Fatherhood, motherhood, and parental reflection curl up by the fire and explode it as the Salvatore brothers embark on separate paths to take down Julian, the newly resuscitated vampire of over 400 years. Lily attempts to make peace by throwing an extravagant dinner for all to attend while Alaric discovers that the vampire soul inside of Jo is unintentionally destroying her mortal body. Bonnie and Matt return to high school and find a horrific secret and Valerie helps Alaric locate his unborn children who are still alive and inside a very unexpected womb.
I am surprised, not by the sudden twist at the end of the episode but by everyone’s well-balanced acting and interactions. Not a single character was wasted in their scenes and that includes Enzo, who for once toned down his personality and made himself a presentable, albeit, mildly jealous suitor. Outside of a few minor nitpicks and one large logistical swerve involving a certain soap-opera-style reveal, tonight’s episode was warmly sullen yet sweetly sentimental in its delivery of how emotional vampires deal with the trauma of what could have been.
In the future, Alaric and Damon witness a wounded Caroline appear on a news broadcast calling out to Stefan. It’s revealed that Caroline is Alaric’s fiancé. In the present, Stefan dreams of having a son, Jacob back in the 1800’s but loses him. After waking, he and Damon argue over how Julian will die with Damon wanting to wait until Lily is comfortable having Julian back. Lily meanwhile invites everyone to a party save for Valerie who she still blames for almost losing Julian. During the day, Alaric finds Jo who begins to show signs of degradation which is later confirmed by Valerie who tells them that a vampire soul can’t be sustained in a mortal body. At night, Damon, Stefan, Bonnie, Matt, and Enzo attend the party which is full of compelled humans. Julian is introduced and is seen later asking Beau to locate something Oscar had with him before he died. Bonnie plays along with Enzo to appear as a date to make Lily Jealous as Matt and Stefan knock Damon out to prevent him from saving Julian. Stefan attacks Julian but fails to kill him as Lily thinks she’s being attacked personally. Julian beats on both Damon and Stefan nearly succumbing to the insanity brought on with being in the phoenix stone for so long. Meanwhile, Jo is dying and can’t be healed by vampire blood which leaves Alaric heartbroken again when Jo dies in front of him. Valerie discovers on Alaric’s wedding video that the Gemini coven attempted to save the unborn children through a spell. After the party, Matt and Bonnie track a human to the high school who sits in a classroom full of other humans all compelled to remain. And finally, Valerie performs a spell to find Alaric’s unborn children and reveals they are inside of Caroline.
The theme of parental longing and protection was very well balanced tonight. Everything from Stefan and Damon’s reflections on becoming fathers, to Alaric’s belief his children are still alive to Lily convincing Julian to spare her real sons from Julian’s wrath helped give most everyone a look into how being a parent or the thought of being a parent affects both sides. Even Julian attempts to bond like a father to Beau and Mary Louise after his return. This helped connect all the characters save for Bonnie and Enzo, but that’s a different subject. The most was seen from Stefan who tried to keep Valerie’s secret from Damon but still told him and didn’t receive the kind of treatment he usually gets from Damon. Instead, they share a common dream that they wanted to be parents at some point with Stefan feeling it’s his only regret.
Surrogate mothers are not unheard of. It’s been done in lots of different ways and pregnant vampires is hardly a unique concept, but I have to laugh at the absurdity of this shark-jumping moment. It’s not too fantastic to wrap our heads around, but in the end I applaud this effort because it really came out of nowhere. The one character who had the least say in children, parental woes or dreams and she’s the one who unexpectedly bares the burden of delivering Alaric’s kids. If ever there was friction needed between Stefan an Caroline, this would do it. How those babies are surviving inside of Caroline are beyond me, but mystical pregnancies have a way of defying the natural order of creating life.
The humans in the high school that Matt and Bonnie found were a complete miss for me. It will lead into another subplot that ties into one or more of the heretic vampires doing this, but at this stage it’s anyone’s guess as to who is responsible. Right now, this isn’t a concern of mine and I’ll likely forget about this scene until it’s brought up again in the next episode. It had the least impact and involved the only two characters that weren’t a part of the main theme of this episode.
While I completely like the flashfowards and the twist over twist scenes they keep showing, they’re too short and the story being told is moving very slowly. I was almost starting to believe that the entire cast was stuck inside of some crazy phoenix stone limbo that nobody is aware of and it’s not really three years into the future, but that’s just wishful thinking. I think it’s time we start moving thing in the future along so we can get to the heart of how what’s going on and who is after Stefan and why.
The ending. Surprise pregnancies can have an interesting impact and Caroline’s face sold the confusion perfectly. The one person least likely to every be with child and now she’s carrying Alaric’s twins. I’m on board because it’s completely over the top and now both Stefan and Alaric are going to be having interesting conversations with Damon’s jokes seeing end in sight.
Bit of a tough call, but I think I’m going to say both Alaric and Jo’s vampire soul, Florence get the dual honor tonight. I didn’t think they’d kill Jo off again so suddenly, but they shared enough moments that made the situation feel sympathetic and putting Alaric through this twice was awful, but you have to feel for the guy and what he’s going through. He was about to accept a different soul in Jo’s body just to hear her voice and he still lost that chance. That’s no easy thing to endure, and Jo was also played the role with the kind of care and sadness that was good to see because not all vampires are evil and not all vampires trapped in a phoenix stone prison are evil either. Kudos to both players for doing their best here.
Alright, I’m going to give Enzo and Bonnie the benefit of the doubt here. Bonnie should not be attracted to Enzo, there’s no reason, it’s not there, but for some reason when she helped Enzo with his tie, they shared a moment and I didn’t roll my eyes. So I’ll play along, if it will get Enzo out of his egotistical whine-box.
At this rate, there may be enough evidence to suggest that Stefan takes or absorbs Julian’s heart-scar by some mystical means and there’s a strong chance the woman is Lily herself, trying to track him down, but that still doesn’t seem right. We don’t know what Julian is looking for but it likely plays a role in how the future is set.
Damon and Stefan’s heartfelt moment near the end should also get a mention here. It’s not often the brothers are this reflective on their lives let alone at the same time and to each other. Stefan will never be a part of Elena’s life again like the old days but it’s good to see that his existence is still very relevant and that his aspirations are outside of her and Damon’s love-debacle.
I ponder if Valerie is making an honest switch with being good now. She’s sympathetic toward Alaric’s situation because she understand what losing unborn children feels like, but after this, will she continue to lure Stefan away? With Caroline in a very strange position, Valerie has the perfect opportunity to make her move. But at the same time, there’s no telling what her endgame is especially if she just wants to be away from Julian and they haven’t met up again since his revival. Why not just tell Lily what Julian did to her? Stefan already told Damon, so that secret isn’t very well kept at this point.
8 out of 10. A dynamic theme that applied to many of the characters help ground the show in both sympathy and reflection. When major characters begin having babies, it’s a sign that maybe there’s not much more interesting stories to tell, but I don’t think that’s the case here. It may be strange, but I don’t think we’ve truly scratched the surface with how strange Caroline’s pregnancy will get. She not having prophetic children, but they are tied to a witch bloodline and that could get a witch plot bubbling back to the surface. Everyone played their part with the exception of one subplot that didn’t feel very well placed, but with the future looking slightly more clearer, we’ll be time skipping ahead in no time. Thanks for reading.
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