A couple is heading home from a date to a movie the woman (Cindy) didn’t like. They drive into a cloud of fog and narrowly miss hitting Damon, who’s standing in the middle of the road. They hit Enzo instead. Damon applauds the guy (Buck) for his quick reflexes, since he was able to miss Damon. Enzo suggests not killing the couple just yet.
They take the couple to their warehouse lair, explaining that they’re “unwilling employees” (Enzo prefers “Renfields,” referencing Dracula, but Damon isn’t a fan) who have been tasked with collecting horrible people. Damon asks which half of the couple is the worse person. Cindy only admits to shoplifting makeup, but with the help of compulsion, she reveals that she slept with her best friend’s boyfriend eight times. “You’re doing something wrong, pal,” Enzo tells Buck. As for his sins, he stole and sold his grandmother’s pain medication from her cancer treatment. Damon declares him the winner. His prize is a slow and painful death. Cindy will also die, but not as slowly and painfully.
Enzo kills her, leaving Damon to take Buck to the part of the warehouse where they’ve been hanging up their victims’ bodies. Damon compels Buck to be calm so he doesn’t make a scene on the way to his death. Buck says he doesn’t want to die, and Damon says he doesn’t want to kill him, but they don’t have a choice right now. He sticks a hook in Buck’s back and hoists him up over a pit filled with reddish water. Buck gets dropped in, and though he tries to fight his way out, something pulls him under. When the hook comes back up, all that’s left on it is some unidentifiable gunk. Unaffected by the gruesome death, Damon and Enzo discuss their evening plans and part for the night.
Dear Elena, Bonnie’s on journal duty, which will allow Caroline and Stefan more time to make out. The gang is still looking for Damon and Enzo but hasn’t had any luck finding them or figuring out who or what took them. Bonnie tries to cheer herself up by playing her guitar at the cabin, but when she accidentally snaps a string, she breaks down. She tells Elena that going through this is the hardest thing she’s ever had to do.
She has a flashback to a time when Enzo told her that her guitar playing “would send Odysseus sailing in the other direction.” He fixes a broken string for her as he explains that his literary reference was from The Odyssey. Later, he tells her that one day she’ll play like a siren. That’s the day he’ll know she’ll love him forever, because only true love would help her overcome her horrible musical talent.
At Vamp Villa, Caroline complains to Stefan that the girls’ nanny is being too creative and wasteful with their food. Stefan thinks her real problem is that she thinks the nanny is getting too close to Alaric. Alaric is now running the Armory, and Caroline worries that he’s exhausting himself and is “susceptible to hot nanny charms.”
Stefan plans to spend the day looking through missing-person reports from the past month to see if anything points him toward Damon and Enzo. Caroline will be checking in with local news stations. She tries to stay hopeful that today will be better. As she’s leaving, she gets an alert that a body has been found. She and Stefan agree that that news makes today better than yesterday. In the sense that it could give them a lead, not in the sense that, you know, someone’s dead.
Alaric chats with the girls on the phone from the Armory, telling them they’re not allowed to visit him there until they’re 18. He’s impressed with how efficient their nanny, Seline, is and wishes there were two of her: “Any chance you’re a doppelganger?” (She doesn’t know what that means.) Caroline and the Saltzmans have officially moved to Mystic Falls from Dallas, and Caroline and the girls are living at Fort Forbes.
Alaric gets off the phone to talk to one of his interns, Dorian, who has big news. He and fellow intern Georgie have been looking into ways someone could leave the vault without being seen. Georgie’s been curious about the supernatural creature that escaped, though Alaric claims this is all theoretical. (Dorian doesn’t believe that.) In the vault, Georgie says that her cousin lost her hearing when she was young but is still able to get around well because her other senses are now heightened. Georgie puts a blindfold and noise-canceling headphones on Alaric, who feels around the cave walls until he finds a spot that allows him to pass through it like he’s a ghost. Dorian and Georgie are thrilled.
In their warehouse, Enzo tells Damon (who’s reading Fifty Shades of Grey) that he dealt with Cindy’s body. He knows “it” wants truly evil people, not those who have barely done anything wrong. Damon suggests that he find eviler people, then. Enzo’s tired of killing people and feeding “it.” Damon reminds him that “it” can hear him, but since “it” can also get into their minds, Enzo doesn’t see a point in censoring himself. He asks Damon if he has any control left. Damon reveals that he flipped his switch and is “on full cruise control.”
Enzo yells into the water, asking how long they have to keep killing until their master is full. Damon thinks he should ask nicely. So does whatever’s in the water, since it pulls Enzo in. Damon goes back to his book as the same hands that grabbed Enzo in the dark when he first entered the vault pull him under the water. When Enzo resurfaces, Damon asks if he got an answer to his question.
Stefan and Bonnie go together to check out the body Caroline found out about. They have two different attitudes toward all the clue-following they’ve been doing over the past few months: He’s still holding on to hope that eventually one will lead them somewhere, while she gets more and more crushed every time they hit a dead end. He tells her that no one knows how to fight harder or longer than she does. If she gives up, he won’t be able to keep going. Bonnie promises to keep working with him as long as he doesn’t tell her to keep up hope.
Dorian and Georgie join Alaric in the tunnel he wound up in, explaining that the entrance is like an optical illusion. They don’t know where the tunnel leads; they were waiting to bring Alaric along before they explored. Caroline goes to her new job at a Mystic Falls news station, where Seline has brought the girls to have lunch with her. Caroline plays a recording that a sound guy restored for her so she can hear Enzo and Virginia’s conversation from his visit to her at her new hospital. She escaped after that, so the gang has nothing to go on. The recording glitches, making a high-pitched sound that drowns out whatever Virginia told Enzo about the vault monster.
Georgie asks Alaric why he was so hesitant to explore the tunnel. He’s an archaeologist, after all. He says he’s not, but she thinks he’s just like Indiana Jones. Alaric has drifted over to the “academic geek” side, now that he has kids and doesn’t want to put his life in danger. Plus, he knows that they could be dealing with more than just a normal-looking tunnel. For example, this one has a hidden door. Behind that door is a bunch of stuff. Alaric describes it best: It’s a “geek gold mine.”
Stefan and Bonnie get to the scene where the body was found and get a detective to tell them about the victim’s death. She was strangled and bled out, and has been mounted on the front of a car. The detective thinks she hit an animal, but he can’t explain the teeth marks on her neck or the blood at the scene that doesn’t match her blood type. The body belongs to Cindy, and Bonnie realizes that she was strangled with a guitar string.
Stefan calls Caroline, who looks at a map of the area to see what’s around. He tells her that the car’s odometer only had three miles on it. Caroline remembers a recent news story about the area – the water in a creek became bloody because of a local slaughterhouse that’s now closed. It’s exactly three miles from where Cindy’s body was found. After they hang up, Caroline goes back to the Enzo/Virginia video, but the glitch is still present.
Seline calls and asks if Caroline’s been in touch with Alaric, who isn’t answering his phone. She tells Caroline that the girls are playing hide and seek, but it’s a version where they just both hide. Kids are weird. As Caroline calls the Armory to ask for Alaric, Seline hears the front door open and tells her that he must be home. Caroline doesn’t hear her, and she’s told that Alaric’s still at work. Seline finds the front door open but no one outside. When she returns to the kitchen, the knife she was using while cooking is gone. She tells Caroline that someone’s in the house. Suddenly the knife is at her throat, slicing it open. Virginia has popped up behind her. Sensing that something’s wrong, Caroline zooms out of her office.
Virginia goes upstairs and searches for the twins, who it turns out picked a really good time to play a game where they hide in a closet. Caroline arrives before Virginia can get to them. She knocks Virginia out and tells the girls to stay put without letting on that there’s a problem. She drags Virginia downstairs, then revives Seline with her blood.
While Dorian goes back to the Armory to get some lights, Alaric checks out all the artifacts they found. He’s surprised that they’re so well-preserved, considering the moisture in the tunnel. Well, except for a skeleton in there. Georgie tells him his geekiness makes him hot. He replies that while he appreciates her (wildly inappropriate) comment, he’s “pretty much closed for business.” She says she had to try. No, you didn’t! He’s your boss! You’re at work! Shut up, Georgie! Dorian returns and tells Alaric that Caroline called with an emergency.
Stefan checks out the warehouse (which we now know is a former slaughterhouse) while Bonnie stays behind at the crime scene. After the detective extracts candle wax from Cindy’s body, Bonnie tells Stefan she’s coming to join him. He finds Damon, the water, and the bodies all at once. “Hello, brother,” Damon greets him. He starts mopping, saying he’s doing his daily chores. Stefan asks what was in the vault and is clearly controlling him now. Damon says it doesn’t matter what has him, only that he’s “been had.” Stefan should be proud of him for only killing bad people.
Stefan asks about Enzo, and Damon tells him he can go – they’re fine. Stefan doubts that, since they’re hanging out in a slaughterhouse. Damon points out that they’ve been surrounded by death for 160+ years. Stefan might think it’s worth it to continue trying to be a hero, but Damon’s done. Stefan guesses that he turned off his humanity. He offers to help Damon get it back, but Damon knows how this is going to end, and his humanity won’t save him.
Stefan asks what he means. “I’m talking about Hell, brother,” Damon replies. “Not the kind of Hell that traps you in a stone. Fire and brimstone Hell. I’ve seen it. I met it up close. Tasted it, touched it. It’s beyond its reputation.” He tells Stefan to leave, since “it” doesn’t want him yet: “Walk out of here with your hero hair intact and never come back.” Stefan refuses to go without his brother.
Caroline compels Seline to take the girls out for at least two hours. She interrogates Virginia, who tells her that “it” has come for the twins. When Caroline orders her to explain what “it” wants with the girls, Virginia decides she’s done talking. Like, really done – she bites off her own tongue. Gaaaaaaah!
Bonnie goes to the slaughterhouse, where Stefan’s trying to use Elena to talk Damon out of doing anything he’ll regret. Damon reminds him that since his humanity is off, he doesn’t care about Elena anymore. Every person he’s killed and every bad decision he’s ever made has sealed his fate. He and Elena are on different paths, and he’s not going to get the happy afterlife she is. He tells Stefan to leave again, but instead, Stefan breaks his mop and sticks the end of it into his brother’s back.
Bonnie tells Stefan to get Damon in the car while she looks for Enzo. Stefan wants to leave ASAP, but she won’t go without her boyfriend. While Stefan’s back is turned, Damon disappears. Enzo zooms in and punches Stefan, who realizes that Damon has grabbed Bonnie. Enzo tells Stefan to leave before he hurts her. Stefan gives in, so Damon lets Bonnie go. Enzo completely ignores Bonnie and gets back to his chores. Damon tells Bonnie and Stefan that they’re not going to win against what’s controlling them. Damon’s life is over – it’s been over for a century and a half, since Stefan took it from him.
Alaric gets home and starts cleaning up the living room with Caroline, who was unable to heal Virginia before she died. Alaric beats himself up for going into the tunnel and being out of contact. Maybe they should just spend every minute of the rest of their lives with the girls to protect them. Or maybe Alaric should move into Fort Forbes so he doesn’t have to drive half an hour when there’s a crisis. Caroline thinks it would be a bad idea for them to live together, but Alaric clarifies that he would live there with the girls while she moves in with Stefan. He thinks she’s wanted to move there for months but has been holding off to respect his feelings. Caroline deserves to be happy.
After a silent drive to the cabin, Bonnie tells Stefan that the Damon and Enzo they just saw weren’t really them. She thinks Enzo left clues for her to find them. Next time, they’ll be able to rescue Damon and Enzo from whatever’s controlling them. Bonnie reminds Stefan that he told her to have hope. He was right. But now Stefan’s shaken by Damon telling him that this is his fault. He’s not sure Damon will ever forgive him. Maybe Bonnie was right to give up. She tells him to pull himself together and find his hope.
She goes inside to play the guitar, remembering when Enzo read to her from The Odyssey. It’s the part where the sailors encounter the sirens, who sing to lure them to shore so the sirens can eat them. Enzo says the tale is a love story. He would do the same as Odysseus, sailing past the sirens to get back to Bonnie. Bonnie goes to the bookshelf to get a copy of the book as she remembers the passage where Odysseus puts wax in the sailors’ ears so the sirens won’t be able to control them. In the same passage, the sailors lash Odysseus to the ship’s mast, just like Cindy was mounted on the hood of the car.
Damon goes to an art gallery and chats with a painter about his themes of sin and redemption. Damon says redemption doesn’t exist – just one bad day and one bad decision can damn you for the rest of your life. “Once the devil comes a-calling, you’re done,” he says. Enzo joins them, chastising Damon for giving a villain monologue every time he finds a new target. Damon explains that he and Enzo have figured out that the artist uses human blood in his work instead of red paint. He compels the artist to whisper to Enzo what he did to the person he got it from. “What is it with Middle America and evil?” Enzo wonders after he gets his answer.
Damon isn’t pleased that Stefan and Bonnie were able to track them down. Enzo plays innocent, pretending that their master has him in line. Damon reminds him that their master can get in his head and figure out who and what he wants to go back to. He suggests that Enzo flip his switch so whatever he cares about can’t be used against him.
Dear Elena, Stefan is worried that he’s lost Damon for good. He hopes there’s a small piece of Damon’s mind that’s hidden away, a sliver of humanity that can still be reached. Damon dreams about the first night he saw Elena, but instead of their original conversation, he tells her that he needs her. He’s not sure how much longer he can fight.
Stefan promises Elena that he won’t give up on Damon, but holding on to hope hurts. Maybe tomorrow will be better. Caroline arrives and offers to keep him company by moving into Vamp Villa. I’d say that’ll definitely make tomorrow better for him.
Bonnie calls Alaric to ask for help figuring out what Enzo was trying to tell her. He says that in mythology, sirens use mind control to lure victims to their deaths. In some legends, they’re the devil’s messengers. She asks if it’s possible that they’re real. Alaric isn’t sure what to think anymore, but sure, why not? As Damon and Enzo take the artist to the slaughterhouse, Bonnie reads about the sirens in The Odyssey: They “bewitch” anyone who comes near them, and once you’re close, “there is no homecoming.”
The guys drop the artist into the water. Bonnie tells Alaric that Enzo wants them to know who they’re dealing with and help him fight it. As the guys walk away from the water, a woman emerges. Damon and Enzo hear singing and turn to face their master, Sybil. It seems like she finally ate enough of their offerings and is ready to join them on dry land.
Etc.: The titles of all of the episodes in season 8 are lines from season 1. Fittingly, the first scene of this episode is similar to the first scene of the series premiere. (Also, Buck says he’s glad “the whole vampire craze is over.” Heh.)
Like with Oliver on The Originals, every time I write something about Georgie, just imagine me telling her to shut up after it.
Damon reading Fifty Shades of Grey is an inside joke, since Ian Somerhalder was considered for the lead in the movie.
Virginia searching for the twins while holding a knife is eerily like when Kai went after Luke and Liv. It’s even eerier when you remember that Josie and Lizzie are Kai’s nieces.