Lily pits Stefan and Damon against each other

The Vampire Diaries SEason 7, Episode 2 (“Never Let Me Go”)
Candice King, The Vampire Diaries

As Lily and the Heretics continue to take over Mystic Falls, the loyalties of those who remain are being tested. The theme of family runs strong throughout the Vampire Diaries universe. One of the most interesting aspects of the current main plot is the question of what exactly family is. Clearly blood is not thicker than water in this case. Damon and Stefan are family, along with Bonnie, Caroline, Alaric, and Matt. Lily has the Heretics. And Enzo has been stuck somewhere in the middle. Loyalty is the tie that binds these families together. But in this episode we see some of those loyalties being tested. Lily is pitting Stefan and Damon against each other, Matt continues to struggle with where he fits in this fight, and Enzo still doesn’t seem completely committed to Lily.

Lily is using the same tactics on Damon and Stefan that she did when they were kids. When one of them got in trouble, she punished both of them. Making them mad at each other instead of her. We learn that even as a human, Lily was manipulative. In present day, Stefan is mad at Damon for breaking his deal with Lily and blames him for Caroline being captured. Which is exactly what she wanted to happen. She took someone Stefan was close to in order to get back at Damon. If they are fighting with each other, they aren’t fighting her. She confuses them as to who the real enemy is. Eventually they realize what she is doing and develop a plan to take her down. They have to put aside whatever issues they have with each other and stand united against her.

Matt too seems to be unsure who the real enemy is. He has to decide if he is willing to put aside his frustrations with the Salvatores, and vampire drama in general, in order to bring Lily down. She is the one currently destroying the town, displacing all of the humans that lived there. None of this is his fault, yet he is the one that ends up risking his life to clean up Damon’s mess. Even if he helps them to defeat the Heretics, there will always be another enemy. Liz Forbes had learned to accept a certain amount of violence from the town’s vampires so long as they stayed hidden and helped keep the town safe from the more evil ones. Matt doesn’t want to accept any of it.

All of Matt’s friends are either gone or sided with vampires, leaving him to be the only one fighting for the humans. Even Bonnie is now siding with Damon. She helped him kill Malcom and it was her idea to stop Matt’s heart in order to break the deed on the house. Bonnie has always been the one that Matt could count on to do what is right for the humans, not the vampires. The problem is that when it comes to the supernatural world, the lines between right and wrong become very blurred. Damon and Bonnie killed Malcom out of anger over what Lily was doing to Mystic Falls, and likely what anger over what Kai did to Elena. But they acted impulsively and didn’t think what might happen if Lily retaliates. Matt is forcing the audience to reckon with the violence shown by the protagonists of this show. His frustrations with the vampires makes the audience try to defend the main vampires of the show since we have grown to love and care about them over the last six seasons. But it is hard to justify all of the violence and problems they have brought into town. Making us question whether or not they should be defended at all.

Like Matt, Enzo too is struggling to find where he belongs in all of this (which seems to be an analogy for the struggle of the writers to keep incorporating him into the show). Though he chose Lily, he seems to be still torn about exactly where his loyalties lie. He wanted to be in her family because of the kindness she has shown him. She represents the potential of unconditional acceptance, something he has never had before. This episode also introduced the idea that he is attracted to her which was very weird to me. I don’t really see them having any chemistry in that sense, so I am hoping this is a case of misplaced feelings. It is just not a relationship I want to see. What Enzo is not interested in is the Heretics, especially their torturing of Caroline. Even if Caroline has never warmed to Enzo, he recognizes that she is a good person and still has a soft spot for her (I was hoping their potential friendship back in late S5/early S6 would be a bigger thing as they had a fun friend chemistry).

Overall this episode was fine but nothing special. There is certainly still potential for with these plots and characters, but I will wait to serve judgement. Lily is a good villain in that she knows exactly where to cut her sons. She steals Elena’s coffin as part of her war with Damon, which is making me fearful that we will return to the coffin drama of Season 3, the least interesting plot of the entire season. The Heretics are providing some fun new personalities and certainly have the potential to become interesting characters as the season develops. There are just a lot of them. So far I am most enjoying how this plot is testing the bonds between the main characters. But all of it could end up getting exhausting if these new characters over stay their welcome or fail to really get fleshed out.

Episode Grade: 7/10

Other Thoughts:

  • I should mention that I am pretty well versed in the first six seasons of this show but have only seen the last two seasons once. I am excited to evaluate them since I am less familiar with these storylines. I remember the major things that happen but not most of the details. I have spent far less time thinking about these last couple of seasons than the rest of the series so I am interested to see how I feel about them now that I will be going through them with a fine tooth comb.
  • 3 Years in the Future: We get more scenes set three years in the future. This time it is focused on Caroline who is working at a news station in Dallas, putting those organizing skills to use. She is also engaged, but despite her budding romance with Stefan in the main timeline, it is not Stefan she is engaged to. In fact, she isn’t speaking to Stefan. She and her assistant are attacked by an unseen person.
  • Alaric is getting into some dark magic with that stone which we learn is called the Phoenix Stone for its powers to bring people back from the dead. Bonnie is very freaked out by it and tells Alaric to destroy it, which he only pretends to do.
  • Valerie and Stefan had a romance back in 1863 when he was still human. Valerie still seems very attached based on the fact that she has been carrying around his diary from the time. Stefan has likely not seen her yet.
  • Valerie pretends to be nice to Caroline to keep Nora and Mary Louise from torturing her by putting a spell on her so that anyone who touches her skin get vervained. But considering her history with Stefan this might have been more of a deterrent for Caroline and Stefan.
  • Damon is going off to find the sixth Heretic, Oscar, to use him as a negotiating tactic for getting Elena back.
  • Body Count: 2, Nora and Mary Louise kill two teens trying to sneak into Mystic Falls.

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