- 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
- Central Character Per Episode (The Vampire Diaries), part 1
SEASON ONE, Episodes 11-20
1.11 - "Bloodlines" | Elena Gilbert -- This episode continued directly after the events of "The Turning Point," and continued Elena's trajectory. We had huge emotional arcs in two separate veins for her. She started out the episode, furious and distrusting of Stefan (for understandable reasons), and ended in Stefan's arms upon finding out that he'd saved her life and been the last one to see her parents. Concurrently, she started out distrustful of Damon (again, for very understandable reasons), and wound up pleading for his life, and bonded by the end of their scenes. Also, Elena was the main focus in many other scenes (all of Stefan's, a good majority of Damon's, some of Bonnie's, and Jenna's too) that she wasn't in. And while Elena herself didn't actually drive the story, many actions by others were in reaction to Elena herself.
1.12 - "Unpleasantville" | Elena Gilbert -- This episode basically ended the truest "start" of the triangle arc that began with Elena and Stefan in "The Turning Point," added Damon and Elena's angle to the mix in "Bloodlines" and it culminated here with Elena choosing to have BOTH Salvatore brothers at her side, protecting her. We also had plenty of focus on her -- from Stefan, Damon, Bonnie, Caroline, Noah and Anna to a lesser degree (her focus was more on Jeremy and the journal). We also had Elena starting out the episode as the typical female victim who needed to be saved by the boys, who then made her first step in fighting for herself (even if she wound up needing help from the boys anyway). She interacted with the majority of characters (Stefan, Damon, Jenna, Caroline, Bonnie, Noah, Jeremy) and focus was on her in a few scenes where she wasn't present. Like "Bloodlines," Elena herself didn't drive the story forward, but it was actions/reactions relating to her that drove plenty of story. So, another Elena one.
1.13 - "Children of the Damned" | Damon Salvatore -- So we just finished an Elena arc, and now it's Damon's. We not only get Damon as the focus of all of his scenes, but the dominant focus in the majority (if not all) of the Stefan and/or Elena scenes as they plan to betray him. We also get Damon in flashbacks to a greater degree than we do Stefan, and they are all mostly from his point of view. Also, Damon interacts with Jenna and Jeremy in a social way that is definitely new. We also get the emotional arc that comes from his working with Stefan and Elena before he finds out about their betrayal at the end. Damon also drives just about everything that happens in his, Stefan and Elena's plot, as well as driving the majority of flashbacks, and some of Jeremy's story -- pushing him to go after Anna, first for unselfish reasons, then for entirely selfish ones.
1.14 - "Fool Me Once" | Damon Salvatore -- And that emotional arc continues. He starts out angry, but hopeful with a midway stop of vulnerability with Elena before falling into an emotional abyss at Katherine's betrayal by the end. He again drives most of the story, and plays a part in not only his main plot, but in the Elena kidnapping (via Anna), and then he's the focus of and push behind the Stefan, Elena, Bonnie and Sheila scenes. He also (along with Stefan and Elena) interacts with the majority of characters, but, again, Stefan and Elena are supporting players (for the most part) to Damon's story.
1.15 - "A Few Good Men" | Damon Salvatore -- I went back and forth between Elena and Damon for this one, but eventually decided to go with Damon because he's a part of almost every aspect of this episode (except for Matt and Caroline), while Elena is a bit more removed from Alaric's point of view, and not involved with Liz at all. Everything that Stefan does is in support of both Damon and Elena, and other than her trip to visit Trudie, and making the call, everything Elena does is a reaction to others, while Damon drives much of what happens. He takes Stefan's prodding and gets information out of it, prods Alaric, bonds with and then screws up a moment with Elena, "kills" Alaric and essentially has Stefan doing clean-up after him (emotionally and physically). This one is close, though, and I went with Damon simply because we got more of an emotional arc with him than Elena, and he drove a bit more story (backstory and present-day). Plus, unlike Elena, Damon was the focus of scenes in which he wasn't present.
1.16 - "There Goes the Neighborhood" | Caroline Forbes -- Pretty much everything that happens in the main story (the double-date) is directly because of Caroline. She's why the date happens, and we get her point of view on what's happening. Much of the focus of the four characters during the date on the surface is about Elena, but it's actually mostly about how Caroline is reacting to the focus on Elena. Also, she gets the emotional arc (unsure and insecure about Matt before ending on their romantic moment in the car), and we see her reaction to Kelly both at the bar, and the Salvatore boarding house, and it has the most history because Matt is so much more a supporting character than Caroline is, especially in this story.
1.17 - "Let the Right One In" | Damon Salvatore -- Although the main focus of this episode is on Stefan's kidnapping, and all of Damon, Elena and Alaric's scenes boil down to focus on Stefan, it's more of a surface focus, whereas Damon is front-and-center in the action, driving most of what happens, and he is the focus of the viewers -- in that, one walked away not wondering if Stefan would get away because duh!, but rather how much Damon has changed in terms of being there to help -- and also the focus of Alaric -- seeing a different side of Damon, showing concern for his brother and Elena. Even the final scene which should be all about Stefan, includes (and starts in from the perspective of) Damon. Also, the main secondary plot -- finding Vicki's body -- was driven by Damon way back when as the one who killed/turned/let her go. I had originally thought Stefan for this one for sure, but we spend so little actual time on him, the true focus (in a non-abstract way, we must rescue him!, which is more about what Damon, Elena and Alaric must DO) doesn't hit until Stefan's final few scenes and begins his arc in the next episodes.
1.18 - "Under Control" | Stefan Salvatore -- This one, on the other hand, is definitely Stefan's. Most of the focus in not only his scenes, but Damon's and Elena's are all about Stefan. Even the early council scenes are driven by John's information which is based on what Stefan is doing (stealing the blood from the blood bank). We also see many a different side to Stefan, and while we don't see the end of his emotional arc, we're definitely getting into the beginning of it. And whereas last week, the final scene was more about Damon's reaction (and Stefan's shame at Damon finding him) to his drinking, this final scene is all about Stefan, even if Damon drives it by leaving the cup, it's all about Stefan's decision to go down that path and he is the sole focus as the episode ends. Stefan also is a small part of the Jeremy subplot as gives Elena advice on how to deal with that situation, and he is the focus of Alaric in a few of his scenes as well, both with Stefan and with Elena.
1.19 - "Miss Mystic Falls" | Stefan Salvatore -- Although we get a lot of focus, motivation on Elena, Damon, Caroline, and Bonnie, at the end of the day, it was Stefan that drove most of the story. Even while we got motivation and focus on the other characters listed, except for Caroline, almost everything that involves those characters is directly related to what is going on with Stefan. Even the Damon/Elena dance is predicated on Stefan not being there. And, like "Under Control," while we're not at the end, we're clearly still in the throes of Stefan's big emotional arc (which Elena had at the start and midway point of the series, and Damon just wrapped up his).
1.20 - "Blood Brothers" | Stefan Salvatore -- Like "Children of the Damned" focusing on Damon, this flashback episode centered on a Salvatore, this time it’s all about Stefan. Every Damon/Elena scene focuses mostly on Stefan, and we reach the resolution of his emotional arc. He begins the episode at his lowest point, prepared to let himself wither away and die, before being given the opportunity to end it all at sunrise. By the end, Elena has gotten him to think about the bigger picture, and save himself, which is compounded by Damon giving him absolution for his sins. Almost everything that Elena does in this episode is driven by concern over Stefan's actions (or rather, inactions), and under the surface, Damon has a continued focus on what Stefan is going through.
Tally thus far --
Elena - 6
Stefan - 6
Damon - 5
Caroline - 2
Bonnie - 1
As the show breezes past the midway point and heads to the conclusion of its first season, we see Damon's story gain focus and come just abreast of the number of Elena, and Stefan episodes. While the first half was about Elena and Stefan, this batch has effectively drawn Damon into their separate and entwined stories. And Caroline is the only character who gets at least one episode of central-focus in the second half of the season, outside of the trio.