I saw the Season 6 premiere of “The Vampire Diaries” last week and you've perhaps already seen my post with a handful of teases courtesy of showrunner Caroline Dries, who did a Q&A with a few reporters afterwards.
At the time, I held off on any spoilers beyond mentioning that just about everybody was handling the aftermath of last season's finale with varying degrees of sadness, self-hatred and mourning.
Now maybe I can talk a bit more about the premiere, which I thought was more mired in the aftermath of the Season 5 finale than progressing the narrative in ways I wanted to see in upcoming episodes.
I don't have time for a full review or recap, but after the break, I've got a handful of thoughts, all involving spoilers, obviously…
*** So Bonnie & Damon are trapped in 1994? You may see the warm lighting and comfortable looking cabin and assume that Bonnie and Damon are spending their downtime in some rustic version of Purgatory or Heaven or whatever. I hear Collective Soul's “Shine” and see Damon in red flannel and I'm assuming that they traveled back in time and they're stuck in the early '90s. If we return next week and Damon has a soulpatch and they're listening to Candlebox, you'll know I'm right.
*** Elena is the Border Lurker? Oh. Is that bad? So we have one scene with a semi-innocent co-ed getting noshed on by a figure with long hair and that's supposed to be enough for us to be invested in the revelation that Elena has gone a little bit rogue? Nope. For that to be a worthwhile twist, I needed a couple episodes of unexplained attacks, plus an investigation. I needed to wonder if the Border Lurker was a potential Big Bad for the season, if he or she was a threat to our heroes. Instead, it was just like… OK.
*** Elena/Damon = Fitz/Simmons? I saw this “Vampire Diaries” before the “Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” premiere with its revelation that a brain-damaged Fitz is hallucinating conversations with gal-pal Simmons, but there seems to be a lot of this in the TV water. But Elena getting psychotropic drugs from Witch Boy to let her subconscious trick her into seeing Damon is a sad, but effective way of cheating Damon's absence. By the way, did you know that Elena and Jeremy have done a lot of grieving for loved ones? Would you still have known if the premiere hadn't told you four or five times? I wonder about the chicken-and-egg of Nina Dobrev excelling as a crier and the “Vampire Diaries” team consistently giving her more recent to cry. Steven McQueen, though? Mostly sullen this episode.
*** Looks like we're getting a lot of Witch Twins this season. When Liv and Luke were introduced last season, I never got the impression we were supposed to think they were long-term players in this universe, or at least I never invested in them like they were going to survive the finale. But now Luke is giving Elena drugs and Liv is making witchy eyes — appropriate, at least — at Tyler, even though Tyler is dealing with rage issues and shouldn't be a romantic prospect for anybody for a while.
*** Looks like we're spending time at college this season. For a few weeks, “The Vampire Diaries” had fun with the college setting last year, but then the rest of the season either ignored college or just used college as the random site for the vampire-experimenting laboratory, which could have been anywhere, probably. But suddenly Elena has decided that she's going to be pre-med and we all need to ponder if there's a realistic intro pre-med course that's going to be allowing students to walk rounds at a hospital — even as glorified candy stripers — on their first day of class. I genuinely appreciated that Elena seemed to not only be doing her homework, but working ahead in that class, so she wasn't just using the class as a reason to have access to blood bags.
*** College also means Alaric. Welcome back, Matt Davis. Let's forget that “Cult” ever happened, eh? Oddly, I didn't find it all that absurd that Alaric is now teaching college classes at Whitmore, though I admit that I'd forgotten the exact logistics of what his supernatural status was. The answer mostly just seems to be “He's a vampire.” Well, OK. He's still learning the ropes and he's forgotten how to flirt? That's thin, but I'm sure he'll have more value later. And I'm sure the show needed him back.
*** We've lost Caroline. Somebody needs to find her. No, not literally. But we've lost the sexy, sassy, smart, capable Caroline from the second and third and some of the fourth season. Caroline wasted last season pining away for Tyler and then getting the first hints of feelings for Stefan, but now she's… Doing what exactly? She's dropped out of school. She's loitering on the outskirts of Mystic Falls. And she's trying to figure out spells to lift the spell/curse on Mystic Falls. So that she can do what, exactly? It's not like her mom isn't coming out and having picnics with her. Having Caroline sitting around with books is a poor use of Caroline. Use Caroline better. Candice Accola deserves better.
*** Why is Matt letting Caroline do what she's doing? Nobody has had a rougher time due to supernatural happenings in Mystic Falls than Matt and he says as much. He's working out with a vigilante group headed by the Maytag Man — Colin Ferguson's Tripp leads the Community Protection Squad — but there's nothing bad really happening in Mystic Falls. So they're preparing just in case there are crimes that need their attention, but Matt knows that Caroline is plotting to break the spell. Why is he letting her? Have a spine, Matt!
*** “Stefan: Grouchy Mechanic” wouldn't be a popular spinoff. Stefan's plotline in the premiere: He complained about his paycheck, had sex with a character nobody bothered to really introduce to us and told Elena he'd given up on finding Damon, which we don't believe at all. Oh, who am I kidding. “Sexy Mechanic Stefan” would be a totally popular spinoff.
*** Nobody said the word “doppelgänger.” Thank God.
This doesn't count as a “thought” about the “Vampire Diaries” premiere, but Monday's “The Originals” premiere is terrific. As I said on Twitter, I think “The Originals” has become the better show at this moment or, at the very least, it has become the show with the clearest sense of narrative momentum. “The Vampire Diaries” never lacked for momentum before, but this premiere was a bit more place-setting than I might have wanted.
So… Where do you think Bonnie and Damon are? What do you think Tripp's true motivation is? How did you feel about having so little Salvatore action in the premiere? And what'd you think of “I'll Remember”?