As it seems much of this season has been, The Vampire Diaries Season 7 Episode 10 focused on Damon Salvatore and his own personal Hell.
That Hell, as it turns out, had way less to do with all the innocent people he slaughtered and way more to do with the fact that deep down inside his heart of hearts, he's a big ol' Mama's boy who never quite got over his mother's absence.
Aw, Damon. Such a softie!
The rule of inverses must be applied when it comes to Damon Salvatore.
The very fact that he professed so much hatred for his mother even up until her third (and final) death meant he was absolutely in no way okay with the fact that she was dying. Again.
Despite his hard exterior, all Damon ever really wants is to be seen and loved and accepted, flaws and all. Elena does that. Lily did that. Mostly. Damon was unable to see that her desire to bring BOTH of her families together was genuine and in his own selfishness decided that it was her real sons or nothing, casting his mother aside when she refused to choose.
Damon's kind of a dick like that, you know? And he always realizes it when it's too late.
It was clear from the outset that escaping Hell had little to do with stopping the slaughter of the innocent people at the farmhouse, but it was fun to watch Damon trapped in his own personal Groundhog's Day trying to figure out how to change it all while no one around him was the wiser.
I would have preferred he come to the realization that he had to let Lily into his heart in order to save himself on his own rather than have Stefan be the one to shake sense into him (again), but if Stefan hadn't been the one to bring Damon to his senses, Paul Wesley wouldn't have had very much to do in this episode except mope and drink bourbon and mope some more.
Sorry to the Steroline fans who were hoping for a reunion. Sorry to the Stefan fans who were hoping to see what his Hell would be like. Maybe next week on The Vampire Diaries Season 7 Episode 11?
While the flashbacks were great (minus 1863 Stefan's hair, which is decidedly unheroic), the real magic happened in the moments when Damon thought he was awake and then when he actually was awake.
It should've been a tip-off that Damon wasn't really back when he forced Bonnie to go right back into using magic despite her saying her stores were depleted and she needed to rest. They've come a long way in the past few seasons, and that was an old-school Damon move. Current Damon would've given Bonnie at least an hour.
It was also telling that part of Damon's Hell was confronting the fact that everyone, including himself, knows that of the two, he's least likely to be able to stand prolonged exposure to the worst parts of himself, despite the fact that it can be argued that Stefan's ripper days have made him the more deadly vampire and therefore the one most likely to crack.
Maybe the repeated cracking and healing and Bunny Dieting in Stefan's history have made him more able to bounce back. No idea.
Anyway. Damon knew, subconsciously, that no matter how much he talks about being a tough guy, he's really not so tough at all. And that's why we love him.
Or that's why I love him. Your mileage may vary.
As far as Damon waking up and appearing to kill EVERYONE to try and get back to Lily, I can't even begin to estimate what could come from that.
Bonnie's head was definitely bleeding as she slid down that wall, but maybe she's just unconscious. The Wonder-Twins will probably save Caroline's life, and Stefan's neck was broken, so he'll live.
We could actually lose Matt Donovan since that looked like a pretty brutal throat-gashing.
Welcome back, Damon. And welcome back, TV Fanatics.
What did you think of "Hell Is Other People"?
Were you excited for such a Damon-centric episode? Were you shocked that losing Lily was actually his Hell and not being unable to return to his brother? Let's chat in the comments below and don't forget you can watch The Vampire Diaries online right here!
Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.