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‘The Vampire Diaries’ Review: Band-Aids Don’t Fix Damon’s Friendships

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Bonnie’s back!

And all is right with The Vampire Diaries’ world.

Okay—nothing’s right with the world because we’re speeding toward the seventh season finale. That means all our characters are in danger. Including Bonnie.

(Especially Bonnie).

Before we talk about “One Way or Another” I want to rewind to the events of “I Went to the Woods.” An excellent episode directed by Julie Plec. The hour showcased Paul Wesley’s many talents as we watched Stefan struggling to live in a dying human body. Meanwhile, his body had been inhabited by a vampire serial killer.

It was up to Damon to fix everything and save Stefan’s life. Something Stefan (and Valerie) was convinced wouldn’t happen because Damon’s too selfish to ever come through for his brother (ouch). Damon did get to Stefan in time to stop “Marty” from freezing to death, but Stefan told him the save was not enough to earn his forgiveness.

Last week’s episode marks the death of my Phoenix Stone theory. Apparently there wasn’t more to the stone than meets the eye. Damon learned he was too selfish and Stefan learned he wasn’t selfish enough (because he always put Damon first). Still seems like a weird lesson to me especially since it goes against everything the show’s taught us about brotherly love. But whatever, right? Sometimes theories are wrong and we move on.

Back to “One Way or Another.” Stefan’s still trapped in a dying human body. Ambrose, the vampire in Stefan’s body, is holed up in a frat house compelling humans to kill each other for sport. Damon’s dragged Alaric out of suburban dad retirement for one last mission, and Valerie’s waiting at a motel to perform the soul swap—a spell that might be too strong for her. Plus, Bonnie’s back and we get so many answers!

#5 Stefan still loves Caroline

To the surprise of no one, Stefan never stopped loving Caroline. While he traveled the world searching for a scar cure, he wrote Caroline a ton of letters. He wanted to apologize, tell her how much her happiness means to him, and basically to have a good life without him. Caroline returned every letter unopened. I’m always Team Stefan, but I’m Team Caroline too. I don’t blame her because he had no right to walk away without giving her a choice or at least telling her to her face he wanted to end things. Noble intentions do not negate bad behavior.

But what struck me about Stefan’s decision is how it paralleled Damon’s choice to desiccate beside Elena. He rationalized his brother and friends were better and safer without him—just as Stefan did to Caroline. Once again, the brothers are more alike than either of them realize (suck on that, Phoenix Stone). Also, the Steroline fan in me swooned over Stefan wanting to write Caroline one last letter in case Marty’s body gave out. Romantic tragedy at its finest.

the-vampire-diaries-718-one-way-another-03#4 Damon attempts to get one of his besties back

Full disclosure: Damon and Alaric’s bromance has always been one of my favorite relationships on the show. Seeing them at odds, even for a good-ish reason, makes me unhappy. And I say ‘good-ish’ because while I side with Stefan and Bonnie, I think Damon’s right about Alaric. He wanted a vampire-free life for himself and his daughters. Sure, Damon failed to say goodbye in person, but it’s not like Alaric planned on a weekly guys’ night.

It was fun to watch them team up one last time (we know it’s not really the last time). I like that Damon called Ric out on just how much he benefitted from the Salvatore three year absence. Even though I don’t like how much it hurt Damon, I’m glad Ric was honest in a way only close friends can be when he told Damon he was happier without him and his chaos (still hurtful). Alaric is kidding himself if he believes this is the end, but he did do Damon a solid by filling him in on Bonnie’s life and encouraging him to get her forgiveness (sarcastically, but it counts).

#3 Valerie saves Stefan and says goodbye

It’s obvious how much Paul Wesley relishes playing the bad guy so his scenes as Ambrose were fun to watch. The best was the Ambrose vs. “Marty” scene where he channeled Klaus and attempted to break down a house he wasn’t invited into in order to kill his enemy. But of course Team Dalaric prevailed and brought the two bodies to Valerie for the soul swap. In the process, she enters Stefan’s mind so they could have a heart to heart. She wanted to talk about their next destination. He wanted to stop running because the scar is gone. When Valerie almost died doing the spell, Stefan begged her to stop. He didn’t want to live at her expense.

Sounds like a romantic gesture, right? Except Valerie saw it for what it really was: Stefan thinking it wasn’t fair for her to die for him. He’s not worth it. Valerie’s known all along that Stefan didn’t—and couldn’t—ever love her the way she loved him. I never got behind this relationship, but the breakup scene is one of the best the show’s done. Even as she encouraged Stefan to find his happiness with Caroline (and believe he deserved it), she wished things could have been different. Maybe in another human life they might have been true love. Great scene—and kudos to the show for letting Valerie leave alive and on her own terms.

the-vampire-diaries-718-one-way-another-02#2 Enzo’s desperate to save Bonnie

As Damon set out to kill Rayna in order to get Ambrose out of Stefan’s body, Enzo kidnapped Rayna from her Uber. He wanted the huntress to tell him how to reverse the effects of her blood. She told him that wasn’t possible. She also deduced from his reaction it meant Bonnie was going to die and by giving her the pills, Enzo basically killed the woman he loves.

Here’s the thing. I love how determined Enzo is to save Bonnie. He’s always been the obsessive, all in type so of course he’s going to be consumed with finding a solution. I loved his scenes. And while I do think the actors have great chemistry, I’m disappointed with how the show handled this relationship. I know we’re supposed to get the backstory next week, but it’s hard to invest when we’ve been denied the buildup (which is the best part of any fictional relationship).

#1 BONNIE’S BACK

I’m not going to complain about pacing again. But we’ve learned more about the Armory in this episode than we have all season. It turns out Bonnie’s not even a little crazy. She checked herself into the mental hospital as part of an undercover mission. One of the other patients is Virginia St. John. Bonnie’s been switching out her meds for placebos to make sure Virginia has a clear head when they talk. The other woman is grateful—until she realizes Bonnie knows who she is. Once Bonnie reveals she’s an anti-Armory Bennett witch and agrees to break her out too, Virginia spills what she knows.

It turns out there’s a vault in the Armory basement. A Bennett witch sealed it so only a Bennett witch can open it. Virginia won’t say what’s in there—only some kind of darkness that can never be let out (Season 8 big bad?), and her family locked her up because she wanted to stop them from opening it. Virginia attempts to kill Bonnie, but an orderly saves the day.

“Dr.” Enzo arrives and Bonnie tells him everything and suggests he take her out to dinner. He stops her from swallowing another pill and explains what happened to Mary Louise. Needless to say, Bonnie’s not thrilled at the idea of dying again. Enzo swears he’s not going to let her (okay, that was a swoon-worthy moment). But Bonnie barely has time to absorb it before Damon shows up at the door with flowers and attempts to stammer out an apology.

Bonnie slams the door in his face (as she should), but first Bonnie and Damon share some heated looks. And this is another reason it’s hard to rally behind Bonnie and Enzo. We’ve watched Bonnie and Damon’s relationship evolve for seven seasons. Even without the opening therapy scene, all it takes is one look between them to express their complicated history and show us how much the three years affected them. This is the story we need to see more of next week.

(Clearly the CW promo department agrees).

About the author

Mandy Treccia

Mandy Treccia has served as TVSource Magazine’s Executive Editor since 2016, formerly as Editorial Director from 2012-2016. She is an avid TV watcher and card carrying fan girl prone to sudden bursts of emotion, ranging from extreme excitement to blind rage during her favorite shows and has on more than once occasion considered having a paper bag on hand to get her through some tough TV moments. Her taste in TV tends to rival that of a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s okay with that. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceMandy.

  • Silvia Ribeiro

    Couldn’t agree more Mandy as usual, your reviews are spot on. As cute as the Bonnie x Enzo scene was, the moment we heard Damon’s voice, that was it. That was the story I wanted to see. While the wait since they were sequestered in 1994 prison world has been painful for this Bonnie x Damon fan, I’m grateful that the show allowed us to see their relationship grow and evolve for the past almost two seasons. That history between them is really the difference, as an audience member I’m invested in their relationship.