The Vampire Diaries struggles with where to go next

The Vampire Diaries Season 7, Episode 9 (“Cold as Ice”)
Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder, The Vampire Diaries

How does the death of a matriarch affect a family? Lily was mother not only to Stefan and Damon, but also to the Heretics. Stefan and the Heretics are mourning her loss. Stefan wants to get revenge on Julian. The Heretics are figuring out how to move forward without their close knit family. Julian is growing even more unstable. Damon is in deep denial about how he truly feels about it. How do you mourn the death of a mother who abandoned you? Who chose people she was not related to over you? Who put your girlfriend in a 60 year coma? He pretends to hate her and be happy that she is gone, but it cannot be that simple. Regardless of all that, she was his mother and at one point he loved her.

While Damon struggles to confront his feelings about his mother’s death, the show now has to figure out what to do with all of these Heretics now that Lily is gone. This episode clearly sets up that they are not just going to disappear. They won’t continue to be villains, but I don’t really see them becoming friends with the rest of the characters either. I am not sure how I feel about them continuing on in show, because the Heretics are like 70% of a good character. They have some decent backstory that makes them kind of interesting and sympathetic. The acting is perfectly fine from everyone. But none of them are great. None of them have a great energy or chemistry with anyone else. They aren’t interesting enough to make them great characters and ones that I am excited to see what happens next. One would kind of have hoped that with Lily dead and Julian the villain, they would have dissipated along with them. But this episode shows Nora trying to become a Whitmore student and the flash forward reveals that Valerie and Stefan are in a relationship. For me this was not a welcome sight at all, mostly because it means that Valerie is going to be around for that long. But also because I just don’t see any chemistry between them. Their relationship would be pretty boring to have to watch.

Julian is now the major villain but he continues to be the least interesting part of the show currently. He does do one interesting thing this episode though and that is when he stabs Damon with the Phoenix Sword, and then Nora stabs Stefan with it. We know from Julian’s account that the stone will make each of them play the same nightmare scenario over and over until they can get out. We get a glimpse as to what that will be for Damon, the Civil War. We don’t yet know what Stefan’s will be but I am very interested to get to both of their experiences in the stone and having the plot of the stone finally pay off. Of course this doesn’t really improve Julian’s villain status. He just facilitated a potentially more interesting plot line. He remains a flat villain who I am more than ready to see go but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be happening right away.

Finally we have Caroline’s pregnancy rapidly progressing. Obviously Candice King was further along so they had to kind of speed this up, but she went from not showing to being very noticeably pregnant in one episode. She is really struggling though because this is not something she can study up on. There are no pregnancy books about what to do when you are a vampire having someone else’s babies. All of her books are on human pregnancies and she has no idea what is in store for her as a vampire. Even if the babies aren’t hers she feels a responsibility towards them. It is unlikely that she would be able to give birth and then just hand them off to Alaric. She also cannot talk to her mom about it. She is feeling lost and that she has no one she can turn to. The stress of it all is making her lose control of herself, she is feeling the bloodlust much more than she normally does. Is it the pregnancy itself or the stress?

This was an episode that ended on a very interesting note and made me super excited to see the next one. However, I was not really interested in anything that happened prior to that. This season is definitely struggling to find its center without Elena. The show added a bunch of new characters which this late in the game I am just not that interested in. Between the Salvatores, Caroline, Bonnie, Enzo, Alaric, and Matt there is enough interesting and complex background with the major characters that I don’t feel like the show really needed all of these new ones. If it could just get back to making these characters the center of the show again it would be all the better for it.

Episode Grade: 6/10

Other Thoughts

  • Why is Julian hiding out in a Christmas village? That village looked so much like a set that it was distracting.
  • Damon continues to have harsh words for his dead mother “Lily, you were a terrible mother when you were alive. And you were a terrible mother when you were dead.”
  • Julian talked for like five straight minutes about the Phoenix Sword basically spelling out that he would be using it on someone by the end of the episode. TVD of better years would not have been so obvious.
  • Are the Salvatores just back in their house now? Julian finds Damon in his old room but it is not clear if Damon is living there again or if he was just there?
  • Body Count: 12, Julian kills approximately a dozen Santas.

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