Matt and company say goodbye to Tyler, and hello (again) to the carnival
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…

Well, I hope you all brought some tissues, because the opening of tonight’s episode is devastating as Matt drives Tyler’s body back into town and slowly calls and alerts all his friends that they’ve lost yet another person they love. And that brings us right to the episode title…

“Coming Home Was a Mistake”: Stefan first said these words to Elena in the season 1 episode “History Repeating.” After Elena tells him that she can handle his complicated vampire life, he tells her that he’s decided to leave town. “Too many people have died. Too much has happened,” Stefan says before he decides that “coming home was a mistake.” Too many people have died… and here we are again. So now the question is: Was Matt’s decision to come home in this episode a mistake?

Once everyone learns of Tyler’s death, the mourning begins. I’m not going to lie; Ric saying “he was one of us” really got to me. Plus, as Ric reminds us, Tyler was the last remaining Lockwood, which means that family legacy is now gone.

Across town, Stefan is letting out his anger by shattering glasses. “Tyler deserved more than to be collateral damage in whatever game Sybil’s playing with Damon,” Stefan tells Caroline, who can’t remember the last time she talked to Tyler. Stefan might be at a loss in terms of how to help Damon, but as Caroline reminds him, right now is about mourning Tyler. They all owe him that much.

That being said, Bonnie is going to have to mourn on her own, because she has trapped Enzo in the cabin by using the “flame of imprisonment” — some dark object that works the same way as a spell, essentially. And as the person who lit the flame, she’s the only one who can put it out… but she refuses to do that until Enzo turns his humanity back on, and that’s not exactly a battle he’s ready to lose just yet.

At the armory, Ric gets his intern to set up an intercom system and “test” the tuning fork every hour on the hour to torture Sybil. So, with that in place, it leaves him free to join Caroline, Stefan, and Matt at the cemetery for Tyler’s funeral. Only, Damon’s there. And he’s dug graves for all four of them.

Ensuring that he’s hated, Damon feeds Matt vampire blood and threatens to ruin the poor guy’s human-only existence after all these years. Thankfully, he doesn’t go through with it, but only because he feels the hatred of everyone around him. “Our ties are severed,” he announces, telling them that there is no saving him. And just like that, we all realize why he killed Tyler: It’s his way of cutting off all the ties that Sybil mentioned. It gets them to let him go. So yes, there is a bit of humanity left in Damon. He cares about those he loved. But at the same time, does that justify killing TYLER? No. (Couldn’t he have fake-killed Tyler like that one time Bonnie faked her own death in season 2 to save herself from Alaric-Klaus??)

As far as Stefan’s concerned, there’s only one way to save Damon now: Put him down for as long as necessary. It’s the only way to protect everyone, and they all agree.

Looking for answers, Damon then pays Sybil a visit at the Armory. And it’s in that moment that she realizes something: He felt pain when he killed Tyler, which means that his humanity is trying to come to the surface. As far as she’s concerned, that means Damon isn’t fully hers, so either he turns that dimmer switch back down, or he drowns himself in emotions and tries to find some semblance of happiness before death delivers him to Cade. So, what does Damon decide? More on that in a moment.

NEXT: Tyler’s last message

Just as Matt’s packing up the Lockwood mansion and taking out his frustrations on his father, he gets a special delivery. (Yes, Matt holds a football, and yes, it took me back to season 1 and made me cry.) The package is from the Armory, and it comes with a letter from Tyler himself. In typical Tyler fashion, he’s incredibly elegant. He tells Matt that if he’s reading this, then Tyler must be dead… “which sucks.” Oh, Ty. Never change.

Inside the box are photos of Seline. It seems Tyler had continued Virginia St. John’s mission to find the sirens, and now, it’s in Matt’s hands. Guess you’re sticking around Mystic Falls, Matt!

Speaking of Seline, she takes the girls to the carnival — where a truly terrible attendant gives the girls a DEAD goldfish as a prize?!?! — which is also the place Stefan goes to meet (and put down) Damon. This time around, the “hello, brother” roles are reversed. Stefan gets to be the one delivering the line before the camera cuts to a desperate Damon who simply says, “Stefan, I need your help.”

Damon explains that he wants to stay away from hell, which means serving Sybil. The way Damon sees it, he can’t save himself. He is 100 percent hell-bound, so why would he ever want to feel something again? Stefan does his best to get through to his brother, even dropping the first Salvatore-to-Salvatore “I love you” of the series!! “I am your brother, and I love you,” Stefan tells Damon, “Just come home with me.”

But when Damon won’t budge, Stefan goes to Plan B — or maybe it was Plan A — and tries to shoot him with vervain. Damon catches the bullet, but thankfully, Caroline ignored Stefan’s request to do this alone and shows up and puts three vervain darts in Damon’s back.

While Stefan chains Damon up and leaves him in a coffin in the very place where they once hugged it out, Seline is busy giving Ric’s daughters a lesson in burial. Translation: She’s using them to burn Georgie’s body. And by the time the cops find it, they call Ric’s other intern, which is all to say that when intern No. 2 leaves the Armory, Sybil has the opportunity to break out of her cell, grab the tuning fork, and free Damon, who’s now officially done with feeling and 100 percent hers. Cool.

Quick Bonnie/Enzo update: After Caroline tips Bonnie off to the fact that channeling a person’s greatest fear can help force them to flip their humanity switch, Bonnie decides to burn down the cabin… with her and Enzo still inside. Enzo’s biggest fear is being abandoned, so Bonnie tells him repeatedly before she passes out from smoke inhalation, “I’m not leaving you.”

Don’t worry. Enzo flips his switch in enough time to save Bonnie, and she then risks her life to go back in and extinguish the candle. Together, they make it out alive. As Bonnie tells Enzo, “You’re stuck with me forever, ’cause I’m never leaving.” I’m not going to lie to you all: I love this couple. Their chemistry is great, and their love feels like the perfect level of epic. That’s all.

Bonnie and Enzo then head over the carnival, where Stefan has gathered everyone to honor Tyler. (Did Enzo know Tyler?) They all share nice thoughts — is it weird that I thought Caroline would be more upset? — before Stefan reminds them of something he once told Elena on top of that Ferris wheel: They have to take the time to appreciate the good moments, because moments are all they have. With that in mind, they agree to create some more. Stefan hits the lights and gives them a private carnival to remind them to live.

As Ric journals to Elena — not exactly the best way to enjoy a carnival but whatever — Caroline reminds Stefan of the thing he told her at this carnival all those years ago: The only way to get through this existence it to tell yourself you’re strong enough, every day. She then tells him, “Stefan, you’re strong enough, and if you ever doubt that, I’m gonna be here to remind you.”

That is unless Stefan needs to be reminded right now, because Caroline has to go. As soon as Matt sees a photo of her “nanny,” he recognizes Seline from Tyler’s box. By the time Ric and Caroline make it home, the girls are gone, and all that’s left behind is a drawing by one of the girls featuring Cade, Seline, Lizzie, and Josie. Because nothing’s better than your child imagining the devil as their father, right?!

Altogether, I really enjoyed parts of this hour. The Tyler stuff was appropriately emotional. I love Bonnie and Enzo. But I also felt it was a bit slow at times. So I’m going to give it a…

Episode Grade: B

Episode Recaps

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