This is it. This is what we’ve been waiting months for – the premiere episode of the eighth (and final) season of The Vampire Diaries. The hiatus was so long, I had to go back and give myself a quick refresher on where the show left off.

Season seven ended with Damon and Enzo being taken hostage in the vault by an unknown force after killing the Everlasting releasing Bonnie from Rayna’s curse. Three months have passed and numerous people have come up missing, two of whom are Damon and Enzo. Where have they gone? The premiere episode, “Hello, Brother” doesn’t leave us hanging (pun intended) and answers that question right away.

Welcome to the Slaughterhouse

The episode opens with a couple taking a leisurely drive through the foggy streets of Mystic Falls. Their topic of conversation is how nice it is not having to deal with “the vampire situation” anymore. It’s at this moment we see Damon standing in the middle of the road. The car swerves to avoid hitting him, but then hits Enzo instead. It’s a classic trick used to lure future victims out of their cars and into the grasp of vampires.

Of course, when the couple freaks out thinking they’ve killed someone, Damon pops up behind them and Enzo rises from the middle of the street cracking his bones back into place. They have the couple drive them to a warehouse where they will inevitably meet their doom. Damon has always been one to toy with his victims, but this time it is even darker and more sinister.

He plays a game where he asks the couple to confess their darkest sins. The one with the most morally corrupt answer is the winner. The girl, after being compelled, confesses that she slept with her best friend’s boyfriend — eight times. The boy says he stole his grandmother’s pills and sold them for $50 a pop — while she was dying of cancer. We have a winner. I mean, technically no one is a winner, but being the worst person afforded the guy a slow and painful death while the girl was gone with a swift bite to the neck. Enzo tells Damon he’ll get rid of her body.

Damon escorts the boy into a large room where bloodied pieces of bodies are hanging from the rafters. A large gate seems to be covering the floor underneath them. The boy says that he doesn’t want to die, and Damon says he doesn’t want to kill him. It’s at this moment it becomes clear that Damon is being controlled by someone or some thing. The way he talks and moves is so robotic. He compels the boy to stay calm. Then he takes a large hook and jams it into the boys back. He opens the gate of the floor revealing a large body of bloody water. He uses a hydraulic system to lower the boy into the water. The boy tries to swim up, but Damon lowers him further. When it’s clear there is no longer a struggle on the end of the rope, Damon raises the line. The only evidence left of the boy is his skull and a small piece of his spinal cord dangling from the hook. It’s actually pretty gross.

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Caroline Gets Kicked Out of Her Own House

At the news station, Caroline is trying to get clues from a surveillance tape of Enzo and Virginia St. John. She thinks she can figure out what kind of evil they’re dealing with, but the audio on the tape is distorted.

The twins are home with the babysitter while Caroline is still at work. She gets a call from Stefan about the body the cops found tied to the front of a car. The body is the girl from the opening scene. There is a guitar string wrapped around her neck and candle wax in her ear. Stefan tells Caroline the odometer of the car also only had three miles on the odometer. Caroline checks out google maps and tells him there is an abandoned warehouse exactly three miles away.

As soon as she hangs up the phone with Stefan she receives a call from the babysitter who is looking for Alaric. Caroline calls Alaric’s office and his boss tells her he is helping out on a job. At the same time, the babysitter hears the front door open and thinks that Alaric is home. She goes to the front door, but nobody is there. She returns to the kitchen and notices the knife she was using to cut vegetables is missing. She tells Caroline she thinks someone is in the house. Then that someone sneaks up behind her and slits her throat. This season of The Vampire Diaries seems to be extra violent.

Caroline vamp speeds home and finds Virgina St. John. She breaks her neck. and then gives the babysitter vampire blood to revive her. After compelling the babysitter to go home, we find Virgina St. John tied up in a chair in the living room. Caroline wants answers, but St. John bites off her own tongue before giving any.

Alaric comes home from a long day at work to a bloody mess in the living room. He tells Caroline that he should have been more available to keep her and the twins safe. His solution is to move back, but not just move back to Mystic Falls — he wants to move into the house. Caroline doesn’t think they should live together. That’s when he says that he wasn’t talking about living in the house with her. He wants her to move out of her childhood home! I guess this is the only solution the writers could come up with to figure out how Caroline and Stefan would live together.

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Follow the Breadcrumbs

Stefan and Bonnie go to the abandoned warehouse Caroline described to them over the phone. There Stefan finds Damon. He realizes pretty quickly that Damon has turned off his humanity switch. Damon tells him he didn’t turn it off — he ripped it off the wall. He’s talking in riddles, and Stefan knows that something isn’t right. Damon tells Stefan he needs to go, that “he” is not ready for him yet. Stefan refuses to leave unless Damon goes with him. Finally, Stefan stakes Damon with a mop handle. Enzo walks in with Bonnie behind him. Enzo punches Stefan and as he turns around he realizes Damon has already gotten up from the floor. When Stefan turns back around, Damon has Bonnie in a chokehold.

Stefan realizes he isn’t going to win this battle tonight. He says he’ll leave once he lets go of Bonnie. In the car, Bonnie explains to Stefan that Enzo was leaving her clues. He wanted them to find them at the warehouse. In a flashback, Enzo had been teaching Bonnie the guitar when the E string broke. An E string was what was found around the girl’s neck from the earlier crime scene.

Making the situation all about him. Stefan says that he doesn’t think Damon will ever forgive him. Damon repeatedly blames Stefan for all of the bad things he does. If Stefan hadn’t turned him all those years ago, none of these things would have ever happened. Earlier in the day Stefan had given Bonnie a pep talk about hope. She uses Stefan’s words against him. They have to have hope. Enzo still has control or else he wouldn’t be leaving clues.

Stefan drops Bonnie off at her house. She flashes back again to her and Enzo. He is reading to her from The Odyssey. The passage parallels what is actually happening in present day. The book talks about plugging mens ears with candle wax; wax was found in the girl’s ear. It talks about being bound to the mast of a ship; the girl was found to the front of the car like being bound to the mast of a ship. She no longer thinks Enzo is leaving her clues, she knows he is. Bonnie recalled the book mentioned Sirens. She calls Alaric to get more information. He tells her that Sirens were messengers of the devil. Enzo had been leaving clues to let her know not only where he was, but also what they were up against.

A New Evil Rises

Damon finds his next victim at an art show. He and Enzo lure the poor guy back to the slaughterhouse for the hooking ritual we saw in the beginning of the episode. After the deed is done, the two are walking away when they hear something that sounds like singing. They turn around to see a naked woman, covered in blood, rising out of the water. The episode ends with Damon saying, “Well I guess she finally had enough to eat.”

I can tell we’re in for a treat with this final season of The Vampire Diaries. There is an Elena sighting in this episode, and it looks like there are more to come. Damon flashes back to the first time he met Elena. It seems we haven’t completely lost Damon to the dark side. His thoughts go to Elena so that he doesn’t let himself go. He tells her that he needs her, he’s not sure how much longer he can fight.

Since we’re just getting started, he’s going to have to fight a little longer! What did you guys think of the episode? Sound off in the comments below.

The Vampire Diaries airs Fridays at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Vampire Diaries Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of The CW)