Members of The Vampire Diaries cast foreshadowed a darker final season, and The Vampire Diaries Season 8 Episode 1 has definitely begun to deliver on that promise.
From the set lighting to the storyline to the despair Stefan Salvatore's facing about his brother's descent into madness, "Hello, Brother" just felt heavy. And that's not a bad thing.
Julie Plec has teased that Elena Gilbert will factor heavily into this season's narrative, and tonight's premiere definitely sets that tone.
Bonnie, Stefan, and Caroline are all taking turns writing diary entries to Elena, which is a callback to The Vampire Diaries Season 1's "Dear Diary" episode opener. Scenes from previous episodes with Nina Dobrev in them also featured prominently tonight, most notably Damon's first meeting with Elena, a scene we've only witnessed once.
That scene matters because Damon is on the verge of flipping his humanity switch, and he's looking for anything (except Stefan) to help him avoid going there.
So is Enzo, for what it's worth.
But Enzo has a tangible reason to hang on. Bonnie isn't in an 80-year nap and Enzo is very willing to use what little free will he has left to send her messages and ask for her help. It's going to be Enzo's desire to be saved, knowing this is one time when he can't do it himself, which is going to get interesting as the season takes off, because it won't just drag Bonnie into this.
Every other character is trudging headfirst into a showdown with Sybil.
Damon, despite the fact that he's trying desperately to hurt Stefan so the younger brother will stay away, is only going to drag Stefan into the middle of this mess. His humanity isn't completely gone, and if Stefan could get out of his own head for half a minute, he would understand that Damon's attempts to hurt him are because he still cares and not because he doesn't.
And that's where things are going to get fun.
One simple word gave a teeny, tiny tease that Stefan's headed down the dark road, too. Damon says to him "It doesn't want you...yet."
Mwahahahahahah! Might Ripper Stefan return before The Vampire Diaries ends?!?! (My money's on yes, for whatever that's worth to you.)
The Ripper's return will create issues for Caroline which will create issues for Ric and that will complicate things for the girls and Matt Donovan will fall into that somehow and ALL OF OUR CHARACTERS are suddenly in the thick of it instead of everyone having a separate storyline where they rarely interact.
I'm here for it. Except there will be some diverging storylines. Which will all...come back around so things wrap up nicely?
This is the part of the review where I just start throwing out my random thoughts, ideas, and questions, and you can ask TV Fanatic staffer Paul Dailly: I have a lot of all of those things.
While Ric's excavating the Armory and being hit on by the pretty intern, Caroline's holding down a job in media and she and Stefan are happily coupled up. They're all using their various resources to find Damon and Enzo.
She and Ric are co-parenting the twins, splitting custody, and have a hot nanny helping them out. Hot Nanny Seline has some secrets, and my money's on her being a long lost member of the Gemini coven who found her way there to steward the girls into their eventual reign as leaders of the gang.
Otherwise it's kind of a waste of Kristen Gutoskie's talent. (RIP Kake/Jatie! You'll always have the shower!)
And in my mind she also holds the secret to ending that terrible merging the Gemini are known for. Instead, they'll find a way to balance their power and they'll both lead.
Look, it's a theory, okay? Maybe she doesn't yet know she's a witch. It's possible, right?
The girls definitely factor heavily into the plot surrounding this season's Big Bad. Virginia St. John, whose appearance in this episode was super odd and kind of dumb, dropped the news that the monster from the vault needs the girls, or wants the girls, or the girls are important somehow.
Then she bit off her own tongue and bled out in Caroline's living room, and I cannot get the mental image of someone biting through their own tongue out of my brain.
So what does Sybil need with the girls? Or are they the secret to resealing her inside the vault? Virginia being so reluctant to give up the information kind of makes me want to start researching origin stories since we're taking a tour through mythology in the final season.
Bonnie put together Enzo's clues to discover that a...Siren...has Damon and Enzo under her spell. Except they know they're under her spell which doesn't jive with what we know about the Sirens from mythology class.
They only heard her sing for the first time when she became corporeal, and there's something about seeing and hearing which renders people impervious to her powers. I think. So maybe she only operates like a traditional Siren when she's in human form? Or maybe she's not a Siren at all, but she's similar so Enzo is just pointing them in that direction.
I have questions. I need answers. We only have 15 more episodes to get them all. Here's hoping we do.
What questions do YOU have after watching The Vampire Diaries Season 8 Episode 1? Why does Sybil need/not need the girls? Will the gang be able to save Damon and Enzo without losing anyone else to the dark side? Sound off in the comments below and WELCOME BACK, Y'ALL!
If you missed a minute of tonight's premiere, or want to relive your favorite TVD moments, you can watch The Vampire Diaries online at TV Fanatic while we wait for The Vampire Diaries Season 8 Episode 2!
Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.