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The Vampire Diaries - Cold as Ice (Midseason Finale) - Review

It was indeed an icy Christmas for the Vampire Diaries gang, as the midseason finale found Damon and Stefan facing off with Julian, Caroline finding that vampiric pregnancy has its challenges, and Nora's allegiances shifting like a dangerous little chameleon at every turn.  
The episode ended on a cliffhanger which left Stefan and Damon in serious peril.  Let's review and discuss!

Three years from now, Stefan and Valerie are a couple.  Yeah, we didn't get much more out of this brief glimpse of Stefan getting ready to go help out with Damon and Caroline's predicament as the two are held captive by the Huntress.  I can't say I'm surprised at the Stefan/Valerie pairing, so this flash-forward was only mildly interesting compared with the rest of the episode.  Speaking of which...

(Just as a side note, the Salvatore brothers' black winter coats were on point.)

Santa pub crawl.  Ah, Damon was on fire in this episode.  I loved his series of dry, witty zingers, first at Lily's funeral, and then as he trailed Stefan, who was more eagerly tracking down Julian in a town filled with drunk Christmas revelers.  Damon was quite determined to stick to his cynical guns and not admit he was at all upset about Lily's death, despite Stefan's repeated attempts to get his brother to admit he cared.  The brothers' repartee and debate over Damon's possible regrets for his harsh last words to Lily were more interesting than the continued presence of Julian as a temporary big bad.  He's such a transitional villain that I can feel the minutes ticking out on his TVD residency, with every whining, woe-is-me, "I-really-loved-Lily" word he says.  

Julian may not be all that imposing, despite his age and posse of toothy friends, but the Phoenix sword is a force to be reckoned with.  If a vampire is stabbed with the sword, their soul goes into the stone and the vamp enters a hell world designed just for them, based on the sins they've committed over their lifetime.  Sound a little similar to the premise of Kai, Damon and Bonnie's jaunt to the 1995 prison world or Lily's sojourn in the 1903 one?  Hrrm, just a tad, and the episode's big cliffhanger situation, which found Damon stabbed by Julian and tossed into a hellish Civil War battle scene, started to feel a little too familiar to ground we've already tread (Damon's trapped in a prison / hell world, however will we get him back?, etc). So luckily, the writers added a new twist by sending Stefan's soul into the sword as well (courtesy of Nora, which we will get to).  This at least brings something a bit fresher to the situation.  As long as Stefan's hell world doesn't involve being locked in a coffin in the quarry, because, well...
Pick a side, any side, Nora.  It was actually a tiny bit cute and likable when Nora showed up at the college Toys for Tots event and told Bonnie that she was ready to rejoin the real world, enrolling in courses and spending time on charity instead of her usual Heretic mischief.  After some fairly decent fish out of water jokes and Nora making a final break with Mary Louise, things went south by the end of the hour.  Despite their awkward fledgling sorta/kinda friendship, Nora was enraged when she found out that Bon Bon was helping the Salvatores scheme to kidnap Mary Louise in order to corner Julian.  This seems maybe a little rich since Nora just broke up with Mary Louise about two seconds ago because M.L. sided with that smug, transparently evil, worst-surrogate-dad-ever, and also since Nora couldn't seriously think her ex wasn't going to get caught in the crossfire of the clearly inevitable Salvatores-Julian showdown.  

Still, like most TVD characters who feel they have been manipulated, Nora threw aside all of her supposed steps towards redemption and lunged into vengeance mode, attacking Bonnie and then stabbing Stefan with the Phoenix sword.  Even though we know that Nora still loved Mary Louise, I was disappointed that she went from an almost enjoyable character back to a petulant bratty teenager.  Her attack on Stefan may have added a necessary bit of heft to the episode's shock factor, but only in terms of poor Stefan being sent to the hell world.  I feel we've been so jerked around by Nora's characterization that I've gone from indifference to dislike, to vague like, to dislike in the space of three episodes.
What to expect when you're a vampire who's expecting.  I really enjoyed this Caroline subplot, in which she struggled to control some extra powerful emotions and blood cravings while balancing her sense of responsibility for the babies and her first Christmas without her mother.  From Caroline's hilarious quips and fabulous type A baby book quoting, to her interactions with Alaric and her melancholy talk by Liz's grave, everything about this part of the episode was interesting and engaging.  I liked that Ric read all of the same baby books too, and am intrigued to see the co-parenting relationship starting to grow between him and Caroline.  As for that speech to Liz, it was certainly the most emotionally moving part of the hour for me.

Where's my our Enzo? After missing Bonnie and Alaric in the previous episode, the Enzo-shaped hole in this one felt a little sad.  With the Julian plotline starting to feel a bit bland, I think the writers could have made room for some nice Benzo scenes as a holiday gift to us.  However, that's what New Years' resolutions are for!

All in all, this episode didn't contain the sizzle and excitement I usually expect from a TVD midseason finale, especially after Season 7 got off to such a strong start. However, Damon's witticisms and Caroline's struggle saved the episode, and there are plenty of elements to keep the intrigue level high in Season 7B.  Who is the huntress and how will things play out in the "three years from now" adventure?  How did all of those unexpected "three years from now" couples end up being couples? When and how will Julian be taken out?  And how will Stefan and Damon escape from the Phoenix stone hell world?  I look very much forward to seeing how it will all unfold.

What did you think of this episode?  Share your thoughts in the comments, and be sure to catch The Vampire Diaries when it returns on its new night, Friday, January 29th at 8/7c on the CW.

About the Author - Virginia Mae Fontana
Virginia is happy to be reviewing The Vampire Diaries and Beauty and the Beast for Spoiler TV. She enjoys obsessing over films and pop music - in addition to tv shows, of course! You can find her blog, SugarRushed, at and her Twitter handle is @VMaeFontana
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