Previously on The Vampire Diaries, ‘I Went to the Woods’
In what’s become a most unwelcome trend of season seven, The Vampire Diaries sidelines its far more interesting material, yet again, to focus on a boring old game of cat-and-mouse. Which is something this show typically does well, even if it’s only because they do it so often. Almost immediately in this case, however, the stakes are lowered when we discover from Fake Stefan that his soul could easily hop into the body of a transitioning vampire, leaving Stefan’s body safe. So while it’s not ideal, – what with having to sacrifice a human life and all – if it really came down to the wire Stefan could jump out of Marty’s dying body and live to fight another few days.
That would also give us more time to spend with Fake Stefan. Who has somehow been the most enjoyable antagonist of the entire season. Yes, as predicted, he’s basically Real Stefan with his humanity switch off, but the portrayal is different enough where you can look at him and truly believe it’s someone else. And, unlike the heretics, Rayna, or The Armory, he was actually fun to watch. He made that Memphis frat house his personal playground and it was awesome. Plus, his chemistry with Damon is easy to come by. They work on a very similar level: they’ll do what it takes to get what they want. So when Fake Stefan makes a deal – Stefan’s empty body in exchange for Rayna – Damon is instantly on board.
Regrettably, Rayna has disappeared before Damon and Ric can get to her, and Fake Stefan doesn’t give second chances. He’s about to eliminate Stefan for good when, of course, Damon and Ric show up just in the knick of time. Just once, just to shake things up a little, I wish someone would make it there way before they needed to, or hell, way too late. As it is, both Fake and Real Stefan are taken to Valerie so she can perform a soul-swapping spell. She’s ultimately successful, but not without some major difficulties that leave her close to death’s door. While performing the spell, she visits Stefan in his mind and it’s here that she starts bleeding heavily from her nose. Stefan begs her to stop, but Valerie is determined to save him. It’s because of this exchange that Valerie decides to end things with Stefan. What. Ever.
There is no emotional impact, at all, for this breakup. A lot of that has to do with the fact that we’ve had so little time to connect with these two as an actual couple. We’ve seen glimpses into their bond through both flashbacks and flash-forwards, but we were never given an opportunity to spend time with them in the present. Their relationship had barely been sketched out before it was thoroughly erased. Another problem is the reasoning behind it. Or, perhaps it’s the contrived way in which we got to that reasoning. Stefan not wanting Valerie to die for him does not translate to Stefan still loving Caroline. While it may be the truth, it’s a very lazy way for the writers to lead Valerie to that conclusion. The worst part of it all is that this seems to open up the now seemingly inevitable reunion of Caroline and Stefan. It’s like the show wants us to get whiplash.
Aside from Fake Stefan, the only bit of good I can scrape from this (unworthy) A plot is the myriad consequences of Damon’s decision to desiccate in that coffin. It’s nice to see this manifesting in more than one way. For Ric, he may have been hurt at first by Damon’s disappearance, but in the end he’s happier with his new life, a fact he makes clear several times throughout their road trip. Bonnie, on the other hand, is downright hurt and pissed off. The way she slammed the door in Damon’s sad sack face was so damn cathartic.
On top of dealing with being abandoned by her best friend, Bonnie’s been on the run from The Armory for reasons unknown to her. She’s gone undercover at a psych ward in order to get close to Virginia, who is part of The Armory’s family. Which makes me wonder, was her speech from the flash-forward really true? Or was it just part of the act for Bonnie, and a sneaky way to make us feel like something a lot worse had happened to her? My money’s on the latter, considering the show we’re talking about. Either way, her plan works flawlessly and she easily extracts the information about why The Armory wants her: to open a vault that was originally sealed by a Bennett witch several decades ago. The mere thought of the vault being opened was enough to send Virginia off the edge, and leave me more than intrigued about what’s inside it.
What’s even more compelling, and a little surprising to be honest, is the undeniable emotional connection between Bonnie and Enzo. Though we’ve seen even less of their relationship than Valerie and Stefan’s, they actually feel like a real couple. One that I could easily become wholeheartedly invested in. Unfortunately, Bonnie’s happiness always seems to come at a price on TVD. To stay hidden from locator spells, Bonnie has been taking pills made from Rayna’s blood. The same pills The Armory had been experimenting with on Mary-Louise. You know, the ones that made her deathly ill? So, once again, Bonnie’s story and life have been sidelined. I’m starting to lose faith in this show, and at this point, I’m not even sure that’s something the long-anticipated (though surely never coming) Bamon relationship could restore.
The Vampire Diaries S7E18 = 7.5/10