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I Went to the Woods

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I Went to the Woods is the seventeenth episode of the seventh season of The Vampire Diaries and the one hundred and fiftieth episode of the series overall.


STEFAN FINDS HIMSELF IN THE FIGHT OF HIS LIFE IN THIS EPISODE DIRECTED BY JULIE PLEC — In the aftermath of his brother's fateful decision, Stefan awakens to find himself thrown into a life or death situation with only his basic instincts to rely on. With time working against him, he sets off on a journey of survival while forced to confront a lifetime of irreversible damage Damon has done to their relationship. Meanwhile, desperate to save his brother, Damon follows an unusual lead he has come across, while Matt sends Valerie to Dallas to enlist Alaric's help in the search for Stefan. Finally, when Rayna discovers the emergence of a new threat, she sets off on her own mission to find Stefan before the others do.



Main Cast

Recurring Cast

Guest Cast



  • This is the second episode of the series overall to not feature any of the main female characters.
  • This is the second episode of the series overall to feature four main cast members.
  • This episode marks the first appearance of Marty and Stefan's spirit possessing him.
  • Marty was revealed in the news cast to once have been in the Merchant Marines as well as being a drug addict. On his left hand he has a tattoo of an anchor.
  • Stefan unlike Jo when possessed by Florence remembers who he is in Marty's body this implies this was ensured because of the magic behind the Phoenix Stone being siphoned away.
  • Stefan finds being human again to be miserable like being unable to compel someone and playing by the rules.
    • Note: Once more there is no reference in 17 episodes to the fact that Elena is the Cure and that Damon will become human again when he feeds off her after she wakes up with Bonnie's death.
  • Damon uses Matt's name when he enters the police staging area in a local hospital and compels a deputy there to accept him as a fellow officer.
  • Stefan tells Damon that long before Elena came into his life that Damon had turned his back on him.
  • Rayna reveals to Valerie and Alaric that the Phoenix Stone was meant for the worst of the worst vampires in the last 200 years not do gooders like Stefan.
    • Rayna meets Alaric for the first time in this episode.
  • Rayna reveals that she can feel all the spirits that were in the stone but it is hard for her to isolate them as it's like noise and they entered the first piece of dead flesh they could find vampire and human alike, meaning that Marty Hammond was dead when Stefan's spirit entered his body.
  • Rayna could see the vampire spirits or souls released from the Phoenix Stone, Valerie accesses her visions by siphoning them to find Stefan.
  • Enzo does not appear in this episode.
  • This is the first episode to feature Valerie as the last of the Heretics since Nora and Mary Louise died at the end of the previous episode.
  • This episode is Stefan-centric.
    • Stefan has the most screen time in this episode.


Body Count

Behind the Scenes

  • Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Last year, the writers and I broke a story where Bonnie enters a prison world in the middle of a snowstorm. Production hated me. Snow is not cheap. In addition to costing many thousands of dollars for the actual materials that MAKE snow, you need several extra condors (big tall electric machines that you can hang lights and cameras and snow blowers on), snow-blowing machines, a rigging crew to lay the snow for days leading up to the shoot, another crew to clean up the snow for days after the shoot, and extra man power on the shooting day to actually make snow fall. Not to mention your sound mixer hates you because the snow machines make too much noise to get a clean dialogue track, the actors hate you because they know they’ll probably have to loop all of their lines, and you hate yourself because you can’t get the fake snow out of your clothes, your hair, and various body parts for a week. So what did I do this year? I broke a story that involved a BLIZZARD. Why? BECAUSE IT’S SO PRETTY. Snow somehow makes everything more emotional and I don’t regret it for a minute.
  • Neil and I jokingly called this our Revenant episode. The idea being, we wanted to put Paul Wesley through as much total misery as possible while Stefan suffered through the experience of being trapped in a human body. I couldn’t wait for him to be shooting in freezing cold weather, icicles dripping from his face, lips chapped, body stiff. I rooted for complete, utter miserable shooting circumstances. In February, Georgia can usually be counted on for such a thing. However climate change had its say and during the snow scenes, it was actually anywhere from 50–70 degrees. All that suffering he’s doing on camera? That’s ACTING. The only day of our exterior work that I didn’t need it to be cold was the night of the bus crash. That was a full night shoot, 6 p.m.–7 a.m., and no one wants anyone to suffer on a night like that. So what did Georgia give us? Twenty-five frigid degrees and 30-mile-an-hour winds. It was dreadful. I couldn’t look half the crew in the eyes the next day. 
  • The cabin that Stefan stumbled across did not exist two weeks before this episode shot. Production designer Garreth Stover and his team designed and built an entire cabin in the woods in the back of our production office. We could Airbnb it tomorrow and start recouping the money we spent to create it. All it needs is Netflix and it’s a perfect weekend getaway.
  • I had to shoot two pieces on the airplane tarmac where Ian shot a good portion of his episode. That meant he and I had to share some shooting days. The night we shot there, we had to bring in rain towers (machines that create rain) because it was supposed to rain the next night during a scene that had to cut straight in to the scene we were shooting. In other words, we had to be prepared to make it match. That meant we had to shoot the scene both ways: with rain and without. Poor Ian, after a full day of directing, had to act in a scene we shot twice, once dry, once fully drenched in rain, knowing that the rain piece might never see the light of day. Again, Georgia weather proved to be unpredictable. It never rained again, so the rain scene we shot didn’t make it into the cut. It’s possible he’s still mad at me.[1]

Cultural References

  • "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." This is a quote from Walden by noted transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, which is a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings.
  • Mary Louise and Nora are referred to Thelma & Louise by Damon in passing.


Stefan (to Damon): "I'm sorry? Do I know you?"
Alaric: "That is not Stefan. We don't know who that is."
Stefan: "I don't plan on giving up this body."
Damon: "Fair warning. That hair requires a tremendous amount of maintenance."

Stefan (to Damon): "I'm sorry? Do I know you?"
Alaric: "That is not Stefan. We don't know who that is."
Valerie: "Keep him close. We're going to need his body."
Damon: "I don't want to spend the rest of my life babysitting a cheap knock off of my brother!"
Damon: "Time to go."
Stefan: "Not a minute too soon. This place is dead."
Stefan: "I don't plan on giving up this body."
Damon: "Fair warning. That hair requires a tremendous amount of maintenance."

Valerie: "They didn't know."
Damon: "Didn't know what?"
Valerie: "That Rayna had stabbed Stefan. That his spirit was trapped in the Phoenix Stone."

Matt: "Look, I know you're gonna find this hard to believe, but I made sure that Caroline was safe."
Alaric: "Safe? Rayna shot a stake through her ribcage! Matt. Listen to me. We were out. Three years. Three years! No stabbings. No hostage swaps. No supernatural threat breathing down our neck okay? We are getting married in a month. We have got kids that we need to take care of."
Matt: "Look, Caroline was bait to draw Stefan out. That's all."
Alaric: "What the hell happened to you man?"

Stefan: "My name is Stefan Salvatore."
Paramedic: "Do you know where you are Stefan?"
Stefan: "Yes. I'm in hell."
Valerie: "They didn't know."
Damon: "Didn't know what?"
Valerie: "That Rayna had stabbed Stefan. That his spirit was trapped in the Phoenix Stone."
Damon: "The hell happened to you?"
Stefan: "I'm...not sure."
Stefan (to Damon): "I'm sorry? Do I know you?"



Last.fm_play.png "Verses" – Ólafur Arnalds & Alice Sara Ott
Last.fm_play.png "Rockabilly Girls" – The Kingmakers
Last.fm_play.png "Reminiscence" – Ólafur Arnalds & Alice Sara Ott
Last.fm_play.png "Heal" – Tom Odell
Last.fm_play.png "They Don't Know" – Disciples




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