging Jeremy to kill him.
Parallel to this we have team Stefkah (Rebekan?) entering the cure-hunting game, but apparently more interesting in copping off with each other, guilt-feel. This could have been near unwatchable guff, but instead the Stefan/Rebekah scenes are an unexpected highlight, full of frisson, passion and great lines. This is the most interesting Stefan has been since he went all Ripperish at the end of season two. By episode’s end, when he tells a gobsmacked Elena that this is the real him, and, “You don’t know what I look like when I’m not in love with you,” you can’t help being annoyed with the lass for holding him back for so long. Okay, morally it’s a BAD THING, but dramatically Stefan’s much more fun as a bad boy.
Which could be a bad thing for Elena, because it looks like Damon is making some decisions that are shaking her faith in him. It’d be typical of this show to have her back away from a relationship with him just as Stefan becomes unavailable
All of which is so much fun to watch you almost don’t notice that this is an episode of Vampire Diaries that’s unusually short on MAJOR REVELATIONS. Oh sure, there’s Rebekah and Stefan discovering the headstone, and discovering that there may be another, hitherto unknown party interested in finding the cure. And there’s Bonnie’s learning that Professor Creepy really is creepy. And there’s Kol introducing his own agenda (piss all over everybody else’s plans, basically). But it’s all pretty small beer by this show’s usual standards. Instead the real driving forces here are the developing (or decaying) relationships… and on that level it works superbly.
There are some weaker moments. The Bonnie plot lacks any real spark (that’s despite her setting fire to a cell) and Professor Creepy’s ability to talk himself out of any jam is becoming downright silly. Elena has little to do, and when she does appear it’s difficult to gauge what she’s supposed to be thinking; she spends most of her scenes with a kind of default constipated expression, as if Nina Dobrev isn’t sure how she’s supposed to be playing things.
On the other hand, she delivers the killer cliffhanger line: if Jeremy kills Kol, all Kol’s bloodline of vampires will die. Though it requires a hell of a leap of faith and/or logic to assume that this would also mean the entire tattoo map would be revealed (mystic rules might see through that as cheating) you have to applaud the lass’s ambition.
GRATUITOUS SHIRTLESS SCENE Well, almost shirtless – Stefan appears with a towel draped round his neck 5 minutes 50 seconds in.
GURNING Klaus goes into overdrive with the fruity expressions once again. He spends most of the episode looking like someone who’s been slipped some E just before he needs to keep a straight face in a photo booth.
MARVEL PHASE 3 Professor creepy looks like he’s auditioning for Doctor Strange .
BEST LINES The episode was chock full of great lines, and for once none of them were Damon’s (he was operating on a low level of snark-fu for some reason). But while Kol’s, “Better idea… I’ll rip your arms off!” was in contention (partly because, yeah, that’s a great bit of lateral thinking when it comes to dealing with the hunter problem), we’re going to go with the following exchange, because it totally sells you on Stefan and Rebekah’s warped relationship…
“It took me hundreds of years and thousands of betrayals to realise that love and caring ruins you.”
Stefan: “That's awfully bleak.”
Rebekah: “Quite the opposite. It’s liberating, actually. Do you know why we had so much fun in the twenties, Stefan? Because we didn’t care. We just did what felt good. Drinking. Feeding, Sex.”
Stefan: “Sex wasn’t good because we didn’t care. It was good because you’re crazy. Crazy sex is always good.”
New episodes of The Vampires Diaries season four will debut in the UK on ITV2 in the next few weeks