It’s only been a month and TVD fever is still going strong! So, I’ve decided to re-watch the episodes starting from season 1. This time around, I want to take it slow and observe the characters more closely – their subtle expressions and actions.
The story begins with Elena returning to school after a summer break during which she lost both of her parents in a car accident. After months of grieving, she’s finally trying to turn her life around. Her two best friends from elementary school are Bonnie and Caroline, while Matt is another close friend whom she dated for a while before breaking up with him.
On the very first day of her return, Elena met Stefan. They clicked almost instantly and fell for each other quickly without much chasing needed between them. Despite Stefan being a vampire, Elena accepted him as he was and wished to continue seeing him.
Stefan’s handsome brother Damon intrigued her – it was hard for her to comprehend how such a selfish and careless person could exist who always tried to make Stefan’s life miserable.
Let’s take one character at a time to understand their roles in season 1.
Season 1 introduces Bonnie as a pure and simple girl who knows about her family’s witchcraft heritage. Her grandmother Sheila is also a powerful character in this season. Bonnie has a love-hate relationship with the Salvatore brothers throughout, as witches and vampires aren’t natural friends. Despite this, she rescues them multiple times for Elena’s happiness and Stefan’s goodwill. I appreciate how Bonnie becomes one of the Salvatore brothers’ best friends in later seasons.
Caroline acted immature and insensitive in season 1, always judging others. She competed with Elena but failed to draw the right attention. Despite being interested in Stefan from the start, he didn’t reciprocate her feelings. Caroline could be shallow at times but had a good heart and tried to do what was right. Unfortunately, she fell victim to careless Damon who abused her by feeding on her blood and compelling her to do his dirty work. This allowed him to keep Stefan in check and free Katherine from the tomb. We can’t forget how evil Damon was in season 1!
Matt was the only character who had to work to pay his bills. His family life was rough: his father was absent, his sister Vicky was a drug addict, and his mother lived somewhere else with her boyfriend. Matt’s mother attempted to make amends but couldn’t get things right with her son. She disapproved of Caroline as Matt’s girlfriend, while Caroline made out with Damon and Tyler on two different occasions – making it extremely awkward for Matt. Despite this, their human relationship was nice to see as they tried to be there for each other. However, Matt wasn’t over Elena yet and Elena almost innocently brought herself between them which wasn’t fair to the relationship or Caroline.
I hated Vicky, Matt’s sister. She had a crush on Tyler and was also playing with Jeremy. Damon turned her into a vampire, making her a threat to Elena and Jeremy. Stef staked her to save them both.
Lexi and her boyfriend
Stefan’s best friend, Lexi, arrived in town to celebrate his birthday. Stefan and Elena were unsure about their feelings for each other, but Lexi encouraged them to pursue a relationship. Tragically, Damon killed Lexi on the same day – he claimed it was necessary for the greater good. Later on, Lexi’s boyfriend sought revenge against Damon and wanted him dead. However, Elena intervened and convinced him not to kill Damon.
From the friendly history teacher to vampire hunter, we have everything for Alaric. He was originally seeking revenge against Damon, who he believed had killed his wife. However, after learning that Damon had actually turned his wife, Isobel into a vampire at her request, Alaric’s heart was broken and he changed his mind about seeking vengeance. Instead, he became one of Damon’s companions.
Isobel and Uncle John Gilbert
Well, we now know about Elena’s birth parents. It turns out to be the same person Alaric was married to: Isobel. She returned as a vampire not as a mother, but rather to retrieve something for her vampire friends that was in Salvatore brothers’ possession. By the end of season 1, she confessed that she left her loving husband because of her fascination with vampirism – something she deeply regretted afterwards. John Gilbert wasn’t a kind man; he was a ruthless vampire hunter who aimed to eliminate all blood suckers in town. However, there were only few instances where he truly cared for his family – Elena and Jeremy.
We see many sides of Damon in the first season. He goes from not caring about others to wanting to do things right. Despite fights and rivalry, he was the brother Stefan needed. With his charm and wit, Damon successfully infiltrated the secret council run by the founder’s family – an irony given that he is a vampire on a committee meant to kill vampires for humans. Caroline’s mother Elizabeth Forbes became a good friend of Damon over time, despite him abusing Caroline in season 1. His purely platonic friendship with Liz only grew stronger as the seasons went on.
Damon pined for Katherine (the common love interest of the Salvatore brothers) for 145 years while she was stuck in a tomb. He did everything he could to get back to her, only to realize that Katherine wasn’t there after all those years of making arrangements for her release – she never bothered contacting him at all. It wasn’t easy seeing Stefan and Elena together (especially since Elena looked exactly like his lost love), but eventually Damon started developing feelings towards Elena too. His love for her transformed him into a better person who had long been lost in love and lust for Katherine.
Season 1 Stefan is the virtuous vampire – self-righteous and surviving on animals instead of humans. He seemed to be trying too hard, overcompensating for his blood-addicted alter ego. We learn that he creepily stalked Elena for months because she looked like his ex Katherine. Despite this, Stefan saved Elena in a car accident where she lost her parents and was always the hero except for his stalking and desire for human blood. Stef would blame himself for everything bad that happened around him but still found redeeming qualities in selfish Damon, even helping him find Katherine so Damon could be happy too.
After accidentally feeding on human blood, Stefan went rogue while fighting to maintain his good side. However, nobody’s innocent here: back when Katherine was playing with both brothers as a vampire, she only loved Stef and turned him into one too before being captured and taken away. To avoid being alone, Stefan turned Damon against his will despite Damon wanting to die as a human since Katherine was already gone.
The tomb vampires
Back in the day, Katherine and all the other vampires in town were captured by humans and held captive in a tomb. Katherine escaped without anyone knowing. The other vampires got out of the tomb to search for her and wreaked havoc as revenge. Anna’s mother, Pearl, was also captive. Anna befriended Jeremy to find clues to open the tomb and eventually fell in love with him. Pearl returned but died later that season as well.
Elena’s brother, Jeremy, was a lonely drug addict. Losing his parents at a young age had a significant impact on him. He found solace in Vicky, but she wasn’t committed to their relationship. After Vicky passed away, Anna entered his life. It was then that Jeremy discovered the existence of vampires and learned that Elena had been keeping important information from him.
In my opinion, Jeremy seemed like an aimless individual who lacked direction.
Among all the human characters, Tyler was probably the worst. He was a bully in season 1 and used Vicky for entertainment. He tried to mess with Stefan even when Stef meant no harm. Some of Tyler’s other deeds included making out with Matt’s mom and getting into a fight with Matt. By the end of the season, Tyler lost his dad, who was also the town mayor.
Last but not least, let’s discuss Elena. Although she is the story’s main protagonist, she isn’t the purest soul. It’s commendable that Elena religiously writes in her journal after every day’s crazy events. As a mere human teenager among 100+ year old vampires, she was brave and adventurous – or maybe extremely foolish! She was mentally strong and didn’t leave Stefan’s side after learning his true nature or when he lost control due to blood addiction. She became a good friend to Damon despite their initial rocky relationship. Elena could see beyond Damon’s selfish actions and justified them as his unworldly love for Katherine. Let us also mention how Elena manipulated the Salvatore brothers on multiple occasions – always being the one to do it whenever Stefan or Damon had to be tricked. While it is indeed impressive, if you can manipulate those who love you so much, what guarantees that you wouldn’t misuse your power over them? This is something I wonder about in general.
She kept on reassuring Stefan about her love for him…
Damn it, girl! Elena was lying to herself more than anything else – a fact that becomes clearer in later seasons. One major event of season 1 was the secret council’s vampire hunt operation. A group of tomb vampires had planned revenge and were captured with a secret device, then locked up and burned to death. Stefan saved Damon with Bonnie’s help, but others like the mayor (who may have been a werewolf) and Jeremy’s girlfriend Anna died in the fire along with many other supernatural creatures. Caroline, who was still human at the time, ended up hospitalized after a car accident.
Overall in season 1, Stefan and Elena were caught up in puppy love – they seemed perfectly good for each other but it could be kind of boring if you thought about it too hard… On the other hand, Damon kept things unpredictable for Elena by always keeping her questioning her own morals. However, whenever Damon was around, Elena would pull Stefan closer as if she didn’t feel any spark between them.
Season 1 ends with Damon realizing Elena’s positive influence on him, making him kinder and more compassionate. He kisses her in front of her house.