The Salvatores suffer the after effects of the Phoenix Stone

The Vampire Diaries Season 7, Episode 11 (“Things We Lost in the Fire”)
Paul Wesley, The Vampire Diaries

Family is a central part of The Vampire Diaries. It is often where characters find strength. But what about when your family is also primarily what causes you pain? Throughout their 150+ years together the Salvatores have been through a lot of ups and downs. They have been both each other’s greatest strengths and weaknesses. But I think it is fair to say that despite it all they would be much worse off without each other. This has been a pretty constant theme throughout the series. However, this episode begins to back peddle on that idea.

In the last episode we saw Damon’s experience in the Phoenix Stone. Meanwhile Stefan was going through the same thing, but we didn’t learn about it until this episode which focused on the after effects of the stone. From Damon’s trip it appeared that while in the stone a vampire is tortured by their greatest fears and weaknesses. Once out, the stone continues to haunt them until they seemingly “solve” the issue. In this episode the stone is trying to convince Stefan and Damon to do the thing that would hurt them the most. Stefan is able to resist what the stone is telling him, but Damon is much more persuadable.

While in the stone, Stefan relived his trauma of drowning continuously in the quarry back in Season 5. However, this time he imagined that Damon was down there with him. Every time he tried to resurface, Damon would drag him back down. The only way to break free from his hell was to let Damon go. Now that he is out of the stone, Stefan is seeing Damon everywhere imagining that he is going to hurt Caroline. Stefan’s stone experience seems to be telling him that his biggest issue is Damon. That his devotion to saving Damon is actually hurting his other relationships and keeping him from being truly happy. I don’t really believe this is true and at least at this point Stefan doesn’t seem to either. But is he just not willing to admit it? Certainly it would be fair that Stefan would be frustrated with constantly having to save Damon. But the idea that he would be better off without his brother is ridiculous. We saw what happened to Stefan last season when he thought Damon was dead. He broke off every important relationship he had, abandoned his life, and started over somewhere else. Despite all the trouble that Damon has caused him, Stefan needs his brother.

Similarly, the stone is trying to convince Damon that he needs to break his bond with the person that keeps him in the light. Out of the stone, Damon is hallucinating Henry who is telling him that he needs to let Elena go in order to be his true, evil self. The last episode made it clear that Damon’s biggest flaw was that he put all of his humanity on Elena and that without her he didn’t know right from wrong. But instead of placing that humanity in something else, the stone is telling him to break that connection so that his darker, truer, side can prevail. For both of the Salvatores the solution is not to break these bonds but to alter them. Neither of them should be placing that much importance on one person, but those people are still critical parts of their humanity. Unfortunately Damon is more easily tricked by the stone which leads him to accidentally torch Elena’s coffin, with her inside. Now, for much of this episode it is unclear what is real and what is not. And I think it is safe to say that the show wouldn’t just kill Elena off so unceremoniously. But at least for now Damon believes that he has killed Elena which will not be good for his humanity going forward.

Meanwhile we are getting closer to discovering who is after Stefan in the future timeline. She is only referred to as The Huntress in this episode, but we learn that the sword belongs to her and she uses it to trap vampire souls in the stone. She is the one that trapped Julian, and Beau, in there which is why they have the X shaped scars on their chests. Just as Stefan does in the future. In present day she sends an X marked postcard to Nora indicating that she is coming for Beau and Julian. This is really the beginning of the two timelines beginning to merge. Also, in the flash forward at the end of the episode Matt seems to have turned on them and is actually helping out the Huntress. This is kind of a long time coming and I don’t think it would take too much for Matt to finally break.

I had very mixed feelings about this episode. Primarily because I am not sure what we are supposed to make of Stefan’s Phoenix Stone journey. If the stone is supposed to torture them by making them live through their greatest fears or weaknesses, what is Stefan’s supposed to be? Do the writers want us to think that Stefan’s central issue is Damon? Or is Stefan interpreting it wrong? Damon’s was very accurate and fit with what we have known about him for a long time, which makes me feel like we are supposed to view Stefan’s the same way. How much I like this storyline will greatly depend on where it ends up going.

Episode Grade: 7/10

Other Thoughts:

  • Caroline throws Alaric a baby shower and is disappointed to find that he is much more prepared than she thought. She wants him to need her help because she is growing attached to the babies. If he can’t do it alone she gets to stay in their lives.
  • Baby shower games included Matt, Tyler, and Alaric putting on a diaper blind folded. Somehow Tyler ripped the head off the doll and Matt put the diaper on the baby’s head. “It’s like a helmet”.
  • Another way the timelines are beginning to merge is that Alaric gets an offer for a faculty position at SMU which is in Dallas where we know he and Caroline live in the future.
  • Julian continues to be the worst villain. He has now taken over the town with a vampire biker gang because he can? Which Stefan just let happen because he was too upset about Damon.
  • Matt gets arrested for drunk driving and meets a lady cop who is asking a lot of questions about Mystic Falls.
  • Body Count: 3, Matt and Bonnie kill 2 of Julian’s biker gang vamps (2) and Damon kills another (1).

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