At its best The Vampire Diaries is an ornate, old-timey jack-in-the-box. You know something's about to happen but you twist that crank anyway. Expected surprises have always been the life-blood of this series, and its most famous contribution to modern serials was having the fastest-moving narrative on TV. This box is constantly popping open, and that is not a complaint. Sure, after eight seasons the effect doesn't quite pack the surprise it once did, but this week proved the ol' vampire girl's still got it.

The title of this week's episode, "An Eternity of Misery," was a polite description of HELL ITSELF. Because yes, this season of The Vampire Diaries is going there. To actual HELL. Not only that, but I'd been hoping and praying we'd get to meet the Devil Himself, and this week we did! And not only that, but the final moment of the episode — and its possible setting of the stage for a reappearance of Katherine (Nina Dobrev)! — put a smile on my face that I desperately needed after a long week. Very good episode. Let's talk about it!

We began with our first flashback of the season! And it didn't even involve vampirism.

Sometime around 750 B.C., a pair of chic homeless teen girls were cuddled around a campfire talking about a dude named Cade (Wolé Parks). He'd been a psychic who used to go around his ancient village telling old dudes to stop fantasizing about doing sex with children. Apparently this habit got on everybody's nerves, and the next thing we knew, Cade was getting burned at the stake!

And in case you were wondering how all this tied in to the current storyline, when the homeless girl's tall tale concluded, the camera zoomed out to reveal...

The girls were Sirens! Just chilling on an island telling campfire stories about murdered psychics. TVD was already off to a batsh*t beginning.

We then picked up with Damon (Ian Somerhalder), who had driven off into the sunset last week in order to better serve his mistress. But now he was at some random auto repair shop hassling a poor buffoon about where his boss was.

But then Damon compelled the dude into admitting he'd once murdered a wife, so it was clear this guy needed to be doused in gasoline and compelled to set himself on fire. That's called vampire justice! Also, I guess Damon was still concerned with murdering bad people regardless of Sybil's dietary needs. Old habits, maybe.

Speaking of Sybil (Nathalie Kelley), she was still imprisoned at the Armory and a couple of hunks needed ANSWERS.

It almost seemed unnecessary for Stefan (Paul Wesley) to keep clanging that tuning fork; Sybil was more than happy to talk about herself without any prodding.

We were then treated to more flashbacks, of how Sybil first met her sister in sirenhood. Though the episode was cryptic about who was who, one of the girls was kicked out of her house for being too psychic, and the other befriended her and taught her how to lure sailors to their desolate island refuge.

Really they just shouted at passing ships. Not too hard.

This seemed like a good way to make friends (and steal food from sailors), but it turned out times were tough and the only thing on the menu was HUMAN FLESH. And at least one of the Sirens wasn't extremely stoked about this.

Again, it wasn't yet clear which one of these girls was Sybil, but for the record only ONE of them was super into murder and cannibalism. But they both did it because it was easier than wrestling wild boars to the ground. Which, fair.

Alaric (Matt Davis)'s assistant Georgie (now that I know her name, I hope she sticks around for a while!) had witnessed his capture of Sybil last week, and now she wanted to know WHAT WAS UP. After Alaric sent her away from his secret meeting with Stefan, Georgie decided to go break into his home and go through his sh*t. The plan went perfectly up until Alaric's babysitter Seline (Kristen Gutoskie) walked in on her!

But because we knew there was now a SECOND Siren in play, the shadiness of both of these women begged the question: WHICH ONE was the Siren? And which one would probably be killed off immediately? As we know, on TVD new characters are only ever ancient enemies in wait or just future corpses. So yeah, which was which?

Back at the auto repair place, Damon finally met up with the boss dude he'd been trying to track down. Apparently the guy had in his possession a set of artifacts that Sybil needed, but he kept claiming he'd given them to his son. And I don't know about you, but even before he said that I was like, "Dang, Matt hasn't aged well." But it turned out this guy was Matt's dad!

And Matt (Zach Roerig) arrived just in time to witness Damon murdering his own father! Fortunately Matt promptly shot Damon with a gun and then forced his dying father to drink Damon's blood, no big deal.

We'd never met Matt's father until this point (which just goes to show how much time and attention this series has paid to this character overall) so he wasn't necessarily "in the know" about vampires. Yes, Matt Senior had been wearing and drinking vervain (on his grandmother's advice), but Matt still had to explain to him how this all worked. Welcome to the know, old man. Except, parents don't last long on this show, so maybe get your affairs in order ASAP.

Meanwhile, Damon still had his humanity switch in the "off" position, which made it all the easier for him to gloat to Matt that Tyler (Michael Trevino) was currently bleeding out in the trunk of a parked car somewhere. Matt did not like this idea, and promptly boogied on out of there to save his friend!

Just when Sybil's story about growing up a Siren started getting juicy, guess what happened? Georgie barged in and stabbed Stefan with Vervain!

Did this mean Georgie was the other Siren? Not so fast, friend.

Probably because Sybil is many thousands of years old, she really likes to draw out a story. So now she was in Stefan's head and whisked him back to that Mediterranean island in B.C. times (but it just looked like a lake near Atlanta) and kept telling him stuff. But then she turned the spotlight on him and made him decide whether he better identified with the cannibal girl in her story, or the reluctant girl. Stefan did not know how to answer this, as he only eats blood, not flesh.

Meanwhile, George had locked Alaric in the vault, and he couldn't find the invisible wall (you have to be blind and deaf to find it, for some reason). So he recorded a vlog about it, and then the next thing we knew he was stabbing himself in the head!

Points to Alaric for creative problem solving, but points deducted for being a weird psycho! Who would do this?? Why not just, like, knock on the vault door for another employee to come open it? These people.

Damon managed to free himself from his chains by throwing himself around the room and crashing into some shelves. (It was honestly a hilarious moment). But it worked, and he also stumbled upon a metal sphere of some kind, which was exactly what he'd been looking for in the first place. But what was it? Some kind of Devil-resurrecting device? One can dream.

So the big reveal came when Stefan learned the identity of the other Siren. No, it wasn't Georgie, it was Seline the babysitter! And Georgie had simply been mind-controlled by Seline after breaking into Alaric's house. Stefan went on to learn that both Sybil and Seline were serving Cade, the guy we met in the cold open.

See, as it turned out, when the village burned him alive, he sent out a psychic shockwave so powerful that it CREATED HELL. Personally, I have never accidentally created hell via psychic shockwaves, so I had a hard time relating to Cade in this instance. But it was an interesting and unconventional take on Hell, that's for sure.

It was at this point that Stefan woke up and Sybil informed him that Damon was almost certainly going to Hell when he was done serving her, and Stefan pleaded with her that if anyone should be going to Hell, it was Stefan. He finally admitted that he related to BOTH of the sirens, the reluctant flesh-eater and the scheming hellion alike. Sybil respected this, but it didn't matter. Hell was coming for everyone probably.

It honestly cracked me up so much when Alaric successfully escaped the vault by crawling out of a sewer grate in front of the Mystic Falls clock tower. Where exactly was the Armory? I felt like it was miles away? Are the caves really THAT elaborate here? What a town.

Matt and his father rushed to the car where Damon had left Tyler, but only found a dead-eyed corpse in the trunk. Dang, Tyler really HAD been murdered last week. Except, knowing this show, Matt will probably take it upon himself to resurrect Tyler somehow. (Or at least that werewolf curse might kick back in maybe.) But for now, Matt couldn't do anything except mourn the loss of his longtime bestie.

Aw, poor Matt. At least he had a dad again, though. Makes him seem slightly less tragic and alone than usual!

Our final scene contained a moment that had me clapping at my television. So, Seline decided she didn't need Georgie anymore, so she killed her! But then Georgie "woke up" as a ghost and discovered Seline mauling her corpse like a damn animal! And then this happened...

Georgie was sucked up into the sky! Because she was going to Hell! Which was exactly how Katherine Pierce exited the series! Do you see what I'm saying?! Hell is a plotline this season, and Katherine is currently in Hell! I always suspected Dobrev would be appearing as Elena by season's end, but it never occurred to me we might get to see Katherine again also! Dare I get my hopes up? I dare.

This would have already been an entertaining and fun episode even without the promise of a Katherine reprisal. I'm truly fascinated by the Siren/Devil/Hell stuff, and I'm getting a good feeling about how it'll all tie the series together throughout the final 12 episodes. I like this. I approve. Just give me more Katherine and I'll be the happiest mortal around.

OK BYE

QUESTIONS

--Did you scream when Georgie got sucked into Hell?

--Is the resemblance between Matt and his dad kinda eerie?

--Should Seline aim higher than babysitter, career-wise?

--Is Tyler fully dead?