TV REVIEW: The Vampire Diaries Episodes 1 & 2 – The Birthday and The Hybrid
06/10/2011 REVIEWS

The CW hit has returned for a third season; if the first two episodes are any indicator, this season will follow in the footsteps of its predecessors in bringing us surprising twists and turns, tons of fun and stupidly beautiful people.  Warning: Contains Spoilers.

Episode 1: The Birthday

When we last saw the gang from Mystic Falls, Stefan had just made a deal with the devil (aka Klaus) to save his brother Damon’s life.  Damon’s death via a werewolf bite seemed certain until Katherine mysteriously appeared with a vial of Klaus’s blood.  Because Klaus is a werewolf/vampire hybrid, his blood contained the properties necessary to heal Damon.  In exchange for the blood, and for saving his brother’s life, Stefan vowed to do anything Klaus asked of him.

Season 3 starts with Elena’s 18th birthday; Caroline is planning a huge celebration while Elena, Damon and Alaric search for clues about Stefan.  Unbeknownst to Elena, Damon and Alaric have been tracking a series of “animal deaths” that Damon knows are Stefan’s doing.  He’s not wrong – Stefan and Klaus have been wreaking havoc in their quest to find an ancient clan of werewolves.  It appears that Klaus wants to continue his hybrid legacy by turning the wolves into vampires.  When Klaus realizes that Damon is following them, Stefan offers to confront him.  He does so, warning his brother to stay away.  To drive the point home, he compels Andie, Damon’s chew toy-turned-kinda girlfriend, to kill herself.

Tyler (a werewolf) and Caroline (a vampire) continue their forbidden romance story line from last season – they spend most of the episode swearing they are just friends, talking about how hormonal they both are, and then finally get it on in the end.  Things get dangerous, however, when Caroline is attempting to sneak out of Tyler’s home.  She is stopped by Tyler’s mother, and when she goes to retrieve her purse, discovers that Mrs. Lockwood has covered it in vervain, which is poisonous to vampires.  Her suspicions confirmed, Mrs. Lockwood shoots Caroline with vervain darts, incapacitating her.

As a result of his death and resurrection (thanks, Bonnie!), Jeremy is still seeing the ghosts of his former flames, Vicki and Anna.  Vicki appears to be the more tormented of the two, repeatedly asking Jeremy to help her.  It will be interesting to see how this will affect Jeremy’s relationship with Bonnie, who is off visiting relatives.

It all sounds a bit ridiculous when you read it out of context – werewolves and vampires, hybrids and ghosts.  But I have to say, this is hands down one of my favorite shows.  It is endlessly entertaining, and the writers aren’t afraid to take risks.  The characters are surprisingly complex, given that at first glance they appear to be just so much eye candy.  No given character is any one thing – good or bad, innocent or guilty.

That theme carries on in the start of Season 3.  Stefan’s on a killing spree, but we can’t forget what drove him to it in the first place: the desire to save his brother’s life.  Also, he’s not completely lost sight of the things that were important to him, as he rings Elena on her birthday.  He doesn’t say anything, but she knows who it is and her subsequent words obviously affect him.  On the other hand, Damon was introduced as the “bad” brother, but he’s changed so much since the first season.  He obviously cares about his brother, he loves Elena, and Andie’s death upsets him, even though at times she appeared to be little more than his semi-compelled meal ticket.

Even with all of that going on, Klaus is definitely the one to watch this season.  He’s the ultimate baddie, but he’s so cool and almost charming about it.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what he has in store for Stefan, and for Mystic Falls.

Overall, a really strong start to the season.

Episode 1 Rating: 4/5

Episode 2: The Hybrid

In an attempt to track down Stefan, Elena convinces Alaric to accompany her to Tennessee, where the wolf pack has gathered in the woods to celebrate the full moon.  Klaus and Stefan beat them to it, however, and Klaus starts converting the pack.  Meanwhile, Ray, the first wolf he turned, completes the transition and escapes, biting Stefan in the process.  Klaus tells Stefan to find him if he wants to be saved.

Damon joins Elena and Alaric in the mountains, where they are attacked by Ray.  Realizing the danger for Damon, Elena changes her mind and decides that they should retreat.  They are confronted again by Ray, and only escape when Damon leads him away.  Damon and Ray fight in the woods, and at the last minute Stefan intervenes, killing Ray and saving Damon’s life.  He warns Damon again about following him and tells him that he is never coming back, and to keep Elena safe.  Stefan then returns to Klaus, who tells him that something went wrong with the conversion and the entire pack is dead.

Mrs. Lockwood calls in reinforcement to deal with Caroline.  Tyler finds out that his mother knows about Caroline, and in an effort to save her life, he forces him mother to witness his transformation.  Mrs. Lockwood then tries to call off the vampire “slayer,” but he refuses to listen.

Jeremy and Matt attempt to summon Vicki’s ghost – she tells Jeremy that she wants to come back, that she’s figured out a way to come back.  Before he can relay the information to Matt, Anna’s ghost appears and tells him not to trust Vicki.

I really enjoyed the interaction between Elena and Alaric in this episode.  Alaric started off as the rogue vampire hunter slash history teacher, but through his relationship with Jenna (RIP), it really feels like he’s become family to Elena and Jeremy.  The conversation between them in the car where he decides to stop running is touching, and feels very much like the right resolution.

I am also really enjoying the dynamic between Klaus and Stefan.  Stefan is obviously trying very hard to keep Klaus ignorant of the fact that Elena is still alive.  The scene in the forest where Klaus is trying to figure out why the conversions didn’t work is very tense – you can’t help but wonder if he hasn’t figured out that the reason he can’t make more hybrids is because he didn’t truly break the curse, since Elena survived.  It will be interesting to see how far Stefan is willing to go to keep Elena safe, given he is supposed to have “turned off” his emotions.

A great second episode with a real twist at the end – the season is truly off to a great start.

Episode 2 Rating: 4/5
GS Reporter: Mirjana

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