The Vampire Diaries doesn't waste any time introducing viewers to a cool, scary, intriguing new world. The pilot episode kicks off with the murder of two Mystic Falls, Virgina residents. While the local news will report that an animal attack was to blame, we'll later learn the truth.
From there, we meet Elena. She's a high school student now living with her aunt because her parents were killed in a car crash. The episode takes place during the first day of the new school year, as Elena and brother Jeremy must face their fellow classmates for the first time since the accident.
Jeremy is clearly still affected, as he's resorted to selling drugs in the school's courtyard, while smoking up himself.
Elena, meanwhile, tries her best to tell everyone that she's fine, but good friend Bonnie can see right through it. She's also the first person to notice Stefan Salvatore, a new kid in school.
He captures the attention of every student, but only seems interested in one of them: Elena. He stares at her throughout a class they share together, much to the annoyance of Elena's ex-boyfriend, Matt. (We later learn that Elena and Matt broke up soon after her parents' death; he still pines for her, but seems mature about the situation for now.)
After school, we see Elena writing in her journal at the cemetery, directly in front of her parents' gravestone. All of a sudden, the fog grows dense and a crow lands on the gravestone. Elena freaks out, runs away, falls, gets up and then sees Stefan. They speak briefly, but as soon as Elena rolls up her pants to reveal a bloody cut, Stefan bolts.
Fast forward to a coffee house/pool hall, where many students hang out after school. Jeremy tries to talk to Matt's sister, Vicki, but she's all over a guy named Tyler. Once Jeremy finally gets her alone, the truth comes out: the two slept together all summer, but now she's done with him. She's moved on to Tyler, even though Jeremy warns her that he just wants her for her "ass."
As Elena leaves home to meet Bonnie at the establishment, she runs smack into Stefan. He's shown up at her house to apologize for his behavior at the cemetery. They make small talk and Elena invites him to the coffee house.
Once there, everyone is talking about this unexpected twosome. Tyler tries to help his friend, Matt, out by spilling beer on Stefan, who reacts to it calmly and intensely. He excuses himself for the evening.
When Stefan gets home to his uncle's place. his uncle chides him for "coming back" to Mystic Falls. He also brings up the aforementioned murdered couple and accuses Stefan of taking them out because he can't fight who he is. Stefan claims he didn't do it and retires to his room. He then opens up an old book and stares at the photo of a woman named Katherine. Her life appears to have spanned the late 19th century - and she looks exactly like Elena.
The next night, the entire study body gathers in the woods for a party. Stefan and Elena bond there, as she even tells him about her parents' accident. At one point, though, Stefan makes an excuse about getting them fresh drinks because his eyes and skin are starting to go into vampire mode again. While he's gone, we're taken to Vicki and Tyler making out, away from the party. He tries to go too far, she says no and Jeremy makes a save.
Tyler leaves, Vicki tells Jeremy she can take care of herself and walks away. But she doesn't get far: something (or someone?!?) attacks her. Jeremy later stumbles upon the body, the police are called and Stefan makes a getaway during the commotion.
In the hospital later in the episode, Vicki wakes up and can only get one word out to her brother, sitting bedside: vampire...
Meanwhile, Stefan arrives home, goes upstairs and a crow flies into his room. When he turns around, his eyes fall upon a face he hasn't seen in 15 years: his brother, Damon.
These two have a not-so-friendly conversation, which leads to an intense fight. We learn the following pieces of information during each:
- Damon knows of Katherine and of Elena. He mentions how much the latter looks like the former;
- Damon killed the couple that we saw at the outset of the episode;
- He also chewed up Vicki, but appeared to have left her alive in order to cause problems for Stefan;
- Both siblings wear a ring. It enables them to survive and live normally in the sunlight;
- Damon is considerably stronger than his brother. The reason? Stefan has stopped feasting on human beings.
We end the episode with Stefan stopping back at Elena's house. It's been quite the night for both of them. Elena invites Stefan inside, he accepts and the door closes on this fascinating first entry in The Vampire Diaries saga.