Man, a lot happens in this show!  In this recap of the 2 previous seasons, I’ll give you a rundown of the most important events and relationships so you’re refreshed and prepared for the big season 3 premiere this Thursday night. Here goes!

Season One

Welcome to Mystic Falls, Virginia, a fictional town steeped in rich history and tradition, which is quaint as long as it doesn’t point to a tragic and sordid past.  Uh oh…

Elena Gilbert is a 17 year old girl who is feeling somber and lonely these days because of her parents’ recent demise in a car crash that she survived.  She lives with her brother Jeremy, 15, and her aunt Jenna, who is young enough to only be referred to as Jenna, not Aunt.  One day a hot, young, and mysterious  fella (also, he’s a secret vampire) named Stefan Salvatore arrives at school and quickly falls for Elena.  Elena is still troubled though, as Jeremy has fallen into the drug crowd and is chasing a slatternly girl named Vicki.  Vicki also happens to be the sister of Elena’s former boyfriend Matt.  Unbeknownst to just about everyone, Stefan’s brother Damon (also a vampire) has also appeared in town.  He makes his presence known by biting some kids in the woods, including Vicki, whom he eventually turns.  In this vampire world, if a human dies with vampire blood in their system, they will return as a vampire.  The Salvatore brothers are able to walk in the sunlight thanks to magical rings they wear, but either way, they will not sparkle.

Elena meets Damon at Stefan’s family estate, where he is generally sexy and mischievous and mentions Stefan’s former lady-friend, Katherine, and also drops hints that Stefan stole Katherine from him.  Elena and Stefan continue to date and, after seeing an old (1864 old) photo of a Salvatore relative that looks like Stefan (because it is him), he outs himself as a vampire to her.  After sleeping with him, Elena discovers a picture of Katherine, who looks exactly like Elena.  Vampire Vicki becomes wild and uncontrollable and Stefan is forced to stake her.  Damon compels Elena’s frenemy Caroline and feeds from her.  Elena’s best friend Bonnie begins to develop witchy powers and learns she is descended from a long line of witches whose power began with Emily Bennett, friend to Katherine back in the day (1864 day).

Sheriff Forbes (Caroline’s mom) knows the town’s history of vampires and witches and is part of the Founder’s Council, a group of the town’s most important descendants who fight the vampires in secret.  Damon joins forces with her and kills Lexi, Stefan’s best vampire friend, who is visiting for Stefan’s birthday.  This increases the rift between the two brothers.  Damon grows tired of Caroline, who starts dating Matt, Elena’s ex.  A new teacher named Alaric comes to town and takes Jeremy under his wing, encouraging him to research an old Gilbert family journal he found.  While researching, Jeremy meets and dates Anna, a loner geeky girl who reveals herself to be a vampire.

Damon reveals that he came back to town to free Katherine, who was entombed with other vampires back in 1864.  Katherine was a conniving but beautiful vampire who made both brothers fall in love with her and then turned them into vampires as well.  Anna also believes her mother Pearl is in the tomb.  Elena discovers that she was adopted and her real parents were Isobel, Alaric’s ex-wife, and a man she thought to be her disliked uncle, John Gilbert.  Both Alaric and John Gilbert fancy themselves to be vampire hunters.  After the tomb is opened and Katherine is not inside, Damon realizes she cared nothing for him and sinks into a depression.  Isobel makes a brief reappearance in town to meet Elena.  Damon had turned Isobel into a vampire shortly after she left Alaric, though he had believed her dead.

John Gilbert stakes both Anna and her mother Pearl, on orders from Katherine to kill the vampires discovered in the tomb.  He and Isobel had both been working for Katherine to destroy the Salvatore brothers to keep Elena from vampires.  After a tragic day in the town square, we finally see Katherine, who comes face to face with Elena.

Season 2

Katherine plays mind games with the Salvatores and pretends to be Elena around town.  Jeremy attempts suicide after hearing of Anna’s death, and John Gilbert gives him a ring that will keep him from dying.  This proves to be rather important later when an angry and impetuous Damon snaps his neck.  Katherine uses Caroline to spy on the Salvatores and Elena, and when she’s bored she turns her into a vampire as a “message” for the brothers.  Tyler, another friend of Elena’s, has been suffering from angry outbursts.  When his uncle Mason comes to town, he explains it’s the beginning of their family curse…a werewolf curse!  But no worries, because the curse is only triggered once you kill someone.  Cue the next scene, where Tyler accidentally pushes a girl into a sharp desk corner and kills her.  Caroline, struggling with her own transformation, becomes close to Tyler.

Everyone in town searches for a magical moonstone that is the key to breaking the curse that keeps vampires out of the sun and werewolves enslaved to the moon.  Word comes to town that Elijah, one of the original vampires, is looking for Elena because she is Katherine’s doppelganger.  Her blood is needed to break the moonstone curse.  Elena offers herself to Elijah in return for protection for the rest of her family and friends.  Damon’s friend Rose appears, but when she is bitten by a werewolf she sinks into a slow decay until he mercy-stakes her.  He and Stefan vow to fight together to save Elena.

Elijah reveals that he is keeping Elena safe for his half – brother, Klaus.  Klaus is also an original vampire, but his father was a werewolf.  Witches have put a curse on him to keep the werewolf half of him subdued.  In order to break this curse, Klaus needs the moonstone, a witch to perform the ritual, a werewolf and vampire to sacrifice, and the blood of the doppelganger.  He intends to use Bonnie, Tyler, and Caroline in the ritual but ends up using his own witch, Jules (Mason’s girlfriend and Tyler’s werewolf tutor), and Jenna, whom he turns right before the ceremony.  He kills both Jules and Jenna and drains Elena of all her blood.  She comes back to life in a sort of life source swap with her father, John Gilbert, and he dies.

Klaus becomes half vampire, half werewolf and goes on a killing spree, which includes his brother Elijah.  Damon has been accidentally bitten by Tyler during his full moon transformation and is increasingly unable to tell the difference between his past life with Katherine and his present life with Elena as he descends into deathbed madness.  Sheriff Forbes accidentally shoots Jeremy and kills him.  Bonnie has gotten very close to Jeremy (they’ve been making out!) and demands that her witch ancestors bring him back to life.  The witches are angry that Bonnie keeps borrowing their power and ominously warn her there will be consequences for bringing him back.  Bonnie tells Stefan that Klaus is the key to saving Damon, but Klaus will only give his half-and-half blood (the cure) to Damon if Stefan returns to his old human-killing self, “Ripper.”  Stefan leaves town with Klaus after killing a girl, and Elena is left with the now cured and still dreamy Damon.  Jeremy discovers the consequences of his resurrection as he now sees the ghosts of Vicki and Anna in his house.

Season 3 is bound to have lots of angsty action as Elena pines for Stefan, Damon pines for Elena, and Stefan becomes a blood-sucking wing-man to Klaus.  I can’t wait!