The Vampire Diaries “Age of Innocence” Review (Season 7 Episode 3)

The Vampire Diaries "Age of Innocence" Season 7 Episode 3 (5)

On the latest episode of “The Vampire Diaries,” the show took one step forward by taking one step back…while, of course, continuing to look forward at the same time, in “Age of Innocence.” And if that sounds confusing, well then, you don’t know “Diaries,” or at the very least, what the show has become.

Allow me to explain, regardless. One of my favorite things about the show has always been the flashbacks. Although normally not the hugest fan of costume drama type stuff, I must admit, as someone who first discovered vampires through this Y/A series and the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles, I do admittedly like some costumed vamp drama.

I’m also a big fan of the sort of Gothic Drama that Hammer Horror made its bones on long before I was born, typically involving the likes of Vincent Price and Barbara Steele and so on. (To that end, very much looking forward to seeing “Crimson Peak,” horror auteur Guillermo Del Toro’s homage to the same, this weekend!)

So, that said, I just love it when the show does the retro thing, especially if it sheds light on current events in a valid way, which is what we saw on tonight’s episode. In it, we went all the way back to 1862, to a time in which a young Stefan was still reeling from his mother Lily’s death- but not yet a vampire, either. Concerned for him, it seems that Lily sent then-future heretic Valerie and Lily’s then-boyfriend Julian to check in on him, at which point Valerie fell for Stefan and vice versa, leading to the two hooking up.

This, in fact, was Stefan’s first big love, as well as his first time in general, and unbeknownst to him, it led to a pregnancy on Valerie’s end. Promising to get back in touch with him at the earliest convenience, Valerie did just that, planning to meet with him at an agreed-upon location, only to leave him hanging, never to return again. However, it wasn’t from lack of trying on Valerie’s part, but rather, that Julian got wind of her intentions and intercepted her, cruelly beating her and causing her to have a miscarriage.

When Valerie awoke, she was onboard a ship with Lily, who fed Valerie her blood to help her heal. Despondent, and unable to do anything about it, since she had lied to Lily and she knew Julian would kill her if she told what he’d done, not to mention Lily would be furious if she knew she’d lied about her interaction with Stefan, Valerie attempted to take her own life.

Unfortunately for her, Lily’s blood was still in her system, thus she came back to life as the first of the heretics. After that, she gave up all hope of contacting Stefan again, and that was that for the two, leaving Stefan to experience his first real heartbreak when she never showed up for their meeting or ever contacted him again.

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All of this was not only revealed by Valerie to Caroline (who also read part of it from Stefan’s POV in his journal), but from Stefan’s end to his mother, who afterwards, opted to let Caroline go free after realizing she’d been lied to about Stefan’s state after Valerie had been sent to check up on him.

There was also a scene in which it appeared that Valerie was finally coming clean about what had happened to Stefan himself, but which was ultimately proven to be a ruse, as Stefan remained in the dark about his potential fatherhood at the show’s end, although Caroline obviously knows. But will she tell him what really happened? Or will Valerie come clean about her end to Lily, for that matter?

Hard to say, but obviously, Valerie had no intentions of doing so in the immediate future, as evidenced by her actions toward fellow heretic Oscar (Tim Kang, “The Mentalist”), whose life she took at the end of the episode, albeit less because she wanted her secret getting out and more so because Oscar knew where Julian was and how to bring him back and knew he’d help Lily do so in order to secure the freedom he longed for.

Of course, it seems likely that Damon is going to be blamed for it, not in the least because he actually did kidnap Oscar earlier in the episode and was planning on exchanging Oscar’s safety for the whereabouts of Elena’s body, thus ending the ongoing feud between him and his mother. Alas, that now seems highly unlikely, as Oscar is dead, and thus, Damon no longer has any leverage to that end. Or does he?

As we see in next week’s preview, Damon does have access to the Phoenix stone, which, if he, Bonnie and Alaric can figure out how to use, can seemingly also use to bring back Oscar from the dead, which would allow the deal to be back on again. Obviously, we’ll have to wait and see how that pans out next week, but until then, we got a brief look at Oscar, who was by far the most likable and down to earth of the heretics.

Unlike his grumpy, brooding sisters and brothers, it seems that all Oscar wanted to do was be left alone, and it was to that end he had opted to live elsewhere, specifically in the Myrtle Beach area when Damon and company first find him. Indeed, it turned out he had a similar tale to tell about having been sent by Lily to check in on Damon back in the day, only with less tragic results on their end.

Well, technically, he did cause Damon to abandon his troops in the Union Army because of mixed feelings about the cause, only to discover that they all ended up dead shortly thereafter. Of course, in doing so, Oscar saved Damon’s life, who would have died along with them otherwise. So, still somewhat tragic, but not heartbreakingly so, at least, unlike on Stefan’s end.

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Anyway, Damon and co. confronted Oscar, claiming to only want help removing Bonnie’s horrific visions, knowing that he was a “siphon,” or a witch able to suck up bad mojo from victims of a spell or curse. Oscar agreed to do so, but then bailed once he discovered that Bonnie had been affected by the Phoenix stone. So, he knocked out all three concerned, took off with the stone and went on the run, but Damon was able to catch up to him and recapture him, insisting Oscar continue to help them, and not giving him much choice in the matter this time around.

Unfortunately, as aforementioned, Valerie got to him before Damon could successfully exchange Oscar for Elena’s whereabouts, so mission not accomplished, as of yet. Still, the gang is down, but hardly out, thanks to the Phoenix stone, which Valerie knows nothing of. That is, if they can figure out how to use it, sans Oscar’s help, but I suspect they will.

It was nice to see Bonnie get to work her magic once again, this time to help Damon recapture Oscar. After being sidelined too long with all that alternate reality stuff, only to get right back into dangerous territory with the Phoenix stone, it was much appreciated to see Bonnie in full-on bad-ass mode, as seen in the excellent picture at the top of the page. I do love Bonnie when she’s in her element, and it’s been way too long since she was, so it was much appreciated here.

That said, although there wasn’t a whole lot of action here, the episode more than made up for it IMHO with the elaborate back-stories, even more so since the stories in question will undoubtedly have repercussions in the weeks to come on the show, which is exactly what you want in a flashback. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I love a good flashback, I much prefer it to have a point, and such was the case here, thankfully, and the show was in dire need of something like this to fill the void left by the absent Nina Dobrev. Consider it done.

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It remains to be seen whether or not the show can pay off all that set-up on down the line, but I did enjoy the set-up itself on the whole. We’ll just have to wait and see if the pay-off is worthy of said set-up. It is nice knowing that some thought was put into it all, however, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Julian will likely return and become the next true Big Bad the gang has to contend with.

All told, it’s a set-up not without promise, so I’m with the show for now. After a decent enough premiere and a shakier second episode, the show seems to be righting itself for the time being. Only time will tell whether or not it continues this trend, but prospects are looking better than they were, at least.

What did you think of the latest episode of “The Vampire Diaries”? Did you also dig the back-story with Stefan and Valerie? Will Stefan ever find out the whole truth about what happened? Will Caroline play a part in his finding out? Do you think Julian will return? How so? Will Damon and company be able to resurrect Oscar in order to do the deal with Lily? Will doing so, or doing anything with the Phoenix stone period have repercussions, especially on Bonnie’s end? Sound off on this and more down below and see you next week!