‘The Vampire Diaries’ season 7, episode 10 review: Damon Salvatore’s Groundhog Day

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We’re not sure what the writers of “The Vampire Diaries” got as inspiration for Friday night’s winter premiere, but we hope they go to it more often. “Hell is Other People” has to be one of our favorite winter premieres in some times; not only that, but it may be one of our favorite performances from Ian Somerhalder to date.

Here’s the basic premise: Damon found himself stuck in one of the worst times of his life, forced to relive a day when he murdered many in hopes of “getting to see his brother” during the war. His violence was appalling, and it has fluttered around in his subconscious for the majority of his life. The Phoenix Stone brought it all out, and for most of the episode, he refused to acknowledge anything but what he felt in his brain was right. He ignored the true feelings in his heart, at least until eventually he learned the truth courtesy of his brother Stefan in the dream world: Maybe he was really trying to see his mother again.

In finally starting to realize what it was that he truly needed from this world, Damon started to work his way back into the present. He tackled his mommy issues in one of the most painful ways possible, and maybe in the process he found a little bit of redemption. Elena wouldn’t want him to live a life full of hate while she is away, and this is something that he had to come to terms with.

We have to say that by the time Damon finally said “I’m so sorry” to his mother, it was almost in open-the-tearducts territory. We felt for him greatly in this moment, and not just because this was some cheaply-produced stunt for shock value; it was earned. Maybe the music was a little dramatic, but the moment was poignant and heartfelt. Damon awoke right when he started to dive deep into that moment … but then realized that he wasn’t still stuck in the Phoenix stone world after bleeding out all of his friends. While we probably would’ve loved the episode more had it had an ending that wasn’t a pool full of blood, we’re still giving the show a ton of credit for one of their best episodes in some time. Grade: A-.

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