The Vampire Diaries season 7 was very different from the seasons that came before it, but it still managed to pack in just as much action, mystery and romance.
When Mystic Falls’ sweetheart, Elena Gilbert, went down for an extra long nap at the end of The Vampire Diaries season 6, we knew things were about to change. The show no longer had its leading lady, or the captivating love triangle that surrounded her.
The Vampire Diaries was forced to reinvent itself and move beyond the stories and relationships that had been building over six years. Fans were definitely skeptical about what the show could be without its core, but with so many other amazing characters that had been, at times, unfairly sidelined to make room for Elena’s romantic choices, we were ready to see what it had to offer.
The Vampire Diaries had always used flashbacks to supplement the backstories of our heroes, but the seventh season brought in the flash forward. Every episode was book-ended with glimpses of the chaos taking place in the lives of our favorite vampires, three years in the future.
These flash forwards turned The Vampire Diaries into a more tangled mystery than it ever had been before. We guessed at who the mysterious huntress pursuing Stefan could be, we marveled at the fact that Damon was lying in a coffin next to his love, and we were downright shocked to learn that Alaric had twin daughters…with none other than Caroline Forbes!
Caroline and Alaric were probably the most bizarre couple that season 7 brought to us, but they were far from the only pairing that had us scratching our heads. We explored the Bamon friendship/maybe-sometimes-more-than-friendship more deeply than we ever had before. We were told, and forced to believe, that romance had blossomed between Bonnie and Enzo, the Brit that fans just can’t seem to love. We even watched Matt find happiness with Penny only to immediately see his dreams crushed. No happiness for you, Matt.
Without the interference of Miss Gilbert, we also got to take a closer look at the brotherly dynamic between the Salvatores, and even their relationship with their parents. We didn’t think it was possible, but it was more complicated than we’d ever realized. The Vampire Diaries season 7 tested the love between these boys in entirely different ways than we’d previously seen, and of course, they came out of it together. Until they didn’t, of course.
Keep reading for a recap of all the crazy events that took place in the first Gilbert-less season of The Vampire Diaries! You’ll want to make sure you’re caught up before the final season premieres on Friday, October 21.
Lily Salvatore and her band of heretics escaped from their 1903 prison world at the end of The Vampire Diaries season 6, and they definitely made their presence in Mystic Falls known throughout season 7. The first half of the season focused heavily on Lily, as we continuously gathered information about her new family, and she tried to deal with the remnants of her old one.
The original group of heretics was comprised of Nora and Mary Louise (who had a lot of charm as a couple even though they had their murderous tendencies), as well as Beau, Marshall, and Valerie (who turned out to be the most interesting of them all). At one time, Lily sent the heretics back to Mystic Falls to check on Stefan and Damon. While Valerie was visiting, she and a precious, human Stefan fell madly in love and she became pregnant with his child!
Even though Lily tried to keep the heretics under control, a band of five vampires/siphons shouldn’t really be trusted in a town where everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Stefan and Caroline (who finally got together after waiting for who knows what) attempted to live in harmony with the heretics, but in order to do so, they felt the need to compel all of the humans out of town. Except for Matt, of course, who was beginning his own anti-vampire vendetta at this point.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone was on board with this plan for peace. Damon and Bonnie, who remained besties after their time locked away in 1994, devised their own plan to kill Marshall. This is when all the mama drama really began. Lily stole Elena’s body to force Damon out of town, effectively choosing her new “family” over her biological sons, and revealed that the whole sleeping beauty curse was actually her idea *gasp*.
Damon isn’t one to be bossed around, so he needed some leverage of his own. Luckily, his drinking buddy, Alaric, had just the thing he needed. Devastated by the loss of his (almost) wife and unborn children, Alaric was searching for any means to bring Jo back. He found just the tool in the phoenix stone. He was able to resurrect her…only it didn’t end up being her at all, so he lost her again.
Damon was able to use a similar trick with one of Lily’s long lost heretics to secure his freedom to live where he pleased. However, Lily was far more interested in the stone itself. The phoenix stone turned out to have many dead vampire souls trapped inside of it, one of which belonged to Lily’s boyfriend, Julian.
Valerie tried to stop Lily from resurrecting Julian, as she was terrified of him. In fact, he just so happens to be the reason that we don’t have a mini, hero-haired Salvatore running around. Julian had no intention of their band of misfits returning to Mystic Falls for good, so he beat Valerie until her child was killed.
Despite Valerie’s wishes, Julian was resurrected, and resumed his position as a weird kind of father to the heretics. When Lily eventually saw his true colors, she paid the ultimate price for doubting him. After being torn between her two families for most of season 7, she took her own life when asked to choose between Damon and Valerie.
Like most of our favorite characters, Lily had both evil and heroic moments, but this act served as her redemption for the things she had done to her sons. Unfortunately, Damon didn’t quite see it like that. He refused to forgive her as she died, and he lived with the consequences of that for the rest of The Vampire Diaries season 7.
Julian was supposed to die alongside Lily, as their souls had been linked, but Mary Louise complicated things. Stefan and Damon tried to take him out themselves, but Julian locked them both inside the phoenix stone by stabbing them with the phoenix sword.
Stuck inside the phoenix stone, Stefan and Damon both experienced their “own, personal hell.” Bonnie was able to pull Stefan out of his fairly quickly, but while he was in there, he was forced to experience many “failed attempts at being the hero,” and eventually had to let go of Damon to gain his freedom. Damon’s experience centered around his time in the war, and culminated in his realization that he really needed his mother.
The torment didn’t even stop when they were freed from the stone. They both were haunted by hallucinations. Damon’s were especially harmful, and he ended up thinking that he had killed the one person who he would never want to hurt, Elena. Don’t worry though, she was okay (duh).
Their experiences with the stone, especially Stefan’s, catapulted Stefan and Damon into their brotherly arc for the rest of the season, as they both tried to figure out how to best love and trust the other. While they were in there, Julian sired himself a huge vampire army and took over the town. Even though he was more dangerous than ever, Stefan was fueled by anger for what Julian had done to Damon and Elena, and he got rid of him, with Valerie’s help.
Mama drama — part 2
When the entire Gemini coven went down at Jo and Alaric’s wedding, they were planning ahead. They weren’t about to let their entire coven die, so they banded together to save the twins Jo was carrying. They didn’t have a lot of time to discuss the best place for the kids to grow, so they put them into the first womb that they saw — Caroline’s!
Caroline handled pregnancy the same way she handles everything else. Like a damn champion. There was a brief hiccup where the babies tried to desiccate her by siphoning her magic, but the heretics joined forces with Salvatore and co. to get the babies out. Alaric named the two girls Josie, after Jo, and Lizzie, after Caro’s mama, and the whole world cried.
Alaric decided to move the babies to Texas to get away from all the supernatural goodness that Mystic Falls has to offer, and Caroline couldn’t help but go with him. Three years later, she was the super mom that everyone would expect her to be, and she and Alaric were even engaged. Alaric fell in love with her, because she’s Caroline, and she agreed to marry him for their family, but her heart always belonged to a certain Salvatore.
The huntress arrived
After the heretics became more friend than foe, a whole new villain came to town who they were equally afraid of. Rayna Cruz strutted into Mystic Falls (after escaping the Armory) to collect the sword that had already wreaked so much havoc on Salvatore and co.
We learned that her father was one of the brotherhood of the five, before Julian compelled her to kill him. Shamans blessed her with superior strength, an immunity to magic, and eight lives, one for each shaman who died in the ceremony. This was all in exchange for her lifelong service to the cause of killing vampires.
Damon tried to extinguish her immediately, but she proved to be more powerful than he was prepared for. When she retrieved her sword, she tried to stab him to return him to the phoenix stone, but Stefan’s hero hair got in the way, once again, and he got stabbed instead.
Because Stefan was stabbed by Rayna, he received a fancy X-shaped scar over his heart. This scar meant that Rayna could see through Stefan’s eyes, so she could hunt him until she finally got his soul into the stone.
Stefan went on the run, and Damon got to work trying to kill Rayna. Since he was more prepared for her strength this time, he was successful in doing so. Several times, actually. The problem came when they figured out that when Rayna’s last life was over, everyone with a mark from the sword would die, too. Luckily, Damon abandoned his plan to kill Rayna, and helped the Armory capture her instead.
Stefan was more or less safe with Rayna locked up, until Matt showed up. His hatred for vampires had been growing for quite a while, and he was finally reaching the end of his patience. He blackmailed Stefan into leaving town so he could attempt to clean up the streets of Mystic Falls.
Well, after Rayna was captured, Damon decided to desiccate himself in a coffin next to Elena’s until she woke up. That pretty much sums it up. There’s a few reasons for why he may have done so, all of which were actually stated by Damon, himself.
Either he didn’t want his friends to keep dying for him, he didn’t want to keep doing the wrong thing and causing trouble, he didn’t know how to live without Elena, or he just plain didn’t want to. No matter what the reason, it was selfish and stupid…that’s objective, right?
He gave Stefan his own personal goodbye, and he wrote letters to his best friends, Alaric and Bonnie. Alaric read his, and greeted Damon with the appropriate disdain when they met again, but Bonnie didn’t give Damon the satisfaction. In what was definitely up there with the most epic moments of the season, Bonnie found Damon before he desiccated and told him exactly how hurt she was by his decision. You go, girl. The only problem is, we still don’t know what the damn letter said!
The huntress returned
When we finally caught up to the flash forward, Rayna was back on the loose. In fact, Matt Donovan, of all people, set her free. He believed he was doing the right thing because he thought Stefan killed his cute-as-a-button fiancée. In reality, Matt killed her himself, thinking she was a vampire in the woods, and Stefan compelled him to forget. He still blames Stefan for killing her, if you can wrap your head around that.
Stefan had been on the run with Valerie for most of the three-year time jump. He tried to go with Caroline, but she had other responsibilities with her new family. He broke her heart when he left anyway, and he and Valerie eventually got together on the road. Valerie obviously truly loved Stefan, but his heart, like Caroline’s, was reserved for another.
Stefan woke Damon out of his slumber when the threat of Rayna became imminent again, and they eventually found out that you could transfer the scar to a blood relative. In typical Damon fashion, he tried for too long to take the selfish way out, and when he finally made the right choice, it was too late. Stefan was trapped in the stone, and the stone was destroyed by Nora and Mary Louise in a blaze of romantic glory.
When the stone was destroyed, all of the souls were released, including Stefan’s. In one of the highlight episodes of the season, The Vampire Diaries season 7, episode 17, he was thrown into a human body and had to cope with humanity, as a psychopathic serial killer inhabited the hero hair. Valerie and Damon were eventually able to put our hero together again, and Valerie elegantly bowed out of the equation, leaving us officially free of heretics.
With all of her conquests on the loose, Rayna was a complete mess. Her life’s work had been destroyed, and she was in rough shape. It was sad for her, but fortunate for us, since one of our own had gotten herself into quite the predicament…
Enzo got himself heavily involved with the Armory, a group of supernatural artifact collectors. Alexandria St. James promised him the family he’d never had, so he stayed. He had been searching for a place to belong since we met him on The Vampire Diaries, and the Armory was the only one that would take him.
The Armory held Rayna captive during the three-year time jump, and they also kept Nora and Mary Louise. They manufactured pills out of Rayna’s blood and tested them on Mary Lou. The pills were able to both neutralize a witch’s powers, and prevent someone from being located by a witch. Unfortunately, they also had the nasty side effect of killing witches!
The Armory tried to capture Bonnie as well (everybody wants a Bennett witch), but Enzo finally chose the right side and saved her. He brought her to a safe cabin and fed her the Rayna pills so she couldn’t be located. Somewhere along the line, they fell in love! We didn’t get to see nearly enough of their love story, but it is obvious that they’re happy together.
As per the aforementioned “nasty side effect,” Bonnie was dying. And as per the aforementioned suffering huntress, they had a solution. Rayna was willing to trade her life for Bonnie’s if Salvatore and co. were willing to track down and kill all of her prior victims.
They did their best, but there were just far too many. Rayna had been a busy woman during her many lifetimes. Conveniently, the Armory was more than willing to help…for a price. Alexandria wanted Bonnie to open a vault in the basement of the Armory. She believed that her sister was locked down there, but the gang had heard stories of an evil that lived there which couldn’t be unleashed.
Bonnie got crafty and opened the vault, but she also sealed the entire Armory so it, along with everyone inside, couldn’t escape! Everything was solved! But, wait. Rayna got crafty, too. When she transferred her life to Bonnie, she also transferred the burden of the huntress.
After Bonnie tried to kill everyone she loves, it was clear they had to do something about it. They heard a rumor somewhere that if they killed the last “everlasting,” the huntress curse would be over. Each of Rayna’s lives were linked to an everlasting, and there was only one left. Of course, the everlasting was locked inside the vault of mysterious evil.
After a touching Salvatore moment, Damon convinced Stefan he needed to go in alone. He got in and retrieved the everlasting with no problems, but then the evil in the vault called to him using the voice of his precious Elena (it was glorious), and he was possessed. Enzo went into the vault to find his frenemy and got a little more than he bargained for. Now the Augustine bros are back together on their mission to terrorize the world.
Where are they now on ‘The Vampire Diaries’
- Stefan and Caroline are finally back together, after Alaric graciously let her go.
- Bonnie lost her magic when she became the huntress and didn’t regain it when the everlasting was killed. She’s devastated over the loss of Damon and Enzo.
- Matt decided to give up the supernatural fight and may have left Mystic Falls for good.
- Damon and Enzo are off somewhere, suspending bodies from ceilings.
- Everybody’s on the hunt to find Damon and Enzo and to save them.