The Vampire Diaries 4.16 "Bring It On" REVIEW

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The Vampire Diaries 4.16 “Bring It On” TV REVIEW

Episode 4.16
Writers: Brian Young & Charlie Charbonneau
Director: Gareth Stover

THE ONE WHERE Elena starts acting like a real vampire and nearly kills Caroline, while Hayley and Klaus bond over how crap Klaus’s art is.

VERDICT The main problems with “Bring It On” were what it wasn’t rather than what it was. Mainly, it wasn’t very exciting, which is a real shame after the gamechanging events of the previous episode. Elena’s a real bad-ass, vampire-without-conscience now – wow, that’s got to mean fireworks!

Well… no. She has a few hissyfits, she feeds on a cheerleader, she throws a party and she has a catfight with Caroline. Okay the catfight with Caroline is pretty good (especially as it seems all too likely she would have killed her if she’d been allowed to) but all the rest registers fairly low on the scale of bad-ass vampiric bahaviour. There’s no style to the girl; no sense of grand guignol to her actions; no feeling of true evil behind the eyes. Hell, Caroline was more interesting when she was first turned. Amoral Elena is more like a shopaholic school girl who’s just discovered her dad’s pin number. She does get a few nicely catty lines, though, including when she tells Caroline that she can have Stefan: “Take him out for a spin. He could use it.”

Meanwhile Hayley… well, we say Hayley, and she looks like Hayley, but she’s not acting in any way we’ve seen Hayley acting before. On the other hand, this new Hayley is far more interesting, and actually feels more like someone Klaus would want to sleep with. In retrospect, most of their scenes do seem like some extended form of padding just to get to the point where Klaus can see her tattoo and go, “That reminds me, we have a spin-off to set up.” And a lot of their dialogue verges on really bad poetry. But, there is a little bit of sexual frisson here that augers well for The Originals .

Damon’s search for Katherine sends him instead down a new alley marked "sub-plot”, which ends with him heading for New York with Elena in the car beside him, looking like she’s just been given the keys to the sweetshop. It’s another half-baked transitional storyline in an episode full of half-baked transitional storylines; big bad Silas is demoted to a mere few cursory mentions; the (you would think) pretty major revelation that Elena is no longer bound by the sire bond is met with little more than a shrug; and we’re supposed to get emotional about a goodbye letter from Tyler that basically says what he said in person weeks back, only less interestingly.

About the most entertaining thing “Bring It On” has to offer is a new flirty playfulness between Stefan and Caroline. Not sure if we’re supposed to read anything into it, but they seem to have a bit of a spark together.

STILL HANGING ON IN Good to see that the seismology club is still going strong… and using exactly the same posters they were at the start of season three.

EVERYONE'S A CRITIC Hayley, flipping through a stack of Klaus’s paintings: "Hate that… Too much… I don’t get that. I don’t care. This one doesn’t make me want to puke.” Yep, she pretty much sums up what we’ve been saying about Klaus’s paintings for the past few weeks.

TITLE TATTLE The name of the episode is clearly a reference to the GREATEST CHEERLEADING MOVIE EVER MADE (not that there’s much competition) – 2000’s Bring It On , starring Eliza Dushku’s breasts attempting to escape from a very tight cheerleading costume.

GRATUITOUS SHIRTLESS SCENE Well, on the male front it takes a while, with Klaus finally ripping his top off for a bonk with Hayley around 29 minutes in. On the other hand, the episode has more girl-in-bra shots (Hayley and Elena, who seems unable to keep her clothes on) than you usually get in a whole season. Did the memo about the target demo go missing en route to the director?

CLEANING UP The Salvatore mansion has its own special vervain filter, apparently, which is why Caroline takes a shower there – the Mayor has been adding vervain to the town’s water supply, remember? From the way Damon reacts when Caroline reminds him of this fact, it seems the filters aren’t a new addition. But why would the mansion have needed filters before? Does Mystic Falls’ water system regularly become infected by vervain? Are anti-vervain filters readily available from Amazon ?

LET’S GET THIS PARTY STARTED The length of time between Elena waking up and the Salvatore mansion becoming party central is suspiciously short. How did she manage to invite so many people so quickly? Or are we to assume she's already been inviting people before Stefan drugged her and she just happened to wake up in time?

Elena (to Caroline): “You fight like a girl.”

Dave Golder

New episodes of The Vampires Diaries season four air in the UK on ITV2

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Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.