The Vampire Diaries Season 7 Episode 1 – TV Review
We finally got what we’ve all been praying for: an Elena-free TVD.
But where’s there’s a will to continue stumbling on problems of the past, The Vampire Diaries will find a way.
TL;DR The Heretics bring a lot of the same issues with them as the Originals; Mystic Falls is evacuated because the Heretics are apparently too dangerous; our heroes vow to keep fighting; flash forwards to three years in the future find Stefan and Damon on the run from a mystery assailant.
So we’re only kind of One Tree Hill-ing.
So it’s present day Mystic Falls, and things are somewhat at peace following Elena’s imprisonment as Sleeping Beauty. Caroline and Stefan continue their awkward flirtation; Matt is about to graduate from police academy; and Damon, Alaric, and Bonnie are binge drinking their way through Europe/their grief. The Heretics (I wanted to keep calling them “vitches,” but the show is adamant we hear the word “Heretic” every five seconds, so I’ll have to give in on this one) then show up in town and cause trouble, leading to Caroline, Stefan, and Matt trying to kill them all, which leads to the Heretics causing a massacre at the police graduation ceremony. Lily claims to only want peace, so everyone concocts a scheme to evacuate the population of Mystic Falls so Lily and her family can live there undisturbed. This lasts only as long as it takes for Damon to return from Europe, and he and best friend Bonnie go out and murder them a Heretic, yo. Meanwhile, Stefan and Caroline finally kiss before Enzo turns up later and abducts Caroline. Meanwhile, Alaric is in possession of some old Gemini coven stone that Lily is also on the hunt for. And flashing forward three years into the future, Stefan wakes Damon from an apparently self-imposed dessication (he’s waiting for Elena) just in time to take cover from a female vampire hunter.
Katherine? No. Life isn’t that generous.
I gotta say, I don’t think anyone is going to miss Elena.
The only downside to her absence is that there is no longer a clear central figure to anchor the story. Caroline seems to have gotten the nod, but things really do feel a bit sloppy. Pretty Little Liars suffers from the same problem, and it all only makes each show feel more daytime soapy and less primetime soapy.
But I’ll take the sacrifice if it means Elena is gone.
Still wouldn’t mind seeing Katherine come back, though.
Why I hate this episode:
The Heretics are, ironically, not setting my world on fire yet. They’re a family of super powerful, ancient, British-accented villains who are ostensibly lead by a mother figure intent on keeping the peace in Mystic Falls, while a rogue member causes trouble. This is a total retread of the Original vampires from season 3. And while the Originals were good for a while, TVD eventually got bogged down in them so badly that they had to be forcibly relocated to their own show. We already conquered that problem, TVD. Why are you doing it again?
What they don’t share with the Originals is their invulnerability, as evidenced when Bonnie and Damon rather easily dispatch one of them towards the end of the episode. Which begs the suggestion: just go and fucking murder them, already. Yes, the bomb plan failed, but that’s because it was a stupid plan. It’s frustrating that Bonnie and Damon essentially just take one head-on and totally curb stomp him, but TVD will inevitably find excuses for our characters to not continue that plan of action.
Matt is still as useless as ever. His only contribution to the episode is helping in the bomb plan, which failed (although, it wasn’t his fault). It’s becoming harder and harder for this show to justify having a squishy human around. At least Camille over on The Originals is a love interest to a main character. Matt is just a hanger-on-er.
Did Matt and Caroline seriously not stick around for a minute or so to see if the Heretics died in the bomb explosion?
Bonnie has crap fake hair.
Alaric gets a bizarre scene where he asks a street gypsy to contact Jo, his dead wife, and is then pissed off when it turns out the dude’s a fraud. Has Alaric forgotten that there is no Other Side anymore? Jo is gone, bitch. Alaric is also bribing a morgue attendant to keep Jo’s body on ice because he intends to resurrect her. Again, there’s no Other Side. It’s not gonna happen.
Lily’s scene where she lays down the rules for the Heretics is also ripping off Pearl and the tomb vampires from season 1. Should we be proud of TVD for recycling?
Like Matt, Enzo has very little reason to still be here. I’m actually surprised that he’s still around. I had him pegged as a two or three episode minor character when he first showed up. His subplot with Sarah Salvatore last season was a huge waste of time, and now he’s just Lily’s reluctant errand boy. As much as his voice makes me giddy, I think we need to order this guy a stake.
Oh, and Damon almost lets a car run down and kill Bonnie. Goddamn, we were so close.
But it’s not all bad:
Bonnie and Damon’s friendship is a surprising high point of the episode, as it was in season 6. Damon even calls Bonnie his best friend (sorry, Alaric) when telling her that, as much as he would have wanted her to be run down and die and free Elena from her Sleeping Beauty curse, he couldn’t live with himself if he let her die. I’m still hoping that the ever-faithful Damon/Bonnie shippers will get some satisfaction thrown their way soon.
Caroline hasn’t turned into a total Elena yet, as she still retains her can-do attitude when it comes to schemes. She leads the bomb plan as a supposed neighbour to the newly-moved in Heretics. She distracts them while Matt plants the bomb, and even pretends to be commanded by their compulsion to keep up the ruse. Naturally, the plan goes pear shaped and the Heretics catch onto who Matt and Caroline are and that’s why they commit the police graduation ceremony massacre, but I’d never turn down a Chipper Caroline scene.
The evacuation of Mystic Falls could be the smartest thing the gang’s ever done. I’m still surprised anybody lives in Mystic Falls at all anymore, what with the endless stream of murders (it’s no Beacon Hills, but it’s close). But now that Stefan and the gang have falsified an underground mining fire, the civilians of Mystic Falls are finally away and safe. It’s a shame the underground fire isn’t real, because I think Mystic Falls could be a great setting for the next Silent Hill.
The Heretics haven’t had much time to endear themselves yet, so I’m calling them by Spice Girl names: the first one we meet is Ginger Spice, because her hair looks kind of ginger; the bratty one is Baby Spice; the troublemaking one is Sporty Spice; the stuck-up brown-noser is Posh Spice; and the black one is Scary Spice.
The one that Damon and Bonnie kill is Posh Spice. He will not be missed. Well, except by Lily and the Heretics, who are fucking furious over it.
Enzo might be getting a bit of dimension to him, as he isn’t happy that Lily is keeping him at arm’s length and sending him on missions to find a stone she won’t tell him the truth about. He’s further displeased when Caroline says he’s just like Lily’s Heretic lackeys, as he considers himself above them. But it appears he’s on Lily’s side regardless, as he vervains Caroline and abducts her at the end of the episode.
Alaric is in possession of the Gemini stone, though Lily doesn’t know it yet. And angry/anguished Alaric is always the best Alaric, so I’m glad he’s lost his bliss.
I am very keen to discover who the flash forward hunter bitch is.
Baby Spice and Sporty Spice are lesbian lovers. Let’s see how long it takes TVD to re-institute the No Gays In Mystic Falls status quo. Poor Luke.
Stefan and Caroline play the “will they or won’t they” game a bit, but end up locking lips near the end of the episode. Can you imagine how hot it would be if Stefan and Damon ended up fighting over their love for Caroline? I’ll permit anything if it insults Elena, really.
Oh, and the Heretics manage to rack up quite a body count with just a five-man band and a little flammable water. The editing of the scene is confusing, but you can’t deny the results.