Vampire Diaries: A Postmortem
It is Halloween month and so I decided to re-watch all 8 Seasons of The Vampire Diaries (2009-2017). I read the books back in 1991 and 1992 when they came out and was excited to see a series based on them. It didn’t take long to realize that the series was going to become its own entity. It used the same characters, but changed the plot quite a bit.
Each Season had its own arch or theme, while the love triangle between Elena, Stefan and Damon played itself out through the whole of the series. The last two seasons focused more on the relationship between the brothers Salvatore since Nina Dobrev left before the end of the series.
Season 1 was all about Vampires. I enjoyed the initial meeting of the characters. Although I was upset at first that Elena wasn’t blond and that Caroline was more of a friend than an enemy, I grew to love them. Despite the show not meeting my expectations, I liked series overall. Instead of keeping Katherine and Klaus as part of the surprise ending, they introduced them early on. Then they created the Tomb Vampires to keep Stefan and Damon busy. There were no tomb vampires in the books. They are filler material. I kept waiting for them to introduce Meredith Fell and her ancestor Honoria Fell. Eventually, they made Meredith a doctor and Alaric’s love interest in Season 3, but they never mentioned Honoria.
Season 2 was all about Werewolves. In the climax of the books, we find out Tyler Lockwood is a Werewolf, as are a number of other residence of Fells Church, Virginia. In Mystic Falls, we are introduced to Mason Lockwood and find out about the all-powerful moonstone. While Klaus did use Caroline and Tyler to do his dirty work in the books, there was nothing about him wanting to break a curse using a moonstone. While I liked that they traded Elena’s little sister for a teenage brother named Jeremy and I liked Jenna, I did not like Isobel and Jonathan. Why did they feel a need to make Elena adopted? And why did her real Mom have to be a narcissistic vampire who abandoned her? What is up with all the shitty mothers in the series?
Season 3 was all about The Originals. The focus is on Klaus, his family and the creation of Hybrids. Hybrids are a combination of Werewolf and Vampire in a single person, like Klaus. We know little about Klaus from the books, except he was the one who turned Katherine and that he was an original. In the TV show we get a huge backstory and lots of siblings for our bad guy, which is cool. Only it turns out, Klaus is more of an anti-hero than a villain. And this is the Season we see Stefan’s history as a Ripper. I guess they needed to make him less of a one dimensional good guy. Oh, and Elena finally becomes a Vampire, like she does in the books.
Season 4 was all about Doppelgangers. Although I found this season a bit convoluted, I did enjoy the back story of the Doppelgangers. The story of Silas and Amara added depth to the overall mythology. I was surprised that they put Damon and Elena together, but with 8 long Seasons it was bound to happen. I held out hope she’d realize what she’d lost in Stefan. They also introduced the idea of The Hunters into the story, which I was not crazy about. I get Jeremy needed a hobby, but Vampire Hunter? Really?And how did it take 4 years for Elena and the gang to go through 2 years of High School? How did they even pass when they stopped attending classes on a regular basis at the beginning of the series?
Season 5 was all about Katherine and The Travelers. This was one of my least favorite seasons. It had nothing to do with the original series at all. Elena and the Gang go to college. There is this whole plot line about Whitmore’s experimenting on Vampires and torturing Damon. Then there are the Travelers. Body Jumpers can be found in various mythologies, but it seemed detached from the rest of the series. I was also so over Katherine and her ways. While I liked the introduction of her daughter, I didn’t like Katherine jumping into Elena. I wondered if they were inspired by The Return book by LJ Smith, published in 2009. If so, why didn’t they follow the books more closely?
Season 6 was all about The Gemini Coven. We were introduced to a new witch named Liv and her twin named Luke in Season 5. Later, we are introduced to Jo and her psycho twin Kai, short of Malachi. Kai is truly a frightening villain who relishes in making everyone suffer. There is this whole prison world thing, which felt a little too much like Ground Hog Day. The Twin Merging thing was weird. The presence of Lilly Salvatore felt forced. However, the wedding at the end shocked me and moved me to tears. I felt so bad for Alaric and everyone who died at Kai’s hands. Re-watching it, I kept screaming at everyone not to trust Kai. They should have just killed him ASAP.
Season 7 was all about The Heretics and Rayna/The Armory. They really should have ended the series in either Season 4 or Season 6, but no. They drug it out two more seasons and I kept watching. The bad guys are the Heretics for half the season and then it is just Julian and then it is Rayna. The Heretics are Witch-Vampire Hybrids, which weren’t supposed to exist. And Caroline is pregnant with Jo and Alaric’s twins? It was a creative way to write Candace King’s pregnancy into the script, but I wasn’t sure I bought it. When the twins make their appearance, I saw their importance in furthering the story. I warmed up to them eventually. Later, they would be essential to the spin-off Legacies. Anyway, I was incredibly bored with the whole Rayna and Armory plotline. I didn’t like Bonnie and Enzo as a couple. I just couldn’t grow to love Enzo as much as I’d grown to love Damon or even Klaus. They tried to soften him, but it felt forced. Did I mention I hated the time jumps? Yeah, the whole Season was a huge mess!
Season 8 was all about The Siren and tying up loose endings. I hated the Siren plot. It reminded me too much of True Blood and it just pained me to see Damon and Enzo suffer so much. I liked that they involved the twins into the plot though. I didn’t like that Stefan ended up with Caroline and Damon ended up with Elena. That is not how I saw the books going. I recognize that Damon and Elena had better chemistry on the show, but I fell in love with Stefan from the books and saw him getting his happy ending. It made me sad to see him die, even it was for the greater good. The very end of the series showing the characters reuniting in the afterlife reminded me of Lost. The last episode did move me even if I didn’t agree with how they ended everyone’s stories.
Overall, I liked the Supernatural Teen Soap. I was pleased that the show was more Urban Fantasy than its Gothic Grandfather Dark Shadows. It made it more relatable. The writers were good with redemption arcs and I like how they used the idea of a humanity switch. Most people are neither completely good nor completely evil. Bad people do good things and good people do bad things. The writers also had the task of making us like vampires—aka serial killers. For the most part, they were able to make the characters sympathetic. But above all else, the writers had killer taste in music. Even when the Season sucked, I loved the music. I often used the songs from the show in my own compilation mixes.
Some Favorite Songs From the Series: Obsession, Sleep Alone, Cut, A Girl Like Me, Youth Knows No Pain, Love Is Just Another Way To Die, Dance Me To The End of Love, Love Don’t Die, Come With Me Now, Do I Wanna Know, Up in Flames, Radioactive, This World, Hypnotic and many others!