(1) The realization that it was Katherine who stabbed Uncle John and kissed Damon. It was shocking enough to think Elena was the one who kissed Damon after just professing her undying love to Stefan, but to find out it was Katherine masquerading as Elena was spine-tinglingly awesome!
(2) The scene where Stefan brought a girl for Damon to feed upon to complete his vampire-transformation. All season long we thought it was Damon who was the bad influence, only to find out it was Stefan who pressured Damon to become a vampire. It was shocking – even more so than watching Stefan feed on his own father!
(3) Damon and Elena’s dance at the Miss Mystic Falls event. It started off as a chivalrous gesture when Stefan did not appear to escort Elena, and turned out to be much more erotic than one could have predicted. One could nearly feel the jolt of electricity between them.
(4) Watching Stefan in the bathroom with Kelly after she had cut her head. Stefan-the-junkie was out of control and you just knew he was going to eventually feed on someone – and it looked like Matt’s mom was going to be dinner. So watching Stefan try to hold it together and not take a bite was terrifying.
(5) Watching the pilot for the first time and thinking “oh my god, this show is going to be huge!” It sucked us in from the start and we were anxious for more. Fortunately, the show kept on delivering more, more and more — and left us breathless in the end.
(6) The discovery that Katherine is not in the tomb. It was the sole reason for Damon’s return to Mystic Falls and his tenacious determination to do whatever it took to get that tomb open convinced us that Katherine was inside waiting to be rescued. So when the tomb was opened and she was NOT inside, we were just as shocked. After all, if she was not in the tomb, where had she been for 162 years?!
(7) Damon snapped Uncle John’s neck. When Damon snapped Uncle John’s neck and threw him over the balcony, we were stunned; but then more stunned when John walked right back into the party just fine a few minutes later. How in the world was he able to do that? The introduction of more than one protection ring was a nice twist.
(8) Alaric and Damon teamed up to take out the tomb-vamps holding Stefan hostage. By all rights, Alaric and Damon should have been mortal enemies forever because of what Damon did to Isobel. But seeing Alaric put aside his anger and help Damon rescue Stefan was awesome to behold. Their begrudging friendship feels more natural and fun as a result.
(9) Jeremy meeting Anna in the library. In turns loser-junkie-young-brother and then zombie-like-good-kid, Jeremy took a turn for the cool when he met Anna and they embarked on an unusual friendship exploring whether there were vampires in Mystic Falls – all the while with the audience knowing that Anna was a vampire. It brought out the best in Jeremy and made him suddenly a player in the vampire secret.
(10) Matt and Caroline’s first hang-out session to watch TV and eat tons of munchies. Taking two characters who were kind of third-wheels and turning them into the cutest couple on the show was a stroke of brilliance. It suddenly made them much more relevant and fun to watch and, of all the couples on the show, they stand a better chance of making it through the hard times. We’re rooting for them!
(11) Pearl and Uncle John’s conversation about Jonathan Gilbert. It was masterfully done as Uncle John toyed with Pearl and made her believe that Jonathan had feelings for her. John had warned her that he would seduce her with his charm and he did. After watching Pearl manipulate so many other people, it was fascinating — like watching a snake be bitten.
(12) Bonnie making the feathers dance for Elena to demonstrate her new-found abilities. This is when we new that Bonnie was going to be a force to be reckoned with. Her witch abilities were going to ultimately pit her against the Salvatore brothers and it was cool to know that vampires were not the only things to watch out for in Mystic Falls.
(13) Damon does something good and wiped Jeremy’s memory of Vicki’s death. It was the first inkling we got that Damon might actually be a decent guy when he agreed to wipe Jeremy’s memory of Vicki’s attempt to kill him and Elena. There was literally nothing in it for him, but Damon agreed to do it anyway.
(14) Damon rescued Elena after her car accident and took her on the roadtrip to Georgia. It seemed so out of character for Damon to be the one to rescue Elena after her car flipped and then not ditch her the first chance he got. Instead he took her to Georgia with him because he thought she wasn’t the worst company in the world. Small cracks were beginning to appear in his tough-vamp facade and his acute loneliness was felt by this one small admission.
(15) Damon staked Lexie to get the Town Council off his and Stefan’s back. In one of the more blatantly self-serving and diabolical moves of the first season, Damon staking Lexie to throw the scent off his and Stefan’s trail was outright horrifying. After spending almost an entire episode introducing us to Stefan’s best friend, for Damon to kill her was brutal. But it revealed the lengths Damon would go to in order to protect himself.
(16) Alaric revived after Damon staked him. It felt like another senseless death in a long series of deaths when Damon killed Alaric. So watching Alaric return to life was a moment to rejoice. Perhaps Isobel did love him after all since she gave him such a powerful ring to protect him.
A few predictions for the upcoming second season:
(1) Damon is going to be very angry when he finds out that Katherine is back.
(2) Elena is going to be really confused about Damon’s references to a kiss.
(3) Uncle John will survive being stabbed by Katherine.
(4) Tyler’s secret will come out and Matt will be the first one to know.
(5) Alaric and Jenna will grow closer, only to have Jenna killed off mid-season.
And now we have a long summer wait ahead before we find out what adventures Season 2 will bring . . .
LINK to fun behind–the-scenes VIDEO from the CW Premiere Party 2011 HERE, featuring the cast of “The Vampire Diaries.”