It's the final Miss Mystic Falls Pageant.
The Simple Intimacy of the Near Touch
Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW
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Tonight’s very apropos title is spoken by Carol Lockwood as she teaches everyone the Miss Mystic Falls dance in season 1’s “Miss Mystic Falls.” In case you forgot, that’s the episode where Damon and Elena danced and we knew it was real, and where Elena finally allowed herself to realize how attractive Damon was. It was also the first time we saw Stefan relapse into his blood addict ways. Basically, tonight’s episode is drawing on a very important episode from The Vampire Diaries history; whether it’s successful in doing so is up for debate.

The hour opens with Damon hanging out as Ripper Stefan enjoys their new job way too much. That’s when Sybil phones Damon and asks him to bring the metal bell he stole from Matt’s dad back to Mystic Falls. Surprisingly, Stefan is down to return to Mystic Falls because he thinks that’s exactly what Damon needs to get that woman out of Damon’s head.

We know that Sybil’s sister Seline is also looking for the missing pieces of the bell, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Seline sets up a meeting with Caroline and Bonnie, who just returned from Paris rocking a vial of Enzo’s blood around her neck, which is totally not morbid. Seline tells Caroline and Bonnie that she wants to assemble the bell to kill her sister because she’s started to regret what she did to her and unleashed on the world. Thankfully, Caroline and Bonnie are suspicious of her intentions and enlist Matt to find the piece of the bell Seline is hiding because they know from their history that you shouldn’t trust siblings to kill each other — they never follow through.

However, Caroline will have to sit out on the bell hunt because she’s in charge of running this year’s Miss Mystic Falls pageant. Caroline hopes she’ll be able to rush through today’s pageant, but she’s terribly mistaken because Sybil is attending and she invited Damon and Stefan, who is up to no good.

Throughout this episode, it’s clear that Damon is waging a war inside himself to regain control of his mind. Yes, he may have consciously forgotten about Elena, but his subconscious hasn’t and it’s fighting like hell to push to the surface. Sybil learns as much when she shows up wearing a very similar dress to the one Elena wore and tries to force her way into his mind. But, it doesn’t work and Damon’s subconscious pushes her out.

Stefan is very much aware of the fact that Damon’s humanity is creeping back in and he’s determined to stop that from happening because he doesn’t want to stop working for Cade. So, Stefan teams up with Sybil to make Damon remember what “actually” happened at the last Miss Mystic Falls. Stefan tries to ruin what little Damon remembers of this day by telling him that he was ultimately Elena’s second choice because Stefan had relapsed. That’s cold. To make it hurt even more, Stefan escorts Professional Elena cosplayer Sybil onto the dance floor instead of Damon. However, Damon has found an ally in Caroline, who is trying her hardest to help him fight back.

NEXT: The dance

So Enzo and Bonnie, Damon and Caroline, and Stefan and Sybil walk onto the dance floor to experience the simple intimacy of the near touch. The dance is set to Sara Bareilles’ “She Used to Be Mine,” which might be one of the show’s best song choices because it perfectly captures the mood; Damon is struggling to reclaim the best part of himself and Caroline is desperately holding onto hope that Stefan can come back from this.

Eventually, Sybil steals Damon from Caroline and tries to scare him into not giving into his humanity. Damon agrees to give Sybil the striker — except, by give, I mean knock her over the head with it. Unfortunately, Stefan is waiting in the wings in case Sybil fails. He comes upstairs right after Damon knocks Sybil out and kills Damon because he’s tired of Damon ruining his fun. Stefan is very committed to working for Cade. And, I get that his humanity is off, but there’s something about his commitment that just doesn’t work for me.

Meanwhile, Caroline tries to get all of the women competing to leave, but she finds out Stefan compelled them all to stay. When Stefan comes back downstairs, he kills Violet, much to Caroline’s horror, and plans to kill the others. However, there’s a twist: he fed them all his blood, because he realized turning someone into a vampire was a fairly quick way to deliver Cade the souls he wants. Realizing there’s no other option, Caroline kills Stefan to stop him from anyone else.

While Stefan waits for Cade to resurrect him, Caroline consoles Violet, who wakes up and realizes she’s going through a transition. Violet doesn’t want to become a vampire, but Caroline tells her this could be an opportunity to become her best self. It’s actually a fairly touching scene because it reminds us of how Caroline has handled vampirism differently than the other people in her life, and it’s nice to see Caroline comfort someone in the same way Stefan was there for her when she turned. But, alas, we have to return to the Steroline drama; When Stefan wakes up, he informs Caroline that he doesn’t plan to stop working for Cade, which obviously hurts her feelings. Caroline throws her engagement ring back him, breaking off their engagement — which wasn’t all of that compelling to begin with.

The episode’s best moments, however, belong to Bonnie and Enzo, whose relationship continues to be a surprising delight and source of genuine emotion that’s not powered by nostalgia. Bonnie starts to realize Enzo actually gave her that vial of blood because he hopes she’ll turn into a vampire. But, Bonnie not only reaffirms her desire to remain human but asks Enzo if he would take the cure for her. Now, before you yell about how that would ruin things for Damon in case he ever got back to his normal self, let me remind you that it actually could work out: Enzo could drink the cure from Elena’s blood, and then once Bonnie dies of old age, Enzo could let Damon take the cure from him, which would allow Enzo to die alongside Bonnie and Damon to be a human for a newly awoken Elena.

The episode ends with Damon chaining up Sybil, intent on torturing her for all of the hell she’s put him through. Unfortunately, his plan backfires and Sybil forces his humanity to come flooding back in. I’m actually interested in seeing how Damon deals with all of the guilt, because that’s actually something new since this is the first time we’ve seen him without his humanity in the present day.

Odds and Ends:

  • While all of that is going on, Matt is off trying to find Seline’s piece of the bell. Eventually he does, but then Dorian shows up with Seline because they’ve formed some kind of alliance.
  • Also, we found out Matt has to be the one to ring the bell.
  • At the last Miss Mystic Falls, Bonnie hated vampires, but now she’s in love with one. Oh, how things change.
  • Apparently, the bell is a “weapon of terrible power.”

Episode Recaps

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