This episode felt like an eternity of misery. Holy moly.
TVD flashback episodes always rank among the worst in the series, and this flashback episode was no different. Sybil droned on about her origin story and slowly—so slowly—revealed more of the mythos of the season. She has a sister (Seline, the nanny). Cade’s the devil feasting on the souls of the damned. Stefan will need to kill the devil to save Damon. I needed three sentences to sum up those plot points. Williamson, Plec, and the writers needed 41 minutes. It’s clear that the show doesn’t have enough story (not even stories) for sixteen episodes. TVD always avoided ‘stand alone’ episodes. Buffy and ANGEL benefitted from the ‘stand alone’ episodes, but TVD never steps away from their serialized storytelling, no matter how grating and boring and frustrating it is to watch. Their resistance to any ‘stand alone’ storytelling has really affected the show in its later seasons.
“An Eternity of Misery” tried to throw in a double-twist, but Seline as the second siren was clear from her first scene in the episode. The last image of the episode shows Georgie being sucked into the abyss like Katherine was when she went to hell in season five, and it’s treated as a momentous reveal, but if Nina doesn’t return for the series, who really cares? There’s an opportunity for Stefan to journey into TVD’s interpretation of Hades wherein he passes old, dead characters from the past, including Katherine, but I doubt such an episode is made.
The whole episode’s about Sybil’s story and the little reveals about Seline and the existence of a physical hell world. Caroline is barely in the episode. Enzo is off-screen verbally abusing an off-screen Bonnie. Matt Donovan returned. The audience met his father, Peter Maxwell, and together they found the dead body of Tyler in the trunk of a car. Matt repeated Tyler’s words that Damon’s murder of Tyler would make him irredeemable. Again, Tyler’s not that important. Damon’s totally redeemable and will be redeemed either by his brother or by a Spike-like sacrifice in the series finale. As for Matt and Peter, Damon took an important heirloom from Peter’s shop for the Sirens’ nefarious plans.
Season 8’s been incredibly dull through four episodes. For instance, the parallels between the sisters and the brothers was laboriously spelled out and connected for the audience despite the plain truth that the viewer would get it without an expository monologue serving as the soundtrack to the flashback scenes. Watching TVD now is like slogging through thick Siberian mud outside Tomsk circa 1890. The good thing is that the last flashback TVD will ever make is over, but the stalling for the endgame has only begun.
-I think Paul Wesley won this week’s “Which cast member(s) has clearly checked out?” I wonder what the man thought as he continued clanging the tuning fork against the wall. There’s a metaphor somewhere in that.
-Neil Reynolds & Brett Matthews wrote “An Eternity of Misery”. I forget who directed!