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The Vampire Diaries – S7E3 – Age of Innocence

 

Previously on The Vampire Diaries, ‘Never Let Me Go’

Three years from now, Stefan calls Tyler Lockwood. He needs werewolf-boy to get in touch with Caroline, since she’s still ignoring him, and warn her that his scar has reopened. Stefan drenches his car with gasoline and tosses a lighter onto it. We all know that cool guys don’t look at explosions and Stefan is no exception. With his journal in tow, he walks away from the blaze as cool as a cucumber. Stefan loves that car, so something pretty drastic must have happened for him to be torching it. Sadly, as far as Stefan’s storyline is concerned, this was the only excitement for the whole episode.

Lily is trying to master the art of parallel parking when Stefan arrives, just in time, to save his car from being totaled. Enjoy the car while you can, Stefan! He sticks to the plan of convincing Lily that he and Damon are at odds, and then quickly changes the subject to Valerie. As it turns out, Valerie and Stefan didn’t meet by chance. Lily was heading to Europe with a “gentleman friend” but couldn’t leave without knowing her sons were ok, so she sent Valerie to check on Stefan.

Cue the first of several, boring flashbacks to Stefan in 1863. He and Valerie meet at a fair and I guess we’re supposed to think it’s super cute, but their interaction lacks anything resembling chemistry. Julian, Lily’s gentleman friend and supposed bad-boy, is accompanying Valerie and warns her not to get too close to Stefan. That was not their mission.

The one, small saving grace of these flashbacks was in the way they flowed back and forth between who was recalling them – from Stefan and Lily to Caroline and Valerie. It was a nice way to connect the characters and their particular perspectives on the past. Key words here: one and small.

Images: The CW

Images: The CW

Caroline, who is still being held hostage in the present-day Salvatore home, has the right attitude when she first hears of Stefan and Valerie’s encounter. “Spoiler! I’ve heard this story before.” We all have, Caroline. The fact that Caroline even mentions Katherine is an acknowledgement that The Vampire Diaries’ writers know exactly what they’re doing, and they don’t care that this story has already been told. Great.

The worst part is that we’re forced to believe Valerie was Stefan’s first love. These two knew each other for a day, had sex (which is the only believable part considering Stefan was a 16 year-old virgin,) and then never saw each other again. How is that love? This story worked for Katherine and Stefan because the proper time was spent cultivating their relationship. The fact that we’re supposed to go along with this, and find it compelling, is damn near insulting.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#4a7097″ class=”” size=””]“Your prodigal heretic was fear-and-loathing in the armpit of Myrtle Beach” – Damon[/pullquote]

At least we got some much-needed development between Stefan and his mother this week. There was a time when Lily truly did care about her biological sons, and was quite hurt in fact when Valerie reported that Stefan had moved on and forgotten about her. That wasn’t exactly true however. Stefan would visit his mother’s grave everyday and relive the regret of being unable to save her. His father had sent him to collect flowers for an herbal remedy but Stefan didn’t make it back until Lily had already been taken away. When Stefan invites Valerie to visit the grave – possibly the strangest post-coital activity – she offers some comfort in assuring him that the flowers were only rumored to have medicinal properties, so they wouldn’t have been any help in the end.

Valerie promises to find her way back to Stefan, and a few months later she sends him a letter with details on where they can meet. She never arrives though and Stefan waits around all day like a real fool. I’ll admit that seeing poor, sad Stefan and his poofy-1800’s-hair was the one flashback that actually had an affect on me. Even Caroline sees past her own pain in this moment and feels for Stefan’s broken heart. She wants to know how Valerie could have done that to him, but clearly this is information that Valerie does not want to share. Though Caroline doesn’t see the rest of the story, we do.

Stefan & Valerie

At the same bench where he once waited for her – because of course it still exists 150 years later – Valerie finds Stefan, but keeps herself cloaked so that he cannot see or hear her. She tells Stefan how sorry she is for never making it back to him. Julian had stopped her from leaving by beating her to near death and in the process she lost the (Salvatore) baby she was carrying. All the while unaware that Julian was responsible for Valerie’s condition, Lily healed Valerie with her blood. Rather than live alongside Julian, Valerie attempted to kill herself and in a total fluke, awoke as the first heretic.

Thank fuck we’re done with those flashbacks, for this week anyway.

Lily believes Stefan has been honest with her so she releases Caroline. No, it doesn’t make sense but let’s just whistle past it real quick. Caroline finds Stefan and immediately grills him on Valerie. He claims that he no longer wonders what his life would have been like with her and his only concern now is that Caroline is unharmed. He’s not totally convincing. Either way, Valerie has wedged her way between these two, especially with Caroline still having that vervain-covered skin.

Damon

Bonnie is casually writing to Elena about how Lily has hidden her coffin, when she’s struck with the bloody, death-filled visions again. This time when she wakes up, ten minutes have passed by. She confronts Ric about The Phoenix Stone but he persists with his lie that it was destroyed. Damon – who looks downright mouthwatering in nothing but a towel – seems to know Ric’s secret but changes the subject to Oscar. Matt checked out Lily’s phone records and traced several calls to Myrtle Beach and that’s where Damon is headed to find the sixth heretic. Bonnie and Ric agree to join him, as long as it means he’ll put on some pants. Party poopers!

Team Bamonic devise a plan to take down Oscar: Bonnie will slow him down with magic, Ric will shoot him with vervain, and Damon will snap his neck. Bonnie wants to use Oscar’s siphoning abilities to get rid of her freaky visions first though. It becomes clear that Damon definitely knows about the stone but Ric remains silent. Their plan immediately goes to shit when Oscar recognizes Damon and happily invites them all into his hotel room.

Oscar freely admits that Lily sent him to check on Damon back when he was in the war. Something that Damon plays dumb to, for now. In less than 5 minutes, Oscar became the most interesting and enjoyable new character that’s been introduced this season. Which makes me wonder how the show has managed failed so badly with the others, given their excess screen-time. Oscar has been on a bender for the last 3 days, savoring his freedom from both the prison world and Lily’s tight leash. He has no desire to go back home, and Damon uses this to his advantage when he presents Oscar with the choice between helping Bonnie get rid of her visions or telling Lily his location.

Bonnie

When Oscar sees the visions, he knows immediately that they are connected to The Phoenix Stone. He drops the friendly disposition, uses magic to knock them all out and snap Damon’s neck, and then he makes a run for it. Ric has some explaining to do when they wake up to find that Oscar has taken the stone. “Uh, how is that possible when you destroyed it, Ric?” Apparently causing Bonnie all this pain is worth the chance to bring Jo back.

Damon manages to remove himself from the crossfire and track down Oscar. He knows damn well who this man is because he was responsible for convincing Damon to take sick leave the day before the battle of Gettysburg began. Super convenient. Not only in saving Damon’s life but also for making it clear that, morally, he was not on the side of the South in the Civil War. Not sure why the show even had to go there, but ok.

Oscar thinks he has the upper hand by having The Phoenix Stone, but Damon could care less. He just wants Elena’s body back. They start to fight and just as things aren’t looking good for Damon, Bonnie and Ric are there to save his ass. Bonnie offers the stone back to Ric but with the warning that he best not lie to her again. “Aw, My besties are buds again!” Well put, Damon.

Bonnie & Ric

Damon calls Lily to set up the Oscar-for-Elena trade and tells her he understands now how she has moved on to a new family. As he glances toward Bonnie and Ric, he admits he’s done the same. And, you guys, it was so freaking adorable! Then, for reasons, they all leave Oscar alone to go and do research on The Phoenix Stone. Ric shows Jo’s body to Bonnie and, likely because she sees how desperate he’s become, she agrees to help him.

Valerie has located her heretic brother and uses the opportune moment while he’s alone to sneak in. Oscar’s mission was to find Julian and he was successful. Valerie knows that he’ll eventually use Julian’s whereabouts as a bargaining chip for his freedom with Lily, and Valerie can’t have that. She won’t live with Julian again, so, she rips Oscar’s heart out. What a bummer.

The Vampire Diaries S7E3
  • 6.5/10
    Plot - 6.5/10
  • 7/10
    Dialogue - 7/10
  • 7/10
    Performances - 7/10
  • 6.5/10
    Bamon Moments - 6.5/10
6.8/10

Summary

This episode’s focus felt backwards. The A-plot (the flashbacks) and the B-plot (Myrtle Beach) should have been swapped. Yes, some time is needed to develop new characters, but that shouldn’t take priority over scenes with our previously established and far more interesting main cast.

I appreciate the effort to distinguish Valerie’s story from Katherine’s, by making her the mother of Stefan’s unborn (and brutally murdered) baby. Perhaps if we had seen their story extend beyond one day and the pregnancy reveal came a few episodes later, it may have been enough time for us to start caring about her/them. For now, I really just don’t care.

It’s always a bummer to hear about your partner’s exes, but Caroline is too smart to believe a one-night-stand that happened 150 years ago, would still mean anything. What’s worse is that this may be what the writers are going for; Stefan says he’s over Valerie but his facial expressions say otherwise.

Despite their insufficient screen time, Bonnie, Damon, and Ric managed to prevent this episode from being a total failure. Their adventures globe trotting and tracking down heretics: this is the stuff that great spinoffs are made from.

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About Jasmin George (185 Articles)
An avid reader of TV Guide in her youth, Jasmin has been a fan of all things television since she can remember. She’s very passionate about story, especially the kinds that use cameras and actors to convey them. When she doesn’t have her eyes glued to the tube, you can find her listening to podcasts or reading reviews about, well, TV. Yeah, Jasmin might have a slight addiction but she’s perfectly happy to coexist with it.
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