As if being trapped in a house with no one being able to touch her isn’t bad enough, Caroline has to sit through hearing about how Stefan lost his virginity in The Vampire Diaries‘ “Age of Innocence,” as flashbacks show his time as a human with Valerie, who too was still human.

Meanwhile, Damon, Bonnie and Alaric head out of town on a road trip to find the elusive sixth heretic in hopes of trading him for Elena’s coffin, and along the way, Alaric has to come clean about a certain phoenix stone.

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What’s More Romantic Than His Mother’s Grave?

Flashbacks to 1863 show Valerie meeting Stefan, which, it turns out, is all orchestrated by Lily, who sent her to him to see how he was coping with his mother’s death. The thing is, Valerie — along with Julian, Lily’s boyfriend (a man you’re not supposed to fall for, so of course she did) was just supposed to watch him and report back. She wasn’t supposed to get close to him, use magic to escape from under Julian’s watch and take Lily’s son’s virginity.

Stefan then took Valerie to Lily’s grave and explained that he replaced the flowers there every day as a way to try to make up for his failure. (His father had sent him to buy flowers for an herbal tonic to help her, but he returned too late and she had already been taken away. He always wondered what would have happened f he had run faster.) Valerie eased his mind by explaining that the tonic wouldn’t have saved her. It was just his father’s way of getting him out of the house to make it easier. And then Julian showed up and took Valerie away as she promised Stefan that she’ll find her way back to him.

Julian is the Worst

And it seems Valerie intended to keep that promise, as she sent him a telegram that she wanted to run away with him. So Stefan went and waited and waited, but she never showed up. So, what happened to Valerie? Julian happened.

Julian found her trying to sneak away, but he needed to get to Europe and he knew Lily wouldn’t leave without Valerie. He also could hear the heartbeat of her and Stefan’s baby until she was nearly dead and the baby’s heartbeat had stopped. When she regained consciousness, she was on the ship, and Julian claimed he found her like that. Valerie couldn’t tell Lily the truth because it would mean coming clean about everything, but she couldn’t stand to live under Julian’s thumb, so she killed herself. However, she had Lily’s blood in her system at the time and instead, she became the first heretic.

“You don’t know how sorry I am about everything,” she tells Stefan as she sits next to him on a bench and recounts what happened. And here’s the sad part. “Maybe you never will,” she continues, as she has herself cloaked, the same spell she used to hide herself and Stefan from Julian all those years ago. Yes, something I didn’t think was possible after the first two episodes of the season has happened: I feel bad for Valerie.

Caroline’s Day Only Get Slightly Better

While Caroline is able to briefly talk to Stefan, thanks to the fact that he dropped his cell phone in his house when he was thrown from it, her day only goes downhill from there. She has to listen to Valerie talk about the first love of Stefan’s life and about being his “first time” (and Caroline knows what it’s like to have that completely unforgettable place in someone else’s mind, right?).

When Lily returns from spending the day with Stefan as he and Damon carry out their plan to make her think her plan to separate them worked, Caroline shows her Stefan’s diary and entries where he wrote about her. “He loved you,” she tells his mother. “He missed you.” Lily has Nora remove the barrier spell, and Caroline is free, but Stefan still can’t touch her thanks to Valerie’s spell.

And Caroline’s time with the heretics has made her wonder about her relationship with Stefan. Sure, he was young and human when he first met Valerie, as he tells her, but she was young and human when she first met him too, and she knows back then, he only had eyes for Elena. Circumstances change, he insists, but she argues that the same can be said for Valerie. She’s out of the prison world. Does that change anything for him? No. He doesn’t care about the past, only that she’s there, safe and with him now. But they really need to take care of Valerie’s spell.

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Damon and His Two Besties Locate the Missing Heretic …

Just as Bonnie’s writing in her diary to Elena about the severe drought of good news lately and the fact that Lily has her coffin, she’s once again struck by those violent visions and, 10 minutes later, wakes up on her floor. So who can blame her for wanting to double check with Alaric that the phoenix stone is gone? He lies to her and says it is. (Sure it is, Alaric. Never mind the stone you were staring at when Damon came out of the shower.)

Damon enlists their help in tracking down the sixth heretic for a hostage swap to get Elena’s coffin back, and the three of them head to Myrtle Beach. Before going in, they’re ready with a plan and a vervain gun, but to their surprise, the heretic, Oscar, greets Damon like a long-lost friend. The two met, he explains, when he was Lily’s hero soldier son in 1863. (Lily had sent him to see how Damon was doing while Valerie was supposed to just look in on Stefan.)

As for why he’s in Myrtle Beach, he says that Lily had a job, and he volunteered, not in the mood to be on the short leash like the rest of the family back in Mystic Falls. He’s discovered freedom now that he’s out of the prison world, and Bonnie uses that to get him to siphon those visions out of her. As soon as he sees what she sees, he asks where the phoenix stone is and uses his magic to incapacitate them while trying to escape.

With that, Alaric has no choice but to come clean about the fact that he didn’t destroy the stone like he said he did. So the visions, lost time and crippling headaches that Bonnie suffered don’t matter to him? Well, they do, but Alaric admits that bringing Jo back matters more. They got second chances, he argues, not really caring that the Other Side no longer exists, so it’s not the same thing at all. Jo is the love of his life, and he needs to try to bring her back, no matte how dangerous and insane it may be. (And this is insane, even after everything else they’ve all been through.)

Damon finds Oscar trying to get away, and the heretic explains that he doesn’t want to be part of Lily’s cavalry with its rules and chain of command. He wants to have fun. Damon, of course, doesn’t care. He wants Elena’s coffin back, and through his, Bonnie and Alaric’s combined efforts, they knock the heretic out.

That mission accomplished, Alaric takes Bonnie to Jo’s body in the morgue. “Jo is still in here. She has to be,” he insists after she points out that Jo’s spirit isn’t just behind a veil. He can’t do this alone, and once again, Bonnie is probably going to end up putting her life on the line to help someone else.

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… But They’re Not the Only Ones

Damon calls Lily to inform her that he found Oscar and has him in the middle of a vervain detox. She can have her son back — because he now gets her whole “they’re my family” shtick since he’s found a new family of his own — if she gives him Elena.

But there’s one big problem. Valerie finds Oscar (thanks to a locator spell) but she doesn’t tell Lily because the job he’s supposed to be doing which is to find Julian. She knows that he’ll leverage Julian’s location for his freedom from Lily, and she just can’t have that. Julian is the devil, and she can’t let Lily bring him back. (I completely agree with her.) And so she kills Oscar. This is going to be a major problem, isn’t it?

There’s No Escaping the Salvatore Drama

A flash-forward shows Stefan calling Tyler, who doesn’t want to get mixed up in whatever drama he has going on … until Stefan explains that his scar opened up and he needs him to warn Caroline. Yes, Stefan knows he should be running, and after grabbing his bag and diary, he sets his car on fire.

The Vampire Diaries season 7 airs Thursdays at 8pm on the CW.

(Image courtesy of the CW)

Meredith Jacobs

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

If it’s on TV — especially if it’s a procedural or superhero show — chances are Meredith watches it. She has a love for all things fiction, starting from a young age with ER and The X-Files on the small screen and the Nancy Drew books. Arrow kicked off the Arrowverse and her true passion for all things heroes. She’s enjoyed getting into the minds of serial killers since Criminal Minds, so it should be no surprise that her latest obsession is Prodigal Son.