We start with what appears to be a flashback of a young boy and girl in a tent. They hear noise outside and wishfully hope that the sound is coming from Santa. As the young boy peers through the crack of the tent’s opening, he sees a man running into the opposite tent in fear followed by screams of terror. Next thing he sees is Stefan (Paul Wesley) stepping out of the tent. He spots the young boy and begins walking towards him. That’s definitely not Santa!
In present day, Stefan writes a final journal entry to Elena (Nina Dobrev). He tells her about everything that has happened with the sirens and Cade (Wolé Parks), and about the deal he made. At midnight, he will have to turn himself over to him so he is going to do everything he can to enjoy the present. He still holds some hope that he can find a way out of this, but if he doesn’t, he wants Elena to tell Caroline (Candice King) he tried his best. He starts his last day with Caroline by decorating the tree in order to spend the final moments with his friends and family in an effort to try and be normal.
Last week, Caroline agreed to let Alaric (Matthew Davis) take the twins away in order to keep them safe. This is not only the last day for her with Stefan, but also her girls. Of course they will be over for the festivities, however when they arrive, they seem to keep asking for Seline (Kristen Gutoskie). This worries them since Seline could still come around at any time. As they bicker about when to tell the girls about Seline, Stefan swoops in to take the girls upstairs for some presents. Alaric then tells Caroline that they can’t stay long and that he has to tell her something about Damon (Ian Somerhalder). She obviously hasn’t talked to Matt (Zach Roerig) yet, and right before he is able to tell her, in walk Damon and Sybil (Nathalie Kelley)! We knew he wasn’t going to stay dead, didn’t we? Surprised by the entrance, Alaric blurts out, “I killed you” and then follows up with, “he deserved it.” Damon naturally doesn’t hesitate to tell Caroline that it’s true – Alaric and Matt killed him, and buried him. Oh the holiday dinner is going to be very interesting!
With the siren ordeal behind Enzo (Michael Malarkey), he and Bonnie (Kat Graham) are able to relax. He gives her a Christmas present of a mini Eiffel Tower, to which she quips, “I can totally use this to keep all my papers from blowing away.” The actual gift, however, is a trip to Paris! Is anyone else totally in love with how much Enzo adores Bonnie? There little moment is interrupted by a phone call from from Caroline. Immediately Bonnie apologizes for being late, but Caroline tells them not to come. Why? Because Enzo’s torturer, Sybil is there with Damon. She isn’t sure why they are there, other than to ruin Christmas, but all she wants is to make it through without issue and hopefully they leave soon. Enzo pipes in that perhaps they can use the tuning fork against Sybil, but of course she has it and won’t freely give it back. Caroline thinks she might be able to get her to tell give up the location, then Bonnie and Enzo can steal it back. Caroline sees a bottle of liquor and pours a little extra into one of the eggnog glasses she has been preparing. Perhaps that will get our siren to do some extra talking?
As Caroline hands out the drinks, Stefan comes in informing the group that Alaric will stay upstairs with the girls a little longer. Damon insists that they are not there to hurt the girls and will honor their agreement. Of course after everything they just experience with the girls being kidnapped, who could blame Alaric for being a little more cautious? Sybil insists that it was her sister that took the girls and it was actually her that helped save them with her deal, so Stefan should instead be thanking her. Caroline supports her saying, “you can’t fault one sibling for the sins of the other.” Nice dig at Damon! Damon then interjects to ask Stefan to go look for Christmas ornaments and he will also tell him why he’s there.
As Damon rummages through Christmas ornaments, he complains of his recent death and the fact that he was not buried in the family plot. Stefan has little sympathy and ask why he is really there. He’s going to be all his by midnight so why is he bothering him now. Damon explains that his death allowed him some time with their new boss, Cade. He then asks Stefan if he wants the same opportunity, to which Stefan swiftly replies, “not particularly, no.” But apparently Cade does want some one-on-one time with Stefan. With a wooden ornament in hand, Damon quickly stabs Stefan in the heart, killing him.
When Stefan wakes up he is in an alternate space, it looks like his house, but no one is there. Just when he calls out for Caroline, Cade appears. Stefan asks where they are and Cade responds by saying they are behind the veil. They are in a waiting room, not hell as Stefan initially assumed. Cade will send him back, but before he does, he wants to discuss their partnership. Stefan doesn’t see the point, as it’s pretty straightforward – they catch bad guys in exchange for staying out of hell. He doesn’t think that he is the right person for this task, but Cade thinks differently. He believes Stefan is the perfect person for this deal and he will use this time to show him why.
Back in the world of the living, Caroline and Sybil spend some girl bonding time in the kitchen. As Caroline prepares dinner, Sybil offers to help carve the turkey. The way she breaks apart the turkey with her bare hands disgusts Caroline, but she uses this time to try and acquire some information. As they chat about the wedding, Caroline changes the subject to ask what Sybil likes most about Mystic Falls. She mentions a neighborhood, called The Pond Estates, and according to her, “it’s filled with rich and sleazy men that would give up their whole house for a song.” Caroline quickly gets away to call Bonnie and Enzo and tell them about this neighborhood so they can check out the place. Perhaps, she is hiding the tuning fork there. As Caroline is talking to them, she has an idea and rushes to tell Stefan. When is gets to his room, she discovers him dead on the floor. Damon is behind her and tells her not to worry, that he’s not really dead and the same thing happened to him. She tries to lunge at him, but he manages to avoid her attack. He explains that the “big man” requested a meeting and he had to comply.
When Caroline heads back to the living room, Sybil is placing ornaments on the tree and with all the madness at the Salvatore house so far; Caroline has slightly given up and resorted to drinking the rest of the day away. What more could go wrong? Oh wait, perhaps not the best time for Matt to show up with his dad, Peter (Joel Gretsch)! Damon greets them as well and Sybil eyes Peter in the most foreboding of ways. Caroline comically sums up her day with a chug from the wine bottle, “Damon’s alive (as you can see), Bonnie and Enzo are late, and Stefan’s dead! Merry Christmas! I’ve got gifts!”
In the veil, Cade has taken Stefan back to the past. They are at the campsite from the beginning of the episode. Cade refers to this place as Stefan’s masterpiece. What occurred here was pure evil and that was where Cade decided that Stefan was his. The place is called Monterey in 1917 – during Christmas. Stefan knows he tormented people, but has no recollection of being there during this time.
While Caroline desperately tries to keep it together, she decides to focus on the spirit of Christmas and forgiveness. She even has a gift for Sybil since her mother always taught her to be prepared for anything. Not only do I miss Elena, but boy do I miss Liz Forbes as well! She also has a gift for Damon, who she knows will ask her for forgiveness someday. Instead of opening the gift, he declares he has not come empty handed – he too has a gift for one lucky person. That present is an all expense trip to hell; basically letting them know that one of them is going to be receiving a big lump of deathly coal tonight. Leave it to Damon to turn a happy moment upside down!
Meanwhile, Bonnie and Enzo reach the Pond Estates neighborhood and narrow down the list of houses to one. As Bonnie enters, Enzo is unable to follow since it has an owner. There is a woman singing Christmas carols and as Bonnie comes around the doorway, she finds Seline sitting at the table. Seline asks the owner to allow Enzo to come in. He rushes to protect Bonnie, but Seline reassures them that she is not going to harm them since she’s not like her sister, Sybil. Bonnie and Enzo go to leave and Seline questions why they are going without the weapon. She knows they are here for the tuning fork. She asks Bonnie for her phone.
At the Salvatore house, dinner is served. Damon continues to ask for Alaric, to which Caroline exclaims, “You are not going to kill Ric, or anybody else!” She wants to have a nice dinner just as Stefan had wanted. Matt questions why Damon is doing this, and Damon does what he does best and riles him up with talk of his girlfriend who is dead. For some reason Sybil has some strange interest in Peter.
While the others are squabbling at the dinner table, Seline has called Alaric from Bonnie’s phone. She tells him that his girls need her help. Since she had been preparing the girls for Cade, she and the girls are psychically linked and they will remain that way unless she removes the psychic imprint. This is probably why the girls have been constantly asking for her! Alaric refuses to listen to her and asks her to give the weapon to Bonnie and Enzo and basically tells her to, “drop dead.” As she hangs up the phone she picks up a notepad with a list of names. Enzo questions the Christmas list, and she clarifies that it’s a list of all the people she killed in reverse order. She informs them that it is something that she learned in Monterey. Hold on, did her and Stefan cross paths in the past? We then go back to Cade and Stefan in the veil, where they have come upon past Stefan sitting in the wooded area next to the lifeless bodies. Stefan sees his past self riddled with guilt over what he has done. Cade explains that while that feeling of remorse did nothing for him, it did however affect her. Her being Seline, who was watching past Stefan from the woods. They did cross paths all those years ago!
As they follow past Stefan in the veil, we see him furiously writing on the wall of a cabin. He is writing the names of all his victims when Seline interrupts him. She tells him that her master has claimed his soul. Just then, she reaches for him and enters his mind. At the same time Cade is taking Stefan down memory lane within the veil, Seline is telling Bonnie and Enzo of the encounter with Stefan in Monterrey. She describes how she had every intention of killing him, but instead she spared him. When she looked into his mind she only saw anguish, not evil. As we flip back to the past, we see Stefan begging her to take him because he deserved it. However, she saw a man who was innocent and loved and she didn’t want to be the one to decide. Rather than kill him, she took the memory away and made him believe he was worthy. At that point Cade knew he lost her, but this confrontation peaked his interest in Stefan. The fact that he was able to sway his best servant in such a dramatic way is what makes him valuable. He is a cold-hearted killing machine, which is exactly what Cade wants, but Stefan refuses to be that ‘ripper’ again for anyone especially Cade.
As we return to Bonnie, Enzo and Seline, she tells them that all she ever wanted was a way out and to be mortal and free. However thanks to Sybil cutting her out of the deal, after her death, Cade will torture her in hell and redemption is the only chance she has left. She tells Bonnie and Enzo that if Alaric loves his daughters, he will bring them to see her, “the path to forgiveness begins with one step, right?” Enzo promises to relay the message as he takes the tuning fork. Perhaps Seline is genuinely trying to make amends?
Back at the delightfully fun-filled dinner, Damon and Sybil continue bullying Peter into divulging what the worst thing he has done. They don’t like the answers he has been providing and as they press him for a better answer, Alaric finally joins the dinner party. When Damon summarizes what they are up to, Alaric remarks that the worst thing he’s done was “not making sure that you were not permanently dead.” Ha! Damon keeps grilling Peter, and fed up with his unsatisfactory replies, he flashes around the table and places a knife to his throat. Perhaps with a little threat of death he will give an answer that Damon is satisfied with? What is the deal with Damon, Sybil and Peter? What kept him away for more than 20 years? The answer – he couldn’t handle being stuck in the town with another child on the way. Finally satisfied, Damon declares a winner. There was no real reason. Did Damon do all this just to devastate Matt?
Next stop for Cade and Stefan within the veil is Mystic Falls High School. They go to the moments right before Stefan met Elena. Cade accuses Stefan of injecting himself into Elena’s world and leading her down the wrong path. She had a chance to lead an innocent life. As if Stefan doesn’t have enough guilt already, let’s keep adding on! Stefan claims he tried to protect her but Cade tells him that the only way to have done that was to have not ever met her at all. He takes this moment to tell Stefan that he wants him to do what he did with Elena again. He wants him to find people who would have done good and change them into people who are sinful. Stefan doesn’t understand because he thought that Cade only wanted evil people. However Cade explains that, “good people who could be made wicked are evil at the core and their souls are unusually potent and those are the ones he wants to feed on most of all.”
After the major fiasco at dinner, Sybil and Peter are alone in the kitchen. She is apparently is after something that he has. She decides to get what she wants the usual way, forcing herself into his mind, which causes him to let out screams in pain. Could she still be searching for that round object that Damon had found a while back? If she is, then Damon has not told her that he found it yet! No one can go in to check on Peter since Damon is watching them in the dining room. Just then, Enzo and Bonnie run into the kitchen with the tuning fork and help free Peter from Sybil’s grasp. Damon hurries in and takes Sybil out of the house. It seems that she wasn’t the only one affected by the tuning fork, because Bonnie is somehow feeling the effects as well.
Cade and Stefan find their way back to the Salvatore house still within the veil. Stefan questions what Cade will do if he refuses his deal. He responds by telling him he can patiently wait for the twins to grow up. This prompts Stefan to offer an alternative deal. If Cades want ‘Ripper Stefan’, then he can have him for a short time. Being the Ripper can do way more damage and will be more beneficial to Cade. Stefan will turn his humanity switch off, but when he is done, Cade has to let him and Damon go. Cade accepts these terms for one year. He thinks that Stefan won’t want to leave after a year, where as Stefan thinks he will. This wager intrigues Cade. Let’s hope Stefan can come back from turning off his humanity!
Meanwhile, Sybil and Damon have escaped the sounds of the tuning fork and are walking around in town, almost like a couple. Ewww! She is impressed that he save her and he presents a gift for her. As she opens it, he flashes to memories of Elena and the necklace he gave her. Did he just give that evil siren Elena’s necklace! Yes, yes he did! Just as she leans in to kiss him, he lunges his arm into her. She passes out and when he sets her on the bench, he rips the necklaces off her neck and calmly places her heart next to her. He then walks away. Phew, if he handed over the Elena’s necklaces then he definitely was gone forever, but the fact that he took it back and pulled her heart out gives a tiny bit of hope that there is still some goodness in him somewhere!
With the events of the evening behind them, everyone heads their separate ways.
Bonnie and Enzo head home. On their way, she tells him that she heard the tuning fork. She explains that her grandmother used to tell her that all witchcraft is rooted in psychic energy so maybe that is why she can hear it. Does that mean Bonnie still has some powers?
At home, Caroline waits for Stefan to wake up. When he does he asks for Damon, but at this point everyone has left the house. He quickly takes her out to the living room and kisses her deeply under the mistletoe. He wanted one thing that he had planned for the day to work. Caroline wants to know what happened and so Stefan tells her that he made a deal with Cade. He doesn’t want to talk about it anymore; he just wants to enjoy the last few minutes he has left of the night with her.
Alaric meanwhile agrees to meet Seline in the back of the Salvatore house. He does this only to help the girls. She uses her powers to wipe their memory, so they will no longer remember her.
Matt drops his dad at home; their relationship has been severely strained thanks to Damon and Sybil’s incessant badgering of Peter. The awkward silence between them is intense. Matt is clearly hurt from what his dad admitted and Peter is very ashamed for having been forced to confess it.
Caroline, Alaric, and the girls spend the final moments opening presents under the tree before he has to leave with the girls. Poor Caroline is going to be miserable without her girls!
The end of the night has finally arrived and so it is time for Stefan and Damon to begin their work with Cade. Stefan is seen walking on the side of the road in the dark, when Damon pulls up next to him. Stefan gets in the car and they drive off. It is just the Salvatore brothers – no Sybil. Damon tells Stefan that he should flip his humanity switch so it won’t be as painful. Stefan waits until he sees the Mystic Falls city limits sign. It is at this point that Stefan closes his eyes and flips his switch. Upon seeing this, Damon wishes him a merry Christmas.
And there you have it. The mid-season ending has left us with two deadly vampires ready to wreak havoc on the world. Not sure what the final episodes of the series will bring us, but let’s hope that they can bring these brothers back from the dark side!
The Vampire Diaries returns Friday, January 13 on The CW.
Next episode “We Have History Together” Preview:
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