Being a fan of The Vampire Diaries and also a critic of The Vampire Diaries, I'm always leery of the other commentary I read so I'm not unconsciously swayed in my feelings about any one episode.
After The Vampire Diaries Season 7 Episode 17, I'm glad this is a decision I try hard to enforce for myself because I can see the commentary about this one going in two vastly different directions.
Lots and lots and LOTS of people are going to love the honest moments between Damon and Stefan Salvatore in this episode as well as the previous few. Others? Eh, others not so much.
They'll say it's too much of the same with Damon proclaiming he's selfish and angry and how we've seen it before.
While I see the merit in both sides of the argument, my own leanings are with the former and not the latter.
If there's one thing we know about Damon, it's that he's selfish, and he knows it. He hates it about himself and yet can't seem to shake it, for good or ill.
It's both the thing that's kept him alive for over a century and a half and also his tragic flaw. Hearing Damon acknowledge his flaws doesn't get old for me because there's always the hope that he'll change when it comes to the people he loves the most.
It's tiresome for Stefan to hope that Damon will wake up from some catastrophic event and his first instinct will be to save innocent people instead of flee the scene and save himself. That's not who Damon is. He's not the hero in that way.
He is, however, the stubborn one who never gives up when he makes a decision, whether that decision is to drive into a blizzard to save his brother or allow himself to desiccate for the next 80 years until he can be reunited with his OTL. We have to give him that much credit, right?
So I'm firmly ensconced in the camp of people watching from the edge of my couch as these scenes play out between the brothers because, as has been said before, they're the core of the show.
They put the vampire in The Vampire Diaries.
Even though we have yet to go a single episode without Elena's name being mentioned, the central relationship on the show has shifted from one of romantic interest to familial, and now we're all watching as these brothers mend what's broken between them. If, that is, they can.
Stefan says forgiveness will take a long time, and hey, they have eternity. He could very well make Damon wait for the rest of their lives before he decides he's ready to accept his older brother's apologies. That's well within Stefan's right as the oft-maligned of the two.
But let's not forget it was Stefan who got them both into this mess in the first place. Damon was content to die without transitioning.
Any resentment between these two is well-deserved on both sides, and I'm hopeful that this trend of seeing the angst and emotion between them continues to play out until they reach a place of peace and resolution. Or at least not anger and resentment.
I'd love nothing more if, by the end of this series, the only two characters left standing were Stefan and Damon and everyone else fell into a Hellmouth. That's how central these two are to the series and the story.
To me at least.
Speaking of Hell, all the souls trapped in Rayna's blade are free. I'm 98% certain we were all certain this was what was going to happen and we'd be able to see Paul Wesley play a different sort of character.
The charismatic Ambrose has to be fun for Wesley to play. There may only be 48 hours until the body of Marty Hammond dies, but damn, the fun Ambrose can have in those 48 hours, right?
This sort of thing is where Paul Wesley really shines, so expect The Vampire Diaries Season 7 Episode 18 to sparkle. Hopefully we'll also get some answers about where Bonnie's been and how/why Stefan killed Penny.
At least Matt had enough effs left to warn Alaric of the onslaught of vampire souls on the loose. He has that going for him. But not much else.
Maybe he could head to Memphis and redeem himself by helping them all stop Ambrose from slaughtering a house full of co-eds.
Or he could just sit on a barstool and drink bourbon. Alaric might be joining him when Stefan's reunited with his body and it's deemed safe enough for Caroline to return.
Take heart, Steroline fans. Alaric fell in love. Caroline fell in "this makes sense for the kids." There's still a chance.
What did you think of "I Went To the Woods"? Are you loving this return to the brothers as the central focus of the show as much as I am? Will they get to Ambrose in time to get Stefan back into his real body? Where do you see Alaric/Valerie/Caroline/Stefan headed in the future?
(They should probably form a compound so Valerie can teach them about being a Gemini witch. Then Valerie and Alaric can hook up. But Caroline and Stefan can be together but Caroline can still be mom to the girls. Not that that's un-confusing.)
Let's chat in the comments below and then remember you can watch The Vampire Diaries online!
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Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.