4 Reasons The Vampire Diaries is Spiraling into Mediocrity
The Vampire Diaries may have started out similarly to Twilight, but the show’s first season was miles better than anything the saga offered, and in my opinion, even superior to True Blood. The pacing was fast, the villain was charismatic and compelling, and the stakes were high with multiple deaths per episode. Showrunners Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec had crafted a tight, coherent narrative that boasted both great characters and an engrossing plot. That great show no longer exists. Now in its fifth season, The Vampire Diaries has become muddled with plot holes and storylines that go nowhere, characters no one cares about, and a mythology that is so convoluted it is impossible to understand. Here are the top four reasons The Vampire Diaries has lost the appeal it once held:
4. Mundane Villains
Let’s be honest –does anyone like or care about Silas? Or Wes? They aren’t even remotely scary. During Season One, Damon was perfection as the antagonist –he was truly frightening and ruthless (remember when he ripped out Coach Tanner’s throat? Or staked Lexi?), but we caught glimpses of humanity underneath that made his character so interesting and complex. He was snarky and funny and scary, all wrapped into one great character. When Katherine took over in Season Two, she too had all the makings of a great villain. She was often more intelligent than any of our heroes, which created engaging television because they had to work that much harder to defeat her. Klaus and the Originals grew wearisome after a few seasons, but they also started out as strong, interesting villains with a good backstory and rich personalities.
In Season Five, we have no investment in Silas or Wes. I’m relieved they closed the Silas chapter early in the season, because he was truly tiresome to watch. Listening to him recount his ridiculous plan to reunite with his love from 5,000 years ago was both dull and exasperating. Wes may have slightly more interesting goals but he’s a human, and quite easy to defeat if our heroes put in a modicum of effort. Let’s hope Damon soon delivers a sharp neck snap so we can move on to bigger and better things.
3. Character Misuse and Underuse
The Vampire Diaries sports a very strong supporting cast –Tyler, Matt, Bonnie, Jeremy and Caroline are all fantastic characters that add to the show in meaningful ways. Unfortunately, the show has forgotten they exist. Caroline has been relegated to storylines that solely revolve around her love interests –originally with Tyler, now with Klaus. Even her scenes with Stefan that started out as a great pairing of two very different characters have had a subtle romantic undertone in recent episodes, as if hinting of that eventual direction.
The scenes exemplifying the strong, female friendship between Bonnie and Elena and Caroline have become scarce; we rarely see the girls interact without at least one of the men present. Bonnie’s emotional journey is almost nonexistent; she came back to life without her powers, yet this remains unexplored despite the fact that the show could easily tap into a rich emotional chord with it. Tyler flits in and out of the show so often it has lost any narrative value at this point. And Matt, the human who is supposed to ground the show, has been lacking any complex storyline for seasons upon seasons now. Instead of focusing on the onslaught of new characters who come and die within five episodes, the show should go back to writing for their original characters whom we are actually invested in.
2. Convoluted Mythology
Back when there was just a tomb underneath the Church full of vampires from 1864, life was a lot easier. I’m not opposed to expanding the mythology –the story needs to go somewhere –but the way in which the show has approached this for the last few seasons is torturous. There is the Hunter mythology compiled with the Original mythology and the Other Side, not to mention Silas and Qetsiyah’s story spanning years earlier –it’s exhausting. It is impossible to keep track of and has numerous plot holes that I cannot even begin to start sifting through. Add in the new Doppelganger destiny they’re trying to create and I am quite unimpressed. Keeping the mythology simple and concise would be to the benefit of this show that has quite enough already going on.
1. Loss of Character Development
One of the things I originally loved about The Vampire Diaries was lack of stasis; the characters were constantly evolving and changing, with villains becoming heroes and heroes committing questionable acts. Damon’s character arc, in particular, was very well done –he started off as a one-note, snarky antagonist who went through some heavy character growth and fell in love with a girl he was not supposed to. He struggled all through season two with his murderous instincts and desire to be a better man, and came out of it an at least somewhat changed person. Seasons three and four were consistent with this –he would have lapses in judgment, but always realize what the right path was.
Fast-forward to Season Five, and the writers have completely undone all that great character development. Damon is back to murdering people without consequence; how is draining Aaron after Elena (aka Katherine) broke up with him any better than snapping Jeremy’s neck when Elena rejected him way back in Season Two? Damon has become a better person that that, and although Enzo was egging him on, he’s not the same character I used to know and love. Stefan fares no better; somehow every other character on the show seems to forget he used to murder thousands of people sans remorse, and presents him with the halo of an angelic character who has done no wrong. These characters have become caricatures of their former selves. Even Elena has lost any semblance of the smart, strong girl we used to know. Vampirism may have been good for Caroline, but has lost Elena her backbone.
The Vampire Diaries is currently suffering from multiple narrative issues and needs to go back to its roots –character-driven plot with effective twists that maintain the integrity of its characters and keep us interested. It continues to have the potential for great storytelling and I hope the latter half of Season Five is more successful than what we’ve been seeing recently.
What do you think? Leave a comment.