The Vampire Diaries Season 6, Episode 6: "The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get" Recap/Review

Alright kids, since I am so behind that I will literally be drowning in unfinished recaps until the end of my days,  to the point where my descendants will probably end up having to finish for me at this rate, I'm going to have to speed things along a bit. So, this recap is gonna be a sort of fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants deal where it will (hopefully) be shorter and less detailed than usual, and probably a handful at least of the TVD recaps are probably going to be this way. Then again, since I can turn anything into a novel without really trying, who knows what's going to happen? Let's just get to it, yeah?

Previously, on The Vampire Diaries:  Damon died in the explosion to sacrifice the rest of the Travelers and was unable to come back from the Other Side in the resurrection spell, so he and Bonnie got sucked into a prison dimension, leaving all of their loved ones behind. Elena was so distraught by their loss (and Damon's especially, since she's never had to deal with him being dead before), and eventually convinced Alaric to compel away her memories of loving Damon to make it easier. However, an unfortunate side effect was that since Elena had no love of Damon to balance out his bad parts, she ended up remembering him as only a monster who killed people. Meanwhile, in the prison dimension that was a running loop of May 10, 1994, they ran into a fellow prisoner named Kai, who was a special kind of witch who can only steal magic from witches rather than possessing his own. He showed them that they could escape the dimension by using a mystical relic called the Ascendant, plus Bonnie's blood and magic and the recurring solar eclipse to portal back into the real world.

Of course, they tried to ditch Kai when they realized he was a legit serial killer (specifically one who killed his own siblings) with no vampirism to justify or excuse it, but he ended up showing up and shooting Bonnie in the gut with an arrow just before they were about to go home for good. Before Damon could heal her and/or kill Kai again (who cannot permanently be killed in this dimension), Bonnie used her magic to send Damon back without them. Oh, and Mystic Falls has a new vampire hunter, Tripp Cooke, aka Vincent Thomas Fell III, whose wife was killed by a vampire and who has been going around the greater Virginia area (including Whitmore) to track down vampires, which includes Enzo and Stefan's recently-vamped fake girlfriend Ivy. Also, Stefan and Caroline got into yet another dight as a result of Stefan's insistence in shutting out all of his friends, even when Caroline straight-up admitted that she had romantic feelings for him. Finally, Damon, in the flesh, showed up at the Salvatore crypt at the cemetery, just as Stefan was tearfully trying to talk to his spirit about how lost he was without him, and they hugged for the first time since 1864! YAY, HAPPY REUNIONS. Which is where we pick up today!

Okay, we begin this episode in Tripp's vamp-van, where he's heading straight for Mystic Falls with three vampires chained up in the back, including our newest vampire Ivy, who is in a full-blown panic (and understandably so) as she cries in the back. She pleads with Tripp to just let her go, but since he's got a vampire hate-on that rivals Giuseppe Salvatore's greatest hits, he's so not going to do that. "I know this may seem a little barbaric," Tripp explains, calm as ever. "I promise you, it's nothing personal." When Ivy asks him why he's doing this, he just shrugs and says that it's too long of a story to get into, but what he does have time to say is that being a vampire is not a life she wants. "If you can even call it that," Tripp adds. Ivy, getting more desperate by the moment, yanks on her chains as hard as she can until they finally start to warp the ring that is keeping them on the floor. Suddenly, they cross over the border to Mystic Falls, and the anti-magic force field gets to work on stripping their vampirism. One of the vampires' throat splits itself, and he starts choking up blood as he scrabbles at his wound and relives his death. Another vampire originally died from a gunshot to his forehead, so they hear a loud *BANG!* as Ivy shrieks in horror and watches the dude's brains get blown everywhere. Of course, it's Ivy's turn next, and her neck snaps like Tyler's did in last season's finale when Markos threw him over the anti-magic force-field. Tripp closes the window to the partition so he can't see the gruesome sight behind him, and is like, practically whistling dixie as he continues driving through the town. So long, Ivy. We hardly knew ye. TITLE CARD!

The next scenes cut back and forth a loooooot, so bear with me! We pick back up after the credits in the Salvatore Mausoleum, where Damon and Stefan are still hugging it out like bros. Damon assures Stefan that he missed him too, and Stefan exclaims that he can't believe he's back, because he thought he was gone forever,. "Well, you didn't think I was gone-gone!" Damon replies with an awkward smile. "I promised you an eternity of misery!"

Cut to Caroline and Elena's dorm room, where Elena is pacing anxiously in front of Caroline, who is sitting on her bed. "He's BACK?" Elena asks incredulously, which Caroline confirms with a nod. When Elena asks how, Caroline just shrugs, because she claims that everything she heard from Stefan after "Damon's back" is kind of a blur. Elena, not knowing how to process this information (nor does she seem to want to), becomes hopeful when she asks about Bonnie and whether she's back, too.

Back at the mausoleum, Damon is explaining the same thing to Stefan. "She sacrificed herself so I could come back, but I don't want anyone to know. No sense making this harder than it already is." Stefan doesn't seem thrilled by this plan, but doesn't question it-- he just asks what they're supposed to tell everyone if they ask where the fuck their savior Bonnie Bennett is.

At Whitmore, Caroline looks sad as she quietly informs Elena that Damon said she wasn't over there. Elena, confused, asks her where "there" is exactly.

Stefan and Damon pick up where they leave off, and have a very quippy conversation. The dialogue is so great, I'm just gonna transcribe it:
STEFAN: [baffled] "Mystic Falls? 1994?"
DAMON: "I know. If a bunch of witches were going to get together and create some space-time purgatory, you'd think they'd pick a better year than the one Kurt Cobain killed himself in. The whole thing was just very depressing."
STEFAN: "So, how did you get back?"
DAMON: "Long story, big flash of light, two decades worth of jet lag. I will explain ALL of my adventures in that flannel hellscape, but first, there's someone I gotta go see."
OHHHH, DAMON, YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT A HELLSCAPE YOU'RE INTO WHICH YOU'RE ABOUT TO WALK, BUDDY. He claps Stefan's shoulders affectionately as he passes by him to leave, which is, I'm guessing, when Stefan breaks the news to him about what happened.

Back at Whitmore, Elena has fled to Alaric's office on campus, where she's standing in front of him with her arms crossed, clearly unhappy. "I don't want to see him," Elena states firmly, which naturally makes Alaric crazy, because-- as he tells Elena-- the only reason why he compelled her in the first place was because they were pretty sure Damon was gone for good, and they added the escape hatch to get her memories back EXACTLY for this kind of miraculous return on Damon's part. "I get it, but that's how you feel NOW, Elena!" Alaric argues. "If you thought there was even a CHANCE you'd see Damon again, you would have never asked me to compel away your memories of loving him." Which isn't a lie! If you recall, Elena only asked Alaric to do it after Stefan meanly told her that she basically needed to get over it because she was never going to see Damon again and then took a shitload of psychotropic herbs and almost killed Shady Sarah.

Over in the Salvatore mausoleum, we return to the Sal Bros just after Stefan has confessed what Elena did, and Damon looks shocked, appalled, and horrified all at once. "She did WHAT?" he squawks incredulously, but Stefan just kind of backs away from him, all "don't shoot the messenger," and adds that Elena had Alaric do it.

Back in Alaric's office, Alaric is freaking out about what's going to happen when Damon figures this all out, and literally yells, "DAMON IS GOING TO KILL ME!" Elena calmly reminds him that he's technically unkillable now that he's an Enhanced Original vampire whose immortality is linked to Elena's own immortal life, but Alaric insists that his indestructibility doesn't mean Damon won't try it anyway. "What do you think is going to happen when I do see him?" Elena asks worriedly... which Damon sort of finishes for Stefan at the cemetery. "I just need to see her, Stefan! Our eyes will meet, fireworks will go off, and the balance of nature will be restored! She LOVES me!"

Meanwhile, at Alaric's office, Elena is still arguing with him. "He's a psychotic killer!" she screeches. Alaric insists that she only feels this way because she has literally been mind-controlled into forgetting all the good parts, but Elena maintains that she doesn't want to lift the compulsion and forces Alaric to promise her that he won't do it without her permission. Alaric looks torn, but when Elena demands, "Promise me!" Alaric swears that he won't unless she asks him to, though he does add an amendment to that promise-- "But, Elena? I hope you ask me." Elena, overwhelmed by all of this crazy news, decides to make a run for it by claiming that she has to go because she has a shift at the hospital. Alaric is like, "Uh, since when?", but Elena reminds him that it's since Damon came back and she's now desperately trying to avoid him.

Speaking of the hospital has reminded Alaric of something that he forgot in all of the "YAY DAMON'S BACK!" hoopla-- "Fine, but if you're avoiding people, add Jo to your list." Elena looks at him in confusion, so he explains that he tried to compel her to forget their disastrous date the previous evening, and it didn't take, which means that she's either on vervain or is some kind of under-the-radar supernatural being. Elena sighs, because like they need any more drama, but she does assure him that she'll look into it before asking him if he'll give Jeremy a call to see how he's doing, since she had to tell him about Bonnie over the phone, and needless to say, it did NOT go well.

Speaking of Jeremy, he's at the Salvatore Boarding House, where he is in a rush to leave as he grabs his phone and keys off of the kitchen table. Shady Sarah, who is apparently still squatting there with him, comes up behind him and asks where he's going, but Jeremy's not in the mood for the clingy girl routine, so he simply states, "Out," as he heads for the door. She reminds him that he promised to help her look into her relatives, and Jeremy, feeling only a smidge guilty, promises he'll help her later. "Jeremy, you can't just say, 'Zach Salvatore was your dad, too bad he's dead," and then peace out!" Annoyed, Jeremy continues to say that he's not in the mood for this now, so Shady Sarah brings out the tough talk. "What is so urgent to make you finally unglue your ass from the couch? I know it's not school. It's not work. If it's another girl, I'd shower first." YUCK. I have never been a fan of Shady Sarah, but that's just cold, lady. Jeremy once again insists that he's got to get the fuck out of there, and I don't blame him a bit for storming off and leaving the house without another word. YIKES.

Out in the woods, Matt has returned to Tripp's secret vampire-torture-cabin, where he has brought a small cup of blood for the still-captured Enzo. "Oh, Tripp's errand boy has returned," Enzo sneers, so Matt just rolls his eyes and splashes a decent bit of the contents on the floor, pretending it was an accident, and is all, "Ooh, my bad!" Enzo makes some typical comment about Matt leaning forward so he can get it straight from the tap, but Matt just rolls his eyes and shoves the glass into his hand as he passes on that offer. Enzo insists that he's going to need his strength back for when Matt helps him escape this place, but Matt just chuckles patronizingly and points out that if Stefan turned him in, he probably deserves it. Then, Enzo speaks for the entirety of the Stefan-critical part of the fandom when he says, "When did Stefan's moral compass become the new true north? Wasn't he the one who scurried off to some poxy little town while he let everyone believe he was still searching for his brother? Not exactly the hero move, if you ask me."

I'm not trying to continue my hate-fest of Stefan, especially now that Damon's back and he can get back to being the mostly-likable version of himself again, but I think what this season is trying to communicate is that Stefan, while nearly always having good intentions, even when he does not-so-good things, is no more a hero than anyone else is. If anything, there isn't one person on this show who could actually be considered a hero. Everyone, including Caroline, Matt, Elena, Bonnie, Jeremy, etc have done bad things to protect the people they love-- killing people, lying to each other, doing things out of spite, covering up the bad behavior of others. And I'm not saying that they're bad people, obviously, because it's clear that everything they do is out of love for the makeshift family this band of orphans has created for themselves, and all of them have done totally heroic things for the people they love and the good of the world and whatnot as well. I'm just saying that from a moral perspective, NONE of them are saintly, especially not Stefan, and it's time we started seeing them for who they are. Enzo is a pretty shitty person from what we've seen (and this is coming from someone who loves him a lot), so he's hardly in a place to be calling Stefan out on being an immoral person, but at the same time, it doesn't make what he's saying any less true, does it? Just something to think about.

Anyway, Matt reminds Enzo that the human population of the Greater Mystic Falls Area is safer without him prowling around, so Enzo turns the table on him. "Yeah, probably right. Well, except for Elena... Stefan... Caroline... YOU. What do you think would happen if I were to tell your boss about known vampires and their groupies?" OH SHIT. We all know he was going to go there, because it's Enzo, and he only gives a shit about his friends until his life is in danger, and then he takes a page from the Katherine Pierce playbook. Of course, that's when Tripp waltzes in and immediately states that the trip to Savannah was a waste of gas, because aside from a fridge with a couple blood bags in it, the house Enzo told them about was completely empty. "Odd," Enzo murmurs. "Must have smelled you coming." Tripp ignores him and goes on to say that he found the vampire girl who fit the description that he gave him in Whitmore, which is 500 miles away from Savannah where Enzo said she'd be. (Okay, so how far away is Whitmore from Mystic Falls? That's what I REALLY want to know.) So, Tripp then tells Enzo that he's giving him the rest of the day to come up with the location of the rest of his vampire friends, or the two of them are going to be taking a road trip inside Mystic Falls' borders. As he leaves, Enzo shoots Matt a glare that says, "Remember what I told you, dick," as Matt follows Tripp out the door.

Cut to Whitmore, where Matt has met up with Alaric and Caroline in Alaric's office, where Caroline is SO NOT PLEASED with Matt's selective memory where Enzo is concerned. She asks him why the hell they never said anything sooner, but Matt just shrugs and is like, "Uh, I didn't think anyone was actually missing that asshole?" When Caroline gives him the stink-eye, Matt just scoffs, "I'm sorry! I was confused about which vampires we like and which ones we don't!" That IS a fair point, Matty Blue, but now that they know, it's time to bust him out and protect your friends, yeah? Caroline worriedly asks about Ivy, since she saw Ivy getting nabbed by Tripp the previous episode, which forces Matt to have to break the news about Tripp driving her and two other vampires over the anti-magic border, which freaks Caroline out just about as much as you would expect.

Alaric returns them to the point of this discussion and asks Matt if he knows where Tripp is now, but according to Matt, he's out running another lead and didn't tell him where exactly he was going. Alaric figures that they need to find that out ASAP so they can have an idea of who Tripp and his hunters' next target is, but, as Matt reminds them, their next targets will be THEM-- Alaric, Stefan, Elena, Caroline, not to mention everyone who has covered up for them. "Well, that is not going to happen, because we're busting him out, right?" Caroline insists. "And if for no other reason than to kick his ass for getting caught in the first place." Just as Alaric asks Matt if he knows how Tripp managed to catch Enzo in the first place, especially given everything they know about Enzo and his tolerance for torture and vervain, which, naturally, is when Stefan waltzes in. "He didn't," Stefan explains. "I turned him in." As you can imagine, neither Caroline nor Alaric are very thrilled with his dumb ass right now, while Matt just shrugs, all, "Whatever, I hate that guy."

Back in the girls' dorm room, Elena is getting all of her stuff together to leave for her shift at the hospital, and is in the middle of putting her uniform polo in her bag when she hears a knock on the door. She reflexively heads toward it to answer it and asks who it is, but as soon as she hears Damon's voice saying, "Hey, it's me," she immediately pulls her hand away from the doorknob and backs away a couple paces. Damon insists that he just wants to talk, but Elena, still not opening the door, maintains that she can't talk right now. Damon sighs, because this is really not the orgasmic reunion he was expecting, and then he starts with his explanations. "Look, I know why you did what you did. It's not real. You know what's real? The way you felt for me. You once told me it was the most real thing you ever felt in your life." Of course, Elena doesn't remember any of that, and for all she knows he's just making it up, so she just states that those feelings are gone.

Damon, clearly trying his best to not get angry or make things more tense (and is kind of failing at it), replies, "Oh, come on, Elena. You've compelled enough people to know it's just a way of covering up the truth. And, no matter how badly you want it done, it doesn't make it any less of a lie, you know?" Elena, clearly torn, starts reaching for the doorknob, but when Damon mentions that he can hear her breathing, she jerks backwards again. He goes on to say that she has no idea how long he's waited just to hear her breathing, and Elena, at a loss, places her hand on the door as she considers her options. Outside in the hall, Damon's hand is resting exactly in the same place as Elena's on the other side of the door.

(via sukimann)
"Just open the door, Elena," he begs as she suddenly tugs her hand away. He jiggles the doorknob, and upon realizing the door is still locked, he sighs and goes into borderline-crazy-mode. "Just open the door, please, Elena... or at the very least, step aside, because I'm gonna kick this door in." Yikes, Damon! Chill on the crazy stalker routine, will you? After a moment, Damon hears Elena unlock the door from the hallway, and she almost looks as though she wants to stay and see what happens, and Damon totally gets his hopes up. However, once Damon slowly opens the door, Elena chickens out and vamp-speeds right out the open window. Once Damon's inside, he's disappointed to see that Elena has bolted, leaving him alone and super heartbroken in her dorm room.

On campus, Stefan is walking across the college green after leaving Alaric's office, and talks to Elena on the phone while she paces around the halls of the hospital in her volunteer uniform. "You seriously jumped out of a window?" Stefan asks incredulously. "What if somebody saw you?" Elena knows it was reckless, but she panicked and she had no idea what to do. Stefan reminds her that Damon has just spent months trapped mostly-alone in some random Retroville and he just wants to see her, but Elena is torn. "Look, I get how I'm supposed to feel, but I know how I ACTUALLY feel, and I'm happy now! What if I see him, and my old feelings break through the compulsion?" Stefan points out that that is pretty much impossible, but even if it wasn't, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Elena maintains that she started over just like Stefan did, and made a smart choice for herself and her life. Then, after a moment, she confesses that she kissed Liam after the corn maze festival. Stefan hilariously groans and is like, "Oh, please forget you told me that, and definitely do NOT tell Damon that." Elena just as hilariously assumes that he's saying that because Damon will end up killing Liam like he did Jeremy, but Stefan corrects her-- he just doesn't want Damon to be heartbroken, which he will be.

He then asks her what the fuck she wants to do about this, because she's going to have to see him eventually, but Elena insists that eventually will not be today. Then she sees Jo walking toward her, setting her cup of coffee on a cart outside one of the hospital rooms before going in to check on a patient. Elena trails off from saying, "I'm just not ready..." and decides a better use of her time would be investigating what the hell is up with Jo before hanging up and pocketing her phone. She sneaks over to the cart, makes she no one is watching, and then takes off the lid to test Jo's coffee by taking a sip of it, pleasantly surprised that it has no vervain in it. She hears Jo returning to the hall and quickly puts the lid back before trying to play like she WASN'T just sniffing out her morning java. Jo is surprised to see Elena there, since she didn't see her on the schedule, but Elena replies that she picked up another shift for funsies, so Jo just takes another sip of her coffee and tells Elena to follow her, seemingly oblivious to whatever Elena's trying to figure out.

Back in Mystic Falls, Matt is in Tripp's office, where he's searching through his documents on his laptop to try to figure out where they hell Tripp is going today. Typing "Vampires" and "Mystic Falls Deaths" does nothing to bring up any files, and he's starting to get frustrated when suddenly the door opens, and he slams the lid to the laptop down to hide what he's doing. However, it's not Tripp, it's Shady Sarah, and once Matt realizes that, he relaxes a tiny bit and asks her what the hell she's doing there. Sarah seems to sense that Matt is snooping, and when he tells her she can't be in there, she just gives him some side-eye and replies, "From the look on your face, you're either downloading porn, or you're not supposed to be in here, either." Matt just sighs and asks her what she wants, so she admits that she's looking for information on a family who used to live in Mystic Falls before asking him what he knows about the Salvatores.

Matt plays dumb and claims he doesn't know much, so Shady Sarah goes on to say that she just learned that Zach Salvatore was her father, and that both he and her mother Gail died mysteriously from "animal attacks," and since she's hip to the lingo of this town, she knows that "animal attacks" actually means, "vampire attack." She brings up that Matt's boss seems to know a lot about "homicidal wildlife," which leads Matt to correctly guess that she decided breaking into Tripp's office was the best idea. Shady Sarah reminds him that she's not the only one snooping, and tells him that he can either help her or come up with a good lie to explain what HE was doing in there. Matt, knowing he's stuck, points her toward the cabinet with all the animal attack files and sighs before going back to his work. Man, I'm sorry, but Shady Sarah is like the most useless character ever. I know I'm supposed to be interested in her, but I'm just really not at all.

Meanwhile, Alaric returns to his office to find Damon sitting in his chair with his feet propped up against his desk and two glasses of bourbon sitting on the desktop. "Professor Saltzman," Damon says in greeting. "What, you couldn't compel yourself a Ph,D?" Alaric just chuckle and sits down across from him as he replies that he still can't believe he's back. Of course, he makes the mistake of asking him how the hell he is, which leads Damon into a bit of a passive-aggressive rant. "Well, let's see, Ric... I clawed my way out of some retro-pocket-universe, only to find that I needed to compel myself a new change of clothes, because this anti-magic hamster ball is keeping me from going home. And then, I find out that my best friend, rather than doing anything about it, decided that it was the best use of his time to compel my beautiful and lovely girlfriend to forget that she ever loved me..." LOLOLOL. That really is hilarious, and also kind of true-- you'd think that they'd be working a little harder to get rid of the magic purification spell thing, wouldn't they? I mean, all of their stuff is still pretty much stuck in the Forbes household and the Salvatore boarding house.

Anyway, Alaric is about to explain himself, but Damon just cuts him off, and while he concedes that he knows Elena was a trainwreck without him, he still doesn't get why he literally wiped her entire mind of every memory of her loving him. "She loved you too much, and it was killing her," Alaric explains, and while I get that they don't want to spend a lot of time rehashing information that the audience already knows, but I think maybe Damon would be a little more understanding if he knew that she was so lost without him that she spent all of her time tripping on hallucinogenic herbs that allowed her to believe that Damon was still there and made her so thirsty that she was chomping on the locals and risking getting herself caught or exposed? Just saying. So Damon's like, "Okay, I'm flattered, so how about you just pull the safety lever on this whole operation and give her her memories back already?" Alaric looks mega-uncomfortable, but he stands his ground and maintains that he will not be doing any such thing until Elena specifically asks him to do so.

"Right," Damon concedes again. "Here's the thing-- she's not gonna want to be uncompelled if she can't remember why she'd WANT to be uncompelled, mmm?" He holds his hands flat on either side of him as though he's weighing something in a balance. "Chicken, egg?" Alaric apologizes once again, but continues to insist that he won't go against Elena's wishes, especially when she's finally happy, even despite the fact that she won't even see Damon. Annoyed, Damon exclaims that while he does want Elena to be happy, he wants her to be happy with HIM, but when Ric doesn't budge, he annoyedly grabs the bottle of bourbon and leaves. It is a great show of character development that Damon doesn't like, hit him or something, although the fact that Alaric is essentially an Original vampire is probably at least partially why he doesn't-- Ric has already shown that he can easily snap Stefan and Damon's necks without even a little effort.

On the outskirts of town, Stefan and Caroline are walking through the woods toward Tripp's vampire-torture-hideout, where the two are bickering, as usual. Caroline's clearly still pissed about Stefan's actions since Damon and Bonnie's deaths, and Stefan seems to be thinking that now that Damon's back, things can just go right back to normal as though he didn't do everything in his power to push away all of his loved ones. So, he tries to explain himself, much to Caroline's frustration and annoyance.

STEFAN: "Look, Enzo wasn't being careful! Tripp would've caught him eventually, and that meant danger for all of us."
CAROLINE: [rolls her eyes] "Right. So, you handed Enzo over so we wouldn't be targeted, and now you're rescuing him so we won't be targeted. Way to go!"
STEFAN: "Well, I thought Tripp was gonna kill him! I didn't think he was going to keep him alive for information."
CAROLINE: [sarcastic] "Oh! Well, in that case, it sounds like you were just being practical! So, did you rat out Ivy, too?"
STEFAN: [surprised] "What?"
CAROLINE: "Well, you didn't want to deal with her any more. You wanted her gone, and now she is. You really should write Tripp a thank-you note."
Stefan, now pretty offended, stops walking and scoffs, "Hold on a second! Enzo turns Ivy, right? A hunter kills her, and yet I'm the bad guy? I'm not the one threatening to turn in other vampires to save his own skin." Caroline, clearly over this entire conversation, reminds him that the only person turning in other vampires is HIM, and adds that the only reason why he's helping is out of guilt for getting Damon's best friend captured. Stefan points out that Damon is his brother and that he gave up on him first, and Enzo didn't, and states that if rescuing him helps make things up to Damon, then he's totally going to do that.

Caroline just gets even more pissed, because he's still SO BLIND when it comes to Caroline and her feelings for him and he doesn't understand that he's got more people with whom to make things up than just Damon, so she snits, "Great. Good for you. Let me know when you figure out how you're gonna make everything up to me." Suddenly, as the arrive to the cabin, Stefan hears the door to the cabin open and he grabs Caroline's arm before vamp-speeding them both over to a nearby crate, where they both crouch to hide out of sight. Two hunters step out of the cabin and look around the perimeter suspiciously before locking up the cabin and taking off. Once they're gone, Stefan and Caroline share a worried look, and Caroline states that they need to get in there and check things out. However, once they break the lock to the cabin and get inside, they find the room is totally empty, with just some chains laying on the floor where Enzo was being held. "Well, where the hell is he?" Caroline asks with concern. Awwww, shit, this is SO not going to end well.

At Whitmore Medical Center, Elena is following Jo down the hallway as they do their rounds. Elena notices a bracelet on Jo's wrist, and, thinking it's a vervain bracelet, she reaches out to touch it. "I like your bracelet. What's it made of?" Before Elena can test it, Jo jerks her wrist out of Elena's reach and claims she has no idea before changing the subject to a patient, and asking if she can get her opinion on something, to which Elena eagerly agrees, afraid that Jo is suspicious of her weirdo behavior. As it turns out, she totally is, but not for the reasons you'd think. "Female patient," Jo begins, as she leads her into a hospital room. "Blunt-force trauma to the head, massive internal hemorrhaging, multiple bone fractures. She was a victim at the corn maze."

Elena is oblivious to where this conversation is going, of course, and when they get into the room, Elena is surprised and quite confused to find that the room is totally empty. When she asks Jo where their extensively-injured patient is, Jo just shrugs. "Probably Freshman Lit." Elena clearly doesn't get it, and says as much, but Jo replies that she, too, does not understand it. "See, the patient was never admitted, even with such extensive injuries. Liam said you treated her at the scene. That's a pretty good save for someone with half a semester of pre-med..." Elena immediately realizes she's totally been outed and starts going into excuse mode, claiming that Liam was exaggerating about how bad off she was, likely due to all the blood and whatnot, but Jo just cuts her off. "Don't. I know what Alaric is. I know what you are. If any more blood bags go missing, I'll know who to come to." YIKES! She shuts the door and walks away, leaving a very confused and concerned Elena to think about what the fuck just happened.

Meanwhile, Damon is still in Elena and Caroline's dorm room, and is wandering around anxiously as he looks around. There are a bunch of framed photos on Elena's dresser and desk, but none of them feature Damon, a fact which clearly annoys him. He mutters that Elena must have been thorough as he continues chugging from the bottle of bourbon he stole from Alaric. When he finds a photo of Elena at graduation, he picks it up and sits down on her bed before taking a sharpie and drawing a stick-figure that is supposed to represent himself into it, complete with eyes and a smiley-face with fangs. BAHAHAHA. After a moment, he calls out to Jeremy, who has apparently been standing in the doorway for an unknown amount of time. "It's kind of creepy, you just standing there all hulk-y and broody." Jeremy just rolls his eyes and walks into the room to face him as he snaps, "Says the freak who's stalking my sister." ZING. Point to Jer-Bear on this one-- I love Damon, but he is being a liiiiiiittle stalkery this episode, though it's kind of understandable given what he's been through. Damon insists that he's technically lying in wait, but believe it or not, brotherly bickering is not why Jeremy came-- he wants to know why Bonnie didn't come back.

Damon, clearly torn about whether or not he should tell the truth to his poor babiest bro, but when Jeremy once again demands to know why she didn't come back, he decides that lying is probably the best move. "Because she wasn't there," Damon claims. "It was just me." Jeremy looks hurt and disappointed as he sits next to Damon on the bed, and confesses that he's been paying her cell phone bill so he can call her and listen to her speak the six words that make up her voicemail greeting. Damon replies without even realizing he literally just lied about not seeing Bonnie, and says, "Sounds good. I'll give it a call." Jeremy just frowns in confusion and is like, "Why? She hated you," which isn't TOTALLY true-- Bonnie and Damon had a very frenemy-style relationship before they went to the 1994 Prison World-- and definitely isn't true NOW, but it's not like Jeremy knows that. Damon, desperate to try to make Jeremy feel a little bit better after everything that happened, sighs and states, "Bonnie wasn't there with me, Jeremy, because she found peace. She's in a better place." Yeahhhh, nice try Damon, but those kind of platitudes don't work on a poor kid who's lost his parents, all three of his serious girlfriends, his aunt, his uncle, and surrogate father/older brother who acted as his guardian after the aforementioned deaths, all within the span of about three years.

Back at Whitmore Med Center, Jo is handing some files off to a nurse when Elena comes up behind her to confront her. She demands to know how Jo figured it out, so Jo just sighs and makes it clear that she's not doing as great of a job covering it up as she'd like to think. "Besides not believing that you closed a penetrating abdominal trauma without so much as a first-aid kit?" She asks incredulously. "Pretty sure you weren't looking for stevia in my coffee. With Alaric, I wasn't 100% sure until he tried to compel me. But then, I remembered I have REALLY crappy luck in my love life, so of COURSE my hot-new-teacher crush would be a vampire." Damn, Jo is a smart cookie! No wonder Alaric has such a crush on her. Elena is just as suspicious of Jo as Jo just was with Elena, though, but when she asks her what SHE is, Jo insists that she's busy and adds that if Elena feels like sticking around, she could go clear the food trays from the third floor. Elena is absolutely stunned that Jo is going to let her stay even despite knowing that she's an immortal, undead being who lives on human blood to survive, but Jo points out that since she healed fake Lady Whitmore instead of taking advantage of her injuries and feeding on her, that's good enough for her.

Now Elena is even MORE suspicious. "You're not even afraid. Not even FAZED, for that matter." Jo looks at her awkwardly, but Elena plows on. "There's only one thing that can resist compulsion without needing vervain, and that's a witch." Jo's eyes widen in worry, but she says nothing, which confirms to Elena that she is, in fact a witch. Sidebar-- technically witches aren't the only being that can't be compelled, because triggered werewolves are the same way, but I'm guessing since Jo hasn't demonstrated any accelerated healing or super-strength (or painful transformations on a full moon), it's easy to assume that she's a witch and not a werewolf. ANYWAY, Jo decides to make her a deal, and promises to not ask her questions about her and her vampire life if Elena stops asking questions about her and her witchy life, and Elena, not wanting to press her luck, immediately agrees to those terms. Jo turns to get back to treating patients, but before she leaves, she has one last comment-- "Oh, and you can tell Alaric, if he wants to avoid a complicated relationship, he doesn't have to hide behind compulsion to do it." DAMN, GIRL! I kind of love Jo even more now, to be honest.

In Mystic Falls, Shady Sarah and Matt are still snooping around Tripp's office. Sarah has found a bunch of animal attack files in the cabinet that are full of gruesome crime scene photos taken after the fact, and she looks almost nauseated as she flips through the photos. "Maybe it was a good thing I didn't grow up here," Sarah says awkwardly. Matt, curious about this weirdo girl who has shoved herself into their lives, asks her where she does come from, but Sarah just replies, "Give me the year, and I'll give you the town and foster home." Ouch. That's always brutal. She tries to open a drawer in Tripp's desk, but won't budge, which immediately tells Sarah that there's got to be something good in there. Matt reminds her that it's locked, but Sarah's a thief, remember, so  she points out that "locked" usually means "super important." While she starts picking the lock to the drawer, Matt gets a phone call from Caroline and answers it. He wastes no time asking if they found Enzo, but Caroline just sighs and explains that when they got there, everyone was gone, including their barely-tolerated vampire acquaintance. She asks him if he has any guesses as to where Tripp might have taken him, besides the obvious "over the anti-magic border and to his death," but Matt is temporarily distracted when Sarah finally gets the drawer open and reveals its full of several wallets, credit cards, and cell phones.

At first, I think they assumed that they were Tripp's, but upon closer examination, it becomes clear that they were appropriated from the vampires Tripp has caught in order to figure out the identities of their fellow vampire friends. Matt pulls out the phone and turns it on to find a photo of Ivy, which leads Matt to figure out that the phone actually was Ivy's. So, of course, when he clicks over to the recently dialed numbers, "Caroline Forbes" is at the top of the list. Matt nervously informs Caroline that Tripp has Ivy's phone, and though Caroline just laughs it off at first, since a vampire-murderer also being a thief isn't exactly surprising, Matt makes it clear that her name and number on Ivy's speed dial most likely means that Tripp knows exactly what she is and where to find her. DAMN YOU, TRIPP. Why are hunters the worst? They need to take some tips from the newly-reformed Chris Argent, let's be real, here.

Damon is still lurking around the girls' dorm room, though Jeremy seems to have taken off just after Damon's explanations of Bonnie's absence. He wonders over to Bonnie's bed, which Caroline and Elena seem to be maintaining as-is to honor Bonnie, and picks up a framed photograph of Bonnie, which is absolutely STUNNING-- Bonnie is standing on the street, wearing a black leather jacket, and her hair is blowing in the wind as she smiles. Damon can't help but smile at the sight of it, and pulls out his phone so he can dial her number, just like Jeremy mentioned earlier. Of course, it goes straight to voicemail (which reminds me-- what happened to Bonnie's phone when she died, anyway? Did she leave in behind? Did she bring it with her, only for it to become useless due to 1994's horrible cell technology? Curious minds want to know), and Bonnie's voicemail greeting kicks in. "It's Bonnie. Leave me a message." Needless to say, Damon is not impressed by this short-and-sweet recording and leaves her a voicemail to voice his displeasure. (Also, how is her voicemail not completely full of angry messages from Jeremy at this point? Just curious.)

DAMON: [scoffs] "That's it? That's your outgoing message? Really? I mean, the one time I'm actively seeking the sound of your voice, that's all I get? Perfect. Hmm... Anyway, I'm in your room-- which is a lot less weird than it sounds-- but I just wanted to say that because of what you did for me, today is the day I get to see Elena. So, thank you, and I'm sorry. Other than that, I don't know what to say, or what I'm supposed to say, except that, defying all global scenarios, I might miss you a little bit."
OH MY GOD MY BAMON FEELS ARE KILLING ME. They might just be my favorite friendship on this entire show. More than Damon/Jeremy. More than Damon/Alaric. More than Stefan/Caroline (which is okay because we all know they're headed for the best-friends-turned-lovers relationship.) ANYWAY, Suddenly, Damon's phone buzzes to alert him to a call on his other line, and when he sees it's Elena, he bids Bonnie a farewell so he can answer it. "So, you didn't forget my number. That's a good start," Damon says in greeting, which does get a tiny chuckle from Elena in response. "Yeah, I figured that I'd press the Damon button and see what happened." When Damon asks her what IS happening, Elena admits that she honestly has no idea, nor does she know what she's doing. What she does know is that she thinks they should meet face-to-face, because she finally understands that she can't run from him forever. When she asks him if he minds coming by her dorm, Damon excitedly exclaims, "Yeah! Yeah, I'll be here-- THERE, I'll be THERE, absolutely, in a bit. See you in a little bit." SMOOTH, DUDE. I love how Elena Gilbert can reduce the effortlessly charming Damon Salvatore into a stuttering loser. It is THE BEST. Anyway, Elena agrees, and the two hang up. Damon is even more anxious now, and gets up from the bed so he can return the photo of Bonnie to the nightstand. Then, in true OCD Damon fashion, he starts straightening up the room a bit before standing in front of the girls' full-length mirror and fixing his hair.

When he hears the door open, he assumes it's Elena, but doesn't turn around right away to verify it. "Well, that was fast--" he begins, until he finally turns and realizes that it's not Elena returning to her room, but instead, it is Tripp (though he doesn't know who he is, specifically), who holding a vervain dart-gun in his hand and looking confused. I'm guessing it's because he was expecting Caroline? Anyway, Damon naturally vamps out at the sight of him, so Tripp shoots a dart in his direction, although Damon easily catches in his fingers before lobbing it back at him, hitting Tripp right in the knee with it. Tripp groans in pain and pulls out a stake before attempting to lob it at him, but Damon catches that, too, though he stupidly decides to grab Tripp in a choke-hold and spin them both around so that Damon's back is facing the door. DUDE, you might have super strength, speed, agility and healing, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be aware of your surroundings! Haven't you ever watched a crime procedural before???

Anyway, Damon holds the tip of the stake under Tripp's chin and asks him who the fuck he is, but before he can get a response, the two other hunters from earlier come in through the open door and shoot more vervain darts at him, hitting him right in the middle of the back and knocking him unconscious to the floor. NOOOOOO! Some time later, Elena returns to the dorm, but when she makes it down the hall toward her room, she's immediately unnerved by the fact that her door is cracked open. She slowly opens it and peers inside, but the room is empty and otherwise untouched, save from the drops of blood on the floor next to Damon's abandoned phone. Elena touches the blood and realizes that Damon's been taken and quite understandably starts to freak out, because memories of loving Damon or not, that is scary business.

Cut to Alaric's classroom, where Alaric is packing up his messenger bag as he talks to a panicking Elena on the phone. "Elena, calm down," he says soothingly. "Just find Caroline and get to Old Miller Road. We'll get him back." He hangs up and leaves the classroom, locking the door behind him and turning to find Jo, who seems to have been emboldened by the talk she had with Elena earlier. She mentions that she had an "interesting conversation" with their dear pal Elena earlier, and Alaric, clearly in a rush, assures her that while he would love to talk about it, now is really not the time. Jo becomes annoyed and asks where the fire is before making a snarky comment about Ric having an "occult studies emergency," as though that's not literally the story of the Mystic Falls Gang's life. Alaric insists that he has somewhere he has to be and tries to scoot past her, but Jo is SO not having it, and she snarks once again that maybe Alaric should just try to compel her to get out of the way. When Alaric sighs in frustration, Jo's voice becomes softer as she adds, "Look, don't you think it's about time we level with each other?" Alaric, desperate to get out of there and save his best bro, loses his temper a bit. "Okay, how's this?" Alaric begins to rant. "My best friend? He just came back from the dead, but now I have to save him from a vampire-hunter before he is driven across an anti-magic border and killed. Again. So, here's some friendly advice-- it's probably a good idea to stay as far away from me as possible." GOD, ALARIC, YOU ARE SO SELF-LOATHING IT KILLS ME. He pushes past Jo without another word, leaving her alone and feeling pretty guilty about being so hard on him.

Speaking of Damon, he's just awakened on the floor of the back of Tripp's vampire-killing-van, where he finds himself chained by the wrists and ankles to the floor. He groans and tries to figure out where the fuck he is when he sees Enzo, also chained to the floor of the van, staring at him. "Morning, sunshine," Enzo croons in that voice of his. Damon is super stoked to see his old frand, until he remembers where they are. "Well, this brings back memories," Damon says defeatedly. Enzo pretty much agrees with him. "I'm glad you found a way back, mate," Enzo replies, which just makes me think of how trippy it must have been for Enzo to see Damon in the flesh with no explanation whatsoever as to how he made it happen. Enzo is a surprisingly open-minded guy for someone who is such a borderline psychopath. "'Fraid it's going to be a short reunion, though. We're headed to Mystic Falls, known for its bridges, quaint small-town charm, and a really big vampire bug-zapper." Eloquently stated, Lorenzo bb. Damon starts yanking desperately on his chains to try to break himself free as he snits about how Stefan could have warned him that there was a hunter in town. Enzo, still on his major Stefan-hating spree, points out that it likely slipped Stefan's mind, considering he was the one who handed him over to Tripp in the first place. Damon, confused, asks him why he would do that, and Enzo just shrugs. "Probably jealous of my accent." He pauses for a moment, and then adds, "Eh, maybe he did it because I killed his new girlfriend." BAHAHA. Damon agrees that's a likely reason as the two continue to try to bust out of there before they get themselves killed AGAIN.

Over at Old Miller Road, Elena is speeding down the road in her SUV with Caroline riding shotgun as she talks to Liz on the phone. The tires screech loudly as she comes to a halt on the side of the road just outside the Mystic Falls city limits. "Sorry, Mom, Elena is auditioning for Top Gear," Caroline hilariously snarks on the phone to explain all the commotion. She ends the call and follows Elena out of the car to look around. She explains that Liz is going to shut down Route 13, which means that only Old Miller Road and Route 9 will be the only ways Tripp can get into town, so either way, they should be able to catch him as he doubles back. Elena is too preoccupied with worry and general life stress to really pay attention to what Caroline is saying, though, and Caro totally notices as she kneels down in next to the tires of the SUV. She asks Elena if she has a preference of which tire she wants, and when Elena is too busy zoning out to respond, Caroline just shrugs, all, "Whatever, babe," and pops one of the tires, causing the SUV to sag down.

Caro states that she's pretty sure the blown tire should properly sell a spin-out if they're the ones who end up running into Tripp, but when she asks Elena what she thinks, she blurts out, "I want my memories back." (Which totally made me think of The Glitch Mob song "I Need My Memory Back," which is an excellent song that was featured in one of my favorite episodes of Teen Wolf, but I digress. Again.) Caroline is totally taken aback by this confession, but Elena turns to face her to reiterate her point. "I made up my mind. If Damon survives this, then I want Alaric to un-compel me." Caroline, who was never a fan of the mind-wipe in the first place, looks pleased as Elena continues, "I mean, I can't imagine ever loving him, but I also can't ignore the parts I don't like just to avoid the truth. I mean, how could I make any decisions if I only know half of the story?" Caroline walks over to Elena and rubs her arm affectionately as they turn back to face the road ahead of them and wait for Tripp's potential arrival.

Out on Route 9, Alaric and Stefan have parked Alaric's SUV on the side of the road on the only other open road to enter Mystic Falls, just a few feet away from the sign that reads, "You Are Now Leaving Mystic Falls, Come Again Soon." Like Caroline and Elena, they're pretending to have car trouble in hopes of taking advantage of Tripp's Good Samaritan nature to get him to pull over to help them, at least long enough for them to rescue Damon. Stefan pops the hood of the car and starts pulling out pieces from the guts of the car, and Alaric watches him with quite a bit of concern, considering how their last encounter went. Alaric points out that he doesn't have to pull apart the whole engine, they're just trying to lure Tripp into their trap. This does nothing to slow Stefan down, though, and he continues to pull out pieces of the machinery (I know literally NOTHING about cars except how to drive them, so I couldn't even begin to tell you what parts they are. Some of them look like pipes, kind of, I don't know), so Alaric adds, "You know, it's not your fault." Aw, Alaric is so damn forgiving, it's adorable. I guess he'd have to be, to continue being Damon's best friend throughout all the times he's killed him, or tried to, or gotten him into shit that got him hurt.

Stefan insists that it really is his fault, so Alaric pulls out his inner therapist and drops some truth bombs on Stefan again, only this time, unlike the last episode, they're actually nice. "Look, you're not the only one who gave up," he says gently. "You know, every second for the last four months, all I could think about was when I'm gonna get my next sip of blood... when am I gonna screw up and hurt somebody... why did I come back to life just to be this... thing. That I used to hunt vampires, and suddenly I was one. Searching for Damon was the only thing that could take my mind off of it, but I was basically going through the motions as a distraction because... honestly, Stefan? I'd given up, too." Awww, Alaric! It makes me sad that he hates being a vampire so much, which only makes me even more torn later. ANYWAY, their heartfelt discussion is cut off when the boys see headlights approaching them. Stefan correctly identifies it as being Tripp, so Alaric gets ready to flag him down and instructs Stefan to stay in the car, since Tripp knows what he looks like. Stefan argues that he thinks he's on his side, but Alaric doesn't want to risk it in case Enzo spilled the beans about his true identity and insists that Stefan call Elena and tell her that they found him.

He reluctantly does as he's told, and Alaric leaves to approach Tripp's van, which comes to a stop when Tripp sees him coming. Enzo and Damon can hear the two talking from the back, but they don't say anything. Alaric greets Tripp as he rolls down his window part of the way to hear him better, and then gives him this fake story about how he's trying to get his buddy to a bachelor party when their car just died. When Alaric asks him if he could help them out, Tripp claims he doesn't know anything about cars, so Alaric asks him if he could give them a ride into town instead. In the back, Enzo looks confused and asks Damon who the fuck that is, even though he should know, since didn't Alaric and Enzo work together over the summer to try to figure out how to bring Damon back? Whatever.

Damon tells Enzo that it's Alaric and assumes that he's got something up his sleeve. "Better be something good," Damon snits as an afterthought. "Bastard owes me." Meanwhile, Tripp insists that he's in a hurry, so Alaric just snarks, "Yeah, so are we," before punching through his window and shattering it. Tripp instinctively ducks to avoid the glass, and Alaric grabs him by the shirt to pull him up before punching him straight in the face. Tripp groans and grabs his vervain gun so he can shoot Alaric with it. One of the darts goes into Alaric's shoulder, but Alaric's not going down that easily. Plus, if I remember correctly, vervain doesn't even hurt Alaric because he used it to torture Caroline back when he was Dark Vampire Hunter!Alaric and he was able to handle it without being burned or otherwise weakened-- I'm guessing since Esther created him specifically to be a vampire hunter with superior abilities to vampires and Original vampires, she messed with the spell in a way that gave him different strengths and weaknesses than the rest of the species (like how he wasn't immortal, but was only alive as long as Elena was.)

ANYWAY, so Alaric grabs onto the driver's side door just as Tripp slams his foot on the gas pedal as hard as he can, forcing Alaric to have to run alongside the car as he grabs onto the steering wheel and tries to run the van off the road before it can cross the border. Stefan is still on the phone with Elena, but he manages to look up JUST in the nick of time to see the van barreling toward the SUV, allowing him to vamp-speed out just before the van crashes into it. The force of the impact causes the van to flip over onto its top and slide right over the Mystic Falls side and into the town's borders. Alaric lets go of the van and is thrown away, and he rolls right past the anti-magic boundary as well and comes to a halt a couple yards away. He starts groaning and sputter in pain as the spell starts to eat away at his vampire magic, causing his chest to bleed where Esther killed him with the white oak stake in Season 3's "Do Not Go Gentle." Inside the van, Damon is moaning in agony as well, a gunshot wound appears in his chest where his father shot him in the flashbacks from Season 1's "Blood Brothers." Enzo is super pale and has begun to cough up dark red blood as he, too, succumbs to the effects of the magic purification spell.

Stefan, who managed to avoid getting thrown into Mystic Falls, is gaping in horror at the wreckage in front of as Elena tries to regain his attention, still on the phone with him. "Stefan? Stefan, what's happening?" Elena demands anxiously, but Stefan just states that Damon and Alaric are across the border before hanging up to try to figure out what to do. Alaric is starting to cough up blood, now, and there is more blood that is soaking his shirt from his wound. Stefan frantically looks around, hoping for some divine inspiration, but when he sees the "Welcome to Mystic Falls" sign on the other side of the road, he realizes what he needs to do.

I may be hard on Stefan a lot, and I know I've been pretty critical of him even just in this recap, but despite the questionable actions he's made throughout the series, he has good intentions and is not a bad guy. And this episode is a perfect example of this-- yes,his behavior towards his loved ones from Damon's death until this episode was a dick move x 100, and yes, he is prone to letting his emotions rules his actions. But, when push comes to shove, Stefan nearly always does the right thing, so even though he might not exactly be the definition of a hero 100% of the time, he's definitely capable of doing heroic things. Like right now, when he steels himself with a deep breath and walks purposefully toward the border until he crosses it, immediately doubling over and clutching his stomach once he's within city limits, when he's suddenly re-injured by the same gunshot wound that killed himself and Damon in 1864 before they were turned into vampires. He falls forward for a brief moment, overwhelmed by the agony of his soon-to-be-fatal wound, but he forces himself to keep going so he can save his people.

Damon and Enzo aren't doing so hot either, since they've been in there longer than Stefan has, and they're both too weak to move to even try to escape. "I came back for this?" Damon says, blood staining his lips. When he looks up at Enzo, who is spitting up more blood and looking worse by the minute, he becomes even more concerned. "Consumption," Enzo rasps. "Wasn't much fun the first time around, either." Hmmmm, interesting. Shouldn't the vampire blood have healed it? This can't possibly be some sort of intense foreshadowing that there are things that maybe vampire blood can't heal, right? That would be crazy! (I promise I'm not psychic, I've just watched all of the episodes I still need to recap) Stefan managed to find a crowbar somewhere, and he uses it to break open the back doors of the van to rescue Damon.

Outside, Alaric is still sputtering up blood and dying, too weak to vamp-speed away to safety, when Jo suddenly appears and falls to her knees beside him as she instantly shifts into doctor-mode and starts applying pressure to his wound. "It's okay, I'm here," Jo says, before adding, "I followed you like a crazy stalker. Not one of my finer moments." In this case, I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume that Alaric is cool with it, considering he's on the verge of death for, like, the seventh time. Meanwhile, Stefan has finally managed to break into the van rushes to break Damon free, but Damon stops him and channels his inner Elena Gilbert. "No, no. Get him!" Damon insists as he points to Enzo, and since both Damon and Stefan kind of owe Enzo at this point, Stefan does as he's told and breaks Enzo out of his restraints first before getting Damon and yanking them out of the van. Tripp, who is bleeding profusely from a pretty nasty head wound, has just managed to get out of the van himself out of the van, and instead of attempting to finish the vamps off, he wisely decides to make a run for it while Damon, Stefan, and Enzo struggle to make it out of the town's borders.

(via vd-gifs)
Alaric is still gasping and groaning in pain as Jo applies pressure to his wounds with one hand and digs into her bag for medical supplies. He insists that he needs her to get him over the border, because once the spell strips away his vampire magic, he'll die, but Jo argues that if she moves him, he WILL die, because he nicked his descending aorta. Alaric's like, "Duh, that's what killed me the fifth time, lady," but Jo just holds up a package and reminds him that he didn't have her or hemostatic gauze back then before ripping it open with her teeth and packing it into his wound. A few yards away, the boys are still struggling to get out of town while they're still alive (or, undead, anyway), and when shoving them doesn't work, Stefan links his arms in theirs and literally pulls them past the anti-magic force-field. Once they're in the clear, they fall to their knees and cough and gasp as their wounds start to heal, and Enzo's tuberculosis manages to resolve itself. Once they're finally mostly-healed, Stefan turns back toward Mystic Falls, knowing that Alaric is still over there and feeling guilty for not being able to help without risking death, since he's still healing from the last go-around.

Jo is still working on saving Alaric, who asks her what's happening, and Jo gets into that slightly-neurotic kind of ranting she does. "You still with me?" she asks as she applies more gauze to his injury. "While I'm sealing this wound, I want you to think about how you tried to compel one of the smartest women on campus to forget about her date with you. The date where I single-handedly saved dozens of lives without smearing my make-up." That was pretty hot and badass, not going to lie. Alaric starts hyperventilating and desperately gasps for breath, which shocks her out of her snarky rambling long enough to start chest compressions. She begs him to stay with her, but he remains silent, so she continues doing CPR as he manages one last gasp. "You don't get to have the last word with me!" Jo argues, even though I'm pretty sure Alaric couldn't have gotten a word in edgewise even if he was able to, given how much she was talking, but I'll forgive her for it just this once.

Suddenly, Alaric stops moving, and his eyes fall closed, and Jo starts panicking so much she just starts making her chest compressions even deeper and faster. Outside the border, Stefan and Damon are staring at them in horror, feeling ridiculously helpless as their compadre dies in front of them. Jo's still unwilling to give up, though, and keeps doing what she's doing until Alaric's eyes finally fly open as he snaps back into consciousness and loudly gasps. Jo is initially startled, but that turns to relief when she realizes he's still alive. Alaric stammers, "So-so-something's wrong," but Jo just strokes his face and instructs him not to move. He's insistent that something is wrong, though, and reminds her that he's not supposed to be alive, but Jo just smiles at him. "There's no reason you shouldn't be!" she coos gently. "I sealed the wound. We just have to get you to the hospital." Alaric starts taking deep breaths and lays his head back down on the grass, unable to wrap his mind around what just happened.

Okay guys, I am still to this day seriously torn about this development, but I'm leaning toward not liking it. On the one hand, Alaric hated being a vampire with every fiber of his being, and still seemed to be having a lot of trouble controlling his hunger and coming to terms with immortality, though he sure did seem to appreciate the accelerated healing and enhanced strength and speed, seeing as trouble literally follows him around everywhere. On the other hand, though, I feel like we've barely got to even see him as a vampire, especially this season, because since Elena got over her chomping-on-the-locals habit after she stopped using those psychotropic herbs, it's been really easy to forget that this is even a show about vampires because we NEVER see them acting like it. They don't feed on people, we barely even see them drink from blood bags, we don't see them vamp-out.

Aside from being able to survive wounds that would otherwise be lethal and heal others with their blood, all of the issues have mostly been just regular-old human problems-- dealing with death and grief, trying to make new lives at Whitmore since they can't go home. I don't know, guys-- this show is called The Vampire Diaries for a reason, and I just really don't like the idea of any of the vampires going back to being human. Is that weird? I hated the cure story-line, although I preferred Katherine being cured over any of the others, because it just felt like a cheap get-out-of-jail-free card, and turning Alaric back into a human doesn't seem to add anything to the story except taking away his self-loathing vampire act and making him like 100x more vulnerable to injury and death again. I DON'T KNOW, I just have such mixed feelings about it, and that's not even getting into what his re-humanization has wrought in the next scene.

Back on Old Miller Road, Caroline is still pacing around Elena's flat-tired SUV on the side of the road as she gets an update on what the fuck happened from Stefan on the phone. Caroline quietly tells Stefan she'll tell "her" and thanks him for calling before hanging up, just as Elena vamp-speeds from Route 9, where she popped in to see what the hell happened. She anxiously tells Caroline that there was a crash, but no one was there, and Caroline looks as though she is really dreading telling her what she just found out from Stefan. She starts off by saying that they had to get out of there before all the cops and whatnot showed up, and when Elena asks what happened, Caroline hesitates for a long moment, which does nothing to ease Elena's anxiety. She can tell by the look on her face that something bad happened, and when she demands to know what the hell she knows, Caroline starts off with the good news. "Alaric crossed the border... but Jo was there, and she saved him." Elena is relieved, and assumes this means that Alaric is okay, which Caroline confirms, but the tone of her voice definitely does not match up with this good news. "Then why do you have that look on your face?" Elena asks. "What happened, Caroline?" Caro finally just sighs and tells her the truth-- all the magic stripped away, but Jo saved him just before he died, which means he's not a vampire anymore. He's human. Elena seems just surprised at first, but when she realizes this means that she's never getting her memories of loving Damon back again, her face falls. UGH UGH UGH UGH UGH.

In town, Matt and Sarah have returned to the Salvatore boarding house after spending the day searching through Tripp's office. Sarah thanks him for the ride, and Matt just laughs and claims he thought he'd save her the trouble of boosting another car to get home, which Sarah only finds marginally funny. After a moment, Matt asks, "If I told you I knew about your family, promise to take a little friendly advice?" Shady Sarah's face falls, and you can practically hear a record screech before she gets a little pissed that he knew about her family and never said anything all day. "Read any history book about this town's founding members," Matt replies grimly. "The guys that live in this house are Damon and Stefan Salvatore." Sarah is just confused now, and asks him why he waited until now to tell her, and Matt hesitates for a moment before explaining that it's because they're both vampires with a huuuuuuge attraction to trouble that nearly always results in death and destruction following them around like a shadow. "So, if you're looking for family, you're not going to find it here," Matt adds sadly. "Do yourself a favor, and get as far away from this place as you can."

Suddenly, their conversation is interrupted by the sound of a loud, frustrated male voice yelling from the other room. Sarah and Matt both rush into the living room, where they find Jeremy leaning over the pool table where his cell phone is laying. "COME ON! NO! DAMN IT!" Jeremy yells, and when Matt tries to talk to him, Jeremy, who is clearly VERY drunk, judging by the half-empty bottle of bourbon next to him on the table, breaks down in tears. "I keep trying to cancel Bonnie's phone, but I can't without her PIN," Jeremy slurs, swaying on his feet a bit. "Why can't I remember her PIN?" Frustrated and angry, Jeremy punches his phone, shattering it into pieces and ripping his knuckles to shreds in the process. Apparently, that's not quite enough, because then he punches through the bottle of liquor on the table as well, which shatters into pieces and causes broken glass to fly everywhere. He's in the middle of punching the pool table as well until Matt and Sarah each rush over to him and each grab one of his arms to hold him back. Jeremy tries his best to fight out of their grip, but he's too drunk and exhausted at this point to do it. Sarah gently tries to assure him that it's going to be okay, but Jeremy knows way better than that. "No, it's not! She's gone! Bonnie is gone!" Jeremy yells. He starts to sob, and Sarah backs away from them so Matt can give him a big hug and try to calm him down. Aw Jeremy. :( This hurts my heart so damn much it kiiiiills me. Can we just get Bonnie back already?

(via vd-gifs)
The next scene cuts back and forth between Elena in her dorm room and Alaric in Mystic Falls Hospital, where the two are talking to each other on the phone. Elena remarks that Jo is definitely a keeper just from the miracle she pulled off alone before asking him how it feels to be human again, but Alaric, who is in a hospital gown and hooked up to an IV and telemetry, insists that it hurts quite a bit. Elena just laughs and tells him its too bad that he's in Mystic Falls, where there are no vampires who could heal him up right quick, but Alaric point out that he's got a morphine drip, which is totally the next best thing. He pauses for a moment before adding, "Elena, I'm so sorry," but Elena takes it all like a champ. "No, no, no, Alaric, I'm just glad that you're okay," Elena insists. "I mean, up until an hour ago, I didn't even want my memories to return. I was the one who made the choice to lose them. Now, I have to live with the fact that you can't give them back to me." She adds that she knows how much he hated being a vampire and assures him that she's happy that at least one of them got what they wanted. Alaric asks her what it is that she wants, then, so Elena states that she'd like to be able to look Damon in the eye, knowing all that she knows and all that she doesn't know, and be able to see and trust in how she feels about him. Alaric wishes her good luck on that and reminds her that he hopes she's able to do it before the two hand up the phone.

Jo waltzes into the hospital room a moment later and screeches, "This hospital SUCKS! I can't believe anyone even makes it out of here alive." Alaric can't help but laugh as hysterically as he can muster, given the extent of his injuries, and points out that most of their patients don't, whether they actually die from their wounds or become vampires for whatever reason. Jo promises she's getting him transferred to Whitmore Medical Center, which Alaric appreciates, seeing as his vampire friends can actually go there and give him a blood donation so he's not stuck there with long-lasting injuries forever. Jo insists that she's just doing her job, but Alaric wholeheartedly believes that she went above and beyond her obligations as a doctor this day, and squeezes her hand affectionately. "Hey, you did more than that. You gave me back my life," Alaric says genuinely. Jo smiles at him as he thanks her for that, and they both look at each other with heart eyes, and it's totally adorable. YAYYY LOVE.

At Skull Bar on the Whitmore campus, Stefan and Damon are sitting at the bar, drinking tumblers of bourbon, while Stefan listens to Damon whine about his day. Damon laments the fact that he was *thisclose* to getting Elena back via Alaric returning her memories, and then it all went to shit. Stefan assures him that he's sorry, but that doesn't do much to make him feel better. "Oh, I got it," Damon snaps, after taking a large gulp of his bourbon. "Everybody's sorry. You're sorry you gave up on me. Sorry you turned Enzo in to that hunter guy. Ric's sorry for the compulsion. I'm sure if Elena could remember anything, she'd be sorry, too." Stefan reminds him that he's got to keep in mind how badly his death killed Elena, but that doesn't really help either. "I am SO TIRED of hearing how hard it was for her. It was hard for me as well!" Damon argues, but Stefan points out that at least with him, he knew he would eventually be coming home; Elena, on the other hand, was sure that he was dead and gone because the Other Side collapsed and they couldn't find any way of even figuring out where exactly Damon and Bonnie were, let alone how to get them back.

Damon retorts that he's still technically gone, since Alaric said that Elena was happy without him now that she had no memories of loving him. A little bit of the old Damon peeks out as he groans, "You know what? I don't want her to be happy. I want her to be miserable, just like I am." Stefan just rolls his eyes at his older brother's melodramatics and asks him if he's finally done yet. When Damon sighs and states that he is, Stefan replies, "Good. Now, quit stalling. There's a girl you need to see." Have I mentioned how much more I love Stefan now that he's not all hung up on Elena anymore? Because he's seriously so much better this way. Damon's worried, though, and asks what happens if what he and Elena had isn't strong enough to overcome the compulsion, but Stefan argues that he'll never find out if he keeps sitting here, so Damon gulps down the rest of his drink before muttering, "Here goes everything" before he takes off.

(via vd-gifs)
Stefan sighs as he watches Damon go, but when he sees Caroline walking past the front windows of the bar, he rushes outside so he can catch up to her. When he greets her, Caroline just turns to face him and replies, "Hey. So, am I you last stop on the 'Stefan Salvatore Apology Tour?'" Stefan stupidly asks, "Could we just get past this, please?" which is kind of a tactless move. I really don't want to keep dogging on him, because I literally hate hating on characters, and Stefan is really the only one who I manage to keep finding stuff to dislike, but it just seems kind of thoughtless of him to treat Caroline worse than literally everyone else he knew (lying to her about how long he had been in Savannah and the fact that he had stopped looking for Damon and Bonnie, pretty much insinuating that he didn't care enough about her to stick around to check up on her, claiming that it was her fault that Ivy got turned into a vampire and hunters were put on their trail, because blah blah, if you hadn't insisted on inserting yourself into my new life this would have happened, blah blah blah) and then just expect her to just be, like, "Whatever, bygones," now that Damon's back.

I mean, with the others, I can totally see them being willing to just brush it off as being in grief-mode, because at least Stefan was still in contact with Alaric and Elena and for the most part treated them the same, and he wasn't close enough with any of the others, like Matt, Jeremy, and Tyler, for any of them them to give a shit either way. But Caroline? She's someone he had a real connection with, and because of that connection, he treated her like shit, because he knew that she, like Lexi, was going to force him to deal with his feelings and he didn't want to, so being a dick was the only way he knew how to push her away. Which, fine, if that was what he needed to do to deal, okay, but he can't just expect Caroline to just play the forgive and forget game now that Damon's back and he wants everything to go back to normal, you know? Not when he hurt her as badly as he did on numerous occasions, even after she confessed that she had real romantic feelings for him, which took a LOT of guts on her part to admit, given the fact that she was willing to risk their friendship on it, not to mention all of the complication that the girlfriend-code/Elena being his ex added to it. So, if he cares about Caroline, he's going to have to work a little harder to make sure she knows it in the future. Okay, I promise this is the end, because after this Stefan gets back to his usually fun and kind self and my complaints about him go back to zero. Please don't hate me, Stefan stans!

So, back to their conversation. Caroline insists that she's trying to get past it, but it's difficult for her, which just makes Stefan more frustrated. "Look, Caroline, what do you want me to do, huh? Stop making me guess and tell me so we can go back to being friends again." UHHH DUDE ARE YOU BLIND? DO YOU HAVE AMNESIA? Did you just forget the last four to five months and everything mean you said to Caroline? Caroline just sighs, because she's way too tired to keep having to spell her feelings out for him, and finally just decides to cut the cord. "Yeah, well... You know, that's the thing, Stefan-- after all of this, I... I don't want to be friends anymore." OUCH. Caroline turns and walks away, leaving Stefan alone on the street to ponder just how badly he fucked up the best friendship he has that's not based on blood or former romantic history. YOU'VE GOT SOME MAJOR ASS-KISSING TO DO, BUDDY.

Alright, FINALLY, we return to the girls' dorm, where Damon is slowly headed down the hallway toward Elena and Caroline's room. Inside, Elena has pulled out her box of Damon momentos, and opens her diary to look at the strip of photobooth photos of Elena and Damon that marks the place of the letter Elena wrote to herself about compelling away her memories of Damon. She then pulls out Damon's black leather jacket, just as Damon reaches the door and knocks. Elena takes a deep breath, pausing for a moment while Damon anxiously waits outside. She hesitantly walks toward the door, reaches out for the doorknob, and slowly opens it so she can see Damon face to face for the first time since before Damon died over four months ago, when he and Elena were planning for the explosion to sacrifice the Travelers so they could bring back their loved ones from the disintegrating Other Side, and Damon swore to her that he would make it back to her. Their eyes finally meet, and they just stare at each other. Which, of course, is where the episode ends. DAMNIT CAROLINE DRIES.

(via illgivethattoyou)
Next episode: Damon and Elena try to work through their issues despite Elena's lost memories and her sort-of, kind-of relationship with Liam. In the 1994 Prison World, Bonnie desperately tries to get the fuck away from a vengeful Kai and try to get back home before he kills her.

[screencaps via Screencapped]

Since I forgot to write in all of the music into this recap and I'm way too lazy to go back and rewrite it so they'll fit, I'm just going to list them/link to them here, 'kay? It might actually be easier for you guys to find the songs you're looking for this way. Anyway, here we go!

"Why Don't You Love Me" by Hank Williams, played on the radio when Tripp was driving Ivy and the two other vampires over the border to Mystic Falls.

"Lucille" by John the Conquerer, played when Damon confronted Alaric in his office about compelling Elena to forget she loved him.

"I Don't Wanna Be In Love" by Dark Waves, played when Damon and Jeremy talked about Bonnie in Elena and Caroline's dorm room.

"Last Summer" by David Gray, played when Damon left that sweet voicemail for Bonnie before he got to talk to Elena and make plans to meet.

"Last Night of Summer" by The Garden District, played at the bar while Stefan and Damon talked about Elena. (I can't actually find audio for this though, I'm sorry! Gonna have to iTunes it or something)

"Unbreakable" by Jamie Scott, played when Stefan ran after Caroline outside the bar and Caroline told him she didn't want to be friends with him anymore.


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