We’ve got a treat for you: During the second season of The Vampire Diaries, the contributors of A Visitor’s Guide to Mystic Falls will be writing recaps, blog posts, and just generally sharing their thoughts on the season. So, tune in each week, both to the show and our blog.
First up, we have a blog post from Jen Barnes, whose essay “Sweet Caroline” is all about, well, you can probably guess: my personal favorite character, Caroline Forbes. Jen’s post expands on her pro-Caroline stance.
Caroline is the voice of normality in the show: the one with ordinary relationships and ordinary traumas and a very human desire to connect with another person and really matter.
—“Sweet Caroline” in A Visitor’s Guide to Mystic Falls
After the end of season one, I chose to write a Vampire Diaries essay on Caroline’s character–about how underrated she is and how she gets stuck with a lot of labels like “shallow” or “mean,” none of which fit nearly as well as Caroline’s friends and family (and maybe even the audience) seem to think they do. Ultimately, I concluded that Caroline was just very human–so, of course, in the first episode of season 2, she gets turned into a vampire. I am also a curse on whatever football team I try to cheer for and the kiss of death for any show I start watching after season four.
That said, I present for your consideration two equally important caveats to my essay. First, I’d like to argue that Vampire Caroline still seems to want the same, very human things that Human Caroline did. And second, I would like to suggest that Vampire Caroline is seriously badass and quite possibly the most awesome non-Damon character on the show.
I will start with the second point first: badass comma seriously. After watching Damon use Caroline as a chew toy for an extended period of time in season one and listening to him tell her that she’s shallow and stupid and nothing–well, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get some level of pleasure out of watching her saunter, vampire style, down the halls of the high school, cool and calm, to tell him off. In the first season, when Damon tried to compel Elena into kissing him and she slapped him across the face, I cheered, but when Caroline–who never had a chance against Damon and went an excessively long time without any friends or family members giving her vervain–knocked him twenty feet through the air, I was ecstatic.
I love Damon as much as the next girl, but he seriously had that one coming, and the fact that Caroline got to do it herself–finally–brought me untold amounts of joy.
Now, having established Vampire Caroline’s baseline awesomeness level, I’d like to return to the main point of this blog entry, and that’s that even as a vampire, Caroline still seems–to me, at least–like the most human person on the show. Elena (who I also love dearly, just FYI) can declare that she is going to have a human day and be a normal teenager to her heart’s content, but Caroline’s still the one who’s struggling to figure out who–and now, what–she is. Her first two orders of business as a vampire are to (a) tell off Damon (see above, re: awesome) and (b) to try to spend time with Matt, her very human boyfriend.
Vampire Caroline is just as vulnerable as her human counterpart was. She’s still concerned with doing things right and being the kind of person other people could love–and just as convinced that she will never be that girl. She worries about being “hideous.” She apologizes profusely to everyone she bites. And she’s devastated by Bonnie’s rejection. How many vampires would, after their first time hunting, break down sobbing that the closest thing she had to a best friend hated her, like that was the straw that broke the camel’s back?
Vampire Caroline is still Caroline–earnest and insecure and wanting desperately to believe that she’s worth something, that she’s not a monster. And I, for once, absolutely adore her.
I’ll end this blog entry talking about another thing I really loved in this episode–and that was Stefan. From day one, everyone on the show has seemed more than willing to say bad things about Caroline. In this episode alone, nice-guy (yeah, right) Matt called her “insecure,” “neurotic,” and “a basket case,” multiple times, and preceded his confession of love by saying that he wanted to “throttle her”–all after she’d just been released from the hospital! But Matt wasn’t the only one slinging the Caroline dirt this episode–Damon dismissed her outright, saying in that patronizing voice he saves for talking about “Blondie” that “Caroline, of all people” would not make it as a vampire. Clearly, Damon didn’t think Caroline was up to snuff–a message he’s conveyed to her over and over again since the day they met.
But at the end of “Brave New World,” for the first time, someone also looked at Caroline and told her that she could be strong. Someone held her and believed in her–and when Stefan promised Caroline that he wouldn’t let anything happen to her–effectively telling her that she was worth saving–I loved him for doing that and for saying those things to her, because as a viewer, I wondered if anyone in Caroline’s life had ever looked at her and told her that she could be the strong one.
I, for one, am looking forward to seeing her be just that.
Great post, Jen. Thanks for it!
If you love this show as much as I do, you’ll want to check out A Visitor’s Guide to Mystic Falls (pre-order today!).