Vampires return to Mystic Falls and some will never be the same

Season 1, Episode 1 (“Pilot”)
Nina Dobrev (Image: The CW)

A good pilot doesn’t just introduce us to characters and setting but also gives the audience an overall feel as to what kind of show it’s going to be. Who are the characters? What are their relationships? What kind of story lines am I in for? In the rewatch The Vampire Diaries pilot episode seems like a different show than what it will become.

It opens with a couple getting murdered by a mysterious man pretending to be hurt in the road. We later learn that this is Damon Salvatore (the bad brother) who is a vampire and can be seen using this particular trick often throughout the series. This part felt right and it quickly tells the audience that yes you are watching a vampire show and random people will get murdered for no reason.

However, after that we get into meeting all of the teens on their first day of school as Elena walks through the hall and sees a lot of her old friends who she doesn’t seemed to have seen much over the summer since her parents died. And you can see why she didn’t want to see a lot of them, because they are almost all terrible. Caroline is overly concerned and talks about Elena as though she isn’t there, Bonnie just wants to talk about Stefan’s back, and Matt ignores her. As we get to know these characters throughout the series almost none of them are like the way they are depicted in this episode. You could say that this is a snap shot of what these characters were like before they got caught up in the supernatural world but if thats the case then almost all of them are better off for it.

Another thing that is different in the pilot is the amount of voice overs and diary writing. I get that the show is called The Vampire Diaries but I believe after just a few episodes they cut the diary writing way down. This is definitely to the show’s benefit because its incredibly cheesy. The pilot paints the picture that this is going to be a show about teens whose parties sometimes get interrupted by vampires. However as the show goes on the supernatural elements of the show take the forefront and the fact that they are teens is almost irrelevant.

All of the stuff with the fog and crow was so over the top and is another thing that is dropped after a few episodes. It is never even explained how Damon is doing those things because we never see a vampire be able to control animals or weather ever again in the series.

We are given a few mysteries to start pondering that will unfold as the season and series go on. What is the connection between Katherine and Elena and why do they look exactly like? What is the history between the Salvatore brothers? Damon promised Stefan an “eternity of misery” and says he is back to make good on that promise. But we don’t really know why he is back or why he and Stefan haven’t talked in 15 years.

The pilot is all of the things that I feared the show would be when I first started watching it, but it is not representative of what is to come. The characters in this show are complex and experience growth throughout the series. One of the things that shocked me the most when I first watched it was how much I grew to care about every single one of the characters. Even ones that I spent most of the first season wondering why they were even a part of the show (Caroline, Tyler, Matt). But watching the pilot I didn’t care about any of them and thought they were mostly annoying. Elena and Stefan also spend a lot of the pilot just staring intensely at each other making me fear that they were going to be an Edward/Bella situation. Thankfully they very much are not.

I am excited to get into the show as I know it, which I fear will take a few episodes. I honestly can’t remember at what point I changed my mind about it but I’m very glad that I stuck with it because it only gets better from here!

Episode Grade: C

Other Notes

  • There is a weird moment where Bonnie says a girl looks like a “tranny mess” but seems to know this is not an okay thing to say as she is saying it and Elena says “I think that’s over”. These type of moments happen a lot in shows from 10 years ago because people use to say things like that and thought it was okay, but it’s weird that they seem to know it’s not okay but do it anyway.
  • Bonnie texts Elena “HAWT-E. STARING @ U” in class
  • The first time I saw it was with a friend who was trying to get my hooked on it, and I think I told her several times I hated Caroline. It makes me sad to type that statement because she becomes one of the best characters on the show but they were not doing her in favors in this.
  • Damon: “Hello, Brother”
  • That History Teacher is a Dick: He puts students on the spot in class to know some very specific information and then insults them when they don’t know the answer. That’s not how teaching works!
  • Those Salvatore Rings: We get a few mentions about the Salvatore family rings that Stefan and Damon wear. I am sure I will say this many times but they are atrocious.
  • Body Count: 2 people killed by Damon at the beginning of the episode

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