Elena wants to be normal, Jeremy wants to be a vampire

Season 1, Episode 16 (“There Goes the Neighborhood”)
Candice King, Nina Dobrev (Image: The CW)

Anytime someone on a TV show starts an episode saying they just want to spend one day as a normal person, they usually do not. As Elena gets pulled deeper into the world of vampires and witches, having a normal life is becoming less and less of a possibility. Though she ends up having a fairly normal, though awkward, double date, that doesn’t mean that the supernatural threats aren’t there. And as she is trying to have a normal, vampire free night, Jeremy is finding out the truth and wants very much to be a part of it.

The double date between Elena/Stefan and Matt/Caroline is mostly very awkward. Matt can’t seem to talk about anything except for fun memories of him and Elena. Stefan isn’t threatened by it, but Caroline is. At this point in the show, a lot of Caroline’s character is defined by her insecurity and feeling inferior to Elena. She tells her that she feels like everyone’s backup friend or girlfriend. This insecurity causes her to question Matt’s attachment to her. At the beginning of the season I found Caroline very annoying. Now she is less annoying, but more sad. I feel bad for her but she still isn’t doing much to endear me to her.

In addition to this double date, Matt is dealing with his mom being back in town but acting more like a child than the parent. He has to be the one to encourage her to try to get a job, even setting up the interview for her. He is paying the bills and holding down the fort. However, she just wants to party and hook up with Damon. It seems like Matt is probably better off without her there.

While all of this sort of teen stuff is happening, the tomb vampires are getting restless. They have been holed up in a secluded house somewhere as they learn to assimilate into the modern age. Pearl and Anna seem to be in charge, but that is not sitting particularly well with Frederick, one of the others from the tomb. He wants revenge on the town that locked him up in the first place, even if the people who did it are no longer around. Pearl wants this too but wants to be more strategic about it, whereas Frederick is just feeling destructive. He finds out Stefan is in town and blames him for them getting captured in the first place and thus seeks to get his revenge. Acting on impulse ultimately backfires for him when he shows up to the Salvatore house and his friend Bethanne is killed.

Jeremy’s curiosity about vampires is growing and he is connecting the dots with Anna and Vicki. He finds out the truth about Anna and he wants her to turn him. He likely wants to be a vampire because he is “lost” as Anna says. Similar to Isobel Jeremy is craving something more out of life. He is lonely and doesn’t really fit in anywhere. Since Damon compelled away his pain he doesn’t fit in with his previous crowd of partiers, but doesn’t have much direction elsewhere. He thinks that becoming a vampire will change that and give him a purpose in life. His reaction to finding out the vampires are real was very different from Elena’s. She was scared and didn’t want to believe. Jeremy wanted it to be true. Vicki’s animal attack never felt quite right, this explanation probably makes more sense to him and would give it all a reason. He says to Anna that he thinks it’s possible that vampires are good, normal people who are just misunderstood, which is exactly how he feels.

I liked this episode more than the previous one, though it is still not a particularly memorable one for me. It sets up the upcoming tensions between the tomb vampires and the Salvatores. Another teen is clued into the vampire drama which is always a welcome development. Even if he is still operating mostly separately from the rest of the cast. As we approach the home stretch of the first season, you can bet that body count is going to climb!

Episode Grade: B-

Other Thoughts:

  • Pearl stabs Damon’s eyes with her fingers, not a common torture method on this show
  • Why would Jeremy think that a vampire lovers chat room was a good place to look for real information about vamps?
  • “Try to remember that we don’t have to be so serious” – Stefan to Elena. Y’all are pretty much always serious.
  • Jenna, Kelly, and Damon partying at the Grill was one of the weirdest gatherings
  • Matt and Stefan bond over cars, and Stefan showed off his fancy old car (I’m sorry I have no idea what kind of car it is and I didn’t care enough to look it up).
  • Also why doesn’t Stefan drive his car? I get if that one is like too valuable to drive but couldn’t he just get one that he can drive around? Does he just swoosh everywhere?
  • I laughed when Stefan and Elena were being all cutesy on the phone and you can see Damon in the background trying to deal with the body.
  • Body Count: 1 – Stefan kills Bethanne, one of the tomb vampires

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