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The Vampire Diaries “Memorial” 

Photo credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW

In the Smallville episode where Clark didn’t actually marry Lois, there was a moment as he walked down the aisle of the church, past his friends and his mom when John Schneider appeared on the other side of Annette O’Toole in the pew and I lost it. There was a moment like that tonight in “Memorial.” We’ll get to that.

Elena has transitioned and things aren’t going super smooth. She’s vomiting blood left and right because she hasn’t done a direct feed, and she’s in a double quandary about it because she can’t tell Stefan. Before that, though, they do get one little fun scene where Elena can’t quite think straight with Stefan’s hands on her person.

The town is reeling from the explosion at the end of the premiere, where we now know all 15 people in the house died. Back in town is the pastor’s daughter, April (The Nine Lives of Chloe King‘s Grace Phipps), who handily has a past with everyone. Also in town is a new hunter, Connor, who has a vervained glove detection system that he follows up with point blank shots of potent mystery bullets marked with glyphic of some sort and seemingly spelled. He’s also inked but only Jeremy sees it on his arm. Hopefully that little niblet will get broadcast to everyone soon.

The centerpiece of the episode is the funeral in the church, where Connor attacks April and leaves her bloodied to draw out the vampires. Damon snaps to and tells everyone to play it cool but Elena is starving and can’t quite pull it off. It doesn’t help that she’s standing in front of the entire congregation when she starts to melt down. Stefan takes her back to her seat and tries to keep her calm but she’s losing it.

Dear, sweet, wonderful Matt is on the other side of her and asks what’s wrong. Stefan tells him and Matt very simply tells him Elena can feed off of him. In a really exquisitely shot scene, all of the vampires hear this and can’t quite believe it. Stefan nods in agreement and very gently turns Elena away from him toward Matt, who takes Elena in his arms as she locks down on his neck and drinks just enough and then quietly thanks him.

Everybody is mid hymn when, God bless him, Tyler, who’s already been shot once by Connor, gets up on the podium as a distraction and Connor fires anyway. Damon sets off outside after him and gets the snot knocked out of him. Up in the balcony, Caroline and Elena find a bloodied April and Elena rushes to feed off of her before Caroline pulls her back and gives her a come to Jesus about who April is to them. She feeds April and then tells Elena to glamour her to forget the day. Elena doesn’t thinks she can but Caroline tells her she hast to do it, and then she does, and she’s joyful—finally a new emotion.

Later, back at home, Stefan is not a happy camper that Elena didn’t tell him she was having trouble, or that Damon fed her, a tidbit his brother not-so-accidentally confesses after Elena summons him to the church to bring fresh clothes and Stefan see him before he can get out of there. Stefan is upset that she lied to him, and she’s sobbing and then mad that she’s sobbing and overwhelmed by everybody’s grief on top of her own. He calls everyone to the school and they light and release lanterns for all of the loved ones they’ve lost and it’s quite the list.

Damon’s having none of it and he retreats to the small graveyard to sit at Alaric’s headstone, falling into yet another bottle and grousing that Alaric left him holding the bag and is the reason he’s still stuck in Mystic Falls minding all the children. (It’s also notable that Damon won’t let anyone sit on Alaric’s stool at the Grill). As Damon talks and rambles, the camera pans over and there sits Alaric, listening to his friend. And I start tearing up. Damon says the rest of his piece about the lot he’s been saddled with and gets up and walks away, muttering to himself and Alaric smiles and watches him go and says “I miss you too, buddy.”

Really such a strong episode. I am so glad they kept a lid on it and that I had no idea Matt Davis would be in the episode. I hate it when the promo monkeys blow perfect moments. He was just happy and quiet, and completely Alaric.

Other little moments:

Stefan goes to see Bonnie about the bullet mojo and finds her on self-imposed lockdown at home (again, Elena is not there for her friend). She opens the door for him but he’s blocked, so he asks her if he can come in (adding a gentle “please”) and she can’t get the words out but she nods yes. He crosses the threshold and takes her into his arms and asks if she’s OK. I love when the show remembers that Bonnie and Stefan are actually friends. She calls him out that he’s obviously there for something, but she takes his comfort just the same.

At the Grill, when Elena confesses to Damon that she can’t keep animal blood down, he leads her to the bathroom, locks the door and offers her his own blood. He tell her not to tell Stefan, which would normally register as a “danger, Will Robinson” moment but she’s so blind with hunger she just nods and then closes her mouth over his hand. He gets his own rush as he falls back against the wall and holds her in his arms while she feeds.

The scene with Matt was just really, really so well done. I loved that of course it was Matt. It had to be Matt to go the full circle of giving her death and giving her life. I am always, always happy when Matt does something that matters, and the whole hand off of Elena from Stefan to him was just so carefully written and blocked and acted.  There’s so much to those three characters and who Elena is because she loves both of them and both of them would lay down for her, and have laid down for her. A+ all around there for Zach Roerig, Paul Wesley, and Nina Dobrev, and the episode’s writers, Jose Molina and Julie Plec, and director Rob Hardy.

Big yawn on the new hunter, though. The last puzzle piece of his arrival is that at the farm house, he took a letter out of the oven meant for April. He reads it at the end of the hour. Written by the pastor, it warns of a coming war (kind of what I thought last week) but I have to think he wouldn’t have wounded April as bait if he was on the right side of things.

In the previews for next week, Damon promises to eat him. Bon appétit!

If you missed the episode tonight, it’ll be on The CW website in the morning.

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