The shocks just kept coming Thursday in “The Vampire Diaries” Season 7, episode 3. Lily (Annie Wersching) might still have some affection for her boys, and her Heretics aren’t quite as loyal to Lily as they seem. However, the biggest shock may have been that Katherine (Nina Dobrev) apparently wasn’t the first woman in Stefan’s (Paul Wesley) life. Episode 3, titled “Age of Innocence,” revealed that one of the Heretics slept with Stefan when they were both humans.
Stefan’s Former Flame: Stefan and Lily talk about Valerie’s (Elizabeth Blackmore) brief appearance in 1863 while Valerie tells her hostage Caroline (Candice King) about the meeting from her perspective. Lily reveals that she sent Valerie to her son in 1863, and the younger Heretic tells Caroline that she was “the first love of Stefan’s life.”
In flashbacks, viewers see Lily’s boyfriend Julian (Todd Lasance) as he catches Valerie flirting with Stefan. Valerie was just a witch who could barely use her powers at the time. After escaping her chaperone with a bit of siphoned magic, Valerie took Stefan’s virginity in the woods. “I’m sure you’ve been someone’s first so you know what’s it’s like to have a completely unforgettable place in someone’s mind,” Valerie tells Caroline. The vampire is clearly hurt by the Heretic taunting her.
According to Lily, Valerie claimed Stefan had practically forgotten her. In flashbacks, it’s clear that this isn’t true. Stefan takes Valerie to his mother’s grave and reveals he never said goodbye to his mother. He blames himself for not getting a tonic to her quicker, but Valerie promises that there was nothing he could’ve done to cure tuberculosis. Julian interrupts their moment and takes her back to New York. “I will find my way back to you, I promise,” Valerie tells Stefan.
Lily says Valerie would’ve never hurt Stefan because it would’ve hurt her -- but Stefan reveals that Valerie broke his heart. She sent him a telegram stating that she’d return and even left a time for them to meet, but she never showed up. Caroline asks how she could just leave him there and Valerie simply explains, “There was a change in plan.”
A flashback shows Julian stopping Valerie from leaving New York. He needs to get to England, and Lily won’t leave if any of her “children” are missing. Julian, a vampire, says that he can hear two hearts beating quickly. “Does Stefan Salvatore know that you are pregnant with his child?” Julian asks her.
In the present day, it looks like Valerie meets Stefan where she was supposed to meet him in 1863. She explains that Julian beat her until she lost the baby. He brought her to the ship and claimed that she was robbed and beaten.
After losing the baby, Valerie killed herself, but Lily had used her blood to heal her earlier. When she woke up as both a vampire and a witch, Valerie unintentionally became the first Heretic.
“You don’t know how sorry I am about everything,” Valerie says. “Maybe you never will.” Stefan suddenly appears to be alone on the bench. Valerie used magic to conceal herself, and it seems Stefan didn’t hear any of her revelations.
Back at the Salvatore house, Lily asks Caroline about healing after her mother’s death, and Caroline says that the love a child has for their mother never fades. Caroline gives her Stefan’s diary and tells her to read about how much he loved her. It’s touches Lily's heart enough that she finally allows Caroline to leave.
Stefan and Caroline reunite, and Caroline asks him about Valerie. He says that he was “young and human” when he met Valerie. Caroline asks if he remembers the first time they saw each other at Mystic Falls High School, but she quickly retracts the question. Things were different back then.
Stefan says he doesn’t care about the past. He cares only about Caroline. “You’re here, you’re safe and you’re with me,” Stefan assures her. It would've been perfect timing for a kiss, but they can’t touch. Valerie’s spell that makes Caroline’s skin burn Stefan is still in effect.
The Road Trip: While Stefan was dealing with the past, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) was on a road trip to find a way to save Elena’s (Nina Dobrev) body. His mother stole his girlfriend’s casket, so Damon figures they can make a trade.
At the beginning of the episode, Bonnie (Kat Graham) has another vision of dead people that knocks her out for 10 minutes. When she asks Alaric if he really destroyed the Phoenix Stone, he lies and claims it’s gone. Damon, who is now living with Alaric, interrupts before Bonnie can really interrogate him. The vampire wants them to go to Myrtle Beach to find the missing Heretic, Oscar (Tim Kang).
When Damon gets to Oscar’s door, he is welcomed like an old friend. Apparently, they met in 1863 when Lily sent Heretics to make sure her sons were OK. Damon doesn’t really recall the meeting right away.
Oscar is supposed to be on a mission for Lily, but he is obviously avoiding that errand in favor of living the high life. He enjoys the comforts of life in the 21st century: alcohol, marijuana and prostitutes. Damon tells him to take away Bonnie’s visions and they won’t tell Lily what he is really doing.
Once Oscar sees the visions, he realizes they’re dealing with the Phoenix Stone and he uses magic to make Bonnie, Alaric and Damon pass out. When they wake up, Alaric says the stone is gone and Bonnie is livid that he lied.
Damon realizes that Oscar saved his life back in the day and convinced him to take a sick leave right before his entire squad was killed in the Civil War. Still, that doesn’t stop Damon from going after what he needs. He wants to take Oscar down. When the Heretic fights back, Bonnie and Alaric come in with magic and a vervain gun to knock Oscar out.
Bonnie takes the Phoenix Stone from Oscar and gives it back to Alaric. “Never lie to me again,” she says. After Alaric takes Bonnie to the morgue to see Jo’s body, Bonnie decides to help him.
Meanwhile, Damon places a call to Lily. “Give me Elena, maybe I won’t kill him,” Damon threatens. He has Oscar on a vervain drip that keeps him weak. However, he makes a mistake when he leaves Oscar alone.
Valerie finds the missing Heretic and says Lily has no idea where he is. He was sent to find Julian. Oscar reveals that he found the vampire months ago, but he wanted to live a little before returning to Lily. He says he’ll probably leverage his freedom for Julian’s location, so Valerie kills him. She can't risk Julian returning.
Three Years From Now: As usual, “The Vampire Diaries” kicked off with a flash-forward that we still don’t understand. Tyler (Michael Trevino) is looking rather fancy in a nice suit when Stefan calls him. He asks Tyler to warn Caroline that his scar opened up. Tyler doesn’t want to get involved in their drama but agrees to pass along the message. Stefan then lights his beloved vintage Porsche on fire. At the last minute, he grabs his journal out of the car.
“The Vampire Diaries” Season 7 airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. EDT on the CW.