Mystic Falls gets some back story as we learn about the Founders

Season 1, Episode 4 (“Family Ties”)
Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev (Image: The CW)

When I first rewatched this episode I thought that a lot happened and we got a lot of new information. Then when I actually sat down to think about those things, I realized that most of it was actually not important. Mostly because a lot of this information is coming from Damon and we cannot really trust that it’s true. However, when I watched this episode the first time around it was one of the first that made me think this might not be a terrible show, but I wasn’t yet convinced.

Much of this episode seems to be set up for things to come. Damon for some reason wants a crystal that he hid in a box years ago, the Gilbert’s pocket watch is apparently very important to the Founders, and the Founders have always known about vampires. This last part was the most interesting part of the episode and is one of the first developments in the series that I found myself intrigued by the first time I watched it. Now having seen the series before, I know that the Founders are a very important part of the show and I was excited to get to the first Founders’ event because many of the best Vampire Diaries episodes center around these events – and there are a crazy number of them. The revelation that certain people in the town (members of the Founding families to be exact) are aware of the existence of vampires, and that animal attacks are code for vampires, is the most important part of this episode.

A lot of the other things happening in this episode feel like wheel spinning. We get more of Damon trying to mess with Stefan and Elena by telling Caroline the back story of his and Stefan’s relationship with Katherine that puts Stefan in a very bad light. He tells Caroline this knowing that she will tell someone and the information will get back to Elena. Elena doesn’t really believe it at first but starts to grow more suspicious of Stefan throughout the episode because he seems to be keeping things from her and doesn’t really respond to her invitation to open up to her. And when Elena notices all of the bite marks on Caroline she knows that Damon is behind it. When she confronts Stefan about it, he makes it clear he already knew but is “taking care of it” himself. None of this looks good for Stefan which was probably Damon’s whole plan, but how long can a vampire date a human without that human knowing the truth? If Stefan wants to have any sort of relationship with Elena he is going to have to find a way to tell her because she is making it clear that she won’t blindly give trust and she wants the truth.

We still don’t know what Damon is trying to do exactly. He is using Caroline to get to the Founder’s party presumably so that he can get the crystal that he hid in an old box a long time ago, but we have no idea what it is for. Is this the real reason he is back? Does it have to do with Stefan at all? He also does seem interested in messing up Stefan and Elena’s relationship. Is it just because they don’t get along and Damon promised Stefan an “eternity of misery”?

We don’t really learn that much new information this episode. The things Damon says about his past with Stefan and Katherine is not really reliable so we can’t say we know anything more about that. He tells Elena some edited history of the “original” Salvatore brothers (the audience knows he is talking about him and Stefan, but Elena does not) but it’s fairly vague and again we don’t know if it’s even true. We do learn some new vampire information. First that they do burn in the sun (they do not sparkle), but the gaudy rings the Salvatores wear protect them. Also we learn that you cannot become a vampire from being bitten by one, but that you have to first drink vampire blood, die, and then feed on human blood. So the one good thing for Caroline is that even though Damon is doing a bunch of terrible things to her, she will not become a vampire because of it.

The Vicki/Tyler/Jeremy triangle is becoming very uninteresting at this point. Tyler continues to be a jerk but we get that some of this comes from his family. Jeremy continues to be angsty. Vicki ends the episode by choosing Jeremy when she realizes Tyler and his family look down on her. At this point none of these characters are really fitting in with the rest of the cast so for now at least they seem unnecessary.

This episode was certainly better than the previous one since there was no football or cheerleading nonsense and a lot more vampires. The development of the Founders knowing about vampires (and have dealt with them before) was one of the first things that hooked me into the show. It allows for more characters to be brought into the supernatural side of things and you can see an “us vs. them” thing building. However nothing else in the episode was terribly interesting to me.

Episode Grade: C+

Other Thoughts

  • Event of the Week: Founder’s Party
  • Bonnie’s witchy powers are increasing, she can now light candles with her mind!
  • We get the first appearance of what I like to call the “Detox Cellar”. This is the cellar in the basement of the Salvatore house where at various times throughout the series characters get locked up to either detox from blood, vervain, etc. or just be kept from doing dangerous things.
  • Best Damon Line: to Stefan, “You’re dead dude, get over it”
  • Body Count: I don’t think anyone died this week! Woo!

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