The Vampire Diaries Season 6, Episode 1: "I'll Remember" Recap/Review

[Once again, sorry for the lateness, y'all! Midterms were this week and they were super brutal, but I am determined to get back on schedule ASAP so I don't run into the same problem I did last year when I thought I could recap three shows at once on top of school and work. Thanks for your patience!-- Emily]

So, Kathleen and I watched TVD together this week, as per our Thursday tradition dating back to at least mid-season 4, and honestly, neither of us were super impressed. Still, I resolved to give it another couple of episodes, at least until we get a better idea of what Damon and Bonnie are up to, etc. Then, I decided to rewatch the episode, which ended up actually changing my own mind about a lot of it. Watching all of our faves in the Mystic Falls Gang being split apart because of everything that happened at the last season was an interesting change of pace. It felt like a pilot in a way, or a reboot, (which is likely why Kath and I weren't huge fans, at least at first) but I'd be lying if I said that it didn't create a lot of potential. Julie Plec said in an interview that the season-long arc would be everyone working their way back together again after losing Mystic Falls as their home base, and I have to say that I'm very intrigued as to how this will go down.

It's interesting to see how everyone deals with the same losses in similar yet very different ways. Elena grieved for Bonnie and more or less dealt with it over the summer, (I imagine the fact that she's already grieved and mourned Bonnie's death early in season 5 before she became the Anchor probably helped) but she cannot for the life of her move on from Damon, so she finds scary-- and for all we know, dangerous-- ways of trying to hold onto his memory. Stefan has done the exact opposite of Elena by taking a page out of Dean Winchester's book and simply going through the motions of working a boring day job and having meaningless sex with some random girl named Ivy. For all the ups and downs Stefan and Damon have had over the last 150+ plus years, Stefan could at least always depend on Damon being alive, and after everything they've been through, Stefan has grown accustomed to not being without him-- now that Damon's gone (and for good, as far as they know), Stefan literally doesn't know how to live anymore, so he's just sticking to a routine and pretending like he doesn't care about finding a way to bring him back to prevent himself from getting his hopes up and then getting them crushed again.

And poor Alaric isn't exactly having a great time, either-- he's moved on to binge drinking blood instead of booze and is overwhelmed by the enormity of everything that has happened since being resurrected, including, 1) finally having to adjust to being a real vampire who needs to drink blood, since he died before that became an issue the first time and 2) not getting to fully enjoy his newly-reinstated life because of the aforementioned vampire issues and because he knows his resurrection came at the cost of Damon and Bonnie's lives (along with the intense grief felt by himself and all his surviving friends and family that they're gone in the first place). Not to mention the fact that with everyone around them spiraling or drowning in their own ways, he's immediately regained his role of being their desperately needed support system, which means he's not allowed to break down, or everyone else will break down right with him.

Meanwhile, Caroline has checked out of her life at Whitmore and, in true Caroline fashion, has dedicated all her energy to find a way to end the magic-free-zone in Mystic Falls, while Tyler has been pulling a Caroline as well, throwing himself into school at Whitmore and exercising his werewolf-gene induced rage away as best he can. Back in Mystic Falls, Jeremy has reverted to the grieving Jeremy of early season 1, who is sleeping with random girls and drinking and drugging his pain away, leaving Matt to be the only responsible one left. Matt decided to use said responsibility to help protect the town from the supernatural threats that will inevitably be returning to town once that whole Traveler spell thing gets worked out.

I still have some major questions, but I'm going to suspend my disbelief until we know more. So, now that I've already written a novel and a half in the introduction alone, let's talk about "I'll Remember!"

Previously, on the Vampire Diaries: The stupid Travelers used Stefan and Elena's mixed doppelgänger blood to cast a spell to reverse all spells cast using spirit magic (not to be confused with the "pure," traditional, nature-based magic that the Travelers prefer to practice). The spell got cut off before it could affect the rest of the world, but Mystic Falls became a spirit-magic-free zone, which means no vampire's allowed unless they have a death wish. Poor Tyler, who had been Passengered into by a Traveler named Julian, got killed when Markos threw him into Mystic Falls' borders, which undid both his vampirism AND untriggered his werewolf gene before returning him to the state in which he died-- a snapped neck, courtesy of Klaus. The Travelers' spell also undid the magic binding the Other Side to Bonnie, forcing her and Enzo to work together to figure out a way to bring all their dead friends (who, at this point, included Stefan and Tyler as well as Alaric, Grams, Lexi, etc) back before their spirits went off to whichever afterlife dimension they went before the Other Side existed.

Bonnie promised Jeremy that she would be totally fine, but she LIED, because as the Anchor (and a corporeal ghost), she was still dead, and the Other Side was the only thing keeping her in the living world. Damon and Elena killed themselves in their plan to bring everyone back, which involved them driving Damon's car into the gas-filled Mystic Grill to blow up the Travelers inside for the spell. So, the spell went into play, and Enzo, Luke, Tyler, Stefan, Elena, and Alaric managed to resurrect themselves by passing through Bonnie. But, after that point, Luke then forced Liv to stop the spell so she wouldn't end up dying from overuse of magic. The problem was, they stopped it before Damon could make his way back through as well, trapping him on the disintegrating Other Side with Bonnie. Since the spell required a mass suicide/murder of Travelers to counter the balance of the resurrected MFG members, there was no way to try the spell again. So, Bonnie and Damon, the last ghosts who hadn't returned to life/found peace/been sucked into oblivion, held hands and watched as the Other Side imploded, sweeping them off to God knows where in a burst of bright white light. Luckily, it seems Grams pulled some strings with the powers that be before she found peace, so it's likely that we might be seeing our dearly departed faves sooner than we think...

We begin this fab premiere in the woods just on the border of Mystic Falls, where a young couple have stupidly decided to go camping in a tent, because apparently they haven't read the town's insanely high rate of "animal attacks." The two are making out to the sounds of "Penny" by Maudlin Strangers when they're suddenly startled by a loud noise nearby. The girl, who's name is Jessie, asks her boyfriend what the sound was, but he has no idea, and when she asks him to check it out, he insists that SHE go check it out, instead. Yeah, something (probably three years of experience in watching this damn show) tells me that these kids are fucked regardless of what they do. Still, Jessie scampers outside to check out their camp, and ends up walking over to their LED lantern, which had been flickering. She's about to take it with her back to the tent when she sees a shadowy figure heading toward her and screams her head off. Never fear, it's just Sheriff Forbes, who followed the trail of beer cans to their tent. The girl shrieks, "Oh, my God! Sheriff Forbes, I thought you were a serial killer!" Liz: "Worse, actually, because you'll still be alive when I call your parents." Bahaha. Liz got a sense over humor over the summer! I'm guessing the lack of supernatural shenanigans probably helps.

Anyway, Liz orders them to pack it up and go home, which they do, even though they've clearly been drinking and shouldn't be driving themselves ANYWHERE. A+ Sheriffing, Liz. While the kids walk back to their car, Boyfriend starts complaining about how the police force has nothing better to do than bust them for a little drunken camping, just as they pass the sign indicating that they're just outside of Mystic Falls' borders. Jessie admits it could have been worse, because some girl named Melanie Peterson got arrested for underage drinking. "I swear, this place is turning into that town from Footloose." They start packing up their car with their stuff, but when Boyfriend closes the trunk, he walks around the car to rejoin Jessie, but she's nowhere to be found. He starts to call out for her, but gets no response. When he shouts her name again, he turns to see Jessie be dropped onto the hood of their car from above before rolling onto the ground. Boyfriend runs over to his girlfriend and wraps his arms around her, only to find that she's bleeding heavily from a wound on her neck. He starts to freak out, but assures her that she's going to be okay, but her eyes widen in fear as she gasps, "Look up!" When he does, a tall, long-dark-haired figure hisses as they pounce on him, causing Boyfriend to scream at the top of his lungs. Ohhh shit! REAL VAMPIRE ELENA IS HERE AND I'M EXCITED. And, also, TITLE CARD!

After the break, we return to Mystic Falls' cemetery, which is conveniently just outside the spirit-magic-free barrier around the town, where Elena is walking cheerfully as she does the annual voiceover exposition on what everyone has been up to since the time-jump. However, unlike last year, she's not narrating an email to Bonnie, she's talking to someone while "From the Wreckage, Build a Home" by The Wind and the Wave plays. "Today was a good day. Summer is officially over, and I couldn't be more thrilled." She walks into what I'm pretty sure is the Salvatore crypt and looks around to make sure no one sees her. "Sophomore year... I guess this is the year to pick a major and start carving out your path in life. So, that's what I did. You're looking at the future Dr. Elena Gilbert." A lot of people were talking about how this seemed OOC, or at the very least was just pulled out of nowhere, but I don't know. Sure, Elena hasn't really been the most studious person since we've met her, though I can hardly blame her for forgetting about school when every day ends up being a life-or-death scenario. Still, her (adopted) dad was a doctor, so she grew up in a household where medicine was a big thing, so it still makes sense to me. Plus, she seems to have gotten control over her vampire instincts, and as she'll mention later, it gives her easy access to blood bags for herself, Alaric, and probably Caroline, too, so that's convenient.

ANYWAY, we cut to Whitmore Medical Center, where Elena and a dozen other students in red intern polos are gathered around a doctor (named Jo Robles) who is leading rounds. She explains that the patient complained of chest pains and shortness of breath and asks them what tests they would typically run. Some overachiever instantly raises his hand to answer, but, of course, Jo calls on Elena instead, who did not volunteer. Thankfully, girlfriend has been putting in her study hours, because she immediately replies that they should do a pulmonary angiogram, since that's the test they use to look for pulmonary embolisms, which match the patient's symptoms. Of course, they're just pre-med undergrads, not med school students, so Jo just smirks and congratulates her on her initiative before handing her the bedpan that she'll need to know how to use today. Whoops!

Reminds me of my days in my gerontology rotation in LPN school, when the gross jobs were literally the only ones we were allowed to do because we were essentially unpaid labor for the nursing home/the hapless fools on whom the STNA dumped all their work on so they could take a break. (FYI: STNAs, or nursing aides, seriously have the most shitty, thankless jobs, so if you ever end up being cared for by one of them, be nice!) Before the group of students move on in their rounds, the overachieving dude (whose name is Liam) admits that he was impressed before leaving Elena to potty duty. Back in the crypt, Elena pulls a small envelope of herbs from her pocket and pours it into a mortar before grinding it up with a pestle. "Okay, so maybe I spent the day observing, but at least now, we have unlimited access to blood bags. And trust me, we need all the help we can get. Some of us are still getting the hang of the whole 'drinking other people's blood'-thing."

At Whitmore, Alaric is in the middle of emptying a blood bag into his thermos at the head of Wes' old classroom when Elena walks in for their class. He asks Elena if she wants any, but she claims she had some on her way there and changes the subject to how their situation will never stop being weird. "What, that some ancient witch turned me into a vampire? Or that four months ago, I rose from the dead?" Alaric deadpans. However, what Elena MEANT was that he's her actual college professor now. Actually, that's the least weird thing about it, don't you think? "In Alaric's defense, he couldn't exactly compel himself a job back at the high school. The high school, the Grill, the town square... thanks to the Travelers' anti-magic spell, everything in Mystic Falls is still off-limits to anyone with fangs. A lot of us haven't been back home in months. On the plus side, the crime rate is way down."

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In the town square, a group of young adults are congregated in an open patch of grass, where our darling Matt is in the middle of a self-defense class with the new Mystic Falls volunteer Community Protection Squad, or whatever it's called. He seriously kicks the ass of his opponent, and the group's leader, a guy called Tripp Cooke, compliments him on his fighting skills. "Although, I'm not sure Matt got the memo," Elena continues in voiceover. "I will say he's never been better. I think he can benchpress more than Jeremy now, which is beyond freaky."

When Matt returns to the Lockwood Manse, he finds Jeremy making out with some girl on the couch. "Speaking of Jeremy... actually, let's not talk about my brother. Let's talk about Stefan." We cut to Savannah, Georgia, where Stefan is working at an auto garage. He's in the middle of a job, laying flat on his back while he works under a car, when his boss yells at him to get his ass in there and grab his paycheck. "Last I heard, he was chasing some lead to some witch that can contact the dead. We haven't spoken in months, which can mean his search for answers to what happened has been all-consuming." Ha! Nice try, Elena. More like Stefan is paralyzed by grief to the point that he's literally checked out of his old life in favor of a boring human one that has nothing that can remind him of Damon.

Elena lights a match and drops it in the mortar, lighting the herbs ablaze. "He's grieving. He's lost so much. We all did, but we're all getting through it in our own way..." We then cut to Caroline, who is on the outskirts of the anti-magic force field, having a picnic with her mother. She's stepped aside for a moment to take a call from Elena, who is inviting her to the Whitmore football team's game the next day. "I dropped out of Whitmore," Caroline complains. "Why would I support their stupid football team?" Elena reminds her that it's the first game of the season, and that it's past time for her to come home, but Caroline insists that she is home-- she just signed the lease to her new apartment. "...On the border of a town that doesn't want you," Elena replies. "That's not home. That's sad." Caroline, annoyed and the slightest bit offended, points out that Elena doesn't even LIKE football, but Elena speaks for all of us when she retorts that, while that is technically true, she DOES like drinking in the parking lot beforehand.

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Tyler, who apparently has finally decided to embrace his fate as a college jock, now that he's returned to humanity, joins Elena and yells into the phone that Caroline is coming to the game, no excuses. "Tyler, don't act like you have any ground to stand on," Caroline snits. "You skipped an entire YEAR!" Tyler's, like, "And you hounded me for an entire year! So, here I am. Now, get your ass back here!" Nearby, Luke is standing and staring at Elena, and pulls a small manila envelope out of his bag. Elena's eyes widen and she shakes her head no, as to not alert Tyler/Caroline to what she's up to, before she joins Tyler in insisting that Caroline is coming with them. She ends their call by informing her that they'll be picking her up at 6PM sharp before hanging up.

Caroline sighs heavily and returns back to her mother, picking up their conversation right where she left off. "Anyway... As I was saying, I haven't exactly found a spell that can undo an anti-magic border per se, but this book mentions Travelers. Which isn't all that helpful, but at least it's a step in the right direction..." Liz just looks at Caroline in sympathy and a bit of concern and insists that Caroline should go out with Tyler and Elena tomorrow, but Caroline argues that they're planning to see a movie. That's when Caroline assumes that Liz is sick of hanging out with her, but it's more like she's worried about how Caroline is dealing. She points out that Caroline lost one of her best friends, so it makes sense that she's hanging on tight to what she knows, but since it seems like Elena really misses her, she should spend some time with her so they can deal with Bonnie's loss together. However, Caroline's not sure that Elena's coping method is the best, either. "No, Elena has clearly taken up residence on Planet Denial, where football is more important than her boyfriend being swept away into oblivion. I mean, she was a full-on wreck over Bonnie for months, but when you mention Damon, it's like nothing ever happened."

Liz brings up the fact that since Elena has literally watched every single person she has cared ever care about die (even if they did end up coming back to life/undead-ness at some point afterward), maybe Caroline should cut her some slack regarding her grieving process. Their conversation is cut short when Liz' phone rings, and when she answers it, there seems to be bad news on the other line. Caroline, remembering the sharp decline in crime in the town since it became spirit-magic-free, jokes, "What? Did someone trample over Mrs. Davis' flower bed again?" but Liz informs her that actually, two teenagers were admitted to the hospital with "suspicious wounds" on their necks.

Caroline declares this to be impossible, since vampires can't go inside Mystic Falls without certain death, but Liz reminds her that they CAN lurk around the borders and chomp on unsuspecting locals. She stands up and admits she's gotta go take care of it, but stops to once again suggest that Caroline take Elena up on her offer for sophomore year fun times. "Mystic Falls isn't going anywhere," she adds with a smile. Caroline realizes that her mother left the picnic basket, and runs over to her to give it back, accidentally crossing the anti-magic line by doing so. Her arm burns as her daylight ring gets depowered, a painful and (for Caroline) humiliating reminder that while she still considers Mystic Falls her home, for the time being, it isn't. CAROLINE BB.

"She doesn't want to let go," Elena continues in voiceover, as she finishes burning up her herbs and mixes them with water to drink. "I don't blame her. I don't want to let go, either. I don't want to think that everything has changed, and that I have to start over... that the worst thing that could possibly happen actually did." We cut outside, where she's sitting in the sun, smiling. "But, I don't have to," Elena says to someone off-screen. "Anyway... that was my day. How was yours?" When the camera pans over, we see that Elena is talking to DAMON. Or, a hallucination of Damon that she's getting from the psychogenic herbs she's tripping on right now. "Can we go back to the part where 'Ric came back to life to be a college professor?" Damon says with a smirk, and the two laugh as Damon wraps his arm around Damon. THIS IS TOO MUCH TO HANDLE.

After the break, we return to the next day (or, so I'm assuming), where Alaric is teaching his Occult Studies class, in which both Elena and Liv are enrolled. Alaric is lecturing on about the meaning of the word "occult," when he glances over at Elena, who is hiding behind a folder as she slurps at some blood out of what looks like a 7-11 Big Gulp cup in the front row. Alaric is clearly distracted, but manages to steer himself back to the task at hand as he informs the class that they'll be learning about the occult and how it relates to resurrection, which gets a pretty hilarious snicker from Liv. When Alaric plays Dick Professor and asks if something is funny, Liv just snarks, "Uh, more like ironic, but okay..."

That's when a sweaty Tyler, decked out in a shirt with cut-off sleeves and gym shorts, manages to make his way to class and takes a seat next to Liv. When Tyler leans over to see what page from which they're reading, Liv covers the book with her arms so he can't see and snits that she's trying to listen. Tyler scoffs and backs off, so Liv playfully uses her magic to flip her book to the right page. Ohhh shit, do I sense some potential love interest-ing going on right now? Once again, Alaric notices Elena absentmindedly chugging her blood in front of him, so he turns to write on the chalkboard and whispers so only she can hear. "Elena, you know I can smell that, right? I'm teaching a class full of kids who all look like blood sausages to me. Now, put that away!" Elena slumps in her seat, looking guilty, and quickly apologizes, just as Alaric turns and gets back to the early church Fathers and what they thought about resurrection. Whoops!

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Once class is over, Elena departs into the hallway, where she runs into Luke. He looks a little uncomfortable and tries to beg off, but Elena claims she'll make it quick. She then admits that she's been very "thirsty" lately, and vaguely asks if it has anything to do with the " know..." Luke isn't really that impressed. "Are you asking me if there are side effects to the ancient psychotropic herbs I've been giving you? Because there haven't exactly been clinical trials." Elena realizes that Luke is not a very happy camper, so she turns on the charm and laughs nervously before asking if he could, perhaps, add something to her next batch of herbs. However, Luke's not sure there should BE a next batch, which doesn't make Elena very happy, either.
ELENA: "Luke, it was YOUR idea that I see him again, remember? You were all, 'Hey Elena, I'm sorry that I wronged you. I'm sorry that I'm the reason your boyfriend is dead,' remember?"
LUKE: "I am. I'm sorry. Something I made clear when I made Alaric's daylight bracelet. Because you asked."
ELENA: [defensive] "Yeah, I know..."
LUKE: "And, when I went against my coven rules to get these herbs. Because you ASKED."

Elena starts feeling pretty guilty, but once Luke tells her it's time to return to reality, it's like a switch flips in her head, and she goes back to being happy, chipper Elena. "Luke, I'm fine! I'm okay, I promise. Just come by my place by 5, okay?" Luke tries to object, but Elena just thanks him and scampers away before he can kill her buzz.

Meanwhile, down in Savannah, Stefan has just arrived back at his new place of employment, Dean's Garage, where he walks over to his boss and mentions that he's pretty sure a zero fell off of his paycheck. Dean is like, "Oh, yeah, I forgot I had to dock you $200," and brings up the fact that some guy called Dan Zimmer claims Stefan put a ding on the hood of his Shelby. Stefan, annoyed, retorts that it was actually Dan Zimmer's WIFE who put the ding on the hood of his Shelby, but Dean is a "the customer is always right" kind of boss, so he just replies that it sounds like Stefan's calling their best customer a liar. Stefan points out that he's totally ripping him off, but Dean has Stefan's number and totally calls him out on it. "What're you gonna do about it, kid? Huh? You gonna quit? Run off to wherever the hell you came from?" Since it's not like Stefan can go back to Mystic Falls, he just shrugs and pockets his paycheck before walking away.

That's when he gets a phone call from Alaric, who is sitting at that diner just outside of Mystic Falls. He wants to know if Stefan's contact regarding bringing back Damon and Bonnie panned out, but Stefan, who has just spotted a beautiful woman waiting for him outside the garage, lies that he's still working on it in a way that makes clear the fact that he really hasn't been working on it at all. Still, Alaric seems satisfied, and tells Stefan to keep him posted on his progress before Stefan hangs up on him. He walks up to the woman, whose name is Ivy, and the two stare at each other.

Back in the diner, "Just One Of The Guys" by Jenny Lewis plays while Alaric, still at his table, watches as Caroline shows up and dumps three large, old-looking books onto the table before she sits across from him. Alaric is shocked that Caroline already read all of the books he gave her, but come on-- it's Caroline! No one can out-work Caroline Forbes when she's on a mission, and man, is she on a mission. "Cover to cover, with no mention on how to undo an anti-magic force-field," Caroline reports. "And, if I'm going to single-handedly take back our town, I'm gonna need a LITTLE more to go on." Not one to argue with a girl in a mood, Alaric digs around in his bag and pulls out a book (Ancient Witchcraft, Volume Two), which Caroline immediately informs him she's already read. So, he goes for The Art of Hexing and Elemental Magic, which Caroline seems only mildly satisfied by, but she takes them anyway and thanks him before turning the topic to what has clearly been burning in her mind for a while now. "So... how's Stefan?" Alaric replies that he's doing fine, but when Caroline asks him how often he talks to him (a couple times a week), his answer seems to disappoint her, and Alaric, ever the perceptive one, immediately guesses that something's up.

ALARIC: "I'm gonna go out on a limb, here, Caroline. Is something bothering you?"
CAROLINE: [sighs] "He didn't say goodbye. Damon and Bonnie died, and he just LEFT. No phone calls, no emails-- just disappeared into thin air. And, I haven't heard from him in months. I actually convinced myself he was in some... remote mountain region, and couldn't accept my calls."
ALARIC: [looks at her sympathetically] "Or, maybe he just doesn't want to bother you with every half-lead that goes nowhere."
CAROLINE: [sighs and pulls herself together] "Or, maybe I just need to get over it."
Caroline stands up and thanks him for the books before taking off, leaving Alaric alone in the diner once again. First of all, I like how Caroline drew the parallel to what Stefan is doing now, and what Tyler was doing while he was running from Klaus, back when she and Tyler were together. It really solidifies the fact that Caroline CLEARLY has romantic feelings for Stefan, though she doesn't even know it, and likewise for Stefan. Secondly, while I appreciate Alaric trying to keep Caroline's spirits up about Stefan, I think we all know the real reason why he's been out of contact with Caroline-- he knows that if he DOES talk to her, it will completely shatter the illusion of the life that he's been trying to live since Damon and Bonnie's deaths.

In a way, he's kind of dealing in the same way as Elena; like I mentioned earlier, Stefan's behavior is a lot like the way Dean Winchester acted after Sam threw himself in the Cage-- they both built this fantasy world where he's just a regular guy living a regular, boring life, and he's convinced himself that there's nothing he can do to bring his brother back because he can't stand the thought of getting his hopes up, only to find that it was never a possibility all along. UNLIKE Dean, though, instead of begrudgingly going along with it because it's what Sam wanted him to do like Sam did, Stefan has always wanted a regular human life, and so starting over in a new place with a newish identity is both freeing and crippling for him.

Plus, he knows that Caroline would never allow him to just give up, even if it IS Damon they're talking about, so he's hiding from her, just like Elena has been hiding her extracurricular activities from her, too, and pretending that everything is fine and dandy when it so clearly isn't. Stefan knows Alaric won't push him, because he, too, is grieving Damon's loss, and they both share the same guilt regarding the fact that Damon died solely to bring them both back, and in the end they were able to be resurrected while he was left on the imploding Other Side. But, Caroline? She would drag Stefan's ass back to the Greater Mystic Falls area and call him out on his bullshit SO HARD, Lexi-styles, until he finally caved, which Stefan does NOT want to deal with whatsoever, so hiding in Georgia it is.

Elena is at her dorm at Whitmore when she calls Matt, who is at the Lockwood Manse, to ask him why the fuck her brother isn't returning her calls. Matt makes an epic failure of an attempt to cover for him by claiming Jeremy is probably doing homework or something, but Elena calls him right out on it and orders him to put the phone on speaker. (Wait, is Jeremy even going to school anymore? Shouldn't he be a senior, now? If I were him, I'd probably drop out, too, let's be real. He could get a GED easily.) "Jeremy, I know you can hear me," Elena states matter-of-factly. "Get your butt off that couch and do something productive." Jeremy, who has reverted back to his early-season-1 dick persona, points out the obvious, which is-- what can Elena even do about it, since it's not like she can come to Mystic Falls to make him do anything. Still, Elena claims she'll call up Sheriff Forbes to arrest him and drag him to the town border, where she'll kick his ass herself. She asks Matt for a little back-up, so Matt assures her he'll handle it, and hangs up so he can address his bro himself.

"So, this is it, huh?" Matt says with a heavy sigh. "Video games, random girls, drunk by noon every day? Look, it sucks that Bonnie's dead, Jer. I get it. But, you need to start living your life again." Jeremy isn't really in the mood for a pep talk, though, so he decides the best way to end this conversation is to give Matt shit about his new status as a member of the Community Protection Squad. "What exactly are you protecting us from? Bike theft? Litter? Magic doesn't work here-- the town's safe." Matt reminds him of the fact that Caroline is trying to find a way to undo the Traveler's anti-spirit-magic spell, which means as soon as that happens, the town is going to be once again dealing with all the drama that comes from vampires, witches and werewolves. He then adds that since Jeremy is a hunter and has all the super-skills that come with it, like strength, agility, and enhanced fighting prowess, but Jeremy insists that since there's no magic in town, he's no longer a hunter, and opens another can of beer. "Yeah, you're right, Jer," Matt snits, clearly frustrated. "You're not much of anything anymore." OUCH!

Here's what I hate most about this anti-spirit-magic in Mystic Falls thing-- everyone is completely separated, which means they can't help each other as a group to mourn their losses. And, the fact that it separates Jeremy and Elena is especially bad. I get that Mystic Falls is Jeremy's home, and he's maybe got school and stuff to do there, plus the no-magic thing actually does make it way safer for him than anywhere else, but still-- if Jeremy and Elena were together, I wholeheartedly believe that they would both be better off. Elena could help Jer grieve over Bonnie, who was not just Jeremy's girlfriend, but Elena's best friend, as well as Damon, who was not only Elena's boyfriend, but also Jeremy's older brother he never really had. (Albeit sometimes mean and occasionally murderous and violent, but nobody's perfect on this show.) If the two of them were in the same place, Elena wouldn't be spiraling, because she wouldn't have a choice-- she would HAVE to keep it together for Jeremy, just like she had to do after she was turned into a vampire. The fact that they're separated by a mystical barrier means that Elena can't personally keep Jeremy on the straight and narrow, and Jeremy can't help anchor his sister by giving her something productive to focus on. And, it sucks majorly.

Anyway, evening has rolled around, so when Luke didn't show up at Elena's dorm, she decided to head over to LUKE'S dorm to see what the fuck he's up to. He looks super guilty and kind of shoe-gazes a bit before admitting that he can't help her anymore, which does NOT make Elena a happy girl. "Is it because I told you that I was thirsty? I can get more at the blood bank at the clinic. I work there, it's easy." Luke, pained, reminds his friend that she's been going through her psychotropic herbs pretty quickly, and he doesn't want to be a drug pusher, which is when Elena gets full-on hysterical and starts searching for the herbs in Luke's room. "No, you're my FRIEND. My friend, in spite of the fact that my boyfriend got stuck on the Other Side because you decided to stop the spell that could bring him back. My friend that OWES me."

Now, as much as I'm not a fan of the Wonder Twins, I don't exactly blame Luke for what happened-- he was looking out for his own, just like Elena and Caroline were looking out for THEIR own when they snapped Luke's neck to motivate Liv to do the spell. Sure, in real life, that'd probably make ALL of them villains, but this show is literally just a demonstration of the lengths people are willing to go to save their loved ones when they are put in ridiculously stressful (and SUPERNATURAL) life-or-death scenarios every single day. So, while I'm not exactly thrilled that Elena keeps playing the blame card, I also totally get it, because Bonnie and Damon are dead and she needs someone to blame to keep her mind off of the fact that she doesn't know how to live without them, and specifically Damon. So, when Luke replies, "No, a friend who cares about you, and thinks you're living in denial," Elena becomes even more frantic and insists that she knows he has more. Luke tries to grab Elena's arm to stop her, but, HELLO, she's a vampire, so she's always gonna beat him in the strength department. Finally, she shoves him into his dresser and demands to know where it is, and when Luke plays the Sassy Concerned Gay Friend and is all, "Look at your life, look at your choices, girlfriend," Elena shoves him once again and reminds him that she's NOT asking. Elena, bb!

We then cut to the road, where I'm guessing Luke must have caved, because she seems to be high as a kite and stupidly driving her car while intoxicated to pick up Caroline as she chatters away to Damon. While the conversation starts out cheerfully enough, it quickly takes a turn that Elena's not exactly thrilled about.

ELENA: "I kind of want to set up Ric with Jo from the hospital. I mean, we both know he has a soft spot for the sexy-doctor-type." [Damon shakes his head] "How long do you think it takes after somebody comes back to life before they can start dating again?"
DAMON: [smirks] "Well, the fact that you can say that with a straight face is one more reason that I love you."
ELENA: [laughs] "So, like three months?"
DAMON: "Can I ask why there is not a Bennett witch in the back? I mean, can't Luke whip up a batch of herbs in Bonnie-flavor?"
ELENA: [tries to keep it cool] "You know, if I had to drive around with everyone that I've lost, I'd need a school bus!"
OUCH, MY HEART. Anyway, Damon points out the obvious, which is that deep down Elena knows that Bonnie would not approve of this method of staying in touch with her dead friends and lovers, and the last thing Elena wants to do is hallucinate someone who's gonna be a buzzkill about it. Elena starts to get uncomfortable and asks that they not talk about this, but Damon's just like, "About what? The fact that I'm dead? Because I am." Elena tries to get back into more cheerful topics of conversation and reminds him of the fact that, technically, he was dead when they met, which Damon totally concedes before pointing out that now, he's basically just gone *POOF* Again, Elena tells him to cut out the negativity and reality-checks and whatnot, so Damon continues as though she hadn't said anything. "And, this conversation is pretty much the smart, level-headed you talking to the irrational, possibly-drug-addict you. [beat] Which, is clear evidence of your insanity." He smirks again, but Elena, annoyed with the constant reminders of the fucked up things to which she's resorted to deal and cranks up the radio (playing "Doses and Mimosas" by Cherub) to drown his voice out.

Meanwhile, at Whitmore, people are pregaming in some nearby field while Tyler, beer in hand, starts making his way through the crowd. He bumps into someone and snaps, "Watch it, dick!" before he turns and realizes it's actually Alaric. He immediately apologizes and cites the fact that he's still getting used to being human, and laments the fact that his booze tolerance is shot now. Alaric, who, like I said earlier, seems to have easily slipped back into his role as a mentor and general parental figure for all these orphaned kids, gently suggests that maybe "somebody with [his] anger issues" shouldn't be drinking at all so close to a full moon, but Tyler insists that it's all good-- he's been playing on the practice squad of the football team, where he's able to work through his anger by "kicking ass in a controlled environment."

However, much like way the gang feels about Elena once they find out about her trip-fests at the Salvatore crypt, Alaric figures Tyler may need a bit of a reality check. "...'Til you get plastered and do something stupid and trigger your werewolf curse all over again?" I'm guessing Tyler is trying to forget that possibility (especially considering while he was a hybrid, killing people kind of became second-nature to him, so I could easily see him forgetting and snapping someone's neck before he realizes that, whoops, he can't do that anymore) but he tells Alaric to chill, because everything is under control. To be on the safe side, Alaric decides to commandeer Tyler's beer, just to be on the safe side. "You know, I haven't been buzzed since I came back to life," Alaric explains wistfully. "And, saying that aloud while sober really freaks me out." He notices that Tyler is totally and un-subtly leering at Liv, who is a couple yards away, grabbing a drink. Alaric chuckles at Tyler's choice in women and adds, "As the only sober person here, trust me on this, Tyler...  The girl is SO not into you. Thanks for the beer!" God, I LOVE ALARIC SO MUCH. Him coming back to life is the best thing to happen to TVD in years, frealsies.

Back down in Savannah, Stefan is chilling in his bed in his tank top, when his little girlfriend comes in and sits down next to him with a beer. "Your fridge makes me want to kill myself," she snits. "We're gonna have to split this." Stefan is clearly not that into this girl, nor is he into post-coital cuddle time with the girl he's boning, so he tells her to keep it for herself. Not getting the hint, Ivy asks him if he'd like to go get dinner at this crab shack he mentioned wanting to check out, but Stefan pulls out some lame-o excuse that he told Dean he'd put in some extra hours at the garage, which finally makes her get the message. She rolls her eyes and starts to get up, but Stefan decides to be even more of a dick than is strictly necessary by reminding her that she was the one who showed up at his place, and not the other way around. That's when she calls him out on his prickly (or just prick-y) behavior.

"Hey, I'm not asking for your hand in marriage! Stefan, come on. We've been hanging out for two months, now. I don't know anything about you, or your family... your friends you never talk about call you, and you get all weird..." Stefan is like, "Uh, what now?" but Ivy decides that they're going to play a game where she tells him something about her, and in return he tells her something about himself. Stefan isn't in the mood for games, though, and claims he already knows everything about her, including the fact that she's from Colorado, she loves dogs, and that her dad is a pain in the ass who she graciously allows to pay her rent. Annoyed but still somehow charmed by him, Ivy insists that it's his turn to say something about himself. "I'm a vampire," Stefan admits with a totally straight face, but Ivy just immediately proclaims him to be super annoying. Then, Stefan softens a tiny bit and claims that he does like her before he kisses her, but I'm not convinced. In the words of Rebekah Mikaelson, she's comfort food to keep him satiated and distracted by what he really wants. (ie: Caroline, obviously.)

The pre-gaming at Whitmore is still going strong as we catch back up with Alaric, who is surreptitiously emptying the contents of a blood bag into his flask before tossing it into the trash. "Young Chasers" by Circa Waves plays while he licks a spare smear of blood from his thumb and awkwardly looks around to make sure no one saw him, which is when he's spotted by Dr. Jo, Elena's internship supervisor. She's thrilled to see someone over the age of twenty, and complains that all of the other chaperones have  descended upon the burger bar. Wait, are there actually chaperones at a college football game? That makes no sense. RAs in the dorms, I can understand, but adults monitoring a pregame kegger outside the football stadium, not so much. ANYWAY, Alaric figures that she must be a vegetarian, which she confirms. "I don't eat red meat. I look at blood all day." This admission both catches Alaric off-guard and makes him a little suspicious, which she totally notices. She awkwardly adds, "...Because I work at the medical center. Not because I'm a serial killer, or anything."

Our Alaric, who a former/reformed serial killer, if you recall, just smiles an equally awkward smile as she holds out her hand and introduces herself, so he shakes her hand and does the same, adding that he teaches Occult Studies, which Jo apparently has never heard of. "I didn't know that was an actual thing," Jo babbles, before realizing that she kind of just insulted him, so she backpedals a bit before finally asking him if she can take a drag off of his flask. Of course, the flask is full of B+, rather than bourbon, so Alaric frantically covers the flask with his hands and channels Damon. "Uh, you know... actually, I'm a germaphobe."

BAHAHAHA. Remember when Damon said the same thing to the hunter Connor Jordan back at the beginning of Season 4? This is 100% proof that Alaric literally followed Damon, Elena, and Jeremy around everywhere when he was dead and on the Other Side, and I refuse to believe otherwise. Also, we get a good look at his lapis lazuli daylight bracelet, which is actually really pretty and I want it desperately. ANYWAY, Jo proclaims Alaric-the-Germaphobe that he's "like the vegetarian of cool people," but Alaric is clearly uncomfortable and comes up with a lame excuse to duck out and call Elena. When she doesn't answer, he leaves her a message. "Okay, so, when I lost my human nature, I also lost my GAME. Where are you?"

Where Elena IS is still in the car with hallucination!Damon, on her way to pick up Caroline. So, wait, did Elena seriously just drive from Whitmore to outside Mystic Falls, JUST to pick up Caroline so she could come to a football game? I know we always joke that Whitmore is like, a constantly moving place that is occasionally 10 minutes away from MF and other times is like four hours away, but this is getting RIDICULOUS. Anyway, Elena is pawing around in the backseat while she drives, and when Damon asks her what she's looking for, she mutters that she thought she had an extra blood bag in the back. Unfortunately for her, they're all completely empty, which does nothing to help her drug-induced bloodlust.

However, on the bright side, she passes a woman who is pulled over on the side of the road who is trying to fix her car and decides that she's gonna stop for a snack. She pulls over and gets out of the car so she can ask the girl (whose name is Sarah, not to be confused with the girl Tyler killed to trigger his werewolf curse in season 2) if she's okay. Sarah seems to be relieved by the site of what she assumes is a nice girl, and explains that she's from New York. Elena claims she can help her, and asks where she's headed, and as soon as she says Mystic Falls, Elena vamps-out and chomps down on her carotid artery so she can feed. After a moment, hallucination!Damon warns Elena that she needs to stop and get to the "erase" phase of the "snatch-eat-erase" method, but Elena insists that she's still hungry and that she needs a little more.

"You're gonna kill her," Damon continues. "Just like you nearly killed the last one, and the one before that, and the one before that..." Just before Elena gets to that point, Caroline shows up out of NOWHERE and is like, "What the FUCK are you doing?" Elena gets distracted and starts trying to make excuses, which stupidly allows Sarah to run the fuck away from them before Elena can compel her to forget them. Elena forgets about Caroline for a moment and vamp-speeds after her to chase her down, but once she passes through the anti-spirit-magic barrier, Elena's skin starts to burn, and she's forced to stop and watch helplessly as Sarah runs into town, staggering and screaming for help. SHIT.

After the break, we return to Caroline, who demands to know why the hell she's feeding on people all of a sudden. Elena insists that it's fine, because she's been compelling everyone else to forget, but Caroline quickly realizes that she's the "border-lurker" and informs Elena that her mother has been tracking the vampire prowler who has been snacking on the locals. Elena is still kind of fucked up from the herbs, and immediately starts babbling about how they've been making her so thirsty that she can't think straight, leading Caroline to finally understand that things are DEFINITELY not how they seem where Elena's concerned.
CAROLINE: "Whoa, what herbs?"
ELENA: [embarrassed] "They make me see Damon. I can talk to him, and-and I can be with him, and--"
CAROLINE: "God, is this what you've been doing this whole time? Hallucinating your dead boyfriend?"
ELENA: [grows serious] "I tried to grieve him, Caroline. Trust me, I know grief. I've got grieving down to a science at this point. But, every time I let it sink in that I'm never gonna see him again... [starts to cry] I feel like I'm gonna die."

(via rebekahdykelson)
Caroline, who, as you can probably guess, is struggling between wanting to throw her arms around Elena and hug her to death and wanting to grab Elena by the shoulders and throttle her for being so reckless, assures Elena that she understands where she's coming from, but that there has to be better ways to deal than this. This totally ruffles Elena's feathers, though, so she calls Caroline out on the fact that her grieving methods leave a little to be desired as well. "Like what? Like, dropping out of school and having picnics with my mom near the town border? Or, maybe I could pull a Stefan and bounce from country to country, chasing some false hope that we're gonna find a way to bring Damon and Bonnie back?"

OUCH. If only she knew what Stefan was really up to (and, naturally, she'll be finding out rather shortly.) Elena reminds Caroline that they're all getting through it the best they can, and this is her way of getting through it. Still, though Caroline is the tiniest bit hurt at the shade Elena just threw, she maintains that Elena isn't actually getting through anything, she's just pushing pause, which kind of reminds me of when Elena turned off her humanity to deal with Jeremy's death. That was a pause, too, and when she pushed play again, she got slammed in the ass with grief and pain. Anyway, Caroline sighs and promises that she can fix this, but orders Elena to get the fuck out of there and lay low for a while. So, Elena heads back to her car, where she promptly freaks out about what the fuck she's been doing all this time. Hallucination!Damon looks at her sympathetically, and lays his hand over hers, much like the way they did before they both died in "Home." THIS IS TOO MUCH FOR ME.

In town, the Community Protection Squad is jogging around the town square, led by Tripp, and Matt is keeping a pretty steady pace near the middle when he spots Sara staggering toward them. She begs them to help her, just as she collapses from blood loss, so Matt being the kind soul that he is, instantly rushes over to help her. She starts to ramble about this girl with fangs who bit her and pleads that he needs to help her, and somehow Matt realizes that not only was this a vampire thing, but it's likely that someone he knows did this to her. At the very least, a random vampire attacking locals brings unwanted heat on Caro, Elena, Stefan and Alaric, SO, when Tripp comes over and asks what the hell is going on, Matt lies and says that a dog bit her, which Tripp does not seem to believe one bit. He insists that they need to hear what Sarah has to say, but luckily for Elena, Liz shows up, likely having just talked to Caroline, and whisks Sarah away before Tripp can hear anything else. He starts to protest that they need to talk to her to find out what the hell happened to her, but Liz pulls the "I'm the Sheriff and you are a volunteer community-watch guy, so back off"-card and scampers before he can ask any questions. Uh oh! I'm not liking the sound of this guy one bit. There's a lot of speculation that he's actually Matt's dad, but I hope not-- Matt deserves better than some shady guy.

Stefan returns to his home with some food to maintain his cover as a real human and a six pack of beer. Wait, since when does Stefan drink beer? Does bourbon remind him too much of Damon? UGH THIS SCENE IS TOO HARD ON MY HEART. Suddenly, his phone rings, and when he sees it's Elena, he hesitates for a moment before reluctantly answering it. Elena immediately apologizes for calling, knowing that it's been a while since they've talked, and he can tell she's upset, so he asks her what's going on. "I need you to tell me that you found something," Elena begs. "A witch. A guy who knows a witch who knows something. Anything. I need you to give me hope and tell me that you're gonna find Damon and bring him back." Stefan freezes, knowing he's so close to being busted, and lies that he hasn't found anything yet. Elena starts to cry, and asks him how he manages to get up in the morning and go on without Damon, because it's become obvious to her that she's doing something wrong, and though Stefan swears that there isn't a right or wrong way, Elena just doesn't feel that way. She insists that he needs to give her hope, because she's not sure she can live forever without Damon, which gets to Stefan so much that he finally just snaps, "I can't. I gave up."

Elena is shocked, and almost betrayed, just like everyone else is going to be, because everyone from Elena to Caroline to Alaric has been under the impression that Stefan is on their team and doing his part. Still, Stefan argues that while he did initially look for answers, he quickly realized it was pointless and that he needed to move on with his life, hence the fantasy bubble he's created with his mindless job and meaningless relationship that is exactly the opposite of his life in Mystic Falls. While I wouldn't necessarily say he's outright lying, he's definitely not telling the whole truth-- sure, Damon's dead, and he's trying to be realistic, but resurrection isn't even the weirdest and miraculous thing that has happened to them, you know? Like, seriously now, how many times have their loved ones died and come back to life? Jeremy and Alaric have literally died and been resurrected 8-10 times EACH (seriously-- I counted, with help from the TVD/TO Wikia page) and Stefan himself has died and come back TWICE, so what the fuck, dude? Why give up so easy? And if, for whatever reason, you just HAD to quit looking for ways to resurrect your brother and friend, then why couldn't he have told his friends that so they wouldn't spend four whole months thinking that they're on the road to figuring out something that is not actually happening? DICK MOVE, STEFAN.

I mean, Damon would have NEVER given up trying to bring Stefan back. I mean, hell, he actually DIED because he was that desperate to bring Stefan back to life. Though, to Stefan's credit, that's likely a huuuuuge source of Stefan's guilt and the reason why Stefan is pulling all of these stupid stunts, because Stefan and Damon are just the vampire version of Sam and Dean Winchester, just jumping in front of bullets for each other and allowing themselves to be bound into indentured servitude or blowing themselves up in gas explosions to ensure that the other will live to see another day. But guys, does Stefan HAVE to go about this is the most hurtful, asshole-ish way possible? Like, I just feel like there were a million nicer and gentler ways that he could have gone about communicating this information. I WANT TO LOVE YOU, STEFAN, WHY MUST YOU MAKE IT SO DIFFICULT? It just hurts my soul. Anyway, Elena is so sad, so Stefan finishes off by saying, "I mean, I said goodbye, Elena. I moved on. Damon is gone. It's time for you to say goodbye, too," before he hangs up and leaves Elena to sob alone in her car.

It's dark now at Whitmore, and everyone seems to have spent the entirety of the football game pre-gaming outside the field instead of actually watching it. I don't really blame them, honestly, football bores the fuck out of me. I only support the Ohio State University Buckeyes because I would literally be disowned if I didn't. ANYWAY, Tyler managed to find another drink, and is making his way through the throng of drunken students while he's on the phone with Caroline, demanding to know where the fuck she is. Caroline gets straight to the point-- "Did you know Elena has some witchy drug problem? Yeah, Luke Parker has been feeding her some concoction that allows her to hallucinate Damon." Tyler is 100% confused and not following, so Caroline continues on to tell him that it's been making Elena more bloodlust-y than usual, not to mentioned confused enough to feed on and nearly kill several Mystic Falls residents who made the mistake of walking outside the town borders. Tyler stops walking and frowns, clearly concerned, and insists that makes no sense, but Caroline disagrees. "Yeah, well neither did the fact that she got over Damon so quickly when he DIED. Now, it's crystal clear-- she HASN'T. She's just living in a fantasy land."

Tyler immediately asks her if Elena is okay, which warms my heart a little-- I've always liked Tyler, although his constant absences often make me forget, but I've always wanted to see more of his relationship with Elena. It's like he's always been on the fringe of the major drama that nearly always surrounds Elena, Damon, and/or Stefan, and really only got involved through Caroline or Matt's influence, so seeing him become one of the core friends is EXCELLENT. Anyway, Caroline replies that Elena is a mess, and as long as Luke keeps giving her those herbs, she's going to keep staying like this until she finally deals with it. Tyler spots Luke a couple yards away and assures her he'll deal with him before hanging up. UH OH. Like I said before, Luke isn't my favorite person, but I do kind of feel bad for him here, because Caroline and Tyler clearly didn't get the full story and/or they were too overwhelmed with worry about Elena that they didn't take the time to consider any other explanations for what's going on.

Back in Mystic Falls, Matt is driving Sarah (who he seriously must have nabbed from the hospital or something) to the town borders and assures her that they're just going to talk to one of his friends, and then everything will be groovy. However, when he pulls over, Sarah immediately flees from the car and tries to run away, and honestly, I can't blame her from that-- Matty Blue is a cutie with a heart of gold, but he is a stranger for her, and she just got attacked by something she doesn't understand and then got kidnapped and taken outside of town. I'd be freaked, too! Luckily for Matt, he's been eating his Wheaties and working out, so he was quickly able to catch up to her and grab her arms so she couldn't get away. Matt promises that he's not going to hurt her, and when she reminds him that he just kidnapped her, Matt holds up his hands in a non-threatening gesture and levels with her.

"Look, I know you're scared, and I'm sorry this happened to you. But, all I can do is promise that it won't happen again." Sarah is understandably hesitant to take his word for it, but Matt has been in her position, and tells her so. "Because I've been attacked like that more times than I can count! I've had my throat ripped open, my neck snapped, my hand smashed. I've DROWNED. I've died and come back to life, and I've lost what little family I had, and I refuse to lose anyone else. I wanna protect you, and people like you. Like us." Sara is SUPER freaked now, and though she admits that he's got a stellar story, she doesn't trust anyone, EVER, and is about to run away again when Caroline zoops over and blocks her way. "That's probably wise," Caroline chirps, before presumably mind-whammying Sarah to forget Elena's face and to say she got attacked by a wild dog or something.

Tyler, beer in hand, has just approached Luke with a furious glint in his eye, and Luke can tell just by looking at him that something is up. Luke asks him if he's seen Elena, but Tyler coldly informs him that Elena isn't coming, because she's apparently not in her right mind. He chugs the rest of his drink and abandons his Solo cup so he can fully go in on him after Luke asks him what happened to her. "Is this what you've been up to all summer? Messing with Elena's brain? Does it HELP with the guilt, or are you just desperate for friends?" To Luke's credit, he does seem to genuinely care about Elena and her well-being, because he immediately asks where Elena is right now so he can help, but as you can probably expect, Tyler has no interest in allowing Luke anywhere near her. "Why? So you can trick her into thinking Damon is alive? Who does that? She almost KILLED someone!" 

Luke is really starting to feel bad, now, especially since he gave her more herbs against his better judgment, but instead of walking away, he stupidly pushes Tyler back a step and informs him that he's drunk. So, Tyler hulks out and smacks his hand away before grabbing Luke in a choke-hold with one hand. He might not be a hybrid, or even a werewolf anymore, but dude is still strong as FUCK. "Where's your magic now, Parker?" Tyler sneers as Luke gasps for breath. "What's wrong, you can't chant? You stay away from Elena, or you're going to have a problem your magic wand can't fix!" Just as I'm about to worry that Tyler is gonna legitimately trigger his curse again by killing him, Alaric comes up and uses his enhanced-Original-vampire strength to peel Tyler off of him. "You got it under control, huh?" Alaric yells, clearly annoyed that Tyler didn't take his advice to heart. Tyler does look like he feels pretty bad about what he just did, so he bolts, and Alaric, having heard the tail-end of Tyler's threats, immediately turns to Luke and orders him to spill what's going on.

Elena has returned to the Salvatore crypt at the cemetery, where she is drinking yet another dose of magic herbs as "Light a Fire" by Rachel Taylor plays in the background. She's still clearly upset about earlier, and struggles to catch her breath until she senses that hallucination!Damon is behind her. She sighs and admits that he can't be here, even though she's the one who just took the herbs to see him, but whatever. She acknowledges that this isn't even real Damon, just her subconscious trying to deal with his loss by making her think that he's there with her, making her see what she wants to see. "One phone call from my brother, and you want to throw all of this away?" Damon asks quietly, and Elena starts to cry again when she insists that he knows she wants to see him, literally all of the time. She points out that when she's like this, she gets reckless, which typically results in her seriously hurting people. He asks her why he's there, if she really does want to move on, but Elena confesses that it's because she never got to say thank you.

DAMON: "For what?"
ELENA: [smiles sadly] "For saving Stefan, and bringing back Alaric, and Tyler... Thank you."
DAMON: [sighs] "Elena..."
ELENA: [cuts him off] "No, I'm not done yet. I wanna thank you for giving me EVERYTHING that I've always wanted. A love that consumed me, and passion, adventure." [starts to cry] "There's nothing more I could ever want... other than for it to last forever. But, it can't."

(via niansomerhalder)
She takes a deep breath and reaches out to touch his face as she states that this is the last time she's ever going to see him. She tells him that this has to be goodbye, and assures him that she loves him, but she has to let him go. She starts to sob, and kisses him for a long moment before pulling herself away, her eyes still squeezed tight. When she finally opens them again, she expects him to be gone, but he's not, no matter how much the editors tried to trick us into thinking he would be. She looks at him in confusion, so Damon informs her that she's still holding onto him. Elena insists that she isn't, and reminds him that she said goodbye, but that's when hallucination!Damon morphs into someone that isn't really anything at all like Damon, at least not the way Damon treats Elena. He starts to wander around the crypt while he explains that he doesn't blame her for holding onto him, because they both know what's waiting for her once she lets him go.

He asks her how long it will be before she goes running back to Luke for more herbs, but Elena starts to get hysterical as she continues to maintain that this was the last time, because she's done. Damon starts to remind her that she's in for an eternity of grief, sadness, and misery, which she'll all feel if she gives up her habit, which causes Elena to freak out. "Stop it. Stop it, Damon! You're getting in my head! Don't do this, don't do this!" she cries, until she finally picks up a glass candle holder and throws it through the nearby stained-glass window. Absolutely distraught, she throws her arm to the side to slide all of the lit candles at the little table off onto the floor, and eventually knocks over a nearby candleabrum before finally sliding down onto the ground and sobbing. Nina Dobrev is talented at so many things, but man, she is the best crier on television. She deserves all of the awards. As she continues to cry, hallucination!Damon sits next to her on the floor and puts a comforting hand on her shoulder; after a moment, she reaches her own hand up and takes his hand in hers.

That night, Tyler is at his dorm room, doing endless pull-ups on a bar attached to the door frame, when Liv shows up to confront him about his stunt at the football game. "Could you be more of a douchebag cliché?" she snaps as she stomps toward him. Tyler, super guilty, hops down from his work-out routine and sheepishly admits that he knows he got out of control with Luke earlier. Liv argues that it's not Luke's fault that Elena is "emotionally blackmailing him to fulfill whatever mental head-case crap she's going through," which IMO is way harsh. Like, yeah, Elena is clearly having some major issues, but she's grieving, so can't she be cut a little slack? Luke even admitted that he was the one who gave her the idea in the first place, so it's not like he's totally blameless here. Anyway, Tyler agrees with me and defends Elena by reminding Liv that the "head-case crap" she's dealing with is actually called "GRIEF," which literally all of them are dealing with right now, and points out that while Luke got to live that day back in "Home," not everyone else did.

Liv does have a good point, though, when she retorts that Luke and Liv are also dealing with quite a bit of guilt for the things that they did, so maybe they should also be cut a little slack; especially considering many of them, including Tyler, got their lives back because of her spell. "So, at the very least, do ME a favor and lay off my brother," Liv requests, clearly annoyed. Tyler does the right thing by admitting that she's not only right, but he's very sorry for what he did, but Liv just snits that their twin-bond doesn't work that way-- Tyler actually has to go to LUKE and apologize to him to his face. On that note, Liv leaves, and Tyler, feeling even more guilty than when their conversation started, runs after her to try to explain himself. "Hey, I will! Listen, Liv. Four months ago, I could do anything. I could make anyone do anything that I wanted. I was stronger than most people on this earth. And then it went away, and all that's left inside of me is RAGE." 

Liv is clearly affected by this speech, but covers it up with indifference and asks him why he's even telling her this, so Tyler confesses that he wants her to know that he's trying to deal with it. It's a legit argument, imo-- hybrids weren't the most flawless supernatural species in existence, but they were pretty powerful once they actually learned to use their powers, and I would be feeling the exact same way as Tyler if I were in his shoes. It's actually worse than if he was just a regular vampire who was brought back as a human, because at least then he could just have Elena or Caroline turn him again. Instead, he's an untriggered werewolf, so there's no way he could become a hybrid again unless he somehow sweet-talked Rebekah into using Hope's blood to turn him (which I don't think she would agree to, even if Matt backed him up) and triggered his werewolf gene before they did it. It's brutal. Anyway, Liv's like, okay, fine, and walks away again, which just makes Tyler even sadder, because he's spilling his guts here-- something that isn't easy for him to do-- and she's just blowing him off. She asks him what he wants her to do, and Tyler gets this tiny, horny glint in his eye that Liv totally picks up on and becomes extremely uncomfortable before walking away f'reals.

Alt-J's "Hunger of the Pine" (which is a seriously great song that has been on repeat ever since this episode aired) starts to play, as we get into our ending montage, which is narrated in voiceover by Caroline as she leaves Stefan a voicemail from the diner. "...Hey. It's me. Just leaving another message about how today was NOT a good day." We cut to Stefan's apartment, where he's drinking a beer and staring at his phone while Caroline continues to talk. "Everyone drifted apart. It's like everyone's pretending they can get through this. Alone." Cut to Elena's dorm, where she pulls one of Damon's shirts out of her dresser and smells it, hoping that his scent still lingers. "Elena's gone, and I think she's so scared to accept what happened that she's become a completely different person." In Tyler's room, he's furiously doing push-ups using these weird hand-grip things that spin. "And, if you ask me, Tyler's just hiding at Whitmore, pretending everything's fine, as if he could outrun his werewolf gene or something."

At the Lockwood Mansion, Matt cleans up all the pizza boxes and beer cans/bottles that Jeremy has left in the living room. "Matt and Jeremy never leave Mystic Falls anymore. There's an invisible wall standing between us and them, and nobody's doing ANYTHING about it." Jeremy stumbles into the woods, a bottle of bourbon in hand, and heads straight for the memorial the gang left for Bonnie at her funeral on a tree stump. The grimoire is gone, but everything else is still there, including the photo that was left of Bonnie, Matt, Elena, and Jeremy, all together and smiling, and Jeremy stares at it mournfully as he takes a swig of booze. "Part of me wonders if they hope we never find a way back in."

We return to Caroline, still sitting at the bar of the diner, who sighs deeply. "And then there's me. Just sitting at a diner on the border of town, looking for a way to get our home back. But, we just lost two of our closest friends. We NEED each other. We NEED to be together, Stefan, or pretty soon, we're just going to end up pictures in a yearbook in a drawer somewhere. And so, that is why I am NOT going to stop calling you until you pick up the phone, and I hear your voice, and you tell me that you are going to HELP me fix it. Because I am NOT going to give up on us." In Savannah, Stefan's cell phone beeps to alert him of his voicemail, but when Stefan picks up his phone to look at it and sees it's from Caroline again, he just decides he's SO DONE with everything, and squeezes his phone until he breaks into a bunch of pieces.

(via maliahales)
"Do you like being a vampire?" Elena asks Alaric, as she stares at a photo of herself and Damon, but Alaric suggests that maybe she should just get some rest, so they can talk in the morning when the herbs are out of her system. Elena keeps talking as though he hadn't spoken. "Because after all of the funerals at the start of the year, we never really talked about how you're dealing with all of this." Alaric asks if she means him coming back to life, and when Elena nods, he points out that moving away from Mystic Falls helped, especially now that he's learned that Meredith Fell, his ex, married some pediatrician and moved to Alaska, so he has no exes to deal with. Elena wasn't talking about that, though-- she meant the bloodlust, the heightened emotions, and the immortality, and you can tell by the look on Alaric's face that he's trying not to show just how unhappy he is. He sighs, and walks over to the bed so he can sit down next to her, which is when he admits that, in all honesty, he hates everything about being a vampire. (Although, I'm sure once they're all fighting for their own lives again, he'll appreciate being even stronger, faster, and healing more quickly that even an Original so he can be an even better fighter.)

Elena confesses that she does, too, although I honestly don't think that's actually true-- when she's allowed to love being a vampire, like when she's around Damon, I actually think she truly enjoys it. It's just the part of her that spent years around Stefan, who insisted that becoming a vampire would be "the hardest thing she'd ever go through" is the part that still insists that being a vampire sucks. I mean, look at Caroline! She is living proof that a vampire can love being a vampire without being a cold-blooded killer, you know? I guess I just don't understand why all the vampires are like, "I HAAAAAAATE THIS" when it's really not that bad of a gig in the TVD universe. Immortality, strength, speed, enhanced healing, eternal youth? Who WOULDN'T want that? And after turning, they're all more or less the same people, just with a different diet. Maybe it's just jealousy talking, because I would totally be a TVD-style vampire any day. ANYWAY, Elena then explains that she did learn to love it with Damon, especially the idea that love could be eternal, and now the whole heightened emotions thing just means that she'll be spending her eternity with a hole in her heart where Damon should be. OUCH OUCH OUCH.

Alaric looks like he feels pretty terrible, and it makes sense, because Alaric is probably the only person on the planet aside from Elena and Stefan who misses Damon as much as they do. So, he tells her that it'll get easier, but Elena knows better, from both the three times that she died, and the dozens and dozens of friends and family who have died around her-- she knows that it's all a sham, and that it never really gets easier as much as you just get better at working around it. Her point is this-- if she is ever supposed to fall in love again and move on with her life, then she needs a favor from Alaric. Naturally, he's like, "Name it, baby girl," so she reminds him that he's not just any vampire-- he was created by the Original vampire spell by the witch who created the Original vampires, and did so specifically so he could hunt them, which means he can also compel other vampires. Her request is this: she wants him to compel her to forget that she ever loved Damon. NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.

FINALLY, the best part (aside from Alaric)-- Collective Soul's "Shine" plays while a red-flannel-clad man makes pancakes on a skillet. It's hard to tell through the huuuuge lens flare who it is at first, but once the light settles, it becomes clear that we are looking at Damon fucking Salvatore-- the REAL Damon, not a hallucination! YAYYYY! He sets them up on a plate and starts throwing some blueberries and whipped cream on top, while another unknown person pours coffee into two mugs, dropping several sugar cubes in each before they're brought over to a table. Damon sets the plate of pancakes on the table, revealing that he's arranged the blueberries into a smiley face, and has used whipped cream to make vampire fangs. BEST THING EVER. Then, we see the most glorious sight-- Bonnie Bennett, glowing and radiant, sits across from Damon and hands him his cup of coffee before reminding him that she tells him every day that she hates when he does that to her pancakes. Damon reminds HER that every day, he tells her he doesn't care, and smirks as she hands him a section of the newspaper. The two then open their papers and start to read as they begin to dig into their breakfast with the kind of autonomic behavior that indicates this has become quite routine for them. AWWWW YESS DAMON AND BONNIE WORKING TOGETHER.

(via bamonscuddles)
Next episode, according to the promo: Alaric goes Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and compels Elena's love of Damon from her mind, Bonnie and Damon work together to figure out where the fuck they are, and Stefan has a pretty disastrous dinner date with his girlfriend after Enzo and Caroline crash it.

[screencaps via Screencapped]

-I'm really starting to get Teen Wolf vibes from the way that the Mystic Falls Gang is reacting to Bonnie and Damon's deaths. It's just like after Allison and Aiden died-- the pack got steely and were determined that they would NOT be losing any more of their loved ones, which was pretty clearly demonstrated in this episode. From Matt being insistent on covering for Elena so he doesn't have to risk losing her to exposure, to Tyler being pissed at Luke for putting Elena in danger with the herbs, and Alaric being concerned about Tyler putting himself in danger because of his anger. Even Caroline referred to Damon as one of her CLOSEST FRIENDS because she refused to accept Stefan's determination to stay as far away from everything that reminds him of home, because she already feels like she's lost everyone else and can't bear the thought of not having Stefan anymore. LOVING IT.

-I actually love that Caroline and Alaric are getting close now. Before, they only seemed to be acquaintances and allies, as Alaric was just their history teacher who became Elena and Jeremy's legal guardian when Jenna and John died. Plus, I'm sure the fact that Alaric's evil alter-ego was the one who killed Caroline's dad probably made things a little awkward for them, too, not to mention the fact that Alaric died for like two years before he was resurrected. Still, I think the two of them are going to be the foundation of the Mystic Falls Gang's reunion, once it finally ends up happening, and I for one cannot wait!

-Also, not to be one of those people, but as soon as I heard that TVD would be filming a 90's flashback for one of the new episodes, I immediately got a hunch that Damon and Bonnie would be somehow transported back to the 90's (or like, an Other Side-style dimension that was the same as the 90s for whatever reason, and I WAS TOTALLY RIGHT (not to skip ahead to the next episode.) I AM SO PUMPED FOR THIS. Give me all the flannel, lace, Pearl Jam, and Damon and Bonnie bickering, because I am 100% game for it.

-I'm starting to worry about our dearest Matty Blue, too, you guys-- that speech he gave Sarah kind of leads me to believe he's dealing with some of his own post-traumatic issues stemming from the supernatural bullshit he's been involved in for the last three years (in TVD time, anyway.) And, it's because of those issues that I'm thinking Caroline wasn't wrong when she suggested that part of Matt and Jeremy were hoping that the magic-free-zone throughout Mystic Falls sticks around forever. It's kind of like an extension of the fact that Matt spent, like, half a year in the Lockwood Mansion without inviting in any of the vampires except for Caroline-- he loves his vampire friends, but in the end, he would much rather come to them and keep his spaces as his sanctuary in case things get bad. He'll visit his friends at Whitmore or whatever, but I think he wouldn't be opposed to keeping Mystic Falls his sanctuary from the supernatural.


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