'The Vampire Diaries' recap: A 'Memorial' for the long list of the dead

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"The Vampire Diaries" has never been shy about killing off main characters and nameless faces alike. It has been a bit more reluctant to dwell on the deaths, however, until this episode, 'Memorial.' Though originally for the town council members, the Mystic Falls memorial service turns into a remembrance for the many loved ones Elena and her friends have lost.

A new hunter in town

The mysterious Connor Jordan (Todd Williams) first appears at the crime scene where Pastor Young decided to wipe out the entire council in a fiery gas explosion. He checks the oven, which the police inexplicably appear to have missed, and finds a note addressed to "April." Apparently, Young wanted to let his daughter know that one day they'd be joined again in salvation.

Later, the stranger introduces himself around town, using vervain-soaked gloves to detect vampires by handshake. When Connor gets a pained reaction from Tyler, he reacts by shooting him full of vampire-killing bullets. Tyler's hybrid make-up saves him, but the hunter lets Damon know that he's on a serious mission of "pollution control" in the town. At the memorial, Connor even stabs April, using her dripping blood as a way to tempt the vampires to reveal themselves.

Straight from the source

It's not long before Damon gets to have his "I told you so" moment with Stefan over Elena's transition. Possibly because of her doppelganger nature, Elena can't seem to stomach blood other than straight from the vein. Stefan gets angry that Elena kept the problem secret, turning to Damon and even feeding from him -- something vamps consider pretty intimate stuff.

Her out-of-control cravings put them in danger at the church, as Connor waits to shoot down anyone who responds to the draw of fresh blood. Here, Matt gets to pay back some of his life debt and lets Elena surreptitiously drink from him.

Taking one for the team

Once they realize the blood is their friend April's, Tyler puts himself into Connor's sights to draw his fire. As the crowd reacts in terror to the sniper shot that knocks down the boy hybrid, the vampire hunter ducks out, fighting off Damon before escaping. Caroline prevents the blood-hungry Elena from making a meal out of wounded April and coaches her on wiping the scared girl's memory.

Memorial

Stefan is motivated by Elena's emotional pain to have their own memorial to finally acknowledge all of the people they've lost over the years. Caroline, Matt, and Bonnie join in, and all five light a lantern for their own personal grief. Elena includes herself as someone she's mourning; it's become clear the life she had is now over.

Damon isn't interested in the pity party, but we find him later at the cemetery, drinking and sharing his frustrations with a specific grave marker. Eventually, we see that Damon is mourning Alaric, and that his friend's ghost is actually right beside him, listening and acknowledging: "I miss you too, buddy."

Watch "The Vampire Diaries" on the CW, Thursdays at 8 PM EST.

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