Did I ever pick the wrong episode to start recapping. First off: Damon doesn’t take his shirt off. Not once. There are no lingering glances between him and Elena (this is solely caused by the fact that they have no scenes together) and almost no one makes out with anyone else. Show, what are you trying to do to me?
BEYOND THIS POINT THERE ARE SPOILERS.
Anyway. We open on Damon chained to a chair, his magic sun-resistant Ugly Ring on the floor, his chest skewered by a hot poker. Yet his shirt, it remains on. “Hurts, doesn’t it?” Dead Mason Lockwood smirks. Damon, who cannot hear him, is all Stefan, really? This is how you get your kicks now that Klaus did all that brain mojo and left you here to watch me make googly eyes at your ex-girlfriend, as was just exhaustively explained in the previouslies?
Stefan, of course, is lurking lurkily in the doorway, much as Damon of old used to lurk (though Damon always did so somewhat more shirtlessly). “I didn’t do this,” he says, trying not to giggle. “Pretty messed up, though.” He disempokers Damon and then wanders off to let his brother deal with the chains. Dead Mason Lockwood takes this opportunity to fling open the draperies, leaving Damon to scream and roast.
Open on…paper lanterns. OH LOOK, it’s another Founder’s Thing. GOD, does anyone in Mystic Falls do ANYTHING OTHER THAN FOUNDER’S THINGS? Mayor Lockwood makes sounds with her mouth that appear to suggest that my answer is no. Also, I think she’s on drugs. No one grins that much.
Jeremy and Alaric exposit for a while until Elena shows up, along with Dead Undead Anna, who no one can see but Jeremy. Some historian no one has ever heard of but who everyone suddenly knows all about starts in on what must be the most well-attended daytime history lecture anywhere ever, talking about – what else? – 1864, and the town’s “newfound prosperity” after the war. Anna quips that said prosperity resulted from the town stealing from the vampires, and Jeremy snorts. Elena whips around, all “What’s so funny?” because that’s totally what you do when someone standing near you snorts quietly during a boring speech. Jeremy redirects his sister’s attention to Boring History Dude Who Totally Isn’t Going To Die Anytime Soon, and holds hands with his invisible dead friend.
Over in the pep squad corner, Caroline and Bonnie do more exposition to explain that, even though Vicki got sent back to the other side, Anna is still free to come and go. The rules, they aren’t rules so much as suggestions, amirite? Apparently it’s all Jeremy’s fault. If he would just stop thinking about the vampire girl he was in love with who died horribly and practically in his arms, they could all just move on, you know? Because that is totally the right way to deal with loss: just stop thinking about it ever and you will be absolutely fine.
Damon pulls up in his convertible, seeming rather chill for someone who was just tortured by a ghost. Then again, pretty average day by Damon standards, so I’ll let that go. Also, I appreciate the fact that he keeps the crazy eyes to a minimum and relies mainly on smirking to convey his emotions. It’s good to have range, you know?
Damon lets Bonnie and Caroline know that all is not right with the spirit world, seeing as Dead Mason Lockwood reenacted his own death scene using Damon as a Ken doll. “Let’s just say I’m having deja vu,” he says, and the girls look momentarily queasy. Then Caroline is all “I thought ghosts couldn’t physically interact with people,” and Bonnie is all “They can’t,” and Damon is all whatevs, my style is being cramped by dead werewolves and it is resulting in my naked torso having less screen time than usual so this is clearly unacceptable. “When I kill someone, they’re supposed to stay dead,” he says. I love how Somerhalder makes this sound merely somewhat aggravating, like the cable guy missed another appointment. “Whatever you screwed up, fix it.” He drives off, shirt sadly in place.
Elena has decided that since her little brother talks to dead people, he should totally conjure up Stefan’s dead best friend Lexi, who, according to Stefan’s old journals, was the only one who could ever talk him down from his murderous rampages. Wasn’t Elena all opposed to reading Stefan’s journals, like, two episodes ago? And also, aren’t Stefan’s murderous rampages multiplying like bunnies here? Seriously, he’s beginning to sound less like the lost-his-way-then-saw-the-light dude we’ve come to know and…know, and more like a schizophrenic who periodically remembers to take his meds.
Jeremy is somewhat skeptical of Elena’s plan, saying he doesn’t know if it works that way on the other side. Elena and Alaric (who is presumably hanging out with them because the bar hasn’t opened yet) get Jeremy to explain the incredibly depressing version of an afterlife that involves being able to watch everyone going on with their lives but not being able to touch or interact in any way with anyone. SIGN ME UP FOR THAT. Alaric points out that Vicki blew up his car, and Jeremy reminds him that Vickie had a dead witch helping her out. Alaric gets all snotty, saying “Maybe we’ve learned our lesson about summoning dead people,” and everyone glares at him. Note to Alaric: if you’re trying for the father figure thing, appearing openly hungover while you mock your wards’ various emotional baggage is probably not the best way to go about it.
Moody Matt is busy assuring Bonnie and Caroline that he hasn’t seen the ghost of his dead sister since he sent her back to the other side. I feel bad for poor Matt. Matt has been circling the drain ever since he broke up with Caroline, and frankly it’s rather depressing. I appreciate that he’s been given a relatively realistic storyline, but it just makes things like Bonnie being all “But you’re the only one of us who can live a normal life!” worthy of the eye roll to end all eye rolls. Yes, his life is normal, if by normal you mean he’s all alone at seventeen after his mother bailed and his sister died. Dude’s going to be working at dead-end jobs his whole life just to get by and you’re all EMBRACE IT, IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL TO BE NORRRRRMAL. Screw you, Bonnie, it SUCKS.
I digress. Anyway, they grill Matt for a while because Bonnie doesn’t like to admit that Damon is ever right about anything. Thanks, Bonnie. Maybe you could, I don’t know, kick him a little bit too. Matt finally slumps away after brokenly insisting that if his sister were still around, he’d know. And he doesn’t. So she’s not. I AM FEELING UPLIFTED, SHOW. PLEASE CONTINUE IN THIS VEIN.
Bonnie’s grimoire magically flips open to a manifestation spell, designed to make ghosts real. Thanks, Deus Ex Machina! I was worried they’d torture Matt some more.
Back at the cafe table of great earnestness, Elena is still trying to get Jeremy to conjure Lexi, Jeremy is still claiming he has no freaking clue how to do that because, hi, not an undead phone line, and Alaric is still trying desperately to assert some sort of adult authority. Good times. Anna (who decided to join the party to play some dead undead footsie with her not-boyfriend) says she doesn’t think all the supernatural dead are just hanging out watching people. OH THANK GOD. She says “I think some of them find peace.”
“Is Anna here right now?” Elena asks, correctly interpreting her brother’s goofy expression. Before he can answer, Anna says “Don’t tell her I’m here. She won’t like it.” Oh won’t she? Come on, Anna, if anyone would understand hanging on to the ghost of a dead relationship OH SORRY AM I READING TOO MUCH INTO THIS? Jeremy scampers off and hey speaking of dead things, Evil Stefan plops down into the newly vacated chair.
He grabs his old journal from Elena, flips through it. “Wow. All these words. I forgot how much I used to care.”
“I didn’t,” says Elena. Hey, Elena, remember a couple of episodes ago when Stefan said you were pathetic? I think this is what he was talking about. This, right here. You can thank me later.
Alaric makes another feeble effort at adulthood, which Stefan parries by suggesting he’ll snack on townsfolk later. They all have a good laugh about that and then Elena stakes Stefan with an old eyeliner pencil and they all live happily ever – what? Sorry, I was daydreaming. This is what happens when Damon is out of the scene for too long.
Bonnie brings Caroline to Dead Witch Central for some reason. Caroline has the heebs, but Bonnie assures her that the witches have all – left? What? I thought they were tied to that location on account of how they were all HORRIBLY BURNED TO DEATH THERE. Whatevs.
Jeremy takes Dead Undead Anna into the bathroom with him, ostensibly to question her. Show of hands: who is surprised that they start making out? NO ONE. NO ONE IS SURPRISED BY THIS. The girl playing Anna is wearing an awesome ring, by the way. I wish I’d been able to screencap it.
Dead Witch Central. Bonnie starts doing the creepy chanting thing and Caroline just stands there wringing her hands and looking adorable. Don’t worry, sweetie, you’ll get the opportunity to do something other than be Bonnie’s sidekick soon. I HOPE.
Oh hey look the bar’s open. Know how I know? Alaric has finally dragged himself upright and is making his way toward it with the determination of a moth headed to a flame. He’s joined by the town’s other resident alcoholic, Damon. Damon smiles charmingly. Alaric scowls. It’s one of their off periods. Will they make up in time for prom?
“We’re not a team,” Alaric hisses. “You tried to kill me. I don’t like you anymore.”
“Ah,” Damon says. “But remember back when you liked me and we conspired to kill Uncle Werewolf, Mason Lockwood?”
“Yeah, and?” Oh, Alaric. Don’t ever change.
“I think he’s still a little pissed.” Aaaand…crazy eyes.
Cut to the witch house, where wind is blowing and voices are whispering and Caroline is querulous. A pair of hands grips Bonnie’s and the disturbances suddenly cease. “Oh my god,” Caroline breathes. “Is that your -?”
“Grams,” Bonnie finishes. Yay, Jasmine Guy! Also apparently the spell worked. But yay, Jasmine Guy!
Elena walks in one Jeremy kissing his invisible dead undead girlfriend, only she isn’t invisible anymore, and also he is supposed to be dating Bonnie. AWKWARD.
Stefan walks down the street and sees the reflection of someone in a car window. He starts to walk past, stops. Turns. “Lexi?”
At the bar, Damon is about to take a drink when Mason Lockwood grabs the glass out of his hand, downs it, and then smashes the empty glass in Damon’s face. Rude. Damon turns to Alaric. “Told you.”
Over on memory lane, Lexi skips right over the pleasantries and tells Stefan it’s time for an intervention. “I don’t want your help,” he snarls.
Lexi is unfazed. “You know you say that every time.”
“Well maybe you should listen.”
Lexi shrugs. “Or, maybe I should do this.” She smashes his head into the window of a parked car. Stefan goes down. I love Lexi. Can Lexi stay around for a while?
Bonnie and Grams are getting down to business as well. Grams knows stuff, and explains about how the door to the afterlife got propped open by an evil dead witch. Not literally. That would be gross. Grams conveniently handwaves the Why (“That’s Original Vampire business, not yours. I don’t want you getting in the middle of that.”). Um, yeah, about that? But whatever, Grams seems to think her granddaughter has an iota of self-preservation, and continues: “You’ve upset the balance of nature, and it’s your duty to set it right.” She explains that they need to destroy the witch’s talisman, Elena’s necklace. Good thing Rebekah isn’t in this episode for NO REASON AT ALL; she’d probably throw a hissy fit about that.
Caroline relays this info to Elena over the phone, and Elena relays the fact that her brother had his tongue down the throat of a dead girl. Damon has the necklace, so Elena tells Caroline to text him and then yells at Jeremy a lot. Jeremy begs Elena not to tell Bonnie, and Elena tells him she’s going to let him tell Bonnie right after she helps her send the ghosts away. Burn! Oh no wait. Also, does Elena actually think that Caroline isn’t going to blab to Bonnie, like, instantly?
Elena and her self-righteousness sweep out of the bathroom and run right into Lexi. “Looks like today was a good day to be thinking of me, Elena.” Lexi leads Elena off to Stefan detox. Elena’s scruples stay behind. (It’s okay. They’re used to it.)
At the bar, Mason Lockwood, Damon and Alaric continue to drink. What? Damon decides to cut to the chase: “You want revenge.” Mason: “Actually, I want an apology.” Alaric laughs bitterly. “Good luck with that.” Oh, Alaric.
But it turns out Mason Lockwood is actually being all nice and helpful, or at least he would be, if Damon would just apologize. Apparently while he was hanging around being dead and stuff he managed to figure out that there is a weapon that can kill Klaus. That sure is convenient. Aren’t we all glad Damon killed Mason?
Damon manages what is almost certainly the lamest non-apology in the history of non-apologies: “You’re right. I didn’t have to kill you. I do a lot of things I don’t have to do.”
You just – really? Really? And Mason Lockwood must be seriously desperate because, after a moment of stunned disbelief, he laughs and says “That’s good enough.” It’s not – it’s not ANYTHING. Mason Lockwood is an idiot. Alaric just looks on, weeping a little into his drink, remembering the days when Damon saved the non-apologies for him and him alone.
Oh look, Lexi and Elena have chained Stefan to a chair. That’s nice of them. Lexi does some vamp mojo that makes Stefan hallucinate that he’s been without blood for years to “starve away the blood lust.” I am confused by this. Won’t starving just make him want blood more? Also, how is this significantly different for what Caroline’s evil daddy tried to do a couple of episodes ago with his vampire aversion therapy? We agree that was bad, yes? But apparently it’s okay for Lexi to torture Stefan into not wanting blood, because OH HEY LOOK OVER THERE I THINK I SAW ELVIS.
Mason Lockwood and Damon are going exploring, apparently. Poor Alaric will be heartbroken. First they have to bust through a brick wall, which leads to tunnels. This is a fascinating interlude. Perhaps the tunnels are very warm, and Damon will feel compelled to remove his shirt. No?
Back in the torture chamber, Stefan is screaming about how he is starving. Elena looks only a tiny bit horrified and is relieved to take a phone break when Caroline calls to tell her they can’t find the necklace. Since she’s Elena, she finds nothing wrong with being all “You know how I said you had to send the ghosts back when my brother was macking on one? Yeah, totally changed my mind because it’s convenient for me. You understand, right?” Caroline is all “Um, NO,” but they can’t find the necklace anyway, so the point is somewhat moot. Bonnie overhears Caroline saying something about choosing between boyfriend ghosts drama, and Caroline spills about Jeremy and Anna. Because that is exactly what Elena wanted, wasn’t it? To not have to be the one to tell Bonnie? Elena is a lousy friend.
Jeremy is wandering around the Founder’s Thing looking for Anna and walks right into Frederick. You remember him, he was one of the more obnoxious of the 26 crypt vamps. Mayor Lockwood announces that since she can’t find Boring History Dude Who Totally Isn’t Going To Die Anytime Soon, Alaric will be handling the lighting ceremony. No one cares, but there is applause. It must be gratifying to be a historian in Mystic Falls.
Frederick and his gang (he has a gang, apparently) start menacing Anna just as Jeremy finds her. They point out that it’s a Founder’s Thing, and they have some unfinished business with the founding families. Cue screaming, as Alaric lights the lights (actually, what he says is “Let’s light ’em up,” which seems somewhat inappropriate) and the body of Boring History Dude Who Totally Isn’t Going To Die Anytime Soon is revealed, strung out with the lanterns. Alaric wishes desperately that he hadn’t let himself be convinced to leave the bar.
Torture chamber. Stefan begs Elena to help him. He swears he’ll change, that he loves her. In the background, Lexi tells Elena that it’s an act. He’ll do anything right now. She has to separate herself from her emotions. GOSH THAT SOUNDS FAMILIAR. Elena tells Stefan she doesn’t believe him, and he snarls that he wishes he’d never met her.
Lexi: “That’s the Ripper talking. Once he’s weak enough you have to cause him pain. Make him feel things. Anger, rage, anything.” Lexi, this is terrible advice. Then Lexi stakes him in the shoulder. Okay. I still like her. “Think of it as a regimen,” she says. “Day in, day out. Like running a treadmill. Like making coffee. Until he’s ready to be saved.” Um. I’m back to thinking this is terrible advice again. Also, if this was the way to fix Stefan, wouldn’t Damon be better at it than Elena? Although I guess since Damon killed Lexi it might be a little awkward for them to bond right now.
Elena flees, because she isn’t a crazy person who gets off on torture porn. Outside, she follows the lights and sirens to the park, where they are wheeling away the body of Boring History Dude Who Totally Isn’t Going To Die Anytime Soon Oh Never Mind.
Caroline and Bonnie are still ineffectually searching Damon’s room for the necklace when Jeremy calls to mention that hey, evil vengeful vampires are also back from the dead, so maybe hurrying with the banishing could be a thing? Caroline and Bonnie realize that maybe the necklace was stolen. They suggest that perhaps Jeremy’s new ghost girlfriend may have taken it. Anna denies. Jeremy believes. Hanging up occurs. Anna disappears, and Elena wanders up wanting to know what happened. Don’t we all, sweetheart. I thought I’d have Shirtless Somerhalder in this episode.
Word to the wise: don’t go exploring in Mystic Falls. Mason and Damon snipe at each other while they explore the tunnels. Mason says he doesn’t know which way to go, then suggests they go left. Damon, naturally, turns right. “You have trust issues, anyone ever tell you that?” Damon takes another step forward and gets skewered by several vervane-coated wooden spears that come out of the walls. I bet that means they’re going the right way!
Back in the Death Park, Elena is grilling Jeremy about Anna. He says he loves her. Elena tells him fervently that he can’t waste his life being in love with a ghost. “It’s not real. She’s dead. Gone. Everything you’re holding on to is in the past.” Nothing gets past Elena, I tell you. It’s the reason she has such a healthy emotional life.
Anna appears. She holds up the necklace. Aaw.
Damon contorts adorably until Mason Lockwood breaks the spears and pulls them out. Damon takes this opportunity to remind Mason that he killed him a lot. Possibly not the best time to bring that up, Damon. Mason mentions how horrible it is being dead. Worst. Buddy Show. Ever. But it turns out Mason is in this to help out his nephew, Tyler: “I don’t need revenge, Damon. I need redemption.”
Bonnie and Caroline are on their way back to the Witch House when they see Mayor Lockwood’s crashed car being approached by angry dead vampires. Caroline tells Bonnie to let her out of the car: “You have your ghost boyfriend drama, and Elena has hers, and right now the mother of mine is about to be ghost bait.” I will say this about Caroline: she never misses the opportunity to ingratiate herself to her boyfriends’ mothers. It’s heartwarming, really.
Anna and Jeremy have a moment, during which Anna reveals that she took the necklace so she could find her mother. OH MY GOD ANNA SHUT UP ABOUT YOUR MOTHER. I like Anna, I do. But SHUT UP.
Lexi and Stefan continue to snipe at each other. Elena tells them they’re out of time, that they’ve found the necklace and are closing the door. Lexi seizes on the concept of the necklace: “You said when you made it through that that necklace represented hope.” I fail to see the point in this. At no point has Stefan said he can’t remember having felt things. He just doesn’t feel things anymore.
Tunnel Buddies. Damon comes to an opening (dirty!) that he can’t get through: “It’s like I’m not invited in!” Mason goes on ahead. “It looks like you’ll have to trust me.” I am so bored of the tunnels.
Jeremy gives the necklace to Bonnie, who glares the glare of a woman wronged by a ghost and throws it in the fire. She clasps hands with Grams and the two of them chant.
Mayor Lockwood regains consciousness and sees Caroline kicking serious ass. Just as one of the vamps grabs her by the throat, they all disappear.
In the tunnels, Damon asks Mason what he found, but just as he’s about to answer, he disappears and his lantern falls to the ground. Even the Crazy Eyes cannot bring him back.
Lexi acts like she can sense that her time is ending, looking around like maybe she will be taken away by bats. “He’s still in there, Elena,” she says. I take it back, Lexi. You are not rad anymore.
“It’s okay, Lexi, I know what to do now,” Elena says. “You can be free.” Oh shut up, Elena. Lexi goes poof.
In the street outside Death Park, Anna sees her mother. WHY SHE IS HAPPY ABOUT THIS, I WILL NEVER KNOW. They run toward each other and embrace. They both disappear.
Grams says to Bonnie “You were stronger than all of this. I’m so proud of you.” Poof.
We go back to the tunnels. “It’s about time,” Damon snarks.
“Didn’t you have anyone else to call?” Alaric snaps back.
“No, actually, I don’t.” He says it’s because he needs a non-vampire to get in the cave, but we all know what he really means. “And other than Elena, you’re pretty much the only one I can trust.”
Alaric mentions that he has a crappy way of showing it, what with the trying to kill him and all. “I was your friend, Damon. You shouldn’t have done it in the first place.”
“Well,” Damon says, “sometimes, I do things I don’t have to do.”
“You gonna recycle that same crap-assed apology you gave Mason Lockwood?”
“Yeah, well. I didn’t mean it with him.” This is accompanied by this grin:
Elena and Stefan have a moment, if you can call it that. Elena tells Stefan she hasn’t given up. But she tells him he has to have hope and find his way back to her, because she isn’t going to spend her whole life loving a ghost. OH HEY I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.
Witch House. Jeremy tries to talk to Bonnie but she shuts him down. “You know what you owe me? The respect of not making me listen to you explain yourself.” Occasionally, Bonnie is awesome. Jeremy slinks away.
Suddenly, sparks erupt from the fireplace. Bonnie approaches, and sees the necklace, back again and in one piece. Uh oh.
In the tunnels, Alaric says “I found something.”
Yeah, I don’t know either.