This review contains spoilers.
3.1 The Birthday
It’s the return of our favourite teen vampire series, and everyone’s seemingly spent their summer in the land of denial. We join the characters pretty much where we left them. Stefan’s off gallivanting with Klaus, leaving Elena in the not entirely comforting arms of Damon, and Caroline and Tyler are still exploring how far the whole mortal-enemies thing can stretch. Oh, and Jeremy’s still going through his Sixth Sense period. Ain’t puberty a bitch?
Like all the best episodes of The Vampire Diaries, we get a great horror movie-style beginning, which sets the scene for Klaus and Stefan’s reign of terror this season. And they’re still not pulling any punches. Stefan’s gone to the dark side, and we’re not talking just a little bit nasty, we’re talking full-on Angelus-style evil. Too bad he doesn’t look like he’s having as much fun as David Boreanez was back in Buffy. A particularly nice moment comes when Damon explains his brother’s penchant for putting his victims back together again. It makes him feel less guilty, apparently.
We soon learn that Rick’s been sleeping on Elena and Jeremy’s couch over the summer – I bet the school board would be really chuffed to hear that – while the spurned girlfriend in Elena has been looking for Stefan since he disappeared.
When a new lead arises, she goes to find Damon, who’s enjoying some surprisingly consensual domestic bliss with Andie. I have to admit, one of the more risqué and potentially objectionable things about the show has been the compelled girlfriends subplot, and it seems they’re trying to pull it back for the sake of Damon’s humanity.
There’s a lack of Elena and Damon romance this week that I find strangely comforting, as it’s always a worry when a love triangle overtakes the fantasy of a show like this. Most viewers support one brother or the other, but the writers have done a good job keeping the soap opera elements subordinate in the past. Let’s hope they keep it that way again this year. But don’t get me wrong, it’s great that the relationship seems to be evolving, and the pair act like an old married couple through the majority of 41-minutes.
Another twosome in complete denial are Caroline and Tyler who, we’re informed early on, aren’t actually a couple yet. The two got a lot of fan support last year, which probably led the writers to explore the relationship more than anything else. It’s a fun and light-hearted story to follow this week, as they skirt around each other, despite their heightened supernatural ‘urges’.
Another fun part of the episode was Matt and Jeremy’s weed-fuelled bonding session, followed by munchies and visions of dead relatives.
But the most exciting thing about the episode was the potential for Stefan the ripper and all that could entail. Viewers might be excited about showrunner’s assurances of an Elena/Damon romance, but the suggestion of what the kinder, gentler brother could actually be capable of is more than a little intriguing. Stefan’s always been interesting in his extremely passive-aggressive need to be liked, and now he’s let the beast roam free, it’ll be an interesting watch.
Let’s hope it’s not resolved too soon, as it sounds like a whole load of fun.