Rayna has presented Stefan with the opportunity to transfer his scar to Damon, and now she wants his decision. She and Damon both press him to say yes so he can stop running. Stefan finally agrees, so Damon goes to him to get his phone (no, I don’t know why). He’s weak from werewolf venom and isn’t bothered by touching the vervain-soaked ropes Stefan’s tied up with. Stefan thanks him, then throws him across the room, into Rayna. He grabs the phoenix sword and zooms out of the news station.
Damon grabs Rayna, who reminds him that if he kills her, everyone marked with her sword will also die. Damon says he’s just giving his brother a head start. He uses a cable to strangle her, but she’s able to grab her gun and shoot him with a vervain dart. They end up unconscious on the floor together.
Three years ago: Stefan packs to go back on the road, telling Valerie that having a target on his back makes him feel human again, like every minute counts. Valerie encourages him to think of this like an adventure, like she did when they were looking for the herb. With Damon desiccating, Stefan and Valerie don’t have any ties to anyone. They should take this opportunity to travel. They can look for a way to get rid of Stefan’s scar, maybe by tracing Rayna’s bloodline back to her ancestors. Even if they don’t learn anything, at least they’ll get a vacation out of it. “Everyone you know has made the choice that serves them best,” Valerie says. “Why not make a choice that serves you?”
Present: Nora has been a prisoner in the Armory for three years since Alex captured her and Mary Louise. Alex tells her that they need her help, and if she cooperates, they’ll give her answers about the research they’ve been doing with Mary Louise. Nora immediately agrees, so Alex tells her to find Enzo. She thinks Enzo released Rayna from the Armory, and since he’s family and Alex can’t trust him, she doesn’t think she can trust her team, either. She might as well use Nora for this mission since she has the right motivation.
Alex lets Nora see Mary Louise, who doesn’t look well, and that’s even before we see the scabs on her arms. She tells Nora that they’ve been giving her pills made with Rayna’s blood. It’s poisonous to witches. Alex promises to give Nora all the Armory has to heal Mary Louise if Nora brings Enzo back alive. Mary Louise doesn’t want Nora to go, but Nora’s eager to get on the road to complete her task.
In Dallas, Matt meets up with a guy named Martel, the connection he had call off the alert about the hostage situation at the news station. Martel is there under false pretenses, having been compelled to lure Matt to Enzo. Enzo is sure that Alex believes he freed Rayna from the Armory, which isn’t true. He thinks Matt did it.
Stefan calls Valerie to discuss Rayna’s offer to transfer his scar to Damon. Valerie says that Damon must be desperate if he came up with that idea. Stefan can’t believe that after all the time he and Valerie spent looking for a way to get rid of the scar, Damon’s the one who figured it out. She ends the call so she can grab a cab to the airport – she’s on her way to Dallas.
Damon wakes up to find Rayna fixing herself up before she goes after Stefan and her sword. She can’t ignore a call from her mystical nature. She’s surprised that Stefan ran away from Damon’s offer. Damon says he’s being a martyr and probably thinks Damon can’t handle having the scar. He’ll come back if Damon calls and tells him to. Rayna says Damon’s being noble, which she didn’t expect. He’s giving up something huge to do this.
Damon doesn’t see what she means – he’s been desiccating for three years, so what would he be missing out on? Rayna reminds him that she’s human, so even if she doesn’t succumb to illness or injury, she’ll still die a natural death in 60 years or so. And when she dies, the vampires she’s marked will die, which means Damon will be gone right around the time Elena wakes up. If Damon takes Stefan’s scar, he’ll have to give up any future he could have had with Elena. It’s a “hero move.”
Two years ago: Stefan and Valerie are at a beach bar in the Philippines, chatting with a local about their weird situation. (They don’t think she speaks English. They’re also a little drunk.) They toast to their one-year anniversary of looking for a way to get rid of Stefan’s scar. They haven’t had any success, but at least they’ve gotten to do a big international bar crawl.
Stefan looks through the contacts on his phone, stopping when he comes to Damon’s name. “I’m afraid he can’t come to the phone right now,” Valerie says. She’s sorry for bringing up how long it’s been. But Stefan already knew what day it was, and he knows that by the time Damon wakes up, Stefan will probably be dead. Way to ruin the mood, man. Valerie goes to the bar for another round, and the bartender admits that he heard her and Stefan talking. He may know how to help.
Present: Rayna uses Caroline’s work phone to call Stefan as she’s driving to find him. The offer to transfer his scar is still on the table. Stefan’s like, “How about you just stop chasing me instead?” Rayna’s like, “I wouldn’t have to chase you if you hadn’t taken my sword, you dolt.” He should have just stayed put. Stefan notes that she would have killed Damon if he had. Rayna clarifies that Stefan would rather die first. Well, I think he would rather have both of them live, but…yeah.
Rayna admits that Stefan grew on her while she was a prisoner in the Armory. Their connection through his scar somehow allowed her to see what he was doing (mostly hanging out with Valerie). “The Armory doesn’t have TV – what else was I gonna do?” she says in defense of spying on him. Stefan finds it creepy. Anyway, that means Rayna knows that Stefan is on his way to the Armory, hoping they’ll be able to help. That’s a long drive from Dallas, which means Stefan will eventually have to stop for gas. Rayna will be able to catch him when he does. Stefan hangs up, then tosses the phoenix sword into a delivery van driving next to him. Rayna can see this through their weird psychic connection, and she’s not happy about it.
Back at the news station, Damon answers a call from Stefan (“Mad Max”), who would like an idea for how to handle Rayna. Damon can barely stand and he can’t think clearly because of the werewolf venom, so he can’t do much. Stefan tells him Valerie’s on her way to help him. Damon asks if the two of them are “hanging.” Stefan carefully says that their friendship “evolved.” Damon tells him to come back to the news station. He’ll find a place Stefan can hide until the Armory can get to them.
Matt asks Enzo why he’s in Dallas. Enzo says he knew Rayna would use Caroline to trap Stefan, and he was confused when the police didn’t respond to the hostage situation. Now he knows that Matt convinced them it was a hoax. He’d like to know why. Matt won’t tell him, so Enzo threatens to torture Martel. Matt tells him that’s why he freed Rayna – vampires are evil. Enzo gets that, but why now? “Ask Stefan Salvatore,” Matt replies.
Nora arrives and attacks Enzo with magic. He manages to feed her one of the pills Mary Louise has been given, which immediately neutralizes her magic. Matt takes advantage of the distraction to run off. Aww, man, Enzo is SO gonna get fired! He tries to give Nora another pill, surprised that she’s so against taking one – she can’t be that attached to her magic. She tells him the pills are poisoning Mary Louise. Enzo is stunned to hear that, and he tells Nora he wants a truce. If she’s right about the pills being fatal to witches, they need to work together. He cares as much about this as Nora does.
Rayna finds the delivery truck that now holds her sword (it’s pretty easy, since Stefan accidentally made the driver crash). She’s back on the phone with Stefan, and she tells him he owes the driver a new truck. He asks if she talks this much to all her targets. She replies that she’s trying to help him. He can’t rely on Damon. Apparently this mystical connection with Stefan allows her to understand the Salvatore brothers’ dynamic.
Rayna doesn’t blame Stefan for not trusting Damon. He always knew that having Damon around might eventually get him killed. She retrieves her sword and tells Stefan that just because it’s her job to hunt vampires doesn’t mean she likes it. She has nothing against Stefan, no matter what Matt thinks. He wouldn’t let her out of her cell in the Armory until she promised to put Stefan back in the phoenix stone. Rayna invites Stefan to talk about that, like she’s his therapist or something, but he hangs up.
Damon calls Enzo and asks if he’s still in contact with the Armory. He wants their help to protect Stefan from Rayna. Enzo’s happy to lend a hand, since this is what he already wanted. He tells Damon about an airfield the Armory uses in Dallas, where he can do a hostage swap. “I’m loving your James Bond vibe,” Damon says. “Somehow I didn’t miss you at all,” Enzo replies good-naturedly.
Nora’s curious about what kind of swap Enzo has in mind. He plans to make Alex think he’s offering himself up in exchange for Mary Louise. Nora notes that Alex sent her to get Enzo back to the Armory, but Enzo tells her she can’t trust Alex. She asks why he’s getting Rayna involved. He says she’s bait to get Alex to the airfield. Nora’s surprised that he’s willing to go this far to gain Mary Louise’s freedom.
At the Armory, Mary Louise recites “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” to herself. Alex tells her that Nora found Enzo and demanded that Alex bring Mary Louise to Dallas. Damon’s getting worse, but Valerie’s arrived to siphon the werewolf venom out of him. He says he gets why Stefan likes her – she’s the take-charge type. She replies that Damon’s a “self-serving narcissist.” Damon adds that Valerie is “slightly domineering,” also a trait Stefan must appreciate. She heals him, then starts to get ready to do the spell to transfer Stefan’s scar to him. But Damon’s changed his mind, and he sticks her with a vervain dart.
Two years ago: Valerie starts to tell Stefan about her conversation with the bartender, but Stefan doubts that he can tell them anything useful. He wants to live in the moment, just sit on the beach and look up at the stars. A disagreement over whether the constellation Cassiopeia is connected to the mythical Cassandra leads to a kiss, then more.
Present: Alex and Stefan both arrive at the airfield, but Enzo isn’t there. Nora pops out of a cloaking spell long enough to grab Alex and turn both of them invisible. She takes Alex to Enzo and asks for Mary Louise. Alex left her in an office but is willing to let both her and Nora go. Enzo mentions Mary Louise’s antidote, and Alex clarifies that she said she’d give Nora everything the Armory knows about it. And that is…nothing. There is no antidote. They tried to make one but failed. Mary Louise will be dead within a week.
Nora wants to kill Alex but Enzo needs her for something. She gives Nora a set of car keys so the two Heretics can leave together. Enzo hopes Alex is lying about not knowing of an antidote. She wonders why he’s so interested in pills that are only useful for neutralizing a witch. Then again, they can also hide someone from a locator spell. Alex busts him for raiding the Armory’s supplies and asks why he’s stolen pills. Who is he giving them to? Enzo plays innocent but Alex has already figured it out: “Give Bonnie Bennett my regards.”
Valerie wakes up in a car with Damon, tied up with vervain ropes. He asks how long she’s known how to get rid of Stefan’s scar. Damon himself figured it out when he remembered that the Geminis used a transfer spell to put the twins in Caroline. How did Valerie not think of that in three years? He guesses that she knew about it all along but didn’t tell Stefan because she liked having him all to herself.
She admits that she knew about the spell, but she kept quiet because she wanted Damon to stay gone. The scar can only be transferred to a blood relative. They would have had to wake Damon and bring him and his drama back into Stefan’s life. He was doing so much better without Damon around. Damon gets that Valerie doesn’t think very highly of him, but Elena made him a better person. When he gets her back, he’ll be able to be the brother Stefan needs again. And Stefan will only have to wait 60+ years!
Valerie says the only person Damon ever needed was always by his side, and Damon abandoned him. She took his and Caroline’s place and became everything to Stefan. Damon thinks it sounds more like Stefan was everything to her. He answers her ringing phone and tells Stefan he’s on his way. Valerie warns Stefan that Damon is “refusing to participate.” Damon says he is participating, and he only took Valerie because he needs her for backup. He promises that they’ll save Stefan. They’ll take down Rayna, get Stefan his freedom, and ensure Damon his future with Elena.
Stefan clarifies that Damon isn’t taking the scar. “Relax! I have a good plan!” Damon exclaims. Yeah, like Stefan’s never heard that one before. He wants Damon to say the words admitting he’s backing out. “I have a plan!” Damon repeats. Stefan says he always does. Valerie regrets trusting Damon, but Damon thinks she’s one to talk about that topic.
Before the conversation/fight can continue, a shot rings out at the airfield and Stefan drops to his knees. Rayna’s arrived. She picks up his phone and tells Damon, “I’ll catch you later.” Damon’s worried, but he still thinks things can work out. He just has to drive faster. Valerie tells him he’s “taking the coward’s way out.” This is why Stefan ran. It wasn’t to save Damon from Rayna – it was because he knew when a moment like this came, Damon would choose himself and let his brother down. That’s what Stefan thinks of his brother, and he’s right to.
“Now is when you prove who you really are,” Valerie says. After giving it some thought, Damon agrees to the scar transfer. He’s Damon Salvatore and he’ll figure something out. First they need to draw Rayna away from Stefan.
Nora finds Mary Louise and lies that she’s going to be okay. Mary Louise knows she’s lying and that there’s no hope for her. When she realizes that Nora wants to drive them somewhere, she jokes that she has even less time to live than she thought. Heh. Valerie starts the transfer spell as Rayna approaches Stefan with the phoenix sword. Because of their connection, she can feel what he’s feeling, and she hates seeing him like this. She felt Stefan’s scar reopen when she picked up her sword again after Matt released her from the Armory.
Stefan would have been smart to call Valerie and go back out on the run, but instead, he wanted to talk to Damon. The only way to do that was to wake him in his coffin. Going to get his “albatross” slowed Stefan down and let Rayna find him. “You just had to have Damon along for the ride again,” Rayna taunts. The three years Stefan had away from him must have been all the “enjoyment” he could take. He denies that he enjoyed being on the run, but Rayna doesn’t believe him. She knows he was happy while Damon was gone – because he was gone. Now, thanks to Damon, Rayna’s found Stefan.
On the road, Valerie’s spell makes Stefan’s scar start appearing on Damon’s chest. “You can see the cause and effect, right?” Rayna asks Stefan. He must understand that he’s on the verge of being killed because he made a mistake by waking Damon. Stefan asks why she cares about his mistakes. She says the sword cares. Its voice is in her head all the time. It wants to liberate Stefan. It’s trying to show him – like it showed him when he was in the stone – that the only way he can be free is to let Damon go.
“You’ve ignored its wisdom before,” Rayna notes. “Are you finally ready to leave Damon behind? Did today convince you?” Stefan says it did. She tells him to remember that and use it to survive in the phoenix stone. Then she stabs him with the sword. In the car, Damon’s scar starts disappearing. Valerie realizes the spell is unraveling – there’s no longer a scar to transfer. Rayna pulls the sword out of Stefan as he goes into the phoenix stone.
Matt listens to a voicemail from Caroline, who wants to know why he helped Rayna. He’s in the cemetery, where he tells a headstone that he finally made Stefan pay for what he did, just like he promised he would. The headstone belongs to Penny.
Nora and Mary Louise are about to leave the airfield when Rayna throws the phoenix sword through their rear windshield. Nora drives off before she can retrieve it. Damon and Valerie arrive and find Stefan dead. Valerie says they can bring him back. The only problem is that they don’t have the sword or stone.
Nora and Mary Louise know Rayna will follow them to get her sword back, but they have another problem: When it came through the windshield, it cut Nora’s arm. Not only is she about to lose her girlfriend, but she’ll have to spend the rest of her life running from Rayna. Mary Louise doesn’t want Rayna to take any more from them, so she decides to use the little strength she has left to do something good. She starts to siphon the sword, ignoring Nora’s protests that she’ll die because she’s not strong enough. After all, she’s already going to die.
Valerie blames herself for Stefan’s death, but Damon says it’s his fault for trying to have it all. “Next time it’ll be different,” he vows. Nora puts her hand on Mary Louise’s to help her destroy the phoenix sword. Mary Louise wants Nora to live, but Nora doesn’t see herself having a meaningful life without Mary Louise. She recites “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” as Mary Louise continues her spell. Rayna feels whatever she’s doing in her car, on the Heretics’ trail.
Damon promises Stefan that everything will be okay – they’ll get the phoenix stone and make this right. He’s wrong. The phoenix stone starts cracking, and Rayna seems to feel it. Nora and Mary Louise’s eyes are bleeding now. Nora swerves off the road into a field. She and Mary Louise say they love each other as their hands and arms start to glow. The glowing turns into bright light, setting the car on fire.
Rayna cries out, seeing visions of the souls in the stone being tortured. She’s furious when she catches up with the Heretics’ car and sees that it’s on fire. Damon promises Stefan again that he’ll save him. But with the phoenix stone destroyed, that’s going to be hard to do, if not impossible.
Etc.: Ian Somerhalder (Damon) directed this episode.
I don’t know why but on this round of viewing, I like Rayna (and Leslie-Anne Huff) more than I have in the past. Still, I wish the show had given us a little more about her not actually wanting to fulfill her responsibilities. Then again, if anyone wants to watch a vampire killer lamenting her fate, they can just watch Buffy.
Not only does Stefan still have Damon’s number in his phone a year after he desiccated, but he also has Elena’s. Like he doesn’t want to delete it just because he won’t be able to call her for 60+ more years.
Leaving aside the whole “bury your gays” mess with Nora and Louise being killed off, you have to admire them going out with a bang. Like, I don’t appreciate the show killing off its only LGBT characters, but I do appreciate the way they did it. (Actually, they’re not the show’s only LGBT characters. The other just won’t come out until she’s on another show.)