Good vampire vs. bad vampire

Season 1, Episode 2 (“The Night of the Comet”)
Kayla Ewell, Paul Wesley, Ian Somerhalder (Image: The CW)

One of the things that surprised me the most about this show when I first watched it was how much it asks questions about humanity and morality. It doesn’t always answer them, indeed one of the most frustrating things towards the end of the series is a lack of conclusion on what and who is or isn’t forgivable. Though good television lets viewers think for themselves, so maybe that’s what they were trying to do. It asks these questions mainly through the different characters beliefs in what a vampire’s moral code should be. Stefan and Damon represent two sides of that question, though as we go through the series we will see that there are more than two sides.

However, at this point in the show, the only vampires we know are Stefan and Damon. And this episode sets up one of the core issues in their relationship that we will see played out in many ways throughout the remainder of the series. As a vampire, Stefan has tried to stay as human as possible. It is one of the reasons he has gone to high school multiple times. He doesn’t want to hurt people so he feeds on animals. He treats humans with respect and compassion and is always there to help. Damon on the other hand has embraced the vampire lifestyle. He has no problem feeding on humans and using them as pawns in whatever game he is playing. We will see how this divide affects their relationship many times, and especially Stefan’s belief that he is good and Damon is bad.

In this episode, Damon tries to use Vicki to force Stefan to drink human blood. A consequence of drinking only animal blood is that you are not as strong. Stefan cannot physically take on Damon, he is slower and weaker. He also cannot use mind compulsion very well which Damon proves by easily bringing Vicki’s memories back after Stefan tries to modify them. Why exactly Damon wants Stefan to drink human blood is maybe unclear at this point, but even from this episode I think we can see that Damon doesn’t like being judged by Stefan for being what he is. Maybe he thinks that if Stefan drinks human blood, he will have less humanity and thus he will be more like his brother. During the rooftop scene, Damon modifies Vicki’s mind to believe that Stefan is the vampire who hurt her. He attempts to back Stefan into a corner so that he will have to drink human blood so he can be strong enough to erase Vicki’s memories. However, when Stefan challenges him to let Vicki continue to think that he is the one who hurt her, saying that she will tell on him and they will kill him, Damon backs down and erases Vicki’s memories himself. Despite what he said in the pilot, Damon’s motivation for coming back is clearly not about causing Stefan an eternity of misery even if we don’t yet know the real reason.

Another sibling dichotomy presented in these early episodes is the different ways that Elena and Jeremy are dealing with their parents death. Elena has mostly been sad and reclusive though since meeting Stefan, she is beginning to want to be happy again and move forward. Jeremy on the other hand has been dealing with it in a much less healthy way. He is doing drugs, skipping class, trying to get into fights with Tyler, and making things generally difficult for Aunt Jenna. We can see that Jeremy is a good kid and this is likely a phase but he is going to have to figure out his own way of moving on. Maybe he thinks that is with Vicki but she only seems to be adding more trouble to his life.

Overall this episode was a big improvement over the pilot. It focuses on just a few stories and lets some of the other characters stay in the background. We get some development with Bonnie’s own supernatural self when she touches Stefan’s arm and asks “what happened to you”. She can sense the darkness in him, but she doesn’t yet know what that means for her, though her grandmothers says she is a witch. The best scene of the episode for me was definitely the rooftop scene. In the rewatch I can see the introduction of the divide in vampire morality between Stefan and Damon and how much this affects their relationship. And it is something I will probably continue to talk about a lot as we go through the series.

Episode Grade: B-

Other Thoughts

  • Stefan compares himself to the comet, saying that it is stuck on a path it doesn’t want to be on but every 145 years it gets to come home. Elena doesn’t get this but the audience does.
  • Caroline has switched Salvatores and this does not look good for her.
  • Caroline also continues to be annoying and shallow. I need this to change.
  • That History Teacher is a Dick: Telling Aunt Jenna that she sucks as a guardian and it would probably be better if someone else took care of Jeremy and Elena.
  • Best Damon Line: When Elena says she didn’t know Stefan had a brother, “Well Stefan’s not one to brag”
  • Body Count: Damon kills 2 more people – the camper’s at the beginning of the episode. That brings his total kills to 4.

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