This review contains spoilers.
7.15 I Would For You
Damon and Stefan are profoundly selfish people/non-people. They’ve been alive for so long it’s kind of understandable that they give humans they’re not deeply, epically in love with as much regard as strangers passing through. They know the value of the ‘duck and cover’ approach when things get hairy and, despite caring for those around them, they always know that the only person who truly matters – each other – will be around for eternity.
So Damon’s decision to desiccate for 60 years rather than hang around and wait for Elena to wake up makes complete character sense, and is matched by Stefan’s decision to abandon Caroline and the babies just because she refused to go on the run with him forever. They know that this life as it is now is probably temporary, and they’re just going to make the best of it.
Honestly, it’s a miracle that this episode works as well as it does, because it had the near-impossible job of tying all the present day storylines up with those we’ve glimpsed three years in the future. All of those bizarre couplings and all of that dense mythology have to make sense now, otherwise the show’s going to have a pretty difficult time keeping its audience on board for the rest of season seven.
And for half the running time, it’s a pretty average episode sweeping up the mess from The Armory’s introduction. We find out that Rayna only has a limited number of lives, and that if she dies completely she’ll take all those with her mark (i.e. Stefan) down with her, and we solidify Matt’s anger at everyone undead for all the terrible things they’ve put him through over the years.
I kind of liked that we had an outsider point out how messed up it is that Matt regularly helps out the guy that murdered his sister and turned her into a vampire. But hey, Damon also did the same to Alaric’s wife/Elena’s birth-mother, and they got over it pretty quickly.
No, as soon as Damon makes his decision, the episode suddenly becomes something great – maybe the best it’s been this whole season in an emotional sense. My favourite thing about the way it plays out is that it takes its time, re-visiting each and every character Damon has formed a bond with as he avoids the obvious consequences of simply disappearing for multiple decades.
As sad as Stefan’s pleas for him to stay are, they’ve been separated before. The real moments come from Alaric and Bonnie, his drinking buddies and the people who arguably love him the most. But Damon’s not used to anyone other than Elena and Stefan caring enough to miss him, and sadly his mind was made up long before Bonnie tracked him down and delivered one of the most heartbreaking monologues in the show’s history.
It almost makes you sad we’re leaving the present day, because the time jump means that Bonnie and Caroline have been living with their respective betrayals for three full years. Their anger at them makes complete sense now, and I guess the biggest question about the now-present storylines is whether those bridges can be rebuilt. It’s delicious drama, and completely overshadows the Rayna stuff.
The real test is how we move forward from here because, as much as we’ve been preparing for this shift all season, we’ve still spent a relatively brief time there. But the show is going through a mini-renaissance right now, and that gives me hope that, with the groundwork out of the way, it can continue to build itself back up to the exciting and poignant and devastating show we remember.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Moonlight On The Bayou, here.