As The Vampire Diaries Season 7 Episode 1 begins, Stefan, in pain and obviously weak, opens a coffin to find a desiccated Damon inside. It is three years in the future.
In the present day, Caroline has taken up journaling to keep Elena up to date with the happenings. Damon, Alaric, and Bonnie have gone to Amsterdam to grieve. Matt is about to become a deputy. Stefan hasn't heard from or seen Lily, but blood bags are missing from the hospital. Things are awkward between Stefan and Caroline.
The Heretics aren't adjusting well to life in the new world. Lily has sequestered them away from the world and continues to ration their blood. Three sips a day. Her plan is for them to co-exist, but they don't believe her plan is a good one.
In Amsterdam, Bonnie is journaling their trip across Europe for Elena. Damon and Alaric bond over their shared misery and loss. Stefan and Matt find two dead bodies hanging and drained of all their blood and call Damon to tell him that Lily has gotten her family back together. Alaric isn't happy to hear this news and excuses himself from their company. While Bonnie and Damon go on drinking and discussing Elena, Alaric has gone in search of someone who can commune with the dead.
Lily meets Enzo in New York City. She needs him to find a small gemstone. A gemstone which Alaric happens to have. Lily won't tell Enzo why she needs the stone and uses this as a test so he can prove his loyalty.
Caroline and Stefan team up to take down the Heretics. She poses as a welcoming committee to distract them with flowers and her typical Caroline charm while Matt sneaks in the back with a bomb. Nora falls in love with Caroline's jacket and won't let her leave, so Caroline pretends to be compelled, not wanting to reveal that she's a vampire.
Damon is clearly struggling with the idea that Bonnie's death could return Elena to him. He hesitates to save her and waits three seconds before whoosing her out of the way of an oncoming car.
Stefan calls Lily to tell her that her family has been blown up and it's her turn to leave town. She tells him there's no way it would be that easy and advises him to leave town. The Heretics show up to Matt's graduation to ruin it with magic and murder. Lily stops their mayhem, but not after they have killed nearly everyone in attendance.
Stefan comes up with a plan to save Mystic Falls and it involves evacuating the city so Lily's family can't kill everyone. He gives up his home to get her to agree with his idea. Enzo is caught in the middle.
Damon returns to Mystic Falls to find the town abandoned, and he's unhappy with Stefan's decision. When Damon accuses him of doing this for Caroline, Stefan informs him he's done this for his brother.
Matt blames Bonnie for the town's new look. If she hadn't trapped Kai, he wouldn't have helped the Heretics escape. Damon turns up in her dorm room having nowhere else to go. The two decide to fight against Lily and the Heretics to take their town back. She tries to take on Malcolm, a Heretic, and when he tries to take her magic, Damon rips his heart out.
Stefan helps Caroline board up her house and they talk about how hard it's been for Caroline to move on from her mom's death. They decide to be happy in the midst of their heartache.
In the future, someone who has hunted Heretics in the past begins hunting Stefan and Damon.
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