A NOT SO HAPPY BIRTHDAY — On the morning of Elena’s 18th birthday, Caroline is busy planning a party, but Elena is focused on searching for any clues that might help her discover where Stefan is. Damon is also searching for Stefan, while trying to protect Elena and keep her from doing anything that would draw Klaus’ attention. Meanwhile, Stefan and Klaus are busy trailing a werewolf named Ray Sutton. Now working at the Mystic Grill along with Matt, Jeremy is struggling to understand why he keeps seeing the ghosts of Vicki and Anna since he was brought back to life by Bonnie’s magic. Meanwhile, Alaric does his best to watch over Elena and Jeremy while dealing with his grief over Jenna’s death. Finally, Caroline and Tyler face a new and unexpected challenge.
In Tennessee, an attractive young blonde is calling for her dog in her front yard. Klaus shows up using a Southern accent to claim that his car broke down down the road and asks if he may use the phone. The woman is understandably suspicious, but Klaus compels her to invite him in. The two meet her housemate and he asks for information about a "Ray Sutton." They claim he doesn't live there, but Klaus suggests that he must visit once a month — suggesting Ray is a werewolf. The blonde's housemate tries to run, but she is stopped at the door by Stefan. The girls give up Ray's location, but Klaus tells Stefan to kill the blonde quickly and make the runner suffer, before walking out of the house.
Stefan obliges, making Klaus smile at the screams as he walks away from the house. Back in Mystic Falls, we find out that Jeremy's working at the Mystic Grill now and it's also clear that some time has passed since the last season — Caroline calls Elena to chat about her 18th birthday party and it seems that Sheriff Forbes is helping them look for Stefan as she's passing on information about an animal attack in Memphis. We also discover that Alaric's been sleeping on Elena's couch for a while. Over at the Salvatore house, Damon's drinking champagne in a bubble bath, Andie's hanging around too.
Damon hears Elena arrive and gets out of the bathtub. Of course Elena is not too pleased to see Damon and throws him a towel (after he drawls: "You should learn to knock. What if I was indecent?") Elena passes on the news about Memphis, but Damon is dismissive, claiming it's just a dead end. He also bans Elena from checking it out, pointing out that Klaus still thinks she's dead. However, when Elena's gone we find out that Damon is looking for Stefan after all and what's more, he's using Andie's news skills to help out. She thinks she can help with Memphis and promises to get him an address. At the Mystic Grill, we find out that Bonnie's away with Family, but is staying in touch with Jeremy on the phone. But he hangs up when the lights start flickering, and then Vicki and Anna appear and disappear.
Matt arrives in a bad mood to ask Jeremy to switch sections. He doesn't feel like waiting on Caroline and Tyler. Caroline also suggests that Tyler's mom kept eying her up when she was over. Over in Tennessee, Klaus and Stefan arrive at a bar to find Ray. Ray is suspicious and soon figures out that he's in the company of vampires (though Klaus takes great pleasure in announcing that he's a hybrid). Stefan's compelled everyone in the bar so Ray is all alone — and refusing to give up the location of his pack. Still, that doesn't bother Stefan, who menacingly suggests that they're going to play a drinking game — "truth or wolfsbane". Then Klaus grins that "this is going to be fun", the only problem is that Alaric and Damon are on their trail.
They arrive at the house from the beginning of the episode and Damon can get inside without being invited which is ominous. Sure enough, they find blood all over the walls and the two girls dead and sitting up. Damon knows it was Stefan — it's his signature to pass out from drinking so much blood, wake up feeling remorseful, and then put the bodies back together again. To prove his point, he gives one of the girls a bit of a kick on her leg and her head falls off. Damon wants to keep the vampire existence a secret, so he decides to burn the house down — but not before Alaric spots a trapdoor and discovers an underground room with chains and realizes werewolves have been around.
Back in the bar, Ray's being tortured, he's chained up and Stefan's throwing wolfsbane soaked darts at him. He's still refusing to give up details of his pack. Fortunately for Ray, he gets a slight reprieve when Klaus gets word that Damon has been sniffing around. Stefan promises to go and deal with it - and vows to return to Klaus. Over in Mystic Falls, Elena's annoyed with Damon for not looking for Stefan. Tyler is unhelpful by suggesting that Damon doesn't want to find Stefan because he has feelings for Elena, but Elena deals with it rather well. When she's gone, Tyler reveals that he's bringing a date to Elena's party — "Slutty Sophie", according to Caroline. Caroline's naturally a bit hurt by this, but she pretends that she's cool, they both admit that they are very "horny" because of their supernatural states.
Later, when it's time for the party, Damon goes to see Elena - and returns her necklace as a birthday gift. Elena is thrilled. They go downstairs to join the gathering, only to discover that it's a full-blown rave ruining Elena's idea of a quiet night. Matt and Jeremy are already smoking weed together. Jeremy reveals that he has been seeing things, but doesn't quite tell Matt that his dead sister is one of those things. Meanwhile, Elena is not too happy to discover that Jeremy's getting high and tells Alaric to deal with it. And Caroline thinks Matt's "hatred" of her has driven him to drugs. Elsewhere, Andie's still at work - the last person in the studio.
In an unnerving sequence, someone shines one of the big studio lights right at Andie. She moves out of its beam, but it follows her and then it turns off. In the dark, Andie runs for the Exit, but she trips and the light snaps back on again revealing someone standing in front of it. She turns and Stefan's there. Andie's actually a little relieved and admonishes Stefan for being gone for so long. But Stefan shows his vampire face. Later, Damon gets a message that Andie wants him to pick her up, so he heads over to the studio.
He meets Stefan, who tells him to stop causing problems. Damon, of course, claims that he doesn't care about Klaus, but Stefan tells him again to let him go. Damon warns that if Stefan carries on they will be no saving him, but Stefan says he doesn't need that - though Damon points out that Elena thinks differently. Stefan at this point shows just how far he has fallen. He calls out to Andie, who is up high on a beam in the studio roof. Terrified, she sobs that Stefan has compelled her and she can't move. Damon tells Stefan that it's "not cool", but Stefan chillingly replies: "Oh, come on. It's a little bit cool." And then he tells Andie that she can move, she falls and breaks her neck. Back at the party, Caroline is downing alcohol at an alarming rate as she watches Tyler dance with Sophie.
Matt appears, but it soon descends into a row and Tyler comes over to check everything's ok. Sophie compliments Caroline on the Party and she compels Sophie to go home. Later, a furious Caroline lifts up a party goer who's in her way and dumps him at the side. It's not long before Elena finds Caroline hiding out in Damon's room. Elena admits she's not really feeling up for cake, but Caroline tells her she has to make a wish and get on with her life. Elena doesn't take too kindly to this - she doesn't want to give up on finding Stefan - but Caroline points out that her life is passing her by. Elena announces that her only wish is to know that Stefan is alive. She's soon distracted though, when she spots Damon's cupboard full of maps and newspaper cuttings. When Damon gets back, she accuses him of making her feel like an idiot for having hope. Damon tells her that they were both idiots. He announces that the victims they were both trying to track were not Klaus', but Stefan's. Elena refuses to believe it, but Damon confirms that Stefan has flipped a switch and is back to being a full-blown ripper. He tells Elena that Stefan's gone and is not coming back in her lifetime.
He leaves, meanwhile, Jeremy offers to give a drunk and high Matt a ride home, but he suddenly sees Vicki in the car, asking him for help. He says: "Vicki", which confuses Matt. Jeremy tries to shake it off and turns on the headlights, but Anna is standing right there. Eventually, he decides it would be best to walk. When they get back, Matt asks Jeremy why he said Vicki's name - and realizes that earlier Jeremy had been seeing things. Jeremy admits that he keeps seeing Vicki, but Matt shrugs it off, saying that he always sees Vicki because he misses her so much. Stefan returns to Klaus, who has extracted the wolf pack information from Ray. Klaus announces that he now has to go through a three-stage process. First, he feeds Ray his blood and then he swiftly breaks his neck. Klaus says he knew Stefan would come back and Stefan, for his part, claims that he doesn't care about anything anymore. Interestingly, Klaus accuses him of putting on a "good show". He says Stefan will never stop caring about his family, but the blood makes it easier to let go. Back in Mystic Falls, Damon's on a rampage, smashing up his room in anger and sadness.
Meanwhile, Elena returns home and finds Alaric moving out. It seems that spending the evening at a party where a lot of underage kids were drinking and doing drugs made Alaric realize he's not a great role model and Elena would be better off looking after herself. Elena goes to get ready for bed just as Stefan leaves the bar in Tennessee, looking a bit sick. He calls Elena, but when she picks up he remains silent. Elena realizes who is on the phone. She tells him he will be alright and tells him to hold on to the fact that she loves him. Stefan nods and begins to cry.
Back at the party, Tyler and Caroline argue about Tyler bringing a date. Tyler says he won't date anyone else if Caroline just tells him not to. Happily, Caroline makes it easy by giving him a kiss. They rush out of the party and are soon kissing again. The two go back to Tyler's house and have sex. The episode ends with Caroline sneaking out.
Unfortunately, she doesn't get past Carol Lockwood. When Caroline touches her purse, her hand suddenly burns. And then Carol shoots her with what appears to be vervain until she passes out on the floor.
- Antagonists: Klaus Mikaelson and Stefan Salvatore.
- This is the first episode since Miss Mystic Falls to feature Stefan as an antagonist.
- This is the first episode of the first chapter of Season Three, The Ghosts Chapter.
- There is a time jump from As I Lay Dying to this episode, with two months having passed, as confirmed by Damon in the episode.
- Jeremy has started working at the Mystic Grill over the summer.
- Stefan hasn't been seen by any of the Mystic Falls residents since As I Lay Dying.
- A photograph of Jenna and Alaric can be seen in the Gilbert House.
- Andie dies in this episode due to Stefan's compulsion, which causes her to purposely jump off of a scaffolding at the news station as a message to Damon to stop following him.
- This episode has many similarities with the episode, Pilot:
- Stefan stalks Andie before killing her, as Damon did with Elena in the pilot (although he didn't kill her).
- After Matt wishes Elena a happy birthday and ignores Caroline. She says "He hates me," which is the same thing Elena said to Bonnie in the pilot about Matt. She also said that their breakup led him to using drugs, which is slightly similar to why Jeremy started doing drugs, as a way to deal with Vicki's death.
- After finally seeing Stefan after two months, he greets Damon with "Hello, brother." Damon said this to Stefan in the pilot episode.
- Caroline and Tyler make love for the first time in this episode.
- At the end of the episode, Carol Lockwood coats Caroline's bag with vervain as a test to see if she's a vampire. When it burns Caroline's hands when she picks it up, Carol shoots her with vervain darts to incapacitate her.
- This episode marks Klaus' first attempt to create a hybrid. However, this attempt is unsuccessful, although the reason as to why is not confirmed until The End of the Affair-- he needs to feed the reawakened hybrids the blood of the human Petrova doppelgänger to complete their transition.
- This is the second episode to celebrate a birthday, the first being 162 Candles (Stefan's birthday.)
- This is the first episode that Elena's birthday is celebrated.
- Since this is Elena's 18th birthday, she is now the sole, legal owner of the Gilbert Building until Jeremy turns 18.
- This is the first season premiere to feature Klaus.
- This episode wasn't on Elena's actual birthday, June 22.
- It's revealed in Yellow Ledbetter, the second episode of Season Six that it was at this party that Elena finally knew she was in love with Damon; specifically, when he returned the necklace Stefan gave to her as a birthday gift, which showed her that he had the capacity to be selfless.
- Mystic Falls, Virginia
- First episode in which Sara Canning is not credited. This is the first season premiere to not feature Jenna.
- This is the first season premiere to feature Alaric, Anna, and Klaus. It is the only season premiere thus far that both Alaric and Anna were in.
- In Behind the Scenes photos for this episode, Stefan's appearance in clothing is similar to that of Damon in the start of Season One as that he is wearing all black clothing.
- There have been talks that the episode would be named "Bloody," but Zap2It revealed on August 11, 2011 that the episode would be called The Birthday.
- Jeremy hasn't told anyone about seeing Anna and Vicki yet, except for Matt, but Matt didn't take him seriously, saying that he often thinks he sees Vicki (his sister), too.
- From this episode until Graduation, Joseph Morgan (Klaus) is a series regular.
- This is also the first appearance of Klaus as a series regular (not counting his first three appearances were he was portrayed by Matthew Davis).
- This is the second season premiere to feature Carol. The first was Season Two's The Return.
- This is the second season premiere to feature Vicki. The first was the series premiere episode.
- This is the last episode of the series to be written by Kevin Williamson until the final season.
- Jenna is seen through a photograph with Alaric. It was first seen in As I Lay Dying. She was last seen in The Sun Also Rises when Klaus staked her.
- Andie Star was last seen in Klaus.
- Klaus, Carol, Vicki and Anna were all last seen in As I Lay Dying.
- This is the second season premiere in a row to feature Caroline in a cliffhanger. The first was The Return when Katherine smothers her with a pillow before becoming a vampire.
Behind the Scenes
- This episode was watched by 3.10 million viewers in the USA.
- Alaric: Hey Elena... Happy Birthday.
- Damon: Morning.
- Elena: Hey, I was gonna— (She looks up and sees Damon wet from a bath and wearing nothing but a towel as she turns around) OH!
- Damon: Hey, you should learn to knock, what if I was... indecent?
- Damon: Stefan, for sure.
- Alaric: How do you know?
- Damon: It's his signature. It's the reason they call him "the Ripper." Feeds so hard he blacks out and rips them apart. But then, when he's done, he feels remorse. That's the damn thing... he put the bodies back together.
- Alaric: (horrified) Back together?
- Damon: Definitely Stefan.
- Caroline: (to Tyler, when Elena's out of sight) Just because I tell you things doesn't mean you're allowed to know them!
- Stefan: My brother still on our trail?
- Klaus: He's getting closer, I'm gonna have to deal with that.
- Stefan: No, no no. Let me handle that.
- Klaus: Why should I let you leave?
- Stefan: Cause you know I'll come back.
- Klaus: Do I?
- Stefan: You saved my brother's life, I'm at you're service.
- Klaus: Aah, you make it all sound so tedious. Aren't you even having the least bit of fun?
- Stefan: I'll make sure that my brother doesn't bother us any more.
- Caroline: (about Matt) He hates me. His hatred of me has driven him to drugs!
- Elena: He doesn't hate you, he hates that he's not with you.
- Damon: Well, hold the fort down, will ya?
- Alaric: You mean the fort full of my drunken history students?
- Damon: Drink more, you'll feel less weird.
- Elena: I think I'm gonna pass on the whole cake-thing.
- Caroline: What? No, no way, no! It's your birthday! You know it's the dawn of a new day, and you can't get on with your life until you have made a wish and blown out the candles.
- Elena: Is that what you all want me to do? Just get on with my life?
- Elena: (to Caroline) I'm not going to give up on finding Stefan.
- Elena: (to Caroline about Stefan) You want me to make a wish? I just wanna know that he's alive. That's it! That's my wish.
- Damon: Stefan.
- Stefan: Hello, Brother.
- Damon: You don't write, you don't call.
- Stefan: I need you to stop following me. It's causing some... problems.
- Damon: With who? Klaus? I'm supposed to care what he thinks?
- Stefan: What you're supposed to do is let me go.
- Damon: I saw your latest artwork in Tennessee. You're walking a fine line there, my friend. Keep that up and there will be no saving you.
- Stefan: See, the thing is, I don't need any saving. I just want you to let me go.
- Stefan: (to Damon) Let. Me. Go.
- Elena: We're supposed to be in this together. Why didn't you tell me that you've been tracking Klaus' victims?
- Damon: Because they're not Klaus' victims, Elena, they're Stefan's.
- Elena: What?
- Damon: He's left a trail of body parts up and down the eastern seaboard.
- Klaus: (to Stefan) You never stop caring about family, do you? But every time you feed, the blood makes it easier to let go.
- Elena: (on the phone) Stefan, if this is you, you'll be okay. I love you, Stefan. Hold on to that. Never let that go.