It’s been four months since the Other Side vanished. Mystic Falls is still magic free and that means it’s off limits for our vamp friends, unless they want to scorch themselves to death. However, it seems that someone of the vampire persuasion is lurking around the borders waiting for a victim to pounce on; in the cold open two teenagers are left for dead after a vicious attack.
Let’s get reacquainted with the gang from Mystic Falls.
Elena, who, at first, seems fairly unaffected by the events of last season, has decided to study medicine and work at the college clinic. Whether or not this is what she’s actually interested in pursuing or if it’s just an easy way to get unlimited blood bags, it seems to be keeping her busy & helping her deal with the loss of Bonnie & Damon.
Caroline has dropped out of Whitmore College so she can work on figuring out how to remove the Travellers spell from Mystic Falls. She signed a lease on an apartment near the border and has spent the entire summer watching movies and picnicking with mama Forbes. She is noticeably upset that Alaric has had more communication with Stefan than she has.
Tyler has finally enrolled at Whitmore and is attempting to keep his rage in check by using football practice as an outlet. He still loves to drink, but his tolerance blows since he’s a human now. Also, I’m pretty sure he’s got a thing for Liv.
Stefan left town, without saying goodbye, to search for a witch that can contact the dead. In the meantime he’s working as an auto mechanic and has been shacking up with Ivy: a woman who has no idea about his true vampire identity. He’s not one for correspondence these days, both Caroline & Elena haven’t spoken with him in months and as we see towards the end of the episode he’d rather bust an iPhone than listen to Caroline’s voicemail.
Jeremy is dulling his pain by drinking beer for breakfast, playing video games and hooking up with random women. He’s living with Matt in the Lockwood mansion and since the supernatural elements have been stripped from their town, he’s no longer a Hunter.
Matt has joined the community protection squad – I’m not sure he has much to protect anymore since Sherriff Forbes herself has been reduced to busting teenagers for underage drinking – but he can bench press way more than Jeremy now which is pretty remarkable, I guess! With the exception of maybe Caroline, he seems to be the only one channeling his grief in a constructive manner.
Alaric is back and he’s getting accustomed to drinking blood and all things vampirism again. He’s back to teaching, but this time it’s as a professor at, of course, Whitmore College. Who else was going to keep an eye on everyone?
Luke & Liv are also still in the mix at Whitmore which I was surprised by given the fact that these wonder twins were the ones responsible for stopping the spell before Damon could return. Elena seems to have forgiven them though since Luke made a daylight bracelet for Alaric and offered her a way to be with Damon again, sort of, with the help of ancient psychotropic drugs.
Dazed & in Denial:
As we see several times throughout the episode, Elena is delaying her mourning by using drugs to hallucinate Damon, whom she can talk with and apparently touch. I guess she’s not using her studies to help her get over this after all! The drugs are making her really thirsty though, like almost murdering someone on the side of the road in broad daylight thirsty.
Luckily Caroline happens to be around the corner from Elena while this almost murder takes place and arrives just in time to prevent it. Unfortunately the woman Elena was feeding on runs away in the direction of the Mystic Falls border and she is unable to stop and compel her. Elena then confesses to Caroline about the herbs and the extreme-thirst side effect they cause. Caroline mentions the two victims rushed to the hospital with suspicious neck wounds and it would seem that we have the solution to the whodunit from the cold open. The two friends have a heart-to-heart where Caroline tries to persuade Elena to kick the drug habit and start dealing with the pain.
Elena tries to stop using the ancient herbs and say farewell and thank you to her Damon visions, but the Damon she thinks she’s seeing (which is really just a stand-in for her subconscious) gets into her head and tells her you’ll always be thinking about me, for eternity. Wow, so helpful! After some weeping and window smashing she calls Stefan to get reassurance that he’s got some sort of lead on a witch or any clues to help her stay hopeful. Too bad it turns out that Stefan gave up on his search and said his goodbyes. Ultimately we see Elena requesting that Alaric compel her to forget about Damon because otherwise she’ll live with this hole inside of her forever, literally.
The parallels between the Gilbert siblings using substances to soften their pain. They’ve been through an incredible amount of loss and they were finally tipped over the edge; like Elena said she’s got grieving down to a science. I know we’ve seen them mourn before (parents, Jenna, Alaric, etc,.) but it always feels rushed, like there are other plot points to get to. I’m glad this time they are showing how heartbreaking this has been and what lengths they’ll go to in order to postpone the grief.
The new characters. I appreciated the way they introduced us to these new faces without making us feel overwhelmed with too many storylines. We met Jo from the clinic where Elena works and who is also a potential love interest for Alaric. There was Liam, a med student who seems to already be paying close attention to Elena. Ivy, Stefan’s new woman who I thought might be the witch he was looking for but since she doesn’t seem to believe in vampires I could be wrong. Sarah, the woman Elena almost murdered, and finally there’s Tripp, another member of the community protection squad who seemed a little too curious about the neck wounds that Sarah had.
Tyler Lockwood. There was a heavy focus on whether or not Tyler will be able to control his anger issues now that he’s human and the werewolf gene is lying dormant. He’s already getting himself into trouble when he picks a fight with Luke for giving Elena the herbs and Alaric is forced to intervene. But didn’t we already do this way back in season 2? Tyler has always been pretty short-tempered so it seems inevitable that we’ll see him trigger the curse again, but that just feels repetitive. Oh and the fact that the full moon is so close is a little too convenient. Here’s hoping the writers surprise us!
The final scene! Bonnie and Damon are alive! Well, they are at least in existence somehow, somewhere. In fact they are in what seems to be a beautiful house eating what look to be some fang-tastic pancakes! Is this the “peace” that Gran assured Bonnie she had secured for her? I was concerned that TVD was going to bring back Bonnie & Damon too quickly and in a way that didn’t make much sense except to give the fans what they wanted. I like that this was just a quick tease, with no answers so we can continue to speculate on where they might be! This definitely left me excited for next week!