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The Vampire Diaries - Hell is Other People - Review

This was a fascinating episode in its own unique way, and a very intriguing place to pick back up with Season 7.  I feel as though this season, after a phenomenal start that seemingly displayed a clear plan for the year's story and a lot of confidence in smoothing out some leftover kinks from last year, has started to stall just a little bit here and there.  The dark, beguiling, suspenseful glimpses of "Three Years From Now" have presented us with a formidable foe in the Huntress, making it sometimes seem like work to plod through the Julian storyline in the present day.  Of course, there's plenty of time for the writers to get the season back up to speed -- jettisoning whiny Heretic filler subplots and bringing some weightier, more thrilling adventures.

 "Hell is Other People" is an episode indicative of Season 7's flaws (i.e. stalling big plot developments and going off on tangents) while also showing off a lot of positive aspects, letting Damon do what he does best and ending on a cool cliffhanger -- a way more effective one than the Winter finale boasted.

Edge of Groundhog Day: After being sucked into the Phoenix stone, Damon was plunged into his very own personal hell.  One of the issues that comes naturally with this twist in the story is the repetitiveness of the fact that Damon already spent a good chunk of time in a Prison World, so he's been down this road before and we've been there with him.  This time, instead of enjoying the finer points of 90's music and fashion while bonding with Bonnie, Damon was forced to relive a horrific day from his time in the Civil War.  It was an occasion that found him so eager to get home and reconnect with Stefan that he rushed headlong into a chaotic round-up of deserters ending in terrible bloodshed.

The Civil War setting and Damon's increasing impatience with the inescapable scenario, where he couldn't seem to avert a violent disaster no matter how peacefully he tried to arrest the deserters, were very fun.  I also enjoyed seeing how this episode picked apart Damon's personality quirks and the deepest depths of his repressed emotions, childhood scars he carried with him into adulthood against his own will.  A world designed to force Damon to admit his own faults and face them head-on certainly had its work cut out for it!

The hell world used Lily and Stefan to try and get Damon to confront his flaws, including the ever-popular Season 7 theme of "Damon has no morality without Elena."  But beyond that familiar tune was a strong personal revelation for Damon, who admitted at last that what he had wanted amid the bleakness of his soldiering Civil War days was to see his mother, that he had been broken-hearted by her death and later by her abandoning him, and clearly he regrets his blasé attitude to Lily on her recent deathbed.  
A rude awakening.  After several fake-outs, where it seemed as though Damon had returned to the real world, only to realize he was still in the hell world manufactured by the stone, Damon finally did return home at the end of the episode.  But unfortunately, still overwhelmed with the seeming reality of the hell world and the emotions it had stirred, and convinced he was still there, experiencing another false return home, Damon lashed out violently against his friends.  Bonnie, Caroline, Stefan, and (oh, yeah) Matt were all left seriously ailing after Damon's attack, though we can assume they aren't actually dead, as there wouldn't be much of a show left if that was the case.  Still, it was a startling and dark way to end an enjoyable, slightly experimental episode.  I'm eager to see where the story will go now that Stefan and Damon are (we can assume) both back from their time trapped in the stone.  I can't wait to see more of pregnant vampire Caroline, Bonnie and Enzo's burgeoning romance, and of course the Stefan and Damon bromance we all love, while learning more about how the characters all end up in the crazy situations we have seen in the flash-forwards!

What did you think of this episode?  Share your thoughts in the comments, and be sure to catch an all-new The Vampire Diaries, Friday at 8/7 on the CW.

About the Author - Virginia Mae Fontana
Virginia is happy to be reviewing The Vampire Diaries and Beauty and the Beast for Spoiler TV. She enjoys obsessing over films and pop music - in addition to tv shows, of course! You can find her blog, SugarRushed, at and her Twitter handle is @VMaeFontana
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