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June 07, 2010

The Vampire Diaries 1.1: "Pilot"

TV: The Vampire Diaries

I know the Vampire Diaries episodes currently airing are reruns, so it seems a little late to blog about it, but I'm going to do it anyway. Specifically, I'm going to be thinking about the way that the early episodes set up some of the big reveals later in the season, so assume that all these posts might have spoilers all the way through season one and proceed accordingly.

One of the things that struck me most when rewatching the pilot was how different some of it was from later episodes. It certainly seems like they were trying to make it look like Twilight in order to get picked up, and then spent the rest of the season getting away from that. For one thing, I had forgotten the way the episodes used to always start with attacks. I guess it nicely set up the fact that they're not messing around about killing people, but I'm glad they stopped after a while. Of course, now I can't remember when exactly it stopped.

There are a few events in the pilot that really set things up, in ways I didn't necessarily see the first time around. It's telling that Damon's first line is "Hello, brother," as I think there's an argument to be made that the Stefan/Damon relationship is the core of the show, and Elena and Katherine are both somewhat incidental to the whole thing. And the episode ends with Elena inviting Stefan into the house, which is really the perfect ending for a pilot like this.

More things that go away as the season progresses:

All the fog! They certainly got their money's worth out of the fog machine in the pilot, huh?
And Damon's crow! I'd practically forgotten about that. When it lands on a street sign, the street is Laurel Ave. Laurel symbolizes victory - is this a message about Damon always winning? Am I overanalyzing this? Probably.
Jenna's a grad student? I'd totally forgotten that. Is it ever mentioned again?
The diary voiceovers. THANK GOODNESS. They work as a framework to set up the show, but I'm glad they didn't continue, because that would have become annoying pretty quickly. Again, I can't remember when they stop, but I know they're gone by the end of the season.
The Falls themselves, where the kids go to party. Do we go back there much? Most of the outdoor stuff I can remember involves the woods.

Lingering questions:

Was it ever firmly established that it was Damon who killed the couple at the beginning? It certainly looks like it could be him, and there's a ring, but at this point, I guess I'm questioning everything. Similarly, Stefan walks out of the woods in a way that makes us think that he might have be the one who attacked Vicki.
The look on Stefan's face when Elena tells him about her parents almost makes me wonder whether he didn't realize she was the one he saved from the car accident. But he had to have known. Right?
Caroline says Stefan is a Gemini, but when we have Stefan's birthday later, that's certainly not June. So either Caroline's making stuff up, Stefan lied to her, or the writers forgot about that throwaway line. (I realize it's likely the last one.) Saying he's a Gemini does obliquely promote the importance of his brother, though, huh? Or of Stefan's own dual nature . . . Or, again, I'm overanalyzing.
In the foggy graveyard scene, I'm actually not sure whether that's Damon or Stefan standing behind a monument watching Elena.
Apparently Elena's "You don't have to stay out there" doesn't count as inviting Stefan in. Interesting. Do we ever get an exact definition of what counts? Because Jenna's "You'd better come inside" or whatever in the finale works for Katherine...

Character stuff:

I like Zach, and he's pretty hot. Too bad he didn't stick around for long.
I am rather a Damon partisan, but Stefan and Elena really are completely adorable with the beginning-relationship stuff, and they do have good chemistry.
Matt looks really young. But I love how he's making such an effort to be nice to Stefan, even though he still wants Elena. He's such a good guy. And it's SO NICE to see a non-evil ex on TV.
I'd forgotten about Tyler's attempted rape of Vicki. You'd think after the Chuck Bass issue, the CW would have learned not to have potential regulars try to rape people in their pilots, especially if there's any chance they'd later want the character to be at all sympathetic.

Other random observations:

I love the clothes in this series, especially Elena's shirts. But in the school shots, there are an awful lot of jackets and long sleeves for Viriginia in early September, aren't there?
In case the exact details are important later, Elena's parents' tombstone lists their names as Grayson Gilbert and Miranda Sommers Gilbert, and the date of death as May 23, 2009.
I rather like the use of the Katy Perry song in the Matt/Stefan Grille scene, even though it doesn't obviously correspond to anything.

Posted by Kat at June 7, 2010 05:00 PM
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