Damon and Elena are tracking Stefan but he doesn’t want to be found

Season 3, Episode 1 (“The Birthday”)
Paul Wesley (Image: The CW)

We have made it to season 3! This first half of season 3 is one of my favorite stretches of episodes in the series so I am very excited to get into it. A few months of passed since the season 2 finale and we are catching up with where everyone is. Stefan is with Klaus, Elena is in Mystic Falls worried about him, Damon is trying to find him, Alaric is sleeping on Elena’s couch and is a bit of a mess, Jeremy is working at The Grill and still seeing the ghosts of his ex-girlfriends, Caroline and Tyler have grown closer, Matt is trying to live a normal life with all his knowledge about the supernatural world, and Bonnie is out of town.

Season 2 ended with Stefan leaving Mystic Falls with Klaus and feeding on humans again. This episode picks up with them in Tennessee with a scene that is straight out of a horror film. Klaus is trying to find a werewolf named Ray and after finding out where he is, he orders Stefan to kill both of the women living in the house. Stefan is essentially acting as Klaus’s assistant. The deal he made with Klaus was that he had to do whatever he said I guess until Klaus decides he is done with him. Stefan is pretending that he doesn’t care about his old life anymore. He is doing whatever Klaus asks him to do, killing people, torturing them, etc. He isn’t full enjoying it but isn’t fully hating it either. He still has some humanity but he is also starting to give into the blood and seems terrified that he is going to turn it all off. He doesn’t want Damon or anyone looking for him or trying to save him because he is afraid that Klaus will go after them. Klaus still thinks that Elena is dead and he would potentially kill Damon if he tried to rescue Stefan. He is still holding on to his love for Elena but he knows that he has to cut off any contact with them. This leads Stefan to take some drastic measures and he kills Andie to send a message to Damon.

Meanwhile back in Mystic Falls, Elena is terrified that Stefan could be dead since she hasn’t heard from him since he left. She is determined to keep looking for him to at least find out that he is still alive. Damon is also investigating but keeping a lot of the details from Elena. He suspects that Stefan is killing people which he confirms when he and Alaric go to the house of the two girls that he killed at the beginning of the episode. After Stefan kills Andie, Damon believes that he has gone full on “Ripper Stefan” and doesn’t think he can be saved anymore. He is much more upset about what this means for Stefan’s humanity and their ability to get him back than he is about Andie actually dying. At least she finally served a purpose on this show.

It is a pretty good season opener. It is somewhat light on plot compared to some of the other season premieres but a lot of the story was set up in the season 2 finale. We don’t get a lot of new information in this episode other than Klaus wants to create more hybrids so he and Stefan are tracking down werewolves for Klaus to turn into vampires. This episode is more setting up the emotional status of the main characters as we see how the events of last season has affected all of them. Last season was very plot heavy with all of the mysteries surrounding the curses, the doppelgänger, and the Originals. This season will have some interesting plots as well but feels much more rooted in character development than crazy plot twists. Having Stefan become the bad brother is a great move as it not only allows for a fun change of pace but also gives space for Damon to grow from having to be the good brother. Will Elena and Stefan’s relationship be able to survive this? In this episode he is on the precipice of becoming Ripper Stefan, but he still has some humanity. Elena has always admired Stefan’s ability to hold onto his humanity despite being a vampire, but how will she cope with him giving into the worst parts of himself?

Episode Grade: A

Other Thoughts:

  • Klaus’s southern American accent sounded like a different actor’s voice, like they ADRd in a different person.
  • There is once again new font in the intro, I think they keep this particular font for the rest of the series.
  • Damon’s hair got crazy long in the intervening months.
  • Apparently Stefan likes to put the bodies back together after he rips people’s heads off.
  • “Just because I tell you things, doesn’t mean you’re allowed to know them”
  • Sexual tension moment: The scene where Damon is giving Elena her necklace back. This is a new segment I will be adding for at least the first half of this season because they feel the need to include at least one overt sexual tension moment between Elena and Damon in each episode.
  • Jeremy and Matt are smoking a joint but we never actually see them smoke it. They light it and then just hold it. Did the CW not allow them to show them actually smoking it?
  • I know Alaric is close with Elena especially now that Jenna has died, but it is kind of weird that he was at that party. He is their teacher and everyone at that party was in high school.
  • Body Count: 3, Stefan kills the two women at the beginning and Andie.

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