We knew Julian (Todd Lasance) was the most dangerous baddie to ever step foot in Mystic Falls -- mostly because everyone kept saying so -- but now he's put proof in the pudding. The Salvatores' evil ex-stepfather ended this week's mid-Season 7 finale episode of "The Vampire Diaries" by sending Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan (Paul Wesley), in that order, into an all-new realm of torture: Their own personal hellscapes by way of the Phoenix Stone/Sword combo.
For Damon, it's the Civil War all over again, and he's got a gaping bullet wound to complement his Confederate grey uniform. Not good. And who knows what it'll be for Stefan? We're sure it's gonna suck.
Let's take it from the top of this week's new episode, which aired on Thursday (Dec. 10).
Stefan + Valerie = K-I-S-S-I-N-GThe CW
These three-year flash-ahead bits are quickly becoming a weekly source of torture because they just bring up more questions than they answer.
For example: This time, we learn that while Caroline and Alaric have been playing house, so have Stefan and Valerie. Yep. These two will live in a Chicago flat together, apparently, and she's more than ready to "rain hell down on anyone" who hurts her man.
So, what do we call them, guys -- Valefan, Stelerie, Valstef?
Four Vampires and a FuneralThe CW
The Salvatore Brothers and the last remaining heretics -- that is, Valerie and the newly-not-engaged Nora -- bury Lily in the Salvatore Crypt.
And while Nora and Valerie have some touching parting words for their adoptive mother, Damon's are cold as ice ... hence, the episode title.
"Lily, you were a terrible mother when you were alive, and you were a terrible mother when you were dead," he says. Ouch.
Birthing ClassThe CW
Naturally, when Caroline (Candice Accola) and Alaric (Matt Davis) attend their pre-natal classes, Caroline is the Monica Gellar of the group and knows everything about everything.
The only thing she doesn't know is how to temper her vampiric rage and thirst right now, especially when she overhears some other moms-to-be gossiping about her across the room. Her eyes literally go red with anger.
She also doesn't *really* know whether the blood she's craving so hard is even good for the babies, and the stress of this pregnancy is making Caroline extra Caroline-ish right now. Which means it's Close Call City when 'Ric tries to make her feel better when she's not in the mood for any comforting. Let's just say he finds his back against the wall.
Toys for TotsThe CW
Bonnie (Kat Graham) is forced to do the awkward make-up thing with Nora at the toy donation drive because (1) Nora is bored and lonely now that she and Mary Lou have gone from 60 to 0 by calling off their engagement, and (2) Bonnie needs a little help tracking down Julian for the boys.
Meet the Sunbury Squad.The CW
Stefan and Damon track Julian down to a small Santa-filled down called Sunbury, and just when they think they've got a lead -- a bar filled with slaughtered Santas is a pretty good indicator a vampire's in the area -- it gets better. Who else but Julian himself strolls in to retrieve his accidentally abandoned cell, and he's all the sheets to the wind, so it seems like an easy mark. Until his posse of vampire pals show up, that is.
Good thing Stefan and Damon are equipped with little fire balls to make their escape because they were definitely outmanned, even if Stefan would've still taken his chances.
Damon pulls the plug on the mission and heads back home to follow up the day's eggnog spree with the hard stuff, and Stefan turns to Valerie for help.
Don't mess with the exThe CW
Nora may have given Mary Lou the cold shoulder and prepared herself to move on a la college classes and making eyes at Bonnie, but there's one that she won't tolerate: Mary Louise being taken hostage by Stefan and Valerie.
Not one minute before she gets the 411 on ML's disappearance from Julian via text (these heretics sure have adjusted to high tech lately -- convenient), she was complimenting BonBon on being pretty and nice and all the things that made us kinda wanna 'ship the two. But that ended as quickly as it began, and now Nora's taking Bonnie as prisoner in return.
Heartbreak at the graveyardThe CW
In a moment of so much sad (CRY!) the mom-to-be-ish Caroline pays a visit to her own belated mother and spells out all the heartbreaking reasons why she needs her momma right now as she celebrates her first Christmas (and prepares to give birth) without her.
And, as Damon loudly expected, Caroline's words definitely indicate that she's not going to just drop these kiddos off at Alaric's house and run in the other direction.
"Even though they’re not mine, they’re still my responsibility, and I want -- have to do this right. And I have no idea what I’m doing. And all I want to do is just sit on our kitchen counter while you burn our dinner and ask you a million questions," she tells her mom's gravestone. Sob.
Salvatores AsunderThe CW
Now that Julian thinks the Salvatores (that's plural) have stolen his precious Mary Lou -- he's ready to make a deal. Or so he says. But when he shows up to the house and finds a morosely drunk Damon burning all remnants of his mother's existence, he's not aware of the steps Val and Stefan have taken.
But that doesn't stop Julian from trying to make a move to end Damon for all his smart talk about Jul's dearly departed love, whom Damon could not miss less.
"I would’ve killed you on-site if it weren’t for your mother. I respected her," he tells him before coming at him with the sword that punishes its victims with a torture chamber stone life.
Stefan steps in just in time to stop the blade, but it doesn't take long before Julian has the upper hand against both of them. And with a little assist from the newly-returned-to-Team-Julian Nora, both brothers end up getting gotten by the sword.
The sneak peek for the next episode, which'll air on Jan. 29, 2016 as the CW moves "TVD" to Fridays, shows that Caroline and Bonnie are going to do their best to salvage the lives of the Salvatores (and, of course, the flash-ahead sneak peeks remove all mystery from their pending survival). But, as the girls note, even if/when they do come out of this thing, they'll "be different."
We will have a Ripper revival? Who is the "she" that wants Stefan so badly as to take Caroline and Damon prisoner three years from now? Is it Nora? Is it Mary Lou? (We know it's not Valerie, Lily or Caroline.)