‘The Vampire Diaries’ season 8, episode 10 review: Damon’s wonderful life; two fiery deaths

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Friday night’s new episode of “The Vampire Diaries” kicked off with a disaster. Specifically, it was a disaster related to Damon. At the end of this past installment Ian Somerhalder’s character had a flood of emotions in his head. He remembered everything in his past, and the guilt was stunning him into silence and forcing him into his own head.

In an effort to figure it out what happened to him, Bonnie and Caroline — with the help of Sybil, who played along since she needed to get the upper hand on her sister — ventured within his mind a la “The Magic School Bus” in order to get answers. What they found was a world where Vicki and Sheriff Forbes were still alive, and where nobody seemed to know the name of a certain Salvatore in the present. All accounts showed that he was a war hero from the past and that was it.

It’s a wonderful life, Damon – It feels simplistic to just say that this was how Damon envisioned the world as though he’d never been born in it, because Sheriff Forbes’ death had nothing to do with Damon; it was more about a natural illness. Instead, this was the world perhaps as Damon thought it would be … but even that may be simplistic. After all, how do you explain a world in which Caroline’s mother suddenly became a vampire torturer just like her father?

The more we struggled to find answers to what was going on here, the clearer the picture came: This version of the world was meant for Bonnie and Caroline to offer up Damon’s forgiveness. This was the key to waking him back out of the trance, but it was not easy. As a matter of fact, it was not even clear that these two were going to be even capable of being the ones to pull him out of this.

This was an episode all about closure, which is why it was nice to see so many beloved people over time — even Tyler Lockwood, whose brief appearance earlier this season was somewhat maddening. There was a methodology as to who was meant to “forgive” him supposedly, and it boiled down to one name: Stefan.

Stefan’s deal – Outside of the dream world, Seline presented a very interesting proposition to Stefan that would fulfill both of their priorities — bringing as many sacrifices to Cade as possible, while also allowing Selina to be free of Sybil for good. They could use all of the key ingredients with the bell to unleash hellfire on the world, which would kill just about everything in its path.

Stefan didn’t get to spend too much time seeing this through, given that he was called away to try and deal with Damon and his problem. Well, here’s the problem: Damon actually didn’t want Stefan to forgive him. It was the other way around. The two had a powerful, emotional standoff within this world, but the funny thing was that even once this was made clear, it still didn’t seem like Damon got what he wanted. Instead, Damon was told about Stefan’s plans to effectively blow up Mystic Falls once and for all, and this was what he needed to snap out of it and stake his brother before he could do anything else. Was this awesome? Sure, but at the same time, it doesn’t quite lineup with the rules.

Here’s the good news – Damon arrived at the last minute to keep Matt from ringing the bell, which would’ve been enough to blow up the town. This also kept Matt’s father from having to do the deed himself, which was heartbreaking. At least Damon’s back on the road to redemption.

As for Stefan, he’s still got that humanity switch off, and the only reprieve from it seems to be the fact that he’s locked up somewhere. After everything that he went through, Damon finally made the decision to stay put in fight. He contemplated leaving for good, but this is the new Damon. He’s free, and it’s funny to say that given that he’s spent the majority of the season to date being evil.

Cliffhanger time – Cade’s back. That’s certainly bad news for everyone, right? It certainly was for Seline and Sybil, who were effectively burned to death in the closing minutes.

Overall – The worst part of the episode was seeing Bonnie and Caroline not even remotely pretending that they were from outside the dream world. Couldn’t they have tried something else to get through to these characters? Given that they did in the end find some answers, maybe it’s not as misguided as it seemed.

This is an episode where there was one key issue that was fairly hard to reconcile: The logic behind this dreamworld, where it was just about all over the place. At least the emotional core of the hour was good enough to make up for it. Grade: B.

Next week – Bonnie and Enzo are going to take a little trip. Meanwhile, be prepared to see Cade return from his world, which really isn’t good news for anyone. You can read up about this further just by heading over to the link here. (Photo: The CW.)

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