The Vampire Diaries Season 6, Episode 10: "Christmas Through Your Eyes" Recap/Review

It's Christmas in Mystic Falls as we're chugging along in my mania-fueled scramble to catch up on recaps, but unfortunately for the MFG, things are not going that well-- Kai teams up with Tyler, Liv, and a reluctant Luke to force Jo to take her magic back; Liz has a major secret (the fact that she has brain cancer) that finally gets revealed to Caroline and the others when Liz collapses at Caroline's dorm; and Matt and Jeremy make a dumb plan to take out Enzo for good, plus a bunch of other stuff. However, there was one bright spot-- the Traveler's spell to block non-traditional-magic has been sucked up by Kai, which means the vampires can go back to Mystic Falls! The bad news is, now he has all that power, which is likely not going to bode well for anyone. So, let's talk about "Christmas Through Your Eyes" and all the drama that ensued, shall we?

Previously, on The Vampire Diaries: Last season, the Travelers cast a powerful spell that completely blocked almost every form of magic within the borders of Mystic Falls, preventing all vampires from entering the town out of fear of death via their vampirism being stripped and being returned to dead corpses, and no witches, werewolves, or supernatural hunters can enter either without temporarily forfeiting their power. Bonnie used her magic to portal Damon out of the prison world where they were trapped with Kai and into the living world with their loved ones, and later sent away her magic as well so Kai couldn't force her to free him. Unfortunately, Kai found a loophole anyway and stabbed her to get her Bennett blood to put on the Ascendant before finding the knife with Jo's magic and siphoning it to free himself, leaving Bonnie all alone and magic-less in the prison made for him. In the real world, while Damon was "dead," Elena was so depressed that she had then-Enhanced Original vampire Alaric compel away all of her memories of loving him, only for Alaric to be turned back into a human after being thrown over the anti-magic border and being saved by Jo's timely medical intervention, preventing Elena from having him give her memories back.

Caroline told Stefan she hates him because he treated her like shit and ruined their friendship while Stefan was under the impression that Damon was dead, and he somehow had no idea that she had romantic feelings for him, so now he's extra sad at how badly he fucked up. Shady Sarah was revealed to actually not be Sarah Salvatore at all, but a con-artist named Monique who was friends with the real Sarah, who has no interest in finding her bio family, in hopes of swindling them into accepting her as family. Unfortunately for her, Enzo figured out that she knew something about Stefan that he didn't know, and when Stefan refused to tell him, Enzo killed Monique right in front of him and Matt, which made Matt so angry that he enlisted Jeremy in a plan to hunt Enzo down and kill him once and for all. Damon was so desperate to get Bonnie back that he compelled Alaric to snatch the Ascendant from Jo, which he did, but when he found out about it, he was super, super pissed at Damon for his betrayal. It was also revealed that not only is Jo Kai's twin sister, but Liv and Luke, another set of twins, are also their youngest siblings, and all of them are/were members of the Gemini Coven, whose dictates that the twins of the family perform a ritual known as the "Merge Ceremony" on their twenty-second birthday in which the magically-stronger twin absorbs the magic of the weaker twin, killing them, and the survivor becomes leader of the coven. That honor was supposed to go to Jo and Kai, but once the coven realized that Kai was a psychopath, the twin-merge instead fell on Liv and Luke, whose twenty-second birthday is quickly approaching. Tyler, Liv's boyfriend, insisted that he was not going to let Liv die, and to honor it, he went so far as to make a deal with Kai himself to protect her and Luke! Which is kind-of, sort-of, where we pick up today!

We open this episode at Whitmore Medical Center, where Jo is on the phone with Alaric to inform him that they're going to have to raincheck their dinner plans. "I have a possible 480. Hit-and-run on campus-- one DOA, four reds en route." Alaric laughs and asks if any of her previous boyfriends have understood the language that she just spoke, but it's really not that hard. DOA means Dead On Arrival, which indicates that they were dead when the paramedics arrived; four reds means Code Reds, which means very, very serious injuries that are the top of the triage list, which medical professionals use to determine the priority of treatment in the emergency room. Anyway, Jo just says she's going to be late and asks him to save her dinner before teasingly pointing out that Alaric said he's her boyfriend, which is a first for them.

After they hang up, Jo gets back to work and immediately is sent over to a young woman with abdominal wounds who has just arrived. She asks the nurse for ten milligrams of morphine and states that the patient is still conscious. The other doctor brings up the fact that nether of their patients have broken bones, which you'd expect in a hit-and-run-- instead, all they have is extremely bloody wounds, which leads them both to believe that they weren't actually in the accident that they previously assumed. She leans over the patient and asks her what happened to her, but the girl just starts gasping and frantically tells her that she can't breathe. Jo is so focused on the patient that she doesn't notice the doctor she was just speaking to has collapsed onto the floor. "It's okay," Jo says calmly. "You can tell me what really happened." The young patient starts to hyperventilate when she sees that one of the patients on the bed, whose face was completely covered in blood, is actually KAI, who caused this whole bloody scene as an excuse to sneak into the emergency room to confront Jo. Jo notices that her patient's heart rate has completely skyrocketed, and instead of turning around, she once again asks the girl what happened to her. "I stabbed her," Kai says loudly, and before Jo can react, Kai lunges for her, restraining her with one arm while he injects Jo with a sedative with the other. The female patient screams bloody murder at the sight of her assailant taking out her doctor, and honestly? I have a hard time blaming her for that-- Kai is seriously out of his damn mind. TITLE CARD!

When we return, we have been transported to a flashback to the Winter Festival at Mystic Falls High School in 2007, which is two years-ish before the show began and is one of several Barolena flashbacks that we get to see in this episode. Elena-- with her old-school straight hair-- is in the middle of filling her hot chocolate with marshmallows at one of the tables when she's suddenly hit in the shoulder with a snowball, which explodes all over her face. When she turns around, she sees Bonnie-- with her own long, straight hair--standing behind her with an impish smile on her face, she side-eyes her, but Bonnie just shrugs and replies, "Sorry! Had to." Elena just laughs and reminds her that she totally just declared war, but Bonnie just smiles and grabs her by the arm. "Come on! Caroline's over there." Awww, man, it's been so long since we've seen the Bonnie/Caroline/Elena trio together and happy that it hurts my heart so much. I'd much prefer this reunion to happen in the real world, but if flashbacks are all I can get, I'll take it.

(via dornansteele)
Meanwhile, in the 1994 prison world, Bonnie is all alone as she stubbornly drags an old Christmas tree she must have found in the basements of one of the houses toward the high school. "Come on," Bonnie mutters herself in annoyance, just as the eclipse begins overhead, casting shadows over everything around her as the moon passes in front of the sun. "Nope!" Bonnie shouts at the sky. "I'm not noticing you! Today's not May 10, 1994-- today's the tree-decorating ceremony, and you are NOT telling me otherwise." You tell it, girl! On a slightly more positive note, I think the best thing about being in that prison world is that since no one else lives there, you can just root around everyone's houses and snatch whatever you wanted without guilt, since they're all just magical carbon-copies of what existed on that day in 1994 anyway. No wonder Kai had that bookbag packed with all the stuff he wanted to take with him from the prison world to the real world-- I probably would have done the same thing.

Back in the real world, Caroline is in the process of walking to her dorm room at Whitmore while she talks to her mother on the phone about their plans. Caroline explains that she figured they'd just skip the holiday thing this year, since she'll literally die if she crosses the border to go home, thanks to the Travelers and their shitty anti-magic spell around the town. This makes Liz pretty sad, because Christmas has always been Caroline's favorite holiday of the year, but Caroline clarifies that misconception. "Was my favorite time of year," Caroline begins, clearly thinking about the fact that Bonnie isn't around to help celebrate it. "When I could actually live in my own house and help decorate the town tree and drink hot cocoa with my friends." Aw, Caroline! You and Bonnie are breaking my heart, here. It's so fitting that these three best friends are all thinking the same thing right about now-- namely, that they wish they were all together to celebrate the holidays as a trio like they used to. So, when Caroline gets back to her room, she is shocked to see her mother standing there in her civilian-clothes and surrounded by boxes of Christmas decorations.

Caroline is super thrilled to see her, but she's also confused, and wastes no time asking her what the hell she's doing, since she's supposed to be at the Mystic Falls decorating ceremony. Liz states that she's playing hooky this year, because if Caroline can't make it home for the holidays, then she's going to bring the home and holidays to her instead, which is probably the cutest thing ever. I swear, Caroline becoming a vampire was the best thing to happen to their relationship, don't you agree? Just then, Stefan arrives and stands in the doorway, holding two different boxes in his hands. Caroline is less pleased to see him than she was her mother, but when she asks him why he's there, Stefan innocently replies that Liz needed Christmas lights. Caroline turns and shoots a glare at Liz, who smiles sweetly as though she's not trying to get Stefan and Caroline back together again and reminds her that her dorm room is so uncharacteristically big that they could use several sets of hands. Caroline sighs defeatedly and turns back to Stefan, who holds up the two boxes. After a moment, Caroline reluctantly replies, "The little ones, obviously," and Stefan tries not to smirk at just how stubborn his favorite Caroline is when she wants to be. Does anyone else get Lydia Martin-vibes from Caroline sometimes? Because I do all the time, to be honest, and especially right now.

Meanwhile, Elena and Damon are sitting at a table at Scull Bar, where they seem to have spent the night trying to find another way to bring Bonnie back now that Jackass-Kai broke the Ascendant. Damon has his head laying on his crossed arms on the table, dozing off, but when Elena looks over at him and smiles in amusement, he cracks one of his eyes open and asks her if she's watching him sleep. "No," Elena replies. "I'm watching you drool all over Ric's textbooks, and considering you're already on his bad side..." Damon hilariously insists that he doesn't drool, before lifting up his head, seeing the wet spots on the book, and wiping his face in embarrassment. Aw, yeah! Elena 1, Damon 0. When Damon asks what time it is, Elena says that it's time for Alaric to get a new occult reference library, because they have found literally nada that will help them bust out Bonnie; in fact, she hasn't even found a single reference to anything even similar to the Ascendant. Damon insists that they'll just have to look harder and suggests they get back to work. However, Elena just keeps staring at him, and when Damon calls her out on it, she slowly replies, "It's just... Everything that you've been doing for Bonnie? Thank you." Damon shrugs this compliment off and quite rightly reminds Elena that Bonnie would do it for them, which is absolutely true, and I'm glad Damon is finally a convert to the Church of Bonnie Bennett, because she's amazing.

Just then, Elena's phone rings, and when she sees it's Alaric, she quickly answers it. He skips the greeting and immediately asks her if she's seen Jo, and after Elena admits that she hasn't since yesterday, Damon, who was eavesdropping on the call, asks why. Cut to Alaric's apartment, where Elena, Damon, and Alaric are trying to put together what they know. "So, I asked around the hospital," Elena begins. "No one's seen Jo since last night at the ER. A bunch of stab victims cam in, and one of them's missing as well." Well, that missing stab victim was Kai, and he wasn't so much a victim as he was the assailant. Alaric sighs and states that it's obviously Kai, because Jo knew he'd be coming for her, and now it sounds like he did. Damon makes a pretty big mistake in replying, "Not to give you boyfriend lessons or anything, but if you knew Jo's whack-job brother was out on the loose and after her, don't you think that keeping an eye on her would be a smart move?" Like, I get where Damon's coming from, but Alaric is a human now and isn't exactly a match for a psychopathic witch with the ability to siphon magic from literally anything. Alaric says just about the same thing-- "And what would you have had me to do, Damon? Ask you to compel Jo to stay put?" Damon nods his head as if to say, "Uh, yeah!" but Elena brings them back to the task at hand and reminds them that they need to figure out a plan to save Jo. Damon mimics slitting his own throat with the accompanying sound effects and points out that the plan is to find Kai and then kill Kai, which seems like a pretty obvious plan. Yet, for some reason, literally all the characters are refusing to even consider killing him, which I don't understand at all.

In Mystic Falls, Tyler-- who, if you recall, was last seen being approached by Kai at the end of the previous episode to make a deal that would protect Liv-- is at the Lockwood Mansion and explaining his plan to Liv and Luke, beginning with "Bottom line-- we need to keep Kai alive." Luke is very much against this plan, since his last memory of his eldest brother was Kai chasing him around with a baseball bat when he was four. and even Liv insists that Tyler must be high on some quality drugs if he thinks this is a valid plan. Tyler reminds them that, at the moment, the two of them are stuck doing the twin-merge for their coven, which will lead to one of them surviving while the other dies and is absorbed by the survivor. However, as Kai pointed out to them, if Kai and Jo do the twin-merge instead, then it's not the twins' problem anymore. "Until Kai becomes the most powerful witch in our coven and goes on a killing spree!" Luke quite reasonably argues. "Something tells me that's gonna become our problem." However, Liv, who has never been a fan of having to either sacrifice herself or kill her own twin brother, seems to have developed enough interest to ask Tyler what exactly Kai wants them to do.

At Alaric's apartment, Damon has just called Matt, where he's describing Kai's appearance to him, now that Kai is likely running around Mystic Falls. The specific words he uses are "sociopathic Ryan Reynolds," which makes no sense, because Kai/Chris Wood look NOTHING like Ryan Reynolds, and "Grunge-vibe, annoying as hell," which is much more accurate. Matt is all, "Nope, haven't seen him," which exasperates Damon to no end. "Well, if he has half a brain, he will be hiding where vampires can't find him. So, in between levels of Mario Kart, can you and little baby Gilbert maybe keep an eye out?" LOL FOREVERRRR. Matt quickly agrees so he can get off the phone as quickly as possible, and when he hangs up, we see that he and Jeremy are actually in that cabin of Tripp's where he kept Enzo locked up and tortured.
JEREMY: [confused] "Who was that?"
MATT: "It was Damon. Apparently, there's a psychopath roaming Mystic Falls."
JEREMY: "You tell him we're busy hunting down a psychopath roaming outside Mystic Falls?"
MATT: "Must have forgot to mention it. Look, you better get out of here. Enzo's gonna be here soon."
Ohhhh, shit, I totally forgot that Matt and Jeremy were going to play vampire-hunter and take down Enzo. That will totally work out exactly as they intend it with no dire consequences, I'm sure. Anyway, Jeremy picks up the weapons bag and states that it's time for them to kill a vampire, which does nothing but ensure that Enzo is totally going to end up seriously hurting or killing at least one of them before the day is up. Oh, you sweet, naive newborn babies.

At Alaric's, Damon has just hung up and comes in to the living room to inform he and Elena that "Beavis and Butthead" are on the lookout for Kai, and asks if anyone else is brimming with confidence about this plan. Alaric, however, doesn't understand what Kai is even trying to accomplish here, because Kai clearly wants to complete the twin-merge so that he can become leader of the coven, but in order to do that, both witches need magic, which Jo doesn't have anymore, since she dumped it in that hunting knife that she hid in the tree stump in front of the Parker household in Portland.

Over at the Lockwood Mansion, Tyler explains to the Wonder Twins that Kai said Jo hid her magic in a knife somewhere, and Liv states that it's likely back in Portland where she hid it in 1994. Of course, that's the first place Kai looked, according to Tyler, since we already know that he managed to find its replica in the prison world, but it wasn't there, because again, we already know that Damon, Stefan, and Alaric already found it and used it to break through the house's cloaking spell.

When Tyler informs them that Kai thinks someone already took it, the scene cuts to Alaric's apartment, where Damon reminds everyone that Jo doesn't have magic, because it's stuffed in a knife that was found and hidden by Damon himself, which means that it's in a totally easy-to-find-location. Remember the moonstone in the soap dish? The white oak stake in the pile of firewood? Damon is absolutely terrible at hiding things, and in this case, it's no different. Alaric points out that Kai could just do a locator spell for it, but Damon and Elena assure him it's impossible, because Kai was born without the ability to generate his own magic. Of course, he instead has the ability to siphon magic from anywhere, so that's not exactly a iron-clad reason for Kai being unable to find it, but I guess all the magic he stole from Liv must have worn off or have been used up or something.

At the Lockwood Mansion, Liv picks up where they left off. "Let me guess, Kai wants us to do a locator spell on the knife?" Tyler reminds them that if they find it, then Jo can get her magic back, Kai can merge with her, and then she and Luke can actually both live past their twenty-second birthday. Luke points out that this is an insane idea because it's their duty to their coven to merge as one and lead them-- in fact, it's the entire reason why they were born. "No, we were born because our coven decided that Jo wasn't strong enough to beat Kai," Liv replies. "Why should we have to die because our sister's too weak to defeat our psychopath of a brother?" Wait, was Jo really that much of a weakling when it came to magic? Or are they just saying that because Kai's Siphoner abilities give him the edge regardless? That's kind of mean to Jo, honestly. Anyway, Luke is still shocked that Liv is actually considering this plan and points out that a month ago, the thought of bowing out of their responsibility had never occurred to her, but Liv argues that a month ago, Kai wasn't back in the real world, and now everything has changed. "Luke, we don't have to do this," Liv pleads. "We have a chance to live our normal, human lives. We could actually be happy."

Back at Alaric's apartment, Alaric brings up the fact that if the only way to restore Jo's magic is reuniting her with the magic in the knife, then Kai is likely going to be coming for it. "Ric's right," Elena adds. "Even if Kai can't do the locator spell, he's gonna make it his mission to find it." Damon, however, states that he loves the idea of Kai coming to get the knife, because if he does, Damon can kill him, because the knife is right where he hid it. He picks up a shadow-box picture frame off the wall and opens the back, all, "Tada!" to show Elena and Alaric the hiding spot. Of course, when he sees their stunned and scared faces, he looks down to realize that the space is completely empty, and the knife has clearly been stolen by the twins.

Cut to Mystic Falls Cemetery, where Kai is holding the magic knife in his hands and talking to his little twin siblings as he looks down at Jo, who is still passed out and tied up on the floor of the mausoleum in which they're hiding. "I know I tried to kill you when you were toddlers," Kai begins pleasantly. "But, I gotta say, it sure is nice to be around family for the holidays." Oh, wonderful. Luke and Liv both seem understandably uneasy around him, but obviously Liv's desire to live out her witchy days without dying or killing her brother win out over being in the presence of their estranged brother.

In the prison world, Bonnie is just hanging out in the parking lot of the high school, where she's glumly wrapping a string of popcorn around the tree as a garland in an attempt to recreate the annual Mystic Falls tree-decorating festival, even despite the early-May weather. As she works to decorate the tree, she's transported back to another flashback/memory of earlier Winter Festivals.

In this 2007 flashback, Caroline has just met up with Liz, who is decked out in her Sheriff uniform, to let her know that her dad hasn't shown up yet. "Oh, yeah-- you know what? He's not gonna make it. You remember his friend Steven? He needed help moving a couch or something, so he's gonna miss out." BAHAHA. Oh my god, I totally forgot about big gay Bill and his boyfriend Steven. If only Caroline knew that in three short years, she would be an undead creature of the night, and her dad would be channeling all those "pray away the gay" programs as a guide of how to best torture the vampire nature out of her. Anyway, Caroline argues that it's tradition for the Sheriff and their husband/wife to put the star on the tree, but Liz, visibly hating this conversation, just states that the Lockwoods can have the honor this year instead. When Caroline notices Liz's weird vibes and asks her if there's something going on with her and her dad-- because she's totally a freshman in high school and is thus an adult-- Liz just tells her that there is no worrying during the holidays and sends her off to decorate the tree. As Caroline rushes off to meet up with Elena and Bonnie, Liz gets this really sad look on her face as she watches her go. Aw, Liz!

Caroline joins Elena and Bonnie at the popcorn-garland table, where they're eating more popcorn than using it to make garlands. Bonnie is lamenting the fact that she's getting dragged to some conference with her dad that is hours away from any beach, so Elena declares that she'll be asking her parents if Bonnie can stay with them for the holidays instead. Glad to see that even then, Rudy was still suuuuuch a deadbeat dad. Bonnie seems truly touched that Elena would do that, but Elena just insists that they have yet to spend a Christmas apart in their lives, and she doesn't plan to make this year the first. SHUT UP, I'M NOT CRYING, YOU'RE CRYING. She also mentions that Bonnie being around will torture Jeremy, a hobby that Bonnie insists she loves, which is also another hilarious hint as to the relationship that would eventually develop between them. Caroline butts in and admits that while she's thrilled Christmas is saved, they need to get the garlands up on the tree before they end up on the girls' hips, and rushes away to do the honors. Bonnie and Elena give each other a slightly offended look before starting to scarf down more popcorn just to spite her. Aw, these cute flashbacks are so nice! Especially considering the fact that what is happening in the present is so damn depressing.

Speaking of depressing, Caroline is in the middle of hanging up the Christmas lights around her dorm room when Stefan reenters the room to help her out. She wastes no time asking him what the fuck he thinks he's doing there, and when Stefan plays dumb, all, "Well, your mom asked for my help," Caroline calls him out on his transparent intentions. "No, Stefan-- what are you doing here? Because if you think hanging a few strands of light is gonna make me forget what a crappy friend you've been, then you thought wrong." Stefan is visibly hurt by this remark and insists that he's trying, but Caroline points out that hanging Christmas lights is the easy part, because that is something literally anyone can do together. Just then, Liz comes back with a tray full of cups in her hand and asks who wants hot chocolate, but Stefan just shakes his head and states that he's just about to leave before heading for the door. Ugh, what a Stefan move! His first instinct is to just run away when stuff goes bad, and he doesn't even realize that that is exactly the kind of thing Caroline is talking about-- it's not that she doesn't want to be around him, it's that she just doesn't want him to think that he can just waltz in like nothing has happened. Basically, she wants him to work for it, and she wants him to want to work for it, because she wants him to think she's worth working for. And yeah, it's not Stefan's fault that Caroline isn't being explicitly clear, but I don't know, it doesn't take a psychologist to figure out why Caroline is pissed at him-- Damon and Alaric and Elena have all spelled it out for him, but he just hasn't seemed to fully understand it yet.

Unfortunately, Caroline is completely distracted by just how frustrated she is with her relationship with Stefan when she sees her mom get woozy to the point that she grabs onto a chair to brace herself. Caroline calls out for her, and Liz is just about to say that she just got really dizzy when she suddenly, her eyes roll back into her head and her knees buckle below her. I don't know if Stefan was just lurking outside and trying to figure out what to do (I'd like to think he stuck around to see what kind of shit Caroline would be talking about him to her mom once he left), or if he's just really tuned into ambient noises, but he vamps right back into the room and catches Liz before she falls onto the floor. Caroline rushes over to them and looks at Liz, who is still conscious, and asks her if she's okay, but even though Liz nods that she is, you can tell she's still out of it and there's way more going on than she's saying. Ugh, suddenly Liz's insistence on doing holiday activities with Caroline at Whitmore just became way more clear.

In the Mystic Falls Cemetery, Liv and Luke are watching Kai from a couple yards away as Kai drags a stick through the dirt. Luke assumes that he's playing tic-tac-toe with himself, but Kai overhears him and says that he's markings where the anti-magic border is for future reference, just to make sure none of them cross over it and find themselves without power, and ESPECIALLY so Jo doesn't try to sneak over there to get out of taking her magic back. Suddenly, Jo's voice weakly calls out, "Hey! What did you do to me?" so the three Parker kids return to the crypt so they can explain to Jo what's about to happen. Kai is offended when Jo isn't the least bit happy to see him, but when Jo realizes that Liv and Luke are totally in on this plan as well, "What did you guys do?" she demands, visibly shocked by this betrayal, and Luke can barely make eye-contact with her, he's so ashamed. Still, Liv insists that they're doing what she should have done eighteen years ago, and when Jo realizes what they're suggesting, she insists that it won't work, because she doesn't have her magic, which you'd think they'd have known even before Kai informed them of that little hitch, you know? Kai pulls out the magic-knife and stabs Jo in the arm with it, causing her to cry out in agony.

Luke is absolutely horrified, though he probably should have assumed this would happen, and asks Kai what the fuck he's doing, but Kai insists he's simply trying to reunite her with her magic as he stabs her a second time. Unfortunately for him, it's not working, and Luke pulls him back and shoves him against the wall to prevent Jo from further injury. "I was wanting to kill you when your brain was the size of an acorn," Kai sneers, as he spins Luke around so he's pinned against the wall with the knife at his throat. "You don't think I'll do it now?" After a moment, Kai realizes he needs Luke's help and backs off, but Luke insists he's not watching this and flees the scene. Kai just laughs and calls him a drama queen before turning back to Jo, but before he can stab her again, Jo drops some truth bombs on him. "Stop! I put my magic in there by choice," Jo explains. "Taking it back is ALSO my choice... unless I bleed to death, which will happen in the next thirty minutes." She starts to laugh weakly and adds, "Heh. Wouldn't it be ironic if you accidentally killed me before the Merge ceremony?" Kai looks annoyed at the fact that she turned this back on him, and hands Liv the knife before heading for the door. "I'm going to find a bandage while you figure out how to put the magic in this knife into our sister," he says calmly. "Preferably by the time I get back so I don't have to dull it by slitting your throat." DAMN, KAI. What the hell?

Meanwhile, Elena has just arrived to Whitmore Medical Center, where she has just approached Caroline outside of Liz's treatment room. She asks Caroline what happened, but she has no idea, really-- all she knows is that they were decorating one moment and then she just collapsed the next. She suggests that perhaps she just forgot to eat, since Liz is known for skipping breakfast, but Elena turns into Overprotective-Mom-mode and asks her the last time she fed. As it turns out, Stefan is out to grab her a blood juice box as they speak, and Caroline instead tells Elena it'd be much more helpful if she just distracted her from all the drama before asking her how the search for the new Ascendant is going. Elena sighs and admits it's not going well, as she and Damon pulled an all-nighter searching and came up with nothing. "God, poor Bonnie," Caroline says, speaking for me and the rest of the TVD fandom. "Do you think she knows it's Christmas? You know, she never liked being away from us at Christmas." Elena honestly has no idea, but figures it's probably better if she doesn't, which is how you really know that she most definitely does. Caroline turns the topic of conversation to Damon, and Elena figures she's going to say that its a bad idea, which naturally is when Caroline surprises us all. "Actually, I was going to say that I think it's great how he's always been there for you when it mattered. You know, through thick and thin, good times and bad times. Maybe I haven't given him enough credit." OH MY GOD. HAS HELL FROZEN OVER? I mean, I am glad that they're both on civil terms now, but I just wasn't expecting that at all. I guess now that she's totally in love with Stefan and not trying to push Elena back with him, she's gotta accept that they're actually pretty good together, even if Damon wasn't necessarily that great to her in the past.

Speaking of Damon, he's over at the dorms, where he's talking to Tyler on the phone.
DAMON: "Bet you think you're pretty clever, don't you?"
TYLER: [mockingly] "Is this Damon? Why don't I have your number saved?"
DAMON: "Well, you weren't in your dorm room, and your pouty little goth-friend wasn't in hers."
TYLER: "...It's creepy you know where Liv's room is."
DAMON: "Let me guess-- you three idiots figured that Kai merging with Jo benefits you and Liv. Now, I'm not sure exactly how Luke fits into that yet, but I'll use my imagination..."
TYLER: "I'm trying to keep my girlfriend alive. Sound familiar?"
First of all, BAHAHAHAHA. I wish Tyler and Damon had more interaction, because they have the same kind of snarky-asshole sense of humor. Secondly, while Tyler totally has a point, Damon has a better one, though he doesn't get a chance to tell Tyler about it before he hangs up on him. Fortunately for him, Luke chooses that exact moment to return to his own dorm room, and though he tries to run away at the sight of Damon standing in the common room, Damon just zoops over and blocks his path so they can have themselves a little chat. Damon points out that they both knew that stunt wouldn't work and demands to know where Luke is, but Luke refuses to tell him, and reminds him that if he kills him, he's just making it so that Kai and Jo will HAVE to merge so one of them can be the leader, since Liv won't have a twin with whom to merge.

"Is that what you people think of me?" Damon asks incredulously, visibly offended by this reaction. "That I just instantly resort to violence? I just have one question. I mean, look-- I get why you don't want to merge with Liv, okay? Because NO ONE wants to see that face with her hair. I get it. But, what makes you think Kai merging with Jo is any smarter? I mean, I heard he killed four of your siblings, and that was WITHOUT magic." Luke looks torn, because this was pretty much his argument from the beginning, but there's still that part of him that doesn't want to risk dying. "Eh, it'll be fine," Damon says with a shrug, as he starts to walk away. "I'm sure when Kai gets all that power, he's just gonna right on out." He's almost out the door when Luke calls out, "Stop!", which, naturally, is exactly what Damon wanted.

It's been a while since we've checked in on Jeremy and Matt and their incredibly dumb plan to kill Enzo, hasn't it? Anyway, Matt is alone inside Tripp's old torture emporium when Enzo strolls on in, and seems disappointed to just see Matt alone with a folder full of files. When he snarks that he thought they were meeting for tea and crumpets, Matt sighs in annoyance and reminds him that he's just giving him information on the girl who claimed to be Stefan's great-great-grand-niece or whatever; he, however, doesn't give a shit about her one way or another and has no interest in finding out. "And why are you helping me?" Enzo asks suspiciously. "I thought you unfriended me when I killed that little con-artist." Matt reminds him that her name was Monique, but Enzo doesn't much care about that-- all he cares about is why Matt is helping him when it's so obvious that he loathes him. "She knew something that Stefan didn't want her to know," Matt replies gruffly. "And, for some screwed-up reason, you're obsessed with knowing Stefan's secrets. Probably because he has everything you'll never have." 

Damn, I forgot that Matt is capable of being SUPER cold when he wants to be, because I'm too busy marveling over the Pudding-Popness of him. Enzo once again demands that Matt answer the question, so Matt gives him the real answer. "Because I want this obsession to take you the hell away from here," Matt replies, before handing Enzo the thick folder full of files and informing him that it's all the information Monique shared with him about her past. When he tells him to take it and get out, Enzo opens the file, only to find that it's full of blank paper, which makes Enzo laugh in amusement. Jeremy suddenly appears behind him with a crossbow and shoots Enzo with it, but he easily catches it in the air. "Think I didn't plan for that?" Enzo asks, but when he turns to face Jeremy, Matt stabs him in the neck. Enzo spins and shoves Matt into the wall behind them, but Jeremy pulls out a stake-shooter and hits Enzo right between the shoulders with it, giving Matt the opportunity to punch Enzo in the head and knock him out. First of all, I can't believe that actually worked (although as we'll find out, it actually DOESN'T). Second of all, Alaric's probably going to be pretty pissed that Jeremy nabbed his crossbow and stake-shooter, don't you think? I mean, Alaric and Enzo aren't exactly the best of friends, but he was pretty much the only person besides Elena, Caroline and Alaric who actually gave a fuck about bringing Damon and Bonnie back, so there's some kind of mutual understanding between them, I imagine.

At Whitmore, Elena has just left Caroline and has stumbled upon Stefan, who is standing out in the hallway outside Liz's room with a coffee cup full of blood. Elena jokes that Caroline could really use that kind of a drink before taking note of the fact that there are a handful of doctors in Liz's room who are checking on her. "Is it just me, or does that look really bad for somebody who just fainted?" Elena asks nervously, and Stefan hesitates for a moment before admitting he saw one of the doctors is from radiology, and she mentioned "glioblastoma." The color completely drains from Elena's face, because she's taken enough pre-med classes and helped take care of enough patients to know that is a very, very, very bad diagnosis-- it is literally the most aggressive form of brain cancer that a human can have-- and she insists it must be a mistake, but Stefan's not so sure. "We brought her in a couple weeks ago after Tripp's guys grabbed her. Doctors ran some tests, and apparently they found something suspicious." Elena is still in denial though, especially considering Caroline would have told them if that was the case, but as Stefan points out, it's likely that Liz hasn't broken the news to her yet.

Overwhelmed, Elena vamps over to a doctor that has just come out of the room and compels him to tell her what's going on with Liz. "Her recent MRI showed a lesion on her brainstem," the doctor says emotionlessly. "We think it's metastasized to her spine." YIKES, YIKES, YIKES, YIKES, YIKES. Glioblastoma is bad enough as it is, since brain cancer isn't like liver cancer, or kidney cancer, where you can surgically remove a piece or one of the organs and still be more or less okay-- you need all of your brain, and surgically removing brain tumors are either risky at best or impossible at worst, depending on the location. Since the brain stem and the spine are both absolutely vital to motor functioning, that's even worse than the original prognosis, which is pretty much what the doctor tells Elena after she asks if they can remove the tumor.

Elena realizes that this means that the Liz's days are most certainly numbered and asks the doctor if Liz knows, but the doctor assures her that she's know since the last time she was here, though she does add that for diagnoses like that, it often takes a while to fully process everything. The doctor then leaves, and Elena looks helplessly at Stefan, who looks as though he's just been punched in the gut. NOOOOOOO! First of all, Liz is the only damn parent left on this show-- literally EVERYONE in the Mystic Falls Gang is an orphan, or, in Matt's case, might as well be-- so this is so, so terrible in so many ways. Plus, Liz may be an awful sheriff, but she's a great character, and the fact that we're losing her to a completely ordinary cause just makes it so much more devastating. It would be one thing if she was killed by a rogue werewolf or some witch hex, but cancer? I mean, who expected that on this show? UGH, I'M CRYING AGAIN, DON'T TALK TO ME.

Back at the cabin, Jeremy and Matt are dragging Enzo's unconscious and no-doubt vervained body across the room to load him into Tripp's vampire paddywagon. Jeremy groans in annoyance as they carry Enzo's body and brings up the fact that it would be a million times easier to just stake him and call it a day, but Matt argues that a staking wouldn't cause him to suffer like he deserves, which totally starts to concern Jeremy a lot. "Wait-- this isn't about making him suffer," Jeremy reminds him carefully. "It's about making sure he doesn't kill anyone else." Matt points out that he totally killed an innocent girl just last week, or whenever "I Alone" happened, and insists that he deserves to suffer, but Jeremy quite rightly tells Matt that he's starting to sound like Tripp. Unfortunately, that maybe wasn't the best example, considering what happened to him-- remember how Tripp died from a slit throat/being turned and thrown over the anti-magic border by Enzo? Yeah, so does Matt.

Jeremy tries to get Matt to calm down by stating that he's just trying to tell him he's being a little intense, but Matt thinks that maybe their problem is that they haven't been intense enough about it. "We've all been looking the other way because we're friends with vampires, but how many people need to die for us to face the fact that vampires also kill people?" Jeremy asks him if this means he's willing to torture and kill Stefan, or Elena, or Caroline, but Matt is over this argument and snaps at Jeremy to just help get Enzo into the van. Still, Jeremy can't help but say one last thing before they drop it-- "Look, I know how you feel-- I was supernaturally programmed to take out my sister, remember? But this whole 'us versus them'-thing is gonna drive you crazy, and it's gonna get you killed." Yeah, Jeremy! He knows better than anyone how badly this can go, because even before he became a supernaturally-strong hunter, he still had a love-hate relationship with vampires. In the end, Matt is just a regular, albeit buff as hell, human, which means in the end, he's still at a disadvantage against vampires, especially older ones with no issue taking out whoever is causing them trouble, so maybe Matt should heed his advice and take it down a notch? Of course, that would mean that someone actually did something smart in this episode, and since the theme seems to be "everyone making dumb, impulsive decisions," it's so not going to happen.

At the cemetery, Liv is kneeling next to Jo and putting pressure on her wound, which Jo takes as some kind of sign that Liv has been roped into helping Kai against her will, so she tells Liv that it will all be okay as soon as Liv finds a way to get rid of Kai so she can free her. That's when Liv just gives it to her straight. "Look, Jo-- you can't run away from this anymore. You've had eighteen years of freedom. Now, take your magic and do this. You owe it to the coven." OUCH! Harsh toke, girl. Jo is shocked by this response and asks her if that's what she really thinks, that she's just shirking her responsibilities, but Liv insists that Luke is all that she has, and that if they merge and he dies, then she might as well be dead, too-- at least with Jo and Kai, no one will care if Kai dies, and if Jo's the one who dies, then it's still whatever, because they were always supposed to be the ones to merge anyway. I totally get where Liv is coming from, here, because can you imagine being in hers and Luke's situation? Dreading the time that you turn twenty-two, because you know you're either going to die or kill your twin and best friend? Not to mention know that your entire purpose, to both your family and your coven from the moment she and Luke were conceived, was to do this stupid twin-merge to figure out who becomes leader. Still, I can't help but feel for Jo, because she hasn't been an actual witch for almost half her life now, so how can she feel like she has a duty to the Gemini Coven when she hasn't belonged to it for nearly two decades?

So, Jo argues that if she and Kai do the twin-merge and Kai wins, then he's going to be more powerful than anyone in the coven, and then they're DEFINITELY not going to be able to take him down, but Liv isn't that convinced that it absolutely has to end that way. "Did it ever occur to you that maybe you're strong enough to beat him? You were twenty-two the last time you went up against him. Since then, you've been a combat medic, you've saved hundreds of lives, and your hospital worships you." Jo is slightly impressed that Liv has been checking up on her, but Liv just reminds her that they're sisters, and that since she's come so far without magic, she can't be the kind of person who backs down when others tell her she's not strong enough. Which, let's be real, is pretty true-- even when Jo was still a witch, she was smart enough to dump her magic into a knife and hide it, not to mention smart enough to trick Kai into thinking she was really planning on merging with him.

Liv starts to hand Jo the knife, which, naturally, is right when Kai returns, having just overheard the conversation. He's not very happy about that, as you can guess, so he grabs Liv from behind and starts siphoning her magic, which causes her to double over in pain. Liv falls to the ground, and Kai, who now is chock full of Liv-juice, starts to cast a pain infliction spell on her, which may just be annoying for vampires, but is actually a big deal for mortal witches. Finally, after Kai mockingly points out how ironic it will be to kill Liv with her own magic, Jo picks up the knife and casts the spell that returns her magic to her.

Meanwhile, outside, Alaric and Damon have just arrived to the cemetery together, where Damon is a little offended that Alaric is still giving him the cold shoulder. He makes a snarky comment about Alaric not talking to him, but Alaric just makes a comment about how Damon needed a ride because he blew his car up, but that doesn't mean they actually need to speak to each other. Hmm, I'm sure that mention of Damon's Camaro isn't foreshadowing at all. Anyway, Damon admits that it was probably wrong of him to compel him to betray his "lady friend," and was a decision stemming from his multiple untreated control issues, and when Alaric just scoffs, Damon comes right out and says "I'm sorry," which I'm pretty sure he's never said to anyone, ever, so Alaric should probably feel pretty special right about now.

They continue to head toward the crypt, where Jo has just finished absorbing the rest of her magic, and Kai leans forward so he can make sure that she's not playing him by sensing the magic within her with his powers. He makes a comment about how predictable it is that she'd cave after he threatened Liv, but Jo just mutters "Fractos," which magically breaks the chains that are binding her and allows her to stand to her feet. Damon whistles from outside, which intrigues Kai enough to go out and check to see who it is, and as soon as Damon sees him, he vamp-speeds toward him and shoves him hard before snarking about the choice of the cemetery as his torturing-grounds. Kai then uses telekinesis to throw Damon backward, and its obvious by the fact that his face starts burning that he's in no-vampires-allowed territory.

"Oh, whoops!" Kai exclaims happily as he points to the line drawn in the dirt between them. "Looks like you found the anti-magic border. Drew a line in the dirt for everyone's convenience. See? Yeah, you're welcome." Oh, Kai, you little shit! I both loathe and love you so much. Just then, Alaric appears behind Kai and puts him in a headlock with one arm while holding a handgun to his temple with the other. "Thank you!" Damon says with a groan as he makes it back into the safe zone. "Kill him." Suddenly, Jo rushes out of the mausoleum and begs Alaric not to kill him, despite Damon's protests to the contrary, because if Kai dies, Liv and Luke will have to do the merge, and she doesn't think that's fair to them. Of course, Damon doesn't care whatsoever and insists that Alaric kill Kai, but Jo once again begs him not to, as she's sure that she can beat him as long as she has some time to get her strength back. This seems to be enough to convince him, because Alaric then just hits Kai in the temple with the butt of his gun and knocks him out instead of blowing his brains out like Damon ordered. Ohhhh, yeah, this is so not going to end well.

At the Lockwood Mansion, Tyler has just found Luke packing up his bags and angrily demands to know why he would tell Damon where Jo and Kai were. Luke's like, "Uh, because my eldest brother is a legit monster and listening to you was a terrible mistake?" but Tyler can't believe he'd be willing to risk Liv's life like that, and claims that argument makes no sense whatsoever. Luke ignores him and heads for the door, and Tyler rushes after him to grab his arm and continue to question him, but fortunately for Luke, he gets to miss out of Tyler's rage issues when Liv strolls in the door and stops him. "Everyone, chill!" she shouts loudly, which breaks up the boys' scuffle. "Jo thinks she can beat Kai." Luke just laughs bitterly and retorts that that is bullshit, because everyone knows Kai's Siphoner power means that he's already stronger on a good day, not to mention the fact that Jo hasn't done magic since she left home. "She'll die, and the first thing Kai's gonna do is kill everyone in our coven as punishment for putting him away," Luke argues. "And then he'll turn on innocent people, because he's crazy and bored and homicidal." Liv maintains that if not wanting to die makes her selfish, so be it, but she'd rather be selfish than a noble, dead martyr who served her duty to the coven. Luke is just so appalled by everyone's behavior that he angrily grabs his bag and heads for the door, but not before reminding Liv that if they don't do the merge, people are going to die, and their blood will be on their hands. YIKES! There is really no good outcome here, really. It's shitty whichever way you slice it.

At Whitmore Medical Center, Stefan is sitting somberly on a bench in the hallway when Elena finds him and asks him if she's okay as she sits next to him. "There's a twenty-two-year-old sociopathic witch running around Mystic Falls right now," Stefan begins, even though Kai is actually, like, forty years old, but whatever, he looks like a teenager, so I'll go with it. "That, we have a plan for," he continues. "We've dealt with every kind of evil there is, and we always have a plan. But this? If Caroline loses her mom, it'll destroy her." PREACH IT TO THE HEAVENS, STEFAN. Elena is just as sad about this as he is, since she's known both Caroline and Liz for her entire life, but Stefan insists that Caroline doesn't deserve this, because she's a good, kind, happy person. "I know," Elena agrees, before she stands up and states that she should probably tell her, because it's only a matter of time before she aggressively compels a doctor like she did, and it's better if she hears it from a friend than a stranger. However, in a surprising turn of events, Stefan stands to his feet and insists that he's the one who should be doing it, and when Elena protests that he doesn't have to, he makes his argument quite clear as to why he does. "Let Damon know," Stefan insists. "I should tell Caroline. I haven't been there for her. Caroline needed me, and I ran away. So, yeah... I have to do it." While I kind of wish he would have put in this kind of effort before Caroline was about to receive traumatic news, I gotta give him points for effort, because that is some excellent character development on his part! Good job, Stefan! I'm proud of you.

We return to the cemetery, where Alaric is walking the exhausted and newly-healed (by Damon's blood) Jo to his car. "I guess we'll just lock up your brother until you two... you know..." Jo just smiles and replies, "Merge our twin powers during the next celestial event?" Alaric grimaces and points out that there's really no sugarcoating that, but Jo says that despite the fact that she's had boyfriends ranging from other doctors, lawyers, and artist-types, they never would have understood her like Alaric does, which makes Alaric smile back at her. He grabs a blanket from his car and wraps it around her before they get to the smoochies. Afterward, Jo tells Alaric to be careful when it comes to Kai and watches as he walks back to the mausoleum.

Meanwhile, Damon has been throwing rocks at Kai, who has been heavily chained to a large headstone nearby, and they have a conversation that is both hilarious and enlightening.
KAI: "So, this whole anti-magic-thing-- is it, like, a dome, or a bubble? Like, say if you were in a 747 flying over Mystic Falls-- would you die? You know, that could be dangerous, like, if you're headed to New York and your pilot reroutes for weather..."
DAMON: [annoyed] "How's this? I kill you, and when you're in Hell, you can ask a bar full of dead Travelers who cast the damn spell."
KAI: [intrigued] "That's a LOT of Travelers. Must be a pretty big spell." [He lowers his voice to a whisper] "Like, a REALLY big spell. So big, it covers every inch of an entire town..."
Good point, Kai! Those damn Travelers were both crafty and powerful when they were Passengering themselves into the bodies of the townsfolk to get around that pesky Traveler's curse. Anyway, Kai touches the ground thoughtfully as Alaric finally approaches Damon and literally asks him what the hell he's doing. Damon snarks back that he's working on his knuckleball as he lobs another rock at Kai, but Alaric angrily reminds him that they're supposed to keep Kai alive. "Can I ask why we continuously compromise logic for some girl you just met?" Damon asks on behalf of the entire TVD fandom, because SERIOUSLY-- I like Jo as much as anyone, but I love Bonnie more, and this is seriously stupid. They've killed stranger vampires, werewolves, witches and humans for much less to protect their own, so what the hell, Alaric? Alaric points out that Damon truly is a dick, but Damon makes his point quite clear. "Bonnie's stuck over there because of him! She's over there, and I'm over here, and I hate myself for it." Aw, Damon! Alaric points out that killing him will do nothing but make Damon feel better for the tiniest amount of time, so he should probably stop acting like this is about anyone but him, but I don't know guys, Damon and Elena are still the only people who seem to give a shit about getting Bonnie back, and I still do not understand why Alaric isn't trying harder. Like, what happened to you while you were on the Other Side, dude? Damon throws a rock hard enough at Alaric's car that it pops a tire, and the two continue being so distracted by their respective squabbling that they don't notice that Kai is LITERALLY SIPHONING THE ANTI-MAGIC BORDER AS THEY SPEAK.

Over in the 1994 prison world, Bonnie has finally finished decorating her tree with lights and garlands galore, and she drags an extension cord toward it so she can finally light it f'reals. "Okay, tree," Bonnie says firmly. "Let's do this." She pulls in the tree, and the lights start to glow, which makes her both satisfied and even more miserable than she was before. POOR BONNIE! Won't anyone think of Bonnie?

She's then transported to a flashback, this time from Christmas 2009, seven months after Elena's parents died and Stefan and Damon moved back to town. The town's citizens are all gathering around the tree, which has just been lit, as Sheriff Liz addresses the crowd. "Now, that's what I call a Christmas tree!" she exclaims proudly. "Isn't that gorgeous? The holidays are all about being with loved ones, and I think that's what makes this tradition so special in our town. It's a reminder that no matter where you turn, you have a friend." God, how depressing is that? Meanwhile, in 2012's Christmas season, Liz is in the hospital with a massive brain tumor while Elena, Caroline, and Stefan sit vigil outside her room; Bonnie is trapped all alone in a massive prison world that is a snapshot of Spring 1994 and is trying to make herself feel less lonely by decorating a Christmas tree and reminiscing of her time with her friends; Damon's putting all his energy into bringing Bonnie back, but has been sidetracked because everyone is now too busy now trying to contain Kai to do anything more for her, and now all of them are completely scattered from each other. Not to mention the vampires still can't even get into Mystic Falls to celebrate the holidays, which is a serious bummer, although that might not be the case for long.

Anyway, in 2009, Bonnie and Elena "aw" at Liz's speech and hug each other just as Caroline comes over, lamenting the fact that they actually let the boys do Secret Santa this year, because apparently Stefan got Caroline, and he got her this Christmas-themed snow globe keychain. Bonnie points out that she loves the bracelet she got, but Caroline has a witty rejoinder for that as well. "Of course you do!" she exclaims in annoyance. "Because I am good at Secret Santa, and I didn't purchase it from a Quick Stop." BAHAHAHA. That is so Caroline it kills me. Elena points out that Caroline is totally missing the true meaning of Christmas, which is that they're all happy, healthy, alive, and together, which is all that really matters, and the three of them wrap their arms around each other in their puffy coats and knit hats. GOD, WHY IS THIS EPISODE SO FUCKING SAD. I had totally forgotten, since I had only seen it once until I started this recap, so it's kind of a doozy for my poor, shriveled heart.

In the present day real-world, Caroline is sitting on a different bench at Whitmore Med Center, clutching the same snow-globe Stefan got her three years ago in her hands, when Stefan comes over to sit next to her. Caroline admits that there's no news yet because they're still running tests, but you know deep inside, Caroline knows something bad is going down, and is just too scared to accept it yet. Stefan looks absolutely devastated to have to give her this news, but he's determined to make good on his promise to be there for Caroline, so he hesitates for a moment before quietly saying, "Caroline... We need to talk."

In Mystic Falls, the wind is raging around the cemetery as Damon tries to call Elena on his phone. She answers from the hospital, but they can't hear each other through the static because the reception is so bad. As it turns out, it's magic-induced bad reception, and the call ends up dropping despite Damon's efforts to get his message through to her. Kai is still siphoning up that seriously insane amount of magical power from the Magic Purification Spell, and the wind gets even more intense around them. Jeremy is nearby at the high school, where he's walking through the crowds gathered for the tree lighting ceremony, and when whoever is in charge instead of Liz plugs in the tree, a ton of the lights explode. Then on the road outside the town border, the radio in the vampire-paddywagon Matt is driving starts to go haywire, so he hits it with his fist and turns up the volume. As expected, the radio is playing Tripp's favorite Hank Williams. I wouldn't have pegged Matt for a fan, but maybe he's just too lazy to mess around with all Tripp's presets or something. In the back of the van, Enzo finally wakes up to the sound of the music, so he calls out, "Fancy something else?" through the little partition window. "I always figured I'd bow out to the Everly Brothers or..." LOL, ENZO, YOU LITTLE SHIT. He is awfully zen for a vampire who thinks he's about to die, though. Matt just shuts the slider and keeps driving, because he is a stone-cold vampire killer now. Or at least, he's trying to be.

Back at the cemetery, Damon realizes that Kai has stopped talking, which is BAD NEWS, because Kai, much like myself, NEVER stops talking. He walks over to the tombstone where Kai is chained up, but can't see from his vantage point that the chains binding Kai are literally melting from the sheer amount of magic Kai absorbed. Damon asks Alaric what the hell happened to his chains, but when Alaric realizes he's chanting incantations for spells, they're all hit by the realization that something unspeakably bad is going down.

Meanwhile, Matt has just crossed over the border into Mystic Falls, and since the sunroof is open in the back, Enzo starts to burn in the sun and does his best to get out of the view of its rays. However, a few moments later, when Matt parks and goes back to check on Enzo, he finds him lying still on the floor. He makes the huge mistake of trying to turn him over, which causes a now-completely-unaffected Enzo to leap to his feet and grab Matt by the throat. "It's a Christmas miracle!" Enzo declares happily, and the sheer terror in Matt's eyes is basically screaming, "SHIT, I FUCKED UP. I FUCKED UP." Oh, Matty Blue, when are you going to learn?

We return to the cemetery again, where Kai is just now getting to his feet, and Damon realizes what he's just done. "You little magic-sucker!" Damon says with a groan. "Sucked up all that magic from the Traveler spell!" Kai does a little demonstration by levitating the very-human Alaric into the air, before stating, "A LOT of magic" and throwing Alaric against one of the trees. He bounces off of it and lands on his stomach with a very bad-sounding crunch. Damon rushes toward Kai and shoves him against the tree, but Kai just shoves Damon backward, and when he finally gets his bearings, he rears back to punch Kai in the face, only for Kai to completely vanish using one of those Parker-special cloaking spells. "Gah!" Damon screams in frustration. "I really, really hate that move!" Damon hears Alaric groan and rushes over to him, holding out his hand to help him up. Alaric's clearly still salty about earlier, and resists for a moment, but Damon won't let up. "Ric! Hey, come on. Take my damn hand, Ric! Come on!" Alaric finally takes Damon's hand and stands gingerly to his feet, but after a moment, he looks at Damon in shock. "How are you not dead?" Alaric asks incredulously, as he points to the line Kai drew in the dirt-- they're both standing on the anti-magic-force-field side, and Damon is still fit as a fiddle, which means THE SPELL IS GONE FOR GOOD, YAYYYY! At least one good thing happened in this episode!

Across town, Enzo is sitting on the outer edge of the back of the van, while a very scared and exhausted Matt sits inside. "If we've learned anything from today, it's that we should kill our enemies with haste," Enzo hilariously quips, but Matt's not in the mood of Enzo's particularly sassy brand of humor and asks him what he's waiting for before inviting him to kill him. "I said 'enemies,'" Enzo retorts. "Don't flatter yourself." When Matt asks him what the fuck he wants, Enzo admits that Matt was right, and that he is jealous of Stefan. "He has what I want-- respect, family, girls he doesn't deserve. He throws it all away, and yet, still somehow manages to come out winning." Uh-oh, this does not sound good for poor Stefan, who is actually trying to make up for his mistakes at the moment. Besides, Enzo could easily have respect, family, and girls he does deserve if he'd just play nice with the Mystic Falls Gang, but that's not his style. Also, I know I've said this before, but his never-ending and hilariously obsessive crush on Caroline is so amazing to me, too. It's like Klaus all over again! Anyway, Enzo gets to the point-- "You are going to help me deplete every ounce of happiness from his life. And, when there's nothing left, I'll decide if you get to live." He stands to his feet and grabs the handle to the door before adding, "Oh! And happy holidays," before he closes the doors, trapping Matt in the back of Tripp's van. I TOLD YOU, PUDDING POP-- THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA.

The next scene cuts back and forth between Whitmore Medical Center and the Salvatore boarding house, so hold on tight! Elena is still at the hospital, where she's on the phone with Damon, who just arrived on the doorstep of the Salvatore house and seems thrilled to be able to come back to his own home, despite all the shit that happened that day. Elena can't believe that they can all come back to Mystic Falls now, but Damon insists it's true. "Ahhh," he coos. "Just walked through the front door... Which I should probably start locking now that Kai's supercharged and on the prowl." Will that even work? I mean, there has to be some kind of TVD-witchy-equivalent to the Harry Potter "alohomora" spell, right? Just saying, with all that juice, I'm pretty sure he can figure it out. Eh, knowing Kai, he'll probably just burn the house down, or at least blow the door off the hinges.

Anyway, Elena is glad for this tiny bit of good news, considering all the bad news they've all collectively received in the last twenty-four hours, so Damon, intrigued, tells her he's listening to let her know she is welcome to vent to him. "So, look..." Elena begins nervously. "I don't know what we were, or are, or what we're supposed to be, but all I know is that today was pretty horrible, and I just... I want to see you. I have something I need to tell you." YESSS! Even without her memories, Elena's body knows just how she feels about Damon, and knows that this is what their relationship used to be like, even if she can't remember it. Damon is thrilled by this confession, and tells her to come over with the promise that he'll cook her dinner so that they can talk about their crappy days together. It sucks that Elena has to break the news to Damon about Liz, since Damon and Liz have been good friends since the beginning, but at least they can comfort each other about it.

Elsewhere in the hospital, Stefan has just informed Caroline of what he and Elena have learned about Liz's condition, but predictably, Caroline responds with abject denial. She insists that if Liz were really that sick, she would have told her, but Stefan reminds her that he and Elena were worried, so she compelled the doctor for information. "Okay," Caroline replies, as she goes into Caroline-planning-mode. "So, my mom has a brain tumor. Then we'll just give her vampire blood" Stefan gives her this super-sympathetic look and carefully points out that if vampire blood was a cure for cancer, they probably would have heard about it by now. I still to this day don't know how I feel about this, guys. Like, on the one hand, of course there has to be SOMETHING that vampire blood can't fix, and its clear that they're killing Liz off as part of Caroline's character development, and also because her actress, Marguerite MacIntyre, is a writer for The Originals now (and has written pretty much all of my favorite episodes), so she's probably just trying to focus on writing now. But the whole, "but vampire blood can't cure cancer even though we've seen it heal all matter of wounds, chronic injuries, and serious illnesses like ebola and rabies and flesh-eating viruses"-thing just seems a little too arbitrary for me, you know? Maybe it they had established it earlier, it would seem less pat, I don't know.

Anyway, so Caroline is clearly unhappy to hear this, so she just plows on and asks when they're planning on operating, so Stefan sighs and informs her that they can't operate, since it's in her brain stem and her spine, both of which are in areas that are too vital to be messed with surgically, since best case scenario, they only get some of the tumor and Liz's quality of life will plummet due to loss of brain function or even possible paralysis. Caroline is quickly becoming overwhelmed with shock and fear and anger that she insists that if they can't operate, they can at least give her chemo, but that's likely a no-go, too, because the cancer seems to be metastasizing so quickly that the doctors don't think it'll work-- again, it'll likely just do nothing but maybe give her a little more time and kill her quality of life. I feel like Liz would most likely prefer to just keep moving as long as she's able than spend the rest of her time either dependent on others because of surgery or feeling completely miserable from the side-effects of chemotherapy. "Well, then they're wrong," Caroline insists, as tears fill her eyes. "Because they don't now her. They don't know how strong she is. I mean, she's gonna get through this, Stefan. Right?" When Stefan doesn't have an answer for her, just a very sad and sympathetic expression on his face, Caroline starts to break down in sobs, and Stefan wraps her arms around her and lets her cry herself out, just like Caroline did for him at the end of "Home." (Which I still haven't recapped yet because I'm slow-moving trash, but it's still happening! Promise)

This scene cuts back and forth between real-life Mystic Falls High School and 1994-prison-world Mystic Falls High School, which just about makes me want to bawl my eyes out. It's dark now, and Bonnie is staring at the lit Christmas tree she set up, while Jeremy stands all alone in front of the real-life tree in the exact same place and stares at it sadly before quietly saying, "We miss you, Bonnie." In the prison world, Bonnie whispers, "I miss you guys," just as Jeremy walks away from the large, colorful, real-world tree. Bonnie is so upset that she's there all alone that she sets her tree on fire before she walks away, leaving the tree to burn up in the high school's parking lot as she returns to the boarding house.

Meanwhile, at Whitmore Medical Center, Caroline has finally been allowed to go in Liz's room, and she stands at Liz's bedside with tears in her eyes as she looks down at her mother, who is fast asleep in her bed. She takes Liz's hands in her own and puts the snow-globe Stefan gave her years ago into her hands as a sort-of good-health talisman.

(via dailyforbes)
In Mystic Falls, Damon is in the kitchen of the boarding house when he suddenly hears the very-familiar rumble of a car engine pulling into the driveway. "That's not possible," Damon murmurs to himself before rushing out the front door to find Stefan parking Damon's newly-restored blue Camaro in the car park. "What?" Damon exclaims incredulously as he takes in the sight of his baby. "This was gone! I blew this up!" Stefan just walks over to him and smiles before replying. "Yeah? Well, you weren't around to annoy me for the last four months, so I had a bit of extra time on my hands." Damon laughs gleefully as he takes in the car, and Stefan tells him to consider it an early Christmas/late-"Welcome Back To Life" present as he hands Damon the keys. Damon takes them and pulls Stefan into the tightest brotherly hug ever before continuing to laugh happily and thanking him for doing this.

(via teenwlof)
"Hey, just, uh, do me a favor?" Stefan replies. "Don't die again. Those fenders were a real bitch to find." BAHAHAHAHA. Oh, gods, this scene is just so damn heartwarming. "Deal!" Damon crows, as the two walk back inside. Damon points out that they're finally home and asks Stefan if he plans on sticking around, which we all know is a resounding YES. "Well, that depends," Stefan says in response. "Might have to kill Jeremy if I find out that he slept in my bed." YESSS! Now that the vampires have returned to Mystic Falls, I'm going to need more Jeremy/Salvatore brother interactions, please and thank you! Also, I'm pretty sure Jeremy did more than sleep in Stefan's bed, if you know what I mean-- Shady Sarah was living there for quite a while, and Jeremy was all grief-horny.

Anyway, so Stefan gives Damon one last smile before he heads upstairs to his room, just as Elena arrives on their doorstep. She spots some mistletoe hanging from the top of the door frame and can't help but giggle as she knocks on the door. After a moment, Damon walks over and opens the door, and Elena immediately remarks on the mistletoe. "Clever!" she adds, but Damon just frowns and looks around. "Hello? Anybody there?" he asks in confusion, but when Elena replies, "Damon, what are you doing?", Damon doesn't seem to be able to hear her OR see her. She frowns as well and asks him if he's going to let her in or what, but Damon just shuts the door in her face, which confuses and upsets Elena even more. "Ummmmmm," Elena mutters to herself in embarrassment as she tries to figure out just what the fuck is going on, which, naturally, is when Kai reveals himself to her. "I may have put a cloaking spell on you," he admits with a grin, and when Elena turns at the sound of his voice, he adds, "How genius is that?" before rearing his arm backward and slamming her across the face with a tire iron, knocking her out and causing her to collapse onto the ground in front of him. NOOOOOO! DO NOT TOUCH MY CUPCAKE PRINCESS, YOU ASS! Sigh. Elena can't catch a break, either.

Next episode: Kai uses Elena as target practice while he gets reacquainted with witchcraft, since he's never possessed so much magic before and is rusty when it comes to actually using magic in the first place. Damon enlists Liv, Jo, Alaric and Jeremy to help him take down Kai and save Elena, while Caroline looks into more options for her mother.

-Here's this episode's music, for your convenience!

"Blue Christmas" Dustin Kensrue
--- Jo calls Alaric to inform him that she'll have to miss dinner because of work, and Kai attacks her in the ER.

"25 Days of Christmastime" by Caroline Brooks
--- Bonnie drags a Christmas tree across the parking lot of MFHS in the prison world and has a flashback to Christmas 2007 with Elena and Caroline.

"This Good Night Is Still Everywhere" by Dustin Kensrue
--- Damon, who has fallen asleep on Alaric's reference books, wakes up in Scull Bar to find Elena staring at him before Elena receives a phone call from Alaric about Jo.

"Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Charlotte Sometimes
--- Bonnie continues decorating her Christmas tree in the prison world and flashes back to 2007 again, where Elena invites Bonnie to spend Christmas with her.

"My Bucket's Got A Hole In It" by Hank Williams
--- Enzo wakes up in the back of Tripp's van and complains about the music to Matt before they run into hazardous winds caused by Kai absorbing the anti-magic spell.

"Home For The Holiday" by Sugar & The Hi-Lows
--- Bonnie turns on the lights on her Christmas tree and flashes back to 2009, when Caroline complained about the boys being bad Secret Santa gift-givers and the three girls hug each other happily.

"Winter Song" by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson
--- Damon talks to Elena on the phone and informs her that the anti-magic border is gone for good; Stefan informs Caroline about her mom's condition, Bonnie and Jeremy stand in front of their respective trees before Bonnie burns hers; Stefan surprises Damon with his restored car.


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