The second episode of a TV season, like the second episode of a series, always gives the viewer a better idea of what’s to come. Premiere episodes act as epilogues and prologues. Episode two acts an opening chapter. For The Vampire Diaries, episode three acts as the ‘statement’ episode. Their second episodes are mostly forgettable, aside from Caroline’s awesome post-vamp romp in season two. “Never Let Me Go” had a lot of plot going on. It had the illusion of important stakes, even though The Heretics wouldn’t throw Elena’s body in the water, Alaric wouldn’t destroy the Phoenix Stone, Damon wouldn’t leave town because his mother threatened to hurt Elena if he didn’t, and the flash forward revealed Caroline eventually escaped The Heretics’ torture.
Without Elena the heart of the series shifted to the Salvatore brothers. Instead of a love triangle there is a family triangle. The clusterbleep of nonsense sparked by Malcolm’s death hit a temporary plateau when Stefan and Damon agreed to playact as enemies while conspiring as loving brothers. Lily told the key story of the episode. Damon broke his grandmother’s vase once, denied it after beatings, and only confessed after Lily took his toy soldiers. He confessed then. So, now, in the present, Lily decided to take away the people her sons care most for: Elena and Caroline.
I find it dramatically uninteresting. The Heretics continue as a worse version of the originals. Lily’s coldly muted. The cold mutability of her character reflects her old worldview, perspective, and the difference between her ripper self and her ‘domestic’ self. If Stefan and Damon turned against each other, it would repeat past seasons. The writers expressed excitement about a return to the first season of the show in season seven, but they needn’t have returned to Damon and Stefan at odds. Fortunately, they didn’t. Damon will work better outside of Mystic Falls as he hunts for the sixth Heretic. I wonder, though, whether Stefan’s fondness for his mother will slightly change his perspective about his brother. Lily brought him back from his soulless phase with Caroline, but Stefan’s connect with his mother will help him manipulate her; however, she seems immune to manipulations. Lily’s not immune from a vampire lightly caressing her hair, though.
The post-premiere interviews last week included reminders about the finality of death in The Vampire Diaries. Matt died again. Bonnie brought him back. Death’s as final as the needs of the plot. Matt’s a mere plot device. Bonnie’s concern about his brain will mean nothing. Matt, after expressing anger about Bonnie’s role in bringing The Heretics back, decided to help Bonnie, Damon, and Stefan stop them. Children belong in parks, Matt said. Families belong in their homes, he said. Bonnie didn’t revive him after the phoenix stone flashes flashed through her. The quick cuts showed blood, knife cuts, and the same scar shared by Stefan and The Heretic gentleman.
Alaric, of course, did not destroy the stone despite Bonnie plainly telling him it’s pure evil. Yes. Alaric told her he destroyed it. Alaric as the mad obsessive trying to break the finality of death is a cool turn for the character. Bryan Young gave Alaric the line of the episode after the nifty speech about the unbelievable fantasies people dream up about death. Death as it is the most unbelievable—that life ceases. It is crazy, mind-boggling, insane. Our entire existence is insane, an unsolvable riddle, a puzzle with infinite pieces scattered through the universe and beyond the universe into the space we don’t now exists. I digress. This will end terribly for Alaric.
Caroline’s torture acts as a way to add definition to The Heretic ladies. Valerie once had a romance with Stefan. Nora and Mary Louise were unwanted by their families. Mary Louise’s family hung her like slaughtered swine in the barn. Nora only mentioned Malcolm saved her from her family. Caroline developed a bond with Nora. Valerie’s the sweetly passive-aggressive type, and the other one stares menacingly. He and Valerie share a strong bond. I didn’t like the kidnapped storyline. Several lazy, clichéd plot developments resulted from the story: the aforementioned Stefan/Valerie connection; Enzo’s confession of affection towards Lily; the playacting to trick Lily (which no way will trick her).
Caroline’s flash forward revealed a fiancé, a career as a local news producer, and a break from Stefan. Also, someone shot her with a wooden stake. The mysterious attacker from the premiere seemingly has help. Caroline works out of Dallas in, presumably, the year 2016. The flash forwards could supersede the present day drama very soon. I didn’t like “Never Let Me Go” at all. Of course, the season’s two episodes old.
-The red shirts in the teaser referred to the Blair Witch project. No, no, no, writers, college students today would reference Paranormal Activity. I don’t know why The Heretics spared Matt. Do they respect law enforcement? Does Valerie like looking at a man in uniform? Lily wanted to take away her sons’ favorite people. Neither brother cares about Matt. I guess that’s it.
-I’d keep the phoenix stone, too, for Jodi Lyn O’Keefe.
-Bryan Young wrote the episode. I missed the name of the director, for which I apologize.