Season 1, Episode 17 (“Let the Right One In”)
In this final stretch of season 1, the show is finally finding the balance between plot and character development. The end of the episode even sets the stage for a plot that is entirely character driven. It’s also getting more of a handle on who these characters are and they are becoming less one-dimensional. This episode has several elements of some of my favorite Vampire Diaries episodes. There are hijinks, a fight between the protagonists and a foe where neither side is really right or wrong, and a character driven plot twist at the end.
Almost all of my favorite Vampire Diaries episodes involve multiple characters coming together to combat some supernatural foe. Often these characters don’t even really like each other but they have some common goal so for the time being at least they work together. In this episode we have Damon, Alaric, and Elena going to rescue Stefan from the tomb vampires. Damon and Elena’s reasons for going are obvious – rescuing Stefan is important to both of them. Alaric on the other hand doesn’t have that much interest in saving Stefan. He barely knows him and Alaric isn’t all that keen on vampires in general, even if he thinks Stefan is an okay guy. But Damon falsely leads him to believe that Pearl would know how to find his wife in order to get him to help. Alaric has a lot of vampire weapons and a ring that keeps him from dying so he is an asset to their plan. And it turns out that Damon and Alaric make a pretty good team. As a human with no supernatural ring, Elena is not that useful and really gets in the way more than anything, but she can’t help herself because “it’s Stefan”.
Something I’ve thought about a lot when thinking about this show in general is that the protagonists of the show are not necessarily good people. They aren’t really bad either, but they are vampires or at least vampire sympathizers, and thus can’t exactly live by a human’s morality. Sometimes their foes are more evil and have agendas that will hurt others. But sometimes they just have different interests or are against our protagonists in some way. Neither side really can claim the moral high ground. Stefan killed one of the tomb vampires in the previous episode. And though it is arguable whether or not the Salvatores can really be blamed for the tomb situation, they have been out and free for the past 145 years so you can see why someone may want revenge on them. The tomb vampires retaliate at the Salvatores for killing Bethanne by capturing and torturing Stefan. Damon then retaliates by killing many more of them. They aren’t doing anything Damon wouldn’t do to someone else, they are just doing it to someone he cares about.
The hijinks in this episode lead to Stefan getting pretty hurt and is unable to bounce back from it because he hasn’t fed in a while, and he hasn’t had human blood. This causes Elena to give him some of her blood so that he can heal and get out of there. It does the trick and Stefan is stronger than we have ever seen him, but he is also not in control of himself. The episode ends with Damon finding Stefan in his room with several blood bags drained. There is a reason Stefan stays away from human blood. He is a completely different person when he is on it.
Meanwhile, Jeremy still wants to be a vampire but Anna is not convinced she should do it. He doesn’t really have a reason other than believing that it will somehow make him less lonely. This line of logic doesn’t really make sense until the end. Being a vampire does not get you friends, many of them live fairly solitary lives, and they live forever. But when Jeremy finds out that Vicki is dead it becomes clear that he wanted to be a vampire because he thought that she was one and that’s why she ran off. If he turned as well, they could be together forever. Once he finds out that she is dead, he is no longer interested in turning.
Overall I really liked this episode, it is definitely one of the highlights of the season for me. I’m glad they thinned the herd a bit on those tomb vampires. It was great to see Alaric getting in on the action, he is a vampire hunter who also helps out some vampires. I’m very excited for the upcoming Stefan storyline, he has been too good for too long!
Episode Grade: B+
- I don’t really get what Pearl wants. She says she doesn’t want revenge, she just wants the town back. But what exactly is her goal? To live freely and openly? Be in charge?
- “I read vampires don’t like water” ugh Jeremy, you should never be a vampire.
- Poor Ms. Gibbons, the woman who owns the house the tomb vampires are occupying. She is so out of her mind from all the compulsion and blood draining that I feel like Damon killing her was not so bad.
- Alaric/Damon: “She was human!” “And I’m not so I don’t care”
- I think this was the first Tyler sighting in like 5 episodes, but he still wasn’t doing anything important.
- Elena/Damon: “Its Stefan, you don’t understand” “Oh I understand, he’s the reason you live. His love lifts you up where you belong.”
- If the tomb vampires didn’t listen to such loud music they would have heard Stefan getting out.
- I feel like a lot of the reason for Stefan being tortured in that particular way was just the show’s excuse for displaying Paul Wesley’s abs.
- Body Count: This one is hard. I tried to keep up with how many tomb vamps were killed, and it was even more difficult to figure out who killed which ones. By my count Damon killed 3 of the vampires and Ms. Gibbons (4), though there may have been more. Alaric definitely killed (1) but probably more. And Stefan killed Frederick (1).