Like a bag of pre-grated cheese added to blue box macaroni, friends are an essential ingredient in a romance and maybe even the most important ingredient? During the early stages of your crush they'll talk you out of the all-consuming madness and misery that you experience when you're never sure what's going on. Then if the romance takes off your friends are there to get the play by play and hopefully talk you out of sabotaging things. And most importantly, if the romance goes south, guess who's there to help pick up the pieces? It's like everybody so badly wants to be the star of their own epic romance, but the truth is you were already in one all along. Friendship! For a while now The Vampire Diaries has been slowly dismantling all its earlier simplistic notions of teen romance and trading it in for something more enduring and nuanced. That means hookups have become romances and romances have become breakups and at the end everything averages out to a tightly bound group of friends. That's why Damon can call up Caroline for help (flashback to their troubling relationship in Season 1) and Stefan can hang out helping Elena study for tests even though there was a time he could barely look at her. Because friendship! It endures! Unfortunately, the downside is that a friend breakup can seem even more brutal than a romantic one. That's what "Man on Fire" was about, basically. The dissolution of Enzo and Damon's friendship. It was very sad! And that was BEFORE Enzo literally ripped out his own heart. Man, vampires are dramatic.
Well, not these vampires. Everything started in a coffee shop the size of an airplane hangar (so much dark wood) where Stefan was helping Elena study.
Which, haha, sure. *I* barely ever went to class in college and I rarely if ever had to battle ancient wizards. Elena is battling a new ancient wizard every few weeks, do not tell me she's attending lecture.
Then Bonnie arrived to make everything weird.
At this point TVD just sort of invented the idea that if The Other Side crumbles then Bonnie will definitely die. I'm not sure how she came to this conclusion. Was there a precedent for The Other Side crumbling? Doesn't matter. She seemed pretty chill about dying, which at this point was not a surprise. Bonnie has been more or less a ghost on this show for as long as anybody can remember (sometimes literally), so what would be the difference if she transcended our realm all of the sudden? At least Bonnie wouldn't have to worry about going to class anymore. Although, knowing her, she'd probably still go.
Meanwhile at Hunk Manor nobody could find Tyler or his Traveler-killin' dagger!
Honestly, as much as was going on in this episode, for me the #1 unsolved mystery is just WHOSE boxers Jeremy found under the couch. Matt said they weren't his, and presumably Tyler has his own bedroom right? This was HIS house. So how many other dudes are coming into the mansion and leaving behind their unmentionables? This show has some EXPLAINING to do. Hopefully this scene is a setup for Season 6.
Anyway, then Damon showed up and stood in the doorway and shouted at everybody because he wanted the Traveler knife so the he could go around town stabbing literally everybody.
But no dice. I liked that Damon immediately sussed out that Tyler had been brain-napped, something that never occurred to these two. Damon smart!
Meanwhile at a broke down store which had a dusty old escalator and also a (lit-up?) chandelier in a shopping cart, tons of understudies from Rent were standing around staring at a chained-up hunk.
The reason was that Tyler's personality kept popping back up, so they had to keep him chained. Have we established yet just why hybrids and vampires can't break chains? Are these special chains like in True Blood? I don't get it. Anyway, Markos had something to say.
It involved his plan to break the Travelers' curse and for that he needed a volunteer for a demonstration, so the sexy leader lady stepped up and then this happened:
He was clearly turning her into a vampire! But why?? Relax, you'll find out, jeez. Sit back down. You're frightening the horses.
Then Enzo showed up at college and interrupted Elena's study sesh.
There was obviously tension since these people didn't really like each other that much. Remember when Enzo tried to kill Jeremy for no reason? In this timeline that was probably last week. Anyway, Enzo was there now, and he wanted to talk about his long lost love, Maggie. Which: CUE FLASHBACKS!
It was the '60s and you could tell that Enzo was into Maggie because of the dozens of slow pans across her bosom.
And guess what? Maggie seemed into him, and she hadn't even been compelled. Anyway, she seemed fine, just sorta smiled and made heart eyes at him a ton. But it was enough to get Enzo obsessed with her for his whole life, so Maggie's game was impeccable.
But if you thought this episode would be about the investigation into her whereabouts, the surprising twist was that Enzo had already discovered what happened to her!
Yikes, she was very dead! And because of the time period and also Stefan's old hobby of ripping heads off, it was pretty clear that Enzo felt that Stefan did it.
But he denied it! And that's when Enzo snapped his fingers and Liv came over to scramble their brains.
As it turned out, Enzo had taken Luke hostage in order to get Liv to do his bidding. She didn't have a choice! Her brother was being manhandled!
Haha I have seen adult videos that started off like this. Just kidding, what is an adult video? Last Vegas? The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? Cocoon?
Also, this is neither here nor there (except maybe it is both here and everywhere), but can we see Luke do magic already? He is a witch! Or a warlock? I don't know. I just want to see Luke do magic. I'm sorta surprised he and Liv aren't powerful enough to get him out of some simple rope handcuffs, but whatever. I like these characters so much, I am not mad.
But guess who WAS mad?
Yeah, see, Bonnie was very loudly dialing Damon on her phone, so Enzo grabbed the phone and started bragging to him that he was going to kill Stefan and Elena, so Damon immediately recognized his, as he called it "murder voice," and grew very concerned. He even started to explain that Stefan hadn't actually been a ripper back in the '60s, but it was too late. Enzo had hung up and we had been magically transported back to JFK's election night!
That's where Stefan bit a random lady and sent her on her way and then Maggie walked up to make small talk and she sassed him so much about how she wanted to find Damon and murder him.
So then he bit Maggie and for a second there we were like, BOOM. Case closed. Stefan bit Maggie's head off. But then in the present day he was like PSYCH. He did not, he just bit her, that was it. But then Enzo choked out Bonnie and Stefan changed his mind.
Meanwhile Sheriff Forbes was helping Damon do a bit of research.
And WHOOPS. That's when Damon recognized Maggie's severed head as something he had once plucked off of her body. Awkward!
Meanwhile, if you were wondering why she hadn't ever turned into a vampire, please keep in mind that SHE TRIED.
Enzo tricked her into taking off her vervain bracelet and then he compelled her to forget who he was and to go lead a happy life. And I guess she did that for a few years but then she found her old journals and realized she had loved some vampire dude, but when she went back to look for him the house had burnt down and that's when she became revenge-minded. Very complicated stuff, buckle your seatbelt.
So then Damon drove two hours to college and entered the world's biggest coffee shop to hopefully clear up any misunderstandings.
There was a joke about how Enzo had compelled all the onlookers to just silently watch the whole scene, which meant that he had spent the morning compelling everybody and also taking Luke hostage and probably going over his plans with Liv and just A LOT of setup, all predicated on the notion that Elena would be studying her flash cards at this particular coffee shop. That was a bold assumption on Enzo's part, but it looked like his overly elaborate plan was working.
The one part he got wrong was that it was actually DAMON who had done the deed! Here's how it had gone down.
Haha, I love that obliviousness has always been the overriding personality trait of Mystic Falls citizens. Damon just sort of set her severed head next to her body and walked off, no hubbub whatsoever.
Anyway, obviously Enzo didn't take this revelation very well, and in my opinion it probably mostly had to do with how much work he'd put into his plan only to feel so dumb about the outcome. So he had no choice!
He shut off his emotions! At first it mostly just entailed walking around breaking glasses and bottles, but then it got serious when he bit Liv!
But then Stefan legit flew across the room and punched his face so hard!
There was honestly so much wire-fu in this episode, I was very into it. But then Enzo grabbed Elena and ran away.
Damon still seemed dead-set on winning Enzo' friendship back, but it wasn't looking good. So he took off to find them while Stefan stayed behind to heal Liv (who, again, can't heal herself? Get it together, witches).
Then Sloan woke up as a vampire and Markos made her drink Stefan and Elena's blood. WHAT was he up to?
Then Enzo decided he would try and hurt Damon by murdering Elena, which was sound logic. But before he could bust apart a sign and stake her, she proved she wasn't no damsel in distress!
But then he snapped her neck. Well, it was a good try.
But then Stefan ran over and wire-fu'd him!
I loved this fight scene so much. This is basically a show about people with super powers, so it's always nice to see those powers in full effect. But then, just as it appeared Enzo had the upper hand (in this case, upper hand meant covering Stefan in gasoline and threatening him with a lighter), Stefan plunged his hand into Enzo's ribcage and Enzo countered with an even crazy move!
THAT'S RIGHT. Enzo pushed himself away from Stefan and ripped his own heart out! To, I guess, frame Stefan for murdering him, which was going to really hurt Damon's feelings. Look, guys, don't look at me. I didn't come up with it. That's on Enzo. Suicide by heart-ripping. I was sad at first but come on, with whatever's going on with The Other Side, death is seeming especially temporary now. He'll be back.
But, uh, Bonnie and Liv seemed pretty convinced Bonnie was going to die. I liked this moment where even when Liv was trying to be helpful she was still giving Bonnie straight-talk. But come on, Bonnie, you are a series regular. Relax. You might not get interesting plotlines, but you aren't going to die either. Get real.
How did THIS part make you feel?
Talk about a retro throwback! This episode saw the return of two major relationships from the earlier seasons: Elena and Stefan's easy rapport, and also Damon's secretive, shadowy yearnings for Elena. And honestly? It worked. Call me nostalgic.
But then Stefan showed up and admitted he'd killed Enzo, and worse, he felt that it would be best if they all kept it a secret from Damon.
KEEPING SECRETS ALWAYS WORKS OUT GREAT. GOOD IDEA. PERFECT IDEA.
Then Bonnie was about to tell Jeremy that she was probably going to die but instead she chickened out, so now she's keeping THAT a secret too. ALSO PERFECT.
Then Enzo showed up to "pass" to The Other Side or whatever and he made it very clear that his beef with all of them was NOT over.
Oh, and look at what happened to Sloane:
The doppelganger blood had cured her vampirism! Because I guess the doppelganger blood undoes curses, which is what vampirism basically is. So now Markos wants to feed doppelganger blood to everybody and undo the Travelers' curse, but also there would be the added side-effect of turning vampires into their human forms:
CORPSES. That's right, drinking doppelganger blood will turn vampires into dead bodies. So, you know, that's not good! Anyway, sorry Sloane. Maybe don't volunteer to be a test subject for an evil wizard. That's on you.
This whole last scene was pretty painful.
Damon gave this big long speech about how nobody is beyond redemption, and he owed it to Enzo to flip his switch back on or whatever. And also Enzo had been saying such nice things about Stefan, etc.
Basically the whole scene was engineered to make Stefan feel SO GUILTY for having kinda-murdered Enzo.
Except, guess who was NOT impressed by Damon's words? THIS GHOST:
So I have a few questions. Is Enzo's switch still "off" even though he's a ghost? Second question: When monsters die do they retain their monster powers on The Other Side? Or was Vicki, like, human again? Also, wasn't Enzo's idea to frame Stefan for murder his main plan, or does he still have MORE revenge in mind? I don't really get it. But the important thing is that he is MAD (which, again, if he's mad, isn't that en emotion? What the h*ck is the point of flipping your switch if you're still all mad all the time?) and now Enzo is going to be messing with everybody until the end of the season. Which, great. As long as he is around longer. Enzo is a great character, and until now he's just sort of hung around with not much to do. Now he has EVERYTHING to do. And let's be real, if you're going to be haunted by an angry ghost, Enzo would be the one you'd want right?
"Man on Fire" was a solid hour of televised entertainment. Bring on the endgame.
BYE GUYS BYE
... Will Elena pass her midterms?
... Shouldn't the Travelers be taking daintier sips of that doppelganger blood?
... Is Bonnie going to get swept into the void?
... No seriously, whose boxers were those?
AIRED ON 12/2/2016
Season 8 : Episode 6
AIRS ON 12/9/2016
Season 8 : Episode 7