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62 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sexy, Shocking And Spellbinding, 5 Dec. 2010
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This review is from: The Vampire Diaries - Season 2 [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
For those of you who are familiar with 'The Vampire Diaries' you probably don't need to be reminded that it's a million miles away from 'Twilight' and that it's not just for teenagers. 'The Vampire Diaries' supernatural elements mixed with high school, romance, at least one shocking incident per episode and twists and turns in the plot to leave you on the edge of your seat, have all combined to create one of the most addictive shows on television. The show possesses a unique ability through the story-telling to continually challenge the viewer's perceptions of who a character is. So no-one is quite who they appear to be. Stefan has been shown to have a dark side, while everyone's favourite bad boy Damon stuns you by doing something surprisingly selfless and noble...an enemy could become an ally, and a friend could become an enemy.

This season, a lot of the questions that cropped up in the First Season are explained, particularly about why Elena looks exactly like Katherine. We find out a lot more about Katherine, going back to before she became a vampire in 1400s Bulgaria. Her return to Mystic Falls turns everything upside-down, and Stefan and Damon have to put their differences aside to protect the town and the people they love. Stefan has to face his inner demons, Damon has to come to terms with his destructive tendencies and his love for Elena, and Elena has to come to terms with the fact that her feelings for Damon might run deeper than friendship and that being connected to Katherine could mean losing everyone she loves.
Perhaps one of the slight weaknesses of Season One was trying to integrate characters who weren't involved in the supernatual aspects (like Caroline and Tyler) into the main story. The good news is, by creating the werewolf story, the curse and Katherine's determination to wreak havoc, Caroline, Jeremy, Tyler and Bonnie have a much bigger part to play in Season 2. Tyler in particular, has a big story and has really evolved since last season. We see more interactions with characters who before, didn't share a lot of screen time together and that helps to keep things fresh and interesting. We also see the development of two more love triangles possibly developing, in the shape of Matt/Caroline/Tyler and Jeremy/Bonnie and new guy Luka. There are new characters to meet - Tyler's Uncle Mason, and some new vampires including ancient 'Original' vampires Elijah and Klaus who are so deadly and powerful, they make Katherine and Damon look positively angelic in comparison. As more of the mythology is revealed, it becomes rather convoluted and dare I say it, cloudy at times. For example, I'm not sure if the writers have made it clear why Klaus wants to break the curse by sacrificing Elena, other than not wanting the werewolves to be the ones to do it. Also, as Katherine is herself a doppelganger, (she becomes a vampire to escape), then it must mean there was another one before her. Who was the first, and how many doppelgangers have there been? The more answers that are revealed, the more questions you find yourself asking.

I have to commend Nina's performances as Elena and Katherine. Playing two different characters (sometimes in different eras) could have been a handful for any actress, but she manages to juggle both effortlessly. She is completely convincing and brilliant as the manipulative seductress Katherine, and empathetic playing high school student Elena. I've read at least one review on Amazon from someone who discredits Nina's acting, but after watching her play two complex roles, I think any doubters will change their minds. I have one slight concern about Elena's character though. At the beginning of the season, say around episodes 4 and 5, I felt Elena was in danger of fading into a rather colourless character. I'm not sure if that's because she was being over-shadowed by powerful female figures like Caroline (who became doubly entertaining and really came into her own after she became a vampire), or due to a flaw in the writing, but I felt she was losing some of her independence and spark. Fortunately this problem (if it is a problem, it's just my opinion), is rectified fairly quickly.

As for the love triangle, the writers pull a jaw-dropping twist in the first episode and another at the end of episode 8. Dramatic twists aside however, the progression of the triangle between Stefan, Elena and Damon feels VERY slow at times; there are long lapses when nothing much seems to be happening between the three of them at all, often for 4 episodes at a time. Just when you think the triangle is finally showing signs of springing into action at the end of 2x10, with Stefan trapped in the tomb with Katherine, and Damon promising to protect Elena, the next episode totally veers off course and ultimately, nothing happens. I found this completely aggravating, not to mention, pointless. It seemed very strange for the writers to hint that things were being kicked up a notch, and then not do anything with the situation they'd created. I know that the triangle has got to last the length of the series, so it's undoubtedly a good sign that the writers are so painstakingly slow in its development. It certainly keeps you watching but you can't help wondering when, and how, this much discussed love triangle is really going to take off and start hotting up, particularly when Stefan and Elena, although cute, are far from satisfactory in the couples department. Maybe it's because they got together in about 10 episodes last season, more likely it's because they lack depth, but I feel like there's something missing in their scenes together. I can't help feeling that Elena and Damon have a dynamic that is more intense, exciting and intriguing. Weirdly enough, in spite of all the things he does, Damon can sometimes come across as being more human than the human characters on the show; probably because of the spectrum of emotions he goes through: vulnerable, heart-broken and desperate in his dealings with Elena and Katherine in 'The Return'; psychotic and menacing when torturing Mason. This season, we get much closer to Damon than we ever have before, including discovering a secret of his which is made all the more heart-rending and shocking because it's not what you would imagine it to be. Ian Somerhalder is fabulous as Damon and is nothing less than extraordinary, especially in 'The Return', 'The Descent' and the bathtub scene in 2x13. But I also have to single out Michael Trevino (Tyler) and the terrific Candice Accola (Caroline).

While the writers try to balance all the aspects of the show, this season has posed quite a challenge to them with the many different stories they are trying to tell. My overall feeling is that while it has made for gripping viewing, they have neglected the development of the love triangle, which is arguably the most important part of the show. It made me wonder if perhaps the writers were trying to do a bit too much. Case in point: 'The Dinner Party' episode. How did the dagger that was used to kill Elijah in the Salvatore mansion end up in the lakehouse?? If Season 2 has a weakness, it might be that it is overly ambitious, to the detriment of some of the story-telling. However, with the exception of the love triangle and some of the weaker moments, Season 2 is just as good as the first. There's a lot more action, a lot more plot twists which will leave you reeling, and a lot more of Damon. If you loved 'Twilight' but are disappointed with the films, then watch this. If you hated 'Twilight' and love vampires, then watch this. And if you loved the First Season, then this is a must-buy.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Dec 2010 13:39:23 GMT
Albedo says:
Thank you for all the spoilers! *irony off*

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Feb 2011 18:55:41 GMT
Mononoke says:
I agree completely! Fantastic review - until you drop the bombshell about Caroline becoming a vampire! Did not want to know that yet! URGH!!!

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Mar 2011 15:32:27 GMT
Last edited by the author on 1 Mar 2011 15:33:03 GMT
arbiter says:
have to agree - mostly.
That Tyler might be non-human was obvious, however, once you saw his eyes when the medics examined him. Werewolf was just a plausible choice.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Mar 2011 12:24:29 GMT
Joe Waters says:
Had you not seen any of the series on ITV 2? Only your comment dates back to february and it's been showing for a while now.

Posted on 25 Apr 2011 09:56:47 BDT
SallyQ says:
Very thorough review.
Answer to one of your questions about how the dagger happened to be in the lakehouse: while Elijah was locating Elena, Damon was already on his way to the lakehouse, he appears with "a little tip" not to remove the dagger.

Posted on 5 Jun 2011 16:18:45 BDT
CYL says:
Your review assumes the reader has already watched the season! Next time you post a review, it would be more considerate if you added the words, "SPOILER ALERT" before continuing...good job i've already seen both seasons!!

Posted on 3 Sep 2011 16:42:57 BDT
The curse that you say is a little vague, is mentioned when Alaric, Damon and Elena go to Isobels old place of work. The Aztec curse where they made Vampires creatures of the night and Wolves slave to the moon. Didn't think this would need explaining, for me it was obvious!

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Sep 2011 20:23:23 BDT
Last edited by the author on 3 Sep 2011 21:32:29 BDT
autumn says:
I think you might have misread my review. I didn't say that I thought the Aztec curse which Vanessa talks about in 2x03 was vague. I understand that perfectly. I meant why Klaus needed to sacrifice Elena. I understood why the werewolves wanted to kill her, so they wouldn't have to turn every full moon, but I didn't think the writers made it clear why breaking the curse (and therefore sacrificing Elena) was so important to Klaus. Originals aren't your average vampires, and unlike the rest of the Mystic Falls bunch, don't need to wear magical rings to be able to walk in the sun, so the idea that Klaus wanted to break the curse to lift the day/night restrictions seemed unneccessary and even absurd. (I guess it doesn't matter, because there's a huge twist later on in the season which turns everything on its head). I watched every episode when it was on TV, and when I tried to recall the specifics about why Klaus needed to sacrifice Elena other than because she was a Petrova doppelganger, I found that I just wasn't sure of the reasons at all. I don't think it's ever explained before the 'Klaus' episode. It's just 'The doppelganger is the key to breaking the curse; Elena is the doppelganger, Klaus is coming after her'. Klaus' reasons for wanting to break the curse and therefore kill Elena are never mentioned before 2x19.
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