Vampire Academy 1×07 “Beyond the Wards” feels like our last taste of happiness for a while – both for Lissa and for Rose. In Lissa’s case, the thing standing before her, the next challenge, is internal. She tried to find an answer for how to control her spirit, and the answer seems to be to deny herself and push Rose away. So that’s what she’s doing. For Rose, the escape from reality she found in Dimitri’s arms is over. A shared hesitation cost them the respite. They both understand what they have, what they feel is not something they can afford to pursue.
Not in the world they live in. Not with the stakes they are facing.
The easy answer, of course, is that the world needs to change. But isn’t that always the case? How can you bet on something that requires external factors to be different, in a way you can’t control? And yet, no matter what Rose and Dimitri want to tell themselves, what Lissa wants to believe, can you really control who you are, and what you feel? Hiding from your feelings, pushing the people you love away …has that ever actually worked? And yet, what else can one do but try?
So let us go into the Romitri, Lissa’s decision, Adrian, the fight for the title of monarch, and oh yes, the alchemists (!!!!) as we review Vampire Academy 1×07 “Beyond the Wards”
YOU FELT IT, RIGHT? WHAT WE COULD BE
Rose was all in with Dimitri, for basically every second of Vampire Academy 1×07 “Beyond the Wards.” And then reality crashed in. Not just in the form of Dimitri’s concerns, either. This time, Rose accepts that they both need to take a step back. She puts all cards on the table, all feelings …and then willingly walks away. Because, in the end, it wasn’t only Dimitri who hesitated, not only Dimitri who put Rose over Lissa, over the way the world works. It was also Rose who, for a second or two, chose him over her best friend.
In a way, this is a normal response. Love is a normal feeling. But Rose and Dimitri are not, have never been in a position to be able to explore that. They have duties, and they must put those duties first. And though Rose might not believe in the world, or in the rules …she does believe in Lissa. She does love Lissa. And though having to choose between her and Dimitri breaks her heart, for Rose there’s only one choice.
To be fair, this is the choice she was conditioned to make. Rose isn’t making it of her own free will – and she is being forced into it by a society that refuses to give Lissa the means to protect herself. Rose shouldn’t be Lissa’s keeper, but in many ways, she is. And that prevents her not just from choosing Dimitri, but in many ways, from choosing herself.
In Vampire Academy 1×07 “Beyond the Wards,” however, we get a glimpse of who Rose could be without her duty. A good friend, yes. A protective one, even. But also someone who trusts her best friend to have her own life, her own adventures. And someone who chooses to go after what she wants, what makes her whole. The answer to that, right now, is Dimitri, yes, but Dimitri isn’t the only thing Rose is giving up right now. If anything, he’s just the tip of the iceberg. He’s a personification of the freedom Rose has never been afforded.
But he’s also, very simply, the love of Rose’s life. They haven’t known each other for long, and they might not have much in the way of a romantic future together (or so they think), but nothing can change the way they feel when they look into each other’s eyes. Nothing can change the way they know each other, understand each other, and more importantly, balance each other out. Rose and Lissa are this show’s central relationship right now, and you can have the most important relationship in your life, particularly at this age, be the one with your best friend.
Your life, however, cannot always be about putting someone else first – no matter how much you care for them. And when Rose is finally free to choose herself, that choice will bring her to Dimitri. He’s the only thing in Rose’s life that isn’t about following rules or existing within the confines of the world you were born into, but about …what she wants. What she needs. What she loves. And that, no matter how much you try, isn’t something you can ignore.
EVERY SECOND OF IT. BUT NEVER AGAIN
It’s kinda cute to see Dimitri say the words never again as if he wouldn’t jump in front of a train for Rose tomorrow if she so needed it – hell, if she wanted it. Choosing not to act on your feelings doesn’t mean the feelings disappear. And though it is understandable that both Rose and Dimitri are trying to do damage control, as an audience, we understand it’s way too late for that. You can’t bury love, or pretend it isn’t there.
For Dimitri, though, this all comes down to control. He isn’t even trying to control his feelings, but his reactions. Ironically (if you know, you know) losing control has always been Dimitri’s greatest fear. He did once, and he’s lived his life trying to never become that endless rage monster again. That’s why he always liked rules. Having a framework makes it easier to live without letting your feelings guide you.
But that was before Rose. For Rose, Dimitri wants freedom. For her, he wants to feel first, and think second. He wants to hold her hand and kiss her in a crowded club. For her, he wants to live, not just exist. And in many ways, this is about their relationship, but it also truly isn’t. What Rose awakens in Dimitri is this desire to have a life that is about himself, what he wants, and what he needs. It just so happens that the answer to all those questions is Rose. She is what makes him happy.
Happiness, however, isn’t the goal for dhampirs. In fact, it isn’t even a secondary possibility. Their life is all about servitude, and though Dimitri knows that’s wrong, if he gives that up, if he pushes for what he wants, then he might get happiness, but he might also find himself lost again, and then what would he do? Not to mention that he isn’t the only one making this decision. Rose is right there with him, even if her reasoning isn’t exactly the same. So what Dimitri wants doesn’t matter. All that matters is what Dimitri needs to do.
He’s always been very good at that, and he will continue to be. At least until the next time he’s faced with the choice of saving absolutely anyone or Rose. Then we’ll see how well the lies he tells himself hold up against the cold reality of love.
YOU DESERVE BETTER
A part of me respects Lissa. She’s been raised to think of herself above Rose, and she is one of the few people in this society who has looked at a dhampir not just as an asset, but as someone they truly love. Rose and Lissa’s relationship might seem one-sided in some ways, but this episode is Lissa’s turn to prove that not only does she really care, but she is also willing to do anything for Rose.
Literally anything. Including, you know, bringing her back to life.
But their bond doesn’t come from Lissa’s “decision,” even if her choice on that fateful night has changed everything. Rose and Lissa are friends first, and friendship means …not making decisions for others. Even when you think you’re protecting them. Even when you’re 100% sure you are in the right.
Caring for someone else is about trusting them, with you, and with themselves. And though the relationship Rose and Lissa have has always been very co-dependent, to this point it’s mostly been Lissa trusting Rose. To protect her. To save her. In some ways, Lissa probably feels she’s owed the same now. Rose’s trust. What she’s doing, she’s doing for Rose. And Lissa just wants Rose to trust her. Except, how could Rose be happy to see one of the people she loves most in the world self-destruct, particularly when there’s something she can do about it?
Self-destructing for the sake of sparing others has never been the way. It has, however, been what Rose, and now Lissa are willing to do. And though that can be seen as a sign of love, it’s not a sign of healthy love and it is not the type of relationship either of them deserves. Whatever the answer is – for both of them – they can find it together. They just have to remember that trust has been at the center of their relationship from the beginning.
ALCHEMISTS, MONARCHS AND ADRIAN
The alchemists (!!!) don’t interact with Adrian at all, but it’s still a big nod to book fans that we get to see alchemists on an episode we get Adrian. Of course, what the alchemists are, what they do, and how important they will end up being to not just the Vampire Academy lore as a whole, but to Adrian personally, is a story for another day – another season, which the show will hopefully get – but for an episode where Adrian does absolutely nothing other than try to ooze charisma and be borderline annoying at times, it’s a good storytelling decision.
If anything, Adrian works better in this episode because the layers are peeled back a little and we can see that underneath all the bravado and all the booze, there’s an actual soul. He is, of course, hiding it. At this point in the story, that’s his only coping mechanism. Adrian Ishkov is an annoying bastard, and a pain in the ass of every character we love at one point or another, but he’s not a bad guy. He’s just a soul who is very far from finding the thing, the people, that will help make him whole.
Not that he will stop trying and trying and trying. That is, after all, the Adrian way.
On the flip side, we have the battle for monarch, which is not just the biggest departure from the book, but it feels like the storyline with the biggest stakes – partly because we don’t know where it’s going. There’s, obviously, only one good answer. But considering Sonya, Victor’s health and the secrets that are being kept all around …can this society ever get close to the kind of monarch that cares for all its people?
Probably, but not yet. We still have to go on the journey. How inconvenient.
Agree? Disagree? What did you think of Vampire Academy 1×07 “Beyond the Wards”? Share with us in the comments below!
New episodes of Vampire Academy are available to stream Thursdays on Peacock.