The Vampire Diaries Season 6, Episode 4: "Black Hole Sun" Recap/Review

Aside from being a 1994 classic by Soundgarden, "Black Hole Sun" was also a very entertaining and interesting episode of The Vampire Diaries, full of flashbacks to the Salvatore brothers in 1994, which finally explains what led to the final estrangement between Stefan and Damon that lasted until we met them for the first time in the pilot in 2009. Also notable in the episode was some interesting backstory regarding our newest bad guy, Malachai, known as Kai. Kai in particular is giving me all kinds of issues, because he's super entertaining and wildly attractive, not to mention the fact that his actor, Chris Wood, is doing EXCELLENT WORK to portray him, but he's clearly a sociopath and is no doubt going to be bad news for our Mystic Falls Gang, so I'm so torn! Also, Bonnie and Damon's relationship continues to be awesome, as well as Stefan and Elena's, as the two have finally gotten over each other for good and moved past their toxic, codependent romantic relationship in favor of an amazing and loving friendship. I'm all for it, tbh! Anything to make me love Stefan again, because being so annoyed by him is hurting my heart.

Anyway, I'm still scrambling to try to finally catch up on recaps, so I'm just gonna get into the good stuff, 'kay? Let's talk about "Black Hole Sun!"

Previously, on The Vampire Diaries: The Other Side exploded with Damon and Bonnie as its only remaining residents, sending them off into some otherworldly dimension where it is May 10th, 1994 every single day. Elena, unable to deal with Damon's death without using psychotropic herbs and feeding on the locals, convinced Alaric to compel away all of her memories of loving Damon, which he totally did, though an unexpected side-effect was that she ended up believing he was a monster, since she had no memory of the good, nice stuff he did to balance it out. Enzo killed Stefan's fake-girlfriend Ivy, pissing off a still-grieving Stefan enough that he vowed to get his revenge on him. Caroline tried to talk him out of it, but Stefan's goal was to kill Enzo and get the hell out of dodge so he can ~start over~ again somewhere far, far away from Mystic Falls, bumming out our favorite Vampire Barbie, who has harbored a mega-crush on Stefan for some time now. True to his word, Stefan used a stolen stake-shooting crossbow to shoot Enzo before he could kill Tripp, but let Tripp take him and finish him off instead of doing the deed himself.

Oh yeah, and vampires still can't get inside Mystic Falls thanks to the anti-magic spell over almost the entirety of the town, but they can still lurk around the borders for locals, just like Elena did when she fed on poor, unsuspecting Shady Sarah, whose mother apparently met her father in Mystic Falls. Also, the gang recently learned that crossing over the anti-magic border removes all vampire compulsion on humans who were attacked by vampires/witnessed attacks by vampires, which means that Sarah and anyone else in Mystic Falls who has ever been compelled and then proceeded to cross over the border had their compulsion stripped away. (Which, let's be real, is EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN TOWN.) Finally, after four months in the Otherworldly 1994 Mystic Falls, Bonnie and Damon finally realized that they're not alone-- a mysterious person named Kai is also locked in with them. Fortunately, he triggered Bonnie into finally regaining her witch powers, which she used to set a fairly badass fire. He also revealed that it's Bonnie's magic that is the key to getting them out of there, which is where we pick up today! Whew!

We start right off in media res in Otherworldly 1994 Mystic Falls, where Kai, who is still tied up to a chair in the boarding house parlor, is talking about his time in this mysterious dimension, as Jessarae's "Wild Ones" plays. "And, of course, I broke into the Oval Office and took a picture of myself at the window, looking all JFK. But then, I was like, 'How am I going to get these photos developed?'--" Whoa, I knew that this dimension was basically like a snapshot of 1994 Mystic Falls, but I had no idea that they could all travel the entire frozen world if they wanted to! That's crazy! Damon, who has had just about all of Kai that he can take by this point, aggressively cuts him off and demands that he answer the fucking question, which is, of course, "How are we going to get out of this Twilight Zone?" Kai, for someone who has been in this place for decades, doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry, though, and turns the tables on Damon by asking his own question-- why does Damon think they're stuck on a repeating loop of May 10th, 1994, where they are doomed to relive the same solar eclipse over and over and over? Damon tries to play like he has no idea and sips his drink, but Kai already heard Damon rant to Bonnie about how this place was his own personal hell, and, naturally, Kai is curious to know what he did to make him think such a thing.

That's when Bonnie returns to the house, where she unceremoniously dumps a knapsack full of junk onto the coffee table in front of where Kai is sitting and informs him she got everything he asked for before listing them off. "Can-opener, shower drain, grinding wheel, jam, pocket knife, volume 'O' of the encyclopedia, a nail, and a black marker." Why did he want all these things, do you ask? Some of them will come into play for various reasons, but as far as I can tell, the grinding wheel and the shower drain aren't ever used at all. KAI IS SUCH A DAMN WEIRDO. Annnyway, when Bonnie asks him what they're supposed to do next, Kai wiggles his fingers and reminds her that he can't really show them with his hands still bound, so Bonnie rolls her eyes and reluctantly uses the pocket knife to cut the duct tape binding his wrists to the arms of the chair. Naturally, Damon protests this decision the entire time, but Bonnie doesn't give a shit, because she just wants to go home. Kai rubs his sore wrists, grinning like the cat that ate the canary, and when Bonnie is like, "Okay, get to the good stuff, ya punk," Kai maintains that he wants to know what Damon did on May 10th, 1994 first before he tells them what's up. Damon doesn't get why it even matters, so Kai replies with a retort that will only become ridiculously ironic by the end of the episode. "Let me put it this way," Kai explains. "Bonnie's magic is one part of the equation. My as-yet undisclosed knowledge is the other. Which mean YOU would be hitching a ride home for free. I just want to know if you deserve to come along!"

Damon slips back into his old ways a bit in his desperation to get home to his girl, and stomps over to Kai, snatching the pocket knife from Bonnie and holding it against his throat with one hand while he puts Kai in a choke-hold with the other. He figures he can just torture Kai until he says something useful, but Kai unfortunately brings up a valid point: "If you torture me, I'll get mad, and then I won't want to help you..." He looks over at Bonnie, seeking her back-up, and adds, "What kind of person needs to have that explained to them?" The kind who is used to torturing people, apparently. Bonnie carefully removes the knife from Damon's hand, and Damon, realizing that Kai, as nutty as he is, has a point, roughly lets him go, which makes Kai laugh. Damon looks as though he's about to reconsider his stance, but Bonnie insists that he needs to play nice. "Stop trying to impress the new guy," Damon snaps irritably, but Bonnie suggests that maybe he should just tell the story and get it over with. "Maybe because I don't want to talk about the worst thing I ever did, BONNIE," Damon replies, which piques the interest of Kai, who has just opened up the can of grape jam with the can-opener. Kai is like, "Ooh, now I'm listening!" before he takes his hand and scoops up a huge handful of jam to shove into his mouth. Yuck, first pork rinds and now pure jam? Like, I am a huge weirdo when it comes to food and even I am gagging to death right now.

So, Damon transports us all to a flashback to the real 1994 Mystic Falls, where Damon has just showed up on the doorstep of the Salvatore boarding house. He rings the doorbell and takes a look around the outside of the house when Stefan finally answers the door. Upon seeing his baby brother, Damon holds up the front page of a newspaper dated May 9th, 1994, which has a huge article and photo detailing Kurt Cobain's suicide. "Ready for some bad news?" Damon snarks, but Stefan just leans against the door and smirks when Damon tries to get inside the house and is barred by an invisible barrier. He makes a comment about the fact that Stefan could invite a brother in, since it's been at least fifty years since the last time they saw each other (which I'm guessing was during World War II when Damon, on Lexi's orders, stood Stefan up on their whole "Let's serve in the Army and do our deployment in Egypt together!" plan), but Stefan asks him to give him one good reason why.

"Check your answering machine!" Damon exclaims. "I'm trying to turn over a new leaf!" Stefan assures him that he did indeed get his message, and ALSO heard from his dear friend Lexi that Damon sent her flowers to apologize for leaving her on a rooftop to burn to death back in 1977. Damon tries to start explaining himself, but Stefan doesn't give him the chance, because even back in the 1990s, Stefan loved being self-righteous and sanctimonious.
STEFAN: "It's a little late, but I see you're trying to make amends. I just want to know why."
DAMON: "Well, I can tell you this, Stefan-- I'm tired of tearing up New York City. And, maybe it's the partying, or maybe it's my conscience--"
STEFAN: [interrupts] "--Well, I believe that would require one--"
DAMON: [ignores him] "--And then, I had this moment of clarity, and I said, 'Wouldn't it be great if I just woke up in my own bed and could have a fresh start?'"
Suddenly, good old Zach Salvatore, who looks exactly the same as he did when he died eighteen years after this flashback, shows up at the door to see what all the ruckus is about. Stefan introduces him to Damon and informs him that Zach not only owns the boarding house now, but that he knows the family history regarding vampires and whatnot. Stefan has also assured Zach that if Damon gets out of line, that Stefan will personally take care of Damon himself. "Why are you always expecting the worst out of me, Stefan?" Damon asks, clearly offended, but Stefan insists that he isn't this time, otherwise he wouldn't allow Zach to invite Damon into the house, which he totally does. Surprised and a little happy at this not-terrible reception, Damon steps into the house and smiles before patting him on the shoulder and heading further into the house. "You ready to start over?" Stefan asks, to which Damon replies with an emphatic, "Hell yeah!" Oh, this is SO not going to end well.

In the present day, Stefan has just driven up to the border on his motorcycle, and when his phone starts to buzz, he takes off his helmet and answers it to find Elena on the other end. He asks her if she managed to track down Shady Sarah, but Elena, who is in the woods near the cemetery, informs him that she and Caroline combed the entire border of the anti-magic boundary three times already and haven't found any sign of her. Stefan replies that he checked the roads, and since he didn't find her on any of them, either, chances are she's in town somewhere. "This is bad, Stefan," Elena worries aloud. "Her compulsion went away as SOON as she crossed the border. She knows Caroline and I are vampires." Stefan doesn't really care, though, because he's eager to get back to running as far away from Mystic Falls as possible, "Listen, I gotta go. I'll, uh, talk to you later," he replies quickly before hanging up. He turns off his cell phone and turns on the ignition. Thankfully, Elena knows him better than pretty much anyone at this point, and vamp-speeds up to him so he can't ride off into the sunset. "Where do you think you're going?" she sasses, but Stefan reminds her that he's going home. Elena is appalled that he would even say that and insists that THIS is his home, and that Savannah is just an escape/hiding place, but Stefan continues to argue that since he can no longer enter the town borders to go back to the boarding house, he had to find a new home.

"So, you're just going to throw in the towel and go back to your fake new life?" Elena asks, clearly unhappy that he's so intent on getting the fuck out of there, which just makes Stefan even more unhappy that everyone is giving him so much shit for shutting everyone out and tucking tail to run away. "Look, my fake new life ended when Enzo decided to kill my not-so-fake girlfriend, Ivy. So, I am going to go home, pack up, and start over. Again." Wait, so are we still pretending that Stefan actually gave a fuck about Ivy? Because seriously now, even IVY said that it was obvious that he only kind-of, sort-of liked her in a "I need a distraction" kind of way. Come the fuck on, Stefan! Anyway, Elena hilariously and ironically calls him out on pretending like his life there never existed, and Stefan, who is obviously not thrilled by Elena's idea of erasing her love for Damon from her memory, just vaguely replies, "You'd be surprised how easy it is to forget the past, Elena."

That little slight goes right over her head, though, and she defiantly argues that she's not buying it, because there's no way that he's fine after the death of his own brother. Stefan just sighs and goes to start his motorcycle again, but Elena cleverly stole them from him when she first showed up, and she dangles them in front of his face with an adorable little smirk. He reminds her that it's not the first time he's had to create a new identity/life, since he's been alive for over 160 years now, and he insists that he has a system, which gives Elena an idea., "Show me," she demands affectionately. "Prove to me that your system works. If I believe that you actually are happy, then I'll let you go. But, if I don't buy it-- which I probably won't-- I will keep harassing you until you come home." She cutely scrunches up her nose and adds, "And I'm talking about, like, Enzo-sized harassment." The two stare at each other for a long moment as Elena continues to jingle his keys, and he finally just sighs and reluctantly agrees to her plan. He asks what they're gonna do about Shady Sarah, but Elena points out that since they can't go into town, there's nothing else they can do, and that it's now up to the human Jeremy and Matt to pick up their slack.

Speaking of Jeremy, he's sitting next to Alaric in the waiting room of Whitmore University Medical Center, where he's looking veryyyyy green and is retching into what we nurses politely refer to as "emesis bags," which are colloquially known as "barf bags" around these parts. Alaric, who is on the phone with Matt, hilariously and affectionately pats Jeremy on the back and murmurs, "Atta boy. Get her all out," before he returns to his phone conversation. Matt can apparently hear Jeremy vomming everywhere and incredulously asks Alaric if Jeremy is STILL wasted, which Alaric confirms. "Yeah, little punk showed up on my doorstep last night at four in the morning, DRUNK." Wait, how did Jeremy get drunk in Mystic Falls and then get allllll the way to Alaric's apartment at Whitmore? I'm just going to pretend he took a cab or something and didn't drive ridiculously drunk all the way there. DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE, KIDS! Anyway, Alaric mentions that he thought Matt and Jeremy were supposed to be looking for Shady Sarah together, but Jeremy, who has taken a brief break from emptying his stomach contents into the little bag, groans, "I did my part. She is DEFINITELY not hiding in the Salvatore liquor cabinet." BAHAHAHAHA. Oh, Damon and Stefan are gonna be so pissed that he drank all their best booze while they were gone when they are inevitably able to return to the boarding house. Anyway, Alaric ignores him and asks Matt if it's possible that his "vampire-hating neighborhood watch guy" could have any answers, because if Sarah goes to him for help, they're all gonna be fucked, but Matt assures him that he's on his way to Tripp's office as they speak, because he thinks he can get him to trust him enough to tell him what's up.

Alaric instructs him to be careful and hangs up, just as Dr. Jo Loughlin walks into the waiting room and approaches him. After they've exchanged the requisite greetings, Jo asks him who he's brought with him, so Alaric stands as swaying Jeremy up with one arm and introduces him. "He's a little..." Alaric says, trailing off awkwardly, but Jo finishes his sentence for him. "Underage?" Alaric laughs nervously and brings up the fact that he thought Jo could give him one of those "rapid-rehydration-hangover-cure-type-things," and though Jo is totally professional about it, she can't help but give Jeremy a little shit at the same time. "Yeah, I think we'll start with a full work-up," she begins, before holding up an empty urinalysis cup and handing it to Jeremy. "Physical, blood, toxicology..." Alaric hilariously claps Jeremy on the back with his hand and adds, "Yeah, why don't you throw in an STD screening while you're at it, huh?" just to embarrass his favorite surrogate son.

Jeremy just rolls his eyes and is like, "Are you for real?" but Alaric is, all jokes aside, totally serious about it. Once he's left to do his thing, Jo winces a little at the sight of this hungover kid and asks Alaric if she even wants to know what his deal is. He claims it's just another day in the life of an Occult Studies professor, to which Jo just laughs and replies, "Well, if that entails supervising drunk morons, then you and I have a lot more in common than I thought!" Awww, they are so cute! Alaric's got little hearts fluttering around his head as he and Jo smile at each other over the clipboard of patient information she's just handed him. It's about time Alaric got a new girlfriend! Hopefully she doesn't end up vampire'd and/or dead like the others.

Meanwhile, back in Mystic Falls, Matt has just entered Tripp's office, where the man is on the phone having what appears to be a very somber conversation. "I know, and I'm sorry, Karen," Tripp says reassuringly, before noticing Matt hanging in the doorway and gesturing for him to come in and sit down. He promises Karen that they will be the first to know if he learns anything more about what happened, and once they've said their goodbyes, he hangs up the phone with a sigh. Matt looks at him in concern and asks him if he's okay, but Tripp points out that no, he really isn't, since he just had to inform Jay's parents that he found their son's dead body in the woods. Matt, who, if you recall, has always been a pretty good actor, dating back to that time he was in cahoots with Liz Forbes for a while back in Season 2 when they had just learned that Caroline and the Salvatores were vampires, so he plays like he just heard about Jay's death and asks Tripp what happened.

"You tell me," Tripp replies, and though Matt is obviously alarmed that Tripp knows what really went down, he maintains his poker face as Tripp adds, "He went to the party with you." Matt, who is legitimately sad that Jay is dead, even despite the fact that he went after his friends, gives Tripp his cover story-- Jay was drunk, and Matt offered to give him a ride home, but he said he would walk. "I should have driven him home," Matt says glumly. Tripp seems to buy it, and sighs before he stands up and informs Matt that he needs to go see the Sheriff to give her his statement (wait, shouldn't he have done that, like, as soon as he found the body?), so Matt, wanting to keep an eye on what he knows, suggests that he accompany him, since he may have been the last person who saw Jay before he died. Tripp just shrugs and suggest they take off, so the two head out together for the Sheriff's Department.

Back in Otherwordly 1994 Mystic Falls, Damon, Bonnie and Kai are still in the parlor, where the coffee table is totally littered with all of Kai's requested junk. Kai picks up the can-opener so he can open up another jar of jam, while Bonnie and Damon stand in front of the fire place, where Damon is pinching the bridge of his nose and looking as though he'd prefer a stake to the heart than what they're currently doing. "I need to be entertained while I work," Kai insists, as he lays flat on his back on the couch. "Hell story, pleeeease!" he sing-songs. Damon turns to Bonnie and orders her to remind him not to kill Kai, but Bonnie suggests that perhaps telling his story will help him take his mind off of his blinding hatred for this kid. "Whose side are you on?" Damon demands petulantly, but Bonnie just rolls her eyes and replies, "The side where we get to go home to the people we love?" This hits Damon right where his heart lives, because we both know he's been dying to get back to Stefan and Elena since before they even ended up in this weirdo dimension, so he finally reluctantly agrees to continue the story. "On May 9th, 1994, I was living here. I'd come home to walk the straight and narrow..."

Cut to the real 1994 Mystic Falls, where Damon and Stefan are out in front of the boarding house, where the two brothers are in the middle of washing Damon's Camaro and listening to Soundgarden's "Fell On Black Days." I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Damon is wearing a white tank top and is looking fooooooine, if I do say so myself. Stefan is taking a long drag from his flask, so Damon asks him if he minds if he has a sip, as he's "starving." Stefan shrugs and hands it over with a tiny smirk on his face, anticipating the hilarious face that Damon makes less than a second after the blood hits his tongue. "Mmm," Stefan coos. "It's good, right?" Damon desperately shakes his head in the negatory, clearly hating the taste but not wanting to swallow it or spit it out, and pulls the most disgusted face ever. "Oh, yeah," Stefan continues, taking great pleasure this stunt. "I can't remember if that squirrel was roadkill, or one I caught in the rat trap..." Damon gags a little bit, looking absolutely revolted, but Stefan isn't done yet. "Better hope it was roadkill, though, because the rat trap was full of rat droppings. Swish your tongue around. Does it feel like hair, or is it more of a grainy pellet?"

Damon finally manages to swallow the blood and groans loudly as Stefan takes another sip from the trap. Man, I can't believe Stefan lived on animal blood for so long, that is so damn gross. At least eat a deer or something, and not rodents! In the non-existent universe where Kathleen and I are vampires, we would probably end up being Elena-style vampires where we would eat blood bags and the occasional stupid human. No gross bunny diets for us! ANYWAY, Damon gets back to shining up the hood of his car when he sees Zach return to the boarding house with an armful of grocery bags. He greets his great-great-grand-nephew and asks him what's up with all the trips to the store he's been making, but Zach just vaguely replies that one of the boarders has a hankering for blueberry pancakes. He makes his way back to the house, where he's greeted by a very pretty black woman named Gail, whose belly is so swollen that it is obvious that she's very pregnant. The two kiss each other in the doorway as Stefan and Damon both watch. "You know, maybe I should run the Salvatore Boarding House," Damon suggests to Stefan. "Take over for Zach, get in good with Gail..." Stefan sternly reminds him that both Zach and Gail are on vervain, which means he needs to keep his grubby mitts off of both of them, which causes Damon to petulantly roll his eyes. OH NOOOOO DAMON DON'T YOU DARE.

Back in the sort-of present day in our newest mystery dimension, Kai is snoring away on the couch, and Damon snarks in annoyance that their "savior" is not only insane, but narcoleptic as well. Of course, Kai insists that he's still awake. "I was listening in my sleep. You were hanging out with your distant nephew Zach, who you called Uncle Zach, because THAT'S not confusing. Plus, pregnant-lady Gail, who had a big bull's-eye on her chest. Got it." Appalled, Bonnie turns to Damon and demands that he tell her he didn't kill a pregnant woman, but before Damon can respond, Kai butts in and states that's obviously what happened, because why else would this place be Damon's personal hell? Damon, super annoyed at this point, kneels in front of Kai, who bleets, "Oh, here we go," to give him a little reality-check. "The only reason that you're alive right now is because I thought you could get us out of here and help us. But, you don't HAVE any answers!" He picks up an empty jam tin and throws it at him as he yelps, "You're just a man-child with jam on your fingers!"

BAHAHAHAHAHA, ohhhhhh that is classic. Fortunately, this little temper-tantrum of Damon's finally gets Kai to finally reveal how he's going to help get them back to real life. "Okay," he begins calmly. "To get home, we'll harness the power of the eclipse using a mystical relic. It's called an Ascendant, and it looks like this." He holds up this black and red model, which is a round disc-type thing with a bunch of little clockwork parts involved. "The last time we had it was in the Pacific Northwest-- Oregon," he continues, as he holds up the "O" volume of the encyclopedia. He opens it to a map of Oregon and sets it on the table before looking up at Damon and Bonnie expectantly. Bonnie is confused about Kai's use of the word "we," so Kai elaborates that the Ascendant belonged to his family before slicing the tip of his finger with a pocket knife and squeezes it so blood drips out. "So, here's a little blood to get you started. Now, all we need is a locator spell to pinpoint its whereabouts." Damon and Bonnie both rise to their feet, super motivated now that they have legit proof that they can blow this popsicle stand. Damon turns to Bonnie and asks, "Think you can find our ticket out of here, Bon-Bon?" I LOVE THAT HE CALLS HER THAT. It's so damn adorable. Bonnie looks completely determined as she emphatically replies, "Hell yeah!" WOOOOOOO! STUFF IS FINALLY HAPPENING.

Elena and Stefan have magically returned to Savannah in like an hour, because what does the concept of time and space REALLY mean in this universe? Not much, if I'm being honest. Anyway, they ended up at Dean's Garage, otherwise known as Stefan's former place of employment, where Elena is looking at a photo of Stefan and Ivy together, while "Cathedrals" by Harlem plays in the background. She tells Stefan that Ivy is cute, but Stefan bitterly corrects her in the past tense, since she's dead now. (Or is she? DUN DUN DUNNNN) Elena quickly apologizes for his loss, but Stefan insists that what's done is done, and now it's time to move on. He then examines his paycheck and states, "So, after taxes, and Social Security, and health insurance, I'm left with two-hundred and six dollars and three cents to spend for the week." He waves it in the air and adds, "Do you wanna get drunk?" Elena just laughs and points out the fact that, as a vampire, he has no need for health insurance, but Stefan insists that the point of this exercise he's so intent on doing is to start over and to pretend to be as human as possible. Can I point out how much I love that Elena is so content with her vampirism now that she doesn't even understand the point of going all-out on the whole "OH I'M TOTALLY HUMAN WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?" thing? IT GIVES ME SO MUCH JOY. Anyway, Elena just replies, "Ah, okay. So, no vampire privileges, no baggage, nothing from our old lives whatsoever, huh?" She walks over to his little red Porsche and clears her throat dramatically before asking him what he's doing with it.

STEFAN: "You got me there. Damon isn't around calling it 'Granny-Mobile,' so..." 
ELENA: [rolls her eyes] "Yeah, your brother really did love to torture people with nicknames. And just plan torture people..."
STEFAN: [confused by Elena's cold tone] "...That's one way to put it."
ELENA: "So, your system for moving on requires both burning bridges AND a dead-end job?"
STEFAN: "We haven't even gone for the fun part!"
ELENA: [unimpressed] "Paying utilities?"
STEFAN: "No! Deciding who you wanna be for the next thirty years. You wanna be an astronaut? You wanna be an Olympic athlete? You wanna skip med school? Boom, you're a doctor! Go ahead, challenge me. I'll show you how it's done."

Elena seems skeptical, but she accepts his challenge anyway because it's Stefan and she wants to hlp him feel better. So, the two take off to presumably get drunk and plan out their new lives. I really do love their relationship now that neither of them are in love with the other anymore. Before, they held each other up on these pedestals that neither of them could live up to, especially after Elena turned into a vampire. But now, it's no bullshit, no faking, they're just genuinely soul-friends who love each other and who are totally cool about calling each other out if they need it, as we'll learn in a short while.

Back at Whitmore Medical Center, Jo has just left Jeremy's room to meet up with Alaric in the hallway. "Quite a boozer, that kid," she begins. "Put him on a saline drip. He's lucky I didn't pump his stomach." Alaric is well aware of Jeremy's self-destructive tendencies, having known him pretty much the entire series so far, and insists that he's had a rough couple of months. Jo is very snappy sometimes for some reason, and this time is no exception, because she quips, "Did you bring him in here to put a band-aid on it and make some more excuses?" Alaric, however, totally came to the hospital to get advice from a real professional, which does nothing to stop Jo's sassing. She admits that a kick in the ass on both of their parts would help, but assures him that if Jeremy is anything like Elena, he'll be fine, especially since this isn't something she doesn't treat every night on campus or didn't do herself when she was in college. She asks Alaric if he was a former party animal, and Alaric once again gets so adorably awkward I just want to pinch his cheeks. "Oh, yeah," Alaric replies. "Yeah, I used to get kicked out of the library all the time. You know, because it was closing." 

OH COME ON, Alaric, you were at one point the most boozy of all of the characters, and that was when you were still human, which is really saying something. Don't play like that! Anyway, Jo jokes that he had his head in a Wiccan Bible, which is kind of hilarious since as far as I know, there aren't really any specific holy texts for Wiccans/Pagans (although the Crystal Bible has quickly become my best friend, but I digress) and Alaric just laughs awkwardly before getting distracted by a young man who is brought into the ER. The kid appears to have a broken nose, because he's got blood all over his face and down his hoodie, and Alaric instantly looks horrified and tries to hold his breath so he can try to keep his vampire face from showing, which Jo totally notices. She gets a little snippy once again and says, "Okay, one more piece of professional advice-- when a successful, sexy, only moderately-insecure doctor is flirting with you? Give her your undivided attention." I like you, Jo, and I want you to be with Alaric, but giiiiirl, your flirting needs some work. This isn't the elementary school playground, guys! Anyway, she smirks and walks away, leaving Alaric to groan in frustration.

At some bar in Savannah, "St. Louis Who" by The Lexingtons plays while Elena and Stefan are having some beers and Elena checks her texts on her phone. She informs Stefan that Caroline is laying low at their dorm, and no one has managed to find Sarah yet, which leads Elena to believe that she's either hiding out or planning her Nightly News exclusive to out her. Stefan, still on this whole "starting over" shtick, reminds her that if she is outed, she can just leave and make roots somewhere else where she will be free of all of the supernatural drama that Mystic Falls entails. Elena is clearly not game for this plan, though, because she's just like, "Right..." as Stefan asks her if she's ready to see his system in action. Elena takes a shot of liquor and replies that she is, though she is a little unnerved when he asks her to hand over her daylight ring. Confused, she moves into the shadow away from the sunlight and hands her ring to him, which he takes before kneeling in front of where she's sitting and holds up the ring. "Elena Williams..." he begins, raising his voice so the whole bar can hear him. Elena, playing along, replies, "Stefan Cooper! What are you doing?"

Stefan takes a dramatic deep breath before starting his heartfelt speech. "We've known each other for a very long time now. And, you've always been my best friend. I have always loved you. And, I wanna spend the rest of my life with you. Will you--" All of a sudden, Elena cuts him off, and asks, "Wait! You're not just proposing to me because I'm pregnant, are you?" The rest of the patrons of the bar, who have all turned in their seats to watch this all go down, start murmuring among themselves, and Stefan can barely keep himself from bursting out laughing. "No. No! I-I'm proposing to you because you are my ROCK, okay? You have stood by my side through the multiple rehabs, the jail time, the bull-fighting injury? I mean, you have brought me back from the EDGE! And sweetheart, this baby is the best thing that ever happened to us." Elena, who has tears of laughter in her eyes that she plays off as tears of joy, emphatically states that she will, in fact, marry him, and he slides her daylight ring onto her left hand ring finger. She then hops to her feet so she can give Stefan a hug, which makes the entire bar start to clap and cheer for them. "See that?" Stefan whispers in her ear. "New identities, new lives... It's easy!" He turns to the rest of the bar patrons and thanks them for their appreciation as the two laugh happily.

Over in the Otherworld, Bonnie is in the midst of doing her locator spell for the Ascendant using the map of Oregon in the encyclopedia, with Kai watching closely beside her. Meanwhile, Damon is sitting on the front step of the house, making huge paper airplanes out of pages of the newspaper and throwing them into the front yard. "Phesmatos tribum, nas ex viras, sequitas sanguinum..." Bonnie chants lowly, and MAN, have I missed that weird Latinesque witchiness coming from Bonnie's mouth. WITCH BONNIE IS BACK AND I AM SO GLAD. However, when she looks down at the drop of Kai's blood on the page, it hasn't moved at all. Bonnie informs Kai that it doesn't feel right, and wonders aloud if maybe she needs a bigger map to do the spell. "Maybe you're just out of practice and you suck at magic now," Damon suggests rudely as he joins them in the parlor. Kai, strangely enough, is actually really nice to Bonnie and encourages her to tune him out by pretending he's a white-noise machine, which he used to do back in the day with his own siblings. Apparently, he had a ton of little brothers and sisters, and their constant "yammering," as Kai calls it, is what taught him to focus. He leans close to Bonnie, and looks as though he's thisclose to kissing her, and honestly, Bonnie looks like she'd probably let him. "Easy there, big brother!" Damon exclaims, ruining the moment. "She doesn't know you. At least buy her a drink."

I'm going to guess that Damon decided to tell more of his hell story, because we're quickly transported to real 1994 Mystic Falls, where Zach is throwing an eclipse party at the boarding house. At the party, Damon has just met an eighteen-years-younger and very long-haired Liz Forbes, who is in the middle of showing him a picture of Bb Caroline, who is just as adorable as you expected. Damon asks her if he can call her Liz and then proceeds to compliment her on the cuteness of her baby daughter. "Yeah, Caroline's high-maintenance, but she's worth it," Liz replies proudly. Why am I not surprised that even Bb Caroline was high-maintenance? Nearby, Zach takes a Polaroid photo of Gail, who insists the photo is terrible and that she's going to throw it away before she calls Stefan over to take a photo of her with Zach. He graciously accepts the camera from her and takes a photo of them. Once it's taken, Gail announces that she's got to get back to her pregnancy cravings and reaches over the table to grab a cupcake. When she peels off the wrapper, Stefan notices distinctive puncture wounds on her wrist and immediately asks her what happened, even though it's clear that he already knows the answer. As expected, Gail just looks at her wrist, almost in a daze, and murmurs that she doesn't remember.

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Stefan looks over to see Damon still talking to Liz, who is holding one of those boxes that you use to watch the eclipse without blinding yourself. "So, how does this thing help us watch the eclipse?" Liz asks curiously, and Damon, who is just eating up all this attention, takes the box from her and holds it up to his face. "You put it in between you and the thing that is too hot to look at," he explains, as he looks at Liz through the sight hole. "Ah, it works!" he exclaims, which gets a hearty laugh out of Liz. She tells him that her husband (LOL, oh, I forgot about gay Bill Forbes and his hatred of vampires that was so intense that he tortured his own daughter) would get a kick out of him and suggests that they should have Damon over for dinner, but before they can talk about it further, Stefan storms over to Damon and asks him what the fuck he did to Gail.

Liz, confused, asks if everything is okay, but Damon just mutters, "Looks like the jig is up!" before turning on the compulsion eyes to mind-whammy her. "Hey, look at me," Damon says as he stares into her eyes. "Go home. Forget you ever met us." And, as we well know, that's exactly what happened. Stefan roughly yanks Damon aside by the arm and demands to know how Damon managed to feed on Gail when she's on vervain. Damon just scoffs, though, and retorts, "Yeah, in her coffee. I swapped it out last week. Same for Zach." Stefan is SUPER pissed now, and reminds him that Gail and Zach are both his friends, and the latter is FAMILY, and they trusted him not to allow anything bad to happen to them. "And they trust us both!" Damon argues, not understanding why Stefan's so upset. "Look, no feeding inside the house, right? Snatch, eat, erase. It's all completely functional, Stefan. I told you, it's a new start!" Damon walks away, done with this conversation, but Stefan can't let him go knowing he could hurt someone, and instead vamp-speeds over to him so he can snap his neck. Ohhhhhh, shit.

Back in the Otherworld, Bonnie has moved the drop of Kai's blood to a bigger map, this time of the entire United States, and begins the spell anew. This time, as she chants, the blood moves all the way across the width of the country, eventually ending in Virginia. "That can't be right," Kai says, but Bonnie shakes her head and insists that the spell is working. "It's showing me Mystic Falls. It feels so... close." She turns toward Kai and raises her hand toward him. All of the flames of the lit candles surrounding them flare up, and she informs them that the Ascendant is right there before placing her hand on Kai's chest, which causes all of the candles to magically snuff out. Kai, smirking, reaches into his inner jacket pocket and pulls out the real Ascendant, which is silver and gold and has the same weird clockwork-type inner workings as the model. "Very good," Kai replies proudly, but Bonnie and Damon are both stunned and kind of confused about what just happened. "Thanks for the mind-games, jackass," Damon snits, but Kai insists that it was just a test to make sure that her newly-regained magic was precise enough to do the much bigger spell that they will soon be doing. "I do believe you're ready," he adds with a smile. "Pack your bags-- we're going home." At this statement, both Bonnie and Damon beam happily, and all of their annoyance has dissipated into the air. Of course, this is The Vampire Diaries, which means that this is so not going to end the way they want.

It's 1994 flashback time, again, and this time, it's shortly after Stefan snapped Damon's neck. Damon awakens on the floor of the shed, and lifts his head off the ground and groans when he sees Stefan scowling at him as he leans in the doorway. "So, here's what I don't get, Damon," Stefan begins, as Damon prepares himself for the lecture that's sure to come. "Why'd you insinuate yourself back into my life and then cheat, and lie, and break all the rules?" Damon sighs and points out that the major reason was that he knew Stefan would be pissed, and he actually likes being back at home again. He stands to his feet and starts to stagger toward his brother, but when he walks into a patch of sunlight, his skin burns, indicating that Stefan totally stole his daylight ring while he was out. Stefan insists that he'll get the ring back when he decides to behave and once again asks him why he came back to Mystic Falls.

DAMON: "Because I missed my brother. I want to have a connection to my humanity, Stefan. I wanted to feel again. And, when I decided to come back home, it all came rushing back, just like I hoped it would."
STEFAN: [sarcastic] "Oh, congrats. Now what?"
DAMON: [sighs] "Come on, man! Let's just hit the rod, you and me, huh? I'll let you drive my car, I'll get you off this vegan diet, teach you how to feed again. it'll be great, Stef. Huh? What do you say? Come on! Trust me."
STEFAN: [frustrated] "Yeah, I can imagine a road trip with you. I can imagine you feeding on innocent people, and, uh, leaving a trail of bodies behind. I can imagine you making me drink human blood, and laughing at me while I suffer."
Damon just rolls his eyes and gives him shit for his clearly unbridled optimism, but Stefan insists that he's just stating the facts. "1912, you convinced me to drink human blood again, which turned me into a Ripper. In 1942, you almost pushed me off the rails again because you were SO damn needy. 1977, you left my best friend to die after I sent her to come help you. And now? I'm finally happy. I have a new life, I'm doing well, and, uh, you just can't handle that, can you, Damon?" GOD, I know this occurred almost twenty years ago and not in the present day, but hadn't Stefan learned by that point that this is literally the worst kind of thing you can say to Damon? I'm not saying he doesn't have a right to be mad, or that Damon didn't do something wrong, because he does, and Damon did, but being that particular brand of cruel (especially since we know that Stefan doesn't have the whole story when it comes to several of those situations) is just going to tell Damon that it's worthless to try to be good because everyone expects the worst from him, which will only lead him to literally go out and DO the worst just to prove to him and everyone else that they're right. We've seen it happen time and time again, though I am confident that Damon may have actually left that kind of attitude behind him.

ANYWAY, Damon's like, "I'm not trying to screw up your dumb new life, ya dick," but Stefan argues that Damon doesn't even have to try to do it, because all he has to do to cause chaos is to simply exist. "Because no matter what I do or where I go, you will be with me forever, trying to destroy every single thing that I've built. I don't know why I thought this time would be any different. I wanted it to be different. You just keep failing." Uhhh, remember that time you forced Damon to drink human blood and complete his transition into a vampire because you didn't want to be alone? And how you pushed him away in 1864 because you were literally killing any local you came in contact with and Damon couldn't stand to see the bloodshed? Maybe people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones? UGH STEFAN WHY ARE YOU MAKING IT SO HARD FOR ME TO LOVE YOU. Damon tries to add a little levity to the conversation by asking him if that's a no on the road trip, so Stefan emphatically states that yup, that's a no on the road trip before he takes off, leaving Damon in trapped in the shed all alone.

Back in the present day real-world, Lucette's "Black is the Color" plays while Stefan and Elena continue to sit at their table at the bar, surrounded by beer bottles and glasses of liquor, as Elena checks her phone for updates. "So, according to Caroline, Sarah's still M.I.A., and now Enzo's missing." Stefan, who knows exactly where Enzo is, suggests that perhaps he is out killing someone else's girlfriend, but Elena just shrugs and goes to take a sip of her beer until Stefan stops her, reminding her that she's supposed to be pregnant, according to their cover story. "Dumbest lie I've ever told," Elena says with a sigh. "Can I just take that one back?" Stefan informs her that she can't, which is stupid, but does say that she will have to reinvent herself in thirty years or so, because people will start to realize she's not aging. Elena suddenly remembers that when they first met, Stefan said he hadn't been back in Mystic Falls in fifteen years, and asks him what made him decide to stay wayyyy ahead of schedule, but Stefan reminds her that it was all because he met her. He then starts listing the jobs he's had over the last 160-some-odd years, including a carpenter, an ambulance driver, a migrant worker, and a high school student, but when Elena asked him why he decided to work as an auto mechanic for two-hundred bucks a week, Stefan clams up and replies, "...No reason."

Elena points out that it must be hard to have all that change without a constant in his life, and then quietly brings up the fact that they haven't talked about Damon since they've been hanging out. Stefan knows that this conversation is going into dangerous territory re: Elena's compulsion, but he just can't help himself. "It's a little weird to, uh, hear you refer to Damon as just my brother." Elena gets confused once again and asks him what else she's supposed to call him, but Stefan just decides to quickly backpedal and sighs, "I don't even know anymore." Of course, this does nothing to make Elena less confused, so he insists that it's not important before raising his beer to her. "Things change, right?" Stefan adds. "To change!" Elena smiles, and replies, "Who cares what people think, right? To change." The two clink their beers together and each takes a long drag, once again forgetting that Elena told everyone she was pregnant with Stefan's baby and totally shouldn't be drinking right now.

In the Otherworld, Damon, Bonnie, and Kai have moved outside, where Kai is wandering around the front yard of the boarding house and using the Ascendant by looking through a small hole in the device. Damon asks him why he's stumbling around like a crazy man, but Kai insists that he's looking for the right spot for them to do the spell, because they need to figure out where the power of the eclipse is focused. Bonnie brings up the fact that he could have just shown them the Ascendant from the beginning so they didn't have to waste so much time, but Kai just smirks and quips, "Yeah, but I wanted to feel your hand on my chest!" Bonnie, no longer charmed by this weirdo, mutters to Damon that there's something not right with Kai, but Damon just chuckles and reminds her that she's just not used to guys hitting on her. "You know, I can't wait to get out of here and talk to somebody else," Bonnie says teasingly, but Damon just replies, "Can we just have a few lasting seconds of peace while this idiot uses that thing to get the stars to align?" Bonnie notices one of the paper airplanes Damon was throwing around earlier, made out of the unending day's newspaper, and unfolds it so she can read the front page. Kai informs them that he's used the Ascendant to figure out where they need to be standing during the eclipse, which pleases Damon for probably the first time all day "Great! Let's do some magic and get the hell out of here."

Bonnie, who is still reading the page of the newspaper, whispers, "Oregon," which catches Damon's attention. When he asks her what she's talking about, she reminds him that she's read that newspaper front to back over the last four months that they've been there, and there's an article about Oregon. When Damon is still confused, she explains, "You know, Kai said he had all these brothers and sisters?" When Damon nods in confirmation, she reads the article aloud. "Family massacred in Portland. The only one missing was the oldest boy, a 22 year old named Malachi." Suddenly, Kai appears near them and retorts, "Who names a kid Malachi? It's like they EXPECTED me to be evil!" Bonnie points out that all of those kids were murdered, but Kai corrects her-- "Hello! Not EVERYONE died. I had a soft spot for one of my sisters. 'Cause otherwise, I would've cut her lungs out, and not just her spleen." Both Bonnie and even DAMON are horrified by this revelation, especially when Kai explains that a person can survive without their spleen, as if that makes it any better. When Damon makes a comment that he's guessing Kai isn't speaking hypothetically, Kai takes the newspaper from Bonnie and starts outlining how he killed all of them.

"Look. Well, these two, I, uh, hung off a stairwell railing. Then, I put a hunting knife in her abdomen, and him, I drowned in the pool. But, he kept FIGHTING me. I was like, 'I saved you for last, you ungrateful little--'" He cuts himself off, but remains perfectly calm as he adds, "Anyway, that was that." Bonnie is absolutely appalled that he would just kill his entire family, but Kai corrects her once again-- it wasn't just his family, it was also his COVEN, as in his whole family were witches. Hilariously, Damon is more upset by the fact that Kai made them jump through all these hoops when he's actually a witch himself, but Kai admits that while he is technically a witch, he doesn't have powers of his own, and since the FUCKING GEMINI COVEN didn't take his mass murder very well, they banished him here on May 10th, 1994. Bonnie gasps and turns to Damon. "This place is a prison." She turns to face Kai and adds, "They created it for you." Surprisingly, Kai doesn't even bullshit them about it. "Yup. This place isn't your hell, Damon. It's mine." DUN DUN DUNNNN. So damn dramatic! I knew the Gemini Coven was going to be important later, and I'm actually pretty pumped to learn more about it. Woooot!

Now it's time for what is probably my favorite scene of the episode. Out in the woods outside Mystic Falls, Alaric has brought Jeremy to a clearing so the two of them can practice sparring and getting Jeremy back into awesome hunter-mode. Alaric quickly gains the upper-hand on him and punches Jeremy in the face, though I'm guessing that since he didn't break any bones, Alaric was probably pulling his punches a LOT. Jeremy whines that this isn't even remotely a fair fight, since Alaric is, for all intents and purposes, an Original vampire, but Alaric just shakes his head. "You've killed an Original before," he replies, before grabbing Jeremy in a headlock. "Now, get your head in the game, and maybe you'll keep it out of the bottle!" Annoyed, Jeremy taps out, and when Alaric gets distracted by letting go of him, he yanks him by the arm and flips him onto the ground.

"Happy?" Jeremy snaps petulantly, but Alaric insists that he's just trying to help him pull himself together and asks him what the fuck his problem is. "My PROBLEM is that everyone thinks I shouldn't have one!" Jeremy shouts, finally getting out all of the feelings that he's clearly been bottling up for months. "I have the right to be messed up right now. Bonnie is DEAD. She knew it was gonna happen, and she said goodbye over the PHONE. Just so YOU--" Jeremy cuts himself off, knowing that what he was about to say he would be crossing a major line, but surprisingly, Alaric isn't at all offended, and demands that he keep going. "So what? So that I can come back to life, right?" Jeremy sighs, trying to control his anger, and continues. "You, Elena, Stefan, Tyler, Enzo? She saved everybody but herself!" That's when Alaric decides that it's time for HIM to let off some steam that has clearly been bottled up foreverrrr.

ALARIC: "You wanna talk about resentment, huh? Is that it? My wife ran away because she would rather be be a vampire than be married to me. Come to find out it was Damon who turned her! And then she died. And then Jenna, she died. And then I died. And then the guy who killed my wife died, and I actually kind of miss him! And now, I can't even talk to a girl without fantasizing about tearing into her neck? I mean, Jeremy, I have resentment for years. YEARS! Okay? But, I find a way to keep going, because that's what we DO. We find a way to KEEP GOING."

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BEST SPEECH EVER. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. It reminds me a lot of Teen Wolf, actually, with the whole, "When you're going through hell, keep going," quote that basically sums up the entire series, and how Derek told the twins that they needed to follow Scott's example and find a way to keep fighting even when the odds seem impossible. Jeremy must have finally realized that he's not at all the only person who is struggling right now, and can't bring himself to say or do anything except not in understanding. Alaric, who is now cooling off, asks Jeremy if he's ready to start again, and when Jeremy nods again, they go back to sparring like nothing even happened. OH DUDES AND YOUR EMOTIONAL CONSTIPATION.

Over at the bar in Savannah, "100 Days, 100 Nights" by Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings plays while Elena and Stefan prepare to leave and get back to their regularly scheduled lives. Elena realizes that her daylight ring is still on her left hand instead of her right, and quickly switches it before asking Stefan if they need to pretend like they're strangers if they end up running into each other in some random town in thirty years. Stefan just laughs and reminds her that he's trying to avoid Mystic Falls, not her, and that they can still talk and visit each other whenever. "And, if you ever need a car repair, I will give you the parts at cost!" Stefan adds, which makes Elena giggle. The two hug, which makes a nearby man at the bar scowl angrily. They then say their goodbyes before Elena takes off, and once she's gone, Stefan rounds on the angry, tense dude sitting on a nearby bar stool. "Hey, man. Noticed you were celebrating my engagement," Stefan begins. "How come?" The guy angrily points out that it's a little hard for him to be happy for a dude who recently put his brother in the hospital, but Stefan continues on in his jerk-mode. "Oh, right, right, right. Okay. Hey, remind me, which guy was it? Broken nose, or fractured arm?" He laughs and points out that he was kind of drunk before pointing out that he's still waiting on the congrats on his engagement. When the guy remains silent, he pinches the man's cheeks and moves them to look like he's talking as he mockingly grumbles, "I'm really happy for you."

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This seems to have been the last straw for the guy, who grabs his empty glass and slams it against Stefan's head, shattering the glass and barely slicing open Stefan's forehead. He laughs hysterically and asks the man if that's all he's got, which leads the dude to continue to beat the shit out of him while he laughs and laughs. "You're enjoying this?" the angry man spits. "You sick freak!" Suddenly, Elena appears out of nowhere, sees that Stefan's in the midst of getting his ass kicked and rushes over to the man to compel him. "Go home, clean up, and forget this ever happened," she says firmly as she mind-whammies him. Uh, where is the bar manager? Or the rest of the patrons? Did they all disappear? Did Stefan eat them? Inquiring minds want to know. Anyway, the dude leaves, and Elena turns toward Stefan, who is still sprawled on his knees on the floor. "What the HELL?" Elena demands, as Stefan looks super guilty. Oh mannnn, Stefan's pulling a Chuck Bass! Next thing we know, he'll be paying dudes with his meager mechanic paycheck to jump him in dark alleys until some Dan Humphrey-type intervenes. (Too bad Stefan is pretty much the Dan Humphrey of this show, eh?)

In the Otherworld, Bonnie and Damon have just re-entered the boarding house, where Bonnie is making it crystal clear that they will not, under any circumstances, be letting Kai out of this prison dimension, since he just admitted that he's a serial killer. "I don't care!" Damon replied predictably. "I wanna get out of here." Question-- why can't they just let him out and then immediately kill him? It wouldn't be the first time Damon killed a guy, and it's not like he wouldn't be deserving of it, honestly. Oh, what TV does to my usually rod-straight moral compass! Bonnie is not at all pleased by this response, and exclaims, "How can you not care? Maybe because of the horrible things you have done? Maybe 'cause killing a bunch of kids is not a big deal to someone who's murdered a pregnant woman?" Damon looks at her, clearly hurt, but Bonnie stands her ground. "Am I wrong?"

Unfortunately, she's not wrong at all. We flash back to 1994 Mystic Falls, shortly after the eclipse and the party have ended. Stefan and Zach walk back into the boarding house, where Stefan takes notice of the fact that the door is wide open. Stefan asks Zach if he forgot to close it, but Zach replied that he didn't. Before they get the chance to puzzle it out for themselves, they get their answer when they hear a loud scream and the sound of broken glass in the next room. Stefan and Zach rush over to the source of the noise, where they find Damon surrounded by dead bodies and holding a terrified Gail in a headlock. "This eclipse party BLOWS," Damon says calmly. "I didn't see the sun at all when I crossed the yard!" Stefan and Zach are both stunned, even though Stefan had to have known something like this would happen-- it's not like this is Damon's first rodeo, you know? Damon points out that he had forgotten how much stronger vampires are when they drink live human blood, and Gail whimpers Zach's name, clearly frightened out of her wits. Zach pleads with Damon not to hurt her, but Damon replies that he wants his daylight ring back, to which Stefan quickly complies.

As Damon slips the ring back on his finger, still gripping Gail tightly with his other arm, Stefan sighs and asks, "I'm never gonna be rid of you, am I?" Damon just smirks and replies that no, he isn't, before launching into a correction of Stefan's speech from earlier. "'Cause in 1912, I showed you who you were, Stefan. In 1942, I gave you your freedom, and in 1977, I almost killed your best friend because it should have been YOU there to help me, Stefan." Don't forget that in 1953, Damon and Stefan were both invited to dinner at the boarding house by their descendant, Joseph Salvatore, who was revealed to have tricked them into coming so he could sell them out to Dr. Whitmore of the Augustine Society in exchange for money. Stefan showed up too late, but Damon got taken and held captive for five years, during which time he was starved and tortured day after day after day while Stefan had no idea whatsoever what was going on. So, Damon has always had a ton of resentment toward him for never wondering where he was, or what had happened to him, nor did he ever try to look for him, which clearly made the whole sending-Lexi-to-help-him thing on Stefan's part even more hurtful to him. (Although that could be because Stefan just figured Damon killed Joseph for no good reason and got pissy about it without looking into it further.)

Again, not defending Damon's actions, because indiscriminate killing is horrible and killing a pregnant woman (who was having a baby with your own relative and whose child would thus be family as well) is even worse, but Stefan isn't even trying to understand why Damon has acted like he has in the past and that's clearly been eating at Damon for a while now. "You owe me, Stefan," Damon finishes dramatically. "And it'll take you an eternity to pay me back." He viciously bites into Gail's neck and feeds on her until she dies. "An eternity of misery, brother. Just like I promised." Damon, still covered in blood, vamp-speeds out of the house before anyone can react, and Zach falls to his knees next to Gail's dead body. OH GOD THIS IS TERRIBLE. Stefan and Damon fighting is always the most heartbreaking thing ever, and this is no exception whatsoever.

In present-day Otherworld, Kai, who has just arrived to hear the end of the story, snarks, "Ouch. Poor nephew-uncle Zach," as though he hasn't killed people in worse ways. Damon explains that Stefan compelled Zach to forget about Gail and the baby, but since he couldn't cover up the murders, the Founder's Council was restarted by the Forbes, Gilberts, Fells and Lockwoods, and Stefan was forced to take off again. And, as we well know, Stefan and Damon didn't return to town until just before the pilot episode. "And, when I saw Uncle Zach again, I couldn't look at him without remembering that I ruined everything. So, it was a nice relief when I got to kill him," Damon adds. "Okay, can we go back now?" Bonnie says nothing, but her body language is screaming that she is not okay with this plan at all, so Kai tries in the worst way ever to try to get her to change her mind. "Oh, come on, Bonnie! You want to go home to your friends, I wanna go back and give the rest of the Gemini Coven an excruciating death. Win- win!"

Oh, he definitely doesn't know Bonnie at all if he thinks talking about murder is going to convince her to send them home. Damon tries to appeal to her on a more emotional note by reminding her that while he knows Kai isn't a model citizen, he still needs to go back, and not just for Elena, but for Stefan, too. Still, Bonnie's not game for it, and she looks extremely guilty as she replies, "I'm sorry, Damon." Kai is not so nice about it and states that sorry doesn't cut it for him, and is about to grab Bonnie when Damon gets him in a choke-hold and shoves him against the wall. "We may be having a bit of a disagreement, but don't EVER lay a hand on her," Damon states, as the Bamon-shipper in my heart squees as loud as possible. Kai just shrugs and wriggles out of Damon's grip before pointing out that since they missed the day's eclipse, they can't go back today anyway. "Rain check for tomorrow?" Kai asks hopefully, but Bonnie replies with an emphatic NO. Oh, Bonnie, I love how you are basically the only person left on the show who cares about people without killing tons of people in their name, but I wish you would just break your rules just once, because I NEED YOU BOTH TO GET BACK HOME ASAP.

Meanwhile, back in the real-world Mystic Falls, Matt is driving with Tripp in his van after just leaving the Sheriff's station, where Matt makes a comment that he and Liz don't seem to really get along. Tripp explains that she and his wife were rivals in high school and both held a grudge over the fact that they both wanted to be field hockey captain or something. Matt is shocked to hear that Tripp is married, but he corrects him. "I was. Yeah, Chris died in a car accident." Matt quickly apologizes for bringing it up, but Tripp assures him it's fine, and admits that her death was the reason why he left Mystic Falls for so long, since it had too many memories. Matt, still doing some undercover work for the Mystic Falls Gang, asks him what he told Sheriff Forbes about Jay, but Tripp just vaguely replies that he told her what he saw-- tons of blood, mostly, and that he figured he was attacked by a mountain lion. Ummm, didn't Enzo kill Jay by throwing a stake into his jugular after he tried to shoot Stefan with it? How the hell could that look like an animal attack? Anyway, Matt just sighs and is like, "Just another animal attack, huh?" Tripp tells him he sounds skeptical, so Matt cleverly explains, "This is gonna sound weird, but... last night, Jay told me that he was tracking a vampire. I mean, that's crazy, right?" Tripp looks as though Matt has passed some sort of test and informs him that he has something he wants to show him as they continue to drive down the road.

Down in Savannah, Stefan and Elena are still at the empty bar, where Stefan coldly tells Elena that he thought she agreed to leave him alone so he could start over. Elena isn't here for his shit, though, and is like, "Uh, I forgot my jacket, dick," before demanding to know what the fuck happened with the bar dude. Stefan clearly doesn't want to talk about it, and simply replies that he has a system, but Elena is not really a believer in the whole "letting someone kick your ass so that you can feel" thing. Stefan points out that Elena is the last person who should be lecturing him on coping mechanisms, but once again, Elena has no idea what he's talking about because of Alaric's mind-whammy, and she reminds him that he's not the only person who lost someone that night. "I lost Bonnie when you lost Damon, but I fought through it."

Stefan barks out a humorless laugh and is like, "Yeah? All by yourself?" but Elena is still oblivious, and claims that Stefan is just pushing her away because she never liked Damon. OH LORD, HERE WE GO. Stefan insists that that isn't what it is, but Elena assumes she knows better. "I know that he's your brother, I get it. But why inflict so much pain on yourself for such a hateful person? He doesn't deserve your grief. I mean, there's gotta be another way that you can move on?" Oh, Elena, it hurts my heart so bad to hear you say these things, and it clearly hurts Stefan too, because that's when he decides he's done with playing pretend. Sorry for all the straight-up transcribing that I'm doing in this episode, but it's JUST SO GOOD I can't help myself and the dialogue speaks for itself.

STEFAN: "I'm sorry that I can't just forget him like you, Elena."
ELENA: [sighs] "No one's forgetting him."
STEFAN: "You are. You erased him."
ELENA: [confused] "What are you talking about?"
STEFAN: "You had Alaric compel you to forget every good thing that Damon ever did. You made him a monster in your own mind because you couldn't handle the grief of losing him."
ELENA: [frustrated] "I don't believe anything that you're saying. Why would I do that?"
STEFAN: "Because you were in love with him, and he was in love with you. And when Damon died, a part of you died, too."
ELENA: [sighs in disbelief] "Wow. Oh, God, what? No. No. Stefan, how could I possibly love Damon?"
STEFAN: "Believe me, I asked myself that for a very long time. And eventually, I saw it. Damon inspired you to own the darkest parts of yourself. And, when you died, he was the only one that could make you feel alive again. And you made him feel human. You loved Damon for the same reasons that I love Damon. Because in spite of every single thing that he did, we couldn't leave without him. And now, you don't have to, but I do. So, I'm gonna do it my way. You do it yours."

OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD. This is seriously such a landmark conversation, in my opinion, because it really just demonstrates that Stefan is finally over Elena. He loves her, they're super close friends, and I don't think Stefan would ever want to cut her completely from his life, but he's not in love with her, not anymore. Not since he finally saw just how much Damon loved her, and how much she loved him, and how much they made each other better and worse in the best ways. He went from wanting Damon to fuck up so that he could snag Elena back to wanting them to get back together because he couldn't stand to see the two of them hurting so badly without the other. SUCH CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT? Wow, was I just talking about how much Stefan bugged me? Because I really do love him, and this is why. Now, if he could just get over his shit and get together with Caroline, Stefan could have the same kind of relationship with her that Elena and Damon had with each other and then EVERYONE WILL BE HAPPY. Except for Stelena shippers, I guess.

ANYWAY, over in the woods near Mystic Falls, Tripp has brought Matt to a small cabin in the middle of a clearing. When Matt asks him what this place is, Tripp drops some bombs on him. "A secret. A secret I only share with people I trust. You remember the gas leak in town over the summer? I came back to make sure my grandmother was okay-- first time I've been back in years. When I crossed the town border, something changed. Memories came flooding back." He pulls a key out of a box and prepares to unlock the door to the cabin while he continues his explanation. "And, I realized that my wife wasn't killed in a car accident. She was murdered. Drained of blood right in front of me. And, the killer made me believe I was responsible. Then, I find out what kind of monster could do all that." OH FUCK. Tripp opens the door and leads Matt inside, where dear old Enzo is chained to the floor by his wrists. Enzo looks up at him with interest, and he and Matt share a significant look, though Matt maintains his poker face. Tripp turns back to Matt and informs him that not only are vampires real, but one killed his wife, and Enzo in particular killed Jay (which, of course, Matt already knows, because he sort-of helped deal with the body.) To make matters worse, Tripp reveals that his plan is to make Enzo talk until he outs all of his vampire buddies, including the one who bit Sarah, which we all know was Elena.

So, Matt's in a bit of a pickle-- he, like Alaric, started off with beef against vampires because of what happened to his sister Vicki and the general chaos and death that seems to follow them wherever they go, but he does have vampires in his life who are very dear to him, like Elena and Caroline, and he doesn't want them to get hurt or killed by wannabe hunters. But then, on the other side, I'm sure Matt isn't exactly crazy about having to clean up Elena's messes and lie about her involvement in Sarah's attack, because like I said, he's not really a fan of vampires and I honestly think the only reason why he can tolerate Elena, Caroline, Stefan, and, once upon a time, Damon is because they all pretty much exclusively drink out of blood bags, aside from the occasional lapse in control or blood donation from a willing human. I'm really interested to see how this all plays out, tbh, not only because Matt desperately needs his own storyline, but because it's been a while since we've had to see the humans really grapple with their feelings about vampires and reconciling the fact that their friends were undead monsters when, deep down, they don't agree with their ~lifestyles~, but deal with it because the alternative is that their friends/family would be dead and that would be terrible.

ANYWAY, over at the boarding house, Jeremy has returned from his sparring session with Alaric to find a scared-but-defiant looking Shady Sarah, who is standing and waiting for him. Jeremy is shocked to see her, but before he can get out anything more than, "Sarah?" she insists that if he tries anything, she'll call 911 and out his "vampire sister" to the world. Jeremy puts up his hands in an attempt to look less threatening and encourages her to calm down before he asks her what it is exactly that she wants. That's when we get some more dropped drama bombs as she slowly approaches him and holds up a Polaroid photo of Gail and Zach, as the absolutely beautiful song "The Power of Love" by Gabrielle Aplin starts to play. "Answers," Sarah begins. "I found this when I was tossing the house. That's my mom. And the reason I know this is because I've had THIS"-- She pulls out another Polaroid photo of Gail alone, the one that Zach took of her eating a cupcake, and holds it up for Jeremy to see-- "since I was a baby. My mom was a Jane Doe. Her body was still warm when they dumped it at the hospital, six months pregnant. The nurses thought I was DOA, too, but one doctor did an emergency C-section, and I survived." 

We briefly flashback to 1994, when Gail's body was wheeled into Mystic Falls Hospital, where a one Grayson Gilbert, AKA Elena and Jeremy's father, performs the surgery to deliver they baby as Stefan waited anxiously out in the hallway. "I lived three months in an incubator. They didn't know who my dad was, and neither did I. But then, I found this." She shows Jeremy the first photo, the one Stefan took of Zach and Gail at the eclipse party in 1994, and somehow, Jeremy recognizes Zach, even though I don't think we ever saw them interact. Maybe he knew him through the Founding Families stuff? (Which reminds me, what happened to Founder's Day? Is it because most of the Founding Families are dead now, and the rest are vampires or some other kind of supernatural creature?) Anyway, Jeremy, absolutely stunned, whispers, "Your dad is Zach Salvatore," and Sarah, having not known his name until now, laughs a little huff of a laugh and smiles. HOOOOOOLY SHIT. I figured Tom Avery was the last Salvatore relative, but apparently I was wrong? THIS IS EXCITING.

Over at Whitmore, Elena has returned from her impromptu trip to Georgia, and the first thing she did upon her arrival to campus was to head to Alaric's office to give him an earful about compelling her memories away. Elena asks him how Alaric could have just obliterated an entire chapter of her life, as though it wasn't her idea, and as though she didn't totally beg him to do it despite his reservations. Alaric just sighs and pulls out a large cardboard box from his closet before replying, "Look, Elena, as much as I'd like to think that I am full of wisdom, I think it's time we stop pretending that I actually know what's best, okay?" Aw, Alaric, you are actually one of the few people on this show who actually DO know what's best, so don't sell yourself short, buddy! Alaric adds that he has some personal shit that he needs to work through, and assures her that the contents of the box will help explain what happened better than he can. He pulls out her journal from the box and hands it to her, and watches her as she opens it to a page that is bookmarked by a strip of photobooth photos of her and Damon, in which they are smiling and kissing and generally looking like two people who are ridiculously in love. As she reads, Elena's voice narrates the journal for our benefit, and her face becomes more and more surprised as her past-self fills her in on why she decided to take such a drastic measure.

"Dear me-- if you're reading this, then somebody spilled the beans about your selective memory loss. My money is on Caroline. Yes, you loved Damon. You loved him with a passion that consumed you. And then, when Damon died, the void he filled was too deep, too dark. Facing an eternity without your soulmate, you went off the deep end. You turned into someone that you weren't-- a monster. Alaric can restore your lost memories-- all you have to do is ask. But, I hope that you don't. I tried it the other way, and I didn't see an end to the pain. I want you to rediscover yourself in the absence of who defined you. If you feel any hope for the future at all, then you're already better off. You've been given a chance to start over. I want you to take it. I want you to be happy."

Alaric, who has been watching Elena sympathetically from across his desk, asks her what she wants him to do. Elena looks torn, but after a long moment, she closes the journal and hands it back to him. "Can you hold onto that? And keep it safe, in case I ever need to read it again?" Alaric nods in confirmation, though I think he was a little disappointed that she didn't want to remember loving his BFF, and puts the journal back in the box before putting it back to where he found it.

Back in the prison dimension, Damon walks into the boarding house's kitchen to find Bonnie eating pancakes for dinner at the table. He asks her if she's shame-eating, but Bonnie replies that she's actually been thinking of "that pregnant lady," and brings up the fact that she had a thing for pancakes. He's like, "THAT'S what you remember from that awful story?" but Bonnie knows Damon better than he realizes, and she calls him out on the fact that he must remember it, too, because he has made blueberry pancakes every day since they got there. Damon insists that he does it because he's bored, but Bonnie's not buying it. "No. 'Cause you're punishing yourself. You call this place your hell, and it means you feel remorse. That makes you different from Kai." She gasps playfully and adds, "Maybe there IS hope for you!" Damon, who is clearly still desperate to get home, points out that they can still get out of this hellhole if they steal the "Descendant" (LOL!), find out what Kai knows, and then ditch him, since he doesn't have powers anyway. Of course, Kai has been lurking all this time, and appears in the doorway of the kitchen to inform them that it's not that simple.

Damon snarks at him that he's got to stop doing that, because it's creepy, but Kai hasn't even scratched the surface of his sociopathic nature yet. "Here's the thing," he explains. "I have a killer effect on magic. I can't generate it myself. BUT, I can consume it from others temporarily. My family called me an abomination. THAT hurt my feelings." He grabs Bonnie's wrist, and she starts moaning in pain as he siphons some of her magic. Then, he uses his newly-acquired powers to give Damon a mystical migraine and to set the stove on fire. Damon manages to groan, "Okay, we get it!" and after a moment, Kai finally relents and lets go of Bonnie as he stops his spells. "You can see why my coven and I didn't get along," Kai quips genially, as though he hadn't just tortured the two people standing in front of him. Damon sighs and states that he senses an ultimatum coming, and as usual, his instincts are totally correct. "If I consume all of Bonnie's magic, I'm just gonna end up killing her. But, if we work together, we can all go home as friends. OR, I can devour her magic, kill you both, and go home alone. What's it gonna be?" He sits down at the table where Bonnie was just sitting and smiles as he starts shoveling her pancakes into his mouth. DIIIIIICK! Nobody hurts my Bon-Bon or Damon! NO ONE. But, I want them to go home, so I will tolerate him for the time being.

To wrap things up, we return to Savannah, where Stefan is in Dean's Garage, working on restoring Damon's prized Camaro after it was smashed to hell and back in "Home." After a moment, he gets a weird feeling like someone is watching him, but when he turns around, he can't see anyone. He calls out, "Hello?" but when nobody responds, he just shrugs and goes back to his work. A shadowy figure enters the garage and walks toward Stefan, and when he senses he's being watched again, he turns to find that IVY IS STANDING BEHIND HIM, COVERED IN BLOOD AND LOOKING SUPER STRUNG OUT OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD. Stefan is absolutely shocked and a little horrified as he asks, "Ivy?" but Ivy barely waits for him to finish before she whimpers, "Stefan, I don't feel so good. Your friend Enzo made me drink his blood, and now I'm SO thirsty." Her eyes darken to a blood red as the veins around her eyes turn black, revealing that Ivy is indeed alive (errr, undead, I guess) and vamped, much to Stefan's. ENZO YOU LITTLE SNEAK! That was a pretty sly move, though, and I dig it.

Next episode: Elena takes Liam to the corn maze festival at Whitmore, Stefan and Caroline deal with Ivy the newbie vamp as they try to teach her the ways of the good vampire, Alaric and Jo get some quality time together, and Tyler makes a mistake that could lead to him becoming a werewolf again.

[screencaps via Screencapped]

-So, if Stefan compelled Zach to forget that he saw pregnant Gail killed in front of him, then why would they keep photos of them in the house? Unless they hid them from Zach, that just feels like a really bad idea if they didn't want him to figure out what actually happened. Also, if Zach was compelled to forget what happened, then why did Zach hate Damon so bad when he first showed up in Mystic Falls in "Pilot" and "Night of the Comet?" 

-I would really like to learn more about Kai's powers and how exactly that works. Do you think that's a common issue with witches? We've never heard of a witch who didn't have their own powers and could only take/channel the powers of others. Could it be possible that Kai was the only one? Are there other witches who have weirdo variations of the typical powers that witches possess (not including Hope Mikaelson, who I'm hoping is a witch who also has vampire and werewolf powers as a result of being the only alive/non-undead hybrid in existence. BASICALLY TELL ME ALL OF THE WITCH STORIES, TVD WRITERS.

-I feel like I have been waiting eighty-four years for Bonnie and Damon to return to the real world, and the fact that they BOTH haven't yet is seriously bumming me out. (I've seen all of the episodes that have aired, even though I'm way behind in recaps, so that's why I use the word "both." I NEED BON-BON BACK ASAP.)


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