The Vampire Diaries: Complete Season 2 - Review
Review by Jack Foley
SO MUCH happens on an episode to episode basis of The Vampire Diaries that it’s often difficult to remember what marked the start and finish of a season. It’s both a strength and a weakness.
While certainly capable of keeping fans on their toes, it also lacks any sustained tension while employing a fair amount of what I would call ‘cheats’.
Hence, characters who seemingly perish often return and existing characters never seem to learn the lessons of past mistakes.
As with a lot of vampire-human relationship dramas (from Twilight to True Blood), there’s also a lot more interest in the bloodsucking side of things than the human… whose ‘frustrating’ heroines often feel anaemic in terms of being fleshed out.
That’s not to say The Vampire Diaries is bad; merely average but perfectly watchable. For every great episode or story surprise, there’s something routine or predictable waiting in the wings.
So, what of this sophomore season? The highlights included the developing relationship between Candice Accola’s vampire Caroline and Michael Trevino’s new werewolf Tyler, particularly around the midway point of the season when the former had to help the latter cope with his violent transformation.
Indeed, the episode entitled By The Light of the Moon contained genuine emotional resonance as Tyler got to grips with his fears and underwent the painful process. It was an exciting highpoint of the season.
Also strong was the continued evolution of Ian Somerhalder’s bad boy Damon, as he struggled to hide his feelings for Nina Dobrev’s Elena, battled dual enemies Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and Elijah (Daniel Gillies) and frequently attempted to save his brother, Stefan (Paul Wesley).
Somerhalder has long since been the most fascinating aspect of The Vampire Diaries, combining out and out sex appeal with danger and vulnerability. And while continually prone to stupid decision making (supposedly to move forward the plot), he remains a fascinating and complex character who retains an element of unpredictability.
Attempts to add darkness and depth to Wesley’s Stefan show glimpses of interest, particularly towards the end of the season as the writers look to set things up for Season 3, but Dobrev’s Elena remains a tiresome object of affection (who continually seems to want to sacrifice herself, yawn)… much like the tedious romantic fumblings of Elena’s brother, Jeremy (Steven R McQueen) and put-upon witch Bonnie (Katerina Graham).
The final episode decision to revive a seemingly expired Jeremy from the dead and thereby bring back the dead women of his past poses some interesting questions moving forward, but also highlights the show’s weakness for bringing back characters and thereby depriving anyone’s death of long-lasting resonance. The question is more frequently, ‘are they really dead?’, as opposed to ‘how could they do that?’ Or even: “How audacious!”
That said, The Vampire Diaries remains watchable enough, if only to see how Somerhalder continues to smoulder and grow in the role and the manner in which they further the various love triangles and mystical elements (we now have witches and wolves to add to the vamps).
Season three should maintain its popularity… although where we’ll be come the end of another 24 episodes is anyone’s guess.
UK DVD Release: August 22, 2011