Sybil forces Bonnie to choose between Damon and Enzo, leading Damon to make a bold move
Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW
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…

Okay, I’m going to say it: I loved this episode. From the way they tied it into season 1 with the theme of the title to every moment that it reminded me of “The Reckoning” — one of my favorite episodes ever — this felt like an old episode of TVD. The way they kept it about personal relationships, built tension, and ended on a big twist? Yeah, that’s what made us fall in love with the show in the first place. So, let’s start with the title.

You Decided That I Was Worth Saving: No diehard fan is going to forget the moment Damon first kissed the woman he thought was Elena in the season 1 finale. Of course, it turned out he was kissing Katherine, but for all Damon knew, he was finally saying thank you to Elena for, somewhere along the way, deciding that Stefan’s homicidal brother was “worth saving.”

And now, seven seasons later, Damon’s still grappling with that very sentiment. Is he worth saving? Stefan says yes. Bonnie, quite honestly, isn’t sure at the moment. And then there’s Damon, who we watch make his decision in the episode’s final moments when he considers letting Tyler Lockwood live … only to turn around and bite him. Is this Damon’s way of proving he’s not worth saving? Can Damon come back from this if he’s killed Tyler? Did Damon just give up on himself?

There’s so much going on in that one scene, and furthermore in this episode, and I love the fact that the show has continued to use this theme all these years later. But for now, let’s catch up on the episode.

We start with an opening scene that will make you feel all the feels as we see just how Sybil’s mind games have changed things in Damon’s world. By replacing his memory of Elena, she changes the way he remembers the Wickery Bridge accident. As we see in the flashback, there are now three victims: Stefan wasn’t there to save Elena, so she died. And if that didn’t get you, Liz Forbes makes a reappearance to pronounce them dead. Crying yet?

As Damon tells Sybil, he “never met” Elena Gilbert. And now she tells him he never will.

Back in present day, Sybil is trying and failing to convince Enzo to flip his humanity switch as a very bored Damon makes his way through Fifty Shades Darker. (I wonder how he felt about the ending of the first book.)

After Sybil gives a little background on herself — she’s taken control of 50,000 men over the years — we learn that her quite literal Plan B can be described in one word: Bonnie.

Speaking of our favorite former witch, she’s currently in Stefan’s bed … with Caroline. Bonnie wakes the newly engaged Caroline up with balloons and champagne so that the two of them can start planning THE June wedding, otherwise known as the wedding Caroline mentioned in the pilot and the hashtag that Steroline shippers adore.

With Caroline’s wedding book in hand — no surprise that she’s been planning this since she was 10 — the girls head out to look at wedding dresses while Stefan updates Ric on the engagement. Ric claims he’s fine with it, but it turns out Ric isn’t the problem in this scenario. Rather, it’s Damon, who shows up at the wedding dress store and tries to kidnap Bonnie. Thankfully, this bride-to-be and her future maid of honor know how to take down a vampire, and they’re able to knock Damon out with enough time to run.

By the time Enzo and Sybil show up to help Damon out, Sybil has one question: Why does Damon also care about Bonnie? Just like that, she enters Damon’s mind for a trip through the Bamon relationship, from the days when Bonnie hated him and even set him on fire to the moment they “died” together and everything changed. Just like that, she replaces Bonnie’s memory with one of herself. Once again, Damon’s memories are altered.

Back at the Salvatore house, Caroline is trying to find weapons, which is proving difficult seeing as how Stefan’s been child-proofing the literal death trap he lives in. Proof it’s always going to be a death trap? The fact that Sybil just walked right through the front door. (Also, there’s a dungeon in the basement.)

It seems Sybil is having trouble wrapping her mind around the fact that Bonnie could mean so much to two men, not to mention she hasn’t even slept with one of them. Yes, Sybil. Damon’s hot. No, Bonnie didn’t sleep with him.

NEXT: Damon vs. Enzo, to the death

While Sybil talks it out with Caroline and Bonnie, Stefan gets a call from Damon to meet him at the high school. As Damon puts it, he needs whatever desire Stefan has left to save him. Sounds sweet, right? Well, it’s really not. After Damon shows Stefan that he has Enzo in his trunk, we get an explanation from Sybil as to what’s going on.

Considering Bonnie is “fiercely loyal” to those whom she loves, Sybil has decided to make her choose: Either Damon lives or Enzo does. Which man will she sentence to an eternity of darkness and pain? Naturally, Bonnie refuses to play along, but much like another villain we know, Sybil is very old and very set in her ways. So when the clock strikes 3 p.m., Damon and Enzo are going to fight to the death … unless Bonnie chooses. So yeah, Damon brought Stefan along as back-up, not to save him emotionally but rather to help him kill Enzo.

On the way to the fight, Sybil informs Caroline — who’s secretly texting Stefan — that when Damon and Enzo die, they will go to the “other place,” which is not the Other Side but is filled with loneliness and despair. After all, what kind of afterlife did you think was awaiting homicidal monsters?

Once Bonnie’s heard enough, she throws seatbelt-hating Sybil through the windshield and floors it to the fight, which has already begun. And if this isn’t giving you flashbacks to “The Reckoning,” literally nothing will. There’s the countdown to the fight, and the discussion of Damon’s ability to fight back. Although, as we learned in season 4, if Damon has trouble fighting the compulsion to kill Jeremy, how do you think he’s going to do here?

Stefan intervenes every moment he can, but when even he is about to cross the line and stake Enzo, Caroline shows up. The bad news? Enzo and Damon then snap Stefan and Caroline’s necks, leaving Bonnie to try to convince Damon to take his hand off Enzo’s heart. But when Sybil informs her it won’t work, Bonnie realizes she has to choose. And she chooses Enzo.

However, Sybil’s a bigger fan of Damon, so unless Enzo flips his switch, both he and Bonnie are going to die. Just like that, Enzo tells Bonnie to bring him back before kissing her one last time and, well, turning it off. Again, “The Reckoning” anyone?!

And this is where there’s more bad news: Now that Enzo has flipped his switch, he no longer cares if Sybil forces Damon to kill Bonnie, and let’s just say that Bonnie’s not nearly fast enough to out-run her fate.

Damon catches up with her outside, where Ric saves the day by hitting Damon with his car and using the tuning fork Georgie found in the last episode to slow Sybil down. Team Good Guys shows up in full force, with Caroline knocking Sybil out and Stefan snapping Enzo’s neck (and yes, Georgie witnessing everything).

But Damon’s not sticking around to find out what happens next. According to him, his work with Sybil is just getting started. She still needs him for “applesauce penguin” — he literally can’t form the words — so he drives off and heads to one of his safe places: making pancakes for Bonnie Sybil in the witchy prison world. As Sybil tells him, he still has too many “attachments” that they need to get rid of.

As for real world Sybil, she’s relocated to the Armory, where Bonnie asks Stefan if he was going to choose to save Damon, despite the fact that all Damon’s done is give up. Stefan admits he was going to let Enzo die, which again brings up the question: Is Damon worth saving? For now, Caroline is going to stay at Bonnie’s, which leaves Stefan to journal at the Mystic Grill.

It doesn’t take long for drinking buddy extraordinaire Ric to show up, but is it just me or is something off? The way Ric was looking out of his eyes, half of me is convinced Sybil got to him as well. Maybe I’m taking all these season 3 comparisons way too seriously, but I do love an evil Ric.

One thing is for certain though: Evil Damon is in full effect. When Tyler — Tyler! — finds Damon in the middle of the road, he tries to convince him that killing him would be his final move. Killing Tyler is one thing no one would forgive. So either Damon fully gives up on himself or he fights to get his life back. “Think about who you want,” Tyler says, pulling the Elena card. Only, Damon doesn’t want any of it anymore.

So Tyler tries a different tactic: Egging Damon on, telling him to do it. “Let me go out as the face that you can never erase from your brain,” Tyler says, giving us one final “bitch” before Damon walks away.

But then … Damon turns around. And he bites Tyler. Does he kill Tyler? That’s TBD. But either Damon just had his Wickery Bridge wake-up moment – I’m not going to stop with the season 3 references — or he’s officially given up. Either way, IS TYLER DEAD?!

Altogether, I’m a big fan of this episode, from the way it continued key themes on this show to the nostalgic moments to the final three minutes.

Episode Grade: A-

What did you think? Hit the comments with your thoughts or find me on Twitter @samhighfill.

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