Hey TVD Family, long time, no bite! We’re back for the home stretch: seven Fridays until we reach the end of season seven … and while watching tonight’s episode, my heart stopped at least seven times. Let’s recap.
In the present day, Stefan’s hero hair is looking a bit deflated: He has to choose between letting Rayna transfer his scar to Damon or damning himself to an eternity in the hellstone. “Hashtag you’re welcome,” Damon quips. “Are hashtags still a thing?” Since I am not even sure what year we are in, I cannot conclusively say. It could be 2014 or 2026 for all I know.
Stefan agrees to the switcheroo and says Valerie can do the spell — but then pulls a fast one on Damon and Rayna by attacking them, stealing the sword, and peacing out, just like he did three years ago when Valerie made being on the lam seem oh-so-appealing. Though her line about tracing Rayna’s bloodline did not escape me — whenever I hear "bloodline," I think of our Queen Katherine Pierce. Will these last seven episodes reveal a Rayna/Elena connection?
Then I vommed a bit in my mouth when Valerie said “Always, love.” You’re trying a bit too hard, boo boo. (This seems like useful recap information.)
Also useful: learning a bit about WTF Stefan’s been up to these past three years, including a jaunt to the Philippines two years ago to celebrate (commemorate? mourn?) the one-year anniversary since he abandoned the girl he loved and his brother left him so he could rot in a coffin. No wonder Stefan’s been sampling the tropical liquors. What’s sad is the chicken-and-egg scenario that Valerie points out here: Rayna will die one day, which means so will Stefan (ironically giving him what he’s wanted most since we met him that first day in Mystic Falls High — humanity). But because of that, he’ll probably never see Damon again, since Damon won’t wake up until Bonnie dies in 60-ish years. Oy.
Rayna can basically read Stefan’s mind when he’s on the run (thanks, Phoenix Sword/Stone) and knows he’s trying to lure her to the armory. He ditches the sword hoping Rayna will go after it, instead of him, buying him some time.
“How goes it, Mad Max?” Damon asks.
“I have to resume escaping a serial killer,” Stefan says, in a really calm and sexy way that almost makes escaping serial killers sound fun? The one good thing about the fact that they've spent three years apart is that these two have some great one-liners they’ve been waiting to use on each other. Brothers always laugh at one another’s jokes when they are about to die.
Back in the present, Stefan has sent Valerie off to heal Damon from his werewolf-toxin issue. In the past, they are making out on a beach talking about constellations. I could watch Stefan literally make out with a brick wall and be fine with that, but I am NOT fine with him talking about constellations.
For the 989,875,957th time, Stefan follows Damon’s instructions and gets screwed. Damon tries to weasel his way out of taking the scar because he wants more time with Elena. Over the years we’ve seen Stefan try to give up on Damon countless times, but trying is all it’s ever really been. Attempts. Futile ones. But this time, you can see in his eyes: He’s done. Not only because he knows Rayna is about to send him back to hell in that stone, but because she’s the only one who is actually right about him: People have always thought Stefan loving Damon was his redemption, his link to his humanity ... but what if, all this time, it’s just been his fatal flaw? It’s his hubris: believing that for him, his brother would eventually change.
“Use it to navigate the stone this time,” Rayna says, not unkindly, before stabbing him right in his scar. That had to hurt.
Who Will Save Your Soul?
Here’s the thing about Damon: every time he does something selfless, and someone reminds him that it’s selfless, he calls take-backs. So here’s a thought: Stop reminding Damon that he’s good, people! (In this case, Rayna was the guilty party for alerting him to that fact before taking off to find Stefan and her sword.) So now he knows that taking the scar means he won’t ever get Elena back … sorry, Stef, you’re stuck with it.
Once Valerie heals Damon of the werewolf toxin, he vervains and kidnaps her. He’s still forming a plan of his own, but it’s got to be one that doesn’t involve taking the scar — a.k.a., any true risk to himself.
But it takes one to know one, Damon points out when Valerie berates him for how terribly he’s treated Stefan by putting himself first time and time again: She knew about the possibility of the transfer spell the whole time they’ve been together, and said nothing to Stefan! Tsk, tsk, Valerie, you naughty girl. (Not that I was surprised, when they kissed on the beach it was obvious that was what she had wanted the whole time.)
“I am Damon Salvatore, and I will figure it out,” Damon reminds himself, using a phrase I might try saying into the mirror on rough day myself. Damon agrees to do the transfer spell once they realize Rayna has caught up with Stefan … but in true Damon fashion, he’s always a half-step too late. The spell fades, and the car pulls up on a soulless Stefan lying on the tarmac.
Best line of the night: “It will be different next time.” I’m actually not sure he’s ever said this exact phrase before even though he’s obviously thought it every single time he screws up and his brother pays the price. The only difference is, if Stefan gets out of hell for a second time, will he give Damon another chance to redeem himself?
The Last Goodbye
I’m ending our recap with one of the B-plots this episode, because in a nice little writerly twist, I believe what happened with the remaining heretics (boy, those characters really came and went this season!) will have greater ramifications for the last part of season seven.
Our “Where Are They Now?” special continues with Nora in the Armory’s clutches. Alex the Armory Girl (alliteration helps my memory, okay?) tells her that she’s letting her out, on one condition: that she find Enzo and bring him back so Alex can kill him, Family Feud–style.
“Why does Enzo do anything lately?” she tells Nora, when asked why Enzo would have released Rayna from the Armory. For a character I’m not 100 percent sure I’m invested in yet, Alex the Armory Girl speaks a lot of truth. (She is henceforth known as ATAG.)
Mary Louise is also alive, but for a vamp-witch, looking a little too pale. She’s been tortured by ingesting pills that are poisonous to witches. Bring her Enzo, ATAG promises, and she’ll give Nora all the info on the pills so she can cure Mary Louise.
But when she finds and bewitches Enzo, they wind up forming a truce instead: if the pills are fatal to witches, he’s going to help Nora get a cure. (This has Bonnie-Bennett-in-Rehab written all over it. I love how this season the show is laying out mysteries and resolving them quickly only to give us more unresolved threads.) Oh, and Matty Blue Blue’s the one who released Rayna from the Armory, not Enzo. Because Matt’s our season eight Big Bad. I'm calling it now, and I am so, so sad.
Enzo does some magic phone-calling with a serious, as Damon calls it, “James Bond vibe,” and formulates a plan to lure ATAG for a hostage exchange. But when Alex shows up, Nora spirits her away — only to learn their efforts were in vain. There is no cure for the poisonous pills, and Mary Louise will die. The mystery of these pills deepens, as does my sadness for Nora and Mary Lou.
They can’t run, they can’t hide — but at least they can go out together, devoted to one another and determined to stop Rayna from trapping anyone else’s soul in that sword. This scene was so full of Romeo and Juliet vibes, I was brought to tears. It makes me sad that the first lesbian couple on this show couldn’t find happiness, but I loved meeting them — and loved even more that despite their different approaches to acclimating to their new world, the one thing Nora and Mary Lou agreed on was that the best thing about their lives was one another.
And as a result of their deaths, one can only wonder: What happens to all those souls trapped in the stone? My gut tells me that like NotJo of earlier in the season, those souls are not gone forever, but rather sprinkled about in other people’s bodies … meaning Stefan is not lost, but it’s going to take one hell of a Where’s Waldo? player to find him.
I have a bit of whiplash from that episode, and it’s not just because of all the car chases! There are still many questions to ponder, including the pills, whatever Stefan did to Matt’s hot cop girlfriend, and of course, Stefan’s whereabouts! Hats off to Ian Somerhalder for another stellar directing turn; until next week, I’ll be on Twitter @TalkativeTara.