On the season premiere of TVD, Elena’s gone—but the town of Mystic Falls is still screwed. New friendships, romances and villains abound, hearts are ripped out, and much is set on fire. The more things change...
Previously on The Vampire Diaries:
Yeesh, what didn’t happen last season? In the finale, evil-yet-awesome Kai bound Elena’s life to Bonnie’s and put Elena into a magical sleep. She won’t wake up until Bonnie dies, so probably never... unless Nina Dobrev’s film career doesn’t take off. Damon was tragic about it, but mystically asleep Elena told him to live his life while he waited out the decades for her. Tyler turned werewolf and made for the hills. Matt was training to be a cop. Caroline and Stefan hooked up, but circumstances were crappy and Stefan said he would wait for Caroline to heal from her mother’s death.
Alaric, who is never allowed to be happy, watched his pregnant wife get stabbed to death as she spoke her vows at their wedding (sentences you can only write about The Vampire Diaries). New BFFs Damon and Bonnie got Kai decapitated, eliminating one of the better villains the show has had. In Kai’s place we have Damon and Stefan’s vampire mom Lily Salvatore and her weird adopted brood of vampire/witch hybrids, the Heretics.
Spoilers for season 7 episode 1, “Day One of Twenty-Two Thousand, Give or Take”
The show starts with an intriguing “Three Years From Now” opening in Brooklyn. We see a frantic Stefan cracking a coffin and reviving a desiccated Damon with blood. Stefan tells the clearly annoyed Damon that he needs his help. What in the what? OK, we’re paying attention.
We return to a present-day Mystic Falls blessedly free of Elena “Wet Blanket” Gilbert. Of course her presence is still felt and her best friends Caroline and Bonnie are writing everything down for her, a throwback to the show’s first few “diary entry voiceover” seasons. Bonnie is chaperoning Damon and Alaric through a drunken tour of Europe, as Damon hopes to help Alaric forget about what happened to his nearly-wife Jo.
Our favorite vampire barbie Caroline is queen bee back home, with Stefan in attendance making undead doe eyes at her. Matt is nearly a police deputy.
Tyler and Jeremy are no longer on the show, but the cast has hardly shrunk, because we soon meet the five new Heretics. There’s Nora and Mary Louise, who seem pretty and petty and the only thing interesting about them right now is that they’re TVD’s first-ever lesbian couple.
There’s Valerie, who’s miserable in the present day after skipping a hundred years of history when the Heretics were imprisoned in their hell world. There’s Beau, who is mute and bears a mysterious cross scar on his neck. And there’s Malcolm, who is Lily’s favorite.
Despite Lily’s initial attempts to make her “children” behave, the Heretics end up attacking Mystic Falls residents, which leads to a plan by Caroline, Stefan and Matt to blow them up. Unsurprisingly the centuries-old witch-vampires survive the blast, and by way of revenge turn Matt’s police academy graduation into a bloodbath.
Eventually Stefan negotiates a sort of truce with his mother: Mystic Falls will be emptied of its residents (they are compelled to leave), its businesses and buildings boarded up, and the Heretics get to move into Salvatore mansion. Then the (friendly) vampires and the (unfriendly) Heretics will share the town for “as long as it takes.” It’s unclear how many episodes Mystic Falls is going to go without anyone really living there, but at least this provides for several cool shots of the place looking like an abandoned post-disaster dystopia.
Meanwhile in Europe, Damon and Bonnie figure out that Alaric has been drinking tea in place of his usual bourbon and faking his drunkenness. Why? Well, Alaric is definitely not over what happened to Jo. He’s been visiting psychics in an attempt to contact his dead wife, but so far they are all frauds. Alaric is in possession of a mysterious fiery-looking stone that Lily Salvatore is also looking for, and you know what that means—it’s an obscure magical object that will be crucial to this season’s plot and yet ultimately forgettable, like so many amulets, cures, and magical doodads before it. This is how we know we are truly in a new season of TVD.
In another grand tradition of TVD, characters dramatically change their minds from one minute to the next, and Caroline decides she wants to be more than friends with Stefan again. They have a great make-out scene, while Stereoline fans around the globe heave sighs of relief and make gifsets.
The Eurotripping gang comes back to Mystic Falls to help out with the Heretic problem. Damon and Bonnie rip out Malcolm’s heart, which does not sit well with Mama Salvatore and bodes for much upcoming revenge. Bonnie and Damon have a heartwarming moment where Damon reaffirms yet another TVD staple, the ever-shifting pairings of Best Friends. Bonnie is now Damon’s best friend, and though he wants Elena back (remember, Bonnie would have to die), he also needs Bonnie in his life as his BFF. Quite the conundrum you created, Kai. We miss you. Call us from the Other Side, won’t you?
Speaking of the Other Side, Alaric has gone full-on crazypants with the idea of bringing Jo back: we learn that he is paying the guy at the mortuary to keep her body from burial, and goes to look at it often. Dude. Damon’s clearly going to have his hands full with his other best friend, as it seems like Alaric will do anything if it means Jo’s return.
Everyone’s favorite rogue vampire Enzo seems to have sided with Lily when he drugs and captures Caroline at the episode’s end. But Enzo’s loyalties are primarily to Enzo, so anything could happen with that.
The future-plot thickens—in the final scene we flash forward again to Damon and Stefan in the warehouse in Brooklyn, where Stefan is being chased by some kind of formidable female hunter who is shooting a high-powered stake gun. Both Salvatore brothers seem frightened of this opponent, and as they cower behind a coffin, Stefan says that his scar has opened up upon her approach. We see a bleeding X-shaped scar on his chest—identical to the one on mute Beau’s throat. Damon says that “she” won’t stop until Stefan is dead, and I am already 100% more invested in this menace than the Heretics.
This was the first episode of The Vampire Diaries without Elena, and the cast fared well, even if the central plot wasn’t exactly nail-biting. I’m intrigued by the various set-ups, especially Stefan and Damon in the future, and I wonder if we’ll see them again there or if that timeline will be saved for season’s end, once we learn who and what is hunting them. I’m not too impressed with the Heretics right now, but one of TVD’s greatest strengths is taking characters who start out as vapid soulless monsters and fleshing them out.
Many a villain has won our sympathies before, and if they flashback and show who the Heretics were in their old lives, I have a feeling we’ll soon like them a lot more and start choosing favorites. Knowing TVD, however, we probably shouldn’t get too attached. Anyone could lose a heart or a head in the blink of an eye.
It’s evident that TVD can tick along nicely minus Elena—the show’s strength was always in the ensemble rather than in the protagonist, and I’ll be interested to see where they go next. Hopefully, it’s back to the future.