When we last left off with our heroine Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev) in the first season of The Vampire Diaries, she was walking into her home after her nefarious vampire doppelgänger Katherine had just brutally stabbed Uncle John. Elena’s arrival probably saves John's life, as she narrowly avoids meeting Katherine for the first time.
The first episode of the second season, "The Return," follows Katherine as she intertwines herself in MysticFalls, often confusing the people in Elena's life into believing she's their friend and making the Salvatore brothers, Damon and Stefan, aware of her presence.
The second season highlights the character of Tyler Lockwood (Michael Trevino), the son of MysticFalls' mayor who tragically died last season. Tyler isn't dealing with his father's death particularly well, complicated by the fact that he and his dad never really got along in the first place. As Mrs. Lockwood (Susan Walters) becomes interim mayor following her husband's death, Tyler and his mother welcome the mysterious Uncle Mason (Taylor Kinney) into their lives.
Damon (Ian Somerhalder) senses something is a little bit off with Mason, however. He soon begins to suspect that the Lockwoods might be a different kind of supernatural creature altogether. After being attacked on the full moon by a supernaturally strong and fast werewolf, Damon's suspicions are ultimately confirmed.
Other focal points in the second season include Caroline's startling transformation early on, the introduction of the centuries-old vampire Rose, the legend of the Sun & Moon curse, a mysterious and seemingly invincible vampire named Elijah, Isobel's surprising return, and the late addition of the villainous Klaus (Joseph Morgan).
Surprisingly, Jeremy and Bonnie form a strong friendship and connection. Caroline and Matt hit the rocks, especially when Tyler begins to show interest in her. Damon's feelings towards Elena bring his repressed humanity much more to the surface than it did in season one, and he finds himself helping his brother protect Elena while growing resentful of Stefan's close relationship with the woman both brothers can't help but love.
If the first season was all about proving that The Vampire Diaries was a story worth telling, then the second season is all about giving fans the twists and turns they've come to expect from one of the best shows on television. This year, not everyone is going to make it out alive, and the deaths of many beloved characters only fuel the fanatical obsession many have with the greatest show on The CW. If you aren't a fan, then now is the time. Reserve the first season to start, then the second season to get caught up. Also, check out the previous blog entry A DVD to Bite Into, part 1. The third season is currently airing, with new episodes to return on January 5, 2012.
There is also a list of the original series of books by L.J. Smith on BiblioCommons.