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The Vampire Diaries 2.01 – The Return


Elena(?) and Stefan share a moment. Or is it more...?

SECOND SEASON PREMIERE

Genre: Drama/Supernatural/Horror

Grade: B

Too Long, Didn’t Read: A good, if slow, return from last season’s biggest surprise.

A few things…

1)      Yes, I watch The Vampire Diaries

2)      I am most certainly a man

3)      I enjoy the show

Ok, now that that’s out of the way.

The Vampire Diaries, the CW’s hit show last fall, is back without missing a step. Literally, the episode picks up right where the season finale left us hanging. And thanks to the arrival of Katherine, things will never be the same in Mystic Falls.

(I’d also like to mention that this is one of the first times in a very long time that I have watched a TV show live. I’d like to mention that I am definitely NOT in the target demographic for the CW, according to the commercials).

A lot has changed with the arrival of Katherine. First of all, it gives Nina Dobrev (who also plays Elena) a change to have some fun. It’s a breath of fresh air, especially juxtaposed with Elena’s constantly anxious personality. Katherine is fun, she’s fresh, and more importantly it gives Dobrev another character to play around with. One of the great things about Elena is that she’s practical, especially compared to her genre peers. Instead of someone such as that Twilight girl, Elena asks all of the right questions and makes many rational moves. She’s more Buffy than anything else, though without super powers. While this is extremely refreshing for the vampire genre (is this a genre now? Oh boy…) it doesn’t allow Dobrev to really stretch her acting repertoire. Katherine is exactly what the show needs to keep Dobrev fresh. Think of her like a female Damon (early season 1 Damon); she loves to kill, she’s sadistic, has no remorse and knows how to get what she wants. In fact, she’s much more calculating than Damon ever is. While Damon enjoys killing, Katherine seems to enjoy the hunt, both physical and psychological, much more. The way she plays with Damon is a thing of beauty, and, as Elena mentions, the way she undoes everything Stefan and Elena have accomplished with Damon in one fell swoop is haunting, devious and brilliant. It’s a testament to the writers of the show for how they so realistically break Damon’s stability in half. Oh, and Ian Somerhalder is still incredible as Damon. He has a great ability to be sarcastically hilarious, hideous, and tragic. Bravo.

Everything else in the season opener was a bit standard fare. Since much of the episode revolved around Katherine’s appearance, most of it was focused on her mind games. It was definitely a deliberate pause in the action compared to last year’s high-octane finale, but that’s to be expected. Unfortunately this resulted less of a pause and more of a stall. The middle of the episode especially dragged more than it needed to and without any solid characterization while the main story arc had a moment of repose.

We find out fairly early on the fate of Jeremy and hints of how he will be used throughout the season while Matt is almost never seen besides a few short scenes in the hospital. Bonnie is starting to take control of her powers and while she has Damon at bay, Katherine is a completely different beast. My prediction is that we see Bonnie takes on a Willow season 6-like role sometime in the future, becoming an almost “big bad” type. Not to mention that Bonnie/Damon interactions have become quite charming. You can tell Damon has met his match even though he knows he has the upper hand mentally. It’s quite the duo. This is good though; the script is definitely not standard CW fare. It’s well written and full of layered characters that have come miles from the train wreck that was this show’s pilot. Not only is development happening, but it’s realistic and believable. Now that the larger mythology is starting to be played out, it will be interesting to see where each character fits in the mystery that is Mystic Falls.

The twist at the end of the episode is tragic, but also propels Caroline into a much needed limelight. Instead of just being a worse Cordelia, she’ll now have the ability to take on some real character development. And what about Alaric? How does Isobel fit into Katherine’s return, if at all? Either way, it’s a solid opening to one of my favorite guiltiest pleasures. Bravo, Vampire Diaries.

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8pm only on the CW.

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