The Vampire Diaries “The Next Time I Hurt Somebody, It Could Be You” Review (Season 8 Episode 7)

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Ah, nothing quite says Christmas like mass slaughter, including that of little kids. Forget Santa Claus coming to town, this was more like Krampus. In the latest episode of “The Vampire Diaries,” we saw a particularly dark chapter in Stefan’s past, during his Ripper days, that even he didn’t know about, thanks to an assist from a certain siren, in “The Next Time I Hurt Somebody, It Could Be You.”

We began with a flashback to Monterey, circa 1917, as a group of excited kids awaited the arrival of Santa on Christmas Day, only to get an unexpected visit from someone else entirely- or something else, I might say- in the guise of Stefan on a Ripper rampage. Devastated by his actions after the fact, he set to commemorating the fallen by listing their names on the wall.

Enter none other than Seline, who saw an evil of the sort she’d never seen- and certainly one ripe for the picking, given her assignment to harvest as many of the wicked as she could on behalf of Cade, as per their agreement. Imagine her surprise then, when she read Stefan’s mind, only to discover the heart of an innocent hidden away underneath the monster.

Showing a rare mercy, instead of killing and feeding on him, she opted to take away the memory of what he’d done, which is why Stefan had no memory of what he’d done at that camp long ago. Indeed, given what we know of him, the remembrance of such a thing probably would have driven him to off himself, so it was probably for the best. However, the incident also drew the attention of someone else: Cade.

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Curious as to why Seline would have let such an animal go, he investigated further, only to discover what she had- which, of course, made him want Stefan in his service all the more. Upon showing Stefan what he’d done, Stefan agreed to do whatever Cade wanted- and as the Ripper, to boot- but only on one condition: after a year’s service to him, Cade would allow Stefan and Damon to go free, with no repercussions, including having to go to Cade’s version of Hell upon their deaths.

One would assume that Stefan would also want to forget whatever he does during that time as well, but if that was a term of his condition, it wasn’t mentioned. As they say, the devil’s in the details. Let’s hope that particular detail doesn’t come back to haunt him, because, like I said, Stefan would never be able to live with himself.

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There was one stipulation, however: it seems Cade has a particular affection for souls that haven’t actually done anything bad, but have the capacity for it. If Stefan and Damon can give such souls a little push into doing something wicked that they might not have done otherwise, it turns out those souls are the “tastiest,” as it were.

So, now, not only do Damon and Stefan have to kill people, but they have to drive people to do awful things they might not have done otherwise without their interference, and THEN kill them. Pretty nasty stuff, that. Like I said, those two better hope they can get someone to take away those memories after the fact, or they are going to be haunted the rest of their lives.

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Fortunately, as we saw with Seline, such things are possible. After Bonnie and Enzo showed up at the house she and her “sister” were occupying, having hypnotized a family into letting them live there, after Sybil let it slip to Caroline where it was, she informed them that she wasn’t all bad, and agreed to give them the bident they were looking for to combat Sybil, in exchange for one thing: an audience with Alaric and the twins.

Needless to say, Alaric wasn’t keen on anything of the sort, but he eventually agreed when he realized that the twins weren’t going to let go of their “friendship” with Seline anytime soon- or ever. It seems that once a siren bonds with someone and establishes a “psychic link” with them, as we’ve seen with Seline and the twins, as well as with Damon and Enzo and Sybil, that sort of thing doesn’t just go away.

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Ultimately, Alaric agreed to let Seline say “goodbye” to the kids, in exchange for removing said link, which also removed any remembrance of her from their minds in the process. Turns out that Seline isn’t all that bad, after all- even if she is a cannibalistic killer that’s doomed to Hell. Or, you know, as good as such a person is capable of being, that is.

That done, Enzo used the bident to run off Sybil, just as she was trying to kill off Pete Maxwell, aka Matt’s biological dad, for the sin of leaving his family high and dry. Damon ends up saving her just in the nick of time, only to kill her off by ripping out her heart when he realized that the necklace Caroline had given him as a Christmas gift was Elena’s, and he subsequently remembered her and what Sybil had done to him, which is to say replace Elena in his memories with herself. But will she stay dead? We shall see.

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Obviously, Damon didn’t, as he still had time to serve for Cade, so it’s possible Cade could also resurrect Sybil. But then again, as she had already made a deal to get away from his clutches, he doesn’t really have a horse in that race anymore, so he probably won’t. Therefore, that means that may well be the last we see of Sybil, save perhaps in flashbacks. Oh well. That’s what she gets for pushing her luck, I guess. I’d say she’d be missed…but not really.

The real question is, will Seline feel inclined to avenge her? I mean, on the one hand, Sybil did betray her, but on the other, it was Seline’s fault that Sybil got into that mess with Cade in the first place. As such, it’s hard to say if she will feel the need for vengeance, least of all with nothing to prove to anyone anymore, what with her link to the twins severed as well.

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She might just choose to walk away, though, as we know, she’s still “under contract” to Cade, so she might just end up having to “help out” Damon and Stefan- not that they really need any. Being as how that is, either way, she won’t get far without Cade coming to collect more souls from her- if she opts to do so, that is. Given that list of her victims, she’s obviously feeling some remorse for her actions over the years.

My prediction: she’ll refuse to serve him anymore, and Cade will kill her and she will get sent to Hell, but it will turn out to be part of a larger plan on her end to try and release the souls she condemned- including Georgie- from Hell somehow and atone for all that she’s done. (Count on Katherine making an appearance eventually as well.) Seline did say she was looking for redemption, after all.

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Beyond that, we had the worst Christmas celebration ever- okay, maybe not as bad as that one in Monterey, but no great shakes, either. It was intended to be a final send-off for Stefan, but then Damon and Sybil showed up and rained on everyone’s parade, with Damon staking Stefan- with a Christmas ornament, no less- so that Cade could have a word with him, Stefan’s last day be damned.

Combine this with Damon tormenting everyone present, especially Matt and his dad, and as one might guess, Caroline was not the happiest of campers. Though it was fun seeing her try to create some semblance of a happy Christmas dinner, in lieu of all that was going on. Flustered Caroline is definitely my favorite Caroline, and seeing how long we’ve been saddled with grumpy, humorless Caroline, it was nice to see a little bit of the old character I used to love so much.

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Indeed, in a way, this episode was like a microcosm for what’s been off about the show over the last few seasons- it’s all so dour and glum. Having Kevin Williamson aboard, in a writing capacity, was a nice surprise earlier this season, and despite all the darkness going on in this episode, there were some welcome flashes of humor that helped make this episode more memorable than it might have been otherwise, as more of a means to an end than anything else.

Caroline and Sybil in particular, played well off of one another, with Caroline deeming the latter a “psycho American Idol reject,” and presenting eggnog to her unwanted visitors with a snippy “I didn’t have time to poison it.” Sybil, in turn, gave as good as she got: “Put away your umbrella, I don’t need your shade,” she snapped at Caroline right back.

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By the time Caroline was downing wine like it was going out of style- drunk Caroline is also a lot of fun- and Sybil was ripping apart the turkey like it was one of her victims she was about to devour, it was just fun enough to rescue the episode from being a total doom-and-gloom fest, thank God.

In the end, though, no one really emerged unscathed, from Matt figuratively getting his heart ripped out by his father, just as they were finally bonding, to Sybil literally getting hers ripped out by her supposedly loyal servant Damon. Meanwhile, Stefan and Caroline barely had a chance to say goodbye before it was time for him to go already, off to serve Cade for a year, with Damon.

We ended with the ominous sight of Stefan shutting off his humanity and smiling darkly as Damon welcomed back the “Ripper” and they drove off into the darkness, both literally and figuratively. Alas, I fear the show may get worse before it gets better, unfortunately- IF it gets better at all. You never know, though. Maybe Nina Dobrev’s return might be just the shot in the arm this season needs. Who’d have thunk it?

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So, what did you think of the Xmas-themed episode of “The Vampire Diaries”? Was a “Merry Christmas” or more of a “Bah Humbug”? What was your favorite moment? (If there was one.) Glad to see Sybil go? Or is she really gone for good? Where do you think this is headed, if my predictions are wrong? Are you looking forward to the return of Dobrev? Sound off down below, and I’ll see you next year, for the final run of episodes!