Warning, here be spoilers. Yaaargh.
Caroline of the books is vapid, competitive, and snotty, so I was pleasantly shocked when the writers of the show toned down those qualities and made her sympathetic. Sort of like laying on a dentist’s chair with a drill next to your tooth and the dentist goes, “Oh! You don’t have a cavity after all.”
When we meet Caroline in season one, she’s insecure. She has a crush on Stefan Salvatore until he falls for Elena and tells Caroline in no uncertain terms that it’s just not going to happen. I still don’t know if he compelled her or just verbally blew her off. She bounces back by falling into Damon’s bed, which is of course a great idea. He starts biting her and being generally nasty, compelling her not to tell, and they carry on in that fashion of happy vampire homemakers until Elena notices the bruises and bite marks.
Yeah, if I saw my best friend looking like that, I’d be upset too.
Once Stefan has dumped Damon in the basement after spiking Caroline with vervain — a handy trick for stopping your brother from feeding on the populace — and Caroline ends up with the amber crystal Damon compelled her to help him get. It’s right about here that she starts to develop a spine — she gives the crystal to Bonnie Bennett and tells Damon off the next time he comes after her. Even after he compels her to release him, she manages to get away into the sun.
After drowning her sorrows at the Grill, Matt Donovan takes her home and stays with her for the night, beginning a friendship and romantic attachment that is the catalyst for some of Caroline’s biggest changes as a character. Matt encourages Caroline to be more of a thoughtful and caring person, and she responds to what he says instead of blowing him off.
It’s a rough season for Caroline. Abused by Damon, struggling with her budding relationship with Matt, and coming up against Elena’s shadow every time she tries to step into the sun, Caroline keeps trying. Maybe her endeavors aren’t as lofty as a sophisticated viewership would appreciate, but not only does she organize every school dance and party, but she volunteers with so many different town organizations that I wonder how she manages to even shower.
That’s the hallmark of Caroline that first started drawing me to her — she tries. She tries and tries and tries until your heart bleeds for her and you just want to wrap your arms around those scrawny little shoulders.
Her home life explains some of her obsession with acceptance. Her father ran off with his boyfriend and hasn’t been around for years, and her mother is the overworked sheriff and council member who doesn’t take the time to get to know her daughter, much less spend time with her. Caroline’s overcompensation in other areas clearly stems from her perceived inability to achieve her parents’ approval and attention. So when she wins the Miss Mystic Falls competition and finally catches a break, I melted a little on her behalf.
Yet nothing in Mystic Falls stays sunny for long.
When John Gilbert activates the device to incapacitate all the town’s vampires, Tyler Lockwood is mysteriously affected. Which sucks for Caroline, since he’s driving the car she’s in at the moment. Tyler crashes the car, and Caroline is severely injured and lands in the hospital.
A distraught Bonnie tells Damon to heal her with his blood, which he does…not knowing that the recently reappeared Katherine Pierce has her own plans. She gives Caroline a message for the Salvatore brothers and smothers Caroline with her pillow.
And Caroline wakes as a vampire.
This is the second big stage of Caroline’s development. Aside from a couple wacky episodes where she’s getting used to her transition and her normal state of frenetic emotion is even more heightened, she adjusts remarkably well — especially after Bonnie makes her a daylight ring to allow her to return to some sense of normalcy with her life.
Becoming a vampire removes all of Damon’s former compulsions, and Caroline sort of throws him across a room when she gets her memories back. And aside from one human the day she turns, she mostly manages to avoid hurting people and feels tremendous remorse for her lapses.
Stefan helps her through these early stages, teaching her ways to control herself and acting as her sponsor. Caroline later saves both Stefan and Damon from Mason Lockwood and Sheriff Forbes when Mason reveals that they’re vampires, and each time she stands up for herself or her friends, her confidence grows.
Caroline comes into her element as a vampire. She’s faster, stronger, and infinitely more caring and selfless. She is able to make hard decisions for the safety of others, such as when she orchestrates her breakup with Matt. After her mother the sheriff tries to kill Stefan and Damon, they hold Sheriff Forbes captive until they can compel her to forget, and Caroline is able to have real conversations with her mother for what seems like the first time ever — and she makes another difficult decision when she compels her mother to forget their bonding.
She’s there when Tyler Lockwood begins to figure out his werewolf lineage, and she is there when he triggers the curse. Her obvious compassion for his suffering and confusion adds layers of depth to her already interesting character. Even though a werewolf bite can kill a vampire, she stays with him throughout his first full moon and beyond.
When Caroline is captured by the new werewolves in town and brutally tortured, it is another turning point for her character. Tyler struggles with his loyalty and hesitates to help her when he finds her in a cage. This moment breaks her trust in him, and she tells him later that she will never go through that again. At the end of season two, they reconcile after Klaus captures both of them for use in his ritual and Damon rescues them.
Through season three, Caroline is put to torture by her own father (after Tyler’s mother shoots her with vervain) who believes he can burn the bloodlust out of her with the sun, and this time Tyler comes through for her, though their relationship is soon challenged when Klaus makes Tyler his first successful hybrid and Tyler becomes blindly loyal to Klaus.
Caroline more and more continues to make decisions that protect and rescue her more vulnerable friends (and her vampire friends, for that matter), even when it puts her at risk. She is shown time and again to be brave, strong, compassionate, and caring, and for that she is today’s Wednesday Woman.
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox
Join other followers