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‘The Vampire Diaries’: The Devil’s in the details

The title of tonight’s (Feb. 10) episode poses a seemingly simple question: “What Are You?”

Well. If you’re Bonnie (Kat Graham), you’re heartbroken; if you’re Enzo (Michael Malarkey), you’re dead; if you’re Stefan (Paul Wesley), you’re very much human and suicidally guilt-ridden — and if you’re Cade (Wolé Parks), you’re feeling that much more smug about your own delicious omnipotence. (Yep, it’s possible).

…Oh, and if you’re Kai (Chris Wood), you’re back!

RELATED: Hold the cure — did ‘The Vampire Diaries’ really just kill Enzo?

While it’s not like we’re eager for this show to end — far from it — can we bear to watch Bonnie endure one iota more? In the immediate aftermath of seeing Stefan rip out Enzo’s heart (and essentially her own, too, of course) — with the hard-won understanding that helping Bonnie through this devastation is the least she can do, it was a tantalizing breadcrumb tossed in the general direction of Bonnie’s (and our own) Enzo-starved hearts, for a moment. His voice was clearly calling out to Bonnie from the beyond, and it seemed like, just maybe dare we hope?), the Bennett magic was back.

Bonnie has racked up plenty of frequent flyer miles between this world and various worlds beyond — and she’s well-versed in self-sacrifice for the sake of others… Which is exactly the problem. So when her suffering seems to have opened a portal to where Enzo’s soul is being tortured, Mama Bennett makes a brutal call: Enough already. Enough with Bonnie’s perpetual self-sacrifices, enough with playing chicken with various forces, enough tangling with the likes of Cade out of sheer stubbornness… And torches Enzo’s body, snuffing out any hope for a (difficult, agonizing, soul-destroying, messy and brutal) reunion between the star-crossed lovers ever again: This time, Bonnie must let the dead stay dead, so that she may (on many levels) finally live.

Now maybe this is our grief talking, but sorry — this doesn’t feel like a happy ending for Bonnie at all. This was the one do-over she deserved to have — for herself, as much as for the benefit of another. Enzo’s resurrection would have brought her the most personal happiness. And if the moral of the Bonnie storyline is – as Bonnie herself believes — that being a good person will never, ever guarantee you a moment’s happiness, because you’ll be too damn busy doing the right thing for everyone else, well, damn

Almost as tragic: The return of Stefan’s mortality – and, more importantly, humanity. would be a major factor right now too, of course… Were we not still holding a teensy, tiny grudge over the fact that his hands remain covered in Enzo’s blood for a good long while, it would be easier to remember how tidily and completely Cade’s become his puppeteer.

Nonetheless, let’s try to do the mature, high-road adult thing here and cut him some (reluctant) slack. Stefan spends the hour feeling all the feelings about every bloody and brutal thing he did after drinking the devil’s Kool-Aid. And, as predicted, he and Caroline (Candice King) are now teetering on the brink of an inter-species relationship — an all-too-familiar scenario that, thus far, hasn’t worked out too well for one single lovestruck resident of Mystic Falls. Hopefully the wedding caterer’s got an extra generous refund policy.

No, the ride hasn’t come to its final and complete stop just yet, so hopefully there’s a more uplifting takeaway tucked cleverly into the last few eps — but it’s hard to see how Stefan’s sweetness, and especially Bonnie’s selflessness, can lead either character anywhere near a karmically satisfying ending.

RELATED: ‘The Vampire Diaries’: What does a human Stefan mean for Steroline?

We also got — courtesy of some random visions Matt (Zach Roerig) has been having — alllllll the backstory about a centuries-spanning collaboration between the Maxwells and the Bennetts to keep Mystic Falls as undead-free as possible: Sybil and Seline (Nathalie Kelley & Kristen Gutoskie) return in flashback, wreaking their usual havoc on Ethan “identical to Matt” Maxwell, using their supernatural wiles (and soprano skills) to manipulate him into creating a certain bell-triggered portal for Cade to swagger through.The upshot here is Jaz Sinclair as Bonnie’s sunny, charming ancestor-witch – and Ethan’s Colonial bestie — Beatrice Bennett, who impresses even Matt so much he’s still on her mind when he pays Bonnie a visit.

While Ethan can’t tell anyone how to defeat Cade, he can write about it, using the code he Beatrice invented to be adorable with. That old dusty journal from the Armory’s crypt is a fascinating read, if you’re in the mood to double-cross (and maybe even destroy) the devil.… So when Damon (Ian Somerhalder) hands the journal over to Cade in exchange for Stefan’s new life — nasty, brutish and short as it will be — it looks like the devil might get away with every damn awful thing that has happened.

Mercifully, this is the “cocky rake with a not-so-secret marshmallow center” version of Damon — one who knows the journal isn’t the only Cade-killing game in town, no sir! Selene and Sybil had their own Plan B, in the form of a strange crystal dagger from the crypt, which it turns out might be just the thing (the other thing, that is; the new thing) to stop Cade in his hellfire-scorched tracks.

And just when you’re ready to high five Damon for having the best last-minute devil-destroying moves, Gemini’s Twin himself, Kai Parker, somehow saunters back in — after having died pretty graphically at a wedding a while back, not that we’d ever complain about more time with Kai — to suck up some of that savior glory for himself:He’s got an even better idea!

“The Vampire Diaries” airs Fridays at 7 p.m. ET/PT on The CW. Four episodes remain.

Category: TelevisionTV Shows: The Vampire DiariesTV Network: The CWCharacters: Bonnie Bennett Caroline Forbes Damon Salvatore kai Matt Donovan Stefan Salvatore

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