Previously on The Vampire Diaries, “Hello, Brother”
“Today will be different” are Elena’s first words in the series premiere. She’s writing in her journal, convincing herself that she’ll no longer just be the girl whose parents died. She’s hopeful, and there’s a similar feeling running throughout this week’s episode. Of course, as is to be expected this early on in a season of TVD, a lot of that hope is pretty much crushed at every turn.
A string of murders in North Carolina, with every victim having some variation of the name Sarah Nelson, sparks newfound optimism for Bonnie, Caroline, and Stefan. Sure, death is a morbid way to spark such a feeling, but Stefan realizes that it’s another clue from Enzo: he’s leading them to Sarah Salvatore. Though it seemed pretty clear there was little hope of saving Enzo and Damon during their last encounter, Stefan must at least try to spare Sarah. Stefan comes close to not only saving his last human relative, but also to giving Damon hope that he can fight Sybil. Unfortunately, it’s all lost when the Siren intervenes, stopping Stefan from healing Sarah and taking away the one thing Damon could still cling to: his memories of Elena. By the end of the episode, Stefan is left convinced that he is the only Salvatore not lost forever.
Bonnie comes even closer to saving Enzo. She nearly gets away with essentially taking him hostage, until she realizes the more distance she puts between him and Sybil, the more physical pain Enzo will have to endure. Before convincing her she has to let him go, Enzo gives in to his love for Bonnie and she catches a glimpse of his true feelings. Here’s hoping this keeps her will to fight alive; let’s face it, she’s had to deal with a lot worse over the past 7 years.
Bonnie and Enzo. This couple is everything. I continue to be amazed with how quickly and effectively TVD was able to make these two into not just a believable couple, but also the best, most enjoyable pairing this show has ever presented. I never would have guessed these two would have so much chemistry – even surpassing what we saw between Bonnie and Damon. But it’s so palpable, and it’s truly what’s keeping the current plot exciting and worthwhile. The scene where Enzo can’t help but kiss her despite trying so hard to keep her at a distance was heartbreaking. Unfortunately, it looks as though this break in his willpower may lead to danger for Bonnie, but this small bit of confirmation of just how much Enzo loves her may have been what she needed to keep fighting.
Caroline admitting she’s been a shitty friend to Bonnie. Well, duh, that’s been an ongoing theme for a while now. On the one hand, I hated the fact that Caroline could be so angry with Bonnie for putting a wrench in their plan to save Sarah. That’s mostly because Sarah is a difficult character to care about. While it’s understandable to see why Stefan had such an investment in her safety, that investment was just never properly translated in a way that would make the audience feel the same for her. However, Caroline’s outburst did lead to a good scene between the two women. It provoked Bonnie to open up about just how much of a toll losing Enzo is taking on her, and it forced Caroline to reflect on how oblivious she’s become to her supposed best friend’s pain.
The dialogue. Where, oh where, has the classic TVD banter gone? Damon having his humanity off usually leads to plenty of great one-liners and, with the exception of those heretics, the villains are typically given some of the most fun lines to work with. While there were a few moments last week between Enzo and Damon that resembled the great stuff of seasons past, there’s been a serious lack of snappy wit that used to go hand-in-hand with this show. As I mentioned last week, perhaps this is being done purposefully to set a darker tone, but it’s now walking a fine line between dark and just plain dull. And how about Seline asking Ric, “you don’t date much?” Come on now. This woman surely knows at least a little about Caroline and Ric’s situation, and it’s only been a few months since they parted ways. So, no, he probably hasn’t dated much. What a stupid question, from an otherwise seemingly reasonable character.
Stefan and Caroline getting engaged. Honestly, who cares? It feels like forever since these two were interesting. There was a time when their bond was evolving from friendship to something more romantic and it all felt organic and super engaging. Much of that was ruined though, by spending too much time on the will-they-won’t-they phase. Then, whatever emotional impact managed to be salvaged from that, was squandered last season when TVD tore them apart in the hopes of making their inevitable reunion feel epic. Which, it didn’t. Now, after all of that, it seems the obvious outcome is for Caroline and Stefan to be together, but their relationship just feels hollow and boring. So, congrats or whatever, I guess.
Sybil. She’s certainly not awful, but she doesn’t fall under the Good category either. Last week, when she was merely a presence, when we weren’t aware of who exactly the master pulling Damon and Enzo’s puppet strings was, she felt a lot more sinister and threatening. Now that she’s been revealed, she feels like a Katherine 2.0, but with much less appeal because she lacks any emotional connection to our main characters.
She’s using Enzo and Damon as a means to an end, and using others to get what she wanted was always Katherine’s M.O. Plus, Sybil’s mind control feels all too similar to a vampire’s ability to compel. It’s clear we don’t know everything about her overall objective, but if Enzo and Damon’s full cooperation is necessary, why not just obliterate everyone they love so they truly have nothing else to live for? I know we wouldn’t have much of a show at that point, but I do feel like Sybil needs to up the ante, especially considering this is the final season of the show. The one thing she’s done so far, that was actually impressive, was infiltrating Damon’s precious memory of meeting Elena and replacing it with a memory of meeting her instead. I mean, come on, that’s pretty funny. It is a little confusing however, to go along with the idea that this was the first Sybil had heard of Elena. Didn’t she impersonate Elena’s voice in the finale to lure Damon into the vault? His mind must have been wide open at that point, making it simple enough for Sybil to access his innermost thoughts. The logic here feels a little shaky.
Alaric’s Armory intern, Georgie. While it was strange for her to be so skeptical about a supernatural presence in the vault, only to find out she’s had something akin to an otherworldly experience, her story about her time in “hell” was fairly intriguing. It remains to be seen if her connection to the symbol on the artifact she finds, and the larger implications of what that connection suggests, will hold any real weight, but for now it’s just compelling enough to keep me along for the ride. What puts this in the Meh category is the decision to focus on Georgie and completely shelve Dorian, the other intern from the premiere. It is still possible Dorian will return and become a more vital secondary character, but it’s hard to stay positive when it comes to the treatment of characters of color on TVD. They have a long history of sidelining their non-white characters, with Bonnie being the obvious and most egregious example. There have been others, but another glaring example is last season’s Beau, the only heretic who had no dialogue. It would be nice to see a change of pace in this regard for the final season, although it could also be too little too late.
The Vampire Diaries S8E2 = 7.3/10