The Damon forgiveness episode

The Vampire Diaries Season 8, Episode 10 (“Nostalgia’s a Bitch”)
Ian Somerhalder, The Vampire Diaries

Throughout its eight season run, The Vampire Diaries has constantly battled with the question of whether or not vampires can be good. Even if they have been bad in their past, can the be redeemed? Are they still a “good” vampire? In this final season it is taking that judgement quite literally with the Hell concept. Vampires like Damon are almost certainly marked for Hell but does that mean that there is no path to redemption? If he changes will that erase the past? This episode focuses on the question of whether or not Damon can be forgiven. And at least as far as the main squad is concerned, he can. It turns out he is also capable of forgiveness himself. If Damon can be forgiven, who can’t?

After Sybil gives him his humanity back Damon has trapped himself in his own mind. He doesn’t believe himself deserving of forgiveness. In the past few months he has done unthinkable things to his friends. Humanity or not he has a lot to atone for. He imagines a Mystic Falls in which he died back in the Civil War and never became a vampire. All the pain and suffering that would be spared. Vicki, Tyler, and Bonnie’s grandmother are all still alive. It takes the It’s A Wonderful Life approach to convince Damon that his continued existence has mattered. Stefan is still a vampire in this reality and he is the one on a murder spree in Mystic Falls. The humans may have been better off without him but Stefan certainly isn’t. So it is up to Caroline, Bonnie, and Stefan to go into his mind and save him from himself.

Caroline has been one of Damon’s most vocal critics throughout the entire series. She never supported Elena’s relationship with him. She has mostly put up with him as her boyfriend/fiancee’s brother. But when she goes inside his head and sees her mom there she realizes that she stopped hating him when her mom died. She may not have consciously forgiven him but she did. He was there for Liz in her final days and genuinely cared about her. He was the only other one who really felt Liz’s loss beyond just feeling sympathy for Caroline.

Bonnie changed her mind about Damon back in the prison world. Spending months with no one else to talk to, they bonded in a way they never thought possible and even became each others best friends. Bonded by their shared love of Elena and an experience that truly no one else could understand. She has been disappointed in him ever since he chose to desiccate himself, leaving her for good. She was also disappointed that he didn’t fight Sybil like Enzo did. But she is willing to forgive again and get her best friend back.

Without his humanity, Stefan isn’t exactly in a position to forgive Damon for his many wrongs. But Damon realizes he doesn’t need Stefan’s forgiveness, Stefan needs his. Damon has never really gotten over the fact that Stefan forced him to turn. Every time Stefan has tried to bring it up and apologize, Damon has brushed it off as ancient history. Something he no longer cares about. But that isn’t true and even if he felt like he was passed it, he needed to free Stefan of that guilt. Stefan may not care about it at the moment, but it was long over due on Damon’s part. It also keeps him from blaming Stefan for all the destruction he has caused and force him to take responsibility and atone for it. And Stefan will remember when he gets his humanity back.

Meanwhile the bell drama is still going on. Seline manipulates Matt and his dad into ringing the bell to kill Sybil. But then for some reason tells them that ringing it will not only kill Sybil but all of Mystic Falls. Of course Matt would never sacrifice the innocent people of Mystic Falls just to kill one person. Stefan however sees this as an opportunity to deliver thousands of souls to Cade all at once. Additionally, Matt will be corrupted and sent to Cade as well. But in order for Matt to go to Hell he has to be the one to make the choice. If he is compelled it is not his choice. So Stefan compels him to make the choice between ringing the bell or forgive Damon for Vicki’s death. Matt cannot forgive him and comes close to murdering all of Mystic Falls but Damon ends up being an unlikely hero, snapping out of his entrapment in his own mind just in time to stop Matt. Even Matt says that it shows Damon could be on his way to redemption.

The question still remains whether or not their forgiveness will mean anything to Cade but at least Damon is fighting for it instead of resigning himself to eternal damnation. Now Stefan is going to have to fight for his redemption and freedom from Cade. I have mixed feelings about this whole storyline. On the one hand I like the evaluation of their characters. It is certainly an appropriate way to end a series like this. The literal Hell bit though is kind of out there even for The Vampire Diaries and I wish they had gone with something a little more subtle, metaphorical. Also the bell is definitely one of the worst devices used on this show to defeat a bad guy. It feels like a last ditch effort to give Matt a purpose. But at least the show is getting a proper ending, which is more than many get.

Episode Grade: 7/10

Other Thoughts:

  • There was a lot of old familiar faces in Damon’s mind including Henry, Liz, Vicki, Tyler, and Grams.
  • A not so fun callback was Liz putting Caroline in the vampire torture chamber her dad used on her in Season 3. I guess Damon really did do a lot to change Liz’s views on vampires.
  • The girl that Stefan turned in the last episode, Violet Fell, looks like a blonde April Young.
  • When the bell is rung multiple times it starts to glow…
  • Matt just decides he is going to be sheriff again because there is a vacancy now. Does this town not hold elections?
  • Cade kills both sirens when he decides they are useless. YAY NO MORE SIRENS!
  • Episode Title: This line is from the Miss Mystic Falls episode in Season 1, Damon says it to Anna remembering when she was supposed to be in the pageant in her day but the vampires were all rounded up before the got the chance.
  • Body Count: 5, Violet kills at least 2 people at The Grill, Stefan kills Violet, and Cade kills Seline and Sybil.

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