If anyone could save Christmas on “The Vampire Diaries,” it would be the one and only holiday queen herself, Caroline Forbes (Candice King). But on Friday (Dev. 9), not even drinking spiked egg nog, in a house decorated like Santa’s workshop in the North Pole, was enough to distract the evil at play.
The episode’s title, “The Next Time I Hurt Somebody, It Could Be You,” doesn’t exactly allude to a scene bursting with Christmas joy — and when surprise guests Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Sybil (Nathalie Kelley) crash the dinner party at the Salvatore mansion, it’s clear nothing good is going to happen.
Almost immediately and in secret, Damon stabs Stefan (Paul Wesley) to death — so Cade (Wolé Parks) can vividly remind him of his Ripper past. Magically revisiting one of his massacres in 1917, we learn Seline (Kristen Gutoskie) once tried to take Stefan’s soul for Cade, but when she looked into his eyes, she saw only anguish and not evil.
But now, that’s apparently Cade’s new thing: People who are pure evil are boring. He wants to demolish all the good people who may have dark tendencies. Why? Because it makes the situation that much more torturous for Stefan, and that in itself makes it all the more fun for Cade.
And Seline should know. They’ve flip-flopped on the “evil one” so many times this year we’re really starting to get how strongly the show feels about their whole Salvatore/siren parallel. In this episode Seline is still callous and manipulative — but she’s also driven by desperation to atone for her sins before she goes to Hell, starting with removing all trace of herself from the memories of the twins, cutting them off from Cade — and presumably disappearing forever.
Seline’s been an interesting person all season long, but something about the way Alaric looked at her, or maybe it was just the way he furiously threatened to murder her a million times like he always does Damon, makes us think she might not be gone after all. Let’s hope the same doesn’t hold true for her sister — Sybil’s fascinating and often hilarious, and her memory tour with Stefan was a season highlight, but the character’s beyond redemption. There are just too many things to wrap up.
Stefan is able to barter a (third? fourth?) deal with Cade: Turn off his humanity, transform back into full Ripper mode, and finish all of his satanic slave duties in one year. Cade warns Stefan he won’t want to return to his lovely fiancée and peacefully boring life in Mystic Falls after surrendering to the dark side for so long, but Stefan remains confident that he’ll find his way back.
And while we figured Damon was already too far gone to ever find his humanity again, Caroline gives Damon a very smart Christmas gift: Elena’s necklace. He doesn’t open the box until Sybil asks if the present in his jacket is for her, and ignoring the double entendre he puts the necklace on Sybil’s neck… And finally remembers Elena.
This is a huge deal — until this moment, we half-assumed Elena had already been fully erased from Damon’s mind. That there was absolutely no shred of good left in his brain. If Damon can keep the memory of Elena alive, remember the person for whom he loves so deeply — and is expecting him to be around when she wakes up from a magically induced coma — there’s at least hope the old Damon, the man we love to hate, will one day return. Just as Caroline said when she handed him the gift.
…Oh, and then Damon tears Sybil’s heart out of her body and leaves it on a park bench, so that’s encouraging.
In the end, we’re left with a disturbing and wonderful image: Stefan, the second his and Damon’s road trip into darkness passes the Mystic Falls city limits, turns himself into the Ripper within a matter of seconds, ready to unleash unheard destruction on the unworthy and hoping somebody will be there to bring him back when it’s all over. An authentically “Vampire Diaries” moment, and a great way to end the midseason.
OVer winter break, Bonnie (Kat Graham) and Enzo (Michael Malarkey) are taking a vacation to Paris; Damon and Stefan will be ripping through towns, murdering people by the dozen on Cade’s command; Matt (Zach Roerig) and his father Peter (Joel Gretsch) have some serious relationship issues they need to work out. And Caroline? Bless her heart. We don’t know. She said goodbye to her kids, her fiancé is off literally doing the devil’s work, and even Bonnie will be out of town and living it up — but we are confident she’ll stay busy somehow. Caroline “Time to Lean, Time to Clean” Forbes has never been one to stand around and do nothing — but especially not when her loved ones are at stake.
“The Vampire Diaries” returns with new episodes on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 on The CW.