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24 February 2011 @ 04:44 pm
Central character per episode (The Vampire Diaries), part 1  
Discussion came up in one of my Vampire Diaries posts about Damon being the central character in "The Descent", and crowandfog (whose username I will forever adore) came up with the idea of listing the central character from each episode to see how it played out. (You can see that list here.) Now, she wound up picking more than one character for certain episodes, and it was interesting to see her choices, but I wanted to take it a step further. I decided to make it harder on myself and just choose one character (as the show generally has an A, B, C and sometimes a D plot going per episode), the character focused on in the A-plot, and to explain why I chose that character.

I had originally planned on rewatching the season, but I do think that the fourth rewatch kinda put a dent on my rewatchability (considering I've never rewatched an entire season of ANY show more than once within a year that's still not bad for TVD at all). So I decided to just go with my memory of the episodes -- which again, been done watched FOUR TIMES!, and I've watched and rewatched quite a bit of season two episodes, not to mention that my long-ass reviews are good refresher courses, especially since I just reread all of them! I based my choice on four things:
    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
This wound up being longer than I expected (big shocker coming from me, huh?), so I'm breaking it into ten episodes per post.

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.

SEASON ONE, Episodes 1-10

1.01 - Pilot | Elena Gilbert -- Although Stefan begins the episode by saying that this is "his" story, it really isn't. Elena by far fits my four categories. The bulk of the story is not driven by Stefan -- rather he reacts to Elena, her friends, Damon's presence, while Elena is what drives Stefan, pushes Jeremy, intrigues Damon and gets the ball rolling in small ways that will be felt later on. (Her pre-show dumping of Matt leads to Caroline/Matt, Stefan's interest in her starts the manifestation of Bonnie's magic.) Also, she starts out still fairly dead to the world, pretending, feeling nothing genuine, but her interest in Stefan, the shock of what happens to Vicki, the curiosity about Bonnie's powers, as well as the depths to which Jeremy has sunk have effectively pulled her out of that passive state by episode's end. Most of the scenes in the Pilot focus on Elena to some small degree, even the Vicki/Jeremy scenes make mention of the fact that Elena dated Vicki's brother, and is Jeremy's big sister. And lastly, Elena was featured with every other character (even Damon, even if she didn't realize it, LOL!). So definitely Elena.

1.02 - "The Night of the Comet" | Elena Gilbert -- This is a continuation of Elena's awakening. She began to open up to life again after the events of the Pilot. In this episode she takes decisive steps to start living again, so that's a check mark for the emotional arc. And, once again, much of the story was driven by Elena, whether by Elena herself, or what her character was going through. The majority of Stefan's actions were motivated by either Elena or Damon; Caroline and Bonnie's scenes were driven mostly by Elena's Stefan-dilemma. I did think of throwing Damon for this one, but in the end, his was more B-plot and he was mostly reacting to Stefan, attempting to get under his skin.

1.03 - "Friday Night Bites" | Damon Salvatore -- He definitely has the strongest emotional arc. We've only seen the sarcastic, brutal, cruel side of Damon prior to this episode, but here we begin to see that he loved deeply and lost, we see that his relationship with Stefan is more complicated than originally thought (if his reaction to Stefan accusing him of still having humanity is any indication). And, of course, we see that there is still humanity there and it's beginning to stir because of Elena (awakened in the kitchen scene). We see him driving parts of Stefan's stories -- giving Elena the locket, reacting to Damon's taunts and such, Caroline's plot is solely driven by Damon and his machinations. He also pushes Elena to make an important decision in her life that is symbolized by her quitting cheer. We also see him interact with a wide range of characters, and he is the focus (even if it's not primary, ie, Stefan giving Elena the locket) of scenes he's not even in, not to mention that all of the scenes he is in, the focus is on his character.

1.04 - "Family Ties" | Stefan Salvatore -- While Elena, Damon and Caroline are viable candidates for this one, I went with Stefan because we saw different sides to his character in this one (a more morally gray vampire who knows/sees what Damon is doing to Caroline, but doesn't find it horrifying). He also made use of actions, events and information (what Damon is doing to Caroline, the formal event, Zach's vervain secret) to drive the plot along (locking Damon up, freeing Caroline from Damon, adding a more interesting, if negative, dynamic to his relationship with Elena -- hey, I didn't say it was all good!). Most of Damon's scenes were focused on Stefan, as were a good chunk of Elena's. So this one I gave to Stefan.

1.05 - "You're Undead to Me" | Caroline Forbes -- And this one goes to Caroline. We not only continue to see fall-out from her relationship with Damon (with Elena and Bonnie, who are trying to be there for her), but also with Damon's continued mental manipulations, as well as a better sense of the issues with her mother. Plot-wise, Caroline is the driving force behind the car wash event and we see, for the first time, how organized and efficient Caroline is, something that we now know is a major component of her character. As always, there is a lot of Elena, but most of her stuff is plot-driven (vampire clues FTW!), with character stuff about the situation with Stefan (which derived from the Caroline/Damon situation), and worry over Caroline. So, yeah, Caroline.

1.06 - "Lost Girls" | Stefan Salvatore -- We get a lot about Damon in this episode, but since much of his actions are motivated by what Stefan did to him (vervaining, locking up, taking his ring), that's another plus in the Stefan column. We also have his reaction to the vampire-reveal, as well as our first batch of flashbacks which shed light on his relationship with Katherine, Damon, his father and how it's affecting him and his relationship with Elena to this day. And all of the flashbacks are very Stefan-centric, told from his point of view.

1.07 - "Haunted" | Elena Gilbert -- This one goes to Elena. She began the episode all 'Vampires suck! I can't deal' to 'Vampires have cool powers! Use now!' which is a pretty big leap, but but seeing Jeremy in such agony was an understandable push. Also, we had her solidify her desire for a relationship with Stefan despite the fact that he's a vampire, put Jeremy above her vampire issues ... even if it really wasn't a good idea. She also shared her first bonding moment with Damon, and we got a hint of the old Elena with Matt and their matching Halloween costumes, current life-and-vampires-suck Elena, and at the end, a new Elena who has accepted vampires and that maybe life sucks, but you gotta hold onto the non-sucky parts.

1.08 - "162 Candles" | Stefan Salvatore -- Most of Elena's scenes were about Stefan and figuring out the two ofthem, Damon continued to focus on getting under Stefan's skin and hiding his master plan from Stefan, and then there was the introduction (and demise) of Stefan's best friend, Lexi. Yeah, this one is definitely Stefan's. Heck, the title is a reference to his birthday! With Lexi, we got to see a fun, more relaxed side of Stefan, and with her death, we saw a vicious, more tortured side that Damon fully managed to bring out, but Stefan had the last word.

1.09 - "History Repeating" | Bonnie Bennett -- This is the only episode in season one that featured Bonnie as the central character, but it clearly is hers. We get interaction with her great, great xwhatever ancestor, and her burgeoning witchy powers come out to play. Quite a few of the Caroline and Elena scenes were focused on Bonnie, and Damon's need to get the crystal (as part of his master plan) which Bonnie had, led to a good portion of his focus on her and how to get it. Finally, the whole second half with the girls was all about Bonnie, ending with her being possessed by Emily. Damon was a potential choice for this one, but again, a good portion of what drove him (his plan to save Katherine) was focused -- at this point -- on getting the crystal, which Bonnie had.

1.10 - "The Turning Point" | Elena Gilbert -- And here we come to Elena again. The first couple of episodes were about Elena coming back to life with the help of the undead boy, and in this episode we have the culmination of that. Elena ready to start living again, in every sense of the word, with Stefan. And we see that here, as she pushes him to accept them despite the vampire issues. She takes the lead with Jenna, and is the key reason that Stefan goes to save Caroline. Aside from Damon -- who has the B-story, all of the other characters are in support of others, or reacting to them. Elena drives her story, and it's the main thread throughout the episode.

Tally thus far --

Elena - 4
Stefan - 3
Damon - 1
Bonnie - 1
Caroline - 1

So the majority of the first half of the season very much was in keeping with the early promotion. This show is Elena and Stefan's stories, and how their stories become entwined.
 
 
 
Maeve: Stefan/Elena/Damonmarble_rose on February 24th, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC)
Ooh! This is really fascinating. I'm really interested in seeing what the final tally is once your done. *bounces*
Arabian: TVD-Cast02arabian on February 24th, 2011 09:58 pm (UTC)
LOL! Well, I can give you the tally for all but tonight's episode because I have the episodes/characters picked already.

What did you think of my choices so far? Agree/disagree?
Maevemarble_rose on February 24th, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC)
Yay tally! I'm just really interested to see if the show really has shifted that much away from Stefan and onto Damon. It feels that way, but I don't know.

Yeah, so far I'm with you. I think you did a nice, objective job of following the criteria you set.

So. Tally? Lol.
(no subject) - arabian on February 24th, 2011 10:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - crowandfog on February 24th, 2011 11:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - arabian on February 24th, 2011 11:37 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - butterfly on February 25th, 2011 12:05 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - arabian on February 25th, 2011 12:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
safetywords: d & esafetywords on February 24th, 2011 11:04 pm (UTC)
This is a very clever idea. I never would've thought of doing something like this, but it's very insightful. I definitely agree with your choices so far, and I can't wait to see what you have to say for the second half of season one. :)
Arabian: Ian & Nina(PS)03arabian on February 24th, 2011 11:18 pm (UTC)
Aww, I can't take credit. Like I said crowandfog did it first based off of my Damon's the central character in "The Descent" YAY!

I'll try and work on the second post tomorrow. I hope to have all three done before the weekend's over. *Hope* being the key word, LOL!
crowandfogcrowandfog on February 24th, 2011 11:55 pm (UTC)
So this is definitely different from mine, but I admit that I knew it would be. ;) I'm really enjoying this.

Does your list account for POV? It seems from your explanation that you based your list a lot more on motivations and emotional resonance. That would explain some of the differences in our lists because I focused mostly on screen time and POV (although that can often translate into emotional resonance). It would also explain why you were able to narrow it down while I kept splitting episodes between characters. TVD does a decent good job of getting everyone in front of the camera, even if they don't all get a plot, lol.





Edited at 2011-02-24 11:56 pm (UTC)
Arabian: Damon & Elena07arabian on February 25th, 2011 12:06 am (UTC)
Right, I didn't include POV specifically because someone may have the point of view, but the focus is on a different character. For instance, there was a lot of Stefan point of view in "Friday Night Bites," but most of his point of view was about Damon, therefore I gave the central character title to Damon. Stefan may have been doing all the talking, but he was talking ABOUT Damon. That's how I looked at. At the end of the episode, who did I learn the most about it? Which character was the focus of not just airtime, but of other characters.

And that is something key with Stefan and why I think his episodes decreased as the season continued. The only people who focus on Stefan are Elena and Damon, and as their relationships become more clear to the viewers, there is less reason to spend time on their thoughts/reactions to Stefan because the audience already has a good idea of their motivation/characterization with regards to Stefan. On the other hand, other characters are continually focused on both Elena and Damon (albeit for different reasons generally, LOL!) and that is why they continue to be the central character in plenty of episodes.

VD does a decent good job of getting everyone in front of the camera, even if they don't all get a plot, lol.

They really do (if your character isn't Matt Donovan, ahem). Even if an episode has the focus on one particular character in the ways I listed (see: Damon in "Daddy Issues"), there was still a lot of face time for Stefan, Elena, Alaric and Jenna, with a side-story for Jeremy and Bonnie.

Edited at 2011-02-25 12:08 am (UTC)
Diana: Vampire Diaries - Forbes Toughbutterfly on February 25th, 2011 12:02 am (UTC)
Ooo, yes. I'm excited to see you going through and doing this. I definitely feel that the first half of S1 feels like it's the most Stefan-heavy part of the show so far, overall. Damon really starts to come into his own a little later on and then, in S2, Caroline.

And I agree that a lot of the problem is the flatness of Stefan's character. He can't carry storylines if he has no conflict. I think that the writers did his character a big disservice in 2x15 by making his transition from 'bad' to 'good' so easy and quick.

Edited at 2011-02-25 12:02 am (UTC)
Arabian: Caroline01arabian on February 25th, 2011 12:13 am (UTC)
Ooo, yes. I'm excited to see you going through and doing this. I definitely feel that the first half of S1 feels like it's the most Stefan-heavy part of the show so far, overall. Damon really starts to come into his own a little later on and then, in S2, Caroline.

Well, Caroline had two episodes in season one (far apart), while she's had three in season two (admittedly with seven episodes left to go), but two of her episodes were at the beginning of the season when her story was hitting into high gear. She's definitely more prominent this season than last, but she's still on the lower end of "lead" characters. Right now, it's really only Damon and Elena who remain top of the list "leads." With my four points, Stefan actually falls more under supporting this season.

And I agree that a lot of the problem is the flatness of Stefan's character. He can't carry storylines if he has no conflict. I think that the writers did his character a big disservice in 2x15 by making his transition from 'bad' to 'good' so easy and quick.

Yup, nothing ever changes with Stefan. Even when it looks like we're going to get some good stuff (his unresolved feelings for Katherine, the return to human blood, his "evil" history and Elena's reaction to it), they're resolved within the episode, and he remains the same as ever.

I think this may be partly why I adore Stefan and Caroline so much. While he's still samey mcSamerson in terms of character, there's at least a lightness in their scenes and because of the nature of Caroline's character, she provokes him to react either in exasperation or amusement. Which brings out a different side to him. With Elena, it's essentially ... concern. Yeah, we had the burst at the end of "Crying Wolf," but that was so rare and quickly dissolved back into ... concern. And it is boring.
(no subject) - butterfly on February 25th, 2011 12:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - arabian on February 25th, 2011 12:35 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - butterfly on February 25th, 2011 12:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - arabian on February 25th, 2011 02:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
sassy, classy, and a bit smart-assy: TVD: Damon love first sightbadboy_fangirl on February 25th, 2011 01:11 am (UTC)
I think two things account for the shift from Stefan to Damon--a) Ian's popularity; and b) Damon's redemptive arc is WAY MORE INTERESTING than anything Stefan might do (particularly if he's just making phone calls, which he's been doing a lot--I had a good LOL at that picture up thar).

I think when they cast Damon to be the "villain" they didn't realize how nuanced he was going to be. Hopeful, sure, but come on. That's why I love episode 1x03 so much, because it's all there, everything that will come to be about Damon.

And Ian's just hot. Everybody wants him, from the writers to the lead actress to the viewers--and you gotta give the people what they want.

I love that you point out the Matt & Elena matching costumes in Haunted. That's one of my favorite details that they use to show what used to be, and I always thought it was so well executed. Zach always made me believe Matt had known Elena forever and he still just had that thing for her. Poor Matty.

As an aside, I totally love your new banner. It's so pretty. *pets* If I were, say, to gather up a few photos and pass them on to you, would you be willing to make me a banner? If not, no worries, but it's just that you're so great with the graphics, and me? Not so much. But I understand if you're busy with your rewatching workshop here. :D
Arabian: Damon04arabian on February 25th, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC)
I think two things account for the shift from Stefan to Damon--a) Ian's popularity; and b) Damon's redemptive arc is WAY MORE INTERESTING than anything Stefan might do (particularly if he's just making phone calls, which he's been doing a lot--I had a good LOL at that picture up thar).

Yup. We go back to the fact that the studio didn't even want to hire Ian. Sure, he'd had Lost, but that was ages ago and he was basically known for being the pretty boy, not his talent or charisma. Despite being around for 10+ years, The Vampire Diaries really has been his break-out role.

And, sorry, Stefan, but LOL-ing forever to that "Stefan makes a phone call."

That's why I love episode 1x03 so much, because it's all there, everything that will come to be about Damon.

Very good point. We see so much of who Damon is (both good and bad) in that episode.

And Ian's just hot. Everybody wants him, from the writers to the lead actress to the viewers--and you gotta give the people what they want.

Sigh. SO! HOT!

love that you point out the Matt & Elena matching costumes in Haunted. That's one of my favorite details that they use to show what used to be, and I always thought it was so well executed. Zach always made me believe Matt had known Elena forever and he still just had that thing for her. Poor Matty.

Yup, it was such a wonderfully short-cut way of telling us about them and their past.

As an aside, I totally love your new banner. It's so pretty. *pets* If I were, say, to gather up a few photos and pass them on to you, would you be willing to make me a banner? If not, no worries, but it's just that you're so great with the graphics, and me? Not so much. But I understand if you're busy with your rewatching workshop here. :D

I'm not doing the rewatching, so if you can send them to me ASAP and give me an idea of what you want, I'll do it. But once this weekend ends, I won't have until next weeked. :)

Edited at 2011-02-25 02:56 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - badboy_fangirl on February 25th, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - arabian on February 26th, 2011 01:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
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x5valex5vale on February 25th, 2011 09:44 am (UTC)
This is very interesting...I could spend hours talking about each episode, but i have to work (stupid real life).

I pretty much agree with your choices. I'd say that Damon's story was unfolding slowly in the background there. Lots of him between the lines in the first half of S1.
then they switched the attention from Stefan to Damon.
It happened in SPN too. I guess it was because of the nuances the actor added playing the character and because somehow the character itself grew up so much to take a lead role.
Damon and Elenas arcs are so much more interesting than the others one. A vampire who might end up to be a better person in opposition to a sweet funny girl who is forced to deal with the dark side in the world, accepting and loving it to some extent. A girl who might end up to become very different from who she used to be.

Edited at 2011-02-25 09:48 am (UTC)
Arabian: Deanarabian on February 25th, 2011 03:00 pm (UTC)
This is very interesting...I could spend hours talking about each episode, but i have to work (stupid real life).

I'm so glad I have a job, but damn, I'd be putting out SO MANY MORE TVD posts if I were still unemployed.

I pretty much agree with your choices. I'd say that Damon's story was unfolding slowly in the background there. Lots of him between the lines in the first half of S1.

Yup, that's a great way of describing it. It really is.

then they switched the attention from Stefan to Damon. It happened in SPN too. I guess it was because of the nuances the actor added playing the character and because somehow the character itself grew up so much to take a lead role.

Oh, Jensen. (And I may have stopped watching it, but I did watch the first four seasons, and I think Paul Wesley is WAY better, and Stefan a way better character than Jared Padalecki and Sam. Whiny-ass. Ahem.)

Damon and Elenas arcs are so much more interesting than the others one. A vampire who might end up to be a better person in opposition to a sweet funny girl who is forced to deal with the dark side in the world, accepting and loving it to some extent. A girl who might end up to become very different from who she used to be.

Yes, yes! And we're seeing those stories play out. And they are awesome.
x5valex5vale on February 25th, 2011 05:38 pm (UTC)
Yup, that's a great way of describing it. It really is.
Thank you.

Oh, Jensen. (And I may have stopped watching it, but I did watch the first four seasons, and I think Paul Wesley is WAY better, and Stefan a way better character than Jared Padalecki and Sam. Whiny-ass. Ahem.)
Jensen owns my fangirl heart as much as Ian does (well I kinda feel like I was betraying my longest celebrity crush, after 11 years of monogamy..but Iam won me over...and hubby thinks I am crazy ;)), but you are so so so totally right about Paul and Stefan. Seriously no context.

I am glad we do agree. It's nice talking to you.

Oh HI THERE DEAN!

Edited at 2011-02-25 05:38 pm (UTC)
bangel_4e: damon2bangel_4e on December 17th, 2012 09:08 pm (UTC)
Awesome!
I've never actually thought deeply about the character focus on every episode..so, from what I can remember, I have nothing to object :)
I shall re-read this when I do a re-watch :)

Btw, these 10 episodes tally is quite right..season 1 focuses heavily on Stefan and Elena (and not necessarily as a couple but separate characters)