Before Thanksgiving, I took one for the team by slogging through the first four episodes of The Vampire Diaries Season 1, exactly zero of which were good. I'm sorry, but it's true. Sure, we all love the handsome, confident teenager that is Vampire Diaries Season 2, but I think we can all admit that this show was an ugly child. I'm talking buck-toothed and pigeon-toed. In addition to still finding its feet style-wise, the first four episodes suffered for two big reasons: They dragged out Elena's ignorance about Stefan even though he was CLEARLY a vampire, and also presented Damon as a villain even though he was way more likable than anyone else. These episodes were very UGH, and the prospect of continuing on made me feel so sad in my heart.
But what a difference an episode makes! Seriously, the next four episodes were fantastic! You guys were right, good episodes were right around the corner. And I was right about Jasmine Guy. Her arrival definitely coincided with a huge increase in quality. Look at us, everybody was right! Hooray for us!
Season 1, Episode 5This episode began with Elena reaching over for her diaries, then opting not to write in them. THIS WAS A PROMISING START! Those diary voiceovers were the worst, and it was like the show finally REALIZED it. It made me laugh out loud when she put the diary away, because for a second I thought I'd actually willed it to happen.
Meanwhile, Damon was locked in a dungeon after Stefan got fed up with his shenanigans.
Also, things were super weird at school between Stefan and Elena. Her main reason for pushing him away was that he was too mysterious for her. Understandable! So in order to assuage her fears, he snuck into her home and started making dinner and grossly pronounced mozarella like "moozarel." But then, since there was a knife in the vicinity, Elena cut her finger open because OF COURSE Elena cut her finger open. These people!
Yikes! Stefan was thirsty. So this time Elena actually saw Stefan's face go all vampire on her, but he was just like "I just have something in my eye." Nice save!
Also, since things were sorta rocky between Elena and Stefan, Matt floated back into the picture I guess? I don't really get Matt. I don't. I think he's supposed to be the school hunk but he's so forgettable. From the first time I saw Matt, he reminded me of something and I couldn't put my finger on it. But now I think I know what it is he reminds me of: mashed potatoes. I don't say that because he's bland or mushy or because it was just Thanksgiving anything like that, I say it because he LOOKS LIKE MASHED POTATOES.
See what I'm saying?
Oh, that reminds me…
TEEN BIKINI CAR WASH! Another reason why this episode was so excellent. It's always nice seeing teenagers work for a good cause while half undressed. Everyone was there, even Bonnie. I don't think I even have to tell you this, but Bonnie was not great at washing cars.
Later, Elena met an old man who claimed to have known Stefan back in the 1950s. So, plucky Nancy Drew-like detective that Elena is, she went and tracked down an old local news broadcast from the era and check out what she found…
Yeah. So this was definitely the tipping point. Elena found out about Stefan. Finally! It's so hard to watch a show where you think the main character is just a total idiot. There's absolutely no reason for Elena to have not figured this out. Even in real life, where I know vampires aren't real, I would STILL be able to spot a vampire on sight. Plus, in this fictional world, they still have access to movies and terrible Stephanie Meyer books about vampires, so vampires are not a foreign concept. BUT ALSO they have established Mystic Falls as having once been a hotbed of vampirism! This fact would've been taught in all their classrooms, and they'd have town-wide vampire parties and dozens of tourist attractions related to vampires because small towns are frequently proud of stupid things that rake in tourist dollars. So anyway. Congrats, Elena. Your dull boyfriend is immortal.
OH, THANK GOD. Jasmine Guy opened her front door and a new era began. For the record, Jasmine Guy is definitely too young to play Bonnie's grandmother, but still. She's awesome and she makes Bonnie seem awesome by association. In my mind, Mystic Falls exists in the same universe as A Different World, and Bonnie's grandfather is Dwayne Wayne. Flip-up sunglasses and everything.
Season 1, Episode 6OH NO, A FLASHBACK EPISODE! Actually, phew, not really. I mean, we did get a few brief flashbacks, but nothing too boring. Plus, in the flashbacks we learned a few crucial things, starting with the most important tidbit…
That's right, the Salvatore brothers were slave owners. How charming! Now, I know a bunch of you have already started scrolling down to type out some angry comment about "the times they were in" and so on. But come on. Your favorite dreamboat hunks OWNED SLAVES. Who cares if it was 1864 Virginia? Do you know how many people CHOSE NOT TO own slaves? TONS. In my opinion, owning slaves is wrong and quite frankly it disqualifies you from being a hunk. So there! (P.S. Between this and my witches complaint, I am definitely the Jesse Jackson of Vampire Diaries recaps.)
Hi, Katherine! You guys, we got to meet Katherine for the first time and she looked resplendent. She definitely pulled off the period look better than either of the boys.
Speaking of the boys, in the present day Damon was spending some quality time with Vicki after escaping the dungeon, murdering his "Uncle" Zach, murdering Vicki's stoner friends, and then almost draining her dry. Housebound without his sunlight ring, Damon did something truly awesome: He turned Vicki into a vampire out of pure boredom.
This led to what is by far my favorite moment I've ever seen on Vampire Diaries, past or present: Damon and Vicki dancing around the mansion to Depeche Mode and trashing Stefan's bedroom. Honestly, I can't say anything snarky about this because it was a truly awesome, ridiculous thing that I had to watch four times in a row:
Not kidding, just a great scene. And it all culminated with Vicki sobbing about her life and Damon helping the best way he knew how: by snapping her neck. A few minutes later she resurrected as a pre-vampire and it was just a matter of time before she completed her transmogrification by drinking human blood. Suspenseful!
So yeah, Vicki escaped the mansion and Stefan went after her. They wound up in the woods, where Jenna's reporter boyfriend SHOT STEFAN with wooden bullets.
Luckily Damon saved Stefan at the last moment and WHOOPS! Vicki fed on the reporter. This turn of events was pretty awesome. We got to see how vampires are made, plus Vicki was just enough of an unstable presence that things seemed like they were about to get pretty interesting.
Season 1, Episode 7For any other small town, Halloween is a big deal. For Mystic Falls, however, it was just another day.
Now that she was a full-fledged vampire, Vicki was HUNGRY! Again, this was such a great turn of events: Up until this point, Vicki was just some lady who sort of looked like a broke-down Scarlett Johansson, but now she was genuinely frightening and even a little sympathetic.
Okay, so she wasn't the greatest at picking Halloween costumes. You know how it is, Halloween just sort of sneaks up on you. It was either this or, like, a hobo.
Damon continued his awesome streak by flirting with Mrs. Lockwood, the town cougar. Additionally, Damon managed to stumble into a position of trust with two members of the Mystic Falls anti-vampire council. First he spotted Mrs. Lockwood's Vervain bracelet and immediately deduced that the council was back in business, and then within minutes he quickly positioned himself as its #1 supplier of Vervain. Again, I have nothing snarky to say… This was just good storytelling!
The whole vampire council thing: TERRIFIC. Honestly, it makes sense that this thing exists, particularly after all of Damon's recent snacking. It's like, duh, vampires are a problem, how do I join? But also, now that Stefan and Damon have a common adversary, they can be on the same team again. Damon is an absolute jerk, but it's so much more entertaining when he uses his jerk skills against other jerks. BETTER.
Oh, Bonnie. Well, at least Bonnie had a cool scene with Jasmine Guy. It made me laugh when Jasmine Guy explained that the main thing witches do to survive is to allow everyone to believe they're a joke. So basically: Low self-esteem is a major part of being a witch. No wonder Bonnie's personality started circling the drain right around the time she started lighting candles with her brain.
The other thing that made me laugh was the magic amulet that she found mixed in with her costume, and how Gran informed her that no, it was the amulet that found her. THE SAME EXACT THING HAPPENED IN TEEN WITCH! Seriously, the main girl in that movie found an amulet amongst some old clothes and it gave her powers and she was told that the amulet had found her. I mean, I'm sure this was definitely a nod to that movie, but man. TOP THAT.
Anyway, just when I thought Vicki would be a terrific new villain, she attacked a bunch of folks and Stefan had to stake her. Bye, Vicki! This was too bad. She'd just gotten interesting.
But then get this, the characters actually seemed AFFECTED by her death. This is a show where a good ten percent of the town's population gets killed every few weeks, so it was nice and a little bit surprising to see people actually shedding tears for one of their friends. Jeremy in particular took it kind of hard, so Elena asked Damon to erase the knowledge of Vicki's death (and also to compel Jeremy to get more homework done while he's at it). That seems like a neat trick. I sure wish I had a friend who could help me forget things. LIKE THE FIRST FOUR EPISODES OF THIS SHOW.
Season 1, Episode 8This episode was like, "Vicki? Vicki who? Meet Lexi!"
Hi Lexi! I liked Lexi immediately. She just seemed like a cool lady. Also, the fact that there was absolutely NO romantic chemistry between she and Stefan was downright refreshing. It's so rare that a television show allows two attractive people of the opposite sex to just have a laid-back friendship. Plus, after seven episodes, Elena was simply rotating between boring, passive, and tragic and it was hard to respect Bonnie, Caroline, and Vicki as strong women. Welcome, Lexi, why don't you stay a while?!
Lexi had been a vampire even longer than Stefan, and they'd been BFF for a while, having traveled all over the world together. I guess they even got into hair metal and hung out with Bon Jovi back in the '80s? Holy moly. Now THAT is a flashback episode I want to see!
Meanwhile, Caroline's Sheriff mom was questioning everyone about Vicki's disappearance. Damon showed up with a box full of Vervain, and so began her duncery. She told Damon that she's looking for a vampire who arrived in town around the time some murders were committed, even though Damon is definitely new in town because there are only like 40 people tops and she had never met him, and he also DEFINITELY murdered some people because he is DEFINITELY a vampire. So obviously she doesn't suspect him at all. God, this woman.
By this time, Elena had had enough of supernatural monsters. Her boyfriend had revealed himself to be a vampire, then her brother's girlfriend went on some kind of murderous, blood-thirsty rampage around town. She was totally over it. So of course Bonnie decided it was a great time to reveal that she's a witch.
GREAT TIMING, BONNIE! Also, she did it in a totally annoying way, by splitting open Elena's pillow and levitating feathers all over the place. Okay, I'm sort of kidding, because the scene actually was really lovely. Between the music and the ladies' acting, it was the second episode in a row where I had to re-watch a scene because it was so good. And anyway, WHY was Elena trying to pretend she didn't want anything to do with vampires or witches? Like her life was so interesting before? Get real, Elena!
Lexi's awesome. I was really excited about the possibilities for her character.
DAMON, YOU HAVE SOME 'SPLAINING TO DO!!! So Damon murdered Lexi. I guess he wanted to prove to the Sheriff that he's anti-vampire? I don't know, I think he may have crossed a line. Stefan wasn't thrilled about this, and there was a VAMPIRE BRAWL. Stefan got stabby with Damon, but let him live because he is the bigger man/vampire.
Finally, to end on a charming note, Damon really treated our sweet future-vampire Caroline real bad. Matt had also had a pretty rough few episodes, what with his sister freaking out and disappearing (totally dead, though). It was actually really touching, the way they cuddled after so much angst. Usually it seems weird to me when two blondes date (don't even get me started on two redheads), but in this case I'll give them a pass. He is like mashed potatoes and she's like cream cheese. Together they are comfort food!
... Was Vicki killed off too quickly?
... Was Lexi killed off too quickly?
... Do you want to dance around Stefan's mansion in your underwear?
... Which Vampire Diaries character would you most want to wash your car?
And hooray, new episodes return this week!