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'The Vampire Diaries': The undead show signs of life

VD103a_0760b Finally, "The Vampire Diaries" leading man takes some action! After three weeks of writing in his diary and gazing soulfully at old photographs, in Thursday night's episode, Stefan Salvatore dropped the emo act long enough to actually do something about his problems.

The episode, aptly titled "Family Ties," opened with Elena being chased through her house and ultimately devoured by a bloodthirsty Damon.  Of course, it's a little early in the series to slaughter our heroine – the scene turned out to be one of Stefan's nightmares.  

Dream or not, it was enough to get Stefan to quit brooding and get moving.  I was wondering how many innocent Mystic Falls townspeople Damon would have to kill before Stefan took matters into his own hands.  (Damon's body count, by the way, is up to at least five – not counting Vicki and Caroline, who he's been feeding on but hasn't quite drained.)

When Stefan's first attempt to slip vervain - vampire kryptonite, if you will - into Damon's scotch was unsuccessful, he decided to get creative. 

At the Mystic Falls Founder's Party, Stefan laced Caroline's champagne with the herb.  Later, the unsuspecting Damon declared he was "over" Caroline and took a bite out of her. The vervain in her blood poisoned him just enough for Stefan to overpower him and lock him up.

I have to admit, I had my doubts about whether Stefan was worthy of Elena's swooning, but Thursday night our undead hero finally showed signs of life!  He was clever and mysterious – at long last, I'm seeing some family resemblance between the Salvatore brothers.

So now bloodthirsty Damon is caged up, and as far as the townsfolk know, the "mountain lion" that killed five people has been taken care of.  Of course, the trouble is just beginning for the Salvatores.  The mayor – and the police – know that vampires have returned to Mystic Falls, and they're not happy about it.  Apparently, a pocket watch that's been passed down through Elena's family for generations holds the key to solving the town's vamp problem. Elena's brother Jeremy doesn't seem too keen on parting with the gift from his late father, though ... and he doesn't exactly have a history of cooperating with the cops.

The pocket watch is just the latest on a long list of enchanted pieces of jewelry that hold special significance in "The Vampire Diaries" mythology. There's also Elena's vervain necklace, which protects her from Damon's mind control, and the crystal charm that Damon stashed in the mayor's house a century ago and stole back during the Founder's Party.VD103b_0432b

We can't forget the matching rings that keep the Salvatore brothers' delicate vampire complexions from turning to ash in the light of day!  Damon helpfully reminded us of the rings while flipping through Caroline's copy of "Twilight" in this episode.

"How come you don't sparkle?" Caroline asked him.

"Because I live in the real world, where vampires burn in the sun," he quipped, showing her his magical bling.  "This book, by the way, has it all wrong.  Oh, I miss Anne Rice."

While I doubt this little exchange will put all those "Twilight" comparisons to rest, I liked the reference.  It's nice to know that the "Diaries" writers don't take themselves too seriously.

What do you guys think?  Do the Salvatore brothers have more in common with the Anne Rice vamps, or the Cullen clan? Do you have any ideas about why the Gilbert pocket watch is so important to the Mystic Falls authorities? And why do you think Damon went to so much trouble to get his hands on that crystal again?  

Let's chat about this week's episode in the comments below – and check back in with me next week to see if some of our questions get answered!

--Carina MacKenzie (follow me on Twitter @cadlymack)

Photos: Nina Dobrev as Elena and Paul Wesley as Stefan; Ian Somerhalder as Damon. Credit: CW.

Comments () | Archives (40)

Thursday's episode really did take an interesting turn. Stefan was getting a little soft and sort of boring; I actually found myself rooting for Damon. But, finally, Stefan steps up. I totally tripped out with the Twilight reference. I am a Twihard, but I also am diverse when it comes to vampires.

I really love the turns Kevin Williamson has taken with this series--I read the books over ten years ago and have not picked them up since because they're my least favorite of LJ Smith's stuff--and it looks like the show writers are setting up for a long haul. I'm glad to see most of the minor characters get storylines in this episode, including Uncle Zach. I'm just wondering, what exactly is he and what is his relationship to the brothers? He called Stefan "uncle" in episode 3, but if he's human, that makes Stefan his great-great-great uncle or whatever. I wonder if he's a younger vampire, although Damon choking him rather easily seems to point otherwise. Random tangent, but I've been thinking about it.

I am starting to really get into this show. I've been watching since the beginning and last night's episode really drew me in. I think that the brothers are like the Anne Rice vampires, which is a good thing in my opinion. I just hope they keep going with this show and keep the audience wondering about what's going to happen next.

Man, now I'm bummed I missed this week's episode. Sounds like it was a good one. Plus, anything that takes a kick at the "Twilight" trash automatically gets points from me.

The brothers are hot, hot, hot. Let them try to suck my blood!

Can't you download the first three episodes of Diaries from cwtv.com? Or maybe from Amazon?

To me it almost sounds like it has a touch of both Anne Rice and Twilight - Anne Rice in that they seem to be more similar to the "traditional" vampire, and Twilight because of the soap opera-esq aspect.

I gave the pilot a try because it aired before Supernatural, but I was fairly unimpressed. I thought Stefan was boring, and didn't hold out much hope for Elena, either. However, your review makes me want to give the show a second chance - especially if Stefan is getting interesting, as you said. So, hm! You have me intrigued! And the fact that Vampire Diaries comes on before my favorite show doesn't hurt.

Do you know if this is streaming on the CW site?

I think they're doing a really great job of world-building. To bring in another vampire show into the mix, I really like True Blood but I've always felt one step behind in understanding the rules of their world. I think Vampire Diaries is doing the smart thing in establishing a lot of their mythology at the beginning: the magical artifacts, the Council of Watchers, the witch lore, the vervain.

I agree with you that this was a standout episode for Stefan! I'm still loving the dynamic between him and Damon, and I have new hope for him as the leading man for the show. Great article!

I decided to stick with The Vampire Diaries for at least the first five episodes. I almost gave up! But I'm glad I didn't. The show is really starting to pull me in. Stefan is much more interesting than I thought he would be and Damon is beyond entertaining. I love Ian Sommerhalder's performance on this show. He's sort of hit and miss for me. I was never a fan of Boone on Lost or Adam on Smallville, but loved Hamilton on Young Americans. It's nice to be reminded of how awesome he can be.

I've been really impressed with the progression of the show. The first episode was awful, but it's been improving with each passing week. I just wish there was less of the obnoxious and irrelevant Vicki/Elena's-brother-whose-name-I-haven't-bothered-to-pick-up storyline. And the token African-American friend who has nothing to do other than to fret over her friend's relationship. I mean, she's a witch, and the girl who plays her is a decent actress - GIVE HER SOMETHING TO DO, PLEASE.

I also wish Elena was a little less ~perfect~ and more flawed, but it's a CW show. They're basically recycling Lana Lang and Liz Parker. That being said, I think Damon pretty much makes up for the rest of the characters. It could be an hour of him picking his toes and it would be entertaining. Stefan's dull flatness is sort of melting away too - hopefully he'll be as interesting as Damon one of these days.

ok. first thing first! this show is NOTHING like the book and it really makes me mad. i have read it and everything is wrong!! am i the only one that thinks this way?

I love when vampires reference other vamp lit. Totally agree about the writers not taking themselves too seriously.

Great review! I'm loving this show more and more every week... and your blog too! Can't wait for the next one.

I completely agree about Stefan. I was getting reeeally bored with him being a less awkward Edward Cullen. I still think Damon is the more interesting of the two Salvatore brothers, but if Stefan keeps stepping it up I think I'll like them equally.

I didn't read the books but I am loving the show (and I am also a fan of Twilight and Ann Rice). Damon is so well written and so well-played. I love to hate him! I'm all about team Stefan though (he's a little bit Edward and a little bit Angel and I love it). But I too have a question about Zach. Stefan told Elena that he lived with his uncle but Zach calls him Uncle Stefan. Are there humans in the Salvatore family? Call me confused but if someone knows I'd appreciate them sharing their knowledge! Thanks!

I was really impressed by last night's episode! The writing and plot lines are definately getting edgier, more involved with lots of interesting layers. Excellent job guys! And the actors are owning these roles more every week. It was so refreshing to see Stefan finally step up - he seemed like such a whiney wimp and was letting his brother step all over him and run wild through the towns people. And it always came back to the fact that only he could possibly stop Damon, but he wouldn't even try! I'm a little confused by their "uncle/nephew" as well, but he was the key coming up with the secret garden last night. Seems like he wouldn't mind if both brothers got a big OD of vervain! The only problem is, once they dragged Damon into the cellar, I was urging "stake him! get rid of him once and for all!" But of course, how would the series go on without the delicious villain that Ian plays? And the Twilight slam was really funny "what's so great about this Bella girl, anyway? Edward is totally whipped! Only Ian could have delivered it with such mocking irony. Now they need to have Stefan say something fabulous like "What do you think I'm made of, Elena, stone?" Go Salvatores!

It _was_ good to see Stefan grow a pair. Useless angsting is a turn off, but now I can see what we might be meant to see in our hero. Just in time! I was one more episode from drifting off...

I also thought it was a brilliant twist to give Caroline the vervain in her champagne to get Damon to drink it somehow! It does show that Stefan has it in him to be as devious and calculating as his older brother.
And, it has to be mentioned, did anyone else notice the abs on Paul Wesley when he lifted up his shirt to survey the knife wound Damon gave him?? Even though there was no body paint there, I got the vapors. Where's a bell tower scene in the middle of the day when you want one?

I'm glad Stefan is showing some life and that he's finding ways to outwit his brother - I traditionally go for the good guys, but it's tough to do that if the bad ones are more interesting.

I thought the Twilight reference was good - it probably won't put the comparisons to rest, but making Damon quip about it was a good move, and a nice pop culture shout-out.

This was the best episode so far.
I really liked the Twilight reference. I totally LOL'd.
This show, for me, is just a filler while I wait for better things (New Moon and True Blood season 3), but I really am starting to like it.
I feel bad, though, for liking Damon.

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