We finally meet Rayna Cruz

The Vampire Diaries Season 7, Episode 13 (“This Woman’s Work”)
Leslie-Anne Panaligan, The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries has never wasted time going from one villain to the next. In fact in this season they started setting up Rayna before we had even met the previous villain, Julian. Now that Julian is dead the show has already moved on to Rayna as the main obstacle. It helps that there is a connection between them, but it is interesting that despite that connection, Julian’s death has nothing to do with Rayna. She has been a mysterious villain up until now, but after teasing her for the entire first half of this season, we finally find out exactly who she is and what she wants.

Rayna’s father was one of the Brotherhood of the Five, which is a fun call back to Season 4. Her father had a run in with Julian who was going to kill him but, wanting to avoid the Hunter’s Curse, Julian compelled Rayna to kill her father for him. Rayna had always wanted to be a warrior like her father and so to follow in his footsteps, and to avenge him, she gets a shaman to cast a spell on her to make her a hunter too. However, she is actually more powerful than The Five. She is not weakened by magic, she has many lives, and the sword links her spirit with the vampires she uses it on so that she will always be led to them. Having Rayna be an extension of the Brotherhood of the Five is a good development. Anytime connections can be made to previous plots that don’t feel like a retcon is a good thing. She is not one of The Five, she was just inspired by them through her father. The purpose of The Five was to hunt vampires and kill Silas, though many of them didn’t know about the second part. Since becoming one of The Five does not seem to be hereditary, Rayna had to make herself into something different.

As we are learning about Rayna’s past, she comes to Mystic Falls in present day to find Beau who has been previously marked. However, Rayna is not only interested in killing those she has marked, her goal is to kill as many vampires as possible, meaning they are all in danger. She uses Enzo to trick Bonnie and Damon into bringing her the sword. Feeling like he has screwed up yet again, Damon tries to make it right by fighting off Rayna while Caroline gives birth. But Bonnie convinces Stefan to go out and help Damon, despite whatever they are fighting over. This results in Stefan getting marked instead of Damon. From the flash forwards we already knew that Stefan would be marked but we didn’t know that he got it trying to defend Damon. If one were to keep score throughout the series of how many times each brother sacrificed something for the other, it would certainly favor Stefan. Damon just gets himself into so many predicaments where he needs saving because he acts impulsively. Damon is very aware of this and isn’t always happy that Stefan keeps taking the bullet for him because then he feels like he owes him. But Stefan isn’t going to stop saving his brother.

Last episode Damon was trying to destroy himself over what he did to Elena. In this one he is still feeling pretty sorry for himself and just seems to keep screwing up. He can’t bring himself to tell Bonnie about Elena, which Enzo uses to blackmail him into bringing the sword. Enzo later reveals that Elena isn’t actually dead, which was already pretty obvious. Damon was hallucinating and Tyler had set up a decoy coffin. Elena’s real coffin is somewhere in New York under the protection of other people that Enzo doesn’t name. This revelation immediately turns Damon around and turns his focus to saving his brother. He feels like he has gotten a second chance and doesn’t want to screw it up this time. We will just have to wait and see how well that goes for him.

While everyone else is dealing with Rayna, Caroline is going through a grueling labor. Ultimately she gives birth to the twins, Josie and Elizabeth, named for their mother, Jo, and Liz Forbes. Poor Caroline is kind of losing everyone at this point. She is going to have to turn the babies over to Alaric and her boyfriend is now on the run. Of course we already know that Caroline is going to be much more involved in the girls life as we see in the flash forward at the end of the episode. The girls call her mom and she is taking them to New Orleans (The Originals crossover episode is up next!). Unfortunately Caroline’s entire storyline this season is about her becoming a mom. Not that that can’t be interesting, but I feel like they could have done more with her. Especially since the plot line only exists because Candice King was pregnant. It is not like Caroline is someone who wanted so badly to be a mom and is finally getting that chance. This just kind of happened to her and carrying twins in your womb for nine months generally creates an attachment.

I liked this episode for all of the background on Rayna, she is already such a more interesting villain than Julian ever was. I also was happy to get past Damon’s pity party. He says he is going to destroy Rayna, but from the flash forwards we know that at least three years in the future that is not the case. Now that Rayna is on the scene and Stefan is marked we are going to start moving pretty quickly into that future timeline. The pieces are really beginning to fall into place.

Episode Grade: 7/10

Other Thoughts:

  • Rayna is originally from the bayous of Louisiana, further setting up a crossover with The Originals.
  • I loved all of Bonnie’s teasing of Damon about his one-night stand with “Krystal with a K”. I am surprised though that Damon took the time to learn how to spell her name?
  • Damon tells Rayna that she looks like Elena which is a bit of a stretch. They are both brunettes but that is about it.
  • The idea that Tyler and Enzo are working together is very interesting and weird. And that one of their main goals is to keep Elena’s coffin safe? I can kind of see Tyler doing this, but Enzo?
  • Body Count: 1, Rayna kills Beau.

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