rating: 4Season three of The Vampire Diaries returned last Thursday night kicking off with first episode titled 'The Birthday'. Be ready a whole lot happened. In the last season we saw Stefan give himself over to Klaus in exchange for a cure for werewolf bitten Damon. This season begins with Klaus and Stefan tracking a guy named Ray Sutton. In their search Klaus compels a young girl into letting them into her house, after terrorising them for information, the location of a bar where Ray hangs out, Klaus orders Stefan to kill them both, which he does in gruesome fashion. It looks like the brooding Stefan of old is definitely gone, hes back to his Ripper days which Klaus alluded to in the last season. Back in Mystic Falls Elena is pinning after Stefan and searching for a lead on his whereabouts. After getting a tip from Sheriff Forbes (Carolines mum, who if you remember is now all on board with the whole vampire thing after finding out about Caroline and nearly killing Jeremy last season) Elena lets herself into Salvatore house to be greeted by Damon just out of the bath in nothing but some strategically placed bubbles (thatll keep the fan girls happy). Its good to see Damon back to his flirtatious best and teasing Elena. While Damon tells Elena that the lead is worthless it turns out he has been secretly tracking Stefan, wanting to keep Elena safe from danger. He and Alaric check out the possible lead and find the two girls Stefan killed in the opening. Damon confirms its Stefan through his signature killing method, blacking out in a feeding frenzy and ripping his victims in to pieces, hence the nickname the Ripper. But even more sinister is the fact that Stefan then puts the victims back together, propping them up like some creepy psychopath. Damon sets the house on fire to hide all the evidence. Things have certainly come along way from the first series where Damon was the troublemaker brother and Stefan the responsible one. Meanwhile Caroline is planning Elenas 18th Birthday party and doing some serious flirting with Tyler, even though their 'just friends'. The whole friend thing isnt that convincing, especially as Caroline seems very put out when she finds out Tyler is bringing a date to the party. You know its not going to be to long before these two get it together. Not to long turns out to be the length of an episode as by the end theyre rolling around in bed together. Jeremy, who is now working at the grill, is still seeing the ghosts of his dead vampire girlfriends. Why just them? Will he start seeing Aunt Jenna, shes dead too? Or is it because they died as vampires? Also why doesnt Jeremy tell Bonnie (who he is chatting to via some dodgy product placement) whats going on, shes the most qualified person around to understand whats happening, I mean it started after she did her witch thing and brought him back to life. And Matt hes not over Caroline or as easily accepting of the supernatural as everyone else in town. Damon gives Elena a birthday gift, her vervain necklace she though she lost. She then asks Damon to put it on her, now whos doing the flirting, I mean shes getting her neck out for a vampire, come on. Then shes being escorted into the party on Damons arm. For Elenas protests there is definitely an attraction there and with Stefan away things are looking to get more complicated. Klaus finds Ray, who it turns out is a werewolf, Klaus wants to know where the rest of Ray's pack are. When Ray wont co-operate Klaus orders Stefan to torture him with darts coated in wolfsbane. If Klaus needed a werewolf why didnt he just take Tyler? Both he and Stefan know about him and where to find him? Perhaps its because Tyler is not part of a pack? Klaus needs lots of werewolves for his evil plan. Klaus then get news that Damon is closing in on them and decides he needs to be dealt with. Stefan pleads with Klaus to let him deal with Damon (as a way of protecting Damon maybe?). Finally the brothers have their first showdown of the series, I'm sure there will be many more to come. Stefan decides to warn Damon off by compelling Andie, Damons 'girlfriend', to jumping to her death, while he makes Damon watch helplessly. Stefan didn't even feed on Andie, which makes the killing seem all the more worse, if he fed on her at least we could blame the blood, but this way seems very cold hearted. Damon returns to the party to find out that Elena has found his secret Stefan tracking cupboard and she is not best pleased. Damons not in the best mood either after his run in with Stefan, he tells Elena to forget Stefan, thats hes gone and is never coming home. We rarely get to see true emotion from Damon, its all smart comments, crazy eyes and dancing brows, but when he smashes up the bedroom, you sense that its only in that moment that hes realised just how lost to them all his brother really is. Alaric is not coping well after the death of Jenna, it appears hes been sleeping on Elena and Jeremys couch all summer, having crazy hair and drinking. Also theres not much chaperoning going on at Elenas party, hes just sitting there getting drunk along side his students, which is weird and really inappropriate. Do we sense a blossoming bromance between him and Damon though? Lets hope so, theyre quite funny together. Alaric decides to move out of the Gilbert house in attempt to sort out his life, telling Elena, shes eighteen she can do all this herself. Which is a bit harsh, shes now lost every parental figure shes ever had. After giving up the whereabouts of his pack, a battered up Ray is force feed Vampire blood by Klaus before he snaps his neck. We have our first hybrid on the way. Finally we get a glimmer of the old Stefan, who rings Elena, he doesnt say anything but the pain is written all over his face, its clear he is not enjoying himself and is doing all this to protect the people he loves. Elena doesnt seem fazed by the fact hes been off murdering innocent people and tells him "You'll be okay. I love you, Stefan. Hold onto that. Never let that go. I know Stefan chose to go with Klaus to save Elena and Damon, but how many dead people can we actually forgive? And surely he must know that creating a hybrid vampire/werewolf army is not gonna lead to anything good for any of them. The show ends with Caroline being caught sneaking out of Tylers bedroom by Mrs Lockwood, who promptly shoots her with vervain tranquiliser darts. And you thought that disapproving stare was just to do with the late night shenanigans happening under her roof. How did she find out about Caroline being a vampire? And does she know about Tyler too? Up until now it seemed as if she didnt know about the Lockwood curse. Overall a great episode and good season opener. Favourite Line:
"Hold the fort down, will you?" "You mean the fort full of my drunk history students?" "Drink more. You'll feel less weird."Favourite Scene: When Damon finds the bodies of the girls Stefan killed and explains how he got his 'Ripper' nickname, because it shows a whole other side to Stefan and is really creepy. So Vampire fans what did you think of the first episode? What are your thoughts on what it means for the rest of season 3? Have your say and leave a comment.
Writer: Kevin Williamson Director: John Behring Cast: Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Steven R. McQueen, Zach Roerig, Candice Accola, Michael Travino, Matthew Davis, Joseph Morgan, Dawn Olivieri.