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22 November 2011 @ 12:11 pm
Central character per episode (The Vampire Diaries), part 6  
Discussion came up in one of my Vampire Diaries posts about Damon being the central character in "The Descent", and crowandfog 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.) 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 (unless a lead wasn't the central figure of that plot, but rather a recurring character was highlighted; in that case I then moved to plot B), and to explain why I chose that character using the following parameters:

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 Tyler (even if it only started in season two), 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, Klaus and Matt fall under the supporting roles for me. While we've seen them lead some stories, it's generally the B-story, and more often than not, they are supporting.

I wanted to note before I continue that I've made a few changes with regards to my parameters. First off, we are nearly halfway through season 03 and Tyler remains mostly supporting, and at the lower rung of the supporting ladder (with Matt the only one on a consistent basis less central than he). He did take the lead in two episodes in season 02, but the fact that the werewolf arc was such a huge storyline, yet he was featured as the central character in only two episodes, and wasn't much beyond secondary in only a handful of other episodes all season long? Well, I'm officially removing him from my lead characters list. The two I had him listed for were "By The Light of the Moon" (2.11), and "Crying Wolf" (2.14). Going with the leads, I'm giving both to Elena. You can see the re-write-ups of those episode here in part 4.

I had also originally included an "ensemble" tag, but while going through these, I realized that was as much a cheat as going for a secondary (and sometimes) tertiary lead, so I re-did those three episodes as well. Two -- "Masquerade" (2.07) and "The Sun Also Rises" (2.21) -- went to Elena, while the third -- "Founder's Day" (1.22) -- went to Damon. You can read the new write-ups for "Founder's Day" and "Masquerade" in part 3, and "The Sun Also Rises" in part 5.

- Central Character Per Episode (The Vampire Diaries), part 1
- Central Character Per Episode (The Vampire Diaries), part 2
- Central Character Per Episode (The Vampire Diaries), part 3
- Central Character Per Episode (The Vampire Diaries), part 4
- Central Character Per Episode (The Vampire Diaries), part 5

SEASON THREE, Episodes 01-09

3.01 - The Birthday | Stefan Salvatore -- While we see Elena, Damon, Alaric, and Caroline go through some emotional shifts, Stefan is with whom we see the biggest arc. He starts out seemingly completely under Klaus' control, willing to do all he asks, but in the end, he's still obviously trying to hold onto his humanity. As well, almost everything that happens with Damon, Elena (and Alaric to a degree) is driven by Stefan's actions, as they all search for him. Other than Tyler, Jeremy and Matt, Stefan is the focus of every other character -- in both Damon and Elena's case, almost exclusively.

3.02 - The Hybrid | Damon Salvatore -- Damon went from the top of the episode convinced that Stefan was impossible to save, to believing the opposite by the end due to his interaction with his brother. He was also (barely) the character with the most key focus in scenes. Elena and Stefan also held key focus, but Damon had a bit more than those two, and Alaric was focused on him as well (along with Elena), as was Stefan (who only had a brief moment or two with focus on Elena). Damon also interacted with the most characters. It was Elena who drove the most story, but Damon took the lead in the three other categories -- very much so in the first and fourth.

3.03 - The End of the Affair | Stefan Salvatore -- Even more than in "The Birthday," just about everything that happens in this episode revolves around Stefan. With only two plots highlighted (and the B-plot given much less screentime), this one easily belongs to Stefan as the entire A-plot revolves around him in every way. Emotional arc-wise, Stefan begins the episode still completely anti-Klaus, but by the end has a newfound view of him, as well as being reunited with a former love. His character drives every second, and is the key focus of everyone in the A-plot, as well as interacting with all the players. This baby is Stefan's all the way.

3.04 - Disturbing Behavior | Damon Salvatore -- While there was a strong argument for giving this one to Caroline, she didn't have the emotional arc, nor did she drive story and was the focus of others only in her story. On the other hand, Damon went from practically happy in his place in Mystic Falls (Ric's BFF, Liz's buddy, kitchen-time with Elena) to getting the hell out of dodge with Katherine (!) because everyone was tearing him apart. So he gets the emotional arc. He also drove much of what happened, his relationship with Elena drove Alaric's story, and he was responsible for Caroline's father leaving town. Elena, Alaric, Liz, Bill, Caroline and Bonnie were all very much focused on him in scenes with him, and without him. Finally, Damon interacted with the most characters as well.

3.05 - The Reckoning | Elena Gilbert -- The last episode featured Damon, partly because his was the strongest emotional arc. This episode had that arc in reverse, so he wins the first category. However, it was Elena who, by far, drove most of the story (her existence as the doppelganger, as well as being in danger), leading the majority of characters to action. She was also the key focus of virtually almost every scene (with the exception of the Matt/Vicki B-plot), and she interacted with everyone onscreen as well. Even Stefan, and all that happened with him, was focused on Elena, and it wasn't about him, but her.

3.06 - Smells Like Teen Spirit | Elena Gilbert -- Despite the fact that Elena took the lead in only one category (emotional arc: Weak, but learning, nearly about to fall apart before pulling it together, to having the last hurrah! moment at the end) this one still handily belongs to her. She did share key focus with Stefan, and Stefan drove most of the story, while Damon interacted with the most characters, meaning that Stefan and Elena tied in terms of who I have listed per category. However, this is one of those episodes where the emotional arc is so strong and so obvious, that the central character simply can't be anyone but that one with the arc. So Elena it is.

3.07 - Ghost World | Bonnie Bennett -- Elena and Damon each experience emotional arcs of a sort, but Bonnie's is so much stronger and just there. She also drove the majority of story being as how she is the one who (a) allowed the ghosts back in, and (b) made the ghosts visible, and (c) sent the ghosts back to ghost world. And because of her importance in that regard, it was Bonnie that held the key focus for most characters. However, it wasn't just plot-driven focus, Jeremy was focused -- albeit away from her -- due to the relationship cray-cray with Anna. Elena and Caroline were both focused on her in light of Jeremy's actions, and Grams was all about showing her granddaughter that she's got the right stuff. Interaction-wise, Elena hit every character except Damon, but the other three categories are so completely Bonnie's, it's not even a contest.

3.08 - Ordinary People | Damon Salvatore -- Damon gets this episode by default. This one really belongs to Rebekah full-stop, no question. However, Rebekah is not a lead character, so I had to go with the leads and figure out which best fits. And of the leads, it's Damon. Stefan is the only one who comes even close, but his closeness is in his interaction with Damon, and it's Damon who has a much more realized arc in relation to his brother. That is crystallized verbally by Elena in the final scene. Damon also drives the most story in that he drives the B-plot. Whereas Rebekah drove the A-plot -- which technically we could give to Elena for pushing Rebekah, but that would be (wait for it) by default. Damon actually drives the B-plot; it is his decision to free Stefan, his decision to try and figure out what will work for his brother ... Stefan is just along for the ride. Finally, he is the focus of Elena (to a degree), Stefan and Mikael (to a degree), while everyone else is focused on Rebekah (and Damon is focused on Stefan and Elena). So, again, Damon ... by default. And finally, he does easily win the fourth category with the most interaction with other characters.

3.09 - Homecoming | Damon Salvatore -- I fully expected this one to go to Stefan or Elena, but it really didn't come close to anyone other than Damon. He had the strongest emotional arc in terms of believing that they'd bring Klaus down, he had all the pieces in a row only for it fall apart, devastating him. On top of that, he lost all faith that he'd get Stefan back. This could apply to Elena as well, except that she'd seem to come to that conclusion -- at least that it was up to Stefan -- a few episodes back. In the immediate story here, other than the dance being moved to the Lockwood mansion, Damon drove all the story. He came up with the plan(s), including the variations that the others didn't know about, and when the plan changed (via Katherine and then Stefan's actions) it was for love of Damon. While Klaus and Stefan was the general focus of others, Damon was not only the focus of almost all the characters (but for Matt and Caroline) at various points, but also Stefan, Katherine, Elena and Klaus very specifically were focused solely on him. Also, it was that focus on him that was the reason for the entire change of plans which led to our cliffhanger. Damon didn't interact with the most characters, but everything else fell to him.

Tally thus far --

Damon - (S1) 6 | (S2) 9 | (S3) 4 = 19
Elena - (S1) 7 | (S2) 7 | (S3) 2 = 16
Stefan - (S1) 6 | (S2) 1 | (S3) 2 = 09
Bonnie - (S1) 1 | (S2) 3 | (S3) 1 = 05
Caroline - (S1) 2 | (S2) 2 | (S3) 0 = 04

I figured that the central character of season 03 would easily be Stefan since Elena had the lead in season 01, and Damon in season 02. However, as of now it's looking like it could go for any of the three. Damon did take four episodes, but of them, one was by default, and a second could be argued for another character. As for Stefan, while there has been a lot of time spent on his arc, he's not, well, central enough to justify the title in more episodes. His role is rather like Elena's was last season as the center of everyone's protection, but it was a constant factor that only popped up as central in certain episodes. The same is the case for Stefan in most episodes so far this season.

This is, of course, subject to change. I simply cannot predict who will be the central character for the season; I can't even hazard a guess. The interesting thing is that season 01 held more episodes for Elena, and she was obviously the central arc figure. The same was the case for Damon in season 02. However, this season feels different. Even though Damon is featured as the central character the most in this first batch, he doesn't feel like an overall central character. That feeling is more there for Stefan or Elena. So I don't know how it will all play out. We'll see.
Azmiri Sultana Mridulmridul777 on November 22nd, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
I didn't have quite the statistical details... which is WOW!!! btw..

But I kinda had a hunch/gut feeling, you know watching the story progressing and what not... That this season is going to be Stefan-Centric.

Season 1 was definitely mostly Elena.... and how her story unfolds and that in this story she's isn't ONLY as the girl who fell in love with a vampire.... She is much MUCH more than that.... she has her own mystery, along with the fact that she shares unique and strong bond with the other brother...the anti-hero.

Season 2 was Damon and his redemption arc/his story. It followed the season finale porch Damon and detailed throughout the season as to how his emotions, and behavior and characteristics and decision happens/changes...in short his growth.

Season 3 is following the finale arc of season 2.... which is heavily based on Stefan. We see his story. We see the story of the brother's. We see Stefan in a way we never thought about before.

So yeah.... I think I agree with you that Stefan is going to be the central character in this season.

And I'd like to mention again.......Awesome Statistics!!
Arabian: Stefan04arabian on November 23rd, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
Well, they're not really statistics, it's just my point of view about it.

I do think it probably will be Stefan, but like s2 was clearly Damon right out of the bat, I kinda expected that for Stefan and yet, that feeling hasn't quite coalasced yet. But it could definitely strengthen into that for him.
Pam V: Love&hugpamsblau on November 22nd, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC)
Wow! These statistics look absolutely amazing! Good job! I'm memming this entry. WOW!!!
Arabian: Damon04arabian on November 23rd, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
Well, they're not really statistics, it's just my point of view about it.

But thank you. Did you check out the first two seasons worth?
safetywords: d & e are closesafetywords on November 23rd, 2011 06:40 am (UTC)
Wow! It always blows me away how much thought and time you put into writing these things up. I don't have much to add because I think you've covered everything nicely. That said, thank you for sharing your thoughts. It's really cool to see the statistics like this -- especially showing the difference in tally from one season to the next. :)
Arabian: Damon & Elena15arabian on November 23rd, 2011 10:38 pm (UTC)
It doesn't seem that crazy when I write them up after each episode and then just compile them after a stretch of them, LOL!

Though, they're not really statistics, it's just my point of view about it.
It's just fun to do. :)
crowandfog: TVD: Damon I miss it more than anythingcrowandfog on November 26th, 2011 11:22 pm (UTC)
Looks like I'm back to agreeing with all your choices. :D

I'm coming to the conclusion that this show has a seasonal STORY-ARC center and an EMOTIONAL-ARC center. And, to me, it seems like Damon is almost stuck in that emotional center position. I don't know if this is because he is the most passionate character or because the writers just love him so much (or just find him easy to write for), but it seems like, no matter what the focus of each episode, Damon's plotline is not far behind it. I think that's why he's the other main character who can "win" an episode by default, when, IMO, the only character doing that should be Elena, the alleged protagonist. I think that's why, in the end, Damon has the most episodes. In my head, it's something like this---

S1 Story-Arc: Elena gets caught up in the supernatural when the Salvatores come to MF, Emotional-Arc: Damon struggles with his feelings for Katherine and turns on his humanity.
S2 Story-Arc: Elena is the doppelganger and must be sacrificed, Emotional-Arc: Damon struggles with his humanity and his feelings for Elena.
S3 (speculation) Story-Arc: Stefan struggles with his human blood addiction/Everyone gets caught up with the Originals, Emotional-Arc: Elena and Damon struggle with their feelings for each other and their attachment to Stefan.

I don't know if I explained that in a way that makes any sense, but there it is.
Arabian: Damon03arabian on November 27th, 2011 12:41 am (UTC)
No, it makes perfect sense and I agree. I think that Damon (thanks to Ian Somerhalder's performance-- and I genuinely believe that I am saying this unbiasedly -- I think he brought so much more depth and vulnerability to the role than was ever envisioned) is just so dynamic a character with so much richness of character that it's just so easy to focus on him.
x5valex5vale on December 7th, 2011 11:16 pm (UTC)
Sorry to butt in but this is perfectly put imo.

*loves me some Damon*
x5valex5vale on December 7th, 2011 11:14 pm (UTC)
I appreciate that you are unbiased when do these posts and you are also well balanced.

I agree with all your choices and about the overall central character of this season, as you said, it could easily be Stefan, he is actually not. I have the feeling that this season, more than any other, will be centered on the three of them and will explore more the brotherly bond.
Arabian: DE & Stefan01arabian on December 21st, 2011 01:55 am (UTC)
I really do try and be unbalanced, and when I see yet another Damon one pop up, I really go back and re-evaluate all of the other possibilities because I am biased towards him. :)

I have the feeling that this season, more than any other, will be centered on the three of them and will explore more the brotherly bond.

And I have no problem with that if such is the case!