This review contains spoilers.
After all these years, I really should have known better than to assume The Vampire Diaries mission to wipe out all of Rayna’s escaped captees would take up the rest of the season. This show doesn’t do that. It doesn’t introduce the final conflict more than a couple of weeks before the end of the year’s run, and even then said conflict will almost certainly be different than the one we were expecting.
So Rayna’s dead and Bonnie’s alive. But the catch is that Bonnie will now be hell-bent on killing every vampire she finds and tortured for all eternity by the huntress curse. She’s basically a vampire slayer but without the fun parts, and this will surely mean that her relationships with Enzo, Damon and Caroline are severely compromised. Will she just be a mindless killer now, or will she be able to push down the urges to maim and murder?
Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of Bonnie having superpowers beyond convenient witch abilities, but this feels slightly like conflict for conflict’s sake. It’s why she’s been in a relationship with Enzo and why she was infected with Rayna’s blood. It’s the sort of thing the show used to pull with Elena, right down to the two vampire suitors, but somehow this is more compelling because Bonnie’s developed so much.
So I care, which is the first and possibly only battle when it comes to The Vampire Diaries. I care that Bonnie gets to live and I care whether she forgives Damon. I even care about her and Enzo, which would have been a ludicrous notion even a couple of weeks ago.
My complaint, then, is that the show appears to have yet again blown past the really fun plot device of the gang hunting down evil serial killer vampires, switching instead to the very boring Armory and their secret cupboard monster we’ve never heard of before. Sure, the thing they’ve unleashed seems pretty threatening but, as with the Heretics last season, it all feels a tad last minute.
But other stuff happened, notably with Matt. Scraping the bottom of the flashback barrel (jk, I love Matt), we finally see what happened to his fiance, and it’s pretty bleak. Apparently he shot her accidently when hunting down Stefan (who had returned to visit Sheriff Forbes’ grave) and Stefan decided to spare him the memories. That turned out to not be a very well-thought out plan, though, because a man with a dead fiance and no memory of what happened is going to have some pretty pressing questions.
I don’t know what they’re doing with Matt this season. What was a pretty understandable stand against the vampires who had killed his relatives, love interests and friends has become a pointless, joyless vendetta. When your main characters are on opposite sides of a war it can be entertaining, but this is more like a supporting character snapping at the heels of our central antiheroes.
So this was objectively quite sad but, in practice, we’d literally only seen Penny in around four scenes. Sure, we can feel bad for the guy she left behind, but then Matt turns around and stubbornly insists that Stefan’s responsible anyway. Why not make this about Elena by way of Vicky? The poor guy doesn’t have his questionable support system around without Jeremy and Tyler, and Elena was arguably his most important person.
Why invest a completely new character that the audience doesn’t know?
Slightly less annoying were Caroline and Alaric, who both already seem totally checked out of their marriage before it’s even gone down. In all fairness this whole thing is actually pretty weird in a good way, but I wish the show wouldn’t treat us like idiots by pretending they’re going to stay together now that Stefan’s back in the picture. Also there’s the fact that Alaric’s hoping for something I can’t imagine Caroline’s willing to give.
There’s only two episodes of the season left, and I’ve honestly lost track of what’s gone on over the past twenty episodes. This has been a ludicrously busy season, propelling us forward three whole years and introducing vast swathes of characters as quickly as it dispatches them. Where the Heretics were are now the Armory, and where individual characters with their own wants and needs were are now lots and lots of love triangles.
But this show built itself on love triangles, and I can see this as an attempt to reintroduce that trope following a couple of years without it. That’s fine as long as you still like the people involved (and I do), but I could stand for the show to slow down a little next year.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Somebody That I Used To Know, here.
UK viewers: The Vampire Diaries season 7B is due to arrive on ITV2 in summer 2016. Air date TBC.