Stefan and Damon hit the road while Caroline tries to stop Sybil
We Have History Together
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, we made it. From here on out, we are in the final stretch of Vampire Diaries episodes ever. I can’t say that I’m emotionally ready to say goodbye to this series, but at least I’m excited to see how it ends. And it all starts with tonight’s episode…

“We Have History Together”: This episode title is taking it all the way back to the pilot, to the moment when Elena runs into Stefan at the cemetery. When he introduces himself, she simply responds, “I know. We have history together,” which, of course, is a fun play on words considering the Katherine/doppelgänger of it all. But in the moment, she meant it literally. They were in the same history class… and English class and French class. And in the case of tonight’s episode, it’s once again a literal meaning of the phrase, because this week, Sybil takes us back to Ric’s old stomping grounds: the history classroom at Mystic Falls High School.

After Caroline updates Elena (and us) on what’s been going on the past three weeks — Ric’s still in self-imposed witness protection with the girls, and Bonnie and Enzo are in Paris — she heads into the school on a news story assignment somehow involving the build-up to Founder’s Day. Only in reality, Sybil’s the one who got Caroline sent there, and as the new history teacher, she’s ready to teach Ms. Forbes a lesson.

Aside from using her powers to make teenagers love history — which is arguably the best thing she’s ever done — Sybil wants Caroline’s help finding a bell. And you know the gist from here: If Caroline doesn’t find the bell, Sybil will kill her history students. Like Caroline says, we get it. At this point in the show, a threat to innocent lives is basically a typical Tuesday.

As to what bell she wants, that takes us to the Armory where Matt drops off the Seline box with Dorian. Dorian then updates him: It seems that the tuning fork (a.k.a. the Staff of Arcadius) was forged in the fire that killed Cade, and currently, it’s in Paris with Bonnie and Enzo. However, some guy named Harvey was friends with the sirens back in 1790, and they recently found his remains and linked him to a family in Mystic Falls. And as it turns out, much to Matt’s dismay, Harvey’s descendant is Peter Maxwell.

In this circumstance, Peter actually proves to be useful. Back in the day, it seems that the Maxwell family made church bells. And based on the dimensions in an old Maxwell journal — literally everyone journals on this show — that’s the family heirloom they’re looking for.

Taking her students on a field trip to the place where 100 witches were burned at the stake in 1790, Sybil explains that the witches were killed for giving magical help to a local metalsmith to make a church bell. Get it? And according to Sybil, Peter was the last one to hold the bell when he threw it off Wickery Bridge in 1992. Based on Sybil’s many searches, that bell is no longer in the river, so either Caroline brings it to her, or she’s burning her students alive.

Caroline calls Matt, who remembers that when they dredged Elena’s parents’ car out of the river after their accident, they also found the bell. Sheriff Forbes had kept it in storage, but when she died, it was put in a box and taken to Caroline’s garage. As for who has it now? Well, let’s just say that Seline’s time at Caroline’s house was well spent, and Sybil is NOT happy about it.

Thankfully, Matt and Peter are able to free the kids before Sybil can burn them all alive, but if one thing has been burned, it’s the bridge between this father and son. (Like what I did there?)

All Matt has learned today is that his family had an important legacy in Mystic Falls, a legacy that would’ve made him feel more at home when he was young. But thanks to his father, who threw the bell into the river because he claims it was a symbol of how the Founders took over the town and treated the Maxwells like an embarrassment, Matt had to grow up without a father and without a legacy.

NEXT: The return of Ripper Stefan

As for what this means for the sirens, Dorian figured out that the tuning fork and the bell go together to create what’s essentially a mystical super bell. Translation: If the tuning fork can hurt the sirens, multiply that by 1,000, and… could they have found a way to kill them?

It’s possible, but don’t expect Caroline to be the one to do it. When Sybil threatens Caroline with the fact that she could still be psychically linked to her daughters, Caroline decides it’s best not to risk it. Instead, Sybil takes the opportunity to get inside Caroline’s head: How could she be engaged to a ripper if she cares about her daughters’ safety? Caroline claims, “By the time I marry Stefan, he will be the man that I have always loved,” but Sybil isn’t wrong when she says that Stefan has fallen off the wagon multiple times. So, will Caroline risk having a ripper as her kids’ step-father? Well, we’ll figure that out soon enough, because I have to tell you: Things aren’t looking good for Stefan.

On the road, the Salvatores are spending some quality time together by picking Cade’s next victims. The hour starts with them at a support group, and I’ll say this: Starting the episode with Damon saying, “Hi I’m Damon and I have anger issues,” is one of the greatest opening scenes this show’s done. Damon then explains (to a compelled group) Cade’s new orders: The Salvatores are to push people to make evil choices, and only then can they kill them and send their souls to hell. So that’s precisely what they do: They identify the worst of the worst within the group, and Damon kills him… while Stefan kills everyone else. Hey, a guy’s gotta have fun, right? And thanks to Stefan’s new “no dripping blood” policy, he’s able to keep his blood thirst in check, and everyone else gets to keep their heads. It’s a win-win!

From there, the brothers set out to find their next victim when Stefan sets his sights on a young doctor. Damon doesn’t believe that she’s bad, and so Stefan, to win the bet, injects Damon with vervain and introduces Dr. Tara to her next patient.

Apparently, Tara’s parents were killed by a drunk driver, so in order to make things interesting, Stefan compels her to believe that Damon was that driver. As Stefan puts it, “I work for the devil. I don’t have to play fair.” You know, he’s not wrong.

After a few hours of Stefan’s manipulation, Tara finally kicks him out of the room. But just when you think Tara’s too good of a person, she closes the blinds and “kills” Damon. Of course, he’s not actually dead, and by the time he rejoins Tara and Stefan in the parking lot, Stefan has something more pressing to talk to his brother about. Stefan’s discovered the reason why Damon isn’t nearly as fun as he should be: He’s holding onto Elena’s necklace.

Speaking of Elena, that’s why Stefan chose Tara as a victim: Her looks resemble Elena, she’s an orphan, and she has an interest in medicine. Damon thinks Stefan’s overreacting, so to prove that the necklace isn’t causing Damon’s humanity to bubble to the surface, Damon chucks the necklace out the window of his moving car. He then stops the car and kills Tara. Happy, Stefan?

Actually, no. Stefan’s not happy. Instead, he’s hungry. In the episode’s final moments, Damon finds himself on the side of the road in search of the necklace, which he finds, while Stefan returns to the hospital to find his next victim … or should I say victims? By the time Damon shows back up, Stefan’s in full ripper mode.

Altogether, I really enjoyed the opening and closing of this hour, and I have to say, the Stefan-Damon dynamic, along with the Sybil-Caroline dynamic both worked well. I didn’t need as much of the Tara story as I got, and I’m still waiting for this show to make some big bold moves in its final season, but I’m hopeful that they’re coming.

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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