The Vampire Diaries 4.07 "My Brother's Keeper" Review
This was an episode of The Vampire Diaries that had people talking about it, before it had even aired as there has been speculation about a major plot point. This was a big moment for the central love triangle, especially after the breakup that occurred in the previous episode. This show never does things the easy way and there is always a twist.
This twist of course is problematic no matter where you stand on the love triangle issue; even more so as Caroline's (Candice Accola) light bulb moment is intercut with Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Elena (Nina Dobrev) sleeping together for the first time. The question of Elena's free will has to be looked at and the reason that she has been relying on Damon so much isn't because he understands her more, but is thanks to a rare sire bond that can occur between vampires. This makes me want to re-watch the previous six episodes of this season to see all the times that Elena has done what Damon says. Elena's decisions have not been of her own making (well the Damon involved ones anyway) and this takes away any responsibility for moments such as Connor's (Todd Williams) death. Elena has previously been strong in standing by her choices, even when they put her on a road to martyrdom and this sire bond now takes away an important part of her character. While I don't like the idea of 'fixing' Elena, I also don't like an Elena whose decision making abilities can be influenced in this way.
There is also a question of whether Elena's romantic feelings are part of the sire bond, it doesn't appear that they are — none of the hybrids who are sired to Klaus (Joseph Morgan) are beating down his bedroom door — and we've seen that Elena has feelings for Damon prior to her vampire transition. It doesn't feel like Damon is manipulating Elena and this sire bond will most likely be news to him too. Elena's decision to move into the Salvatore mansion is rather insensitive and this house switch feels like a manipulative way to get the characters to where they need to be by the end of the episode in a dramatic fashion. An alternate solution; Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) stays at Matt's (Zach Roerig) house, Elena stays at hers and Damon comes over, Caroline and Stefan can still have their heart to heart at her house, or even at the Salvatore's. It felt unnecessary to have Stefan leave his own house and Elena isn't the kind of character to be this insensitive, even if she's now 'changed.'
The reason the house switch needs to occur is partly down to Stefan as he further triggers Jeremy's hunter mark. The problem here is the more vampires that Jeremy kills, the more he wants to kill vampires and this puts Elena in danger at home. Stefan has a Ripper coach in Caroline and Matt is now Jeremy's 'sober sponsor.' This makes sense as Matt is the only human character left out of the core group and their friendship has been developing for some time now. Matt's human status when he was unaware of the supernatural elements made his inclusion problematic, but now that he is part of the world, his human status makes him unique in this group and gives him an important role to play. Jeremy is the only hunter that they know of and it will be a fine line that they will have him walking between wanting to kill most of the people he normally hangs out with and being the key to finding the cure.
Another friendship that got extended screen time this week is Caroline and Stefan's. Caroline makes it clear to Elena that she thinks that Elena is making a huge mistake with her desire to explore her feelings for Damon. Caroline has a difficult history with Damon; in the timeline of the show it probably is only just over a year since Caroline was human and Damon used her as a blood bag and constantly compelled her. As I have previously stated the Caroline and Stefan friendship is one of my favorites on the show and it works because it is purely platonic; there are hints of Lexi (Arielle Kebbel) in Caroline.
Caroline has been on the edge of most of the major plot points this season, but this episode brings her very much into the fold. Not only is Caroline the one who cracks the sire bond code and is there as a Stefan support, but she also has her own relationship drama to contend with. Klaus still believes that Tyler (Michael Trevino) and Caroline are on the outs and even though this is all a facade, real cracks are beginning to form. It doesn't help that Caroline and Klaus have a couple of genuine moments that Tyler uses his super hearing to listen in on. Klaus teasing Caroline about her Miss Mystic Falls application is a really sweet moment that shows they have strong chemistry. The hummingbird story borders on pony drawing levels but both demonstrate that Klaus does indeed have a romantic and playful side.
There is a hybrid side project going on as Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) continues her de-siring programme. Hayley insists on going to the Miss Mystic Falls Pageant as a cover to hide what they are doing, but it appears that she has other motives. The shady Professor Shane (David Alpay) is there and while Hayley claims she doesn't know who he is, it is revealed at the end that the good Professor is behind the de-siring plot. In fact Professor Shane is involved in a whole lot of aspects and he informs Damon that the cure can only be obtained with the help of a witch; a Bennett witch (of course). What is Professor Shane's interest in all of this?
- Jeremy stabbing Elena in the neck mirrors Elena's own waking nightmare, when she stabbed Jeremy in the neck in the last episode.
- Matt stepping in for Jeremy was really sweet and April (Grace Phipps) did look very good in the red dress.
- The call back to the 'no touching' dance with Damon and Elena was nicely played. It's also hard to believe that only a year has passed in the world of the show since this season 1 episode.
-Elena and Damon have a new thing in common; both their brothers want to kill them.
- Thanks to his new hunter skills Jeremy can no longer be compelled and is also super strong. He also doesn't like to show his growing tattoo with vampires. This is going to get complicated.
One thing that can be definitely said about "My Brother's Keeper" is that there is a lot to be discussed, both in the positive and negative column. It's still relatively early in the season and while these big developments matter to the story, there is also a lot more to come. How the quest for the cure will progress, particularly with the issue of Jeremy's changing self and Professor Shane's motives is unclear. What we do know is that relationship dynamics have now shifted and Elena's character has in part changed with her transition; how will Elena react when she finds out about the sire bond?
What are your thoughts on the episode? Let us know in the comments below.