Synopsis: The gang tries to get all the pieces to assemble the magical bell weapon while Stefan causes a little chaos at the Miss Mystic Falls pageant.

Remember Miss Mystic Falls? The scene where Damon whisks Elena off her feet and onto the dance floor and they fall in love? If you didn’t, you sure will with this episode’s heavy use of flashback!

We open with Stefan and Damon road-tripping it back to Mystic Falls. Damon’s trying to sever his psychic connection with Sybil, and Stefan’s just trying to cause chaos.

Though if he does it in that suit, I don’t really mind. []
Most of the episode focuses on Damon as he battles Sybil’s psychic attacks, all of which involve Elena-centric memories. Sybil keeps trying to erase her from Damon’s subconscious, but she keeps bubbling up, especially in the familiar environment of the pageant. At the end of the episode, Damon reclaims his mind from Sybil, who retaliates by flipping Damon’s humanity switch back on, flooding him with memories of all the horrible things he’s done while she was in control. 

Luckily for us, this is a prime setup for Nina Dobrev’s return as Elena Gilbert. With Damon’s free-will and memories restored, there isn’t anywhere for the story to go except toward a redemption plot involving Damon’s epic romance. If there was ever a more clear sign that Dobrev is returning for the final episode, this is it. I’m calling it now – she’s coming back, even if she’s still playing coy in interviews about the return.

Meanwhile, Caroline tries to break through to Stefan to stop his soulless murder spree. She offers to be his partner, only killing evil people who do harm to others. It doesn’t work. Instead, Stefan turns one of the pageant competitors (a young Caroline lookalike) into a vampire. Caroline then takes the newbie vampire under her wing while Stefan criss-crosses the country ripping peoples’ heads off.

This entire episode felt like an homage to season 1 plots. We’ve got a new baby vampire Caroline, lots of flashbacks to Elena’s romance with Damon, and finally, the conflict between immortality and humanity. That last theme is featured pretty ham-fistedly in Bonnie and Enzo’s romance side-plot. Enzo’s so concerned about Bonnie’s safety that he wants to turn her into a vampire. Bonnie, realizing that her life is tied to Elena’s and that would be a total jerk move to make herself immortal, declines his offer.

Instead, she proposes that Enzo take the cure and become mortal to live out their final days in geriatric, arthritic bliss together. Seriously. The showrunners have this grand idea of growing old, when really it just equates to an unsustainable entitlement system and other less-than-stellar inconveniences. Stay young and immortal! The choice should be obvious! 

Overall, this could have been a great throwback episode to simpler storylines and simpler mythology. Too bad it ended up being another, slightly more nostalgic, filler episode on the slow plod to the end of this dying show.

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