Maybe the gleeful, sinister smile Stefan broke into as he drove out of town with his brother at the end of the winter finale wasn’t just from the joy of turning off his humanity for a year. Maybe it was Paul Wesley’s genuine glee that he’d have one last chance, before the series ended, to let Ripper out of his box. It must have been tiring, to always be the good brother, the guilty soul, the weaker monster who contented himself with animal blood while Damon gave into every whim and impulse (and while Ian Somerhalder got to emote and preen and operate with Damon’s general level of shock and awe in most of his scenes). This episode starts by letting Wesley give new life to the seldom seen side of Ripper that calculates, plans and seduces with bottomless amoral intent. If it ends up in an all-too familiar place for the cliffhanger, at least Wesley got to flex his chops along the way. Somerhalder generously gives him a lot of attention, as the story keeps Damon nearly out of the action except for some wan attempts at emotional manipulation. Damon, meanwhile, may have to admit he can’t turn his emotions off anymore. This is the vampire that genuinely loves Bonnie like a sister, who has always been fixated on his little brother, inexorably drawn to him despite every betrayal on both their parts. This is the man confused by Sybil’s attempts to replace Elena in his memories, thus triggering mostly an avid hate for her rather than the loyalty she so desired. This is the guy who ends the episode in the best place of all, chatting with an inmate on the side of a highway, where he both finds the vervain locket he threw away to make a point to Stefan, and refrains from killing anyone at all. It’s about punishment and guilt this season, but it may also be about penance and recovery, too. This episode is better for its first half hour than the show has been in about two seasons, as it hits all the right notes of nostalgia. Caroline goes back to high school, not as a fake teen but as an “embedded journalist” covering the new generation of Mystic Falls youth, and she sees how ridiculous and small the center of her universe used to be. Until of course she ends up in class with new school marm Sybil, who lured her there to try and find those Maxwell family heirlooms that keep eluding her. Maxwell family heirlooms you ask? Yes, the Maxwells were one of the founding families, like the Forbes, the Salvatores, the Bennets, the Gilberts and the Lockwoods. They were just the poorest ones, sad news for Matt, who is their direct descendant. Sybil leads Caroline (and her class, under her thrall) on a field trip to the old plantation where all the witches were burned so long ago, and along the way gives a history lesson in what actually happened back then, involving herself and the equally ageless Selene, naturally. And a certain bell that she’s very concerned about preventing from being struck ever again. Cut to Matt returning some property to the Armory, where Alaric’s remaining intern explains that the Tuning Fork was apparently the clapper for the bell, and that all the parts add up to a weapon of great magnitude. If only Matt could get over being butthurt about his deadbeat dad long enough to focus on fighting the sirens, that is. The second half finds Damon and Stefan (the most unlikely of angels and devils ever) competing for the soul of a young doctor, orphaned tragically at an early age, who bears a passing resemblance to Elena. This makes Ripper want to torture her all the more, while revealing a soft and protective spot in Damon that he just can’t hide. Stefan cheats shamelessly to try and corrupt her, succeeds, and doesn’t realize that the true falling demon is himself. As Caroline says, Stefan always comes back from the Ripper phases. But Sybil reminds her (their mean girl rivalry has only picked up steam from the Christmas episode), he always finds a way to slip into damnation eventually, again. How is that going to keep her daughters (in hiding with Alaric) safe? The Vampire Dairies 8.08 “We Have History Together”Shawn's Rating4.0Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.