Matt’s ancestor holds the secret to killing Cade

The Vampire Diaries Season 8, Episode 12 (“What Are You?”)
Zach Roerig, The Vampire Diariges

With only four more episodes left in the series, this one does a lot of the leg work to fill in gaps in the background of the creation of the Bell and the history of Matt’s family and the Sirens. It also presented a way to kill Cade which will obviously have to happen before the end of the series. That is to say this episode is a lot of plot, some of which I really enjoyed and some of which was a bit of a head scratcher.

Matt’s family history reveals how to kill Cade and what exactly happened to those witches who were burned so long ago. Dorian found a witch’s talisman with the Maxwell family crest on it, and apparently when a Maxwell touches it they see the memories of Ethan Maxwell, the original maker of the bell and the corpse they found in the cave. Using Alaric’s sudden hypnosis skills, they dive into Matt’s mind to learn the history of the bell and a way to kill Cade. Despite the absurdity of the premise I just described, this part is actually kind of cool because it connects to something that has long been a part of Vampire Diaries lore. We have heard many times of the 100 witches that burned during the early days of Mystic Falls and it has always been implied that they were murdered by the Founders but that is not actually the case. Ethan didn’t know that ringing the bell would destroy the entire town, it was only meant to kill the Sirens.

He learns the truth from Sybil but she doesn’t allow him to tell anyone. Luckily he was pretty clever and he left a message for Bea Bennet, one of the witches that put the original spell on the bell who he had a flirtation with. They had a secret way of communicating using the cipher that Matt found last episode. When she finds out, she tells the other witches and they use their power to sacrifice themselves to keep the entire town from dying. Bea however did not die and she and Ethan together lock the Sirens in the vault. However, their mind control is still powerful through the vault and they siren him to kill Bea, but she traps him in the cave before he can. He tells her he left her another message in his journal on how to kill Cade. Now we never learn what that is because Damon made a deal with Cade to get the journal if he would let Stefan live out a natural human life. Damon brings him the journal and Cade burns it before we learn what it is. Damon though had another plan of course, he picked up on something else in the memories they saw. That a relic of Cade’s creation that is in the cave is actually a weapon to kill him.

Stefan is dealing with suddenly being human which means he is flooded with a lot of guilt. He wants to drown in self pity but Caroline isn’t letting that happen. He is constantly being reminded of all the evil he has done, just over the past couple of months and it is enough to make him just want to give up. It is interesting that Stefan who has wanted so long to be a human again is not really happy with suddenly becoming one. Had he not just come out of a humanity-less ripper binge, he might feel differently. Not being a vampire anymore, he has no way to rationalize it and he is left only seeing the monster. Caroline convinces him to work towards forgiveness though and feels he should start with Bonnie. She is certainly going to be the hardest to convince and that one is probably going to take a long time.

Bonnie and her mom attempt to contact Enzo even though neither of them have magic. Her grief literally opens up a portal to Hell? This part really didn’t make any sense. If she doesn’t have magic how could she have done that? Did she open the door just by being sad? Or did it happen during her séance with her mom? Bonnie is struggling to let Enzo go when she feels him calling out to her. She wants to make sure he is at peace before she buries him for good. Her mom though knows that she has to close that door before anything worse happens and she burns Enzo’s body. Though it would appear that they didn’t close it before at least one person got out. The episode ends with the greatest plot twist of the season so far. Kai Parker returns. I am so joyful.

Episode Grade: 7/10

The Return of Kai Parker: 10/10

Other Thoughts:

  • Bonnie tells her mom that she knows what grief is and this feels different which is why she thinks Enzo is reaching out to her. It is true that Bonnie has lost a lot of people but never someone she was this close to. Never someone she thought she would grow old with. It feels different because it is.
  • Stefan’s first day as a human is rough. He immediately gets pulled over while he has blood all over him and no way to compel himself out of it.
  • An unintended but lucky consequence of Bonnie giving Stefan the cure is that now neither he nor Damon are bound to Cade. Their deal was for both of them and Stefan being useless nulls the agreement for both.
  • Episode Title: Elena’s line to Stefan when she first discovers he is a vampire in Season 1, Episode 5 “You’re Undead to Me”
  • Body Count: 32, Stefan has been linked with 32 dead bodies in the last two months. This officially puts Stefan’s body count ahead of Damon for the first time in the entire series. They were close back in like Season 3 but Damon had pulled back ahead and stayed there since then.

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