Kevin Williamson (Dawson's Creek, Scream) and Julie Plec (Kyle XY) bring the world of author L.J. Smith to life with the series premiere of The Vampire Diaries. The pilot features Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley as the Salvatore brothers, vampires whose centuries-old war spills over into their hometown of Mystic Falls, Virginia as well as the life of Elena Gilbert, played by Nina Dobrev.
Full disclosure: I approach this series with next to no knowledge of the books that inspired it. What's good about that is I'm able to take the show for what it's meant to be: an on-going television drama with a world of characters and situations all-its-own, separate from the novels. Still, you should feel welcome to bring your knowledge and thoughts on the series, both printed and televised, to the boards for discussion.
"I'm a Vampire and this is my story."
It quickly became clear why Kevin Williamson's Twitter account read, "We're in the woods again" the other day, as the woods is precisely where this episode began. Late at night, a fog creeps through the trees and onto a back road where couple Brooke and Darren drive home. They suddenly spot a man in the middle of the road but it's too late. Their SUV sends him flying up over the car and onto the road.
Darren gets out to check on the him. We linger on a shot of a ring the seemingly hurt man wears before he springs up, grabs Darren, grows fangs and delivers the first neck bite of a show that's sure to be full of 'em.
"I have to know her."
It's the first day back at school in Mystic Falls and we're introduced to Elena as she writes in her diary about the upcoming months. She lives with her Aunt Jenna and younger brother Jeremy. Their parents died in a car crash earlier in the year. Aunt Jenna means well but is hardly prepared for two teenagers. Jeremy seems like any other teenage boy on the first day of school.
"I predict that this year is going to be kick ass and that all the sad and dark times are going be over and you're going to be beyond happy."
Elena catches a ride to school with her friend Bonnie who's explaining that her Gramms has been telling Bonnie to explore her psychic gifts. I mean, after all, she "predicted Obama." A small, dark object slams into the windshield and Bonnie brings the car comes to a screeching halt.
After the girls compose themselves, they continue on their way to Mystic Falls High School as a crow looks on.
Elena's greeted at school by Caroline, a sweetly condescending friend, as well as a Matt, a cold and spurned ex-boyfriend.
Capeside High this is not. Outside, Jeremy is giving pills to Matt's sister Vicki while opting to inhale his own drug of choice. The two talk for a bit before Vicki's latest hook-up Ty walks over, meatheads it up for a bit and takes Vicki with him
"Please look again. I'm sure everything you need is there."
Elena and Bonnie are peering into the office to get a first look at the new kid in school. While they can't hear her, the office assistant is explaining he'll need transcripts and med records before he can join the student body. The still mysterious, leather clad student lowers his sunglasses, flashes his eyes, and it's all taken care of. So, I guess not having a hall pass shouldn't really be a problem either.
"Just so you know, I am going to be there to ruin your buzz every time."
Before she can get a look at the face of M.F.H.S.'s newest student, Elena notices Jeremy in the hallway and can tell he's high. She follows him into the men's room where she promises to make sure he doesn't keep screwing up.
On her way out of the bathroom, Elena gets a face-to-face meeting with the student she had been spying on.
"I know. We have history together."
Later, Elena goes to write in her diary beside her parent's gravestone. Slowly, a mist flows along the ground and a crow flies in and perches in front of her.
Freaked out, Elena takes off. Again she bumps into the new student from school. This time they actually get to meet. His name is Stefan Salvatore and he too has family in the cemetery.
"I lost control today. Everything I kept buried inside came bubbling to the surface. I'm simply not able to resist her."
Stefan wears a ring similar to that of the one our Vamp from the teaser wore. All of a sudden a feeling comes over Stefan and he asks Elena if she's been hurt. She pulls up her pant leg to reveal blood. All of a sudden, Stefan is gone. Later that day, Stefan writes in his journal while Elena's diary sits at the other end of his desk.
"He only wants you for your ass."
Across town, Jeremy is pestering his pill-popping friend Vicki while she tries to wait tables. Don't the takers usually pester the dealers; not the other way around?
The two had sex over the summer, something Vicki attributes to being drunk, and Jeremy just wants to know why things have changed.
Elena is at home getting ready to meet Bonnie. As she's about the leave, Stefan walks onto her porch and returns her diary. Having a journal of us own, he respects her privacy and says he didn't read a thing. Do you believe him?
"You said you had this under control!"
Stefan returns home, an old boarding school owned by his family, after spending time with Elena and her friends. He's confronted by his nephew Zach, who is either older than him (in human years) or needs to lay off the tanning. Zach throws a newspaper Stefan's way with an article about the couple we meet in the episode's teaser. They're both dead and were found mutilated. Seems that was once Stefan's M.O. but not anymore, if Stefan's to be believed. Zach can't figure out why Stefan would have even returned to Mystic Falls.
After Zack leaves the room, Stefan goes to a hutch and removes a photo of a young woman who looks just like Elena. Next to the photo is written "Katherine, 1863."
"Cute becomes dumb in an instant, Miss Bennett."
Stefan must have really loved her. I mean, he willfully enrolled in high school just to meet a girl who looks just like her. If you're over a hundred years old would you spend a second of your eternity even thinking about high school? It's so mortal coil.
Just take their history teacher Mr. Tanner, who was apparently trained at the Tingle School of Educators. He talks down to his students but it's Stefan who puts Mr. Tanner in his place by schooling him on a few more obscure facts about the civil war battle fought in the town.
Stefan's made quite the impression at school. No surprise, Caroline has a crush on him and is sure to invite him to the first party of the school year at The Falls. Stefan only has one question. Will Elena be there?
"I'm drunk. It's the drinking. There's nothing psychic about it. Yeah. Okay. I'm gonna get a refill."
Stefan is hijacked by Caroline the second he arrives at the party. Elena and Bonnie are killing time playing around with Bonnie's psychic gift. When Bonnie touches Elena she suddenly freezes. It takes her a moment to recover but she explains that she saw fog and a crow.
"You won't be sad forever, Elena."
Stefan manages to break free from Caroline's grasp and goes on a walk with Elena. When the chit-chat starts to get heavier Elena just goes with it. She tells Stefan that she was in the backseat when her parent's car went off a bridge.
Jeremy's at the party too. He hasn't done anything but drink and watch Vicki all night. He notices Ty forcing himself on her and pulls him off. Still, Vicki tells off Jeremy for wanting the same thing Ty does but under the guise of wanting to get to know her.
Vicki storms off but it's not long before a fog begins enveloping her and a quick figure takes her to the ground.
Later, Elena sees her brother and is determined to make good on her promise to ruin his buzz. She follows behind him as he goes deeper into the woods to get away from her. Tripping, he falls to the ground and looks to see what he fell over. It's Vicki. Her neck is gushing blood but she's still alive.
Jeremy carries Vicki back to where the action is and Matt, while tending to his sister, looks up and notices Stefan leaving at the first sight of trouble.
When Stefan gets home he tells Zach of the attack and goes to his bedroom. A crow flies in and Stefan follows it across the room with his eyes. Then a dark figure appears behind him. It's his brother Damon. It's been 15 years since the two have seen on another. And what could have possibly brought them both back together in their home town? As Damon puts it, "One little word; Elena."
"I promised you an eternity of misery. So I'm just keeping my word."
Stefan gives into the beast inside him and charges at his brother. The two go out the window and crash to the ground. These guys have a long, dark, and storied history together. I mean, sure, they missed a lot in the late 90's and early 2000's but there's plenty else to mine. I'd be willing to wager we may even start seeing things from Damon's point of view before too long.
Damon's not going to kill his brother, but he makes it known that he is stronger due to the human blood he feasts on.
"I'm never the one."
A half-drunk Caroline sobers up with Bonnie who's nursing a coffee. Caroline laments how everything and everyone comes naturally to Elena. After Bonnie leaves, it's time for Caroline to be "the one." Damon sits at a table nearby and invites her to join him.
Vicki wakes up in an empty hospital room except for her brother watching over her, and she tells him what attacked her.
"I had a plan. I wanted to change who I was."
The final scene of the episode featured Stefan accepting Elena's invitation into her home.
It was during this final montage that it dawned on me how many characters we were introduced to in this eventful premiere. Everyone had their own place in setting up this world.
Will Damon kill Caroline or use her to trip up Stefan in his new life as a high school student? Will Matt believe his sister about what attacked her? If so, will he become the Van Helsing of Mystic Falls?
Now, let's talk about Twilight for a moment. It's bound to come up on the boards anyway, right? And that's just my concern. If you want to engage in conversations like, "Damon Salvatore vs. Edward Cullen. Who wins in a fight?" or "OMG, witch 1's hottur?!?!:)" then post away. However, try to stay away from which came first or who's (pun alert!) biting off whom. We can all guess how that will end.
Poster 1: Twilight.
Poster 2: Um, Buffy. Hello?
Poster 1: Buffy is so old. It's, like, as old as my little sister.
Poster 3: Guys, The Vampire Diaries novels have been around longer than both of those.
Poster 4: Oh, you kids. Dark Shadows.
Poster 1: Dark Shadows? Isn't Johnny Depp in that?
So, before we start that and eventually find ourselves naming Vlad the Impaler a major influence on the works of Whedon, Meyer, and now Williamson/Plec , let's just all agree that as a people we've always been intrigued by the idea of vampires.
Since this is not Vampires: A Pop-History, I'll return to The Vampire Diaries.
Other Great Lines & Moments
Darren Malloy: We already have a James Blunt. One is all we need.
Bonnie: I predicted Obama. I predicted Heath Ledger. I still think Florida will break off and turn into little resort islands.
Caroline: How is she? Is she good?
Elena: I'm right here.
Jeremy: You need to chill yourself.
Elena: "Chill yourself?" What is that? Stoner talk?
Stefan: Crow's a bit much, don't you think?
Damon: Wait 'til you see what I can do with the fog
Damon: I give it a six. You lost points on style but I'm very impressed.
The Vampire Diaries returns next week with an episode that seems to be more Damon-centric. As he teases in the promo, "You have no idea the game I'm about to play."
What were your thoughts on the premiere?