The Vampire Diaries “This Woman’s Work” Review (Season 7 Episode 13)

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On the latest episode of “The Vampire Diaries,” we finally met the back half of the season’s Big Bad, and essentially connected the present to the future in a way that finally made some of the crazier stuff make sense, in “This Woman’s Work.” Well, save the still-awful pairing off of Bonnie and Enzo, that is. I’m not sure ANYTHING would justify that one, sorry, “TVD” show-runners.

And if I had any doubts about my being alone in that belief, I certainly don’t anymore after the overwhelming response to an article I wrote about fan ‘shipping a few weeks back, in which all concerned agreed there was something rotten in “TVD” land, and it wasn’t just Benzo. Between the outpouring of response I got on this site and others, it’s clear that the fans are more than a little up and arms about that, as well as Stefoline, for that matter- which seems to have been blissfully put out to pasture as of this episode.

On the plus side, those who longed for the reunion of Caroline and Klaus (Klausoline?- sounds like an ointment for STDs or something, lol) might actually get their wish on an upcoming crossover episode with “The Originals,” as Caroline was New Orleans bound with kids in tow at the end of the episode. So, those who absolutely hated the way those two left things- and there are many- maybe you’ll get a better ending this time out. Though I wouldn’t hold my breath as nutty as things have been on this show as of late.

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Speaking of kids, Caroline finally gave birth to those pesky critters, though it nearly killed her in the process, as they were feeding off of her magic and refused to come out. Can’t say I blame them, as it’s all downhill from there, kiddies. Regardless, it was a sweet moment when Alaric revealed that he’d named them Josie and Elizabeth, after his late wife Jo and Caroline’s late mother.

Alas, we also discovered who the “she” was that was so intently after Stefan for all this time- it was none other than Rayna, aka the Huntress. To say that it was quite a gamble to be introducing a new villain this late in the season is putting it mildly, but insofar as these things go, it was decent enough, I suppose. I’ve always had a soft spot for the flashbacks on this show, and we got a solid enough back-story for Rayna via a series of them here.

It would seem that Rayna was the daughter of one of the Brotherhood of the Five, a group dedicated to snuffing out vampires. We first meet a younger Rayna circa 1842 in Saint Malo, Louisiana, as she begs her father to teach her to fight. Fifteen years later, we see her all grown up, still in intensive training with her father, when a siren rings out, signaling that it’s vamp fighting time. Naturally, her father tells her to stay put while he goes out to deal with the threat.

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Of course, she does no such thing, carefully following behind, only to see that the vampires have laid low almost everyone, with even her father about to be killed. By who? Well, it’s none other than Julian, who Rayna warns that if he kills her father, he will be cursed for life. Bad move, as the wily Julian opts to compel her to kill him instead. She does, but not before her father forgives her, saying this is all Julian, not her, and it’s up to her to carry on in his wake.

Flash-forward to her becoming an official member of the Brotherhood- one assumes the first woman to do so, given the name. Oddly, to do so, each of the members, one after the other, stabs themselves, hari-kari-style, so that she “may live.” The leader is the last to go, after he presents Rayna with the infamous sword with the Phoenix stone in the handle and tells her to avenge them all.

I guess the point of this is to infuse her with the strength of all five members, but wouldn’t it make more sense for them to all team together to battle vampires as one, rather than hedging all their bets on one lone person? Just saying. Whatever the case, she does indeed catch up to Julian in England in 1903, where she stabs “family” member Beau. Julian stops her in the short-term, and he tells Mary and Nora to get Beau to safety and call Lily to get safe passage to New York.

He stakes Rayna, but as he is about to get away, she tosses the sword at him and her aim is true, thus capturing him within the Phoenix stone, which shows us how that all went down, not to mention that Julian was under for over a century! You’d think as crazy as Damon in particular was after having a much briefer experience in his own personal Hell, Julian would have been way worse after spending that long under, am I right? I guess Hell isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, despite protests to the contrary.

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We also learn that, once someone is marked by the sword, the Huntress won’t stop until she kills the vamp in question. Thus, after Enzo brings her back to her younger self, she’s determined to hunt down Beau, who still bears the mark she made on him all those years ago. Naturally, she wastes no time in breaking out of her confines and setting about finding her long-lost sword. What I don’t get is, what exactly was Enzo thinking when he brought her back in the first place? What exactly was the plan there?

Whatever the case, it comes back to bite him in the ass, as she holds him hostage, using him as leverage to get the sword back. Of course, Damon has no intention of giving it to Enzo, so he has to resort to emotionally blackmailing him to bring it to him by threatening to tell Bonnie what Damon hasn’t- that he burned Elena’s body. Damon manages to talk Bonnie into giving it to him, but only if she tags along to see what Enzo is up to.

Bad move, as the first thing that happens once they see that it’s Rayna that’s really behind it, is that Rayna shoots her with an arrow. Honestly, could they torture Bonnie more on this show? It’s Friday, it must be time to abuse Bonnie again. Jeez. On the plus side, this time Damon doesn’t hesitate to save her, tossing the sword out a window to get Rayna out of there, thus making up for his trying to kill her a few episodes back.

The bad news is that Rayna now has the sword back and wastes no time in going after Beau again, intending to pick up where she left off. Not sure what was stopping her before, aside from old age as of recently, but I guess that’s a story for a future episode, as we still don’t know what she was up to post-stabbing Julian for all this time.

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Beau’s wound re-opens, alerting the rest of his family to Rayna’s impending arrival, so most of them head for the hills, save Valerie, who opts to stay with Bonnie to help Caroline give birth safely by diverting the twins’ attention via magic, so they will stop fighting being born and feeding off their mother. It works, as aforementioned, and the babies are born just fine, with Caroline also emerging relatively unscathed.

Not so lucky is Beau, who is barely in the parking lot of the hospital when Rayna attacks and stabs him with the sword and then promptly sets his body on fire. I guess that’s it for Beau, though I couldn’t help but wonder why she didn’t immediately go after Nora and Mary, as they were the closest in the line of her attack. Instead, she goes after Damon, though technically I guess he goes after her.

Naturally, we all know Damon has a death wish at this point, on account of the Elena thing, but at the last minute, Stefan intervenes and saves him, but damns himself in the process, as Rayna ends up stabbing him with the sword instead, which explains why she is so intent on finding him in the future, to the point of using Caroline and Matt to do it. It also explains why she holds Damon hostage to get Stefan to come out of hiding to face her.

What it doesn’t explain is why she hightails it out of there almost immediately after, when she could have easily finished him off then and there. Granted, it’s not like they were going to kill off Stefan at this early a point, if ever, and we already know he’s still alive in the future, but I’m not sure why she bailed directly after that. Whatever the case, not wanting to put Caroline and her kids in danger, Stefan also bolts out of there, with the intention of drawing away Rayna’s attention from everyone else.

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That’s basically where we leave things, with one caveat: Damon finds out from Enzo, just as he’s contemplating whether or not to kill him for all the mess he’s caused, that Elena is indeed still alive and her body intact. It seems that, anticipating something crazy on Damon’s behalf, Tyler installed a decoy body just to be safe, and that was actually what Damon burned that night. So, not that it was exactly a surprise, as we already knew from the flash-forwards that Elena was okay, but that explains that, at least.

So, I’m of two minds about all this. On the one hand, it does make a lot of confusing things about this season clearer, which shows that the writers did indeed have a master plan to all of this insanity, but on the other hand, a lot of it still doesn’t make sense, and there are plot holes galore. As a sort of Buffy-like figure, Rayna is reasonably intimidating, but her MO makes little sense, and what the hell has she been doing all this time?

Also, if she’s immortal, why did she get old? And why did burning her alive make her reborn as a younger woman again? And why did Enzo do it in the first place? Not to mention, how the hell did he know to do it in the first place? Why didn’t Rayna finish the job with Nora and Mary, if not Valerie and the rest, while she had them all in one place? Or Stefan, for that matter, beyond the fact that everyone would have a coronary if she’d killed him at that time? Little about this makes sense, IMHO.

Hopefully, they will explain more of it as we go on into the final run of episodes, but boy, was a lot of it confusing. I’d like to think they have a master plan for all this, as it really does seem like they had one, given the whole flash-forward set-up, but it might be asking a lot of the audience to care about a new villain we didn’t even know existed until recently on such short notice. I don’t think I was alone in assuming the person after everyone would be someone we all knew, but obviously, such was not the case, which makes it a tall order getting longtime fans to care in such a short amount of time.

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I did like the way it tied into the whole Julian thing and showed how he got trapped in the Phoenix stone in the first place, and why he was so insistent they leave town sooner than later, but there’s an awful lot of unanswered questions to get through about all this, and I’m dubious as to whether the writers have answers to it all, but we’ll see I guess. Until then, if we even get there, it was at least an enjoyable episode and moved along at a nice clip, so there’s that. In a season that has been very hit-and-miss as it is, I’ll take it.

What did you think of the latest episode of “The Vampire Diaries”? Did you like Rayna’s whole back-story, or did you find it all a bit underwhelming? Did you also find a lot of it confusing, or am I reading too much into it? Do you think they have a master plan that makes more sense than we know as of yet?

Were you glad the whole Elena thing was a fake-out or do you really care? Did Caroline’s birth and the subsequent scenes with the babies give you the feels? Are you glad to see her headed towards a reunion with Klaus in New Orleans? Sound off on this and more down below and see you next week!