We dug deep into Damon’s mind in The Vampire Diaries season 8, episode 10, “Nostalgia’s a Bitch,” and we really liked what we saw!
You guys…they finally read the letter!!! I know I wasn’t the only one who was questioning if it was ever going to happen, but it finally came back. Before we get to that, though, let’s unpack the rest of this amazing episode of The Vampire Diaries.
‘The Vampire Diaries’ 8×10 recap
This episode of The Vampire Diaries was pure joy. Every moment encompassed exactly why I’m head over heels in love with this show. If they keep this quality up until the end, we’re in for a hell of a ride (pun absolutely intended).
Unlike some of the tactics they’ve been employing in recent episodes to bring us back to earlier seasons, the cameos, familiar locations and recurring themes in this episode were absolutely perfect. Every person, scene, and detail, right down to the song playing during Vicki’s cameo (the one they danced to in their underwear), helped us get to the root of a real problem that needed to be resolved before the series ended: Damon’s redemption.
In my opinion, Damon didn’t need to be forgiven for the crimes he committed while he was under Sybil’s control. We give everyone else a free pass when they switch off their humanity, why should Damon be any different.
The fact of the matter is, as much as we love him and root for him, Damon has both accidentally and intentionally wronged every other character, at some point. The fact that The Vampire Diaries season 8, episode 10, focused on Damon atoning for these sins, rather than those committed for Sybil, which included killing Tyler Lockwood, made the episode one hundred times better and more worthwhile.
I loved that the episode that was all about saving Damon, which could have focused entirely on Elena, had absolutely nothing to do with her. It makes perfect sense. Even though Damon often focuses on “doing right by her,” and earning her forgiveness and love, he’s never needed to. Well, not since season 2, anyway.
He has Elena’s love, respect and forgiveness. She’s all in. She gets it. She understands Damon Salvatore. It’s literally everyone else, who he’s somewhat neglected, that needed convincing. Even though Damon’s been an essential part of the group for at least five seasons now, there were (and are) still so many old wounds that needed mending.
The use of Liz Forbes to illustrate Caroline’s forgiveness was beautifully done. Damon and Liz had such a special relationship, but we rarely got to see how it affected Caroline. A time when Liz persecuted her own daughter was the ideal setting for Caroline to realize how much she actually appreciated Damon, especially since he had a hand in helping Liz accept her for who she was.
It was amazing to see Bonnie talk to her Grams in her old living room, again. Even though she knows she’s the happiest she’s ever been, her Grams’ feelings and beliefs must’ve caused some tension for her as she contemplated that she might, someday, potentially, in an alternate reality without the sleeping beauty curse, want to become a vampire.
True, Grams wasn’t “real,” as Bonnie stated, earlier in the episode, but it was still great to hear Bonnie declare her feelings and desires so confidently. She’s a woman who knows what she wants, and I’m glad she got to show that to someone who means so much to her, at least in a small way.
Bonnie, as Damon’s best friend, didn’t need as much convincing as Caroline and Matt. She went into his subconscious already believing that he deserved forgiveness and was prepared to give it to him. Even though “Tyler” tried to bait her, she held strong to that belief and ended up convincing Damon of the same. Yay for Bamon!
Then there’s Stefan. Ripper Stefan, who still came running when the girls called because he didn’t want his brother to die in the hell fire. Oh, these boys. What will we ever do without them?
Damon perfectly articulated a key facet of the Salvatore dynamic in The Vampire Diaries season 8, episode 10. Stefan will always be there to pick Damon up, no matter what he does, because he blames himself for everything he does. Always. Damon can never earn Stefan’s forgiveness until Stefan accepts his. Stefan can’t forgive Damon until his own guilt isn’t attached to every one of his crimes.
Although Stefan was of no mind to grant or accept any forgiveness in The Vampire Diaries season 8, episode 10, the Salvatore brothers still made real progress. Damon fully coming to terms with the fact that Stefan forced him to turn is essential if they’re going to have a real, long lasting, equal relationship, in the future. That is, whenever Stefan flips his humanity switch back on.
If I had one wish for this episode, it would’ve been to see Alaric as part of the “forgiveness landscape” as well. However, the three people that went into Damon’s head got him to where he needed to be, so he’ll just have to find Alaric’s forgiveness at another time. Oh yeah, I would’ve wished for Sheila to help Bonnie get her powers back too. It has to happen!
So after all that, Damon is back and, dare I say it, better than ever before! It’s been so long since we’ve seen the real Damon Salvatore that I truly forgot how much I’ve missed him. The looks on the girls’ faces, when he stood up, said it all.
Yes, he’s back to his charming, flawed, big hearted, save-the-day-at-any-cost self, but something’s changed. His position in the group is different than it was before he went into that vault. He will never be perfect, but he’s realized what, and who, matters.
It’s not just his extremely small circle of Elena, Stefan and Bonnie. He’s now aware that he really loves, respects and even needs all of the people he surrounds himself with. Also, they’ve realized, or are realizing, that they feel the same about him.
Going back to his small circle though, it’s letter time! Let me first say, both Ian Somerhalder and Kat Graham acted the hell out of this scene. Kat wonderfully portrayed how much Bonnie needed to hear those words, even though she’d avoided them for so long. Ian got across that Damon’s a different person than he was before this episode, and that his friendship with Bonnie was a launching point to him becoming that person.
Some fans may have been hoping for more romantic undertones from the Bamon letter. Actually, some fans may have even found that the letter did have romantic undertones. After all, he did say that she would’ve changed him the way that Elena did. But, romantic or not, the letter fully acknowledges how powerful Damon and Bonnie’s relationship is.
Damon went through so much of his vampire life being the exact opposite of “the best man he could be.” He knows that, just like Elena, Bonnie had the power to change that. Both because of the sheer force of her goodness, and because of the intense love that he has for her.
Damon loves, and has always loved Stefan because he’s his brother. He fell in love with Elena Gilbert, she truly saw him, and she loved him back. These are two of the most defining relationships in his life, of course, but I’d argue that Bonnie is just as important, and I think he would too. His friendship with Bonnie was the gateway to this entire episode, the gateway to him letting other people in, and a true force for change, in his life. Again, yay for Bamon.
Extra thoughts from ‘The Vampire Diaries’ 8×10
- Stefan’s ripper humor continues to almost justify the recycled storyline. “I’m here to convince you to marry me…NAH.” Classic.
- Now that Cade’s on earth, we’re closer to hell than ever before. All we can hope is that it means more cameos from departed characters.
- RIP Seline and Sybil. It’s been fun. Really, though!
- Matt, I loved your scenes with your dad in this episode, but why the hell aren’t you on vervain when ripper Stefan is running around?
- The Steroline scene at the end really makes me want it to be Caroline that brings Stefan back. She’s been such a trooper through all of this and she deserves to be the first choice. Ahhh but the brotherly bond. I don’t know! What do you guys think?
- BRB I’m just going to go watch this episode again (and again)