|“|| Bonnie: So you did all that just to make sure I would have my magic?||”|
— Bonnie and Kai in Prison World
TROUBLE AT THE SWIMMING HOLE — In an attempt to bring some fun back into their lives, Elena persuades Caroline to meet her at the swimming hole where she plans to introduce her to Liam. Tyler, still working on controlling his anger issues, asks Liv for a favor and is surprised when she makes an unexpected confession. Stefan arrives back in Mystic Falls looking for Enzo and is caught off guard when he notices a strange change in Elena. Meanwhile, at the lake, Enzo’s actions cause Matt to make a startling revelation, and Jeremy makes a discovery about the anti-magic spell that could potentially put Elena’s life in danger. Elsewhere, Damon and Bonnie stumble upon clues that lead them to believe they’re not alone.
|We live in a world where Caroline has now acknowledged that she "had" feelings for Stefan—a world that Damon and Bonnie could possibly return to now that she has her magic back. This episode has the Vampire Diaries pace of season 1: boom, boom, boom. Here we go.
Stefan shows up at his sanctuary/garage wearing a badass crewneck and tells his dick boss that he's a vampire who was trying to live a normal life until his friends showed up yesterday and killed his girlfriend. He compels his boss to take his car, bury Ivy (who's in the trunk) in the woods, and forget everything—except that he's going to give Stefan a raise when he returns from killing Enzo. It's not as good as Silas at the bus stop, but it's one of the show's better in-episode recaps.
At Whitmore, Caroline can't get out of memory-swiped Elena's dorm room fast enough, but she agrees to come to the swimming hole party that afternoon so the gang can all be together. Caroline is right when she phones Matt to tell him that Elena is not herself—and it's not just because Alaric has made her forget Damon was ever anything but a soulless homicidal maniac. The Elena who hasn't been tortured by her love for two Salvatore Brothers is one who likes Jell-O shots and calls Liam, the hot guy who also volunteers at the hospital, "Cute Brag." (Groan.) Be careful what you wish for everyone: Sullen new vampire Elena is almost preferable to this.
While Matt falls for Tripp's "red mulch" story when he catches him and young Jay hosing Tripp's van of death down, Sarah is busy raving about Salvatore Mansion's "dirty" four-head shower. Get in line, lady. We're reminded she's looking for her dad and learn that her dead mother lived in Mystic Falls for years before she had her. Jeremy drinks bourbon, as one does in that house, and is otherwise worthless. More fun, however: Tyler asks Liv if he can grab kegs from the bar she works at for the party, and Luke knows that Liv is only being a bitch to Tyler because she likes him. Luke approves, of course: Partly because Tyler is working on his anger issues, but mostly because Tyler's hot.
Stefan meets Elena at Whitmore and is all smiles, but Damon and Bonnie are all scowls as they do grocery shopping. Won't you be a bit sad when these two have to join the others? Seeing them argue over who'll push the cart and whether Bonnie "sleep crosswords"—all while Ace of Base's "The Sign" is playing—is pure comedy. Bonnie knows Damon doesn't want to have hope and risk disappointment. He still refuses to believe they aren't alone even when she notices both a lack of pork rinds in the grocery store and the tiny carousel outside running. (If that's the sound of hope, none of us want it.)
Elena and Stefan find an empty classroom and catch up. She's totally cool with him having a new job and a new girlfriend. She invites him to the swimming hole, and he decides to come when she says he can help convince Caroline that Enzo is not best friend replacement material. Caroline and Enzo are now close enough to eat off the same plate but still have very different ideas of what's on the menu (RIP, Shirley).
On the drive to the swimming hole, Elena and Stefan talk up Caroline to Liam, who naturally thinks Elena and Stefan are a couple. We get our timeline straight when Elena says it's been two years since they broke up. Damon and Bonnie establish that it's only 2012 in the show timeline as they argue about how his car suddenly appeared 18 years in the past in the grocery store parking lot. Now Damon has hope. He's going to tell Elena he loves her when they get out—and apologize for killing Bonnie (callback joke!). They see someone move. Correction: Something—it was only a tarp. Also, the carousel is on a timer. Damon feels like a fool, but clearly he hasn't lost all hope because he won't let Bonnie take his day ring when she suggests he just end it all if he really thinks he's in his own private hell. While Damon visits the liquor aisle to sulk, he hears someone eating pork rinds. Hello, Kai.
The swimming hole is super popular. Elena wants to brag about the flip she does off the rope into the water, but all she really has to do is walk around in that bikini. She looks so amazing, you hardly notice Jeremy is shirtless when she interrupts him making out with Sarah. While Elena and Jeremy fight over his recklessness, Matt's new friend Jay acts like a total douchebag with Tyler. It's clear Jay doesn't believe in simple "animal attacks." Tyler and Matt meet up with Elena and Caroline long enough to not do Jell-O shots with them. Again, Caroline finds it difficult to be around clueless Elena. Later, Elena apologizes to Liam for Caroline being surprisingly antisocial. He doesn't mind though, because as we read on his face immediately, he's into Elena. He kisses her, and she seems to like the attention.
Stefan finds Enzo, who was on an ice run for Caroline, in the woods. Before Stefan can kill him, Enzo saves Stefan from Jay—who was about to fire a stake gun at him from behind. Enzo texts Caroline about their problem, and fortunately she gets there in time to stand between the boys when Stefan thinks about using the gun on Enzo. Things we learn about Kai: He misses Baywatch (and sorry, Damon totally watched it). He's been following Damon and Bonnie everywhere and counting how many times Damon's temper has driven her away (13). You think he's scared of Damon (who admits he actually likes Bonnie—ah!), but nope. He tells Damon to grab a drink and then says, "If you really want to know the reason I'm following you, it's because I want to kill you." At first, I thought Damon was just doing a spit-take. But Kai had been following him to learn his habits: He'd put vervain in the bourbon. Brilliant.
Kai uses wood from the grocery store-quality patio furniture to stake Damon's hand and taunts him. Classic mistake, you think, though it's nice to know that Damon plays dirty at Monopoly with Bonnie. When Damon tries to fight back, Kai smashes more of the bourbon bottles so they burn Damon's face—oh, now it's on, Kai. Not the face. He's ready to deliver the fatal blow when Bonnie shows up. Kai calls her the "useless one" and asks if she's going to "fail" at him, since he knows she's been trying to do magic for months. He's embarrassed for her. Turns out, she just needed proper inspiration. The candle lights, and Kai knows he's in trouble: "Uh oh," he says. Bonnie tells smiling Damon to run, and she sets the spilled alcohol on fire. "Giving up so soon? I'm embarrassed for you," she says. Damon knocks Kai out and pays her a compliment. "I'm sorry I called you the most annoying person in the world. I hadn't met him yet." Friends!
Speaking of friends, Matt learns Jay was a vampire hunter when Enzo dumps the body in the back of Matt's truck. Caroline catches up to Stefan in the woods and tries to tell him that killing Enzo won't bring Ivy back and that if any part of him came back to check on Elena—or more importantly to check on her—he should stay. He walks away. A--. She begins to cry, and Elena's there. She heard everything. The good news: The girls hug it out. Even if Elena isn't willing to deal with her own grief, she'll be there for Caroline. When the random girl Caroline compelled to go get ice returns without it, shirtless Jeremy informs Caroline that her compulsion fades in Mystic Falls. Why didn't we think of that? So Sarah knows what Elena is, and who she is.
Damon and Bonnie sit Kai in a chair in front of the fireplace at Salvatore Mansion (Uncle Mason flashback!), and Damon is prepared to use a poker to get answers. Kai claims he was never going to kill Damon—it was a setup to give Bonnie the motivation to get her magic back. He too knows it's the key to getting them out of there. More good news: Matt wasn't knowingly training to be a dick. He really thought Tripp was just concerned about keeping old ladies safe. Matty Blue Eyes takes his tears elsewhere when Liv shows up to pick up her kegs. She uses magic to keep one away from Tyler, who pushes her up against her Jeep and asks if this is what she wants (YES!)... to see him break (oh, no). She tells him it's easier for her if he's a dick so she doesn't have to worry about falling for him. Are they going to do it right there in the headlights? No. She leaves without a kiss. It's the only real sexual tension on the show at the moment—gotta keep it alive.
Jeremy returns to Salvatore Mansion and finds that Sarah trashed it before she bolted. Caroline realizes living on the border of Mystic Falls if there are vampire hunters in town isn't a great idea, so she's going to move back in with Elena. They have a heart-to-heart, and Caroline sees that Elena, who keeps a piece of Bonnie's clothing, hasn't moved on from everything. And now that Elena isn't using her brain to focus on just her own love life, she asks Caroline if she has feelings for Stefan: "Yeah, I think maybe I did," Caroline answers. Off they go to look for Sarah while we all cheer and wish balloons would fall from the ceiling. (Who expected Caroline to actually admit it?)
Back at the restaurant where Enzo killed Shirley, he's at the bar trying to order some pie when Tripp, the only other patron, vervains him. It seems Caroline was right about Enzo drawing too much attention. Enzo thinks he can fight the vervain long enough to kill Tripp, but he gets shot from behind by Stefan with one of Tripp's men's guns. Tripp can't conceive of a Founding Family member being a vampire, so he thanks Stefan and asks that he be the one to kill Enzo. Stefan hands back the gun and tells him to make sure it's painful.
Special Guest Star
- Antagonists: Kai, Stefan and Tripp.
- This episode reveals the magic purification spell the Travelers cast around Mystic Falls can undo the effects of vampire mind compulsion. This also establishes vampire compulsion as being based in non-Traditional Magic, as it was Dark Magic that gave vampires the ability in the first place.
- This episode establishes that there is vervain in the 1994 Prison World, as Kai uses it to weaken Damon by lacing it in multiple bottles of bourbon at the grocery store.
- This is the first episode where we'll see the post-compulsion Elena, who no longer remembers that she was in love with Damon and, as a result, believes him to be a monster.
- Alaric doesn't appear in this episode.
- Caroline admits to Elena that Enzo is one of the more stable people in her life at the moment.
- Matt reveals that he has known Jay, who was killed by Enzo, since he was ten, and is initially surprised that Jay is a Vampire Hunter.
- Caroline tells Enzo not to mention Damon around Elena, nor the fact that she was involved with him, and threatens to kill him if he doesn't comply. She later told him she would also kill him if he brought up Stefan to her.
- Stefan realizes that Elena no longer has memories of being in love with Damon, which has made her dislike him, as she can only remember the horrible things he has done, such as when he killed Jeremy in The Return.
- Elena tells Stefan that she's inspired by seeing people getting well in the hospital and that it feels right for her to be studying medicine to eventually become a doctor.
- Elena is trying to get Caroline to come back to college after she spent the night in the dorms with her. By the end of the episode, Caroline has agreed to move back in with Elena, and will also end up re-enrolling in classes between episodes.
- After an encounter with a girl Caroline compelled earlier, Jeremy eventually figured out that if anybody is compelled and then enters Mystic Falls, his/her compulsion is stripped away as soon as they cross the anti-magic barrier.
- This implies that everyone who has ever been compelled to forget a vampire attack who has entered the Mystic Falls borders since the Magic Purification Spell was cast may remember everything they were compelled to forget. This also applies for people who have been compelled to do things they wouldn't ordinarily do of their own volition.
- As a result of the anti-magic spell removing vampire compulsion, it can be assumed that Sarah knows that Elena is a vampire who attacked her, which could become a threat for both Elena and Caroline, as the latter of whom compelled her to forget Elena did it.
- Sarah doesn't give away that she recognizes Elena when Elena introduces herself as Jeremy's sister, but she does later reveal that she remembered that Elena fed on her in Black Hole Sun.
- Damon's car is seen in this episode.
- Enzo meets Tyler and Matt in this episode.
- Bonnie is finally able to do magic again, after Kai motivated her into triggering her powers by putting Damon's life in danger.
- Tyler learns that Liv has feelings for him.
- Stefan helps Tripp to capture Enzo in order to get revenge on him for killing Ivy in the previous episode.
- Liam kisses Elena in this episode, despite her attempts to set him up with Caroline.
- When confronted by Elena about her feelings for Stefan, Caroline admits that she may have had some.
- This episodes firmly establishes that the timeline of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals currently takes place in 2012 when Damon tells Bonnie he doesn't remember where he parked his car eighteen years ago.
- Also, Elena and Stefan's relationship is established in this episode as having ended two years ago (in 2010) when Elena tells Liam that she isn't involved with Stefan anymore, though she once was.
- Elena takes Caroline, Tyler and Matt to the spot where they would go and get wasted while their parents were grilling together by the swimming hole, where she admits to them that she feels like they are all drifting apart in the aftermath of Damon and Bonnie's deaths and many of their resurrections in the previous season.
- Savannah, Georgia
- McKinley, Virginia
- Mystic Falls, Virginia
- 1994 Prison World
- Tyler was last seen in I'll Remember.
- This is the first time since You're Undead To Me that we'll see Elena in a bikini. Though it was only the bikini top, as she was wearing jean shorts. The bikini Nina wears in this episode is her own, like it was in You're Undead To Me.
- This episode marks the first appearance of Kai.
- This episode marks the 70th appearance of Tyler Lockwood on the show.
- This was the first episode since Graduation that Bonnie Bennett has performed magic.
- Damon's car was last seen in Home, when it was destroyed by him crashing it into the Mystic Grill with Elena in the passenger seat.
- Stefan and Elena's breakup was referenced by both of them in a conversation with Liam. They broke up in We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes, when Elena admitted to Stefan she had feelings for Damon.
Behind the Scenes
- This episode had 1.96 million viewers in the USA, 0.29 million more than the previous episode.
- Hashtag during the airing is #StefansRevenge
- "Welcome to Paradise" is a song by Green Day, released on their 1994 album Dookie.
- Redneck: a term used to describe those people in the USA who subscribe to "country living."
- "Baywatch" was a TV series starring David Hasselhoff that ran from 1989 to 2001.
- Welcome to Paradise is a 2007 drama movie.
- Stefan: "My girlfirend Ivy... Somebody killed her last night. I need to find him and kill him. I need a few days off."
- Tripp: "Can't have you killing. You never know whose eyes are watching."
- Enzo: "You've got to be bloody kidding!"