Stefan, Bonnie, and Caroline follow Damon and Enzo to North Carolina and see a familiar face
Credit: Erika Doss/The CW
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Tonight’s episode title refers to the first words we hear Elena say in the “Pilot.” She’s writing in her diary, promising herself that today will indeed be different and that she won’t just be the girl whose parents were killed. She’s hopeful; although it’s clear she’s not entirely confident in those words. In the end, she was right; that day ended up being different because she met her first epic love, Stefan.

The hopefulness of that quote is easily found in tonight’s episode. “Hello, Brother,” the season 8 premiere, ended with Bonnie convincing Stefan not to lose hope that they would save Damon and Enzo. So, when we pick back up tonight, the hero team is still hopeful their fight won’t be in vain.

In fact, Stefan, Caroline, and Bonnie are feeling hopeful in tonight’s episode not only because Enzo’s clues helped them figure out what they were dealing with, but also because they manage to find a new lead. Two women in North Carolina named Sarah Nelson were found dead with puncture marks in their necks. Caroline and Bonnie don’t know what it means, but Stefan does: Damon and Enzo are going after Sarah Salvatore, Stefan and Damon’s last living relative.

The Siren sent her two soldiers to kill Sarah after she got a peak inside Enzo’s mind. At the beginning of the episode, she was complaining about how she hasn’t been able to read his thoughts since they met and decides she had enough strength now to force her way in. Enzo, being the smart cookie that he is, protects Bonnie by thinking about Sarah as a distraction. Believing Sarah is the one thing that’s helping Enzo resist her, she tells them to find her and kill her. Little does the Siren know, Damon isn’t completely hers either and has been taking lovely trips to his mind palace where he’s thinking about the first time he met Elena.

So, Enzo and Damon make their way to North Carolina. While they sit on Sarah’s college campus, Damon explains to Enzo that the Siren gave him a preview of eternal damnation when she got into his head the first time and that’s why he’s given up. He knows he’s going to hell. Eventually, they find Sarah, but she knows what they are and quickly vervains Damon before he has a chance to kill her, which allows Enzo to breathe a sigh of relief. Enzo and Sarah rush back to her apartment so she can pack her things and leave before Damon wakes up, but there’s a surprise for them when they open the apartment door: Stefan, Caroline, and Bonnie are already there.

While Sarah yells at Stefan for using lies and compulsion to control her life, Caroline calls Alaric and her kids, and Bonnie and Enzo have a tense reunion in the kitchen. Enzo tells Bonnie he doesn’t know what the Siren wants and begs her to leave now because he doesn’t want the Siren to find out about her. But, Bonnie refuses. (Can I say how much I love badass and stubborn Bonnie?) After they have their little chat, Enzo and Bonnie head downstairs to get the car ready for Sarah. However, while they’re in the garage, Bonnie vervains Enzo, throws him into the back of the car and drives off. Um, I don’t think this was part of their plan.

Unfortunately, Bonnie doesn’t get too far with Enzo. The moment he wakes up, he’s hit with a headache and his nose starts bleeding because he’s getting too far from the Siren. He orders Bonnie to stop the car so he can return to the Siren, so she does, but not without pleading with him again to just come with her. While I’m not invested in Bonnie and Enzo as a couple, I am invested in Bonnie fighting for what she wants and standing up for herself. She has lost so much over these past few seasons, so her fighting to get Enzo back feels very believable and is rather moving.

NEXT: Stefan meets The Siren

Meanwhile, Damon wakes up, rushes to Sarah’s apartment building and subdues Caroline, who was in the hallway on the phone, by stabbing her in the back, destroying her phone and removing her daylight ring so she’s forced to cower in a corner away from the sun. Clearly, Damon’s humanity isn’t completely shut off because he doesn’t kill her. Then, Damon bursts into Sarah’s apartment and puts her in choke hold, keeping her there while Stefan explains who she is. (I completely forgot Damon didn’t know she existed).

“Sarah is not on your list of sins,” says Stefan, pleading with Damon not to kill her. “Do it for our family. Do it for Elena. Do it for me.” And, that’s all it takes for Damon to let Sarah go. Sarah makes a beeline for the door, and when she opens up, she comes face to face with the Siren, who stabs her. Stefan rushes and snaps the Siren’s neck, but that does nothing. The Siren quickly recovers and compels Stefan to stand still by simply whispering in his ear.

The Siren deduces that Damon is still holding onto a tiny bit of humanity and forces her way into his mind, where she discovers the memory he’s been revisiting. Once inside his mind, the Siren dives deep into his memories of Elena and decides the only way to get his full cooperation is by rewriting all of his memories, replacing Elena with herself. (This is where we find out her name is Sybil.) This entire heartbreaking sequence reminds me of when Elena asked Alaric to wipe Damon from her memory when she thought he’d died. But, in this moment, Sybil has won and the look on Stefan’s face when he realizes it is even more heartbreaking. “Fight,” says Stefan. “Why?” Damon responds apathetically before leaving with Sybil.

Eventually, Bonnie returns and gives Caroline her daylight ring back, freeing her from the corner. Obviously, Caroline is angry that Bonnie went off script and wasn’t there to help them, but Bonnie doesn’t feel the need to apologize. She had a plan to grow old with Enzo and was fighting to get that life back. Seeing how happy Stefan and Caroline are made her want that even more. ‘It makes me feel so alone that I want to die,” says Bonnie. Caroline realizes she’s been so focused on her new relationship with Stefan that she hasn’t been there for Bonnie. She reassures Bonnie she’s not alone and they will get Enzo back.

Enzo eventually makes his way back to the Siren’s lavish residence and finds Damon and Sybil feeding on another victim. Sybil orders Damon to plunge his hand into Enzo’s chest in order to weaken him so she can gain access to his mind. While inside, she finds out about Bonnie, which can’t be good. If you had any doubt that Sybil would be a scary Big Bad, this episode went a long way in squashing that. She’s already turning out to be as formidable as Kai and maybe even The Originals. The emotional pain she inflicts on Damon and Enzo and Stefan was very upsetting.

While all of this intense and emotional drama is going on, Alaric is back at the Armory looking through the little cave with intern Georgie, who won’t stop hitting on her teacher. Eventually, Alaric comes across a journal that points them toward finding some object that was made before 1700 and arrived when the Siren was delivered to the Armory. During their search, they come across a symbol, which upsets Georgie. See, Georgie flatlined after a drunk driving accident and while she was dead, she went to what she claims was hell. While she was there, she saw that symbol. Eventually, the paramedics were able to revive her, and since then she’s been researching lore to figure out what she experienced.

So, that’s two mentions of hell in this episode. Remember, Damon said the Siren also showed him a vision of eternal damnation and now we have this story from Georgie, too. I don’t know what it means, but hopefully it’s that the show is actually going to introduce the devil this season, because that would be awesome and is, like, guaranteed to be fun. Anyway, after Alaric returns home, Georgie finds the object they were looking for and discovers it has the same symbol she saw while in hell. Honestly, I haven’t been this excited about Vampire Diaries mythology in quite some time.

However, all of this hell talk doesn’t lead the episode to end on a sour note. When Stefan and Caroline return home, Stefan shows Caroline the room he built for her children in case they ever want to stay over. He also bought them an antique dresser. Caroline starts opening drawers and discovers a ring. “Caroline Elizabeth Forbes, will you do me the honor of wearing this engagement ring?” he asks, before following up with, “I want you to marry me.” She says yes, and I feel nothing because Klaroline forever (and because these two have only been together for like six months).

Episode Grade: B+

Episode Recaps

Best Starting Point: ''Growing Pains'' (401) — A lot changed in last season's lead-up. It's probably best not to miss this season opener, which shows…
The Vampire Diaries

Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley star in the CW’s romance-infused vampire soap opera.

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