The Vampire Diaries continues to struggle but shows some light

The Vampire Diaries Season 7, Episode 5 (“Live Through This”)
Kat Graham, The Vampire Diaries

It would have been impossible for The Vampire Diaries to lose its main character and not experience any bumps during the transition. Also seven seasons into a show that moves through plot as quickly as this one does, it is understandable that it would have some burnout at this point. Considering all of these things, Season 7 is doing about as well as it could have hoped. Some elements are working, or at least have potential, and some are not. The future timeline segments are probably the most intriguing plot points so far this season, even though they take up very little screen time. However, these segments make me more excited for what is to come. Bonnie is also becoming one of my favorite characters this season, and this episode only made me like her more. However, when it comes to Lily and the Heretics my interest is quickly waning. Unfortunately, they are taking up more screen time than the much better aspects of this season.

I wouldn’t mind if the episodes contained more than just one scene from the future timeline, but I understand that they want to keep it very mysterious for now. The Vampire Diaries has not played around that much with structure or different storytelling devices, but after Elena’s departure, it helps the show reinvent itself a bit. These segments show us glimpses of a future that looks very different from where things are now. These segments give the present day scenes a different read than they would otherwise. For example. although we are watching Stefan and Caroline begin their relationship in present day, we already know from the future timeline that something will come between them, and that Caroline is engaged to someone else. Though this makes it harder to really get invested in their relationship, it also makes the audience want to keep watching to find out what will happen to them.

In this episode, the future scene shows Bonnie in a group therapy session at what looks like a rehab center (though it is intentionally vague on where she is). She has lost someone she loved and feels guilty about some decision she made that led to that happening. Of course we get no more details than that, but it is also revealed that she is in a relationship with Enzo. This definitely comes out of left field, the two have not really interacted all that much in the show so far. However, the main part of the episode makes sure to give them some scenes together. Their dynamic isn’t exactly friendly, but their back and forth in this episode shows that they could have some real chemistry. They certainly have more chemistry than Enzo and Lily, a relationship that still makes me gag to think about. When Enzo first arrived I do not think there was any chance that a relationship with Bonnie could have ever been possible, but the darker version of Bonnie that we have seen since she returned from the prison world might be more understanding of Enzo’s vampire nature and all that he has gone through.

Throughout most of the first six seasons I was pretty indifferent towards Bonnie’s character, but once she came back from the prison world, darker but stronger, I have rooted for her a lot more. Bonnie has always done things to make everyone else happy, sacrificing the things she cares about for the greater good. But now she is done with that and is ready to be the one who wins. Everyone else is allowed to be violent and then be forgiven. Bonnie has never really gotten to do that. Her friendship with Damon, and her potential relationship with Enzo, are great additions to her character because they will help her grow comfortable with her darker desires while still holding on to her morality. In this episode Damon lays out his plan to get back at Lily by letting her find happiness with Julian before he kills him in front of her. Instead of telling Damon that his plan is cold and vengeful, she tells him he is right to do it. Bonnie has gone through a lot and lost many people she loved at the expense of others. She too lost Elena because of Lily and she has no problems making her miserable. I love this version of Bonnie and, despite an initial “WTF” at the idea of her and Enzo, I could actually see her finding happiness with someone like him.

Luckily Bonnie will outlast the less interesting characters of this season, Lily and the Heretics. Lily was an intriguing addition last season but she is starting to overstay her welcome. The writers don’t seem to know where else to go with her as a villain which is likely why they are bringing Julian in. Nora and Mary Louise have the potential to be more interesting characters, but so far are mostly just acting as Lily’s sidekicks. Now that Valerie has broken from the Heretic family, she is just a complication for Stefan and Caroline and a means of fueling Stefan’s rage against his mother and Julian. The Heretics are beginning to invade the show in the same way that the Originals did back in Season 3. There are a lot of them, and though their family drama can be fun, they are not the stars of the show. However, the Heretics are not as interesting as the Originals and the acting is not as good, making it more difficult to justify having them take up so much screen time. This season has had a slow start to it in a way that makes it feel like the writers don’t now exactly how to fill the time between the present and the future timeline so they are just stalling.

Episode Grade: 7/10

Other Thoughts:

  • Damon is more enjoyable in this episode than he has been so far this season. He is attempting to “turn over a new leaf” which really just means obsessing over things that are not about him. He wants to know why Valerie killed Oscar and uses this as an excuse to poke fun at Stefan’s love life. Elena was only mentioned a couple of times which was a big improvement. However, we will likely hear more now that it was revealed that Lily was the one who gave Kai the spell to put Elena in the coma. Damon’s focus will shift to getting revenge on Lily for what she did to Elena, but that is still better than obsessing over her coffin.
  • We learn more about how the Phoenix Stone works – it has hundreds of vampire souls trapped inside of it. It can only reunite souls with bodies – if the body you are trying to awaken doesn’t have a matching soul, it takes one at random. This means that neither Jo or Oscar are actually themselves, just random vampires. This is why they seem to have amnesia. However, Julian’s body is in there and Lily is able to use the stone to reunite him with his body.
  • Julian also has the little X scar on his chest.
  • Body Count: 1, Enzo kills fake Oscar

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