I feel like we’re in a never-ending loop with this show. The brothers turn their humanity switch off, and then it’s turned back on just in time to save the town from the next big bad. The Vampire Diaries is a constant battle between good and evil. Wash, rinse, repeat.

While this episode titled, “Nostalgia’s a Bitch” struck a lot of emotional and literal chords, it’s not really anything we haven’t seen before. Damon has gone into a catatonic state due to the burden of his humanity flooding back, and the siren’s want to kill each other. Wash, rinse, repeat.

This Week’s Dilemma

Caroline is still reeling from Stefan being a Grade A Douchebag and leaving her. Bonnie, being the best friend ever, jogs over to the house to make breakfast. She finds Damon, non-responsive, sitting in a chair. Caroline and Bonnie probe his mind to try to see why he’s shut himself down. They find him burning and screaming. They’re thrust back to reality at the sight. Bonnie says he’s suffering, as one lonely tear falls down Damon’s cheek.

Sybil makes an offer to the girls. If they unchain her, and bring her the Maxwell bell, then she’ll free Damon. They, of course, agree. Sybil tells them Damon believes he’s in hell. He thinks he deserves to be there. Damon is the only one who can change his mind. To free him, they’ll have to figure out what’s holding him back. She does her siren thing letting Bonnie and Caroline hitch a ride into Damon’s mind. This time they find themselves at Salvator boarding house. They meet a concierge named Henry — the same Henry who Damon saved during the war. Caroline tells him they’re looking for Damon. Henry points behind them to a painting on the wall. It’s Damon in his war uniform. Henry says he died a hero. When Caroline questions him, Henry shouts at her, and once again they’re thrust back to reality. 

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Lucky for us, Stefan has arrived. He needs Damon’s help to get more souls for Cade. Since all he cares about is his murder spree, Stefan negotiates with Sybil as well. Stefan tells them Damon is just afraid to face his humanity. He’s always hid from things he’s afraid of so it’s going to be like a game of hide and seek. They go back in.

This time, Caroline and Bonnie end up at the bar. They still don’t see him, but Bonnie realizes since it’s Damon’s mind, everything is a clue. They see a newspaper headline about an animal attack. They know Damon is the one who was responsible, not an animal. Just about the time they realize this is going to be a scavenger hunt, Matt’s sister, Vicki (who Damon killed in season one) walks up! She’s wearing a bandage on her neck. It’s in the same place where Damon bit her way back when.

Caroline and Bonnie are ready to follow the clues, but as Vicki is walking out Caroline sees her mom. Bonnie says she’ll take care of Vicki, and let’s Caroline talk to Liz. It’s nice to see Sheriff Forbes again, but even Caroline knows this isn’t real. She talks to her mom anyways.

Caroline tells her mom that she’s looking for Damon. Liz acts like she’s never even heard of him. Caroline tries to remind her that he is on the council with her, but this is Damon’s mind and everything is askew. She tells her that Damon is the vampire who is responsible for the animal attacks she saw in the paper. She wants to help her mom catch him. Liz pours vervain on Caroline’s hand revealing that she’s a vampire too.

Meanwhile, in the parking lot, Bonnie confronts Vicki. Since Damon is the one who bit Vicki, she must know where he is. Vicki pulls the bandage off her neck revealing a giant hickey. Whoops. She says she doesn’t know who Damon is.

When Bonnie goes back inside, she sees Sheriff Forbes escorting Caroline out. Liz takes her daughter to some torture chamber. She thinks Caroline is responsible for killing the couple, not Damon. She starts questioning her, raising the shade so that Caroline burns. Caroline pleads for her to stop, but she won’t. Caroline tells her mom that she dies of cancer, and Damon was there for her through it all. She breaks down, confessing to her mom that she has to save Damon. She recounts all of the shitty things Damon did in the past, but she has to find him. Her mom is confused as to why she would be concerned about him after everything he’s done. Caroline breaks down and confesses that she is able to forgive him because he was the only one who understood what it felt like to lose someone after her mom died. Her mom says okay and walks away. Caroline is brought back to reality.

Sybil is all like, great job! But Caroline isn’t the one Damon needs forgiveness from. It’s up to Bonnie now. Bonnie goes to Grams’s house — another blast from the past. (You get a cameo! And you get a cameo! And you get a cameo!) She needs Grams’ help to do a locator spell. At first, Grams tells her “no” because she doesn’t want to get involved in any vampire business, but Bonnie is able to leverage what she wants by talking about how happy she is. Grams needs something of Damon’s in order to do the spell. Bonnie finds the letter Damon wrote to her when he left after Elena died. She never read the letter, and said that he would have to read it to her himself.

Bonnie ends up at Damon’s tombstone. She notices his date of death when Tyler walks in. Tyler doesn’t really care to help find Damon, good riddance! Bonnie figures out what needs to happen in order to wake Damon up. She joins everyone else in the real world. They have to get Stefan there. 

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The Maxwell Bell to Hell

Caroline has asked Matt to give her the bell. Matt couldn’t care less about saving Damon. He still doesn’t forgive him for Vicki’s death, and still blames him for every single bad thing that’s happened to him and his friends. All this time, Selene has been looking for the bell too. She tells them the bell doesn’t just kill sirens, but it literally causes all hell to break loose. The bell open up a portal raining hellfire on everyone and everything within the vicinity of the bell. Ringing the bell would wipe out all of Mystic Falls. Also, in order for the bell to work, it has to be rung 12 times by someone from the Maxwell bloodline.

Stefan sees an opportunity here. Now, instead of working with Sybil, he wants to work with Selene. He goes back to Salvatore mansion. There, Caroline and Bonnie tell him that in order for Damon to wake up, he has to forgive him. Stefan goes into Damon’s mind and starts talking about how they’re cool and everything. Stefan forgives him for being a murderous vampire.

Damon shows up. He tells Stefan that Bonnie has it wrong. Stefan doesn’t need to forgive him, but he needs to forgive Stefan. Stefan is completely baffled. He doesn’t think he’s done anything to apologize for. He really is the absolute worst. Damon is relentless with the forgiveness. Finally, Stefan cracks and says the apology is too soon because he’s going to burn Mystic Falls to the ground.

Back in reality, Stefan has already compelled Matt. He tears Matt’s vervain bracelet off and tells him he has a choice. He can either forgive Damon for killing Vicki and not ring the bell, or forgive him and ring it. Welp, it looks like the bell will be ringing.

Matt’s dad tries to stop him. Matt tells him the only way he can be stopped is if he kills him. Of course, Matt’s dad can’t do that — so Matt starts beating the crap out of him. Then he rings the bell.

The chime can be heard at the Salvatore house. Stefan is no longer in Damon’s head. Sybil realizes she’s been double crossed. Just as Stefan thinks he’s going to get away with wiping the entire town, Damon wakes up and snaps his neck.

Matt is still chiming away, pleading for his dad to just kill him. Matt says he’ll die a hero, that his life will have meant something. (Eye roll) Matt’s dad finally realizes the magnitude of the situation. He puts Matt in a headlock, but before he can make a move, Damon shows up and knocks Matt unconscious. He was able to stop it, but not before 11 chimes.

After the dust settles, Matt and Damon are walking along the sidewalk. Matt still doesn’t forgive Damon, but him saving everybody is a good start. It’s a nice bro-moment that is probably long overdue. Damon offers Matt a ride, but he says he’s going to down to the police station because he heard Mystic Falls needs a new sheriff.

The siren sisters are at the diner. Sybil asks if they can put aside their differences and stop fighting. They can’t. In the middle of their bickering Cade walks in. Ringing the bell 11 times was enough for him to manifest in the flesh. He’s as sick of their shit as the rest of us, so he sets them on fire. And just like that, the siren storyline is over.

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Were you excited about all of the old characters returning? Let me know in the comments below.

The Vampire Diaries airs Friday’s at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Check out our The Vampire Diaries Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of The CW)

Casey Cummings

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV