As far as mid-season returns go, The Vampire Diaries Season 8 Episode 8 felt a little slow. Not unimportant to the overall story of our final season, but slow.
Contrasted with the episode Paul Wesley directed, wherein Stefan sold his soul to Cade in exchange for Caroline's daughters, this Ian Somerhalder directed episode was a little more filler and a lot less thriller.
Maybe that's necessary from time to time. In a typical, full-order season, it wouldn't be uncommon to have a few episodes that don't shine quite as brightly as their counterparts.
Sure, there's new information by way of Matt's family history, but even that feels forced so that a connection between the Sirens and Mystic Falls can be made. Now the Maxwells are the original Founding Family (when the Mikaelsons were already the original Original Founding Family...)
At least we know Ric's second intern's name now. Dorian proved his ability to read old documents and sleuth out that the tuning fork and bell are probably the key to killing their enemies. (I miss a good old fashioned beheading, personally.)
In a season which is not only shortened by four but also the final season, it feels a little wasteful to spend so much time developing what we as an audience already know.
It was interesting that Stefan chose a doctor with similarities to Elena. (And before anyone yells at me about how Elena and Tara are so dissimilar, I'd invite you to watch again. Stefan said, essentially, "do you see how similar they are?")
Tara is a doctor, brunette, big eyes, a seemingly good hearted person who helps the elderly. Her parents were killed in a tragic car crash when she was a teenager. It propelled her forward so that she has achieved more than many of her peers.
Stefan believes she's drawn to the darkness and Damon believes she's drawn to the light.
Which of them is correct? And what does that say about Elena?
Stefan, thanks to Cade, and probably thanks to himself, believes he corrupted Elena by entering her life. But would he have been able to corrupt her if she weren't drawn to the darkness somehow? (Did he "corrupt" her?)
And is Damon's desire to see the light in Tara linked to his ability to see the light in Elena? Or to see the light in himself because of Elena?
Pardon the heavy philosophy here, but existential crises are sort of a theme with The Vampire Diaries. Damon has had at least five.
And yet Damon still has a part of his humanity and it's linked to Elena. He's not all-in on the soul-delivery services he's performing for Cade.
He's also been performing them for considerably longer than Stefan what with Sybil's creepy hands snatching him out of the Armory tunnel, but hey. Once upon a time Damon would've reveled in the ability to kill with no one trying to check him.
Now, a necklace is what tethers him to his past – and to his future.
Still it seems a little reductive to think that Elena is the only reason he's not thrilled to be on a global killing spree, and that's because Damon has evolved over the course of eight seasons.
To be clear, and even at the risk of angering fans (whom I love dearly – all of you – yes, even you over there!), in my mind Stefan is the least evolved character of the series, and that shows in his return-to-Ripper during "We Have History Together."
(I even said as much to Paul Wesley during an interview once. He didn't disagree with me that Stefan is the least evolved character.)
Stefan's shtick throughout the series has been good-guy-who-wants-to-be-bad-but-needs-to-be-good. Repeatedly. He's fallen off the wagon and been dragged back on it on a bunny blood diet at least four times now.
So what I want to know now is whether or not the producers will be bold enough not to save him by the series' end.
Will they be bold enough to allow Stefan's run on the series to end with him in full Ripper mode? Or will they find a way in the next, what, eight episodes (10?) to drag him back from the darkness, once again becoming the "good brother" who always does right by those he loves?
Will they end the series with the Steroline June Wedding fans want or might this be the opening Caroline needs to move away from Mystic Falls to start her life over?
Perhaps to New Orleans...
But I digress. (Except I don't because what I'm saying, Klaroline fans, is maybe there's a chance.)
It's hard to speculate what will happen when nearly anything can in the final episodes of the series, but that doesn't stop me from trying to pick apart what we're seeing on the screen to figure out how it will all end.
What do you think TV Fanatics? How did "We Have History Together" stack up next to the other episodes this season? Sound off in the comments below and relive your favorite Salvatore moments when you watch The Vampire Diaries online!
Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.