TV Review: Vampire Diaries Season 7

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WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. If you haven’t watched any of the Season 7 episodes of The Vampire Diaries and don’t want spoilers, skip this post and come back once you’ve seen the whole season.

The CW supernatural drama The Vampire Diaries has wrapped up its seventh season, the first one not to feature series mainstay Elena Gilbert. This season saw more exploration into the Heretics (who are both vampires and witches), led by the mother of Stefan and Damon Salvatore, as Mystic Falls did its best to enforce the police-imposed ban on vampires.

We also saw the introduction of yet another villain who had potential at the outset but quickly showed wafer-thin character development. This season’s honor went to Rayna Cruz, a vampire hunter who has been alive for centuries thanks to a Shamanic spell. Her mission, due to the Hunter’s Curse she was afflicted with, was to find and kill all vampires she marked with her sword to put their souls into the Phoenix Stone (which puts vampire souls in a Hellish prison).

This season focused heavily on the witch character of Bonnie Bennett, particularly the latter half of the season. She figured prominently in the plans of The Armory, which is an evil guinea pig lab for supernaturals. While I liked seeing the renewed emphasis on Bonnie for a change, there were many elements of this season that didn’t interest me. I didn’t start feel any serious interest in this season until Episode 12 rolled around and things started to pick up.

Some things I liked about this season:

  • Some Vampire Diaries fans were very disappointed with the fact that Elena Gilbert wasn’t the focus of the show this season, and some fans welcomed the change. I was glad to get a break from the show making Elena the center of everything (even though that has been the point of the show since the beginning), and felt the show made a decent use of reminding viewers of her presence when necessary, but that doesn’t mean the show was better without her. Just different.
  • The alternating timelines between the present and the past of three years ago. Some people haven’t been so keen on this, but I thought that it added a bit of mystery to the mix and enhanced some of the plot elements.
  • Enzo. Okay, okay, so he’s had a bit of a Spike from Buffy schtick going on since Day 1, but after spending much of the first part of the season making me wonder why he was involved, he made things interesting when he got involved with the Rayna Cruz situation and I questioned his motivations. Did he get a bit mushy-gushy toward the latter half when it was revealed how he and Bonnie got together? Yes, but it felt nice to see this character choosing something other than paranoia, mistrust, and revenge as his goals.
  • Klaus‘s cameos–he added to the plot in the episodes where he was involved and it was fun to see him again.
  • The consequences and stakes (no pun intended): Vampire Diaries has trained its viewers to become skeptical of everything that happens on the show and to good effect. Every time the characters manage to fix one problem, another even worse problem crops up to take its place. Nothing is ever simple on this show, and while that can sometimes be a detriment, it keeps the fans interested in the storylines.

Some things I wasn’t so crazy about this season:

  • Mopey Damon: Need I say more? He spent much of the first half of the season mucking about and just being generally sullen. I understand that he went into a personal Hell as a result of the Phoenix Stone, but it felt a bit like “Here we go yet again” so I was glad to see him taking more action toward the latter half of the season. And after the direction he’s headed with the season finale, it will be fun to see where his character goes next season.
  • Stop trying to make “Yellow Crayon” happen: (Episode 21 and the hashtag #BonniesYellowCrayon) The “Yellow Crayon” moment is a reference to the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when Xander helps Dark Willow become regular Willow after he shares an emotional childhood memory to remind her of who she really is. I’m not going to compare the two shows because it’s apples and oranges, and it’s not a fair comparison to make because Buffy set an impossibly high bar that few shows have managed to pull off. Vampire Diaries did a poignant and well-acted version, but for me, Buffy‘s Yellow Crayon moment will always resonate with me more.
  • Speaking of Buffy the Vampire Slayer…, I’m getting a distinct vibe that whatever entity is in The Vault of The Armory that can never be let out because it’s so dangerous is going to be something similar to The First Evil. Maybe not, but it’s kind of recycling the whole “Oh no, what are we doing to do? Stefan is evil!” plotline we saw many seasons ago except this time with Damon and Enzo. Still, it’ll be interesting to see where they go with this.

There’s a lot of speculation about whether Season 8 will be the show’s last, but for the moment, it’s all just rumors. Will you tune in when the new season rolls around? Did you enjoy Season 7? Sound off below!