TVD Primer: The Vampire Diaries S01E01 Recap

Wondering what this Vampire Diaries thing is and why you should care? Well…I can answer one of those, at least. Here’s the first in a series of some undetermined number of “primer” recaps that may manage to get you up to speed on the series (and will at least feature entertaining screen caps and the occasional pithy observation on the cast’s general state of undress).

Moody intro is moody.

VO: For over a century I have lived in secret, hiding in the shadows, alone in the world. Until now. I am a vampire. And this is my story.

(This is not followed by the DUN DUN of Law & Order. But it should be.)

Techo music. Couple in car. They are bickering cutely, so clearly they are going to die. What. I have seen a horror film or two, you know.

Looks awfully comfortable for a corpse.

They drive into a thick fog that wasn’t there a moment before, and suddenly there is a man in the road. They run right into him; he smashes into their windshield, bounces off the car and comes to rest in the middle of the road. The car spins out, the couple inside panicking. “Call for help!” says the man to his girlfriend. He runs over to the figure in the road. “Please be alive,” he whispers. Be careful what you wish for, short-lived dude. The figure grabs him.

In the car, girlfriend can’t get a signal on her phone. Of course. She gets out, calling for Darren. Aaaw, it’s nice that he has a name. Darren falls out of the sky, neck all om-nommed and bloody. She screams, starts to run. Something picks her right off her feet.

Well then. Title sequence.

Sproing goes the moodyvamp.

Moody Vamp, he of the very dramatic opening voiceover, is watching the sun rise and talking about how he had no choice but to come home despite the risk. “I have to know her.” You know what I’d like to know? What is with the rising sun and the lack of vampire-centric pyrotechnics? Moody Vamp jumps off his roof, as you do.

Elena is happy. Happy, I tell you.

Meanwhile, a dark-haired teenage girl who at some point we’ll figure out is Elena is sitting in front of a window, writing in a journal. It’s a pep talk, directed at herself. “I will smile, and the smile will be believable.” She is surrounded by pictures of her happy family. “I will no longer be the sad little girl who lost her parents.” This is very cheerful.

In the kitchen, Aunt Jenna offers to make toast, but Elena is all about the coffee. So is Jeremy, Elena’s slightly younger brother. Jenna is so young she looks like they could all be siblings, and her comment about how she has a meeting with her thesis advisor right then doesn’t change that. She gives them money for lunch, which they take, gamely, and then Jenna takes off. Elena asks if Jeremy is okay, and he seems annoyed by the question. He takes off too.

Elena gets a ride to school from her friend Bonnie, who is chattering on about how she’s descended from a line of witches and is psychic. “I predicted Heath Ledger, and I still think Florida will to break off and turn into little resort islands.” Heh. Elena stares out the window at the cemetery; Bonnie calls her on it. “I did it again, didn’t I? I’m sorry, Bonnie.” She asks Bonnie to predict something, but a black bird comes out of nowhere and slams into Bonnie’s windshield. Didn’t predict that, did you? Bonnie hits the brakes and the car skids out.

The girls are unhurt, but Elena looks badly panicked for a second. “Elena, are you okay?” Bonnie asks right away. “It’s okay, I’m fine,” Elena says, too quickly. “I can’t be freaked out by cars for the rest of my life.”

Bonnie smiles at her. “I predict this year is going to kick ass. I predict all the sad and dark times are over, and you are going to be beyond happy.” Really, Bonnie? Because my prediction is that you’re full of crap on this one. Elena smiles at her, but it doesn’t reach her eyes.

A crow watches them from atop a street sign.

Caroline will hug you whether you like it or not.

School. The girls are bemoaning the lack of “male real estate” in the halls. A jock named Matt is giving Elena the eye; turns out she dumped him over the summer and he isn’t very happy about it. Elena is dive-bombed by a perky blonde named Caroline, who is wreathed in sympathy and keeps hugging her. Finally she bounces off.

I wonder why Tyler is so angry.

Meanwhile, Jeremy is handing out pharmaceuticals in the stoner pit, telling a girl named Vicki not to take more than two in a twenty-four hour period. She immediately downs the pill and smiles. “Hey Vic,” another guy says, and Jeremy’s face does a thing. “I thought I’d find you here with the crackheads.” He puts his arms around Vicki and makes a snide remark about Jeremy, which Jeremy rebuts by suggesting that Tyler gets his pop-culture references from TRL. Ouch. Wait, is TRL even on anymore? There is posturing from the boys, and then making out between Vicki and Tyler, and more face stuff from Jeremy. Good times in the stoner pit.

Because no one but the secretary ever looks at admissions paperwork.

Meanwhile, the girls are admiring the back of a new student who is handing in his registration at the office. “Your records are incomplete,” the school secretary is saying. The new student removes his sunglasses. “I’m sure everything you need is there,” he says. The secretary stares at him for a moment. “Well you’re right,” she says. “So it is.” That’s not creepy at all.

Perhaps he is hiding the drugs in his cheeks, like a chipmunk.

Elena sees her brother going into the boy’s bathroom and busts right in after him, because there is absolutely no reason someone might need to go into the bathroom other than because they are on drugs. To be fair, though, he is on drugs. “The first day of school and you’re stoned,” she says, ignoring the guy fleeing the bathroom in the wake of Hurricane Big Sister. “Where is it, is it on you?” Jeremy loudly denies anything. Elena says she gave him a summer pass but she is through watching him destroy himself. “Go ahead. Keep it up. But just know that I am going to be there to ruin your buzz every time.” Harsh, big sis.

As Elena leaves the bathroom, she runs right into New Guy. “Is this…the men’s room?” Reasonable question. Elena stammers and smiles and there is a bit of shuffle-dancing as they try to pass each other. Finally New Guy steps aside so Elena can go past. He watches her as she goes.

"Hawt-e" is not actually an abbreviation.

History class. Teacher is droning about 1861. Elena is attempting to be subtle about making goo-goo eyes at New Guy, but subtle she is not. He notices, and smiles at her. Matt notices, and scowls. Bonnie notices, and texts HAWT-E STARING @ U. I am sad for the future of our youth.

Totally normal thing for a teenaged girl to do, btw.
That pesky bird again.

After school. Elena goes to the cemetery. A crow squawks at her from the trees. She sits against a stone angel and writes in her journal. “I must have said I’m fine, thanks, at least thirty-seven times and didn’t mean it once. But no one noticed.” Her grief is oddly specific. “When someone asks How are you, they really don’t want an answer.” Across from her, the gravesite of her parents watches silently.

Not so silent is the crow, which lands on the headstone and squawks at her some more. “Okay. Hi, bird,” she says. The fog starts to roll in. “Shoo,” Elena says, starting to be creeped out. The bird flies away, but not far. It seems to be following her. A figure is half-visible from behind another statue. Elena starts to run. She falls, then looks up to see –

New Guy. “Were you following me?” she says, out of breath. Around her, the fog dissipates.

“No, I, uh – I just saw you fall.”

“And you just happened to be hanging out in a cemetery.”

“I’m visiting. I have family here.”

Elena’s entire demeanor changes. She’s like a lightning rod for grief. “Oh. Wow. I’m sorry.” She stammers about the fog and the bird and Hitchcock there is more smiling and goofiness and she finally introduces herself.

“I’m Stefan,” New Guy says.

“I know,” Elena says. “We have History together.”

“And English and French,” Stefan says. There’s a fine line between interested and creepy, Stefan, and you’re straddling it.

Ugly ring is ugly.

Elena seems to think he’s on the not-creepy side, if her blush is any indication. She tries to prolong the conversation by admiring his ring, which is really, really ugly. Seriously. It’s like a class ring gone wrong. Something Hot Topic might pawn off on a goth with no taste. “It’s a family ring,” Stefan tells her. I bet it is.

Then Stefan makes a face, like he smells something. Seriously, he sniffs. “Did you hurt yourself?”

Inappropriate vampface. Awkward.

Elena goes over to a rock and rolls up her pant leg; there’s a scrape, and some blood. “Oh, will you look at that,” she says. Stefan turns his head away. His eyes go dark and weird and veiny.

Elena makes noises about how it’s nothing, but when she looks again, Stefan is gone. Wow, some people just cannot handle the sight of blood.

All modern vampires have iMacs.

Casa Vampire. “I lost control today,” Stefan writes in his journal. “I’m simply not able to resist her.” So…he wants to eat her? That’s not very romantic. Elena’s own journal sits on his desk, its cover closed.

Cut to a diner, where Jeremy is trying unsuccessfully to get the attention of Vicki, who is working as a waitress. Vicki is much more interested in refilling Tyler’s soda, if you know what I mean. Tyler sure does. He watches her walk away. Across the table, Matt gesticulates with a french fry. “Please tell me you’re not hooking up with my sister,” he says.

“I’m not hooking up with your sister,” Tyler lies.

“You’re such a dick,” Matt tells him.

Jeremy corners Vicki again. “Look, Jeremy, I really appreciate all the pharmeceuticals, but you can’t keep following me around like a lost puppy.”

“When’s the last time you had sex with a puppy?” Jeremy says, looking bewildered and a little indignant. I love Jeremy.

Vicki shushes him. “I don’t want to tell the whole world I deflowered Elena’s kid brother.”

“And deflowered and deflowered.” He’s adorable and earnest, and Vicki can’t deal with it, not at all. It was a thing. It happened. Now it’s over. She’s got her sights on Tyler and can’t have Jeremy all lovestruck and lurking.

“He only wants you for your ass,” Jeremy says.

“Yeah? What do you want me for?” She pushes past him, not waiting for an answer.

Caroline and Bonnie come in to the grill. Caroline is rattling off stats on the new guy: “His name is Stefan Salvatore. He lives with his uncle up at the old Salvatore boarding house, he hasn’t lived here since he was a kid – military family, so they moved around a lot – he’s a Gemini, and his favorite color is blue.” That’s…an impressive amount of information. Caroline is a force of nature.

Maybe if Jenna dressed more like a grownup...nah.

Elena is just leaving her house. “I’m meeting Bonnie at the grill,” she says. Jenna tells her to have fun, then stops her. “Wait, I’ve got this,” she says, thinking fast. “Don’t stay out late, it’s a school night.” Jenna looks victorious.

Elena laughs. “Well done, Aunt Jenna.” She opens the door to leave –

– and Stefan is standing there. “I was about to knock,” he says. That seems likely. Elena just stares at him. “I wanted to apologize for my disappearing act earlier.”

“I get it,” Elena says, pulling herself together. “Blood makes you squeamish.”

Didn't your dead mother teach you it's not polite to stare?

Stefan looks more amused by this than he needs to. “Something like that,” he says. They are awkward at each other for a while; Elena asks how he knew where she lived, and Stefan says what might be the creepiest thing in the episode: “It’s a small town. I asked the first person I saw.” Then he gives her back her journal, which she left in the cemetery when fleeing from the fog of impending nommage. “Don’t worry, I didn’t read it,” he tells her.

“No?”

“Well, I wouldn’t want anyone to read mine.”

Elena’s face lights up. “You keep a journal,” she says, and at that moment decides to let him go to first base.

“Memories are too important,” Stefan says earnestly, working to upgrade to second base at least.

IT'S LIKE HE CAN'T COME IN UNLESS HE'S INVITED OR SOMETHING.

Elena goes inside to put the journal down, leaving the door open with the clear suggestion that Stefan can follow her if he wants. He does not, looking instead at his feet, then at the door frame, like it’s made of something he can’t get through. Subtle. Suddenly she comes back. “I’m meeting a friend,” she says, and then stares at him, all invitation and portent. “Do you want to come?”

“Yes,” Stefan says. These two are a LAFF RIOT.

Sad Matt is sad.
Elena: kind of clueless.

At the grill, Matt is pouring his heart out to Bonnie about Elena. “Give it more time,” Bonnie says. Just then Elena walks in with Stefan. That time thing isn’t looking like such great advice anymore.

Matt jumps up and walks over to them. He looks like he isn’t sure why he did it, but he thrusts his hand out toward Stefan. “Hey, I’m Matt, nice to meet you,” he says. He looks over at Elena and she smiles, sheepishly, obliviously.

And of course, what night out would be complete without a round of questions? The girls are all verrrry interested in Stefan, who is strangely accommodating. Caroline asks about his parents, and he says they passed away. He and Elena meet each other’s eyes. “I’m sorry,” she says gravely. Bingo. Second base: achieved.

“Any siblings?”

“None that I talk to.” Surely this will not be significant later. “I live with my uncle.”

Caroline quickly invites Stefan to the back-to-school party the next night. “Are you going?” he asks Elena. “Of course she is,” says Bonnie quickly, not giving Elena time to back out. Elena blushes and smiles and wow you guys get a room.

Back at Casa Vamp, Stefan’s uncle is very grumpy about the om-nomming of local townsfolk. He shows Stefan a newspaper with a story on the couple that got chomped on in the first scene. “You promised,” Uncle Zack says.

“This was an animal attack,” Stefan says, because Stefan thinks Uncle Zack is stupid.

“Don’t give me that,” Uncle Zack says. Uncle Zack isn’t actually stupid. “I know the game. You tear them up enough, they always suspect an animal attack. You said you had it under control.”

“And I do,” Stefan says.

“Please, Uncle Stefan,” Zack says. Uncle Stefan, huh? It’s like Stefan isn’t actually a high school student. Crazy talk. “Mystic Falls is a different place now. It’s been quiet for years, but there are people who still remember.”

Zack wants to know why Stefan is even back. Stefan, for his part, doesn’t feel he has to explain himself to wee little Zachary. It’s pretty clear that Zack isn’t going to be laying down any parental authority, or authority of any sort. Still: “Coming back here was a mistake.”

Not creepy at all.

Stefan goes moodily to his room and moodily opens a cabinet stuffed full of journals, all of which are presumably full of moody moodiness. Each one has a different year on the spine. Only one journal per year? Amateur. He pulls one out and opens it to a tintype image of a girl who looks – well, she looks exactly like Elena. At the bottom of the photo it says Katherine, 1864. Stefan stares at the photo and looks moody.

School. History class. The teacher is talking about the battle of Willow Creek, which took place in Mystic Falls in – OH HEY – the 1860s. Surely this is not significant in any way. “How many casualties resulted from this battle?” the teacher asks.

No one has been paying the slightest bit of attention, naturally, so no one can answer him. He lets Bonnie off with a warning, seems to think it’s expected of Matt, but is incredibly douchey to Elena when she says she doesn’t know: “I was willing to be lenient last year for obvious reasons, Elena,” he says, as the whole class looks on uncomfortably, “but the personal excuses ended with summer break.” WOW. Bonnie said something earlier about how it’s been four months since Elena’s parents died. That means History Teacher may have had a month at the end of the previous year in which Elena was presumably incapacitated with grief, and apparently that was too much for him. And clearly, publicly shaming a grieving student is a great method to get those test scores up. I hope History Teacher gets nommed by the end of this episode.

“There were three hundred and forty-six casualties,” says Stefan, breaking the silence, “unless you’re counting the local civilians.”

History Douche is all that’s right, and you have the same last name as some of the original settlers here, and also there WERE no civilian casualties, BURN. But Stefan is all BURN RIGHT BACK, there were 27. Sir. Soldiers fired on the church, believing it to house weapons, but instead they slaughtered a bunch of innocent townsfolk. “The founders archives are stored in Civil Hall if you’d like to brush up on your facts,” he says, and Elena gives him a look promising third base at least. (What’s Civil Hall? Is that like City Hall, but for…civics?)

Night. Party time. Stefan arrives to see bonfires, teen drinking and underage sex. Of course, he’s way more interested in using his super vamp hearing to listen to Bonnie and Elena talking about how pretty he is. Clearly a good use of a superpower. Before he can sweep over and be pretty at her in person he’s sidetracked by Caroline, whose superpower is being aggressively perky. “Let’s get you a drink!” she chirps, bodily dragging him away.

Bonnie and Elena talk about how she’s psychic some more, but when Bonnie touches Elena’s hand she gets an actual flash of something. It clearly rattles her. “What?” Elena asks. “When I touched you, I saw a crow,” Bonnie tells her. “A crow. There was fog. A man…” She sees the look on Elena’s face. “I’m drunk. I was drinking. There’s nothing psychic about it. I’m going to get a refill.” See kids? Teen drinking will just make you a bad psychic.

Elena stares after her friend but then looks up to see Stefan standing right next to her. He apologizes for lurking, then notices that she’s upset about something. Yeah, like you didn’t Vamp!Hear the whole exchange. Elena brushes it off, smiling what is probably her first real smile of the night.

Meanwhile, Tyler is leading Vicki off into the woods. Jeremy stares after them.

Let's all share stories about dead people. I'll go first.

Elena and Stefan are going off on a little walk of their own. Elena mentions that everyone’s talking about him, seeing as he’s the mysterious new guy in a town that apparently will give out people’s home addresses to strangers. “You’ve got the mysterious thing going too,” Stefan says. He tells her she’s sad, which he can tell because he found her hanging out in a graveyard. Sad is the same as mysterious, apparently. She tells him about her parents, how their car drove off a bridge. She was in the back seat and lived; her parents died. Man. That is harsh. No wonder she’s depressed.

“You won’t be sad forever, Elena,” Stefan says. I roll my eyes, but Elena looks misty.

Tyler is a douche.
Poor Jeremy.

In the woods, Vicki and Tyler are making out. Vicki isn’t nearly as into it as Tyler is. “I’m not really a big sex against a tree girl,” she says, laughing, but gets upset pretty quickly when he doesn’t stop. “It’s not gonna happen,” she says. “I said no. I said no! Ow. That hurts.”

“Hey, leave her alone,” shouts Jeremy, who just happens to be out walking all by himself in the woods in the same direction he saw Vicki go.

Tyler lets go of her, spoiling for a fight. “You know, you’re starting to get on my nerves, Gilbert,” he says, but Vicki tells him to just get the hell away from her. He shakes his head. “Vicki Donovan says no. That’s a first.” He douchebags off back toward the party.

“I didn’t need your help,” Vicki tells Jeremy. She’s desperate for none of this to mean what it clearly means. “He was just drunk.”

I’m drunk,” Jeremy says. “Am I throwing myself at you?”

“No, you’re worse,” she retorts. “You want to talk to me, get to know me, so you can see into my soul and screw and screw and screw until you’re done with me.”

“Is that what you think?” Jeremy says, shocked.

“It’s what I know.” Vicki takes off.

The bridge of not being sad forever. It has lights.

On the bridge of not being sad forever, Stefan is noticing how Matt seems to be unable to take his eyes off of them. Elena explains that she and Matt have known each other their entire lives and she dated him because they owed it to themselves to see if they could be more, but there was no passion. Nice. Good thing Matt doesn’t have Vamp!Hearing. She and Stefan share a gaze, but Stefan spoils it by going all dark-eyed and veiny. Way to ruin the moment, Stefan. He scampers off to get more alcohol, and presumably to feed on a coed or two.

Speaking of coeds, Vicki is alone in the woods when the fog starts to roll in. Uh oh. She sees movement in the darkness, and then something grabs her and she screams.

Elena is looking around for Stefan, but instead finds Matt, who wants to talk about their relationship. Of course he does. “I just want to let you know that I still believe in us,” Matt says. Oh, Matt. You’re so misguided it’s almost endearing. Almost.

Stefan, who was clearly eavesdropping, gets sideswiped by Caroline, who really, really wants to show him her boobs. I mean the stars. Whichever. Or both! “I think you’ve had a little too much to drink,” Stefan says. “Well, of course I have,” Caroline chirps, sort of adorably. Stefan is unmoved. “Caroline. You and me. It’s not going to happen.” He leaves her there, deflated.

Stefan walks up to Elena, but just as they’re settling back into their flirt Elena sees her brother stumbling off into the woods. She sprints after him, pissed, telling Stefan he’s not going to want to witness this. “Jeremy, where the hell are you going?”

Oops. Vicki got nommed.
Wakey wakey.

“I don’t want to hear it,” Jeremy says, and then trips over something in the darkness.

“Vicki?” he says. She’s laying on the ground, her neck a bloody mess. Jeremy reaches for her, and she sucks in a lungful of air like a scream and opens her eyes.

The party goes to hell after that, Elena yelling about how Vicki’s losing blood, Matt telling people to get back, Jeremy having his own freak out. Someone is shouting about calling 911. Everyone is watching. Matt looks up to see Stefan staring dispassionately at the scene and then turning and walking away.

Very.

Back at the Vamp House, Stefan tells Zack that someone else is doing the om-nomming in Mystic Falls. He goes upstairs to find that pesky crow in his room, and turns slowly to see someone on the balcony. “Damon,” he says.

Damon grins slowly. Damon is very attractive. “Hello, brother,” he says.

“The crow’s a bit much, don’t you think?” Stefan says.

“Wait till you see what I can do with the fog.” Damon is wandering around messing with everything in Stefan’s room. He grins a lot. “You’ve done something different with your hair. I like it.”

“It’s been fifteen years,” Stefan says.

“Thank god,” says Damon. “I couldn’t take another day of the nineties.” Damon is a lot more fun than Stefan, even though he’s clearly more about the om-nomming and less about the moody staring. He does do the crazy eyes a lot, though. Ian Somerhalder clearly decided to have fun with the crazy eyes.

Crazy eyes. They're hard to convey in a mere screen cap. The crazy eyes, they are dynamic.

“You know you left that girl alive tonight,” Stefan says. Party pooper.

“That could be a problem,” Damon says. “For you.”

“Why are you here now?”

“I could ask you the same question. However, I’m fairly certain your answer could be summed up all in one word: Elena.”

Vamp!Glare. Stefan sure isn’t happy about that.

You can tell Bonnie is foretelling something because of the bulgy eyes.

Back at the party, the paramedics are loading up Vicki. Bonnie tells Elena that she and Caroline are going to the grill to mainline coffee and wait for news. Elena needs to take Jeremy home, but Bonnie has something to tell her first. “Whatever I saw, or think I saw…it’s just the beginning.” Thanks, Bonnie. That helps, I’m sure.

Vamp House. Damon is still needling his brother. “She took my breath away. Elena. She’s a dead ringer for Katherine.”

“She’s not Katherine.”

“Well let’s hope not. We both know how that ended.” I’m guessing badly?

Damon changes tactics, mocking his brother for only drinking animal blood. Oh, so no yummy high-school girls for Stefan? Damon starts hitting Stefan, not aggressively exactly, more in that annoying way brothers do when they’re trying to get a rise out of each other. He says they should just do it, now, together. Go on a little hunt. “Or let’s just cut to the chase. Let’s just go straight for Elena!”

Stefan vamps out and leaps at his brother, throwing them both through the window and to the ground below. But when Stefan lifts himself up, Damon is nowhere to be found.

“I was impressed,” Damon says from the shadows. “I give it six. Missing style, but I was pleasantly surprised.” He tells Stefan he liked the face thing – rwwrAAAW, he says, contorting, cracking up. Stefan is unamused. “Wherever you go, people die.”

“That’s a given,” Damon says.

“Not here,” Stefan tells him.

Psych! It's totally from Hot Topic. I hid the real one in the garden.

“I take that as an invitation.” Seriously, Stefan has no idea how to manage his brother. He does try saying please, but Damon points out that he promised Stefan an eternity of misery, so he’s just keeping his word. Stefan keeps begging his brother to not make a snack out of his new girlfriend, but Damon feigns surprise: “Where is your ring?”

Don't piss Damon off.
Not at all bipolar, why do you ask?

You remember the ring. Without it, Damon exposits, the whole walking-in-the-sun thing would result in char-broiled vamp. “Ashes to ashes.” But the ring’s in Damon’s hand; he pulled it off during the fight.

He gives it back to Stefan, but something in his face changes after Stefan puts the ring back on.

Damon vamps out, grabs his brother by the throat, and hurls him into the side of the house. “You should know better than to think you’re stronger than me,” he says. “I wouldn’t try it again.” Then he hears a noise from inside the house, and he’s all giggles and grins again. “I think we woke Zack up. Sorry Zack,” he says, sauntering inside and whistling.

Tripping over half-dead non-girlfriend: even bigger buzzkill than Elena.

Elena finds her brother watching the cops and paramedics from the porch, swigging a beer. “Those people in uniforms?” Elena says to Jeremy. “Last time I checked they’re police.” He pointedly downs the rest of his beer before tossing the bottle away. Elena persists. “People are going to stop giving you breaks, Jer,” she tells him. “They don’t care. They don’t remember that our parents are dead. They’ve got their own lives to deal with. The rest of the world has moved on. You should try too.”

“I’ve seen you sitting around writing in your diary. Was that supposed to be you moving on?”

Elena looks guilty, which is dumb. People write in diaries, Elena. It’s not a sign of depression in and of itself. “Mom and dad wouldn’t have wanted this,” she says, and then they both look sad.

Miserable Caroline is miserable.

At the grill, Caroline is trying to sober up and failing. “I’ve got to get you home,” Bonnie says, trying to get her friend to drink some more coffee. I hate to break it to you, kids, but that doesn’t actually work.

Caroline is still fixated on Stefan. Or, more specifically, why Stefan brushed her off. She’s kind of a mess. “How come the guys I want never want me? I’m inappropriate, I always say the wrong thing.” Caroline is reminding me of me at that age. It is making me depressed. “And Elena always says the right thing. She doesn’t even try, and he just picks her. She’s the one everyone picks, for everything.” Bonnie tries to interrupt, but Caroline’s not having any of it. “I try so hard and I’m never the one.”

Bonnie smiles at her, shaking her head. “It’s not a competition, Caroline.”

Caroline just stares. “Yeah. It is.”

Maybe she said 'Umpire...'

At the hospital, Matt is next to his sister’s bed, watching her with eyes red from crying. Vicki stirs, the bandage white against her tanned neck. She stirs. “Matt,” she croaks.

“Don’t try to talk,” he tells her, relieved that she’s still alive.

“Vampire,” she whispers. Matt stares at his sister.

At home, Elena is writing in her diary. “Dear Diary,” she VOs. Do people actually begin journal entries with ‘Dear Diary’? “I couldn’t have been more wrong. I thought that I could smile and nod my way through everything. Pretend that it would all be okay.”

Cut to Stefan, who probably didn’t start his entry with Dear Diary. Or did he? “I had a plan. I wanted to change who I was. Create a life as someone new.”

Elena says, “Without the pain.”

Their voices overlap. “Someone alive.”

Aunt Jenna walks in to find Jeremy sitting in the dark, staring at a photograph of his parents.

Holy Humbert.
Oh Caroline, can't you find a more age-appropriate undead paramour?

At the grill, Caroline is trying to pull herself together when she notices someone watching her from a nearby table. It’s Damon. He’s smiling. Caroline visibly perks up. Damon just watches her.

It’s supposed to be creepy, but probably not for the reason it creeped me out: Somerhalder looks about 40 here, and Caroline is clearly in high school. It must be the angle, because under ordinary circumstances Somerhalder looks…not ungood, is all I’m going to say. But he seems very Humbert Humbert here, and it’s off-putting. (I KNOW, he’s supposed to be a hundred-something year old vampire. But he ALSO looks like an older dude giving a little girl the eye, and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t supposed to be the point of that scene.)

He probably just asked the first person he ran into which window she usually sat in.

Elena VO. “All you can do is just be ready for the good. So when it comes, you can invite it in. Because you need it. I need it.” She looks over her shoulder, out the window, and sees Stefan standing in her yard. NOT CREEPY AT ALL.

She goes to the door. Stefan tells her he just wanted to be sure she was okay. Elena tells him that’s all anyone ever wonders about her: if she’ll be okay. “What do you tell them?” Stefan asks.

Elena shrugs. “That I’ll be fine.”

“Do you ever mean it?”

Stefan's eyebrows would really like to come inside.

“Ask me tomorrow,” Elena says. She says that when they’re inside, they can talk. “Would you like to come in?” He’s the good, apparently. She is inviting him in.

“Yes,” Stefan says. They go inside, and Elena shuts the door.

All in all, pretty good for a pilot episode. I appreciate that the teenagers drink, do drugs and have sex. I’m undecided about the vampires at this point. Elena seems…well, she seems a little blank-slatey, but it’s the first ep so I’ll give her a chance.

AND NOW, THE SPOILERY BITS:

(If you haven’t seen any episodes beyond this one, you should stop reading now.)

The fog: we never see it again. Budget constraints? Decision that it was kind of antiquated and lame? Who knows, but I sort of wish they’d bring it back, or at least, you know, explain it.

The whole “Uncle Stefan” thing: is Zack a distant nephew or something? Because last I checked Salvatore Sr. became vamp chow and his sons became vamps. Who carried on the Salvatore line? And exactly when did they become complicit in the whole ‘evil undead’ racket?

Vancouver had more pathos than Georgia, location-wise. What.

The thing with the 27 civilians in the church: don’t we find out later it was a fire? Am I to interpret “fired upon” as “set fire to”?

OH AND: the whole “living in secret, hiding in the shadows, ALONE WITH MY MISERY” bit at the beginning? RIGHT. I guess that’s one way of interpreting what turns out to be decades of on-off murder sprees, Stefan.