Previously on The Vampire Diaries, ‘Things We Lost in the Fire’
The Brothers Salvatore
Damon is up to his old tricks again: lying in front of cars so they’ll pull over and he can have the driver for a snack. He’s just not finding the same joy in it anymore though, and is convinced he’ll never care about anyone or anything ever again. He’s numb but desperately wants to feel pain; he believes he deserves it as punishment. It’s this pathetic self-loathing that leads to him spending a night engaging in self-destructive behavior with Julian, of all people.
Hoping to provoke violent retaliation, Damon kills another one of Julian’s men. Once Julian discovers what happened to Elena’s body – and after hilariously referring to her as both Helen and Eleanor – he takes pity on Damon and decides he knows just the thing to cheer him up. Julian has set up his own, slightly more lethal version of a fight club. The winners gain permanent residency in Mystic Falls and the losers, well they die. This, Julian assures Damon, is what will help him feel true pain. Eye roll, sigh.
Damon manages to stay alive in the ring, but it looks as though he’s enjoying himself rather than feeling “true pain.” He comes close to having his head ripped off when a woman from the crowd throws him a piece of wood, which he uses to stake his opponent. This violation of vampire-fight-club rules, no weapons, puts Julian in a sour mood. He’s ready to call it a night but Damon wants more, so the two of them agree to a fight. Stefan shows up at this opportune moment and tries to persuade his brother to leave, but Damon is all in at this point, no turning back now.
Julian makes quick work of his battle with Damon; I mean he is around 300 years older and stronger. Finding himself pinned to the ground, Damon searches the crowd for a familiar face, but he’s very much alone. Julian rubs salt in the wound by telling Damon he’s driven away everyone who’s ever cared for him. If you have fewer friends than Julian, you know you did something wrong. Defeated, both physically and emotionally, Damon tells Julian to rip his heart out. Of course, Hero Hair and his future boo come to the rescue – by way of a cloaking spell to sneak up on Julian – before it’s too late.
Damon finally reveals the reason for his destructive behavior and Stefan reacts in a kind of surprising way. He actually gets angry and gives Damon a few good blows to the face. For a moment it appears that Stefan may have come to terms with Damon’s seemingly inevitable fate in being the “evil brother,” but he decides to pass the blame to someone else. It’s Julian who should pay for all of this. And Julian does pay, with his life. Using another cloaking spell, Valerie and Stefan hide Julian from his “friends” so no one can interfere when Stefan kills him.
Delena shippers must be losing their shit. Not only does it seem as though Elena’s body is truly gone – though I think there’s still a missing piece to that puzzle – Damon is hooking up with another woman! The stranger who threw him a lifeline in the ring shows up at the Salvatore home, and after a moment’s hesitation, Damon decides to go for it. Story-wise I can understand why this hookup couldn’t be with Bonnie, but I still wish it were Bonnie.
What to Expect when you’re an Expecting Vampire
Caroline is just having a normal day in the life of a mystically impregnated vampire, when she passes out from severe pains. Though the doctors say she’ll be just fine, the pain persists, and she and Stefan discover that her hand is desiccating. Valerie determines that the babies must be siphons and they are feeding off of the magic in Caroline’s blood. You know, the magic that keeps her alive. Valerie gives Caroline a bracelet that’s been infused with a ton of magic, hoping that the babies will siphon from this instead of their surrogate mother. Unfortunately, it only works for so long. When the pain returns yet again, the desiccation is quickly making it’s way up one of Caroline’s legs and arms. What’s worse is she’s alone when the desiccation starts taking over. She put Stefan’s well being before her own in sending Valerie off to protect him. Caroline is really going to regret that.
“Bonnie is right about everything; she’s perfect.”
Thanks to a locator spell, Bonnie and Nora have tracked the Huntress, also known as Rayna Cruz, to a mental health hospital in Ohio. Before the new BFF’s can head out on their road trip, Mary Louise shows up, holding her own X marked postcard. Unfortunately, she’ll be joining them. In between flaunting her new friendship and making Mary Louise feel generally unwanted – which was a lot of fun to watch – Nora gives Bonnie some back-story on the Huntress. Centuries ago, Rayna was given incredible strength and an almost immortal life by a group of Shamans. They also created the Phoenix Stone and Sword for killing vampires. At some point in the 19th century, she started hunting the heretics across Europe.
The Rayna they find at the hospital doesn’t fit the profile, though. This woman, who claims she doesn’t recognize the heretics, seems weak and old. Until she gets Bonnie alone, that is. With her magic rendered useless on the Huntress, Bonnie is nearly choked to death before Enzo – remember him? – throws a knife into Rayna’s neck. He’s tight-lipped on the details of where he’s been, and rushes Bonnie out to find a heretic so they can cloak the body for easy removal. When the ladies return, they find an empty room.
Enzo had been looking for Rayna all along. He sent those X marked postcards knowing that someone would eventually lead him right to the Huntress. His motive remains unclear but it doesn’t seem like he wanted her dead, which is usually what happens when you light someone’s body on fire. Rayna however, rose from those flames like, well, a Phoenix.
Cute, damaged, and insanely brave
Before Matt is released, Penny, the cop who pulled him over, tells him that one of her friends is getting his house back in Mystic Falls. Apparently, the gas leak is being reassessed. When Matt checks in on the friend, all he finds is a dead body and an angry vampire. Penny, who had been following Matt, tries to shoot the vampire, but as Matt explains, you need wooden bullets in this town. Even though she just learned that vampires are real, Penny is totally crushing on Matt. Love is in the air and these two could make a really fun, vampire-hunting duo. So perhaps it’s something that happens to Penny between now and 3 years from now, which forces Matt into doing Rayna’s dirty work. In this week’s flash-forward, Matt vervains Stefan as he arrives to save Caroline, and hopes that this means he’ll never have to see the Huntress again.
The Vampire S7E12
This episode wasn’t as jaw dropping as the previous two, but it was nowhere near the level of dull from earlier in the season. Its main problem was in focusing too much on Julian’s fight club. Using brutal violence for male characters to explore their pain is an overused trope, and I’m not a fan. We get it, they’re vampires and they can take a lot of physical damage, but this was the easy (lazy) way to portray Damon’s descent and I just kept hoping for something more. Ian Somerhalder is still bringing it though, no matter the material he’s given.
Paul Wesley, on the other hand, has to up his game. His fist smashing on the steering wheel in reaction to Elena’s “death,” was awkward and uncomfortable, and it took me completely out of the moment. There was also something lacking in the performance when he killed Julian; I was far more affected by Valerie than him. The standouts this week were Bonnie and Nora. I like them, a lot; they have great chemistry. Their budding friendship felt very real and I hope to see more. It’s a shame that Nora was using Bonnie to make her ex jealous, but I think there’s something genuine to their friendship beyond this. I hope the possible reconciliation between Nora and Mary Louise doesn’t mess it up.