An inconsistent first season ends with a strong finale

Season 1, Episode 22 (“Founder’s Day”)
“Founder’s Day” – Nina Dobrev as Katherine in THE VAMPIRE DIARIES on The CW. Photo: Bob Mahoney/The CW ©2010 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

This first season of The Vampire Diaries has had its ups and downs. I certainly wouldn’t classify it has a top TVD season, but it is also not the worst one. It was inconsistent at times, the beginning is a mess where they don’t seem to know what to do with half of their characters. It picked up steam at the end of the first half with Vicki turning and then being killed. Then the tomb vampires happened and they were also a bit of a mess. There was a lot of them, there wasn’t much to their purpose other than being a threat to Mystic Falls because they wanted revenge on people who are long dead. The highlights of the season came towards the end when Stefan loses control and starts drinking human blood again. Through that storyline we were able to learn a lot about who Stefan is, his back story with his brother, and why he and Damon have continued to be at odds for almost 150 years.

This finale focuses on the right things while pretty quickly getting rid of what wasn’t working. Pretty much all of the tomb vampires are captured and killed so we won’t have to deal with them moving forward. The consequences of how Elena has treated Jeremy throughout this season are realized. And some very exciting plot twists occur when we find out that Tyler’s presence on this show has purpose and Katherine has returned to Mystic Falls.

Jeremy has been through quite a lot this season. He started off being a depressed teenager who was struggling to deal with his parents’ death. He was shirking responsibility and using drugs to escape his pain. His relationship with Vicki was starting to make him feel better, and then she disappears mysteriously and turns out later to be dead. He learns that he at one point knew more about her circumstances but his sister had Damon remove his memories of it. He rightfully felt betrayed by this, they are his memories and it should not be up to Elena to decide what he knows and how he feels. It should have been his choice, but Elena never asked him. I’m fairly certain Jeremy is only supposed to be a year younger than Elena, but she acts like he is 5 years younger. She doesn’t want him to be caught up in all of this and without their parents, she feels the need to protect him even more. He is old enough to make his own decision and she should let him.

Damon believes that he took Jeremy’s pain away, but he didn’t. He doesn’t have the power to do that. He can take away someone’s memories, but that person can still feel the emptiness. Jeremy is in pain but he doesn’t know why, which is an even harder thing to deal with. After he found out about Vicki’s death, he didn’t want to turn anymore. But with Anna’s death in this episode he doesn’t know if he can deal with anymore pain. Damon offers to once again take it away, but Jeremy doesn’t want that. He is reconsidering becoming a vampire now that he knows that vampires can turn off their emotions, which Damon tells him is a much easier way to live. I don’t think Damon realizes that Jeremy is asking this with the intention of turning, but it was definitely the wrong thing to tell him. Damon’s life may have been easier when he shut it all out, but he clearly has reason to feel his emotions now (primarily his renewed relationship with Stefan and his feelings for Elena). It may be easier, but it is no way to live.

One of the best plot twists of this finale is Tyler’s connection to the supernatural world. All season Tyler has barely been an element in the show and I often wondered why they kept him around. They finally reveal why he has been a character at all though when the device, meant only for vampires to hear, affects him as well. It also affects his dad, but we are not led to believe that either of them are vampires. Vervain did not affect the mayor, but he was still taken down by the noise. Tyler’s eyes were yellow, not something we have ever seen a vampire do. The first time I saw this I was definitely shocked. Now knowing what happens with the rest of the series, I have noticed little hints about him throughout this first season that went over my head the first time. I cannot wait to get into it next season!

The final plot twist is the return of Katherine. Pretty much since I first found out that Katherine was not in the tomb, I was waiting for her to come back and impersonate Elena. Which she does in a spectacular way when she kisses Damon, leading him to believe Elena has feelings for him as well. I’m sure this will not have negative ramifications for him at all. Chopping off John’s fingers was a great way to reveal that it was Katherine and not Elena in that final scene.

Season 1 may have been lacking in many ways but this was a strong finale. It made me very eager to watch the next season, which is exactly what it should do. It wraps up the tomb vampires by killing most of them, which was good because that story line didn’t really have anywhere else interesting to go. The finale sets up some great plot lines to be explored in the next season. What is Tyler? Will Jeremy transition? How long will it take for everyone to realize Katherine is back? How will they react to her?

Episode Grade: B+

Season Grade: B- (just to document how much of a nerd I am, I actually calculated this based on the grades I gave each episode of season 1 as if I was calculating GPA)

Other Thoughts:

  • Damon: “I have so many emotions , but I don’t have any way to express them, being a teenager is so hard”
  • Both Stefan and Damon take responsibility for their role in what happened to Vicki. Damon even apologizes to Jeremy which was a big moment of growth.
  • John driving a stake through Anna’s heart was vicious. She was already going to die, he didn’t have to personally kill her.
  • Stefan: “I try so hard to hate him, I guess it’s just pointless” resistance is futile.
  • Jeremy tries to kill himself with the same pills that Vicki stole earlier in the series.
  • Bonnie is still anti-vampire. She saves Stefan and Damon for Elena’s sake but tells Stefan that if Damon doesn’t change she will take them both down.
  • My biggest issue with this first season is that it focuses heavily on a few characters and leaves the rest in the background. This will be rectified mostly in season 2 so I am excited to get to see how some other characters are incorporated and will grow throughout the next few seasons. It made me sad to not be able to say much about Caroline, Tyler, Matt, or even Bonnie really this season but their time is coming!
  • Body Count: An unknown number of tomb vampires died but the important death were Anna and Mayor Lockwood both of which could probably be pinned on John so that is what I am going with (2).

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