The Vampire Diaries “Days of Future Past” Review (Season 7 Episode 16)

The Vampire Diaries -- "Days of Future Past"

In the first episode back since an unexpected final hiatus before their last run of episodes of the season- and the welcome news that the show was going to be renewed for an eighth season- “The Vampire Diaries” came back swinging with a storyline in which the past and present collided in spectacular, explosive fashion in the aptly-titled “Days of Future Past.”

We began where we left off, in a Dallas news station, with Damon offering himself up as the recipient of the scar that resulted from being stabbed with the Phoenix stone sword by Rayna (Leslie-Anne Huff), via a transference spell that would transfer Stefan’s scar to himself- his idea, as it turned out.

However, Damon being Damon, he couldn’t resist one last ditch effort to save his own bacon- one which would later cost him, and especially Stefan, dearly. So, Damon untied Stefan and he tossed Damon at Rayna, distracting her long enough for Stefan to take the sword and head for the hills, with at least a head start on Rayna, which was something.

Meanwhile, a drugged but still lively enough Damon stabbed and then choked out Rayna until they both passed out, her from the choking, him from another shot of vervain she plunged into him to stop him. Of course, he couldn’t kill her, anyway, lest he kill his own brother, who would die if she did because of the sword scar connection between the two and the fact that she was out of lives to spare, much like a cat on life number nine.

After that, we flashed back yet again to the past, as Stefan contemplated how much time he had left with Rayna on her last life. On the plus side, it made him feel mortal again, being as how he had a limited shelf life for the first time since being human, but on the other hand, if Rayna died unexpectedly, so would he, making for a limited existence in more ways than one.

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Valerie (Elizabeth Blackmore) suggested that they attempt to trace back Rayna’s blood to her ancestors, thinking that if they did, perhaps there was a spell in there somewhere that could separate the two somehow, or rid Stefan of the scar.

In the meantime, it allowed the two to spend some quality time together traveling around to various exotic locales, which didn’t hurt matters, even if they couldn’t stay put in one place for long, what with Rayna still hot on their trail.

Back in the present, Alex (Mouzam Makkar) questioned a captured Nora (Scarlett Byrne) about Enzo, who she suspected had emancipated an also-captured Rayna from the Armory for reasons unknown. Alex makes Nora a deal- she’ll tell her everything she knows about an experimental drug using Rayna’s blood that they are testing on Mary (Teressa Liane), which seems to subdue magic in witches, causing a sort of allergic reaction.

The implication is that Alex will give Mary the antidote to the drug and heal her if Nora helps track down and capture Enzo and brings him back to the Armory to pay for his transgressions, which also includes stealing various unnamed, as yet unknown supplies. Of course, Alex has a hidden agenda, and she’s also leaving out some key information purposefully, as we will discover along with Nora, all too late to do anything about it, but which will have some tragic consequences.

Back in Dallas, Matt meets with a local detective, only to discover he’s been duped by Enzo, who compelled the man to bring Matt there. It turns out that it was actually Matt who freed Rayna, not Enzo, but why? Enzo would certainly like to know, given that he’s on the hook for it.

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Stefan calls Valerie, wanting to know what she knows or can find out about the transference spell Damon mentioned, and she says she’ll look into it. Back at the news station, Damon wakes up and agrees to help Rayna for real with the transference spell once they find Stefan, realizing that it’s his only hope.

She’s surprised, as to do so would mean he would forgo the chance to be reunited with Elena, since Rayna will mostly certainly die before that happened or close to it, meaning that Damon’s time with Elena will be limited at best, if not downright non-existent. It’s clear that Damon didn’t think it through and never put two and two together, not realizing the consequences of such a spell.

Damon is also shocked that Valerie never thought of it, and in the past, we see that she did indeed get a lead on things in some tropical locale from a local bartender, and seemed to celebrate the news with a make-out session with Stefan on the beach. But what happened from there? What went wrong?

Back in the present, Rayna calls Stefan as she gives chase, informing him that she’s actually grown fond of him over the years, believe it or not, and doesn’t think he’s such a bad guy. It seems that the scar also functions as a sort of window into one’s soul, and allows the connected person- in this case, Rayna- to see what the person she’s connected to is up to at all times.

Rayna says that, being as she had been trapped in the Armory for all this time, all she had for “entertainment” was the opportunity to check up on what Stefan was up to, and has witnessed the burgeoning, renewed relationship between him and Valerie. Being as how she can feel the emotions of the person she’s connected to, she now believes Stefan to be “one of the good ones”- something she’d never encountered previously with the other vampires she was connected to.

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The problem is, the Huntress side of her can’t rest until the vampire she’s marked is dead, nor will it let her spare them, no matter how she might feel about the situation. This will cause even bigger problems later on, as we shall see. Either way, she knows from this mystical connection that Stefan is headed to the Armory for help, and she tells him he’ll never make it before she catches up to him.

Stefan begs to differ, and to buy himself some time, he tosses the sword into a passing florist truck, which forces Rayna to give chase to the vehicle to retrieve her sword. He then calls Damon to make sure he’s okay and inform him that Valerie is headed his way to help. Damon says he thinks he can get the Armory to come to him, instead of having to drive all the way to their headquarters and says he’ll get back to him.

Enzo discovers that Matt intentionally helped cover up Caroline’s kidnapping as a hoax to help Rayna, after breaking her out of the Armory, and says that Stefan knows why he did it, even though they were all supposedly friends. But before Enzo can quiz him further, Nora arrives and the two tangle. Enzo puts something in her mouth, which turns out to be the drug that they gave Mary- which is one of the things he stole that Alex mentioned.

While this happens, Matt uses the opportunity to escape, so we don’t yet find out his motivations for helping Rayna as of yet. Nora berates Enzo for trying to give her the drug, telling him about what they did to Mary and that being the reason she’s there. Enzo clearly didn’t realize the negative effect the drug has on witches, and is somewhat taken aback- but is that the real reason?

A suddenly reasonable Enzo tells Nora they need to call a truce and work together, at least for now. He claims he has as much at stake as she does, though he doesn’t quite say why. (Cough…Bonnie…cough.) Damon calls, asking him about how to get in touch with the Armory and fills him in on their situation. Enzo gives him directions to an airfield that they work out of, telling Damon he’ll set everything up and help them out.

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Enzo then calls Alex and offers up a trade- himself for Mary and Rayna, who he says he can get there, knowing that where Stefan goes, she will follow. Alex takes the deal and agrees to meet Enzo and Nora there, with Mary in tow, who is in bad shape and getting worse by the minute. It’s clear she doesn’t have long to go if she doesn’t get some help.

Rayna causes the florist truck to crash and successfully retrieves her sword, calling Stefan again to tell him. She warns him that Damon isn’t reliable and that she shouldn’t trust him to do what he says he will do, and that she also knows why Matt hates him. Stefan is nonplussed, but doesn’t say anything and hangs up on her.

Valerie arrives to help Damon and successfully uses a spell to heal him from the vervain. Alas, Damon being Damon, he decides to go off-book and drugs her in return, knocking her unconscious, having plans of his own now, which is never a good thing.

Alex and Stefan arrive at roughly the same time, confused as to who the other is and why they are there. Obviously, Alex has no idea who Stefan is and vice versa. But before they can discuss things, Nora pops up and nabs Alex, taking her elsewhere, leaving Stefan bewildered as to what the hell is going on.

Alex tells Nora that Mary is in the office of the airfield and gives her keys to a vehicle to go to her. But when Nora asks for the antidote to Mary’s condition, Alex informs her that there isn’t one. It seems that the Armory tried to come up with one, hoping to use the drug to subdue witches’ powers, much as vervain is used to subdue vampires, but the drug made from Rayna’s blood proved to be to virulent and incurable, resulting in a slow death to whoever is taking it.

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Alex informs a stunned Nora that Mary will be dead in a week, tops, so if she wants to make the most of their time together, she better hurry. Nora leaves in record time, rushing to Mary’s side. Alex then turns her attention to Enzo, who continues to deny releasing Rayna. Alex says she knows he was stealing from the Armory, and from his reaction to the news that the pills have no antidote, she thinks that he’s been doing it for Bonnie, not knowing that the pills were killing her, not just helping her subdue her magic. He denies it, but it’s clear that is the case, which explains why Bonnie was sick in the flash-forwards we saw in past episodes.

As Damon speeds towards the airfield, Valerie wakes up and he confronts her, saying he knows good and well she knew about the transference spell and wanting to know why she didn’t help Stefan in all this time, especially since she’d likely known about it since doing the spell to help Caroline’s twins.

At first, she denies knowing any such thing, but she eventually caves and admits she did it because she was scared Stefan would go back to Caroline if she successfully did the spell. Valerie also points out that if she had done the transference spell back then, Stefan wouldn’t have rested until he helped Damon find a cure, as he always had and always would put his brother first above all else, and the spell would only work with a blood relative.

When Damon took himself out of the equation by going into hibernation, and Stefan opted to leave well enough alone with Caroline for the time being because of the twin situation, Valerie saw an opportunity to rekindle their past romance and took it, acting as if they were searching for a cure all this time, but actually aggressively avoiding it, as evidenced by her ignoring the bartender we saw in the flashback.

Valerie curses Damon for the bad influence he has on Stefan, saying that wherever he goes, drama follows. Damon says that wasn’t always the case, as Elena had been the one person out there to make him a better person and he knew it, which was exactly why he had done the coffin thing, knowing that he was doomed to repeat his past actions of acting out and causing trouble. It was only when he lost Elena that things went south.

The Vampire Diaries -- "Days of Future Past"

Stefan calls, and Damon says he has a plan to save him, but he’s dubious. With good reason, as it turns out, as Rayna arrives first and promptly shoots him. She picks up Stefan’s dropped phone and tells Damon that he’s next, then turns her attention back to Stefan. A shocked Damon orders Valerie to do the spell now, as they are still ten minutes away from the airfield.

Rayna berates Stefan for always choosing Damon over everyone else, even at his own detriment, as Valerie does the same to Damon for always thinking of himself above all others. Rayna points out that if he’d stayed on the run with Valerie like he had been, she might never had caught up with him and he could have been happy- in fact, he was happy, as she knew because of their scar connection- but that he had blown it all by involving Damon yet again.

Stefan says he recognizes she’s right, and she tells him to use that while he’s trapped in the Phoenix stone, and promptly stabs him with the sword, right in his scar. As such, Valerie can’t complete the spell with Damon, as it’s too late- there is no scar anymore. Stefan collapses to the ground, as Rayna leaves with the sword in tow.

Matt gets a call from Caroline, which he lets go to voice mail. She wants to know why he helped Rayna to capture Stefan. We find out why when we see Matt visit his former partner’s grave, Penny Ares. Though we don’t yet know the circumstances, it’s clear that either Stefan killed Penny or was responsible for her death somehow and that Matt blames him for it, regardless, and that is why he helped Rayna escape and with her plot to take Stefan down.

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Rayna spots Nora and Mary leaving the airfield and gives chase, tossing her sword at their car as it speeds away. Mary wryly notes to Nora: “You’re driving- I’ve got even less time on Earth than I thought.” Alas, Nora is right there with her, as Mary notices that Rayna’s sword grazed her when it went through the back windshield and into the dashboard, and one scar is all it takes for Rayna to find them no matter where they go.

Valerie and Damon arrive to find Stefan collapsed on the ground, with no sword in sight- or Rayna, for that matter, who has already left in pursuit of Nora and Mary. They quite correctly blame themselves for their respective roles in this mess, at a loss as to what to do next.

Apparently, Mary knows about the transference spell, too, from the whole Caroline thing, and doesn’t hesitate to try and use it to transfer Nora’s scar to herself, knowing she doesn’t have long to live anyway. However, Nora refuses to go on without her and does the spell with Mary at the same time, which causes the stone to overheat or whatever and break, which in turn sends their car off the road, where they go out pseudo- “Thelma & Louise”-style together in an explosion of flames.

As Rayna has a connection to Nora now, she experiences all of this right along with them, freaking out and running off the road herself, screaming out in pain. We see the effect this has on Stefan as well, who was still trapped inside the Phoenix stone when it happened, after all. But was he released when the stone was broken, or trapped forever? I’m guessing the former, or we wouldn’t have a show, but it remains to be seen what happens next, as we end with Damon vowing to do whatever it takes to save his brother.

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This episode marks the second directing gig for star Ian Somerhalder, after 2015’s episode “The Downward Spiral,” and it shows once again that both he and fellow co-star Paul Wesley have a knack for directing their own show. This was a quick-moving, tense episode, and if a lot of it was a somewhat forgone conclusion, it was never boring.

Also, the show has the whole flash-forward thing to blame for a lot of the problems, so I certainly don’t blame Somerhalder for things that are out of his control. For instance, we never saw Mary or Nora in the flash-forwards, so I just assumed they were probably dead or going to be soon, so when it came to pass, I wasn’t that shocked, even though it was technically after the events of the flash-forwards.

I guess I had sort of mentally prepared myself for it already, so it didn’t quite have the effect it could have without all that rigmarole. Likewise, we already knew from the flash-forwards that Matt had been helping Rayna, so it wasn’t that big of a shock that he had helped her escape as well, though I suppose it was somewhat of a surprise to find out that Stefan had been involved in Penny’s death somehow.

That might have had a bigger impact, had Penny been introduced sooner, but as she only figured into a few episodes and even then, only in a few scenes, it didn’t, really. It’s hard to care about the loss of a character you hardly even knew. As I discussed in a previous article, that’s also the problem with the Rayna character, which was introduced so late in the game, we barely had time to register that Julian was summarily dispatched around the same time as her arrival.

Factor in this questionable business about the “mystical connection” between Rayna and her victims and it’s all a bit confusing and nonsensical. To name but one problem I have with this, why would Rayna’s ancestors want her to feel what her prey was feeling, as if she were experiencing it herself?

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Granted, it might have seemed far-fetched to them that there could be such a thing as a “good” vampire, but still, why would you do that? Even if the vampire in question was evil and it only confirmed that they needed to die, why would you want Rayna to have to feel what they were feeling and know what they were up to in the meantime while she was pursuing them, as if she herself were doing it? That makes no sense.

Either she was experiencing evil or fear, at least until Stefan came around, none of which could possible help her in her mission, but rather would only make it harder in some cases. The sort of “inner GPS” I get- that makes perfect sense that the scar left by the sword would serve as a beacon from them to Rayna.

But the rest just seems like a contrivance to make Stefan sympathetic to Rayna and allow her to “help” him as best as she could under the circumstances- and to suffer what she put Nora through by attacking her next. Dramatic it may be, but sense it does not make. (Sorry, I went into Yoda mode there for a minute- this show can be so frustrating sometimes.)

That said, if you can get past the ridiculousness of some of the plot machinations and the fact that the flash-forwards ultimately only served to spoil a lot more than they did tantalize, this was a solid enough episode if you didn’t think about it too much.

On the plus side, with the unexpected announcement by the CW that they were renewing all of their shows- see my article about it here– we at least know that the show won’t be going out on a sour note, no matter how the season ends, which is more than we knew before, so there’s that. Thank God- or the CW, at least- for small favors.

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I think the best we can do is to muddle through the rest of the season and hope that the next one is better thought-out, because at this point, this one has almost entirely gone off the rails, much like Nora’s car. Let’s just hope it doesn’t also self-destruct entirely before the end. We shall see.

What did you think of the latest episode of “The Vampire Dairies”? Are you glad it’s back? Are you happy it was renewed? Did it deserve to be? Do you think they can save the season in the clutch before the end? What would you like to see happen? Will you miss Nora and Mary? Will anyone else bite the bullet before the season ends? Sound off on this and more down below and see you next week!