2015 is drawing to an end, and that means it’s time for our favorite show to hibernate for the winter. Going into season seven of The Vampire Diaries there were a lot of questions of whether or not the show could sustain without one of its main characters, Elena, played by Nina Dobrev. We’ve been given a glimpse of the new era of big-bad and direction the show is going. This first half might have been a little slow at times, but the pieces are falling into place, promising a second half chockfull of craziness. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

What’s in the Box?

It’s Lily, of course. “Cold as Ice” opens with Stefan and Damon acting as pallbearers for their mother. It’s night and the two are carrying her casket through the snowy cemetery to her final resting place. Valerie and Nora are there to say goodbye, but Julian and Mary Louise are noticeably absent. Before lowering the box into the ground, Stefan suggests they all say something. Damon is still bitter. After a little coaxing, Damon gives his final words. He says Lily was a terrible mother when she was alive, and she was a terrible mother when she was dead. Stefan takes a different approach. He apologizes to Lily and promises to make it right. Cut to: opening title.

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Bonnie has done a locator spell on Julian which has led Stefan and Damon to the town of Sandbury. Stefan calls Caroline to check in on her. She and Bonnie are volunteering at a Toys for Tots toy drive back at Whitmore. When he asks how her pregnancy is going she assures him that everything is fine. She is not giving him any of the gory details regarding her weird craving for mayonnaise marshmallow fluff and blood. After she hangs up with Stefan, Caroline leaves Bonnie to go to a birthing class.

There is a Santa Pub Crawl in Sandbury. Stefan is hoping to find Julian, while Damon is just hoping to get drunk. Damon is not in any kind of rush to kill Julian, but Stefan wants him dead now. He pulls his coat open to reveal vervain syringes, stakes and grenades. He is on a mission.

The Blame Game and Endgame

In Mystic Falls, Mary Louise is still on the defensive. She blames Valerie for everything that has happened to break up the heretic family, including Lily’s death — and also for ruining her 10-minute engagement to Nora. She reveals that even if she did believe Valerie’s story about the baby, the timing of the reveal is still suspect. After all, she did have over 100 years to come clean. Valerie only chose to tell her story once she was back in Stefan’s life and could gain sympathy. Mary Louise might have a point here. Three years from now, Valerie and Stefan are together living in Chicago!

The brothers duck into the pub that Bonnie’s spell revealed. They don’t find Julian, but instead there are a dozen dead Santas with their throats ripped open. Merry Christmas! Damon calls Bonnie. He wants her to give him a more exact location. He tells her Stefan is getting a little antsy. Bonnie can’t adjust her spell, but she sees Nora and has an idea that might help. Julian walks in piss-drunk, and gushes about much he is mourning the loss of Lily. Julian has the phoenix stone sword. He tells the brothers what happens when the sword is fully assembled with the stone. Once you are stabbed, your soul goes into the stone where you re-live the worst things you’ve ever done in your life. Julian was trapped for over 100 years. The only thing that kept him sane was his love for Lily. He blames Damon for her death. All Lily did was want forgiveness from Damon, and he couldn’t give it to her. Damon still doesn’t care.

Nora has stopped by the toy drive to do her one good deed for the century. Actually, she is interested in doing more good. She’s even enrolled in classes, and wants to be a part of the community. Bonnie isn’t sure if she should totally buy into this side of Nora, but she needs her help. She plays nice in order to get some information on Julian. It turns out, Julian has never been one for solitude, and he has been visiting all of the old towns he used to live in. Bonnie sends Damon a text telling him Julian isn’t alone and they need to get out of there. Just then, four of Julian’s friends surround the brothers. Damon grabs two fire bombs from Stefan’s jacket and drops them to the ground. They are able to escape as the flames shoot up.

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Walking into a Hornet’s Nest

Julian is off the rails. Damon sees this as a fight they cannot win. Stefan thinks Julian will be careless, opening up doors for more opportunities to attack. Damon wants to go back to Mystic Falls. He leaves Stefan alone. Stefan isn’t ready to give up on his mission. He calls Valerie to enlist her help. The two come up with a plan to drug and kidnap Mary Louise. (Honestly, I’m not sure why they thought this would be a good idea, but whatever.)

Damon is back at Salvatore mansion burning Lily’s clothes, trying to erase any memory of her. Julian walks in even more fired up than earlier. He asks where Mary Louise is. Damon has no idea what he’s talking about. Julian explains that Stefan and Valerie kidnapped her, and Damon agrees with me that it is a stupid plan.

Julian says he should have killed Damon when he had the chance. The two scuffle, and things get real serious real fast. Julian is hovering over Damon about to stab him with the phoenix stone sword when Stefan rushes in and throws Julian to the ground. Now it’s two-on-one. The boys should have a better chance at beating Julian, right? No. Stefan throws a vervain syringe which lands in Julian’s neck. Julian retaliates by staking Stefan in the stomach rendering him helpless. Damon gets up and attempts to rescue his brother, but he is met with the phoenix sword stone to the gut. Stefan is horrified. Julian flees the scene.

Caroline arrives back at the Salvatore house and finds Stefan sitting next to his brother’s body. He already blames himself because he couldn’t let ‘the Julian thing” go. She says they will find a way to bring Damon back. Stefan doesn’t think Damon can survive the world the phoenix stone is going to create for Damon. Out of nowhere Nora appears and says, “Even if he can, he’ll be different –just like you.” And then she stabs Stefan with the sword! Cut to: end credits.

What the hell just happened? We’ve seen the three year time jump all season long so we know that both brother’s are eventually released from the stone. The question is, what happened while they were in there?

What did you think of the winter finale of The Vampire Diaries? Are you excited for the second half? Do you think whatever happened while Stefan and Damon were locked in the stone has something to do with whatever happens three years from now? Sound off in the comments below.

Beginning on January 29th, The Vampire Diaries will air on Fridays at 8pm on The CW.

(Image courtesy of The CW)

Casey Cummings

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV