Poor Matty Blue is having Maxwell legacy visions that are causing him to sleepwalk, and his somnambulist urges have delivered him to the Armory, where–yay!–Alaric is back! If anyone can fix the troubling sitch in Mystic Falls, it’s our favorite badass professor since Indiana Jones.
Matt confers with Alaric and Dorian about his nighttime troubles, and they realize he’s tapping into the memories of his ancestors, from which they hope to gain invaluable intel. They get him strapped in for a sleep study.
But that comes later, and of course, I’m stalling. Bonnie is in shock, crumpled on the floor of her house, Enzo’s lifeless body just outside her open front door. She takes a call from Damon and tearfully fills him in. Damon passes the news on to Caroline, who pretends to be confused about Bonnie’s stonewalling her in the aftermath of Caroline’s boyfriend murdering Bonnie’s boyfriend…Damon doesn’t let her get away with that self-delusion.
But Caroline has her own fire to put out, so she calls Bonnie’s mom to help. Caroline’s fire? Well, Stefan’s been leaving his fingerprints all over murder scenes for the last couple of months, and he’s been arrested. With his newly restored humanity hitting him hard, he knows he deserves this and worse, but he still leaves with Caroline when she compels the cops to believe this was all a case of mistaken identity.
Damon is back in Mystic Falls, chewing on his own guilt and sorrow over Enzo’s death, when Cade arrives with news of the good and bad varieties. The good news is, their deal was for two immortal souls, so Stefan’s new mortality has nullified that arrangement; Damon no longer needs to kill for Cade. However, both their souls remain damned for oh-so-many reasons, and now that Stefan is mortal, Cade intends to collect his soul immediately…unless Damon will trade something Cade wants for Stefan to live out his mortal life, however long that may be. The thing Cade wants? The Maxwell journal featured in Matt’s visions and currently being studied at the Armory.
This is a terrible idea, but as we know, the Salvatore brothers’ greatest weakness has always been each other. There is no chance Damon will refuse this deal.
He heads straight for the Armory, where Alaric disables him, then locks him up. Alaric knows Damon will not listen to reason. Damon watches from an Armory cell while Matt is going all Nightmare on Elm Street. Lucid dreaming in his hypnotic state allows Matt to narrate his visions. He’s seeing the life of Ethan Maxwell, the original metalworker who made the bell in partnership with the Bennett witches, one of whom was his girlfriend, Beatrice. While Ethan and Beatrice are engaged in some bell-adjacent flirting, Sibyl walks right up and says she needs the services of a gifted metalworker…dun dun dun!
Sibyl and Seline are living in the cave from which Sibyl will eventually be regrettably freed to ruin everyone’s lives. They have a plan to corrupt the bell’s purpose, and they Siren poor Ethan into doing their bidding. He can’t warn anyone about what he’s been forced to do, and for some reason, it takes him until the exact moment the plan is being enacted to get a sneaky message to Beatrice via their code key. He’s miserably ringing the bell and hoping to be stopped, and the gathered witches pour their energy into trapping the hellfire with a forcefield. They succeed, saving the town and keeping hell closed, but the coven is simply gone, possibly sucked into hell, certainly dead. Ethan leads Beatrice to the cave, where she seals the Sirens in, but she can’t prevent their song from influencing Ethan through the barrier; under their control, he attacks Beatrice, and she mournfully seals him in the room where his bones, and his journal, will eventually be discovered. As she flees in sorrow, he shouts after her that he knows how to kill the devil but “cannot say,” which means he’s written it in his journal, in code.
Unfortunately, Matt’s dreamscape is killing him, and in the heat of the moment, Alaric frees Damon to help. Of course, as soon as Matt’s medical situation is resolved, Damon grabs the book and superspeeds out of there to deliver it to Cade.
What Damon doesn’t know is that he’s currently bargaining for what might be a very short life indeed, as Stefan has been stabbed in the gut, and the Cure in his system prevents vamp-cures. His gut wound is the result of being hoisted on his own petard, so I’m not feeling bad for him: Realtor lady from last week is barely alive after he dumped her in the trunk of her own car with a gaping neck wound. He wouldn’t have given her a moment’s thought, apparently, but her daughter just happened to be at the police station filing a missing person’s report when Caroline was getting him out. The little girl says there’s no one else who can take care of her, “it’s just me and my mom,” and at that moment, even Caroline looks sickened. Stefan might have gone too far in Caroline’s eyes…unless they go find that woman before it’s too late. They do, and she stabs the guy who nearly killed her yesterday, which is her right as far as I’m concerned. You go, Karen.
Of course, Stefan survives the episode, and Karen is reunited with her daughter, so we’re meant to think this is something like a step toward redemption. I’m not buying it, and neither is Damon anymore…he asks Cade whether there’s any hope of earning freedom from damnation in time to avoid going to hell when they finally die. Cade smiles and says, “I wouldn’t want to give you false hope.”
Damon gives Stefan that false hope, though, when Stefan asks him a similar question. Damon, once again, is trying to bear a burden for his brother.
Again, I’ve been stalling on the Enzo subplot. I wish I could say Bonnie and her mom witchy-wooed him back to life, but the current explanation for Bonnie’s psychic detonation last week is that her grief punched a door open between our world and hell. Her mom realizes this and burns Enzo’s body in the hope that will reseal the door. Bonnie heads for home and has a nice talk with Matt, who knows about loss and had come to genuinely respect Enzo.
Finally, Damon waltzes back into the Armory, and Alaric is on the verge of throwing down, but Damon smooth-talks him with the idea that he knows how to kill Cade, even without the journal. It’s a piece of Cade’s own cremains, forged into a weapon by the fires of hell. As they talk about killing the devil, in walks Kai!
Kai’s arrival with a “better plan” gives me real hope. What if he has a way to destroy hell without destroying those trapped there, essentially transforming hell into the Other Side–or better yet, returning them to the world, as Kai has returned?
I’m so excited about having Kai around for more than a flashback or fantasy, this episode is a winner in my book. What about you? Share your theories about Kai’s “better plan” and what you hope to see in the last four episodes!
Episode grade: 9