In the pattern for this show, things usually start kicking into gear for the season around the third episode or so. We have a glut of new characters trying to fill the void of Elena’s absence, but don’t pretend that a lot of us weren’t as tired as Nina Dobrev of all that had gone into making and evolving that role. She’d been a (terrible) vampire. She’d died and been revived (that made her part of a crowd on this show). She’d traded Stefan for Damon, killed an Original, been alternately the best and worst sister, burned her damn house down, and forgiven her doppelganger way too often for logic to allow. She was mostly great as a human, but the show at its best was always an ensemble. So the goal now is to refocus, and explore the story left between the two very different vampire brothers, and their complicated histories that unfold as always in flashbacks. 03 episodes are good for those. In season 3 it was the scintillating, surprising flashback to Klaus in Chicago; in Season 5 it was the beginning of Qetsiyah’s revenge (tracing back all the way to the origins of vampirism); in season 6 it was the first hint of the now classic Bonnie/Damon best frenemies arc while they were trapped in the 1994 prison world with Kai. Season 4 was a bit of an outlier in that the season focusing flashbacks didn’t kick in until episode 04 (which was all about Rebekah and the Five Chosen vampire hunters, who remembers anymore?), but season 4 was not the best. This week it’s about Stefan and his first truncated love (loss of “innocence,” if you will), who turns out to be Valerie Tull. She who has done some vindictive things to Caroline (still held prisoner), while making sure she reads Stefan’s diary of his feelings pre-vampire, with no brother and no mother, as a charming but naïve swain about antebellum Mystic Falls. I knew there was more to Valerie than just being the loner amongst the mean girls, and the show is smart to build up her connections to our core players. She also seems just like Stefan’s type, but one much more cursed and less assertive than Katherine was, as Katherine spent a lifetime searching for her child, but Valerie was denied even the birth of hers, killed by new villain (and ex-Lily lover) Julian. I’m not sure of the wisdom of having a new uber-vamp Julian on this show while the Originals is trotting out the equally flashback-ridden Lucien (and the latter show seems to have the more charismatic actor), but here’s hoping he’s cannon fodder designed just to disappoint Lily once again. Lily has a charming moment with Stefan where he teaches her how to drive (they have a telling chemistry for a mom who claims to have no feelings for her sons), which puts her in a good enough mood to free Caroline. Who treats her with respectful intimacy, both very important traits to Lily, one Southern belle to another. Which is good for Caroline, because Damon seems to place more emphasis on recovering Elena’s coffin than rescuing her in his mission to find a bargaining chip with Lily. He’s looking for Lily’s errant heretic Oscar (who as played by Tim Kang is a blast of party-loving fresh air, just wishing to be free from the sad Heretic cult). This involved a road trip to Myrtle Beach with Bonnie and Matt, caught up in their own sad story to revive Josette through necromancy. Bonnie’s briefly angry that Damon didn’t tell her Alaric hadn’t destroyed the cursed stone, because Bonnie knows that can’t go well. I guess she’s relying on her impressive team work with Alaric and Damon to take down with whatever monster they unleash. Good luck with that. At least it works with Oscar, who is caught, detained, betrayed (by Valerie unfortunately) and killed just in time for next week’s apparently zombie-esque Halloween episode. Those are usually pretty good, too, and with this intriguingly frenetic and varied episode at least, the show is already on the right track. The Vampire Diaries 7.03 “Age of Innocence”Shawn's Rating3.5Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.