May 13, 2011

The Vampire Diaries - Season 2


It is the night after Founder's Day. The vampires from the church have been dealt with, but Anna (Malese Jow) has been killed by John Gilbert (David Anders), and that pushes Jeremy (Stephen R. McQueen) to take the final step and kill himself with vampire blood in his system so he won't have to deal with the pain of loss. While he lies comatose after overdosing on sedatives, Katherine has infiltrated the Gilbert house, invited in by an oblivious Jenna who mistakes her for Elena...

Season 2 begins the very moment Season 1 ends - with Elena coming home at the precise moment when Katherine stabs her uncle John. It is only the beginning of a brutal mind-f*ck as Katherine starts pursuing her own ends in Mystic Falls while playing cruel games with the Salvatore brothers and her look alike Elena. But that is only half the trouble, as an older and far more dangerous enemy starts closing on the town to use Elena for a purpose that Katherine herself was once meant to fulfill.

There is no real difference in quality between the first and second years of The Vampire Diaries. The plot structure and narrative pacing of Season 2 are more or less the same as they were in Season 1. That said, it suffers a little bit from the "what do we do with those characters now?" syndrome. Elena and Stefan achieved perfection around the middle of the previous year, and the new season doesn't attempt to mess that up, which means they are kinda stuck in their awesome love, with Damon hanging around hopeful and confused. Speaking of Damon, he is completely in the Good Guys camp now, although he still messes things up badly by being a psychotic killer who utterly disregards any life that is not his, Stefan's or Elena's. Apart from being something of a wild card though, his motives are not unclear as they were in Season 1 and to me he feels rather tamed.

Other than the main triangle though, relationships develop and change all over the place. With the introduction of an entire new species of supernatural beings, a lot of characters change their roles in the show, while new ones appear around the main strory-arcs. The best development award undoubtedly has to go to Caroline Forbes (Candice Accola) who changes dramatically after events from the very beginning of the season, and turns into easily my favorite person in the Good Guys camp. Another severe change is the character of Tyler Lockwood (Michael Trevino), but both him and Caroline are an important part of the main plot, so I can't say more without spoiling,

The star of the first half of Season 2 is undoubtedly Katherine though. Played by Nina Dobrev same as good girl Elena, the 400 year old vampire could not be more different. Self-serving, vicious, with no dignity or honor whatsoever, except for when it would help her survival, Katherine is an evil manipulative flirt who would stop at absolutely nothing to get what she wants. She is always prepared, always has a plan B, C and D, and is thoroughly delicious, especially in the early episodes of the season. If anyone could make you squeal with unformulated joy by their very presence in this show, it has to be Katherine.

The Vampire Diaries has not learned its lesson from Season 1, sadly, as the most awesome characters in the show - usually guest stars - get snuffed out all too quick, and with no chance of returning. It is annoying to get to love someone after barely five minutes of him being in the show, only to have him killed at the end of the same episode or the next one. Another problem is the drama, which is still all over the place, extremely formulaic and mostly boring, particularly when it deals with someone's personal issues like lil' brother Jeremy or best friend Bonnie (Kat Graham) who - by the way - turns in this season into Dr. Strange. The ending of Season 2 is also rather bland and doesn't fare well in comparison to that of Season 1. The resolution of the main plot is no resolution at all, and the cliffhangers leave sort of a meh feeling that doesn't hold a candle to Katherine's "Hello, John. Goodbye, John" from the previous year.

That said, there is action galore, and it is absolutely fantastic at times, and just like Season 1, the few times when the drama is actually done right, it is done all kinds of right. Towards the end of the season there are moments to seriously make you cry, and manipulative as they might be, they work. The soundtrack is still awesome if you are into cheesy pop - although there are a little fewer memorable tunes this time around - but the fact that apart from the main triad most of the recurring characters see major improvement (seriously, you will not believe how Caroline turns out) deserves admiration.

So, if you liked Season 1 of The Vampire Diaries, you can not afford to miss Season 2. The quality might not be drastically different, but the stakes are higher, the characters are cooler, and there is now two of Nina Dobrev, which I count as a win. And personally, I can't wait for Season 3 to start!


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