The Vampire Diaries season 5 episode 1 review: I Know What You Did Last Summer

Can The Vampire Diaries survive the post-high school years? Here's Caroline's review of the season 5 premiere...

This review contains spoilers.

5.1 I Know What You Did Last Summer

The college years are the point at which everything tends to go wrong for teen dramas like The Vampire Diaries, with not even the mighty Buffy escaping the teething pains that tend to go along with losing the comfort of high school hallways and family dinners. The Vampire Diaries has grown up faster than most, of course, with most of the characters either parentless or going on world adventures during the summer. Maybe this show can dodge the decline that so many others have gone down?

Judging by this first episode, it’s a possibility, but part of that means that the show is simply continuing on in the same manner. The only fresh elements of the premiere either involve Elena and Damon’s relationship or the big college adventure with Elena and Caroline, but otherwise this is business as usual. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course, and a couple of the problems people had with season four have been improved upon over the break.

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We’ve lost the original family to their own spin-off series, but Mystic Falls doesn’t feel empty in the slightest. We begin the episode with Elena recounting who’s been sleeping with who over the summer in an email to Bonnie, who’s dictating her replies to corporeal boyfriend Jeremy so that no one notices she’s been dead for three months. Matt and Rebekah have been having threesomes (yes, really, on the CW) in Europe, Caroline has been packing for college and missing Tyler, and Katherine has been adjusting very badly to her newly human state. Who am I forgetting? Oh yes! Stefan’s still stuck in a box at the bottom of the lake and nobody cares. Poor Stefan.

If you saw Angel season four then you can pretty much guess what Stefan’s storyline consists of in this episode – lots of hallucinations about how much of mess his life is in. The thing is, on Angel at least his dream sequences revealed inner-demons we might not have explored otherwise. The Vampire Diaries version of this plot consists of an angel/devil on the shoulder scenario in which Damon tells him to turn his humanity off and Elena tells him to keep it on. The only thing that might make this a bit more interesting is the promo tease that these conversations have actually been two-way. We’ll have to wait and see.

A better example of The Vampire Diaries subverting expectations was how long it took for Stefan’s friends and family to realise Silas was actually Silas – I honestly thought this was going to take us through until Christmas. The only mystery here is how long it will take Damon to find out what’s happened to his brother, and Elena and Caroline are being kept out of things for now. What I really want from this season is for the girls to have a separate adventure in college while Jeremy and Damon take care of Mystic Falls business, at least for a while. That, and Bonnie finally being written out, and I’d be a happy viewer.

Because the prospect of Elena and Caroline as college students is a pretty exciting one. It doesn’t take long before a grand conspiracy rears its head, but there’s a lot of light humour to be milked from the troubles two vampires might have in a co-ed environment. If there’s one thing this show really needs, it’s a bit of lightness. And I can’t be the only one enjoying the Damon/Jeremy dynamic now that Elena isn’t around to be the nagging older sister. Elena has a dead roommate with a mysterious connection to deal with, and seeing Damon do his utmost to protect her from the latest town shenanigans is a nice little shift.

But, judging by the teaser for next week, I have no doubt that it’ll be guilt over Stefan that causes problems for Elena and Damon. Now that’s something I guarantee will be over before Christmas. This show loves itself a love triangle and, with Tyler finally leaving Caroline the inevitable breakup voicemail (good riddance – again!) and Klaus in New Orleans, this is pretty much the only love story left. Enjoy it while it lasts, Delena shippers. With Katherine back in the mix maybe one of the brothers will fall for her humanly wiles? It’d be a nice twist in the tale and a nice throwback to the creepy pursuit of Elena in season one.

A lot happened in this episode, but of course I can’t forget Matt. The producers have promised that Matt will actually have something to do this year, and we got started with a very strange encounter with one third of his previously mentioned threesome and her magic friend. They return his ring and then turn his eyes black. I have no idea what happened, but I’m just excited to see Matt have his own storyline. Is it related to the Silas’ big plan? Or will it involve Rebekah, who has now skipped over to New Orleans for her new show? I have absolutely no idea, and I like it.

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Next week will be all about Stefan and Damon’s insecurity over Elena’s concern for Stefan – another Thursday night with The Vampire Diaries in other words. Welcome back!

Read Caroline’s review of the season four finale, Graduation, here.

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