The Vampire Diaries Season Premiere Review: Welcome to the Ripper Road Show!

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Pretty much everything has been turned on its head since we last visited Mystic Falls, Virginia, but it's a testament to The Vampire Diaries' consistently strong writing and acting that it already feels so normal.

Call it a new, bloody normal.

From the opening sequence to a vintage TVD shocker just before the the credits rolled, "The Birthday" was a wild ride, one that reaffirmed why the series has become a personal favorite and one of TV's best.

My great fear has been that the producers will take too many creative liberties, given the endless possibility offered by the genre, and deviate from the compelling characters and story arcs that define the show.

One episode into Season 3, consider those fears assuaged.

Klaus, Chilling

We knew after last season's finale that Stefan would enter a dark period, but boy, they didn’t waste any time prepping us for what he's become. The switch has been flipped, and a full-blown ripper has appeared.

He doesn't just kill, he gets into it, toying with victims, maybe even making them plunge 50 feet to their doom to switch it up. He even has a signature, reassembling dismembered corpses after the thirst is quenched and remorse sets in.

Like several of his co-stars, Paul Wesley looked the part of a transformed character, even if a look was all it took. He's outwardly menacing, inwardly empty (and the backlit silhouette of him in the studio was eerily awesome).

Still, we've gotten to know Stefan and what an upstanding guy he is for two years now, and we know his current position resulted from the ultimate self-sacrifice. So we actually find ourselves sympathetic toward the ripper. Amazing.

It's the kind of moral gray area and character extrapolation The Vampire Diaries executes so brilliantly against the backdrop of supernatural mayhem, of which there was plenty tonight. Where do we even begin?!

Hitting the road with a hybrid: A real blood-guzzler as it turns out. Fun as it is watching Stefan kill people on its own merit, Klaus' intentions became clear from the get-go: Find werewolves. Create a master race.

This formidable task makes sense in that he actually needs a wingman to help make it happen, and lends itself to so many possibilities the season. Will it work? How will it work? And will the Stefan of old ever return?

Judging by the tearful phone call at the end, he's not dead inside yet.

Ian Promo Pic

Damon goes CSI: Now the restrained, reasoned Salvatore brother, Damon was a busy guy tonight. He was in what appeared to be a real relationship with Andy before Stefan put an end to that/her.

He was usually drinking. He was sometimes clothed.

Most significantly, Damon bestowed upon Elena a birthday gift: her necklace. The way he put it on her, then escorted her downstairs was quite romantic and more than enough to keep the Delena worshippers' hopes alive.

Will they ever really be together, though? Their mutual love for Stefan is a driving force behind their bond. Delena may never be Delena in the romantic sense, but that doesn't mean they're not electric to watch.

Werewolf-on-vampire action: Gulp. I assumed Caroline and Tyler were dating at the onset, but they weren't, much to my chagrin and hers. Then she let him know it, they discussed their mutual hornballocity and then ... holy crap.

The sexual tension was out of control, and the sex itself was even more out of control. Their chemistry is a treat to watch, and not only when half-naked - their back-and-forth exchanges offered some legitimately fun moments.

The girl essentially c--kblocked him with her eyes. Things only vampires can pull off.

Of course, Tyler's mom caught her sneaking out, then GUNNED HER DOWN. It wouldn't be TVD without a good gasp around the 8:59 mark, would it? Caroline was (I think) only shot with a sedative or something, so she'll live.

It's bad, though. What Mrs. L. knows about, and has planned for her is anyone's guess.

Ghost hunters: Jeremy, as we know, is seeing his dead girlfriends - one of whom is his friend's sister - as ghosts nowadays. But it appears they don't stop to chat, instead haunting him haphazardly and without explanation.

We didn't learn too much about what this entails, but it did set up a great bromance between Jeremy and Matt, who's apparently along for this ride - like it or not. Hate to say it, but it beats pining for Caroline, Matty.

Matt and Caroline Scene

It's hard to imagine a better start to the season. A few random, closing thoughts:

  • Like Parenthood's Adam Braverman, Alaric is a mess, stuck in that in-between phase. It'll pass, man.
  • How good was the music tonight? More so than usual, I thought. So appropriate for every scene.
  • Just of few of the best lines this evening: “Hello, brother.” - Stefan. “It’s your party, you can cry if you want to.” - Damon. “I love you Stefan. Hold on to that. Never let that go.” - Elena
  • Best exchange in my living room: Wife: "Since when does Matt smoke pot?" Myself: "Since when does Jeremy smoke pot?" Wife: "Dude, Jeremy's kind of a lost soul as it is, now he sees dead people." Myself: "Fair point."
  • Hottest scene: Caroline and Tyler, or the gratuitous Ian Somerhalder nudity? You decide. Win-win.
  • What happens if Caroline gets pregnant in that situation? Can she? How does that work, the cross-breeding and all. Just curious, they seem into each other. This could come up down the line. Or tomorrow.

We'll be back tomorrow to continue our coverage of "The Birthday," including our Round Table discussion, and begin discussing next week's Vampire Diaries episode. For now, sound off with your comments below!


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (545 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


@halima also stefan would be dead if not for damon (let the right one in and rose) but why do the ripper should care.he has a girlfriend that loves him and friends and the most powerful vampire protecing him.and that person took away the only woman damon had in his life...andie,does that name tells you something(damon was caring for her and stefan killed her in front of damon and he was such an ass that didn't gine damon the chancto save her)...and he would have an excuse if the original stefan was gone but some of the old stefan is still inside him!!stefan is sooo not worth of stefan.she deserves better.and for what is worth he does nto deserve her love.i mean i read that stefan will get worst and the fact that elena told him to hang on to her love and never let go did not prevent him to become that so called ripper!!! p.s sorry for my english!!!


Such a good season premiere. The writers are SO GOOD. So are the actors. I can't think of another perfect combination that can beat this level of storytelling on television right now. Cried so much already and it's only the first episode. MINDBLOWN.


Gr8 episode!wat a way to start S3!


lovein all the delena ans stelena actions loving teh tyler and Caroline i love the entire episode very entertain cant wait till next week


The song is called "Drop in the Ocean" by Ron Pope.


so excited,stelena for eternity,damon needs to understand that if not for stefan both him and elena would have been dead,stefan made damon become a vampire,nd saved him wen the tomb vamps were burned,he saved elena's wen she had an accident with her parents,they should hold watever feelings they hv for each other back,and elena shouldn't be angry with stef for keeping secret of his ripper ages frm her coz dat's the same case with her as jenna,she shouldn't blame him,no matter what d gud in stefan's heart will overcome dt bad,and 1 day 1 time he will probably come back.

Leigh r

@vamp - the song was Cobra Starship, you make me feel like

Leigh r

Great episode to kick off the season. I love how they all suddenly know everything about each other, the supernatural world isn't as much of a secret within the main group. Hottest scene: Caroline and Tyler, def. Missed this show, so glad it's back!!!


I absolutely LOVED this episode, Stefan going all ripper on Andie!!! Omg did NOT see that coming. And I loved the tyler and caroline scenes (its about time!), both the witty banter and the romantic scenes. I also loved tyler saying what was on everyone elses mind "but you kissed him", I laughed a little at Caroline and Elena's reactions... I just wish there had been some kind of confrontation between Damon and Elena about the events of the finale, I guess I was hoping things would FINALLY move forward a bit (at the same time though, I admit it would be kind of out of character for elena, specially with Stefan gone). Oh and that phone call, yeah I teared up a little, not gonna lie. Oh and WTF! Nooo Caroline!!! Honestly, when am I gona learn that you can't relax until the very last second with this show!!!


Cried when I saw Stefan crying as he was holding back EVERYTHING he ever wanted to say to Elena. Perfectly done! I am thinking that the teddy bear and card was from Stefan. :) adorbs!
Anyone else pissed at Damon?! I get he is mad at his brother for going off, becoming what he wanted, and then killing Andy, but the ENTIRE time he was destroying Stefan's room I went back to when Stefan was telling Elena in season 1 that his room is filled with every only the things he thought were worth holding onto and it's the only thing that stays constant. That messy room is now not constant.
I am okay with Bonnie being gone. Could have done without the phone call of J and B.
STEVEN R MCQUEEN U ARE GETTING HOTTER AND HOTTER! DANG! Keep him on the screen for the entire show, I wouldn't complain.
Poor Alaric. You are a great role model for them. That's why they never kicked you out. You can't let Elena now try and do this all on her own. She's lost too. His face after he saw the head role off was eeh. SIDE NOTE- Elena's reaction to naked Damon = PERFECTION. Thanks in part to Ian putting on elephant ears when she wasn't looking and when she turned around "to get real life shocked look" worked! Only VD would be able to think of that and care that much to how real they want reactions. 1 for 1 already KEEP IT UP VD!

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The Vampire Diaries Season 3 Episode 1 Quotes

It's your party. You can cry if you want to.


Hello, brother.