The Vampire Diaries Season 7, Episode 16 (“DAys of Future Past”)
When The Vampire Diaries first started, to me it was very much a story of two brothers. Brothers that had been through a lot and had been torn apart by various conflicts. Throughout the first season we see them go from enemies to friends. Throughout the rest of the series we have seen their bond continuously strengthen despite the many obstacles thrown at it (mostly Elena). Many have tried to divide them but most villains have found that trying to pit them against each other never really worked. For the past few seasons their bond has drifted from the center. Elena’s departure has thankfully allowed for that relationship to become the focus again. Unfortunately, the writers seem to have forgotten a lot of the nuances of their relationship since then.
For much of this season, and particularly the past few episodes, the show has given Damon very little credit. He has never been the hero of the show, that title usually goes to Stefan, but he certainly isn’t the villain. Their relationship in this episode has devolved into an oversimplification that seems to fit more in Season 1 than Season 7. In this episode the writers basically posit that Stefan is the one that is always saving Damon, and Damon never returns the favor. Acting as though Damon has never made a sacrifice for Stefan. Even Damon seems to be underestimating himself. He tells Valerie that he can only be good when Elena is around, but that is just not true. It is not like when he was with her he was a great guy. He got better, but he was still Damon. They are really overstating the effect that Elena has on him, ignoring how much his change since the beginning of the series has been because of Stefan.
We have seen in at least two flashbacks times in their past when Damon wanted to change and needed Stefan to do it. In “We’ll Always Have Bourbon Street” Stefan is going off to join the war and Damon wants to go with him. But Damon stays behind when Lexi tells him that it is best for Stefan to be on his own while he recovers from his ripper days. Despite the fact that Damon would have been better off with Stefan, he stays behind. In “Black Hole Sun” Damon returns to Mystic Falls in hopes of repairing his relationship with Stefan so that he can live a better life. Even if it doesn’t always work out, Damon always turns back to Stefan. And it is not like Damon has never made a sacrifice for Stefan. When Stefan goes off with Klaus, Damon hunts him down and makes sure he gets his humanity back. Even if the score isn’t even and Damon is selfish, he is not the leach that this episode would have you believe. These brothers certainly have some unresolved issues but I don’t think this is it.
In this episode Damon has to make a choice to save Stefan, at the expense of never having a life with Elena. Damon hesitates causing him to let Stefan down again. But the most surprising part of all this was that Stefan would want Damon to do that. The fact that that is considered a good option to Stefan also rang false to me. Especially when the same episode showed how much Stefan struggled with the idea of letting Damon go over the past three years. Rayna however convinces him that he will always be dragged down by Damon and he agrees to let him go this time when he is in the stone. The only part of this that was interesting was what we learned about Rayna. She has no choice but to chase down her targets, even when she doesn’t want to. She is supernaturally drawn to them and controlled by the sword. All episode she is trying to find a way to save Stefan but unfortunately despite Damon’s last minute efforts, she has to give in and sends him back into the stone.
Now that the main timeline is the future one, we will continue to get some flashbacks to fill in some of the gaps of the past three years. In this one we see how Stefan and Valerie initially got together. This wasn’t a hole that I felt like I particularly needed that much filling in on. They had a relationship when they were young, it is not surprising that after spending a year traveling the world together they would rekindle it. But from this episode at least it seems like Valerie is much more invested than Stefan is. She seemed to be just waiting for him to fall for her again. Why else would she dedicate her entire life to helping him? Stefan though seems like he might bolt once that scar is gone.
Nora and Mary Louise end up being the unlikely heroes of the episode. This final scene with them actually got me pretty choked up. Their association with Lily and Julian often painted them as the villains or the mean heretic girls. But ultimately they just wanted to be with people who loved them. After spending three years locked up by the Armory, Mary Louise is dying from continuous poisoning and Nora gets marked by Rayna. They decide to make their final act a heroic one and they use their magic to blow themselves up, along with the Phoenix Stone. We don’t yet learn what happens to all of the souls trapped in there but they definitely weakened Rayna. But it also begs the question of why no one tried just destroying the stone before.
I am still excited to be in the future timeline even if the Salvatores’ storyline is a bit frustrating. There are still some intriguing “mysteries” like why Matt blames Stefan for Penny’s death, what exactly happens to all of the vampire souls locked up in the Phoenix Stone if it is destroyed, what Enzo is up to, and how he and Bonnie went from enemies to lovers.
Episode Grade: 7/10
- Valerie knew that Stefan could use a transfer spell to get rid of his scar but never told him. Damon thinks it’s because she wants to keep running with Stefan, if they stop he will go back to Caroline. She claims that it was to save Stefan from having Damon in his life again. I think it was a bit of both.
- Enzo is a bit of a wildcard right now. Though that is kind of always true. It is hard to figure out what exactly he is up to or what side he is on. He seems to have turned on the Armory but is still working for them. He has been giving the pills that block magic to Bonnie, not knowing that they would also kill her. Just as it was three years ago, the Armory never really tells him everything. But he is definitely hiding Bonnie from them.
- Body Count: 2, Nora and Mary Louise kill themselves.