The final season begins!

The Vampire Diaries Season 8, Episode 1 (“Hello, Brother”)
Ian Somerhalder, The Vampire Diaries

We have officially arrived at the final season of The Vampire Diaries! You can tell from this season premiere that they certainly knew that this would be the final season. At only 16 episodes this season will be a bit shorter than the previous ones but at least they are given enough to give a satisfying, not rushed ending to the series. There are a lot of callbacks to previous seasons and the pilot episode in particular. This season will continue to pay homage to its beginnings with references to earlier seasons, especially the first season.

The episode begins with a scene that almost perfectly parallels the opening scene of the pilot. A couple is driving back from an event (in the pilot it was a concert and in this one it is a movie) when they run into Damon in the middle of a foggy road. This time however Damon is standing instead of playing dead and he has help from Enzo. The circumstances however have certainly changed. In the pilot Damon was just having fun, killing people to make Stefan’s attempts at a peaceful life in Mystic Falls very difficult. Now he and Enzo are being controlled by a Siren, forcing them to bring her bodies to feed on. At least it seems they are focusing on finding bad people to sacrifice.

Damon and Enzo’s adventure with the Siren is also very reminiscent of Stefan’s evil turn in Season 3. He too was taken against his will and forced to do the bidding of a villain. Now it is Stefan’s turn to track Damon. Similarly, Damon is also trying to convince Stefan to stop following him by making him believe that he is too far gone. Stefan did the same thing by killing Andie, Damon’s news anchor girlfriend. In this episode Damon and Enzo threaten to hurt Bonnie. They are both acting as though they have completely lost control of themselves, though we know that that is not really the case. They are both fighting the mind control in different ways. Enzo is laying clues for Bonnie and Stefan in hopes they will figure out how to destroy the Siren. Damon on the other hand is pretending to be perfectly content with what they are doing. He is going along with it while keeping the secret of his humanity very close. Trying not to reveal too much of himself to anyone.

Speaking of the Siren, this is a very different direction for the show to take in its final season. So far the supernatural beings have been kept to mostly vampires, werewolves, witches, and supernatural hunters. The introduction of the Siren however takes the show in a new direction, following a different kind of mythology. I am honestly not really sure how I feel about it at this point. In some ways I enjoy that they are getting creative and not just inventing yet another evil vampire to fight. And the connection of the Siren to Hell will allow for the show to ask questions about how we should judge these characters, which is an interesting way to end a series like this. The Other Side was always more of a supernatural purgatory than an afterlife and we have never really known what happens to supernatural beings after they moved on from there. On the other hand it feels like a bit of a stretch to suddenly invent these different styles of monsters than we have seen for the past seven seasons.

Overall I am excited for this final season. I haven’t seen any of these episodes since my very first watch through almost two years ago. I remember not loving the first half of it but then really enjoying the second half. That being said I liked this episode more than I remembered. It was a very focused episode with really just the one plot. Everyone is concerned with getting Damon and Enzo back and their adventure with the Siren is certainly not boring. With only 16 episodes there is not as much time for side plots and with it being the final season there is no point in creating unimportant storylines.

Episode Grade: 8/10

Other Thoughts:

  • Alaric has turned the Armory into a museum that he is like the curator of. He even has interns helping him excavate the vault trying to figure out how someone could get out of it. Basically Alaric is back as the occult professor he was born to be.
  • In this final season every episode title is a quote from previous seasons. I want to say they are all from Season 1 but I am not 100% sure about that. The title of this episode is “Hello, Brother” which of course is from the Pilot. It is the first line that Damon speaks to Stefan when he reveals his return to Mystic Falls. Damon also says it to Stefan again in this episode when Stefan finds him at the slaughterhouse.
  • Damon is killing time by reading 50 Shades of Grey.
  • We are introduced to two new side characters – Seline, the nanny of the twins who Caroline really hates, and Georgie, an intern working for Alaric who is in love with him. The question in this episode seems to be which of these hot ladies that work for Alaric will he be hooking up with?
  • We are also reminded that Damon still blames Stefan for turning into a vampire even though he always claims that he is over it. He’s not.
  • Body Count: 3, Damon and Enzo kill the couple at the beginning of the episode and the artist who paints with human blood.

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