We all long for the warm, safe bosom of the past, but nostalgia is a drug. Some old pusherman might convince you to buy it and within days you'll be curled up in the gutter just twitching and wishing for something better. Just say no to nostalgia! In the world of The Vampire Diaries nostalgia is abused frequently and even worse, often leads to murder. This week we harkened back to Season 1 in a big way with a return visit to the Miss Mystic Falls teen beauty pageant--yes, the very one where Elena (Nina Dobrev) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) first slow-danced while Stefan (Paul Wesley) rolled around in the woods craving the blood of innocents. And while it was comforting to see our characters return to a familiar situation (and plotline), the end result was, well, kinda expected.

That being said, "The Simple Intimacy of the Near Touch" was a fun, violent, and yes, romantic and nostalgic episode of TV. Let's talk about it!

We began with a couple of bros just doing their jobs of rounding up ne'er-do-wells in order to give them direct tickets to h*ck. But now that Stefan was a full-blown RIPPER, he was executing people for the smallest infractions.

Even though Damon's humanity switch was technically in the "off" position, it was clear he was softening his pro-murder ways and even kinda-sorta objected to Stefan's behavior. Stefan was now turbo-evil and so when Damon agreed to go run errands for Sybil, he decided he needed to return to Mystic Falls and "burn that woman to the ground." But not before literally burning the pile of bodies he'd piled up behind the bar. Stefan might be far gone, but at least he's tidy.

Meanwhile, guess who's back! Bonnie (Kat Graham) returned from her romantic trip to Gay Paree full of trinkets, gifts, and slurred Franglais. But Caroline immediately noticed the new jewelry she was sporting: A VIAL OF ENZO's BLOOD. In other words, just a normal, sweet gift from a vampire boyfriend.

This got Caroline to thinking: Was Bonnie starting to become not only pro-vampire, but ready to become a vampire herself? What a world!

After a quick stop at Mystic Grill where Seline asked the ladies for help finding those damn bell parts and Caroline casually called her garbage before storming out, we were then whisked away to our LAST EVER Miss Mystic Falls pageant! Longtime viewers will remember this was the townwide event that truly sparked the notion of Elena and Damon being a thing. And since this season has been doing a lot of call-backs to the first season, why not revisit that era? Sure, the characters aren't teens anymore and their mere presence here seems impossibly lame, but whatever. Handsome dudes in suits!

This was undoubtedly going to be a less romantic day considering both Salvatores were in "off" mode, and especially because Sybil was still roaming around trying to mind-bend everybody.

But one thing was different this time: When Sybil tried to get inside Damon's head and continue cutting-and-pasting herself into every memory he'd had of Elena, he was able to take control and beat her up mentally! Sorry lady, but you should stay out of angry lovelorn vampires heads' sometimes.

Seline didn't have a lot to do with her life, so she was still hanging at Mystic Grill day-drinking. That's when Alaric's co-worker showed up and klang'd that tuning fork right at her!

He was very angry at Seline for having murdered Georgie, and he intended to assemble the super-bell and, I don't know, bang it? It is still not clear what exactly that bell will do. I think we're meant to believe it will kill sirens, but I'm guessing it'll do something even crazier. So crazy that Seline seems to want to HELP him find the rest of the pieces before Sybil can. But just so we're clear, the perhaps final MacGuffin of the season is a "super bell." Take that, polished rocks!

While Seline was hangin at the Grill, Matt snuck into her mansion and tried to find the stolen bell. He was interrupted by a cop who had clearly been brainwashed into attacking Matt. Blue on blue crime, so tragic. Anyway, the cop let slip that he was guarding the bell closely and Matt took that to mean it was at the Mystic Falls police station in the evidence room. The perfect hiding place! It was sitting in the middle of the room covered in a burlap sheet that did nothing to hide the fact that it was an enormous bell. Only a true detective could have found it, so congrats, Matt!

Even though Damon had made a big show of throwing Elena's old necklace out the car window last week, he had secretly recovered it and was constantly fingering it in his pocket now like it was a rosary. But Stefan caught him and called him out for letting his emotions for Elena undo his humanity switch off-ness (or whatever). By this point the humanity switch is such a useless idea considering how frequently and easily they flip them on and off. In Damon's case it's "off" but glitchy. So no, not even Stefan breaking the clasp on the necklace will be enough to turn Damon evil again, sorry.

Oh god, I'd forgotten about the traditional Miss Mystic Falls pageant dance! You know, sort of just walking around one another with raised hands that never touch? It's legitimately silly, especially when characters are having important, life-or-death discussions while doing it, like the most stressful game of Ring Around the Rosie of all time.

Bonnie and Enzo's dance was at least sliiightly romantic, in that they finally addressed whether Bonnie might be willing to become a vampire for him or not. While I appreciated that she mentioned how pissed she would have been by this idea only a few years earlier, it was weird of Enzo to even bring it up seeing as Bonnie's whole thing was to eventually tag out so that Elena could tag in. On the other hand, it hardly seemed fair that once Elena had a turn she'd get to be immortal? So while Bonnie appreciated how romantic it sounded to spend eternity with her fella, she abruptly gave back the vial of blood on a chain and peaced out.

But don't worry, it was a loving sort of 'peace out.' Also, later she kinda apologized about it and reiterated that she loves Enzo more than anyone ever. Plus she suggested a compromise! How about, instead of Bonnie becoming a vampire, Enzo takes the cure to become mortal again? It was not a great compromise, in my opinion. But the conversation ended very dot-dot-dot so we'll see what happens I suppose!

The main thing about this Miss Mystic Falls pageant was how many uncontrollable flashbacks it gave Damon to the time he first fell for Elena. There were honestly so many clips of Elena in this thing that Nina Dobrev should have had a "guest star" credit. But one thing was definitely clear: He was still very fond of this lady and no amount of Devil serving, siren obeyong, or brother disapproving was going to change that.

Then Stefan decided he was probably going to murder everyone present, so before the Miss Mystic Falls sash could be awarded, Caroline announced there was a gas leak! Outdoors! Thus the guests filed out without asking any questions. We're talking about an entire town that moved away for several years due to a gas leak, so I guess that's the best lie now. But you know what happens when a party breaks up on this show... The fun begins!

First Damon bonked Sybil over the head with that steel ball he'd found (and which was part of the Super Bell's gong or whatever).

Then Stefan stabbed Damon with a wooden coat hanger!

Then Stefan started attacking, murdering, and turning some of the Miss Mystic Falls teens into vampires! Caroline attempted to intervene, and for her efforts Stefan threw her across the room! She did not appreciate being treated like this by her fiancé and reacted accordingly.

Yep, she threw a chair leg at him and stabbed him right in the heart! But don't worry, vampires can't die if they're serving the Devil, duh. But I think it's safe to say their relationship was now officially on the rocks.

I liked this moment with the would-be winner of the Miss Mystic Falls pageant (who appeared in last week's episode and this week was revealed to be a Fell!) when she woke up and was immediately bummed to find out she was turning into a vampire. Luckily for her, Caroline was there to comfort her. If we're being honest, getting to hang with Caroline is probably the best way to take the sting off of getting turned into a blood-eating ghoul for all eternity. This Fell girl will at least learn good manners hopefully!

If all the murder and callous behavior and domestic violence weren't enough of an indication, Caroline and Stefan's engagement was over. Well, she took her ring off at least. I know vampires are VERY forgiving of each others' lack of humanity phases. But something tells me they'll probably get back together sometime in the next seven episodes, what about you?

We ended with Sybil tied up in Damon's basement dungeon awaiting whatever terrible torture he had in store for her. He was generally ticked that she had tried to ruin his memories of Elena and was ready to get his revenge somehow. But this kind of treatment really hurt Sybil's feelings! She shed a tear and everything! So, to get even with him, she pulled a truly nasty trick: She gave him back ALL of his humanity and memories of everything bad he'd ever done!

And from the look on Damon's face as he fell on the floor and was forced to remember tons of terrible things, he was not going to have a great day.

I thought that "The Simple Intimacy of the Near Touch" was a fun jaunt into the past that, while not super surprising or shocking, was a nice reminder of how far this show has come, and where it intends to wind up. We were lucky to get at least three seasons of inventive, surprising storytelling and seemingly ever since then it's been about reliving past storylines and fitting into its own patterns. In its effort to really bring this series full circle, this season has been chock-a-block with references and homages to the past. And while that's probably going to be a satisfying way to end the story, there's a nagging sense that TVD has run out of anything fresh to say. I don't know, guys. Nostalgia is cute and all, but I personally prefer something new and memorable. Here's hoping!


-Did this episode make you nostalgic for town-wide parties?

-Should Bonnie become a vampire?

-What exactly will the super bell do?

-How many bottles of bourbon will Damon drink to recover from this?

The Vampire Diaries airs Fridays at 8/7c on The CW.

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