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
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.