It's that time of year again: Who's Who in Season Three of The Vampire Diaries. Catch up! It was kind of busy.

STEFAN SALVATORE

still hating Elena two years later" alt="The Ripper" />

Last year started off with Stefan being shocked and horrified that Katherine was back; this year, Stefan was tooling around the South with Klaus, making hybrids that lasted half a day and being The Ripper 2.0. He's come back out of that, thank God (in part thanks to his Chicago Closet of Shame [note: THIS IS A REAL THING]), and he's made baby steps in trying to come back to the guy he was at the start of S1, but he's sort of accepted that the Stefan Salvatore Shame Spiral isn't really working and that he needs to find a healthier way of dealing with eternity.

Also: for real, he and Rebekah were briefly a thing, and he and Klaus were beffies. In the 1920s. In a speakeasy. WHY ARE YOU SO MUCH COOLER IN THE PAST, LITTLEST SALVATORE.

DAMON SALVATORE

not the hero of the story

This was a weird year, for Damon. He started off road tripping around the South with Alaric, cleaning up after Stefan's murder sprees, and ended up in a gentleman's agreement with his brother that whoever Elena finally chose, the other would stay away until she died of old age. ...which is totally not going to happen, now that she's a vampire, but in theory, it was actually kind of honorable.

I mean, he also killed a bunch of people, made out with Elena in a dive-y motel hallway, and watched his best friend die and come back an evil Original vampire, but, you know. Balance.

ELENA GILBERT

the hero of her own story

Makeouts in a hotel hallway notwithstanding, when it came down to Salvatore vs. Salvatore, Elena went Apollonian and chose Stefan, thus validating everything I believed when I was twelve years old and crying my eyes out over Dark Reunion. Oh, except she met Damon first. Like, six months before she met Stefan. Because God forbid both Salvatores not be total creepers. She's also the key to making hybrids.

Also: oh, hey! Elena's a vampire now! So. That happened.

BONNIE BENNETT

last of the Bennetts

Bonnie had a hell of year. She started off still dating Jeremy, who she was really in love with and really loved her back...right up until he got tempted into emotionally cheating on her with Anna. Yeah, that Anna. The dead one. Did I mention that Jeremy can only even see ghosts because Bonnie was being smacked down by the universe for bringing him back at the end of last season?

Also, she found her mom! Who is totally not dead of cancer! But who left the family at a screaming run when she was, like, two because of shenanigans involving Mikael, the Originals' father--and moved like fifteen minutes away, in a dick move not seen since Spencer Reid's dad on Criminal Minds moved literally two towns over and never told his son. Also, she totally found an orphan boy and raised him, because that won't be emotionally traumatizing to the teenage daughter you left as a toddler. (Hilariously, the boy--Jamie--ended last season dating Bonnie, and emotionally supporting her while fending off Klaus. He is literally the best guy she's ever dated, so ten bucks says he starts the season dead.)

Sadly, at the end of last season, a bunch of dead witches nonconned Bonnie into giving a transitioning Alaric blood against his will, thus creating Evil Alaric to destroy the Originals (and with them, all vampires). Bonnie, understandably pissed that a bunch of dead witches pulled this shit, basically said "fuck all this shit" and made Dark Phoenix face, so...so yeah, that should totally be fine, right?

CAROLINE FORBES

the reigning Miss Mystic Falls

The reigning Miss Mystic Falls had kind of a quiet year. Most of it was Boy Drama--Klaus loves her, but he's a nightmarish murdering monster and she thinks he's a dick; Tyler loves her, but he became a hybrid (and Klaus' puppet, basically--thanks, sire bond) and that really put a crimp in things.

There's also the fact that her dad came back to town all of twice: the first time to torture her into not being a vampire anymore, the second time to--well, die, essentially. So, yeah, little up and down on this one.

JEREMY GILBERT

he sees dead people

Oh, Littlest Gilbert. Jeremy...Jeremy did not have a lot to do this year. Started off strong, seeing dead people thanks to Bonnie's last-minute defying of the nature of magic after Liz accidentally shot him, but then Bonnie dumped him because he emotionally cheated on her with the ghost of his vampire girlfriend, and--you know, he's sixteen. I try to give him leeway.

Jeremy also stepped up this year, taking out a hybrid that was trying to kidnap Elena and kill Alaric by shooting him with a crossbow and cutting off his head with a goddamned meat cleaver. BADASS, SON.

Elena decided that that was the last straw and asked Damon to have "one of [his] little talks" with Jeremy again, sending him to Denver--not that that kept him safe, because Kol followed him out there and befriended him, because Originals do not fuck around with emotional hostages. He's back in town now, still seeing dead people and mourning Alaric, the last parental figure he had (who just got murdered). So...yeah, this is gonna be a rough one.

TYLER LOCKWOOD

broke every bone in his body for the woman he loves

Man, this just wasn't your year, was it, Lockwood?

Tyler started off okay--not thrilled at being a werewolf, because unlike on Teen Wolf, being a TVD werewolf totally sucks: every bone in your body breaks, you become a giant fucking wolf, you have a tendency to kill who- and whatever you run across. Not great. But he made do, because he had Caroline, and they loved each other.

And then Klaus showed up, and everything became a shitshow.

In order to get Bonnie to crack the whole "how do I has stable hybrids?" conundrum, Klaus turned Tyler--meaning that if Bonnie didn't figure it out, one of her best friends was going to be dead before morning. She did, luckily, but it left them with a second problem: Klaus didn't turn Tyler, he sired him, which is much more rare and basically unbreakable. Remember that episode of Buffy where Xander was Dracula's buttmonkey? Like that, but with less adoration and more "why would I question this thing Klaus told me to do?" It left everyone untrusting of Tyler and led to him and Caroline breaking up--sucky, but not surprising, because God forbid anyone on this show be happy for longer than ten minutes.

Tyler ended up breaking the sire bond the old-fashioned way--by going into the wilderness and changing about three hundred times, breaking every bone in his body over and over again until it burned away the bond. He and Caroline got back together, because come on, that's love.

Aaaaaaaaand now Klaus, thanks to Evil Alaric staking him, is hiding inside of Tyler like a Russian nesting doll. Did I mention Klaus is in love with Caroline? Yeah, this won't be weird and/or horrible at ALL.

MATT DONOVAN

the last human left alive

Matt is basically the only human-human left in Mystic Falls at this point, now that Jeremy can see dead people. He is also about three weeks away from selling blood and burning mattresses for heat, if he's not there already. Seeing as he also occasionally steps away from vampire shenanigans either to earn money or because shit gets too crazy, he is possibly the smartest man in town. I love him a lot.

ALARIC SALTZMAN

in memoriam

Every year Mystic Falls needs a sacrificial lamb; this year, after dodging it the last two seasons running, it was Alaric's turn. Worse, he didn't even get the nobility of a clean death: after choosing not to transition, Bonnie--powered by a thousand dead witches, and under Esther's orders--walked in and shoved blood into his mouth, killing the world's most awesome history teacher and having a monster (literally) rise in his place.

The last we saw of him, though, he was saying goodbye to Jeremy--who still sees dead people!--and promising to stick around, in case he's needed. (Which will probably not be all that often, since Matt Davis's show Cult got picked up as a midseason CW replacement, but still!)

DR. MEREDITH FELL

not a Sulez, still pretty great

Meredith's....Meredith's a weird one. Basically an OC with the name of one of the book series' most beloved characters, Meredith is a Fell--because frankly, since Logan died, we've been down one of those who a) lasted more than an episode and b) we gave a damn about--and a doctor at the hospital, who frequently inches past the morals clause to dose terminal patients up on vampire blood and give them a second chance. Which is actually kind of great, except for the nasty habit of said patients tending to turn up dead (and thus, vampires themselves) right after it happens.

Also, she and Alaric straight-up had a weird relationship, but she's apparently sticking around, and--she and Damon are supposed to become drinking buddies? This could totally work, as long as they don't have sex. Mostly because women Damon sleep with try to kill him eventually. Because, you know, they've met him.

SHERIFF LIZ FORBES

BEST MOM IN TOWN

Sheriff Forbes--or, as we call her around these parts, "Caroline's Mom", and "Best Recurring Character on This Show"--has had a fairly low-key year. She pointed a gun at her ex-husband when he showed up to torture Caroline into not being a vampire, got really pissed off at a serial killer who wasn't a vampire, and ended the year outed as keeping the Salvatores secret to the Council as a whole by Evil Alaric, in what was basically a dick move parting shot.

So yeah, this year's going to be interesting for her.

MAYOR CAROL LOCKWOOD

you guys, she has a second family in California

Carol--otherwise known by her aliases, Lydia's Mom From Teen Wolf or IRL Mrs. Linden Ashby--did okay this year. She was not even remotely thrilled to find out that Liz's daughter (and her son's girlfriend) was a vampire, but she got over that once she realized that Caroline is not going around eating half the marching band. She kept her head as best she could in an untenable situation with Klaus and the Mikaelsons, and is generally keeping Mystic Falls going by the skin of her teeth, all while powered by white wine.

I mean, sure, Evil Alaric outed her and Liz as vampire not-murderers just before the finale, but that can't possibly bite her in the ass, right?

KLAUS

the world's first hybrid

After getting a taste of the world's first hybrid at the end of last season, this year we got full-tilt Klaus: desperate to create himself a surrogate family by figuring out how to make hybrids that didn't die horribly after six hours, then treating them as also-rans when he started undaggering his siblings. We found out he and Stefan used to be beffies back in the 1920s and met the rest of the Originals, and found out that the monster has a heart: Klaus, it seems, is legitimately in love with Caroline, though being Klaus, he's going about trying to woo her in the worst possible way.

After trying to cut his losses and drain Elena for a supply of doppelganger blood--necessary for stable hybrids--he got daggered just in time for Evil Alaric to kill him with a white ash stake. Not that that did anything, really, since he'd already moved into his new home: Tyler's body. Never underestimate a thousand-year-old super villain who doesn't trust a single other person in existence.

ELIJAH

BEST OF THE ORIGINALS

Everyone's favorite Original spent most of this season daggered 'til Damon woke him up in a fit of pique, and Elijah...promptly decided to give his siblings a second (or fifty-eighth, whatever) chance. Esther just as promptly wrecked that by trying to kill her children, leading the Originals to kidnap and almost murder Elena, who was a key part of Esther's first plan. Elijah, who straight-up might have a little thing for Elena but who definitely likes her as a person, realized that this was, you know, fucking horrifying and apologized (via a politely calligraphed note, because he is all class) before leaving town.

He returned long enough to try and dagger Klaus for everyone's own good, but not long enough to realize that Klaus is using Tyler like a nesting doll. Come back soon, Best Original! We all miss you!

REBEKAH

the only girl of seven children

Rebekah--the only girl in her family--is a strange one. She splits her time fairly equitably between being Klaus' partner-in-crime/catspaw (leading to him daggering her when she gets all willful), a total horrible murderer (I think Rebekah ended up winning the Damon Salvatore Torture Hour on sheer numbers, this year), and a girl who's never going to get older than eighteen, vulnerable and needing friends (every. single. time she gets near Matt, and occasionally around Caroline). Seriously, if you end up tracking Original vampires to MF vamps, she's basically the Damon. (Which...is hilarious and awful in equal measure.)

Rebekah's main contribution to the season--above and beyond the aforementioned repeated Damon torture, and a sketchy lady-lady-dude threesome for purposes of distraction--came near the end: pissed that Evil Alaric "killed" Klaus, Rebekah engineered the car accident that ran Matt and Elena off the road, killing Elena. Of course, Rebekah doesn't know yet that Meredith gave Elena vampire blood to help her heal when Klaus tried draining her, so...that's gonna be a thing in like a week. Start running now, princess.

KOL

a second-rate Andrew Garfield with murder eyes

Kol--sketchiest of the Originals? Possibly--is the youngest male, maybe a year older than Rebekah and a hundred times more murderous. On the sliding scale of "I really don't enjoy this" to "YAAAAAAY MURDER", Kol is firmly in the latter camp. He doesn't have a lot to do once he gets undaggered, beyond breaking Matt's hand for shits and giggles, and befriending Jeremy in Denver to keep an eye on him, because Originals are sometimes dicks--but he's not dead, so we'll probably be seeing him again. Dammit.

(This is not meant as a knock to Nate, who seems like a legitimately nice person; if anything, it's more impressive, because it's got to be hard to be nice IRL and just sketchy as hell for work.)

FINN

all jaw momma's boy

We didn't learn a lot about Finn: he looked like a dour Clive Owen, or a perpetually sad Henry Ian Cusick; he made Sage, back in the day, and was her lover; he allowed himself to be daggered, in part, because he hated what he'd become. He was more than willing to serve as Esther's initial sacrifice in the ritual to kill all her children; when he ended up getting killed (by Matt freaking Donovan, no less), it destroyed every vampire in his line--including Sage, who was trying to kill Damon at the time. It was horribly timed, considering he'd just gotten back with the only woman he'd ever loved and finally had something to live for, but you can't say he wasn't gunning for it from the start.

MIKAEL

or his other title, the archangel balthazar

The father of the Originals--six of 'em, anyway--Mikael realized too late that he and his wife created monsters, and decided to spend the next thousand years trying to hunt down and kill his children. Obviously, since Abby Bennett locked him away at the cost of her powers, he didn't have a lot of success 'til Katherine woke him up (and, you know, there weren't any dead Originals). He finally tracked Klaus down to the Mystic Falls Homecoming Dance, only for a combination of Katherine (posing as Elena) and a whammied Stefan (who wanted out of the deal) to help Klaus kill him.

ESTHER

in the running for world's worst mom

Mikael's wife and the creator of the Originals, Esther is literally the definition of "buyer's remorse". Oh, sure, having your husband and children with you forever sounds great--until you realize that they're going to have to eat people to do it, and then suddenly you're all "waaaaaaaaait, I didn't sign up for this." (Granted, Klaus killing her didn't help matters.)

Esther managed to come back from the dead this year and immediately inform her kids that Plan A was destroying them (and with them, all vampires). The Mikaelsons--except for Finn, who is a dink--were not really on board with that plan, for totally understandable reasons. And so began the long, slow slide from "Original witch" to "basically S3's big bad", what with kidnapping Elena for curse-related purposes, making Alaric a) a serial killer and b) an Original vampire to hunt down the other Original vampires and c) just straight-up wanting to murder her children.

Esther was last seen being dead--again--thanks to Evil Alaric, but let's face it: on this show, that means she won't come back for like six weeks.

AYANA

first of the bennetts

Ayana--or, as she's known around here, The First Bennett--was a friend of Esther's, and a witch besides. Ayana was the one who Esther turned to when she wanted to create a spell that would let her family live forever; Ayana, being a witch first and not totally stupid or crazy second, was like, "Uh, no, that is a terrible idea. Don't do that." (Presumably this is also tied into the fact that there have always been Bennetts in Mystic Falls/Fell's Church, possibly to prevent this sort of shit from happening again.)

--of course, Ayana was also the witch to help Esther come back from the dead, leading to a series of terrible events including, but not limited to, Bonnie's mom being a vampire and Alaric being dead. So she's not batting a thousand, here.

ABBY BENNETT

bonnie's totally not-dead mom

So remember, waaaaaaay back at the OH SHIT DINNER PARTY in S1, when Bonnie said that her mom died of cancer when she was a little kid? Yeah, not so much. After shenanigans involving locking Mikael in that crypt Katherine found him in--and locking away her own magic to do it--Abby peaced out and left Bonnie and her dad, moving about two hours up the road and taking in an orphan boy to raise, because that wouldn't gut her only daughter when she found out about it like fourteen years later.

Bonnie tracked Abby down for plot-related purposes, and the two set about trying to form a relationship again--until Damon, trying to sap power from Esther (and a dead Ayana via the Bennett bloodline--look, this is a complicated show, okay) gave her blood and killed her, making her a vampire--and Abby completed the transition.

Abby's still technically in Bonnie's life, though she's keeping her distance while she figures out this whole vampire thing. As is perfectly understandable. We wish her well.

BILL FORBES

you can't be fixed

Season 3 will always be the year we finally met Bill Forbes, Liz's ex-husband and Caroline's dad. An absent father at the best of times, Bill returned just in time to A) learn his only daughter was a vampire and B) promptly begin torturing her to try and teach her not to drink blood. Because that's really going to work.

Bill took off after accepting Caroline was a vampire--yay!--and telling her she was never going to get better--asshole--only to reappear and become a victim of whoever was stomping around Mystic Falls killing Council members. Unfortunately for Bill, he'd been injured and secretly "helped" when Meredith gave him vampire blood, so...yeah.

Bill ultimately chose to die rather than complete his transition, marking the first (and so far, only) time we've seen someone not become a vampire once the ball gets rolling.

SAGE

I learned some of my favorite tricks from you

Sage--or, as I call her, "Evil Lexi", because she bears no relation to the Sage I know and love from the shitty new novels, and also, she is basically Damon's Lexi, only evil--introduced Damon to the wonderful world of mind-raping ladies (and, presumably, gentlemen) to feel better about the fact that he eats people. Seriously: Damon Salvatore was surly, pissy about being a vampire, and had a whopping case of OCD 'til he met this one, and now he is--you know, Damon. So that's like eight-tenths on her.

She was also Finn's ex-girlfriend, out of seemingly nowhere, and created by him. So when Finn got staked, we got to see a pretty fast example of what happens when you kill an Original: nothing good for the rest of his (or her) bloodline.

JAMIE

I hope you're not dead, sir

We still don't know a lot about Jamie: he was raised by Abby after she took off and left Bonnie (and Bonnie's dad), and he seems remarkably unflapped by vampires and witches. He is also, as of the end of S3, the only person Bonnie's dated who hasn't A) cheated on her (Jeremy), B) tried to kill her (Sean the bartender), or C) died (Carny Guy Caroline Ate), so he's kind of batting a thousand, here.

VICKI DONOVAN

still hating Elena two years later

Everyone's favorite First Dead Credit Sequence Character came back this year--as a ghost. Even worse, as a ghost who missed her brother and Jeremy and wanted to save the world by making damn sure Elena got killed. Which, not for nothing, but probably would have saved a lot of heartbreak? Still, Donovan, that's no cause for setting Alaric's car on fire.

ANNA

most of this was jeremy's fault

Jeremy's second girlfriend (and teenage vampire), Anna came back to try and keep him away from Vicki while warning him about what the ghosts in town were up to. She also...didn't precisely encourage him not to emotionally cheat on Bonnie, leading to the two of them kissing (and Bonnie dumping his ass). She was last seen getting one of the few honest-to-God happy endings on this show, reunited in death with Pearl and traveling on to whatever lies beyond. Godspeed, kid.

LEXI

THE BEST

Because it's not a season of TVD without The Best Dead Recurring Character Ever, this year's Mystic Falls Night of Illumination--part of a seemingly never-ending spate of stupid-ass things to do at night in a town frequently overrun by vampires--had guest-stars: specifically, a bunch of ghosts who, thanks to Bonnie bringing Jeremy back from the dead, decided to come back for the day and handle their unfinished business. And, as usual, Lexi's unfinished business was saving Stefan from himself.

Of course, since she's a vampire, Lexi's idea of "tough love" involves tying Stefan up in the Forbes Memorial Torture Basement and torturing him 'til he was better, but still, it's hard not to admire her commitment, especially at a time when everyone (including Stefan himself) had written off the Littlest Salvatore.

ROSE

SECOND BEST

Rose came back this year long enough for Jeremy to ask her what vampire the Rose/Katherine/Salvatore bloodline came through--spoiler: she has no idea--and to basically be a giant Damon/Elena shipper, even though she's dead. Which kind of makes sense, because she's Damon's Lexi, and Lexi remains a giant Stefan/Elena shipper despite being dead herself. (I don't know; I just like that dead people have dogs in this fight.)

MASON LOCKWOOD

Uncle Mason, last seen getting his heart ripped out (literally and metaphorically) by Damon, came back during the Mystic Falls Night of Illumination for the express purpose of getting Damon to apologize for murdering him. Which Damon totally did, to the surprise of...pretty much everyone (though, of course, it was not what you would call "believable" or "heartfelt"). In return, Mason led Damon--and Elena and Alaric, who can enter the cave, since they're not vampires--to a series of cave paintings underneath the town, depicting the true origins of the Originals. Which, as it turned out, came in pretty handy.

EVIL ALARIC

not your best look, bro

Oh, man. Worst hangover mistake ever.

See, it turns out that all those times he died, the spirits of dead witches were on the Other Side, warping Alaric's not-terrible-fondness for vampires into psychopathic hatred, creating a situation where Alaric developed a split personality--one that hates vampires and those who enable them. Said personality, hereafter called "Evil Alaric" or EA, managed to rack up quite the body count: the town coroner, Bill Forbes, even Alaric himself (which...is not hinky at all, oh no).

And when Alaric was forced to complete the transition by a possessed Bonnie, it was EA who rose in his place, hell-bent on staking all the Originals and thus destroying all vampires forever. The only lucky break anyone got was that EA's existence was tied to Elena's--and when she drowned, EA died, too.

Small consolation. Who's to say Esther and the Gang won't try again?

KATERINA PETROVA/KATHERINE PIERCE

currently missing, for very good reason

Proving she's the smartest person on this show, Katherine--except for a brief visit in Chicago, a pretty sweet 1920s flapper haircut, and inadvertently helping kill Mikael--Katherine is staying the fuck away from Mystic Falls as long as Klaus is there. WHY DOES THAT MAKE ME LIKE YOU MORE, PETROVA, UGH.

TATIA (not yet shown)

Here's what we know about Tatia: the first Petrova, Elijah and Klaus both loved her; they actually came to blows over her, once, and it was her blood that Esther first gave her children and husband when they woke up as vampires, which is presumably why the doppelganger was tied to the Petrova bloodline. Five bucks says when/if she shows up, it's Nina Dobrev in an awesome wig. Get on that, guys.

HENRIK

dodged a bullet

The youngest Original, his death at the age of 12 kickstarted Esther and Mikael's drive to never lose another of their children. (It also didn't help werewolf relations, since he was killed by one during a full moon when he was outside. Werewolves on this show: kind of dicks.)

The Vampire Diaries returns for its fourth season (!!!) next Thursday, October 11, at 8 PM EST.
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