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Moving forward at a pace
on 7 June 2011
When I reviewed the first season of this show, I commented that its strength was keeping up the pace while still always serving the longer plot arc. I never felt like an episode was filler, everything always seemed to be moving somewhere and the number of twists and turns kept the ride interestng.
I'm pleased to say Season 2 keeps that up, and it also does a great deal to expand upon on and develop the core characters. I don't want to spoil anything for anybody who hasn't seen it, but Caroline and Tyler in particular have some excellent writing and progression this year. There are some absolutely brilliant new players in town, one of whom (Elijah) has become a great favourite of mine. The core chemistry between the three leads continues to sizzle, and Nina Dobrev in particular does an excellent job inhabiting two entirely different characters. It can be hard to keep up the tension in a triangle without having people get exasperated and "will you pick one and stick to it" but the writers do a good job of keeping things at a simmer without overdoing it. They also take care not to let the Salvatore brothers settle into two dimensional "good guy, bad guy" stereotypes - Damon may be dangerous but he never feels irredeemable, and Stefan may be a nice guy but there are always glimpses of the darker side within. That's important not just to keep the triangle plausible but to stop the whole thing being cliched and dull.
The stakes are raised and the show broadens its mythology, the performances and writing are consistently good... the show is keeping up the good work and hitting new strides without becoming convoluted or taking itself too seriously. Every time I thought someone or something had been too quiet, the next episode all was being revealed and the ongoing mystery kept me sucked in (pun intended). It's still a glossy teen drama, but it's far more than the fluff that such shows get stereotyped as. This is a really enjoyable bit of fantasy.