Through three episodes of “The Vampire Diaries” season 8, we’ll say that the story is off to a great start when it comes to providing us with something with weight, stakes, and above all series danger. There’s also certainly a large degree of nostalgia, but the question you have to ask coming out of Friday night’s episode is rather simple: Did we squander one of our greatest opportunities?
When we first heard that Michael Trevino was going to be returning as Tyler Lockwood for the final season, the easy reaction to that was excitement. Why wouldn’t it be? It was a chance to see an iconic and beloved character back, especially since they’re someone who has only been seen sporadically since the end of season 6. Unfortunately, this return, may be limited to watching him be sucked dry by Damon Salvatore, who found him on the road at the tail end of the episode.
This was a Damon different than any iteration he had met, one who was firmly under the control of the siren Sybil even in spite of all that transpired earlier in the episode. Sybil used her control over him paint Bonnie in an impossible situation, one where she would have to choose to save either Damon or Enzo, or allow the two to fight to the death. Also terrible: She interrupted Bonnie and Caroline to make this choice right when they were in the middle of shopping for wedding dresses. The wait ’til that June wedding’s going to have to continue for a while.
By the time Bonnie and Caroline made it to the venue of Damon / Enzo’s “Fight Club” reenactment (and after they sent Sybil careening through the windshield — proof that people really should buckle up), the vampire boys were already brawling. Enzo still was holding on to some essence of his humanity, whereas Damon had put his own sense of self on radio silence, likely do to his sentiment that there was nothing else for him to live for and he didn’t understand why he would need to even bother. He’d lost Elena, and to make matters worse, Sybil replaced most of those memories. She then also wiped most of Bonnie from his mind to eliminate any attachment there, which is why Damon then tried to kill her as a part of Sybil’s trick when Bonnie said she chose Enzo to live — otherwise known as the guy she had virtually no use for until Enzo realized that the only way to save his girlfriend would be to surrender the remainder of his own humanity.
Now, neither Damon or Enzo is salvageable without a lot of work, and now, obviously people like Tyler are in serious jeopardy if they come across the two of them. You’ve got Alaric engaging in random acts of heroism, and he at least realized that there was a way to limit Sybil’s influence in the moment through a device that we like to refer to as the Magic Chime. She was thwarted temporarily, but we have a feeling that she is far from done.
As far as Big Bads go, Sybil may be the best since Klaus given that her powers are clearly defined, she poses a major threat, and she is roping in many major characters to her schemes. Her biggest weakness is something that Caroline personally pointed out during the episode: Why bother with all of this nonsense? There’s utterly no reason for her to be there when she could be off chilling on an island somewhere after being trapped for hundreds of years. She’s an interesting character, but her motives still don’t make enough sense.
The only other main criticism we can offer up is that so many solutions to problems with this show are a matter of convenience. For example, of course Stefan and Alaric would show up at just the optimal time to spare Bonnie from a gruesome fate, or of course Damon would run into Tyler at a particularly dangerous moment. This is a show that relies too often on timing, but because it’s so crazy and stuffed full of twists, we often don’t mind.
Above all else, “The Vampire Diaries” is crazy fun, and this episode further cemented that we’re on the right trajectory when it comes to an action-packed episode that contained the right mixture of violence and character-anxiety across every turn. Grade: B+.
Next week – Want to see more of what’s ahead? Then be sure to head over here to see a promo! (Photo: The CW.)