Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie
Who: “The Vampire Diaries” airs on network TV, specifically on the CW, though it is currently on hiatus. By the end of the 2015-2016 season, the show aired on Fridays at 8:00 PM.
What: “The Vampire Diaries,” a supernatural teen drama focused on a young woman, Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), who becomes entangled with two brothers who are vampires–one a soulful, conflicted type who wants to repress his vampire urges to be more human; the other a sarcastic, ne’er-do-well who embraces the nature of his nocturnal condition, except for when his love for Elena interferes. In addition, these two vampire brothers were sired by Elena’s doppelganger, a vampire for the centuries named Katherine Pierce (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here:http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/vampire_diaries_the/summary.html).
When: The Season 7 finale aired on Friday, May 13, 2016, on the CW at 8:00 PM.
Where: The show is primarily set in the fictional town of Mystic Falls, Virginia.
Why: Two reasons: vampires and Ian Somerhalder, formerly of Lost and Smallville fame. CPU! Chief Couch Potato Kylie loves non-sparkly vampire television, and Ian Somerhalder is too beautiful a man not to find an excuse to watch. My fellow panelists found the show due to the vampires as well, and at least thirty-three percent of them stayed for Ian…
How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)
Earlier this year, our Vampire Diaries panel helped to catch CPU! up on this program by discussing seasons five, six, and the first half of season seven. To hear our thoughts, listen to the embedded link below:
Season Seven of TVD has finished airing, and our less small but continuously robust panel, including Jen, Kelsey, and new panel member Allie, reconvened to discuss the dysfunctional but smoldering brothers Salvatore and the rest of the motley crew hailing from fictional Mystic Falls. Feast your ears and/or your fangs on this new episode, in which we cover major plot points from the second half of season seven, as the characters fast forward three years ahead to a time when all of their lives and previous relationships are made topsy-turvy by the introduction of a lethal vampire huntress with power over the Phoenix Stone. While our panel’s particular devotion and/or sire bond is frequently tested in TVD’s later seasons, we still have lots to think and talk about. Give us a listen with your vampire super-hearing, and see if you agree or disagree with our thoughts.
This podcast was recorded in July 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the second half of the seventh season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!
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Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations
1) What’s going on with the three year time jump in season seven? Who’s hunting Stefan and Damon in that future? Could it be that Nina Dobrev’s departure was somehow a long con, with Elena or Katherine a possible reemergence in this time jumped future, or is she off the show for good? How did our characters get there? Are they all running from this mysterious hunter, or is the hunter just after the brothers Salvatore? WHAT’S GOING ON?
ANSWER: The three year time jump ended up being the show’s device for fast forwarding through a self-induced coma that Damon (Ian Somerhalder) elected to undergo because he continued to mourn and to miss the comatose Elena (Dobrev), much to the chagrin of the other characters, particularly new best friend Bonnie (Kat Graham). A vampire huntress named Reina hunts Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon in the future because she marks them with her blade, an enchanted weapon augmented by the Phoenix Stone. She is also imbued with special strength and speed, bestowed upon her by ancient shamans that sacrificed their lives to make her strong enough to hunt and to kill vampires with an ever-driving compulsion to stake those she marks with her enchanted sword. So far, Dobrev’s departure does not seem like a con, short or long, though there are percolating rumors that she may appear in Season Eight. Though the actress who played Reina bore a startling resemblance to Dobrev, a fact upon which Damon idly commented without further explanation, she was neither Elena nor Katherine. Our characters’ journey forward through the three years of the time jump is somewhat outlined by the second half of this season; they lived the time, much of which the viewer did not see (listen to the podcast). Reina is primarily after vampires, including the brothers Salvatore, but those that know and love the brothers are caught up in their efforts to either run or to defeat Reina, in various ways, or to deal with something called the Armory, which houses a mysterious Vault.
2) Are we still going to have put up with watching the Heretics, even though Stefan and Damon have been drawn into the Phoenix Stone vampire hell? Except for Valerie – how did she and Stefan decide to reconnect? Do we care at all about Mary Louise, Nora, or Bo?
ANSWER: As it turns out, we did not have to watch most of the heretics for long. Mary Louise is infected by experiments conducted at the Armory, which is apparently owned and/or run by Enzo’s (Michael Malarkey) family. She is exposed to Reina’s blood, which makes her sick to the point of death. Nora is eventually marked by Reina’s sword (or maybe she simply does not want to live without Mary Louise), so together, they choose to commit a Thelma and Louise type suicide, opting not to live without the other one. Bo also falls victim to Reina; Julian, to the extent anyone cares about him, has his heart shown to him by Damon. The show does not do much to explain how Stefan and Valerie reconnect, except to note that Stefan, once marked by Reina’s sword, runs from everyone he loves, including Caroline (Candice King), to keep them safe. Because Valerie continues to love Stefan from afar, she accompanies him on the lam. Once all the heretics die, Julian included, and realizing that Stefan does not truly love her, Valerie elects to see the world on her own and leaves Mystic Falls, alive but alone.
3) How is vampire Caroline even going to manage having Alaric’s (Matthew Davis) human but part-witch twins? Stefan and Caroline clearly don’t stay together, as the time jump tells us. How did that happen? Why did that happen? The panel is lukewarm to their coupling but aren’t opposed to it, either.
ANSWER: Magic. The babies turn out to be siphons like their uncle Kai and drain the magic underlying Caroline’s vampirism. Stefan enlists Valerie to help her, and Nora helps as well. Stefan compels some doctors to help, and Caroline delivers the babies via C-section. Stefan, marked by Reina’s sword, runs from Caroline to keep her safe (he runs for love rather than for lack of it), which Caroline neither knows nor understands until they reconnect in the time jumped future.
4) Bonnie and Enzo? What’s that about? Why was Enzo even made a series regular? The podcast panel struggles with Enzo – we sort of regard him as Diet Damon with a host of abandonment issues.
ANSWER: Bonnie becomes the target of the Armory because its leader, some distant relation of Enzo, wants to open the Vault within its bowels, which she discovers can only be opened by a Bennett witch. Enzo protects Bonnie and, in so doing, falls in love with her and she with him. This viewer estimates that Enzo was promoted to series regular in order to fill vacancies left by the characters of Jeremy and, in part, Tyler. Enzo adds the “ruggedly handsome” and/or “swarthy” element to the mix. The podcast panel generally enjoyed Enzo more in the second half of the season, as the Armory, his relationship to Bonnie, and Damon’s plans involving Enzo ultimately gave the character some purpose again.
5) We love Matt (Zach Roerig), but we also think his character has become sad and hard to watch. Fix this, writers. He needs more purpose, or perhaps he should just join all of his supernatural friends. It’s a wonder he’s survived this long.
ANSWER: Matt may have left the show. In the last moments of the season, we see Matt getting into a truck and driving away from Mystic Falls. What we find out is that somewhere within the three year span before the jump, Matt meets a fellow cop, a woman, who he connects with, teaches to hunt vampires, and then eventually proposes to marry. Unfortunately, Matt’s vendetta and anger against vampires spills over to even the brothers Salvatore. At some point, Matt hunts vampires in the woods of Mystic Falls, only to accidentally shoot his bride to be. Stefan discovers Matt’s grievous error and compels him to forget, but the trauma is so acute, the memories seep back to Matt’s consciousness. Matt realizes that Mystic Falls may no longer be the home he knew, and he leaves. Will he be back?
6) How are Stefan and Damon going to get out of the Phoenix Stone? Are they in there together or separately?
ANSWER: Stefan explains that the hell crafted by the Phoenix Stone for him, which we didn’t see, involved him still being trapped at the bottom of the ocean. Stefan explains that he was able to emerge from his hell and the Stone when he accepted his fate and stopped resisting the effects of the Stone. Damon, on the other hand, flashes back to his human life, during the Civil War, at a time when he may have taken the lives of other humans. He remains in his Groundhog Day hell, a repeated day of reliving their deaths, until Bonnie uses her magic to draw Damon out of the Stone. Stefan and Damon never encounter each other in the Stone.
7) What is Julian’s endgame now that Lily (Annie Wersching) is dead? Will he still be around when the Salvatores come out of the stone (because we know they do)? Is he the hunter in question?
ANSWER: Julian just wants to rule the town of Mystic Falls, living his fullest vampire self. He also likes to stage cage matches between fighting vampires. Damon eventually rips his heart out. Julian was definitely not the hunter; he was not the Big Bad but a red herring for the greater problems and obstacles facing our core group of characters – Reina and the Armory.
8) Why does Stefan have so many loves of his life? Who is the real love of his life? He needs to pick one. That’s why it’s called “THE” love of his life. The panel had a hard time buying the fact of Valerie at all, though she may be the least annoying of the Heretics.
ANSWER: Still a question. He maintains that he once loved Valerie and Elena, and that he currently loves Caroline. Who can do the math?
9) Can Damon and/or Stefan remove their shirts more? Kthxbai.
ANSWER: We had one shirtless Damon scene after he tried to enjoy being a vampire in order to quell his feelings of grief over Elena and his crazy mother and his emergence from the Phoenix Stone. He had sexy times with another vampire and had his shirt off for like a whole ten seconds. Keep it coming, writers. It’s all you really got going for you, right now (ouch!).
1) Will Matt return? Will Tyler? Will Jeremy? Will Elena?
2) Is Season 8 the show’s last, considering that Ian Somerhalder has told the press that he can’t see doing more than eight seasons of the show (and the podcast panel can’t see the show surviving without Somerhalder/Damon)?
3) What is in the Vault? What has possessed Damon and Enzo?
4) Why was Reina a red herring for Elena/Katherine? Cheap shot, writers!
5) Will Alaric return? Will his children return? Will they be evil Children of the Corn, half siphon/half vampire children?
6) Are Damon and Enzo collecting bodies in sacrifice or in ritual to the thing from the Vault? Is there a purpose to the warehouse of suspended but highly dead bodies? Is the Vault thing controlling them, or are they acting of their own free will but in service of the thing in the Vault?
7) Are Damon, Stefan, and/or Enzo connected to the Vault thing somehow? Or, is Bonnie connected to it?
8) Is the Vault thing something akin to the First Evil or the First Supernatural Something, a la Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural?
9) Are Caroline and Stefan really in it and together for the long haul?
The Vampire Diaries definitely has its best years behind it; the panel universally agrees that the second half of season seven was sloppy and underwhelming by the time the season finale aired, lacking the twists/turns for which these writers have traditionally been famous and, as a result, the emotional heft that those twists and turns provide. There is also consensus that the time jump device was both annoying and too disjointed for the story that the writers ultimately chose to tell, and that the payoff lacked all around. Most if not all of the panelists are ready for The Vampire Diaries to be done, though they are mildly hopeful by what the story of a possessed Damon and Enzo can bring. Still, if Ian Somerhalder leaves the show, at which he has hinted in the press, then the producers and the network should accept that he is the show’s draw and call it good. Also, if they do call it good, they should convince Nina Dobrev to come back long enough to awaken Elena from her coma. Let’s get a satisfying ending: Damon and Elena together, and everyone else in a place that makes sense.
The Vampire Diaries has been renewed for an eighth season, which is slated to premiere on the CW on Friday, October 21, 2016, at 8:00 PM. The Vampire Diaries podcast panel will next reconvene following the eighth mid-season finale of TVD, which will likely air in or around December 2016. As always, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional TVD coverage. Until then!