The Vampire Diaries Review


Starring: Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Candice Accola, Kat Graham, Zach Roerig, Michael Trevino, Steven R. McQueen, Matthew Davis
Summary: Elena Gilbert, a high school student, is torn between two vampire brothers.
Genre(s): Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Thriller
Teen dramas can be addictive. Add in a flavor of the supernatural mixed up with a mythology you can easily get lost in and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a show that will get viewers sucked in after only a couple of episodes. The Vampire Diaries has it all, and then some. It’s been with us for six wonderful years, allowing fans to live vicariously through the show’s tormented protagonists. It’s addictive, original, infuriating, and extremely compelling at times. In short, pretty vampire-tastic.

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Show Summary

The Vampire Diaries premiered on The CW in September 2009. The series is developed by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec, based on the popular book series of the same name written by L. J. Smith. It tells the story of Elena, a high-school girl who loses both her parents in a car crash. She falls in love with a vampire and is drawn into the supernatural, where she has to deal with all sorts of trouble: doppelgangers, hunters, witchery, spirits, death, and shirtless werewolves.

All the action takes place in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, a magical land where parental figures never live for long and teenagers are allowed to drink copious amounts of alcohol without adults even raising an eyebrow. Besides Elena, the main character, the show also introduces us to the Salvatore brothers, Stefan and Damon, two vampires who are centuries old and both develop a crush for the irresistible teenager. Stefan is portrayed as the good guy at first, while Damon plays the hate-to-love-him rebel who gets everyone in trouble. However, as the series progresses, we find out that things aren’t as black and white as we initially thought. The three form a love triangle – Elena falls in love with Stefan at first, but later starts developing feelings for his brother.

There are plenty of lovable secondary characters as well. Bonnie is Elena’s BFF, a witch with zero concern for self-preservation. Caroline, Elena’s other best friend, starts off the series as an annoying cheerleader, only to be turned into a vampire and become a fan-favorite and total scene-stealer in season two. Jeremy is Elena’s little brother, whose main passions vary from getting stoned to hunting down supernatural beings. Then we have Matt, Elena’s childhood friend and ex-boyfriend, who clings to his humanity and struggles to have a normal life despite the paranormal happenings that keep occurring in his hometown.  There’s also Tyler, a werewolf later turned into a hybrid, who keeps falling for sassy girls with a death wish. Last but not least, Alaric is the parental figure who looks over Elena and Jeremy, while simultaneously bromancing it out with Damon and losing his life a few times. Luckily for him, death is rarely permanent when you’re in Mystic Falls.

A lot happens as the series progresses, both good and bad, but the most important thing is that the show remains highly entertaining, even after a six-year run. After all, who cares about plot holes and shady logic when these killers are more fun than a barrel of monkeys doing the merengue? The series hit a rough patch during its fourth and fifth installments, but somehow managed to get its groove back during season six, which is currently airing. It was also renewed for a seventh season, so we’ll be seeing our supernatural heroes in 2016 as well.

Cast

Nina Dobrev as Elena Gilbert

Ian Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore

Paul Wesley as Stefan Salvatore

Candice Accola as Caroline Forbes

Steven R. McQueen as Jeremy Gilbert

Kat Graham as Bonnie Bennett

Zach Roerig as Matt Honeycutt

Michael Trevino as Tyler Lockwood

Joseph Morgan as Niklaus Mikaelson

Matthew Davis as Alaric Saltzman

Season recap

Elena and Jeremy struggle to come to grips with the fact their parents have recently died. They are both looked after by their cool aunt, Jenna, who’s kind of overwhelmed with the fact that she’s now responsible for two teenagers. Jeremy is on a dangerous path – he turns to drugs to hide his pain, while simultaneously developing crushes on unavailable ladies.

Elena, on the other hand, finds herself drawn to Stefan, a new student who just happens to be gorgeous and extremely mysterious. They start dating, and she soon finds out her lover is hiding a dark secret: he’s a vampire. Not only that, but he also has an older brother he didn’t speak to for 15 years, Damon, who suddenly decides to drop into town and bring some chaos to spice up everyone’s life in the small Virginia town. All is forgiven though, mostly because of his dreamy eyes and witty one-liners. Damon has fully embraced his vampire nature, and is a big fan of enjoying himself. He doesn’t shy away from hurting the innocent and he has his way with Caroline, whom she compels to act natural.

We soon find out that his secret nature wasn’t the only thing Stefan was hiding; Elena also looks just like Katherine, a woman both Stefan and Damon loved more than a century ago. Talk about history repeating itself. Turns out, Elena is Katherine’s doppelganger – a word that’s been used so much throughout the series that fans have basically become allergic to it. Damon thinks Katherine is trapped in a tomb under the city church, and tries to free her. Unfortunately for him, it’s revealed that Katherine was never there; instead, he frees a herd of grumpy and old vampires.

In the meantime, Bonnie discovers she is born into a line of witches and is a witch herself. She starts to experiment with magic with her grandmother’s help. Alaric gets a job at the high school as a teacher, but secretly activates as a vampire hunter, looking for the murderer of his wife, Isobel. He suspects Damon and attacks him. He loses. Luckily, Alaric wears a ring that keeps him from dying at supernatural hands. The two bury the hatchet eventually and become (drinking) buddies. Plus, Alaric’s wife wasn’t actually killed – Damon turned her into a vampire. Not only that, but she’s Elena’s biological mother. Talk about twists. She and John, Elena and Jeremy’s uncle, had a thing back in the day and decided to give the child resuling from their union to John’s brother, for protection.

The season ends with the tomb vampires being hunted, mainly by John. Most of them are locked into a basement and burnt alive. Caroline is in a car accident and gets rushed to the hospital. Meanwhile, Damon kisses Elena on her porch; or does he? Nope, he does not. He kisses Katherine, who took Elena’s place to get her revenge on John. She stabs him repeatedly.

The second season of the show focuses on Katherine and her arrival to Mystic Falls. She’s after the moonstone, a mysterious rock with magical powers. She tries to steal it, but is intercepted by the Salvatore brothers, Elena, and Bonnie. Damon traps her in the tomb she was supposed to be all along, not before she tries to warn him that Elena is in grave danger as well.

Turns out, Katherine tells the truth every once in a blue moon. Elena is kidnapped and introduced to Elijah, a powerful vampire who we find out is an Original. The Originals were the first ever generation of vampires; they are incredibly strong and tough to be killed.

Elena discovers that she is a Petrova doppelganger and needs to be sacrificed in order for Klaus, the most powerful of the Originals, to break something called the sun and moon curse. Katherine is also a Petrova doppelganger, but she managed to escape from the Originals centuries ago and she asked a friend to turn her into a vampire to save herself from the sacrifice. Stefan and Damon show up, stab Elijah, and they all escape.

This season also introduces werewolves. Tyler finds out he has the gene and activates it; spending the rest of the season dealing with his new nature. Caroline has similar issues as well, as Katherine turned her into a vampire. With Stefan’s help, she slowly learns to control her impulses.

With Klaus hunting Elena, no one is safe anymore. After many twists and turns, Katherine manages to escape the tomb and steal the moonstone, trying to exchange it for her freedom. Klaus has other plans though. He enters Alaric’s body and compels Katherine to stay in Alaric’s house. We also learn more about the sun and the moon curse, which is actually a curse that was put on Klaus. Klaus is a vampire, but he was born in a werewolf bloodline. He needs the moonstone and Elena for a ritual that will unearth the werewolf side, making him a hybrid.

In the season finale, Klaus manages to break the curse; doing a lot of damage in the process. Elena survives, but aunt Jenna unfortunately doesn’t. Stefan agrees to leave with Klaus and work for him in exchange for Damon’s protection. Damon gets bitten by a werewolf, which translates into a death sentence. Not to worry, he survives. Also, Katherine escapes, as she often does.

In season three of this riveting teen drama, we learn more about the Originals, one of them is on a mission to create his own private army of hybrids. Jeremy can see ghosts, Stefan succumbs to his darkness, and Elena and Damon deal with their attraction while looking for the other Salvatore.

Klaus and Stefan hunt for werewolves so that Klaus can create more hybrids. To his endless frustration, he can’t, because Elena is still alive. When he finds out the truth, he figures out that he needs her blood to craft his army. His first successful hybrid becomes Tyler. He takes a few buckets of Elena’s blood and plans to kidnap her as well, but flees the scene when it is revealed that a powerful vampire hunter is after him. Meanwhile, we learn a bit about Stefan’s past as a ripper, something Elena struggles with. We also become familiar with the entire backstory of the Originals, who turn out to be a highly dysfunctional family. Who would have thought? They pretty much steal the show for the rest of the season, which leads to their own spin-off that premiered in 2013, titled as “The Originals.”

Back to our regular heroes, the end of the season finds them all under surprising circumstances. Tyler and Caroline are dating. Elena, now torn between the two Salvatores, finally chooses Stefan as her one true love. Rebekah, Klaus’ sister, wants to murder Elena and causes and accident, throwing Elena’s car over a bridge and into the water. Stefan arrives at the scene, but saves Matt instead of Elena, honoring her choice. Alaric dies, causing Damon to not only lose the woman he loves, but also his best friend. In the final scene, Elena opens her eyes. She was injected with vampire blood prior to her death, and she’s now a full-fledged vampire. Shocker!

Elena awakens after the accident and she has to endure the transition to become a vampire. Stefan and Damon help her adjust to her new life, but they are torn even further apart. Vampire Elena is more attracted to Damon, whom she can relate to more now. She breaks up with Stefan and almost instantly moves on and starts dating his brother. However, Elena’s strong attraction to Damon is attributed to something called a sire bond, which makes a vampire strongly connect with his maker (the vampire whose blood was in their system when they turned).

Meanwhile, our vampire friends want to figure out a way to help Elena, so we find out there’s a cure for vampirism. That cure was buried with Silas, an ancient witch, centuries ago. Everyone is after the cure, including the Originals. Jeremy becomes a vampire hunter to help with this convoluted quest. They manage to locate the cure and free Silas, but Katherine proves how sleek she is and steals the cure right from under their nose. Silas kills Jeremy, which causes Elena to break down. To spare her from all the pain, Damon uses the sire bond to get her to switch off her humanity. In the aftermath, Elena’s behavior becomes slightly concerning – from the selfless person she once used to be, she becomes a selfish, partying vampire. Which, I kid you not, is extremely fun to watch.

The season ends with an extremely eventful high school graduation. Elena, who eventually regains her humanity, confesses her true love to Damon. She then faces Katherine and shoves the cure down her throat, turning Katherine back into a human. Bonnie gives her own life to bring back Jeremy. Finally, Stefan discovers he’s actually Silas’ doppelganger. The latter traps Stefan in a safe and drops him into the lake.

At the beginning of season five, it’s revealed that Elena and Damon spent a pretty passionate summer together. She doesn’t know yet that her friend Bonnie is dead, or that Stefan is trapped at the bottom on a lake. Elena and Caroline head to Whitmore College, where they finally figure out that something’s not quite right.

Stefan escapes and has to face his immortal doppelganger, while Katherine is struggling with her mortality. As a bonus, she also finds out she’s a mother. Yikes! Like that wasn’t enough, she discovers that she’s aging faster than she’s supposed to, and she decides to take control of Elena’s body to escape death. She pulls it off, but her plan crumbles shortly after. Stefan kills her, and her spirit appears to be dragged to hell.
Everyone is striving to find a way to bring Bonnie back. They’re successful to a degree, as she becomes the Anchor to the Other Side. Damon and Elena’s relationship is put to test when it’s revealed that an old vampire friend of Damon’s, Enzo, is still alive. He and Damon used to be tortured back in the day, and Damon left his friend behind when he escaped. Uncool.

Additionally, Stefan and Caroline become closer, and the gang has to face the Travelers, a witch tribe who strip Mystic Falls of magic and cast out all of its supernatural residents. The Other Side crumbles, and it finally implodes with Bonnie and Damon sacrificing themselves to bring back some familiar faces – including Alaric, whom we’ve missed so very much. When the season ends it’s unclear what happened to the Bamon, but everyone is fairly certain they didn’t make it.

Our Critic Review

Despite its occasional shortcomings, The Vampire Diaries manages to deliver a highly entertaining hour of television week after week. The cast has superb chemistry; they are fully dedicated to the gig, even when they’re portraying multiple characters. Nina Dobrev is particularly impressive – her performances as both Elena and Katherine are extremely compelling, especially due to the fact that the two characters are so different. She brings a certain vulnerability to the table that can be hard to pull off.

The way the show handles the relationship between the two Salvatore brothers also deserves to be praised. Whether they love or hate each other, the two share an unbreakable bond, which often makes their interactions utterly touching. A shout to the secondary characters as well – Caroline and Alaric in particular. The first wins us over with her incredible charm and strong personality, while the latter embodies the (slightly damaged) parental figure our heroes are in desperate need of. And Damon… Well, his wittiness should be ranked as legendary, I’ll just leave it at that.

If you’re looking for an action-packed supernatural series that will keep you hooked with its unexpected twists and turns, The Vampire Diaries should definitely be among your top picks. At the end of the day, sometimes it’s nice to escape the realities of everyday life in a land where a teenager’s problems are considerably more pressing than yours. Makes you appreciate the true wonder that is humanity.

VIDEO: Watch The Vampire Diaries season 6 trailer !

Critic Reviews

The Vampire Diaries has jumped right back into the thick of it, and if this episode was any indication of what’s ahead in season six, you won’t want to miss a single second of whatever the writers have in store for us. Full Review

Lindsay Sperling, We Got This Covered

I really like these familiar faces and I’m definitely interested to see where the season takes us.” The pace is a bit quicker, there’s more obvious humor. But the level of ambition is very much the same. Full Review

Price Peterson, TV.com

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