I know what you’re all thinking: I’m gullible if I believe Elena’s dead. We saw her coffin in a flashback and Damon said he was waiting for her. And still, we are all holding out hope that (pretty please with a cherry on top ...) Nina will come back to the show for at least one final episode before the end. But in the world of the show, none of that matters. What matters is that Damon thinks she’s dead, which is where we start our recap.
Here We Go Again
As Damon spirals out once again, I realize there's a pattern to his madness. He always ends up in the middle of the road. He’s caught between honor and evil. Then we meet the Dude Who Ran Over His Girlfriend's Cat and Lied About It, who gets minus 100. Maybe he deserves what’s coming for him.
Meanwhile, from terrible boyfriends to amazing ones, Stefan shows up with not one, but two kinds of fries. Waffle and Curly. God, that man is perfect. Appropriately, Caroline says I love you ... both to Stef and to the fries. The pair of them seem so cute and perfect until suddenly Caroline has weird contractions and collapses in the bed. Uh-oh, are we having these babies today?
Not today, says the Doctor, who also reveals that “her veins are dilated,” a phrase I never want to hear again. When the Doc not so subtly asks about the baby-daddy situation, Stef clarifies that “I’m her boyfriend,” a phrase I could listen to Stefan saying over and over again. Someone make me a GIF of that, pronto.
Turns out there is something wrong with our baby mama, though: Her hand is desiccating. Is it about to get Twilight up in here? Do I need smelling salts for when I faint?
While I’m fearing the impending horrors of labor, Damon is dealing with the pain of immortality without Elena, which brings him face-to-face with Julian. “You’re in a self destructive spiral,” Julian points out gleefully, before deciding not to kill Damon and become bros with him instead. Misery loves company. Or, when in Mystic Falls. You pick your cliché.
Fight Club, or something very much like it, begins. The first rule should be take your shirt off, but alas, it looks like these hot vamps are going to fight to the first heart-snatch with their clothes on. No fun! “What else you got?” Damon growls after handily (get it, because heart-snatch?) winning the first one, so they match him with a giant. At this point, I know Damon’s going to survive — it’s season seven, he’s the star of the show; I’m not actually afraid of him dying. Remember seasons one through three? I held my breath for years afraid someone would be gone for good.
When the fight starts turning against Damon, a mystery brunette in the audience throws him a bone. (Actually, it’s a stake, but the metaphor still stands.) He stakes the giant and wins the fight, causing Julian to announce that they’ll fight each other next.
“I will destroy you like I destroy everything I touch,” Damon tells Stefan, who tries to break into the fight. The Damon-Julian brawl is like therapy: They analyze one another’s greatest weaknesses and flaws while pummeling one another into the ground. That’s exactly what therapy is like, except IRL, you’re bleeding money instead of blood.
“Come on, brother!” Okay, seven seasons in and I still get weepy when these guys use the ‘brother’ card. I knew Stefan would jump in with his perfect punch and save the day for Damon.
But the minute Damon tells him about what he did to Elena, I knew Stef was going to lose it. Even though they’d both moved on, Stelena had the kind of love that never truly dies. He still would have moved mountains for Elena. He wanted to keep her safe. Part of the reason why Stefan was able to move on from her is that he felt Damon was finally becoming as good to her as she deserved.
“I don’t want to be the smart one anymore,” Stefan tells Valerie. “I want him dead.” But it’s not Damon he’s mad at, it’s Julian, the one he truly blames for everything that’s been taken from him. And let us say amen, because maybe they’ll finally kill him this time.
I never saw the attack coming. Stefan and Valerie turn on Julian in broad candlelight, though Valerie has cloaked them so that they are invisible. Stefan slips the stake into Julian’s heart, and as he desiccated, I sang a round of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” for Stefan, substituting “which nobody can deny” for “with fabulous hero hair” at the end. Julian’s dead! Plus 100.
Meanwhile, the talisman Valerie gave Caroline does not seem to be working. Again, we see her in the future, so we know she’s fine, and her neck gets broken, so we know she’s still a vampire. But I’m always a little uncomfortable when Caroline’s life is in danger, so … babies, stop it.
Julian’s dead, but Damon’s not done suffering. The mystery brunette from the fight follows him home. With the help of some tequila, she kisses him; at first, Damon’s not into it. But on closer look, he sees something in her. Maybe it’s her brunette hair, the ghost of Elena in her dark eyes … or a similar kind of pain she’s also trying to escape. But he kisses back. No better way to suffer than to turn yourself into the opposite of the man Elena would want you to be, right?
Did You Miss Me?
Bonnie and Nora continue on their trip, and I have to say, I am into Bonnie and Nora’s friendship! They’ve both been used and abused at the whims of their friends and family, so Bonnie’s search for independence mirrors Nora’s nicely. (Also, they are both hot AF.)
Mary Louise is back, too! She also got an X-Marks-the-Spot postcard. So of course they decide to go Huntress-hunting! (Let’s add this to the list of plans that will go awry, making it plan number 92759375 to fail.) The Huntress (a.k.a. Rayna Cruz) was bound to be a hunter by Shamans. They track her down in an Ohio hospital, but instead of some hottie, they find an insane old lady “whose only cold-blooded ruthless mission is to eat a ginger snap.”
But when Bonnie gets her alone she discovers that the insane old lady is still totally insane and old … but she’s also Rayna, the huntress. After coming clean, she chokes Bonnie — only to get staked dead by a mysterious hero: Enzo!
“Did you miss me? That warms my heart.” I’m still curious about how he and Bonnie end up doing the kissy-kissy dance, aren’t you? Enzo says they need the heretics to cloak their exit to escape with the body, but when Bonnie gets back, he and Rayna have vanished. Just as I’m wondering where he has been, and what he’s been up to, we learn that Enzo sent the X postcards to the heretics to draw them to the Huntress. He burns her body, and just as I am wondering what the eff his motive could be for doing so — a young, hot Nina Dobrev look-alike crashes into the glass wall. The huntress has been reborn!
Find Your Humanity
To get out of a sticky situation, Matt uses “Zombie Apocalypse Survivalists” as his excuse for having vervain grenades. Smooth move, bro. Put that in your online-dating profile. Penny (formerly known as said hot cop) follows Matt to the site of a foreclosed property, where he finds someone dead from a vamp bite. As the vampire is about to attack them, Matt shoots, and then tells Penny some wise words of advice: “If you’re gonna wear a uniform in Mystic Falls, you need wooden bullets.”
I support Matt having a girlfriend. Better yet, I’m glad that his girlfriend is human and that he can be honest with her about his vamp-hunting ways. But with Matt as miserable in the future and alienated from his friends as he seems to be — and with the mention of him ‘losing’ a girlfriend in one of those flash-forwards — I think this spark with Penny could be the beginning of a fatal attraction.
Back to the Future
As he did earlier in the episode, Stefan shows up with his hero hair to save the day, but Matt’s already beaten him to it. Except Matt’s idea of saving the day means vervaining Stefan. He looks up at the TV station camera. “Now, I never see you again, right?” he asks.
“Yes, thank you. Have a nice life,” the huntress answers, her eerie Nina Dobrev–like eyes gazing at Damon’s unconscious body waiting for her in the TV station.
So, now we officially have our answer. Rayna the Huntress is on the prowl — and our next mystery is, of course, why does she look so much like Elena? Is there a reason for it? How do all the flash-forwards tie together? Until next week, I’ll be on Twitter @Talkativetara.