Season 1, Episode 12 (“Unpleasantville”)
We have arrived at our first decade dance! This is the first of several decade dance episodes of the series (I think there is one a season for every season they are in high school). These dances are dangerous because some shenanigans always go down at them. In this one we see Damon and Stefan teaming up to torture and kill the pizza guy vampire. Even though Damon doesn’t really trust that Stefan wants to work with him when it comes to Katherine, they do have a common interest in finding out who the other vampires in town are. I’m happy to see Damon making the shift from series villain to working with Stefan and Elena since this is where he mostly is in the series. He is certainly at odds with both of them a lot of the time, but he is still generally on their side.
The writers clearly at this point wanted to start making Damon more likable and for the most part it doesn’t feel like a sudden shift or that it doesn’t make sense. He isn’t suddenly a nice guy and he still has little issue with killing people who get in his way. However he doesn’t seem to be as concerned with messing up Stefan’s life and he is more friendly with Elena since their road trip. There are several points in this episode where he is trying to be nicer to everyone. He tries to be nice to Bonnie and Caroline and asks both of them to dance. They reasonably reject him but it felt like he was being genuine and not trying to use them for personal gain. He also looks hurt when Stefan tells him that he wants him gone after he gets Katherine.
It was also good to get some new villains in this episode with Anna, Ben, and the pizza vampire. We learn why Anna has been so conveniently there with Jeremy and maybe why she wanted him to believe in vampires. She of course is one and she must have known who he was before she first approached him. She wanted his ancestor’s journal and that is the whole reason that she has been trying to spend so much time with him. The pizza guy doesn’t make as much sense, he seems like he was just messing with Elena because she looks like Katherine. Is he supposed to be yet another guy who was in love with her? From the Salvatores’ torturing of him we learn that the reason there is so much interest in this journal is that it holds information about where Emily’s grimoire is that would tell them how to get into the tomb. So now it seems there is competition for getting into the tomb and it is likely not for the same goals.
Caroline also continues to improve in this episode. She is standing up for herself with Matt and calls him out when he is hesitant to get into a relationship with her without really giving her a chance. When she says the line “Well, big problem Matt, because you took the next step all by yourself. And you played the whole thing out in your head, and you decided to bail before even giving it a shot” I deeply sympathized. This is something that I have probably done to other people and they have certainly done to me. It’s not fair to decide for someone how they will react or behave in a situation. This ends up working for her though and it lights a fire under Matt’s butt and he finally kisses her.
This episode was mostly fine for moving plot along and some character development. It’s great to see the dynamic between Stefan and Damon get a bit more complicated now that Stefan is the one manipulating Damon. He tells Damon that he is going to help him get into the tomb but then later tells Elena that he can’t let that happen. He doesn’t want to be his brother’s enemy, but he can’t risk opening the tomb either. The development with Caroline and Matt was cute but the show is still struggling to integrate them into the rest of the cast. Neither of them are aware of the supernatural activity in the town and their only role at this point is that they are friends with people who do, but they spend very little time with those people on screen. This is one of the major criticisms I have with the first season and the show only improves as more of the cast is brought in on the supernatural drama in various ways.
Episode Grade: B
- Elena is very mature when Caroline talks to her about Matt saying that if they want to be together it’s not about her. Most teens are not that wise.
- “If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself” – Caroline. This is so true. She has a couple of wise moments in this episode.
- “I’ll be with the two of you, I’ll be safe” – Elena would not have said this like an episode ago
- Caroline: “What is this like a threesome now. You and the Salvatore brothers”
- Alaric is being pretty obvious when is talking to Damon
- Bonnie asks Ben if he wants to go to karaoke on a first date. Karaoke?? On a first date Bonnie?? I get that they are in high school so they can’t like get drinks but that seems like a weird choice.
- The nonverbal communication between Damon and Stefan about killing the pizza vampire was one of my favorite moments. These brothers are great when they work together.
- They say “he’s been invited in” at least 5 times
- “I’m a terrible awful person, but I’m working on it” – I feel that.
- Body Count: 1, Stefan kills pizza vamp