Review

Review

Television Tourniquet: ‘The Vampire Diaries' Episode 1.4

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"Family Ties"
Written By: Andrew Kreisberg & Brian Young
Directed By: Guy Ferland
Original Airdate: 1 October 2009

In This Episode…

It's time for the Founder's Day party, a large semi-formal party held in the mayor's mansion, celebrating the town's birth.  Elena asks Stefan to be her date, while Damon glamours Caroline into taking him.  Vicki has to practically beg Tyler to invite her – his dad is the mayor and he doesn't think his parents would approve of a girl from the wrong side of the tracks.

Zach desperately wants Stefan to take down Damon, but in order to be strong enough to do so, Stefan would have to drink human blood, and he refuses.  Zach then reveals his secret stash.  Not pot, but urbane, a plant that was banned hundreds of years ago that can severely weaken a vampire.  Stefan tries to drug Damon with it by spiking his scotch, but Damon catches on.

Elena has promised to loan some family heirlooms to Mrs. Lockwood, the mayor's wife, to display at the party.  Jeremy is furious when he discovers this, and steals a pocket watch that had been passed down from father to first-born son for generations.  Elena, who had confiscated the watch to keep her mother's promise to Mrs. Lockwood, feels bad and gives the watch back to her brother.

The party, as expected, is fraught with drama and gossip.  Elena sees both Salvatore brothers' names on the original town registry – explained away as ancestors, nothing more.  Damon manipulates Caroline into dancing with Stefan so that he could have a few minutes alone with Elena.  He is actually chivalrous, and apologizes for trying to kiss her.  The four of them reconvene, and Elena gets in a dance with her boyfriend.  She's concerned because, before the party, Bonnie (who heard it from Caroline) had told Elena that it was Stefan who had stolen Catherine away from his brother using trickery and manipulation.  When she asks about Catherine, and his past in general, Stefan becomes pensive and Elena is upset that he won't trust her.  She leaves the dance floor.

Damon uses Caroline as lookout while he steals a crystal he had hidden in an antique jewelry box hundreds of years ago.  Caroline, by the way, knows that Damon is a vampire.  She is freshening up her lipstick in the bathroom when Elena comes in to do the same, and she notices the scars and bruises peeking out from beneath Caroline's scarf and shawl.  Elena shows concern but Caroline freaks out.  Elena gives Damon a stern warning to leave her friend alone, then she apologizes to Stefan for running out on him.  Their make-up is cut short when, in the distance, Elena sees Damon roughly dragging Caroline out of the party. 

Damon is furious that Caroline let her scars be seen.  He calms down and starts kissing Caroline's neck.  She relaxes into his arms – and the fangs come down.  His intention appears to be to drink her dead, but a couple of gulps in and he is choking on the ground.  Stefan knew he could not get away with drugging his brother, so he drugged the girl voted Most Likely to be Fed On.  Stefan drags Damon away before Caroline can wake, stashing him in the urbane growing room.  Caroline wakes, finds the crystal Damon stole, and pockets it.

As the party winds down, a creepy cabal of "town elders" meet, including the mayor, his wife, and the town sheriff (also Caroline's mom).  They are desperate to get Elena's family pocket watch.  Apparently, they know that the vampires are back and that watch is necessary in banishing them.  The local TV news reporter is tasked with getting it, despite – or because of – a disastrous relationship he once had with Aunt Jenna.

Dig It or Bury It?

I'm so excited to finally have that overall arc of conflict – this cabal of townies determined to take down the Salvatore brothers.  By episode four, this sibling rivalry was already growing thin.  I must say, that with each episode, I find myself enjoying the show more and more.  It has just the right amount of trashy teen drama without being whiney, and plenty of dark vampire mystery.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what this evil gathering of grown-ups will bring.  Added bonus: Damon openly mocks Twilight, and I am a big fan of anyone who can see the absurdity in sparkly vampires.

Dear Diary

Despite the title of the show, they are really cutting back on the whole "Dear Diary" thing.  Elena didn't write in hers once this episode.  Stefan did, at the beginning, after Damon penetrated his mind and gave him nightmares about Elena's death at the hands – or fangs – of Damon.  Stefan's dear diary moment has him musing on his brother: "How do I kill a monster without becoming one?"  Isn't that something we each ask ourselves every day?

Blood Lust

A fairly calm episode, with the only real violence Damon attacking Caroline for a brief moment.  More interesting are her scars – massive, bite-shaped keloid scars that have little-to-no chance of fading.

Myths Revamped

While it is not entirely clear if the Salvatore brothers can eat human food, they can drink non-blood cocktails.  And while this does not seem to be uncommon in modern vampire tales, Stefan goes vamp – fangs come out and eyes get blood-shot and buggy – when he is turned on.  I like to think of it as the vampire equivalent to a hard-on.

Prophecies?

Next week, Elena starts digging for answers to Stefan and Damon's mysterious past, and from the news clips she finds on Stefan from well before he claims to have been born, he's definitely not who he says he is.  Could this possibly go the Sookie/Bill route?

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