REASON TO WATCH: Season two launch.
WHEN/WHERE: Thursday at 8 p.m. on CW/11
Mystic Falls, Va., had quite the Founder's Day "celebration" in the season finale. The mayor was killed; a small army of vampires plotted a revenge attack on the town's founders; vamp hater John Gilbert (David Anders) incapacitated every bloodsucker within a mile radius with a strange but highly effective machine, thus thwarting their attack. Vamp Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) kissed Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), who is in love with his brother, Stefan (Paul Wesley). Her brother, Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen), appeared to take his own life with a vampiric cocktail of pills and vamp blood.
WHAT PREMIERE IS ABOUT
Katherine Pierce (also Dobrev) is back full-force this season to screw with everyone's heads - especially Damon's (who has loved her for 145 years) and Stefan, who now despises her, but once did not. To confuse matters, Katherine and Elena are dead-ringers, or doppelgängers (Elena is presumably a distant relative). This episode mostly takes place at the memorial for Mayor Richard Lockwood (Robert Pralgo) whose head was pretzel-twisted by a vamp last May. You'll also learn more about the fates of his son Tyler (Michael Trevino) and pal Caroline Forbes (Candice Accola), both injured in the season-ending car crash.
Katherine made her evil undead appearance last season, but this episode is an indication that she's not going anywhere soon, and yes, she's very much as evil and as undead as always. Katherine was a key - maybe the key - protagonist of the L.J. Smith book series that "Vampire Diaries" is based on, inasmuch as she essentially turned the two battling Cain-and-Abel-like bros, Damon and Stefan, into vampires. She and her human doppelgänger, Elena, are also mirror opposites, representing the battle of good vs. evil. And that, friends, is the stuff gothic vampire fables and TV soap operas are largely made of.
Last season, Damon almost seemed like he was just as nice a guy as his brother - maybe a little more lovelorn and cynical. Two decent brothers vying for the love of the same good woman? No thanks. Katherine makes him creepy all over again.
Good start with a pair of shockers. Beware.