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The Vampire Diaries - The Next Time I Hurt Somebody, it Could Be You - Review

As winter finales go, this was underwhelming, but it was still a notch up in quality from the previous dismal couple of episodes.  I'm still finding the plotting painfully slow and mind-numbingly disappointing in places, and am fervently hoping that the remaining episodes of the final season live up the legacy of this amazing show and do it justice.

The Stefan Diaries: We learned via flashbacks that in 1917, Stefan committed mass murder because he was in Ripper mode.  Back then, Cade sent Seline to chow down on Stefan's flesh since he was so obviously evil.  But when Seline showed up to collect Stefan's wicked soul, she saw no evil in him, only a sobering dose of pure misery and despair.  Feeling a twinge of sympathy, she let him go.  I think this is all supposed to add some depth to Seline's character, or make us believe she is sincere about her redemption attempts in this episode, but both developments on her part fell flat for me.  I occasionally enjoy Sybil because she's an honest villain and has a certain charisma about her.  But Seline was willing to do horrible things to innocents just to save herself, and now she wants redemption to save's a boring and unsympathetic pattern.

In the present day, Damon, unscathed by Alaric and Matt's absurd attempt on his life, due to his deal with Cade, crashed Steroline's Christmas dinner, complete with Damon's absolutely pointless threats to find the most evil guest in attendance.  Let's put it this way: when the most evil dinner guest you can find in Mystic Falls is Matt's deadbeat dad, you're experiencing a serious evil deficit.  The hollow and meaningless "Matt and his father" sub-sub-plot that followed just revealed the extent to which the show is spinning its wheels at the worst possible time.  We need to be picking up the pace!

Stefan just wanted his final day with Caroline to be a beautiful, Christmassy, romantic experience, but soon enough he was being attacked by Damon because Cade wanted a one-on-one chat with his latest new hire.  Taking him on a tour of his crimes from 1917, Cade showed Stefan the reality of what he had done on Christmas all those years ago and Seline's role in it, including that she altered Stefan's memory so that he wouldn't remember doing this on Christmas.  Cade was super-enthused about having Ripper Stefan on his team, and even made a deal with Stefan that if he shut his humanity off, he and Damon only have to work as murderous reapers for one year.  

If one more character shuts off their humanity!  Gah!  

Yep, Stefan headed on back to enjoy what was left of his time with Caroline before he had to go to work, not wanting to tell her the truth of what he would be doing.  It's all guessed it...depressing.

It was time for Stefan to hop in the car with Damon and flip his switch, heading off with his brother into more awful, murdery adventures, because Season 8.

Speaking of Damon, we may as well talk about...
Damon's semi-almost-sorta-kinda-breakthrough.  I'm pretty sure we all desperately wanted a real breakthrough rather than this flaky development after bringing in the big guns by having Caroline give Damon Elena's necklace as a Christmas gift.  And frankly, seeing Damon rip Sybil's heart out felt anticlimactic if it didn't mean his humanity was back.  Now, we are just out one fairly entertaining villain and stuck with one boring big bad and a leftover half-warmed-over "redeemed" baddie.  Bleh!  

The dangling of Elena throughout this episode worked better in some places than others.  The necklace and accompanying Delena feelings and flashbacks provided one of the only real, poignant twists of emotion in the hour, yet the memory not being enough to bring Damon back to himself made the whole shebang feel pointless.

Cade also used an Elena memory to reinforce to Stefan that he was guilty of many misdeeds, like corrupting Elena because "he had to know her."  I did enjoy the Season 1 Stefan quote there!

I also liked Bonnie and Caroline's conversation earlier in the episode about wishing Elena was there.  Not only was she super-good at navigating and controlling awkward gatherings of random good and villainous people, but Damon would not be up to these shenanigans if she were there.  Too bad Elena would apparently have to show up in person to make an impact on Damon!

Oh Bonenzo, you adorable little cutie-pies.  Again the silver lining of this episode was a sweet bunch of Bonnie and Enzo moments.  He's taking her to Paris for a well-deserved romantic getaway!  Aww!  And we also got our first glimmers in a while that Bonnie may get her powers back (finally).  The tuning fork designed to take sirens out of commission also caused Bonnie pain.  Interesting, if not all that surprising.
Elsewhere in the episode, Alaric allowed Seline to erase Lizzie and Josie's memories of her so that they would no longer have any supernatural connection to Seline or Cade.  Now, if only someone could erase my memory of the last few episodes, it would be much appreciated!

Overall thoughts: Buoyed by Caroline's tart dealings with Sybil at the dinner, Bonnie and Enzo's sweetness, and Stefan remaining his noble self even in the bleakest of times, and benefiting from not being quite as relentless an onslaught of miserable depression compared to the previous episode, this installment didn't make the progress it needed to.  We all wanted a big win after so much heartache, and all we got was the tease of a win (Damon killing Sybil) and some hints that eventually there will be a win (Bonnie's reaction to the tuning fork; Stefan shortening the contract with Cade; the twins getting disconnected from Seline; even Seline's brief mention of Georgie that made me hope we'll see her again!).  Here's hoping that the last crop of episodes bring the real TVD back in a major way!  Happy Holidays to you all!