Hooray, it’s the return of the vampires! Let us all celebrate with the dance of Endus Hiatus. When last we left our heroes, I finished my recap with the rhetorical question, “How many times must a man fall dead, before they call him a man?” I guess my question should have been, “How many times must a man fall dead, before they call him a crazy man?” It looks like Alaric is about to find out.
But first, we begin the week with a flashback to Mystic Falls, 1912. Robert F. Scott thought he was the first man to reach the South Pole, the White Star Line thought it had a ship the water wouldn’t go through, and Mystic Falls tought it taw a puddy tat – I mean, discovered it had a serial killer. A Salvatore is seen leaving the Town Hall, discussing the recent murder of a council member with the then-sheriff Forbes. On his way home, the unfortunate Salvatore becomes the killer’s next victim, but the murderer remains unseen.
Flash forward one hundred years, and the present-day Mayor Lockwood is grilling the present-day Sheriff Forbes about a suspect she has in custody. The Mayor wants to know who the suspect is, but Sheriff Forbes remains mum until she has more evidence. Cut to Alaric waking up in a jail cell. But wait! Didn’t we see Ric getting shot at the end of last episode by Dr. Meredith Fell? Why is he the one in jail?
It appears Dr. Fell is setting Ric up to take the fall. (Fell? Fall? Get it? I saw what you did there, writers.) Her story is that she shot Ric in self-defense, after he came at her with a knife. Oh, and that attempt on Ric’s life a few weeks back? Where he was nearly stabbed to death with his own knife, and Elena had to kill him in order to save him? Self-inflicted wounds. Sheriff Forbes doesn’t know what to think. “I’ve got nothing except murder weapons from your stash, and a respected member of a founding family pointing a very long finger.”
Somehow, even though the Mayor is not allowed to be involved at this stage of the investigation, Damon is at the jailhouse listening to the Sheriff lay out the case against his bestest buddy. I presume either Alaric or Liz called him? It’s so awesome how everyone thinks of Damon as Alaric’s next-of-kin. They might as well just get married and make it official. Ric insists that Meredith is setting him up, but the Sheriff has no proof. Damon says he’ll get some, but Liz tells him to stay out of it. “Don’t make me put you in that cell with him.” HEEEEEEEEE.
Next, we see Elena and Matt out for a morning run. “Elena, you can’t outrun your problems,” Matt quips. “Although it looks like you’re going to try.” He then says he talked to Bonnie, and that her mom is going to complete the transition to vampirism. Caroline is going to help her through it. Elena, naturally, feels guilty. Matt tells her not to, but she replies, “Damon turned her mom into a vampire to save my life. It’s absolutely my fault.”
Just then Elena’s phone rings. It’s Sheriff Forbes. Elena rushes to the Town Hall, where she runs into Damon. He says Ric is fine, and the Sheriff wants Damon to stay out of it.
Elena: But you’re not going to?
Damon: Seems just as good a plan as any.
Elena: Your friend’s in jail for murder. You have to do something.
Damon: I guess I could rip out Dr. False Accusation’s throat? Maybe her tongue. You know, I could chew her up into little tiny pieces and feed her to the squirrels.
Damon then makes a HILARIOUS chipmunk face, but Elena is not amused. Damon continues: “I saved your life last night. You’re welcome.” Elena chastises him for not showing compassion about Bonnie. Damon snarks back, “You’re right. She and her mom must be really hurting right now. Should I send lasagna?”
Elena: Now you’re just being mean.
Damon: I’m mean, you hate me. The earth is back on its axis.
Yes, it is! I’m sure there are Delena fans who hate to watch Damon being an ass, but I am not one of them. DAMON/SNARK 4EVA.
Back at the Salvatore mansion, we see Stefan being tortured by blood withdrawal, which is leading to a bad case of writer’s block. He’s trying to write in his diary, but instead he keeps tapping his ring against the desk and spinning his pen through his fingers. (Oh, Stefan, I share your pain. And so do the writers of the show, probably, which I bet is how they came up with this scene.)
Damon walks in on this tableau and rolls his eyes. “Dear Diary,” he quips. “A chipmunk asked me my name today. I told him it was Joe. That lie will haunt me forever.” AHAHAHAHAHA. Chipmunk continuity for the win! Damon then heads for Stefan’s stack of old diaries and starts digging up clues. He tosses Stefan his diary from 1912, and Stefan begins to read.
Flashback to one Zachariah Salvatore’s funeral. Stefan is there, and meets up with two lovely young ladies of the town: Mary Ann Lockwood and Samantha Gilbert. He tells them that Zachariah was his uncle. Samantha tells Stefan that his “uncle” was murdered, and warns him to be careful: “It’s not a good time to be a founder in this town.”
We then get THE RETURN OF THE CROW! Stefan turns and sees the crow standing on a nearby tombstone. And we all know the crow can only mean one thing: Damon is near, for he controls the crows! Sure enough, he appears, looking very stiff and uptight in his funeral suit and bowler hat. “Have you been eating the relatives again?” he asks Stefan. LOL.
Stefan looks pleased to see his brother, apparently for the first time in 50 years. Damon, however, is still angry that Stefan forced him to complete the transition into vampirism – condemning him to an empty, eternal existence without his beloved Katherine, doomed to walk the earth alone as a stuck-up tight ass with no sense of fun. Oh, Damon, no wonder Katherine dumped you. We also learn that Stefan has overcome his blood addiction – the first of many rides on this little red wagon. Damon turns to leave, but Stefan invites him for a drink, saying, “I’ve missed you, brother.”
Flash back to the present, and Damon invites Stefan out to get drunk. He wants them to solve a murder together.
At Mystic Grill, they spy Rebekah meeting with Mayor Lockwood. “She-devil, 9 o’clock,” Damon quips. Rebekah tells the mayor that she’s researching the history of Mystic Falls. She’s looking for a particular tree and can’t find any records of it. Unbeknownst to the mayor, Rebekah is seeking the white oak tree that could kill all the Originals. Naturally she keeps this information to herself, but I have to wonder why the mayor wouldn’t be curious about Rebekah’s sudden interest in ancient botany. At any rate, the mayor says the tree probably got cut down – big old trees built half the town in the 1900s. Back then, all the logging mills belonged to the Salvatore family, so Rebekah decides to hang out with our boys.
Over at the jail, the Sheriff continues to grill Alaric. Turns out he doesn’t have an alibi for the time when the medical examiner was murdered. Dr. Brian Walters was killed between 1 and 3 AM, after Alaric left the party. Ric says he must have been home asleep, but he doesn’t quite remember.
Damon and Stefan take a seat at the bar, where Stefan starts up his relentless ring-tapping. Damon tells him to knock it off, and says, “Quitting blood cold-turkey after a ripper binge might not be the best approach. Every time you play that all-or-nothing game, you eventually leave a trail of bodies. So I’m thinking, now’s a good time to pay our old friend moderation a visit.” Just then Rebekah sidles up to them and starts asking questions about the town’s history. Damon says she doesn’t have to disguise her true motives: “If you want more sex, just ask for it.” Oh, Damon. You and your ego are so much more fun this way.
Rebekah asks if they ever solved the 1912 murders, but Damon says no, the town council wrote it off as vampires. But it couldn’t have been, because he and Stefan were the only vampires circulating at the time. Stefan says that’s not quite true: “Remember Sage?” Damon gets a wistful look on his face and says, “Speaking of great sex…”
Cut to Damon and Stefan in 1912, sharing copious amounts of alcohol. They wander toward a tent, which contains a boxing ring, where a red-headed woman who resembles Sigourney Weaver is beating the snot out of a big brute of a guy. She knocks him flat on his face, then circles the ring. “One hundred dollars to any man who can beat me,” she announces. Damon is immediately smitten. Sage approaches him and says he looks like a gambling man, but Damon says, no. “That’s too bad,” she replies, and tucks a $100 bill into his trousers.
Meanwhile, Elena is doing some stalking of Dr. Fell. She meets up with Meredith in the hospital parking lot and defends Alaric. Dr. Fell says she knows things about Ric’s past – before Elena met him, he was arrested for fighting repeatedly, and Isobel filed two restraining orders against him before they were married. “You date vampires, Elena,” Dr. Fell says. “It shouldn’t come as any shock to you that your guardian is a murderer.” OUCH.
Elena and Matt then decide to break into Meredith’s apartment to dig up clues. She’s a Fell, a founding family, which means she has a hidden space somewhere in her home. Sure enough, there’s a false wall at the back of the closet, which hides a box of records on all the murder victims – Brian Walters, Bill Forbes, and Alaric. It also includes an old journal, belonging to one Samantha Gilbert.
Matt discovers a document from the county coroner’s office admitting that they got Brian Walters’ time of death wrong. Just then, they hear footsteps in the hall. Matt and Elena gather up their stolen evidence and hide in the closet just as Meredith walks in. They wait until they hear her leave, then open the closet door – and WHOOPS! She’s standing right there. BUSTED.
Elena and Matt end up at the Sheriff’s office, where she chews them out for interfering with an investigation. She says she knows about the letter from the coroner’s office, correcting the time of death in the Brian Walters case. Meredith brought it to the sheriff’s office a few hours ago, full of apologies for accusing an innocent man. Alaric will be released as soon as the letter is authenticated.
At the bar, the conversation turns to Stefan’s on-the-wagon-ness. Damon grabs Stefan’s 1912 diary and begins reading aloud: “Dear Diary, Damon has lost his way. Though I have pulled my own life together, he continues to waste his.” Rebekah then snatches the book from Damon and reads dramatically, “His bitterness consumes him. He is nothing but blackness and bile.” I LOVE EVERYONE IN THIS BAR. I could watch these three make fun of each other in every episode.
Damon confesses that he wasn’t any fun back then, either. He was miserable because Katherine was stuck in a tomb (or so he thought at the time). Sage came upon him feeding methodically on a town damsel, and tsk tsked at him. “A woman isn’t just for food, she’s for pleasure,” is her Sage advice. Damon replies that he’s spoken for, but Sage says, “We are all spoken for, in some way. But what is being a vampire if not relishing in the pleasure of it?” She leads him back to the boxing ring, ready to show him how to relish.
Sage instructs Damon to seek out the women who button themselves up. “Those are the women who secretly crave seduction. They’ll put up a good fight, but the game is in winning them over. Making them beg for it.” Wow, vampirism is just like a Victorian romance novel! Who knew? She then tells him to go after the lovely and demure Samantha Gilbert.
Rebekah, listening to this story in the present, replies, “That sounds like Sage, alright.” Damon asks how they knew each other, and Rebekah tells them that Sage was obsessed with her brother, Finn. “What? Creepy suicidal guy?” Damon is shocked and we are amused. He then tells Stefan to stop that infernal ring-tapping, and gets him to admit that he’s ready to eat the entire waitstaff.
Stefan storms out into the street, and Damon and Rebekah follow. Damon, wanting to teach Stefan a lesson, spots a pretty blonde, compels her not to scream and then bites her. Stefan smells the blood and shoves Damon off the woman. She falls into Rebekah’s arms.
“You’re not going to survive this cold-turkey thing,” Damon tells Stefan. “You never do.” He tells Stefan to feed, or else he’ll let Rebekah kill the victim. “Why are you doing this?” Stefan growls. “You know what blood does to me.” Damon replies, “You let it control you. You always have. I’m just here to help you learn how to fight it.”
Rebekah, getting bored, makes to kill the victim, but Stefan shoves her away. He eyes the blood running down the woman’s neck, and eventually, he bites. Rebekah leaves, but not before calling Damon an ass. (Heeee.) Damon and Stefan tussle briefly over their victim, but Damon eventually wins. He bites his wrist and feeds the woman his blood to heal her.
Just then, Elena and Matt round the corner. “What are you doing?” Elena asks, and Stefan turns to face her, his mouth and chin literally dripping in blood. Matt leads Elena away, and Stefan stalks off, ashamed and angry.
At Elena’s house, she and Matt have a poignant and insightful conversation:
Matt: I just don’t get it. Your thing with them.
Elena: I know it doesn’t make sense. But at the beginning, after my parents died, there was something about being with Stefan that just – felt safe.
Matt: Safe? Elena, he’s a vampire.
Elena: I know. Believe me, just saying it out loud, it sounds crazy. But, it’s like I knew that he would never stop loving me. Like he would never…
Elena: Die. Like he would never die.
All of which makes total sense, given Elena’s history. Matt seems to understand, but then asks, “And Damon?” Elena admits that Damon “sort of snuck up on me. He got under my skin, and no matter what I do, I can’t shake him.” Matt replies, “Once you fall in love with someone, I don’t know if you can ever shake them.” Elena finally realizes that maybe this is tough on him, but Matt says it’s okay.
Matt produces Samantha Gilbert’s journal, which he snuck out of Meredith’s apartment. The Sheriff and her deputy were too busy questioning everyone else to notice that he had it. “Sometimes it pays to be the only normal one in a town of vampires,” Matt says. “You’re practically invisible.” Aw, poor Mattie.
At the Salvatore mansion, Stefan stares into the fire and broods. Damon comes home with the happy news that Ric is in the clear. Then he says, “I know it may not seem like it, but you did really well tonight. Before you know it, you’re going to be the king of moderation.” He says Elena will understand. Stefan replies that it doesn’t matter what Elena thinks, but Damon’s not buying it. “No more no-humanity Stefan. There’s a road called recovery, and we are on it.” (How much do I love that Damon wants them to take this journey together?) Stefan says he doesn’t need Damon’s help, but Damon’s not buying that either. He reminds him of the last time he convinced Stefan to drink human blood:
1912. Damon convinces Stefan to drink from the lovely Mary Ann Lockwood. After a few deep gulps, Damon tries to pull Stefan off her, but Stefan shoves him away and keeps drinking, and drinking. He feeds so hard and so long that he chews right through her neck. Horror-stricken, Stefan lets her body drop to the ground and watches her head roll away. Stefan falls to his knees, cups Mary Ann’s bodyless face in his hands and apologizes repeatedly. “What did you do to me?” he asks Damon. Then he runs into the woods, terrified. Thus begins Stefan’s career as the Ripper.
Damon: I let you walk away. I watched you go over the edge, and I didn’t do anything to stop you.
Stefan: You couldn’t have.
Damon: Sure, I could have. I just didn’t want to. But I want to now. Whenever you go too far, I will be there to pull you back. Every second, every day. Until you don’t need me.
Oh, Stefan. Do you even have to ask? Damon says it’s because Stefan is all he’s got, but we all know that it’s BECAUSE DAMON LOVES HIM. The show’s executive producer, Julie Plec, said at Paleyfest recently that the Salvatore brothers are the real epic love story here. We’ve already seen that from Stefan’s side, in the way he’s repeatedly sacrificed himself to save Damon’s life. I think Damon is overjoyed to finally be in a position to return the favor.
Alaric arrives back home, and Elena gives him a big hug. Ric knows about what Elena did for him today, and he doesn’t want her getting in trouble because of him. “I’m the one who’s supposed to look after you, even if I suck at it.” Awwww, daddy!Ric! How I love him so. Elena says they can agree to take care of each other.
Stefan decides to help with the investigation into the mysterious serial killer, and goes digging into the family archives. He discovers that Samantha Gilbert confessed to the murders 10 years after the fact. Damon says that’s weird, because he’s pretty sure he killed her in 1912. Stefan deduces that she must have had a magic protecto-ring, like the ones belonging to Jeremy… and Alaric.
Meredith Fell shows up at the Gilbert house. Alaric tries to keep her out, but she says she forged the coroner’s letter in order to clear his name – to take the heat off him. “I would know if I were killing people,” Alaric says. “Would you?” Meredith asks. “Have you had any blackouts? Instances of lost time?” She thinks Alaric might be going insane: “You wear a ring that lets you cheat death. How many times can you die before it changes you?”
Just then Elena comes downstairs and says that Meredith might be right. She’s been reading Samantha Gilbert’s diary and discovered that Samantha experienced all the same symptoms – blackouts, loss of time. Flashback to the 1912 Salvatore murder, and we see Samantha’s hand holding the knife – wearing the ring that would eventually become Alaric’s.
A little-known fact is that Norman Bates wore the same ring for a brief period during the early 1960s. Next week our guest director will be Alfred Hitchcock.
SHIRTLESS SOMERHALDER SIGHTINGS: None this week. Instead we get lots of brute shirtless men in a boxing ring with Sage. They’d look more attractive if they weren’t all bleeding out of their ears.
QUIPPITY QUIP: “I know we don’t actually ‘hang out.’ We team up. We join forces. We activate our Wonder Twin powers.”