Vampire Diaries executive producer Julie Plec promised a “parade of familiar faces” on Friday’s episode, and boy did she deliver. (Of course, she never promised those faces would be happy to see Damon again.)
Fresh off Sybil’s psychic sneak attack, Damon began this week’s gloriously nostalgic hour trapped in his own mind (“Consciously, he believes he’s in hell,” she explained), with only Bonnie and Caroline around to enter his subconscious and rescue him — as if they didn’t already have enough to worry about, what with Enzo contemplating taking the cure and Stefan still in full-on Ripper mode.
Now then, about those familiar faces I mentioned earlier: In Damon’s fantasy world, Vicki Donovan is alive and working at the Mystic Grill, fighting off haters and slut-shamers at every turn. Sheriff Forbes is also alive (Caroline’s “I forgot how pretty she was” line killed me) and on the hunt for vampires. Bonnie’s Grams, also among the living, is still rocking A+ sweaters and spouting her old catchphrases (“Magic always comes at a price,” “I don’t get involved with vampires,” etc.)
Tyler also made a special appearance in Damonland, but unlike the ladies listed above, he seemed to know what was up. “Damon killed me,” he told Bonnie during their reunion in the Salvatore crypt. “I’m the only one who can forgive him.” What Tyler didn’t know, however, was that he wasn’t the key Damon’s salvation — Stefan was. Specifically, Damon needed to forgive his brother for all the crap he’s pulled lately. (And for shading Damon’s gargoyle statue, but that’s another discussion entirely.)
When Stefan wasn’t busy wreaking havoc inside Damon’s head, he literally raising hell on the outside, compelling Matt to ring the Maxwell bell 12 times, thus eviscerating Mystic Falls and all of its many souls. (Oh my goodness, that bell. Never in all my years of watching this show has the explanation of a supernatural act forced me to play so much mental ping-pong. The drama with the Travelers at the end of Season 5 might be a close second, but this one definitely wins.)
Damon managed to stop Matt after 11 rings (maybe 11.5 if you count Matt’s head hitting the bell), ensuring that the good people of Mystic Falls will live to see at least one more hellish, vampire-ridden day. Unfortunately, it was enough to help Cade return to the land of the living with gifts for the siren sisters: matching fiery deaths! (Wait, did I say “unfortunately”? Scratch that. If anyone on this show deserves to burn alive in the middle of a diner, it’s these two.)
But the most important part of this episode was its ending, a lovely couple of scenes in which Damon made good with Matt (“I’ve always liked the sheriffs in this town”) and Bonnie, who finally got to “read” the letter he wrote before taking a nap last season. Caroline, meanwhile, made her intentions very clear: Regardless of whether they end up going through with the wedding, she is going to get the old Stefan back.
Which of this week’s big returns put the biggest smile on your face? And what are your hopes for the series’ final six (yes, six!) episode? Drop your thoughts in a comment below.