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'The Vampire Diaries' Season 7: Everything You Need To Know

No Elena? No problem, apparently.

"The Vampire Diaries" is headed into uncharted territory in its seventh season as it attempts to pick up where the devastating Season 6 finale left off: without Nina Dobrev. Fear not, "TVD" fans. Not only does the Season 7 premiere of "The Vampire Diaries" work, it works really well. Honestly, the show is starting to feel like its old fun, mysterious self again.

So in anticipation of the show's seventh season premiere tomorrow night, here's everything you need to know about Season 7, from the return of Damon's signature snark to your new favorite baddies, The Heretics:

  • Elena is gone, but not forgotten.
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    In the very first scene of the premiere, Caroline is writing a diary entry for Elena. This is "The Vampire Diaries," after all. Elena's absence is felt in the premiere episode, but it doesn't loom over the characters, and honestly, that's great. I love that Bonnie gives zero effs this season. She's not letting what happened to Elena break her spirit, and that's a huge part of what makes this season work. Personally, I don't want to watch an entire season of Damon moping around without Elena. This season gives Damon something to fight for -- his home. And it's every bit as compelling as Season 1.

  • Caroline and Stefan are the ship we deserve.
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    We've waited so long for this moment, Steroline fans. From their humble beginnings as unlikely friends in Season 2, to confidantes in later seasons and finally, to a burgeoning ship last season, the relationship between Stefan and Caroline has been a slow burn worth fighting for. And the Season 7 premiere doesn't disappoint in the romance department. After months of mourning her mother's death, Caroline realizes that she's finally ready to open her heart to Stefan -- but of course, more than a few obstacles proceed to get in their way. The fireworks between Candice King and Paul Wesley are off the charts this season, and I can't wait to see where it all leads. Hopefully to a happily ever after, but this is "TVD" and those are few and far between these days.

  • The Heretics will give you the early Originals feels.
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    Part of what made seasons 2 and 3 so compelling was the introduction of the Originals. Klaus Mikaelson may be somewhat of a (handsome) garbage person, but he was intriguing. Better yet, his dynamic with his immortal family, specifically his brother Elijah and sister Rebekah, made Season 3 so fun to watch. On one hand, you wanted our heroes to win, but on the other, you felt compelled to know more about this first family of melodrama. Sure, you didn't want them to win, but you didn't want them to lose either. They'd been through too much. (Perhaps that's why they eventually got their own show...)

    I feel the same way about the Heretics. Lily Salvatore's family of witch-vampire hybrids will cause a lot of trouble for our heroes, but that doesn't mean we want to see them eradicated just yet. We want to know more about them. They add an important layer of mystery to the season. They're interesting! And cool! And so badass! Sure, they kill a lot of innocent people and they drive everyone out of Mystic Falls, include Stefan, Damon and co. But that's all part of the fun and mayhem that is Season 7. Watching Stefan give the Heretics the keys to the Salvatore mansion and seeing Damon lose his s--t over it is wildly entertaining. Plus, it gives Damon a reason to bring out his wild side.

  • Damon gets his bite back.
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    For a while, the drama between Damon and Elena was really bringing the ~vibe~ down. Damon is at his best when he's snarky and somewhat ruthless. We saw a little bit of that return with the arrival of Kai last season (another villain with loads of charisma), but this season, Damon is truly embracing his snarky side, and it's SO GREAT. It certainly helps that Damon and Stefan are spending quality bro time together. Hero Hair and Smoldypants, together 4ever.