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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

"Summer" Over for THE VAMPIRE DIARIES

Article first published as "Summer" Over for THE VAMPIRE DIARIES on TheTVKing.

The CW's The Vampire Diaries returned this week with "I Know What You Did Last Summer." Picking up months after the end of last season, most everyone has been enjoying the warm months with a lover. Now, school is starting and reality is setting in, with some things going back to normal, and some moving on to the next part of life.

The biggest change is Elena (Nina Dobrev) and Carolina (Candice Accola) moving hours away from Mystic Falls, heading off to college. It's nice that The Vampire Diaries doesn't do the typical-teen-drama-show thing and reveal a never-before-mentioned college in the city viewers have gotten to know. Though, it continues the trend of unrealistically-large dorm rooms seen on screen, perhaps even raising the bar in that regard. The move does segment the cast, as it means that plot arcs don't involve everyone, at least not right away, but that's a good thing, breathing fresh life into the show in its fifth year.

College does not mean the girls are free of the supernatural world, though, as much as they might want to be seen as typical students. Their new roommate, Megan (Hayley Kiyoko), seems to know about vampires, and then is killed by one, whom makes it look like a suicide. "I Know What You Did Last Summer" would be boring if it didn't kick off a new mystery off for Elena and Caroline, but one does wonder long they're going to be able to stay at college, given the constant danger they face. Buffy the Vampire Slayer made it less than a year. Will The Vampire Diaries follow that example?

I did love the glimpse viewers get of Bonnie (Kat Graham) at school with the other two, even it is only briefly. After all, they can't see Bonnie, she being dead, so what's the point of her staying there? But at least she gets to be with them for a moment on a special day they had all been looking forward to.

Carolina expects Tyler (Michael Trevino) to join them, but is sorely disappointed when he tells her in a voice mail that he has decided to continue helping a werewolf pack instead. One begins to wonder why the show even keeps Trevino on contract, considering the number of episodes he sits out every year, only his voice being in "I Know What You Did Last Summer." Will he return to get involved in things, or stay MIA for awhile longer?

Back in Mystic Falls, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) is acting the father towards Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen). This is a shift in their dynamic, certainly a fun one. After a year with no real parental supervision, it's satisfying that Jeremy has someone looking out for him again, and it provides Damon with some depth he hasn't really displayed. Being in love suits him, and his relationship with Elena is prompting changes in other ways, too.

Jeremy needs looking after because his Hunter skills are still sharp, and he's now being picked on as the weird kid at school. His friends were really his sister's friends, and they're all gone, leaving him isolated and alone, save visits from ghost Bonnie, which, were they observed, and they probably have been, would make him even more of an outcast. It takes no time at all for him to beat up some bullies defending himself and get suspended.

I don't know where the show is going with Jeremy, but he seems likely to get good material this year. By putting him so far out on his own, he gets an even bigger chance to figure out what his strengths are and how he fits in the world. McQueen has grown into the role well, and this story should make fans happy that The Vampire Diaries didn't leave him dead.

Speaking of dead, Stefan (Paul Wesley) keeps drowning and coming back to life, an endless, miserable cycle. It's interesting "I Know What You Did Last Summer" spends so much time with him, having Stefan imagining Damon telling him to turn his humanity off, so he doesn't feel so much pain, and Elena arguing for him to keep it on. This points to Stefan being rescued sooner rather than later. Otherwise, what's the purpose of showing him?

Stefan isn't included because Wesley needs to keep working; the actor is now pulling double duty as doppelganger Silas. Silas neatly fills the void left by the departure of the Original vampires, quickly setting himself up as a worthy opponent when he threatens Liz (Marguerite MacIntyre), executes the mayor (Ricky Worthy), Bonnie's dad, and brainwashes the town into helping him find Katherine (also Dobrev). This is a cold, calculating creature, totally unlike even the evil version of Stefan, and one of the most dangerous beings to ever come to Mystic Falls.

Which makes one wonder how anyone might possibly stop him. Damon is clueless as to how to threaten Silas, and the humans don't stand a chance. My guess is other supernatural help will be needed, whether that includes Stefan, Elena, and / or Caroline, it's unclear right now. The heroes will definitely have their work cut out for them.

Katherine is part of Sila's plan, and she's never been more helpless. Now a human, she actually goes to Damon for help, being super desperate, but he refuses her, as he should, after all she's done. With everyone in Mystic Falls looking for her, Katherine as she is now doesn't stand a chance. I guess she'll have to catch a break here soon.

And now we sit and wonder how long it will be before Damon's doppleganger shows up.

Lastly, we have Matt (Zach Roerig), who refuses Rebekah's (Claire Holt) offer to leave town, then runs into a girl he and Rebekah had a threesome with during their travels. This girl, named Nadia (Olga Fonda, Real Steel), steals the Gilbert ring, then has a companion do something to Matt when she returns it. So I guess Matt didn't run into her by coincidence on vacation. What's her deal, and what is she doing to Matt?

It's a little sad that Rebekah and Matt, who clearly have a great few months together, split so suddenly and completely upon returning home. I kind of wish Matt went over to The Originals spin-off with her so they could stay together. But I guess not all love lasts, and even calling what exists between them love might be stretching it. So now they both get a clean reset.

"I Know What You Did Last Summer" is an intriguing episode. Not a lot really happens, other than Silas making himself known, but there are plenty of arcs kicked off or continued, and it promises to be another high-octane season, with at least the usual amount of character development.

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.

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