January 6, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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CW’s biggest only hit THE VAMPIRE DIARIES returned to the schedule.
WHERE WE LEFT OFF:  The painstakingly-mounted plot to once and for all kill Original Vampire Klaus (Joseph Morgan) failed when Stefan (Paul Wesley), realizing that Klaus had rigged things so that if any harm came to him, Stefan’s brother Damon (Ian Somerholder) would be murdered by Klaus’s army of half-vampire, half-werewolf, virtually unkillable (you have to pull out their hearts and chop off their heads) hybrids.  Klaus, having been saved, freed Stefan from his Compelled loyalty, and Stefan promptly stole Klaus’s entire semi-dead family in their coffins, where they’d been waiting for Klaus to eventually bring them back from the dead.  If Klaus hurt Stefan’s true love Elena (Nina Dobrev) or anyone else, Stefan threatened, he’d destroy all the relatives.  Meanwhile, Elena let Klaus’s sister Rebekah (Claire Holt) know that Klaus had, hundreds of years before, killed their mother, then stabbed Rebekah with the same kind of magic knife Klaus had used on everyone else in the family,  temporarily killing her.  Whew!

WHERE WE ARE: The midseason premiere of Kevin Williamson’s series was a somewhat unusual episode, but all, as it turned out, for the good:  at least for now, the series got rid of its single drippiest character, Elena’s little brother Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen).  Jeremy just didn’t figure into the “This is insane, but what the hell” spirit the rest of the characters have, and the show never really knew what to do with him–he was involved with witch Bonnie (Kat Graham), he fell for a ghost, he was constantly narrowly escaping death, Elena had to worry about him all the time, and basically he was an appendage and an annoyance.  Now he’s been Compelled by Damon to move to Denver and date live girls, and he should live and be well.
The other major event of the episode, for those particular shippers, was what appeared to be a major Damon/Elena kiss, which will surely have repercussions down the road, as Stefan seems too consumed for now by his deal with the witch spirits to hide the coffins from Klaus to have much time for romance.  Thinking of romance, Alaric (Matthew Davis), recovering from one of his now-you’re-dead-now-you’re-not experiences, met a comely doctor we seem sure to be seeing more of down the road.
All of these events meant that the episode had little time for other characters–charming vampire Caroline (Candice Accola) didn’t appear at all.  Disappointingly, although Elena made a deal with Klaus to give Rebekah back in exchange for Jeremy’s safety, Klaus instantly re-killed Rebekah, since he knew that because she was now aware he was guilty of matricide, she’d be trying to kill him as soon as she regained consciousness.  But now that all this narrative shoe leather has been laid down, next week the show should be back to its usual speedy form.
Vampire Diaries obviously suffers from content restrictions that True Blood doesn’t have to worry about (one can only imagine how that hybrid decapitation would have been lovingly detailed on HBO), but its plotting and wit are often superior to the more celebrated show.  (Come on:  half-vampire, half-werewolf, unkillable hybrids?!?)  Diaries hits the right tone of wry humor mixed with deadly serious storylines, and while it’s not anywhere near the pantheon of Buffy as high school comedy-horror goes, it’s consistently entertaining in a way most broadcast dramas can only envy.
In the ratings, Diaries is American Idol by CW’s terms, and even though it’s down a bit from last year’s average, that still leaves it the 600-pound gorilla of the network’s schedule.  As long as the series can stay as inventive and amusing as it’s managed so far, it deserves to be invited into America’s households to continue its undead reign.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."