"The Vampire Diaries" (2009-Present) has had a lot of people worried since the announcement that Elena (Nina Dobrev) would be departing from the show. It seemed that her departure might really hurt the show, and its characters such as Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan (Paul Wesley). After watching the first episode of season 7, I'm happy to say that isn't the case.
The whole cast of characters seem to start out in a more refreshing light. Damon is shockingly not hung-up on Elena's "somewhat-dead" state, and isn't in his usual pouting, depressed, and angry mood. Yes, he is very saddened by Elena's eternal slumber (until Bonnie dies that is), but he still has typical "Damon humor" and seems to cherish Bonnie (Kat Graham) as a good friend.
Stefan seems to have completely moved on from Elena. He now has his eyes fully set on Caroline (Candice Accola), and their romantic tension hits a real high in this episode. The "will they or won't they" question is going to be something to look forward to this season, and will be a much needed breathe of fresh air from the "Stelena" drama.
Bonnie seems to be her same self, as does Matt Donovan (Zach Roerig). There are hints that Bonnie may dive into something more than a "friendship" with Damon, but only time will tell.
Not everything is wonderful and romantic though. The villains this season are unique hybrids of witches and vampires, led by the suspicious Lily Salvatore (Annie Wersching). Lily and her "family" seem to want different things, Lily wants them all to live in a calm peaceful state, while her "family" wants to go out into the world. This creates a big conflict, and it will be interesting to see how Lily's expectations play against her "families." Someone will lose out eventually, and it seems that right now Lily is outnumbered.
Alaric (Matthew Davis) is in a very dark place as well, now that his wife was killed last season. He is looking for a way to bring her back to life. This will surely have consequences in the future, whether it works or not.
Lastly, the episode ends on an intense note. 3 years later we see a wounded Stefan running into some warehouse with two coffins. The one coffin Stefan opens has Damon inside it. After Stefan wakes up Damon, he tells him they have to leave cause "she" is after them. Next we see an unidentified woman shooting wooden arrows at Damon and Stefan, and they flee the scene just in time.
That last scene has created a great mystery to be answered later this season, as well as what has been going on during those 3 years. "The Vampire Diaries" feels new and refreshed, and it is nice to see that all of the main and supporting characters still work well without Elena there. Time will only tell how the show continues, but hopefully it will still deliver great suspense, action, and of course romance.
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