Elena’s gone. Nina Dobrev left the series. One mistake writers may make after the star leaves, after writing off the central character, is revolving the central narrative around the lost character. The X Files’ last season made Fox Mulder the central character despite David Duchovny’s departure from the series. So far, Elena’s but an aspect of Damon’s characterization. He misses her, he longs for her, but he’s not devoted to her. He’s not lost without her. Bonnie and Caroline wrote diary entries for Elena to read when she wakes from her magic slumber. Damon drank abundant amounts of alcohol in Amsterdam with Alaric. He slightly wanted to exchange Bonnie for Elena; however, Bonnie’s his best friend, a truth he touchingly confessed during his little three-second explanation. See, Damon hesitated prior to saving Bonnie’s life in an Amsterdam street. Damon’s relatively together. Julie Plec and Caroline Dries promised a return to Damon. Yeah, Damon’s drunker, but he’s not the murderous monster of season one who’d wipe girls’ memories after he hooked up with them. He’s angry, though, and he’s angrier after he learns about the true.
The Heretics looked unpromising as characters and villains last season. They’re brutally violent characters, obscenely attractive, but obedient to their ‘mother.’ The first Heretic, Valerie, narrates her diary entry in which she rants about her hatred for her town. The Heretics can’t practice magic, can’t murder willy-nilly; Lily wants them to acclimate to living and adapt to modern life. Modern life frowns on brutal murders. Before the second act break, the three ladies, Nora, Valerie, and Mary Louise brutally murdered two teenagers that hit-and-run Valerie. Nora took a selfie with her victim, too. Aw, the witch-vampires know how to take selfies. Also, the second act ended with the explosion and perceived death of The Heretics. The Vampire Diaries’ writers run through plot like The Rock runs through a twenty steak and ten egg breakfast. The first two acts of “Day One of Twenty Two Thousand, Give or Take” has the pacing, the resolution, of a season finale. Usually, the Mystic Falls crew takes three episodes to fail at a plan, but they fail before the twenty-minute mark of the season premiere.
Mystic Falls’ latest villains react by murdering the entire police force, a vengeance act that pushes Stefan and Lily to make a truce. Matt, Stefan, and Caroline cleared the town out. The Heretics may kill freely if someone trespassed. Stefan made the truce for Damon’s sake, for the sake of Elena, for the purpose of a future in which the person Elena loves most isn’t gone when she wakes up. The truce doesn’t last until the end. Bonnie and Damon team to kill Lily’s favorite, the eldest Heretic, a kiss-ass named Malcolm. Enzo cements his betrayal by taking Caroline for inevitable torture to Lily and her fun family.
Last season the writers created Kai, who was a great villain, a villain seemingly created to do what they wouldn’t do with Klaus: kill him. The Heretics resemble the originals. They speak with accents, they love to murder, they’re obscenely attractive, and they’ve been together for centuries. Perhaps the writers introduced the Heretics to do what they didn’t with the original family: kill them. Fans will draw the comparisons between the two. The Originals have three good characters: Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah. The Heretics don’t stand out. Nora and Mary Louse are the first same sex couple in the show. The mute guy is, well, mute. Malcolm’s already gone. Valerie seems like the Klaus of the group. The brutal murders only work for a finite period of time. Making the characters work over the next twenty-one episodes will be individual characterization, the central element of the Stefan/Lily/Damon; of course, The Vampire Diaries’ seasons consist of three distinctive acts. The Heretics may disappear during the Christmas season. After all, the episode began with a flash-forward.
“Day One of Twenty Thousand, Give or Take” began with a frantic Stefan, in Brooklyn, three years from the present day action, waking Damon. The episode ended with the continuation of the scene. A powerful vampire hunter, a badass woman, wants to kill them. The woman’s framed in shadow. Damon and Stefan made remarks about a long history with her. One wonders is that the end game of the series. Julie Plec said she knows a season eight would work for the show. Stefan’s and Damon’s mysterious would-be murder’s more compelling than the intervening Heretics story. The teaser’s jarringly cut—it’s frenetic, spastic, urgent, which really works to move TVD away from the Elena era. I’d guess we’ll wait until November sweeps to learn much more, or I remember The Vampire Diaries doesn’t wait and the writers decide to tell concurrent storylines three years apart. Tolstoy told the stories of Anna and Vronski, and Levin and Kitty four years apart in his novel.
The premiere’s not entirely about the Heretics. There’s a good bit of them because Caroline Dries needed to establish them as villains, threats, as family to one another, etc., but Alaric’s sober and hell-bent to bring his wife back from the dead. Alaric’s scenes possess a bit of gothic Victorianism. He wants to connect with his wife, and he wants to look at her dead body. Alaric as a Stevensonian character of demented or decaying sensibilities because of the tragic untimely death of his betrothed would rock.
Stefan and Caroline as an inevitable romantic pairing reached its synthesis, which, in turn, begets a new thesis. The first half of the episode for them involves awkward conversations about acting totally cool with each other despite wanting to love each other. The Heretic chaos happens. They work together to evacuate the town. Enzo bothered Caroline. Ultimately, Caroline forgets the awkwardness. She forgets why they shouldn’t and instead thinks of why they should: she feels happy with Stefan. Stefan helped her endure the loss of her mother and her best friend. Caroline told him she thought her grief would’ve lessened, but it didn’t. The Vampire Diaries always nail the pathos of death and mourning. Rectify and The Leftovers are the other series that capture the reality of death. Shakespeare gave eloquence to the spirit of their romance: “Serve God, love me, mend.” A beautiful line, right? It makes you heart swell, yes?
And that’s the spirit of season seven. Elena’s gone but not forgotten. Caroline and Bonnie carry her words not to stop living to themselves and to Damon. The show, as they say, whomever ‘they’ are, must go on.
-I think The Vampire Diaries will get on well without Elena. Nina Dobrev was lovely. I really admire and love Anton Chekhov. Why not continue using classic literature to make my points about a vampire melodrama? Chekhov wrote plays, short stories, novellas, and even a novel. In a short story—only a few thousand words—a background character will emerge and gently push the previous character of focus out of focus. It’s great. Gogol did it as well. The writers have a large world, many characters, so the loss of Elena should not cripple the creativity. I don’t think it will. I think it sort of frees the writer.
-Matt Donovan, because of the deaths, became town sheriff. The narrative caught up to the flash-forward in the season six finale.
-Kat Graham looked gorgeous. Bonnie will benefit from the Elena-free storytelling. Maybe. I don’t know.
-Welcome back to my Vampire Diaries reviews. Hello, if you’re new. It’s my sixth season reviewing the show. I’ll review every single episode of the season. Maybe TVD will invite me to the set this year. (They won’t. I’m delusional).