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21 March 2011 @ 07:28 pm
Central character per episode (The Vampire Diaries), part 3  
Continuing on with this project, here is part three in listing and explaining who I think the central character per episode of The Vampire Diaries is. As before, here is what I based my choice upon:
    1) Which character had the strongest emotional arc
    2) Which character drove the most story
    3) Which character had the most key focus in their scenes (and in scenes not involving them)
    4) Which character interacted with the most characters
First of all, these are the characters that I consider lead: Elena, Damon, Stefan, and the secondary leads are Caroline and Bonnie -- they've driven multiple episodes, and have been the lead B-story in more than a few episodes), They are all regular cast members and main characters (ie, even though Katherine is played by lead actress Nina Dobrev, I don't consider Katherine one of *the* main characters). Alaric, Jeremy, Vicki, Jenna, Tyler and Matt fall under the supporting roles for me. While we've seen them lead some stories, it's at the most the B-story, and more often than not, they are supporting.

- Central Character Per Episode (The Vampire Diaries), part 1
- Central Character Per Episode (The Vampire Diaries), part 2


SEASON ONE, Episodes 21-22, SEASON TWO, Episodes 01-08

1.21 - "Isobel" | Elena Gilbert -- Other than Alaric, whose main concern was (understandably) Isobel, practically every other character acts/reacts in relation to Elena. Everything that Damon, Stefan and Bonnie do is for or asked of them by Elena. And except for the final scene with Alaric, all of Isobel's actions are driven by Elena. Even the Matt, Tyler and Caroline scenes have a hand in Elena's story due to Isobel's need to control her, and Jeremy's sole purpose in the episode is to be bait to get Elena hopping to Isobel's beat.

1.22 "Founder's Day" | Damon Salvatore -- While all of the main characters have mini-plots that weave and intersect, and are driven by their own actions and motivations, Damon's actions and motivations are by far the strongest. He is now driven by his feelings for Elena and the town, as well as his own emerging humanity, making quite a difference from the vampire who showed up at the start of the season. Also, by nature of the fact that it is because of Damon that the tomb vampires were released, he ultimately drove the most story since almost everything that happened was driven by that release. He was the key focus in all of his scenes, as well as the focus in scenes not featuring him, and he interacted with the biggest variety of players. So Damon it is to close the season out.

2.01 "The Return" | Damon Salvatore -- Despite wrapping up several cliffhangers from the finale, this episode was definitely Damon-focused. He played a part in almost every story (including Caroline's -- something he wasn't a part of in "Founder's Day"), and interacted with practically every character featured (minus only John, Tyler and Matt). Damon was also the focus -- at some point -- of every character that he interacted with, and there was discussion about him in scenes where he didn't appear. We also saw him with the strongest emotional arc, as the guy pretty much ran through almost every single emotion possible.

2.02 "Brave New World" | Caroline Forbes -- After the shocking close of "The Return," this episode explored Caroline big-time. The strongest arc was easily hers as she went from freaking out to ignoring the turn before falling apart when it reared its head, killing someone, almost being killed herself to finally ending the episode on a calm, more confident note. We also saw her interact with several other characters, and she was much of the focus of Elena, Bonnie, Stefan, Matt and Damon's scenes.

2.03 "Bad Moon Rising" | Caroline Forbes -- While Elena could easily claim this episode, I decided on Caroline again as this one is rather a continuation of "Brave New World." Not only do we continue to see Caroline take steps to regain control of her life, we also see her make great character strides in dealing with the vampire in her. Also, Elena's story dovetails into Caroline's. Even though, I did originally list Elena for this episode, in the end, I just feel there was more character and focus on Caroline as a person, as opposed to the plot mechanics (Elena's road trip).

2.04 "Memory Lane" | Stefan Salvatore -- I feel it's actually a bit of a cheat to list Stefan for this one because like in "Let the Right One In," Stefan is more the vehicle through which other stories are driven (Elena and Damon in the earlier episode, Katherine in this one). However, I don't consider Katherine a main character, and none of those I do consider main drive enough story to justify the title (Bonnie isn't even in this episode). The closest is probably Caroline, but her plot is driven by Katherine ... which brings us back to Stefan. While we don't get much of his point of view, he is what appears to drive Katherine, and the majority of her focus is on him, as is Elena's to a large degree. So Stefan it is.

2.05 "Kill or Be Killed" | Damon Salvatore -- Stefan, Elena, Caroline and Damon all are featured heavily, but with the first three, their stories wind up mostly touching upon one another in supporting bits and pieces. On the other hand, Damon also touches upon each of their plots, but in a much more significant way. He drives most of Stefan's actions, is the reason behind Mason's revenge and the subsequent response by Liz upon learning the truth ... which leads to Caroline's reveal. And in the cellar, despite that moment with Caroline, and Stefan being hurt as well, Damon (and what he might do) is the primary focus. Damon also inserts himself in the Caroline/Liz story: In the beginning, by defending Liz to Caroline, and then towards the end, the reverse in defending Caroline to Liz. Finally, it is Damon that convinces Elena that Stefan needs to ingest human blood, thus being the final drive in that story. With that said, I do concede that it could be argued for Caroline (whom I originally had listed for this one) or Elena as the central character. Stefan -- as he is most of this season, is merely reactionary and/or supporting. However, because Damon is a major force to some degree in all plots, I went with him.

2.06 "Plan B" | Damon Salvatore -- Again with the Damon? Yup. This one is mostly because while Stefan, Elena and Caroline have strong plots with emotional arcs playing out (Caroline and Liz, Stefan and Elena's break-up, for reals!), Damon is a key driving force in almost all events that take place. It's his plan to capture Mason, he designates who does what, including sending Stefan to the well, and thus what results there is on Damon to a degree. It's his killing of Mason, and subsequent taunting of Katherine that leads to (a) Jenna stabbing herself (b) Elena breaking up with Stefan, and (c) Matt becoming plan b. So Damon definitely drives most of the story, interacts with most characters, and has his own emotional journey in seeing himself in Mason, and his glee, then regret in taunting Katherine. With regards to focus, there's not one character who has a significant amount of focus placed upon them much more than any other.

2.07 "Masquerade" | Elena Gilbert -- This one could have gone to Damon simply because he has the strongest emotional arc by far. His obsession with getting Katherine out of the tomb, and his reaction to her absence in it has driven much of his actions since his arrival, and this episode gave him closure on that. However, Elena drove the most story as their pull to kill Katherine was to keep Elena safe, then the actions of the others were driven by the need to keep her from getting hurt, and finally, she was kidnapped. She was also the key focus of all of the characters (to a strong degree) at several points in the episode. Interaction-wise, everyone interacted with just about everyone else (except for Jenna and Alaric), so that's a draw. And so, Elena it is.

2.08 "Rose" | Elena Gilbert -- There are essentially only two stories in this episode: The burgeoning Tyler/Caroline/Matt triangle, and Elena's kidnapping. The former is the B-plot and involves only those three (but for an early, brief appearance by Damon), while the latter is what drives the rest of the episode, and brings in the other characters. Almost every scene is focused on Elena, whether it be the search and rescue, or Damon's feelings for her. And like "Fool Me Once" (and unlike "Let the Right One In" with Stefan), Elena as the kidnap victim is not just a victim. She fights back, aiding her own rescue as much as possible.

Tally thus far --

Elena - 9
Damon - 9
Stefan - 7
Caroline - 4
Bonnie - 1

Almost half-way through season two, Damon is now tied with Elena for the most episodes featuring him as the central character, and season two features Damon, Elena and Caroline as separate characters with their own arcs and plots, while Stefan is mostly a supporting player to the above three. In fact, "Rose" is the last episode that features Stefan as the lead character/hero in the "previously on ..." opening.
 
 
 
Diana: Vampire Diaries - Brothersbutterfly on March 22nd, 2011 01:37 am (UTC)
We also saw him with the strongest emotional arc, as the poor guy pretty much ran through almost every single emotion possible.

Boy, did he. But it was a pretty good set-up for a season that's been exploring a lot of Damon's emotional drives and basically poking at him to make him react.

I feel it's actually a bit of a cheat to list Stefan for this one because like in "Let the Right One In," Stefan is more the vehicle through which other stories are driven (Elena and Damon in the earlier episode, Katherine in this one). However, I don't consider Katherine a main character, and none of those I do consider main drive enough story to justify the title (Bonnie isn't even in this episode). The closest is probably Caroline, but her plot is driven by Katherine ... which brings us back to Stefan. While we don't get much of his point of view, he is what appears to drive Katherine, and the majority of her focus is on him, as is Elena's to a large degree. So Stefan it is.

It's so appropriate that the only 'Stefan' episode for S2 is won on technicalities and because there really isn't anyone else appropriate to award it to. His agency as a character has really been down-graded between the seasons.
Arabian: Damon&Stefan02arabian on March 27th, 2011 02:23 pm (UTC)
I agree that "The Return" has really set up Damon this season, which is why I'm surprised at the number of people who are frustrated with the supposed lack of growth in Damon's redemption. It's clear that it's part of a season-long arc to get him to a point where he DOES be "the better man" at the end of it and not do what he did in TR. It goes back to my whole thing from "The Descent" -- First, he went cold and bitter and snapped Jeremy's neck, the pain and regret came afterward. Now, he was drunk and broken, devastated by the choice he felt he *had* to make to not be in pain anymore. Yes, he committed the act, but the pain and regret was with him the entire time, before, during and after. Next time -- which could be brought upon about finding out about Elena's betrayal (not having him on the list isn't a betrayal, having him think it is thus leading him into dangerous situations, and manipulating him with his feelings for her is) -- I think he'll make the right call at last. He won't commit the unforgivable (or close to it) act. Which would bring us full-circle from the premiere, and finally show that Damon's journey to redemption is beginning to stick.

Re: Stefan -- yeah, I'm still hoping that we're gonna get a strong push dealing with his issues, including the Stefan/Elena issues in the last six episodes.
x5valex5vale on March 22nd, 2011 07:59 am (UTC)
Almost half-way through season two, Damon is now tied with Elena for the most episodes featuring him as the central character, and season two features Damon, Elena and Caroline as separate characters with their own arcs and plots, while Stefan is mostly a supporting player to the above three. In fact, "Rose" is the last episode that features Stefan as the lead character/hero in the "previously on ..." opening.
This summarizes pretty much what I think too. Damon had grown up slowly but constantly as the other major character along with Elena. Even when Stefan is the main character, Damon is in the background, while, when Stefan is absent, he is for real.

Elena can seriously kick ass!

Edited at 2011-03-22 07:59 am (UTC)
Arabian: Damon07arabian on March 27th, 2011 02:24 pm (UTC)
Damon had grown up slowly but constantly as the other major character along with Elena. Even when Stefan is the main character, Damon is in the background, while, when Stefan is absent, he is for real.

Yup. Damon and Elena are DEFINITELY the core characters of the show.
Beccy: VD ~ Caroline 21epic_love on March 22nd, 2011 03:58 pm (UTC)
I love these things so much! And I especially love seeing how much Caroline has clearly become such an important character. But I just really love your POV on all this.
Arabian: Caroline03arabian on March 23rd, 2011 11:23 am (UTC)
Me too. I love seeing the emergence of Caroline; I hope it continues. :)
lacrimadraconis: TVD Salvatores porchlacrimadraconis on March 22nd, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
In fact, "Rose" is the last episode that features Stefan as the lead character/hero in the "previously on ..." opening.

I love your observational skills, seriously. I never noticed that, but now that you mention it (and I checked the episodes because I'm a dork like that), of course you're totally right! That's a very interesting development for the show.
Arabian: Damon&Stefan02arabian on March 23rd, 2011 11:22 am (UTC)
Ah, I can't take the credit for that. I generally fast-forward through the previouslies, but my friend butterfly just got into the show, and she caught that. And it certainly is an interesting thing to note, isn't it?
crowandfogcrowandfog on March 24th, 2011 12:28 am (UTC)
Ah, I've been waiting for this post, especially since you gave me that sneak peek about the end of season one. I wanted to read your explanations, because while I like most of your choices, I have to disagree pretty strongly with you on "Founder's Day." I think that Damon is the central character in that episode. I'll explain why I think so based on what you're looking for:

1) Which character has the strongest emotional arc? Strongest emotional arc = Damon cares, not just cares about Stefan and Elena, but cares in general--something he hasn't done since he was turned. Plus, Damon admits that he cares which is even more important. I think this is a more emotional story than Elena's paternity reveal because that's really just one more reason for her to hate John and has little influence on how she deals with him in the future (he's still just gross, untrustworthy Uncle John). Stefan doesn't really have an emotional arc in this episode; he worries about Elena and worries about Damon. Even his insecurity about Damon coming between him and Elena isn't new. Bonnie's guilt story is interesting but mostly in the background, and Caroline and Tyler were pretty much in a B-plot bubble (maybe even C-plot considering how strong Jeremy and Anna's story is).

2) Which character drove the most story? Damon runs around trying to do the right thing for once--thank Bonnie, fix Elena and Jeremy, save the town from vengeful vamps, help Anna, comfort Jeremy, and come clean with Elena. Elena doesn't do much beyond confront relationship issues with the various men in her life (except when she and Stefan try to save Damon's life). Stefan is mostly reacting to Damon/threats to Damon--telling Elena what Damon figured out about her paternity, trying to make sure Damon didn't steal his girlfriend, trying to protect Damon from the fire/Bonnie. Bonnie has four scenes (in one of them she just takes pictures of her friends), and again, Caroline, Tyler, B/C-plot.

3) Which character had the most key focus in their scenes (and in scenes not involving them)? Damon is the focus or shares the focus in every scene he has. He is also the focus in at least two scenes that he isn't in. Elena has scenes during which she is the focus, but she is also in scenes that focus on Damon. Every scene Stefan has is at least partially about Damon, (he even tells Elena that he told her John is her father because he wanted to beat Damon to the punch) except the scene when they figure out that Bonnie lied about the device which still turns into "where's Damon, omg, he's in the fire." Damon is important in three of Bonnie's scenes even though he's only in one.

4) Which character interacted with the most characters? Damon interacts with Stefan, Elena, Jeremy, Bonnie, John, Alaric, Anna, Mayor Lockwood, Katherine, and Jenna. Elena interacts with Jenna, Stefan, Damon, Jeremy, Bonnie, Alaric, and John. Stefan interacts with Damon, Elena, Jeremy, Alaric, John, and Bonnie. Bonnie interacts with Caroline, Matt, Tyler, Damon, Elena, and Stefan. Caroline and Tyler interact with each other, Matt, Bonnie, and Mayor Lockwood. (I do not count simply standing on the same parade float as interaction.)

Sorry if any of this came off as rant-y, and I'm sure I've probably over-simplified something or other. I think there are some strong things going on in this episode with Elena and Bonnie, and very much so with Jeremy, but ultimately, I think it's about Damon. "Founder's Day" is very much the prelude to "The Return."
Arabian: Damon04arabian on March 27th, 2011 02:28 pm (UTC)
I do agree that Damon has the BIGGEST in regards to the four points and I do agree with what you say there. However, I just don't think he's bigger ENOUGH compared to Elena, Stefan, Bonnie, Caroline, and Jeremy. There's just too much going on with the other characters, too many scenes that deal with their issues, their motivations, their arcs that take away from Damon as the central. What happens here is the prelude to "The Return," but it feels like the prelude for it as "The Return" was for Caroline's arc in "Brave New World" and "Bad Moon Rising." Obviously, Damon's prelude was bigger than Caroline's, but he's one of THE main characters so his would be bigger.

But again, there was just way too much going on with the other characters for me to just give it to Damon. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. :)

ETA: I'm writing these up for season 3 so far, and realized that the ensemble pick is a cheat which is something I didn't want to do. So along with dropping Tyler from the leads list (clearly s2 did not turn things up for him as I expected, and giving his episodes to Elena), I also am dropping the ensemble tag and thus Damon IS getting this one! Just wanted to let you know. :)

Edited at 2011-11-08 03:34 am (UTC)
crowandfog: TVD: Damon like a fish in a suitcrowandfog on November 8th, 2011 04:57 am (UTC)
Yay! Damon FTW!

I'm glad you're going to keep it up. Can't wait to see who you choose for the episodes in S3.
Arabian: Damon&Katherine04arabian on November 8th, 2011 05:26 am (UTC)
I finished writing them all up tonight, so I just have to do next week's. I'll probably post it after the rush of the mid-season finale fades a bit. :)