Elena learns some disturbing news about her past

Season 1, Episode 15 (“A Few Good Men”)
Ian Somerhalder, Matt Davis, Susan Walters (Image: The CW)

In rewatching this first season, I have continuously be surprised by how slow it feels in comparison to later seasons. I mostly associate The Vampire Diaries with episodes where an insane amount of stuff happens in a single episode and seasons that have enough plot to fuel 3 seasons of a different show. Despite there being some big-ish revelations in this episode, it didn’t really feel like a whole lot happened. In later seasons, the things that happened in this episode would be condensed to the first half of an episode. I’m not sure if this is a complaint or just an observation. Some of my favorite shows and movies are those that have very little plot, it’s just not what I expect from this show.

This episode spends a lot of time watching multiple characters find out the same information – that Isobel is Elena’s mom and that Damon maybe killed her (spoiler: he didn’t). This isn’t revolutionary news to the audience, they hinted at it in a previous episode when Jenna finds out that Alaric’s wife was from the area and that her name was Isobel. However except for a hunch from Jenna, none of the characters knew. In this episode we see Elena, Alaric, and Damon all come to this realization separately. Stefan is acting as mediator for all parties concerned, keeping everyone separated.

Stefan is primarily concerned that if Damon finds out, his chances of changing will diminish. He is in a fragile state since he found out that Katherine wasn’t in the tomb and is likely to go over the edge at the smallest provocation. At first Damon has no recollection of meeting Isobel specifically but then puts the pieces together with the help of Sheriff Forbes. Once he figures it out, he taunts Alaric publicly about it and then even attempts to kill him. This is what Stefan was afraid of, instead of allowing himself to feel guilt or remorse for his actions he lashes out. Killing Alaric removes one of the people that could make him feel guilt. When Elena tells him that Isobel was her birth mother, he looks like he actually feels bad about it. But he can’t kill her, so he takes it out on Alaric.

Throughout the episode Alaric is remembering conversations with his wife that show how deep into her research on the supernatural she was getting. It consumed her, she had to prove that vampires existed. She even gives him a ring that she claimed will protect him from demons (the ring that brings him back to life). He is slowly putting together the possibility that Damon did not kill her, but turned her. He can’t admit this possibility to himself but already knows its true when he goes to confront Damon. She wanted more out of life, she didn’t want to lead a normal human existence. So she sought Damon out and got him to turn her. She is a vampire who has no desire to know her daughter.

This episode also gives us the return of Matt’s mom, Kelly, played by Melinda Clarke (a.k.a. Julie Cooper from The O.C.) She is in between boyfriends and so she has decided to return home for a bit. She is really mean to Caroline, calling her Matt’s rebound from Elena, right in front of her. She is a mess and doesn’t seem concerned that Vicki is nowhere to be found. She is basically Julie Cooper if she had never married rich. She is not a great mom, but as a Julie Cooper fan I am excited for her to be here.

This episode was fine but one I had mostly forgotten. The main plot of the episode is watching characters find out something we already know. I’m sure I’ve stated this before but it is one of my least favorite storytelling techniques. The interesting part usually comes from character’s reaction to this kind of information and what comes next. Watching them figure it out, when the audience already knows, is never particularly interesting so I always just want to skip to the part where everyone knows. But we did learn that Isobel is alive and a vampire, tying Elena even deeper into this world. There was also a bit of set up with the tomb vampires who were just kind of in the background of this episode. But they seem to be out and banding together at a house in the woods somewhere. I’m sure they will be content just chilling there!

Episode Grade: C+

Other Thoughts:

  • Until Matt asked his mom if she had heard from Vicki, I had forgotten that they don’t know that she is dead.
  • The bachelor raffle is definitely rigged. Carol Lockwood rigged to so that she would get Damon. I can’t really blame her, her husband is a dick. Also Jenna got Alaric, not a coincidence.
  • Elena tastes vervain in her tea at the Trudie’s house. I thought that humans couldn’t taste vervain. Maybe if she made a tea straight from the herb itself it would be potent enough?
  • “Relax I haven’t killed anyone in…. too long” – Damon. According to my body count it has been about 5 episodes. A record so far!
  • Product Placement: Bing! This show has some pretty atrocious product placement so when I notice it, I will be noting it down here.
  • Body Count: 3- Harper, one of the tomb vampires kills a hiker to get his clothes (1). The guy who was compelled by Isobel killed both her friend Trudie and himself (2).

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