The Vampire Diaries “Hello Brother” Review (Season 8 Episode 1)

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On the premiere of the final season of “The Vampire Diaries,” the show did a little place-setting, as they introduced what I assume will be the final Big Bad of the series, though you never know with this show, which is just as apt to change its mind mid-way through and introduce someone/thing else.

On the plus side, for the first time since Season 3, according to IMDB, co-creator and executive producer Kevin Williamson returned to the writing fold of the show, and his presence was readily apparent throughout, especially in the opening conversation between the couple, as they discussed the pros and cons of superhero and teen dystopia flicks, while the male half expressed relief that at least vampires had fallen out of fashion- right before two of them kidnapped them and killed one and fed the other to whatever that is in the water. (More on that later.)

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Factor in an amusing nod to Damon catching up on his “chick lit” with a read-through of “50 Shades of Grey” and a plot twist hinging on the moldy oldie “The Odyssey”- apparently Enzo’s tastes are a bit more highfalutin than Damon’s, which is a nice touch- and it was certainly a welcome return, as far as I’m concerned. The show has been missing Williamson’s particular brand of pop-culture-referencing black humor for some time, so it was nice to have him back.

Indeed, some might argue the show hasn’t been the same since he essentially abandoned it, though I’d say for me the trouble began right around Season 5, and only got worse when Nina Dobrev left the show. Mind you, I’m not even saying that Dobrev was essential to the show’s success, just that things really got a bit desperate after she left.

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Hopefully, having Williamson back, even in a limited capacity- he has a new show, “Time After Time,” starting early next year- will help right the ship, as will the reported return of Dobrev, who will apparently be resurrecting her Katherine character, rather than Elena, though I would be surprised if the latter didn’t put in an appearance as well at some point. I’m actually fine with that, as I always preferred her as Katherine anyway- she’s just more fun as a character, and you could always tell Dobrev had a better time playing her.

Getting back to the episode at hand, “Hello Brother,” like I said, it was mostly set-up more than anything. We saw that Damon and Enzo were still working together as a team, hunting down “bad people” and basically feeding them to whatever was lurking in the water at the slaughterhouse they were occupying.

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Not sure why they have human body parts hanging up everywhere, though- vampire ambiance, maybe? Late night snacks for the water creature? Helping out with The Master’s plot to overtake the US in “The Strain”? Making a purer version of “Tru Blood”? Your guess is as good as mine.

Meanwhile, Bonnie and Stefan are continuing to search for the two, though Bonnie is a bit more on the despairing side, still lamenting the loss of her Enzo, as we see in the MANY flashbacks of the two. Ick- the less said about this still unfathomable subplot, the better. TBH, I was kind of hoping I’d dreamed it all- or that Williamson would come in and ret-con the whole thing.

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Stefan is faring better, having picked up where he left off with Caroline, with she and Alaric basically co-parenting the kids in her house, while she keeps the whole Stefan thing separate in his house on the side. Though, by the end of the show she decides to move in with him so that Alaric can move back into her house to be with the kids more.

Alaric, as indicated, is living elsewhere, so that he can keep an eye on the Armory, where he is trying to get to the bottom of just what it was that escaped from the caves in the building’s underbelly and how Damon and Enzo managed to escape themselves. Turns out there was a Harry Potter-style hidden exit (think Platform 9 and 3/4s at the Train Station) all along, you just had to deaden some of your senses to find it, namely your hearing and sight.

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Alaric’s new assistants figured it out somehow, though God only knows what even made them think to try something like that in the first place. The assistants are: Georgie (Allison Scagliotti, “Warehouse 13”), who has a bit of thing for Alaric- but the feeling isn’t mutual, yet- and Dorian (Demetrius Bridges, “Containment”).

Actually, Georgie says something about a deaf and blind cousin or something, which is why she thinks to try the experiment that leads to finding the passage, but it’s a bit on the far-fetched side. I guess they had to get there somehow, right? Whatever the case, the three go into the passage together, finding a room full of ancient artifacts and the like, along with the skeleton of some unlucky soul.

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Alaric wisely tells the two to leave well enough alone for now, until further inspection can be done, lest some Egyptian-style curse/Indiana Jones movie-type trap befall them and they get stuck in there like Mr. Bones. I feel like someone isn’t going to heed said advice, causing trouble on down the line, but we’ll see. Also interesting is the fact that Alaric seems to be keeping his assistants in the dark about the real nature of the Armory, in terms of all the weird stuff there.

Eventually, Stefan finds a potential lead and he and Bonnie go to investigate, with Stefan compelling the cops for info when they arrive. Stefan uses the dead body they find to lead him back to the slaughterhouse, with Bonnie doing the same via various clues Enzo left for her to follow as well, which are related to the aforementioned “Odyssey,” which Enzo declares one of the great “romances” of all literature.

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It’s been a hot minute since I read it, but I don’t remember it exactly being “Romeo & Juliet”- but then again (spoiler alert, lol), they both die, so there you go. Sometimes romance also equals tragedy. Whatever the case, when they get there, Stefan tries to take Damon by force but it ain’t happening, and Enzo tells them they need to leave before things get nastier.

We also discover that, while Damon has shut off his humanity to make things easier for himself, Enzo has not, which is what is allowing him to leave said clues for Bonnie, though Damon warns him that it might spell trouble for him- and especially Bonnie- if whatever’s down in the water finds out about it.

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Stefan and Bonnie leave, this time with Stefan in despair, as Damon once again tweaks him about it being his fault that he was in this position in the first place, due to his actions centuries before. Bonnie is the one who comforts Stefan this time around, turning the tables on their conversation earlier in the episode, where she was the one who was that was losing hope.

Eventually, Bonnie starts to put the clues together in earnest, realizing that the creature in the water might actually be, of all things, a Siren, as in the Mermaid-like creatures that lured seafarers and their ships to their doom back in the day. (You can read more about them here.) Seemingly confirming this at the end of the episode, a hot naked girl emerges from the bloody water, as Damon declares: “I guess she’s finally had enough to eat.”

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According to IMDB, her name is Sybil, which seems about right, and she’s played by Nathalie Kelley, of “UnREAL” and “Body of Proof” fame. In addition to this, we also get yet another new character in Seline (Kristen Gutoskie, also of “Containment”- I guess CW likes to keep things in-house), who is Caroline and Alaric’s also-hot nanny, because, you know, this is the CW and everyone is required to be hot by network law.

Seline almost bites it early on, when Virginia St. John (a returning Aisha Duran) escapes the mental institution and heads straight to Caroline’s to go after her kids for some reason, slashing Seline’s throat in the process. Caroline is on the phone with Seline at the time, luckily, and she is able to get there in no time, managing to both save Seline’s life via her blood and save her kids from Virginia.

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Caroline ties up Virginia and sends the kids away with Seline, compelling them to forget everything that happened, and questions her. She won’t say why she was after the kids, but it’s clear it is connected to Little Miss Siren somehow. Indeed, references are made to Sybil needing Stefan for something as well- but not yet. Then Virginia seemingly bites her own tongue off and chokes on the blood as far as I can tell, and that’s all she wrote for that character. I assume that Sybil somehow made her do it as well.

That was about it for this episode. All in all, it was a halfway decent premiere, even if, as I said, it couldn’t help but be mostly set-up. Williamson’s presence was a welcome surprise, and I am a big fan of Scagliotti’s from “Warehouse 13,” where she played the requisite hot computer hacker genius-type, so she’s a welcome presence as well, as far as I’m concerned. I didn’t watch “Containment,” so the jury’s still out on the others, and since Kelley didn’t show up until the very end, it’s way too soon to form any kind of opinion on her, either, both as an actress and as a villain.

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That said, hopefully the team behind the show have something special planned for this final season and we can go out on a high of sorts, after several lackluster seasons in a row, IMHO. At the very least, it seems to have recognized that over-complicating things, as with last season’s needlessly convoluted flash-forward structure, wasn’t necessary a good thing, which seems to have resulted in a more streamlined approach this season, thank God. Although, it’s only the first episode, so you never know.

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What did you think of the season premiere of “The Vampire Diaries”? Were you also glad to see Williamson more involved again? Any early opinions on the new characters? How about the actors playing them? What do you make of the villain thus far? How about the premise of Damon and Enzo gone bad- or worse than usual, at least? Any predictions on where this is all headed and what Katherine’s role in it will be? Sound off down below in the comments section and see you next week!