Early last week I was about ready to give up on the latest teen vampire saga, but after last week’s episode, I’m afraid I’m ready to sink my teeth into Vampire Diaries. Here’s why:
- Sibling rivalry – Up until now Damon and Stefan have only exchanged harsh glances and words, but in this episode they grew more violent and conniving. First they stabbed each other with a knife (you know, just some old fashioned brotherly squabbling), and then Stefan tried to poison Damon with an herb that will weaken him. This escalating rivalry piqued my interest, especially now that Damon is imprisoned in his family’s top secret basement herb garden. I don’t imagine he’ll stay there for long, but will it be Elena, Caroline, or his own cleverness that releases him?
- Damon and Caroline’s “relationship” – For the first time, I felt sorry for Caroline in this episode. The writers humanized her by giving her more to do than just gossip or talk about boys. It’s sad to see her under Damon’s spell, while he totally uses and abuses her. For example, when she told him he could be very sweet when he wanted to, he showered her with kisses, but then in the same moment she asked him if he was going to kill her, and he answered with a matter of fact “uh huh.” Talk about a warped relationship. I wonder where they are headed, now that he has tried to kill her and said that he was so over her. And cheers for Elena, for having such an emotional reaction to discovering Caroline’s bruises and bite marks. It was nice to see her stand up for her friend and go into protector mode. And at the end of the episode, she also gave a distraught and emotionally wrecked Caroline a shoulder to cry uncontrollably on.
- Pop culture references – I’m sure Twilight fans enjoyed this exchange between Damon and Caroline: Damon – “What’s so special about this Bella girl? Edward is so whipped.” Caroline – “You gotta read the first book first. It won’t make sense if you don’t.” Damon – “I miss Anne Rice. She was so on it.” Caroline – “How come you don’t sparkle?” Damon – “Because I live in the real world, where vampires burn in the sun.” Caroline – “Yeah, but you go in the sun.” Damon – “I have a ring. It protects me. Long story.” I don’t think this show can place itself on a pedestal above Twilight just yet, but it was fun to hear devious, spirited Damon basically dis Edward for being such a wuss, and call into question the vampire mythology of Stephenie Meyers’ series.
- Bonnie the Flame Igniter – We’ve been receiving hints every week that Bonnie is psychic and has some witchy blood in her veins, but this week we witnessed her light candles with her mind. Seeing her reaction of surprise and disbelief was interesting. I wonder how her abilities will affect Elena, Damon, Stefan, and the rest of the town.
- “Doesn’t it always come down to the love of a woman?” – This is the question Damon asks Elena after telling her the story of the “original Salvatori brothers.” They raced to save the woman they loved from a burning building, but were shot in the process. These are interesting details added to Damon and Stefan’s sketchy past. But it still doesn’t tell us how they became vampires. But the themes of love and revenge will obviously be important ones as the show continues.
- The Music – I really enjoyed the songs in this episode, especially Viva Voce’s “Believer,” which was playing during the last scene with Damon and Caroline. Click here for a list of songs from this episode.
- The Parents Have Arrived – One complaint I’ve had about the show is the absence of authority figures. Well, they all came out at once in this episode, and how convenient that they all seem to hold important positions in the community: Tyler’s father is the Mayor, Caroline’s mom is the sheriff, and Jenna’s ex is a local tv news reporter. I was glad that they finally showed up, but irritated that they all seem to be “evil.” Tyler’s mom nearly spit on Vicki for being from the “wrong side of the tracks,” Logan (Jenna’s ex) is a manipulative jerk who’s only getting back together with her to locate the missing watch, and Caroline’s mom seems to be the leader of some sort of secret society. So while the show has surpassed the Charlie Brown Syndrome (the absence of parents), it has now moved into Scooby Doo Syndrome, where all the grown ups are bad, mean, or down right evil. (The one grown up on each episode of Scooby Doo always turned out to be the villain.)
- The Mythology Starts to Take Shape – Damon steals (or rather, takes back) a “very important crystal” from one of the town artifacts, and the grownups obsess over a missing pocket watch, which the sheriff says they will need since there have been “five bodies all drained of blood” Reporter Logan ends the episode by announcing what we already know: “They’ve come back.” These developments beg a few of questions. 1) Why did they leave in the first place? 2) What does a watch have to do with stopping them? 3) What does a vampire need a crystal for? 4) Who does this group represent? Are they good guys, bad guys? Regular people? Witches? Whatever the case, I find myself, for the first time, anticipating the next episode.