Rayna Cruz, the huntress is introduced through a flashback as the daughter of an original hunter who was killed by Rayna when Julian compelled her to do so. She later gains the lifeforce of several mystical Native Americans and later uses the phoenix blade on Julian in the early 1900’s. In the present, she bursts free from captivity and captures Enzo forcing him to lure Damon to him with the blade. Meanwhile, Stefan gathers the heretics including Valerie to help divert the Gemini twins from staying inside of Caroline. The plan works until Rayna arrives forcing the heretics to flee. She catches up with them and captures Beau’s soul and then burning his body. Damon attempts to combat her and is nearly killed when Stefan intervenes but is punctured by the blade enough to mark her to him. He flees town as Damon discovers from Enzo that Elena is alive and kept safe in New York and Damon witnessed an illusion of Elena dying. The Gemini twins are born healthy while 3 years in the future, Caroline and the young twins are seen driving toward New Orleans where Caroline intends to meet up with a “friend.”
I’m actually quite pleased that Damon remarked how Rayna looked very similar to Elena. I knew that was a smart casting choice on their part. All in all, I am pleasantly impressed with this episode in both the details of Rayna’s past and Damon’s subsequent new lease on life now that he knows Elena is safe and secure. It’s interesting how the second half of this season really paints the heretics as a group who never really got a break and their evil-upbringing is more tailored toward Julian’s fault than Lily’s. But that’s all in the past, what’s deceptively exciting is a peek at what potentially will be our first crossover with The Originals as Caroline “should” be refering to Klaus as her friend unless a character from Mystic Falls is in New Orleans, but even so, I’m certain we’ll still have that awesome crossover.
Rayna is starting off as a great character. Granted her present personality needs a little work, but her flashback I felt was really well done given the amount of time we had to get to know her. Being the daughter of a hunter makes more sense with her lineage although gathering the lifeforce from that Native American group seemed very random but we had to just go with it since witchcraft and magic in general isn’t necessarily tied to one specific culture. I like how she’s linked with the heretic group, specifically Julian as she was forced to kill her own father which is a very rough thing to go through. Compulsion is a bit twisted too considering she was consciously and vocally aware of her actions when normally compulsion makes you hypnotic to the task, normally.
Wrapping up the pregnancy side-plot was also a step in the right direction. Rather than have Caroline emit her version of a vampire-birth, they opt for the cesarean which makes sense as the babies didn’t want to leave and Caroline was so weak. Now that they’re born, Alaric can take them out of town although Caroline will likely go with them now that Stefan has ejected himself from the relationship due to being marked. She’ll understand but likely resent him for it, unless he really says something stupid that sets her off. Either way, Caroline will be back to form in no time and that’s where she’s her best.
We still don’t have any idea what led Enzo to killing and burning Rayna’s body to begin with. I thought he was with some of those people who had taken him away. My thoughts were that he was being used to bring her back to life but once Rayna did rematerialize, she went off on her own tangent and since then Enzo hasn’t explained anything except to tell Damon that Elena is still alive. I know we’ll eventually figure it out, but for now it felt like a gaping plot hole for this particular episode.
That last comment about Caroline going to New Orleans to see a friend. That has the allure of so many interesting possibilities that I’m already detailing the entire episode in my mind, and yet we’ll only get fragments of it throughout the remaining season. What will the state of the Originals be in by that points 3 years from now when this season is so detrimental for their survival? Will we even see them at all? Hope so.
Rayna’s history and drive toward killing those she’s marked is making her a very tempered and convincing villain, one that is justified in her own vengeance. With Julian dead her vengeance is more present based on those who continue to wrong her, but in a way she’s like a Terminator, who will stop at nothing to destroy those she’s cut. Having her look like Elena doesn’t hurt either. She’s a fun character so far.
What’s a bit tragic is that even though Damon swears to Stefan he’ll make this right, he inevitably locks himself in a coffin next to Elena so that promise is a bit empty from our perspective. Still, what he does in the meantime can be surprising as he shifts into “good” Damon mode.
With Beau gone, Mary-Louise, Nora, and Valerie won’t have much of a future if Rayna decides to gun after them next. It’s possible Rayna will be lured toward Stefan as a rule, but I kind of want to see how this will play out with the remaining Heretics. Who knows, maybe Valerie will be the last one standing by the end. Did we already see her in the future?
If Rayna has multiple lives to utilize then was she still on her same one when she stabbed Julian from the early 1900’s? She’d be over a hundred. I’m guessing she expelled one of her lives a few decades later and then used one up to live until the present as an old woman.
8 out of 10. Good relevant flashback and excellent use of a new villain who’s justified in her actions for the most part and is very capable of combating the other team. Subplots and characters are starting to align again as we move closer to the future-plot which teases a reunion with someone in New Orleans whom we don’t know yet. Stefan is on the run, but we don’t know for how long and whether Rayna will change him the entire time. With any luck, Damon will intercept her at least one more time before succumbing to torpor in that coffin next to Elena. He needs to make a few more jokes about her looking like Elena too. That was a great moment. Thanks for reading.
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