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The Vampire Diaries - S8E9 - The Simple Intimacy of the Near Touch

Previously on The Vampire Diaries, “We Have History Together”

Images: The CW

When this final season of The Vampire Diaries started, it was clear the show was going to try and draw parallels between its first season and its last. The premiere did a great job of paying homage to its roots, while also giving us the sense that fresh storylines were on their way. The use of season one quotes as episode titles was a great way to frame each installment, but it looks like the show should have stopped there. Nine episodes later, and TVD season eight has gone from using subtle nods to evoke the past, to essentially being a rehash of every old plot, ever. Most notably, and irritating, is having to watch Stefan and Damon go down the path of humanity vs. no humanity for what has to be the eight billionth time. This week we had to re-live the Miss Mystic Falls pageant, which was basically a convenient way to get the cast all dressed up and in the same room.

Of course, it was also a super easy way for the show to talk endlessly about Elena and shoehorn in some of her classic stock footage.

The Good

The only thing fresh about this season is everything happening between Bonnie and Enzo. Bonnie has never truly had a love story like this – sure, there was Jeremy, but that relationship can’t even compare to this one. Not only is it satisfying to see this thoroughly underused character finally get some true happiness, it also makes for some actual interesting plot; something TVD is sorely lacking right now. The vial of Enzo’s blood around Bonnie’s neck would be extremely creepy on any other show. On TVD, it’s still a little weird but it’s mostly really sweet, and it allows for some thoughtful discussion on what immortality means to Bonnie. If becoming a vampire only meant that Bonnie could be with Enzo forever, she wouldn’t think twice about turning. She’s seen the kind of life her undead friends have had, though, and it’s just not something she wants for herself. There’s also the matter of what might happen to Elena.

In a previous review, I had speculated on whether or not Bonnie could become a vampire without risking Elena’s return to life. Technically, Bonnie would have to die before turning, so wouldn’t that brief period of death be enough to bring Elena back? Apparently, Kai made sure his linking spell had no room for loopholes, so there’s no telling what might happen if Bonnie turned. Now, if it were up to me, I’d say throw caution to the wind and just go for it, but Bonnie is a way better BFF than I would be. Plus, Bonnie presents a far better option for her and Enzo to live happily ever after: he could take the cure. This is a win-win. Enzo becoming human is perfect because it doesn’t place the burden of sacrifice on Bonnie, who we all can agree has carried that burden far too long already. How they plan to get the cure, which is running through Elena’s veins, could make for an interesting adventure. I mean, let’s face it, anything these two do is a pleasure to watch.

Caroline is becoming enjoyable again. She had one of the more interesting arcs in the first few years of the show, which took her from an annoying and shallow cheerleader, to an intelligent and vital member of the gang. As of late, her character has suffered because of the never-ending, whiplash-inducing, back-and-forth between her and Stefan, which has rendered their relationship impossible to care about. Now that Stefan is busy with his duties as evil Salvatore brother, Caroline can focus on other things. While her mission to save Damon from his worst self isn’t exactly an ideal plot – the Delena reunion is another thing that’s impossible to truly care about – I have to admit the writing for her character in this situation is the best it’s been in a long time. And as much as I would have preferred almost anyone to another white, blonde woman being thrown into the mix, Caroline is perfectly suited to being a mentor to a new vampire. When she explained to the young woman that life can go on after death, I immediately assumed Bonnie would be listening somewhere close by, wondering if she should reconsider. I was genuinely impressed with TVD for not feeling the need to be so on-the-nose. 

The Bad

Though the Maxwell Bell conveniently explains why Matt was ever brought back into the fold – only he can ring the bell – the race to put the artifact back together is awfully boring. Of the two sirens, Seline is definitely the most tolerable, but she’s still not compelling enough to make it interesting to see what she might do with all the pieces in her possession. There’s only one payoff for all of this nonsense: the deaths of Sybil and Seline. I have this nagging feeling – supported by the countless disappointments offered by TVD – that the bell is going to destroyed before it can be properly used. Let’s hope I’m very wrong.

Damn near every other aspect of this episode was awful. The Miss Mystic Falls pageant felt forced, and it made absolutely no sense for our main cast to be taking part in the dance. Trotting out the gas leak excuse, again, to get the innocent civilians away from danger was probably supposed to be cute, but it was just plain lazy. Sybil’s dialogue was as stale as ever; thank goodness Damon knocked her out so we could have a tiny breather. The small bit of clarity offered to explain just what the hell is going on with Damon’s subconscious/humanity switch only made things more confusing. (Honestly, it feels like the show is backpedaling its own logic to make this scenario workable.) Bless Dorian’s heart for caring about Georgie, but since no one else does it’s hard to get invested in his revenge plot.

Yep, it was just another boring-ass Friday in Mystic Falls. Prepare yourselves for more of it, because next week (and maybe a few after that) it’s going to be all about Damon dealing with his humanity and guilt. Or, you could always forget about this mess and go back to previous episodes that already explored this shit. I have a feeling those will be better episodes than what’s to come.

Final Thoughts

  • Carol Lockwood originally spoke this week’s episode title, as she taught the Miss Mystic Falls hopefuls and their partners how to dance. I had honestly forgotten that Elena started falling for Damon so early on, and the reminder was mostly a painful one. Partly because I miss the better days of TVD and partly because I feel really, really sorry for Damon. What a sucker.
  • Stefan, of all people, had a couple of great one-liners this week. “In his mind, this place, this event, was the beginning of their vomit-inducing love story.” “Take it from me, Elena Gilbert never really goes away.” Depending on the show’s production schedule, these quotes may or may not be aimed directly at audience members with similar feelings to mine. Either way, it’s nice to catch a glimpse here and there of the wit once so present in this show.
The Vampire Diaries S8E9
  • 6.5/10
    Plot - 6.5/10
  • 6.5/10
    Dialogue - 6.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Performances - 7.5/10

"The Simple Intimacy of the Near Touch"

Starring: Kat Graham, Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley, Candice King, Matthew Davis, Michael Malarkey, Zach Roerig

User Review
5 (1 vote)
About Jasmin George (185 Articles)
An avid reader of TV Guide in her youth, Jasmin has been a fan of all things television since she can remember. She’s very passionate about story, especially the kinds that use cameras and actors to convey them. When she doesn’t have her eyes glued to the tube, you can find her listening to podcasts or reading reviews about, well, TV. Yeah, Jasmin might have a slight addiction but she’s perfectly happy to coexist with it.
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