All Killer or Just Filler? The Vampire Diaries Season 3
Posted by Sidekick Reviews
Exploring The Central Themes of The Vampire Diaries
If you have never seen The Vampire Diaries television series, it would be easy to dismiss it as another supernatural teen melodrama. Elena Gilbert is not your typical high school student. Her parents tragically passed away in car crash accident. Although there is always a bit of sadness in her heart she is not without hope. Her world changes when she falls in love with a new student, Stefan Salvatore, who happens to be a vampire that does not feed on humans. Complicating matters is Stefan’s older brother Damon Salvatore. Damon is also a vampire but lacks a moral conscience and will kill when he’s angry, hungry or just for fun. Both vampires are initially drawn to Elena because she looks identical to their past love Katherine, who is later revealed to be an ancestor of Elena. Developed by producers Julie Plec and Kevin Williamson (Dawson’s Creek, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer) The Vampire Diaries (TVD) is an exciting blend of mystery, horror and high-stakes drama. However is TVD just a rollercoaster ride of “vicious bloody vamp action” or are there more complex stories, character development and themes being explored?
More Human Than Human
Supernatural creatures in film, television and literature are often used to explore the human condition in conflict. In the campy horror movie Ginger Snaps, lycanthropy is an overt metaphor for a teenage girl’s transformation during puberty where the “curse” was not so much the full moon, but the 28 day cycle. When synthetic blood is created on HBO’s True Blood, vampires decide they no longer need to live in secret and “come out of the coffin”, living openly amongst humans and seeking equal rights. The myth of vampires can also be an allegory for the inevitability of isolation, power of seduction and fear of mortality.
On TVD, these issues are explored but the show’s real strength is in using the supernatural to showcase the importance of the struggle for existence through despair, suffering and loss. When a vampire is sired on TVD, their personal characteristics are greatly intensified, forcing them to either confront or give in to their deepest flaws and desires such as Stefan’s battle with his addiction to human blood. Further, vampires on TVD have the ability to turn on and off their humanity or moral conscience. On a show where a characters’s action and free will determine their development and meaning to exist, there is a deeply layered significance in Stefan’s choice to embrace humanity, life and love. However, in Season 3, episode 5’s “The Reckoning”, Stefan is forced by original vampire hybrid Klaus to turn off his humanity, resulting in his inability to feel remorse, empathy or guilt and thus removing any restraint to his dark impulsive nature. When Klaus allows Stefan to regain his free will in Season 3, episode 9’s Homecoming, there is not an immediate reversion to his former compassionate self, but rather the beginning to what will be a complicated journey of finding his purpose in life and on how to live it.
The writers of TVD are self-aware and acknowledge the concepts they are exploring as highlighted in an acerbic banter between Damon, Stefan’s vampire brother, and his good-natured human sidekick Alaric in Season 3, episode 11’s “Our Town”:
Alaric: “Is his [Stefan] humanity on or off?”
Damon: “Yeah, I`m thinking there`s another option here in play, a bit of a dimmer switch, which is a huge problem.”
Damon: Because I can`t predict how far he`s willing to go until somebody gets killed.”
Alaric: “Suddenly you care who lives or dies?”
Damon: “I have a small list.”
Alaric: “Talk about humanity dimmer switch.”
Damon: “Screw you.”
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Posted on February 6, 2012, in Television, The Vampire Diaries and tagged 15, 16, 17, 1912, All My Children, Damon, dangerous liaisons, Delena, Elena Gilbert, Episode, Existentialism, Ian Somerhalder, Joseph Morgan, Metaphor, Nina Dobrev, Our Town, Paul Wesley, Recaps, Review, Salvatore, Season 3, Stefan, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Vampires, Werewolf. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.