Okay, first things first, “The Vampire Diaries” fans. Before you read this recap for Thursday’s (April 24) episode, “Man on Fire,” you absolutely must, must, must read this post mortem with scoop from executive producer Caroline Dries and series star Ian Somerhalder. It will deflate all that rage you might be mistakenly feeling over a certain, big death that occurred at the end of the episode. So go read, process, and then come back to this recap.
There, feel better now? Enzo may be dead, but he’s still going to be a major part of the final episodes of Season 5! And even better than that, he’s going to a villain. A ghost villain. A ghost villain getting revenge on Damon and Stefan from the Other Side. Think of all the snarky one-liners and smirks that storyline is going to give us from Enzo. Oh yeah, “TVD” writers. This is going to work out juuuuuust fine.
But let’s back up a bit. Before Enzo bit the dust (by his own hand, no less!), a lot of other pretty major things went down. Let’s get to it, shall we?
“Man of Fire” began in the coolest college bar/restaurant/lounge ever. Seriously, why can’t all colleges have cool places like this to study in? Oh wait, because there’s a full bar. Not exactly conducive to studying, but hey, these vamps drink whiskey like it’s water at this point, so not an issue. Stefan’s tutoring Elena for some exam (because in the midst of all this drama, she still finds time to go to class? Shenanigans, this is just like high school all over again! But I guess in college you don’t actually have to attend class in order to pass, so okay.), and it’s fun to see them pretty much back to normal as friends. It’s refreshing seeing Stefan and Elena interact without angst. Of course, she complains to Stefan (her ex) about Damon (his brother and her ex) about how he doesn’t want to be friends with her days after they broke up (no duh), but that conversation ends quickly when Bonnie shows up.
Elena and Stefan’s denial over Bonnie’s “acceptance” about the Other Side disintegrating, a.k.a. her impending death as the anchor is tied to the Other Side’s existence, just feels old. Bonnie’s died before, people couldn’t let go, and that’s how she became the anchor in the first place. Maybe it’s time to let nature take its course? Although we heart Bonnie, so that would be sad of course, but death should start to mean something on this show pretty soon. It also feels old when Bonnie chooses to lie to Jeremy about how the Other Side issues mean she’s about to die, once again robbing her loved one of the chance to say goodbye before she dies. Didn’t we just spend all summer doing this dance?
But study time and gossip time ends abruptly when Enzo shows up to the study party, “murder voice” and all. He threatens Luke’s life to get Liv to help him torture Elena and Stefan, since Sloane, the Traveler (RIP, more on that later), gave him a photo of his love Maggie’s corpse with her head torn clean off from 1960. Enzo, of course, assumes that Ripper Stefan is her murderer since the way she died is, well, extremely familiar to say the least. But when he assumes … well, you know the rest of that saying.
Enzo’s mission to find Maggie may start with Stefan, but it ends with Damon, since it was actually the elder Salvatore who killed her in 1960. Stefan was already clean and sober by then, and Damon was still irked at his brother for not searching for him while he was being tortured by the Augustines so he set up Maggie’s corpse like his brother would have. Damon didn’t kill her knowing that she was Enzo’s love, however. Her death was justified: She was trying to kill Damon out of revenge for leaving Enzo to die in the Augustine fire (or so she thought). Damon didn’t know who Maggie was. To him, she was an Augustine worker trying to kill him. Justifiable. But Enzo doesn’t care about that. All he wants is revenge on the person who murdered the woman he loved, and in order to enact it on his best friend, he shuts off his humanity.
The scene in which Enzo flips his switch is extremely powerful, and all props go to Michael Malarkey for portraying it so beautifully. You could see all the pain and heartbreak leave his face in a wave, and his features smoothed out perceptibly. Great stuff. And no-humanity Enzo is fun as hell! Even more charming than usual, and he really likes to break stuff. Glasses, bottles, you name it, he breaks it. Just for funsies.
But turning off his humanity isn’t all fun and games, since it leads him to attack everyone, from Liv to Elena to Damon to Stefan. He kidnaps Elena and snaps her neck, and Stefan catches up to him before Damon does. One big, epic fight scene later, and Stefan gets the upper hand. He jams his fist into Enzo’s chest and grabs his heart, but it’s actually Enzo who pulls backward to kill himself, knowing that Damon will never forgive Stefan for killing his best friend.
Getting the brothers to turn on each other is just step one in his revenge on the brothers, though. Enzo’s not done yet (thank goodness). But first, Stefan lies to Damon, using Enzo’s phone to text Damon to pretend that Enzo just left town. He gets Elena and Bonnie to lie about Enzo’s fate as well. It’s especially tough to watch since Damon vehemently promises that he will find and save Enzo and bring him back from the brink. Aw, Damon, that’s impossible now. Especially since Enzo — as a ghost — promises he will get his revenge on Damon and Stefan. Oh yes, this just got very interesting.
While Stefan was fighting (and killing) Enzo, Damon happened to find the unconscious Elena and takes her home to her dorm room safely. He even tucks her in to bed which is totally sweet, but sorry Delena fans — no emotional heart-to-hearts this week. He disappears before she wakes up to see him.
Back in Mystic Falls while all this is going down, Jeremy, Matt and Tyler’s house has pretty much become a dirty, messy frat house now. Boxers laying around, trash everywhere. It’s bro-city, minus one bro (Tyler) and one Traveler-killing knive. They can’t find the Traveler knife because it’s so messy! Oh wait, nope, they can’t find it because Tyler’s Passenger bogarted it. Damon’s pissed when he finds that out since the knife is the only thing that can de-Passenger all the townspeople, and that gives him the chance to give some great snarky one-liners. Actually, Damon’s one-liners were on point the entire episode. Somerhalder was just killing it all episode long with both the hilarious lines and faces and gestures. This week’s MVP is a toss-up between Somerhalder and Malarkey.
And now, exposition time! “Man on Fire” finally explained what the Travelers’ plan is, and all the unintended consequences that will bring. They want to undo the curse the witches put on them 2,000 years ago with doppelganger blood and a spell that literally undoes magic. But that also means it will revert everyone back to the state they were before magic came into play, a.k.a. all vampires will revert back to being dead. Sloane was the guinea pig to test whether it would work or not, and it did, meaning she died. Bye bye, Sloane.
This is not good for literally all our favorite characters, since they’re all vampires, or hybrids, or hunters, or magically-enhanced, brought-back-from-the-dead people. Even Matt has died a bunch of times, and his magic ring brought him back. So if the Travelers succeed in stripping away all magic, all our favorite characters are going to die. Yikes. Also, they need “a lot more blood” f
rom the doppelgangers, so that’s also not good for Stefan and Elena times two.
“Man on Fire” was all-around a fantastic episode, with some of the season’s best jokes and acting. Plus, we finally got to learn what’s up with the Travelers, and now we even have a ghost villain on our hands. Sweet. Although one thing that was not sweet? Where was Caroline? The blonde vamp was nowhere to be seen during the entire episode. At least Damon comments on her absence, saying she’s “the only one unaccounted for,” but it’s never explained why. Hmph! She is back next episode, though, so we won’t be Caroline-free for much longer.
“The Vampire Diaries” airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.