It’s been well over twenty-four hours and I’m still not sure how I feel about the latest installment of The Vampire Diaries. As a self-proclaimed Stefan fan first, this should have been an enjoyable hour since most of the stories centered on the younger Salvatore brother. But something about “Age of Innocence” just did not work for me and I hate saying that because I still love season seven and I did mostly like the episode.
Maybe the problem is that it felt like a history rewrite. All these years, we believed Katherine to be Stefan’s first love, but now we know he met Valerie a year earlier. But can you really fall in love with a person over the course of a day? Maybe if you’re a teenager, which Stefan was at the time, but it’s a little hard to swallow that after 152 years (give or take whatever secret timeline TVD exists in), this “love” could still matter to two vampires enough to warrant an entire episode of setup.
Of course I love this show with all my heart and will forgive its little missteps (or the giant ones like Season 4). So let’s not dwell on the glaring flaws (maybe I’m being too cynical) and break down everything the episode had to offer.
5. Family Road Trip
Even though Alaric is technically the eldest of the group (I think?), didn’t it feel like Damon and Bonnie were the parents trying to deal with their kid this week? Bonnie, the sensible parent, attempted to keep Alaric from becoming a necromancer, while Damon, the cool parent, literally ran from the room to let Bonnie deal with the mess. Alaric rudely told Bonnie he didn’t care about her painful visions as long as he got Jo back. I know it’s the grief talking and I miss Jo too, but not cool, Ric. I wish Bonnie followed her gut and destroyed the stone herself, but her good heart won out and she agreed to help Ric (big mistake). On the bright side, Damon was super excited his besties worked things out and he basically told Lily to suck it because he had his own family now.
Can we call him the fun one? Oscar’s mission was to track down Julian (we’ll get to him) for Lily, but he opted to take his time and enjoy not being trapped in a prison world (fair enough). It turns out that Oscar and Damon met way back when and he compelled Damon to go home to his family instead of continuing to fight a war he didn’t believe in (kudos on Damon’s shame and not wanting to talk about being on the wrong side in front of Bonnie), which saved his life since Damon’s unit all died the next day. Damon asked Oscar to syphon away Bonnie’s visions, which led to Oscar asking questions about the Phoenix stone. Bonnie saved Damon from Oscar’s attempted staking and Alaric made sure he stayed down for the count (#teamwork). Unfortunately, before Damon could make the trade for Elena, Valerie secretly showed up and ripped out Oscar’s heart because she can’t risk him bringing Julian back.
3. Stefan and Caroline Tug on Lily’s Heartstrings
Mama Salvatore does care about her sons, or at least Stefan. Back in 1863, she sent Valerie to check on him. For her own reasons, Valerie reported back that Stefan was totally fine without Lily and Lily believed her. Present day Lily is surprised when Stefan offers to assist her when she has car problems and then gives her an impromptu driving lesson as they walk down memory lane. Lily is still the worst, but we caught glimpses of her human side in this episode. Once Caroline confirmed what Stefan told her and even handed over the journal as proof, Lily decided to let Caroline go as a reward for Stefan’s honesty. It’s a nice moment, but not as great as Stefan and Caroline’s reunion. They both forget about her vervain skin (thanks, Valerie) in their eagerness to be close to one another. Stefan assures Caroline that Valerie is in the past and all that matters is the two of them being together. Aw, Stefan, you always know the right thing to say. But I think we’re all waiting for that other shoe to drop since we’ve seen the future.
(I should apologize for skipping all over the place with this review, but the episode made it difficult to split into a linear top five list). As the mean girl heretics continued to torture poor Caroline, Valerie decided to fill her in on all the details of being Stefan’s alleged first love. They met at the fair when Valerie was just a witch that had been kicked out of her coven and joined Lily’s new family. Instead of glimpsing Stefan from afar, she got up close and personal and the two were so enamored with each other, they had sex (Stefan’s first time), he took her to his mother’s grave and she eased his guilt for thinking he could have saved Lily if he’d been faster on the errand his father tasked him with (can we agree Stefan killing him was for the best?). A few months went by and the two were going to run away together, but Julian threw a wrench in that plan.
Here’s what we know about Julian after this episode: Lily seems to be obsessed with him, he did not land in the prison world with them, and he’s a horrific person. When he discovered Valerie planned to run away with Stefan and was also pregnant with his baby, Julian responded by beating the hell out of her until she lost the baby, blamed it on a mugger and threatened to tell Lily about Valerie disobeying her and getting close to Stefan if she told the truth. I suspect Julian is currently dead and Lily wants the Phoenix stone to bring him back, but I’m already looking forward to the moment he gets to die a slow, painful death because he deserves at least two or three of them.
Even if I have a hard time buying the great love between Stefan and Valerie after one day, I loved the scene where they were sitting side by side as Valerie finished her story. She’d cloaked herself so Stefan couldn’t hear her and explained how Lily gave her blood and then she tried to end her own life, only to wake up as the first heretic (does that mean Julian’s just a regular vampire?). My heart broke for Valerie and everything she’s lost (But it’s still not an excuse to torture Caroline or kill anyone you feel like, including Oscar because he seemed fun).
1. Stefan Salvatore, BAMF
We only received one glimpse into the future this week, but it was extra awesome. First, Tyler’s back! Future Tyler is wearing a suit and doing his best to stay out of Stefan and Caroline’s drama. After last week, Tyler was my pick for most likely to be Caroline’s fiancé, but now it seems too obvious (so maybe Matt?). Tyler agreed to try to warn Caroline about the hunter after Stefan told him about his bleeding wound (I need to know more about this wound). Ty also warned Stefan to run, but of course Stefan was already doing that. First, he just needed to torch his car and walk away from the fire like a badass (a badass who saved his journal at the last minute). Thanks for the fantastic visual, show.
Next week, Damon decides to bring Oscar back from the dead and needless to say, it does not go well.