Bonnie is struggling to stay awake during a boring math class. I guess “boring math class” is redundant. Also, she has my sympathy. She sees someone walk past the classroom and goes into the hallway to get a better look. It’s Emily, and she leads Bonnie through the woods to a cemetery, then the ruins of a church. She asks Bonnie for help, then says, “This is where it started…and this is where it has to end.” Bonnie realizes something isn’t right and turns to leave, but Emily keeps getting in her way.
Bonnie wakes up in class with a gasp. She tells off the classmates who give her weird looks. But one of them is Emily, so she’s still dreaming. This time when she wakes up, she’s in the cemetery, by the Salvatore crypt.
At school (for real), Elena checks in with Caroline, who’s mad at Bonnie for not returning her crystal. Caroline asks if Elena has talked to Stefan recently. Elena says he’s avoiding her for complicated reasons. Caroline runs into Matt, but he just says, “Hey” and keeps walking.
Elena goes to history class, where Mr. Tanner is finally being replaced. The new teacher is Alaric Saltzman, and yes, he knows it’s a weird name. They can call him Ric. Uh, no, they can call him Mr. Saltzman because he’s their teacher, not their buddy.
Stefan’s skipping school, apparently, since he’s just now waking up at Vamp Villa. Heeeeeeey, shirtless Paul Wesley. How YOU doin’? Damon wants to make up with him. He apologizes for killing Lexi, though he thinks he was justified because now the town won’t be suspicious of the Salvatores. Damon will repent by only drinking animal blood for at least a week. Yeah, that should make up for killing Stefan’s best friend. Stefan doesn’t appreciate that Damon is joking about the topic.
Damon asks if Stefan is mimicking him by being sarcastic. Stefan continues the imitation by saying now Damon can go back to plotting how to destroy Stefan’s life. Damon mocks him back, saying Stefan will go back to sulking and pining after Elena. Stefan pushes Damon to reveal while he’s in town, but Damon decides he’s done with the game.
At school, Bonnie tells Elena about her dreams and waking up in the cemetery. She asks if Elena believes in ghosts. She thinks Emily’s haunting her and trying to communicate through the crystal. Bonnie doesn’t want to talk to Sheila about this, since Sheila will just encourage her to embrace it. Bonnie just wants it to stop.
Jeremy meets Alaric, who tells him that Mr. Tanner kept a file that was basically a catalog of reasons he didn’t like Jeremy. Alaric throws it out and promises Jeremy a clean slate. He acknowledges that Jeremy’s working harder and trying to improve his grade, but they’re already halfway through the semester. He offers Jeremy the chance to write a paper about local history for extra credit. Jeremy’s very appreciative. He notices that Alaric is wearing a distinct ring, not unlike the daylight rings Stefan and Damon wear. Alaric says it belonged to his father.
Caroline runs into Matt again, and again he just says, “Hey” and doesn’t stop to talk. She thinks that after he spent the night in her bed, cuddling her, they should have more to say to each other, especially since he snuck out before dawn. She doesn’t want him to think she’s a pushover. She no longer lets guys mess with her head. Matt says he just snuck out because he heard Liz and didn’t want to get caught in Caroline’s bed. Also, he’s just greeting her the same way he always has. She shouldn’t read so much into things.
Stefan is waiting for Elena after school, wanting to make up for not being in touch. He’s going to leave school so he and Elena can keep their distance from each other. Even though she told him before that she didn’t want him around her, she’s not happy about this. Stefan thinks it’ll be easier if she hates him.
Damon corners Bonnie and demands his crystal back. He says he’s trying to help her – she’s gotten involved in something she shouldn’t be part of. He claims that he wants to protect her, not hurt her. He’s going to help her get Emily off her back. Bonnie’s surprised that he seems to know she’s being haunted. Damon gets a little too close to her, like, I know you’re a murderer but let’s try respecting people’s personal space, man. He tells Bonnie that he’s getting the crystal back no matter what, even if he has to wait for Emily to get it for him. Next time Bonnie sees Emily, she needs to remind the elder Bennett that a deal is a deal.
On the drive home from school, Elena tells Bonnie to stay away from Damon. She decides Bonnie should spend the night at Gilbert Gables so Damon can’t bug her. Except for the part where he can come and go as he pleases, since he was invited in. Bonnie pulls over and throws the crystal into a field. If that’s what was causing her problems, everything should be fine now.
Jenna and Jeremy hang out at the Grill, where she checks out Alaric. Jeremy offers to introduce them, but Jenna’s suddenly shy. Elena summons Stefan to Gilbert Gables to tell him that Damon’s getting too sinister with Bonnie. She tells him about the crystal and how it dates back to the Civil War. Stefan tells her it’s connected to Emily, who was Katherine’s handmaiden, as well as a witch. He figured out that she was Bonnie’s ancestor way back when he, Elena, and Bonnie had dinner together. Elena guesses that Damon also made the connection.
Stefan recognizes her description of the crystal, since it originally belonged to Katherine. He thinks that’s why it’s so significant to Damon. He promises Elena that he’ll get Damon to tell him what’s going on. What he means is he’s going to ask Damon, “Why did you come back to Mystic Falls?” five or six more times, because maybe he’ll eventually crack.
Back at the Grill, Jenna suggests that Jeremy look through the Gilbert family’s heirlooms as he works on his history paper. Alaric approaches and Jeremy introduces him to Jenna. Over at the bar, Stefan imitates Damon again, telling him they should try to rebuild their brother relationship. Damon imitates him back, saying he can’t be friendly with “Damon” because he’s mean and kills people. The real Damon is stressed because he wants to feed but also wants to keep a low profile. Stefan joins him in drinking and indicates that he wants to spend time with his brother.
Elena, Bonnie, and Caroline gather for dinner at Gilbert Gables, but everything’s awkward because Caroline and Bonnie are kind of fighting. Caroline breaks the ice by apologizing and saying that Bonnie can keep the ugly crystal if she wants it so badly. Bonnie admits that she threw it away. Caroline’s understandably annoyed, since Bonnie could have just given it back to her. But when she looks in Bonnie’s bag to get supplies to do manicures, she finds the crystal.
Bonnie decides that Emily has somehow gotten the crystal back to her. Caroline’s annoyed that Bonnie and Elena are keeping something from her. Bonnie argues that Caroline never listens, which is why they didn’t tell her anything. When she tells Caroline she’s a witch, Caroline blows her off, which just proves Bonnie’s point.
Jeremy heads home without Jenna, who hangs back at the Grill and starts chatting with Alaric. She tells him she recently returned to town after leaving for school (and because Logan cheated on her and she wanted to get away from him). Alaric reveals that he’s a widower, and his wife’s death is a cold case. He moved to Mystic Falls for a change of pace. He wanted to live someplace with lots of history. Across the restaurant, Stefan and Damon play darts. Damon knows Stefan’s working another angle here.
Back at Gilbert Gables, Caroline tries to smooth things over with Bonnie. She doesn’t believe in the supernatural and magic, but if Bonnie believes she’s a witch, Caroline will go with it. She’s ready to listen. She gives the crystal back to Bonnie, then suggests that the girls hold a séance to contact Emily. Not that any of them knows how to conduct a séance. Bonnie just tells Emily she’s listening if Emily wants to talk to her.
The candles the girls have lit flare up, so Caroline thinks Emily’s there. She asks for another sign and a window flies open. Bonnie decides she’s done, and she gets up, dropping the crystal by the candles. They blow out, and when Elena turns on the lights, the crystal is gone.
Stefan and Damon head to Mystic Falls High’s football field to toss around the ball like they used to. Damon almost enjoys himself before he remembers that Stefan has an ulterior motive for this bonding experience. Stefan tells Damon that their love for Katherine wasn’t real – she compelled them to love her. It took him years to accept that. Damon doesn’t want to talk about that whole mess and ruin their evening together.
Stefan then switches subjects, asking why Damon wants the crystal. Damon’s surprised that he knows it was Katherine’s. Emily gave it to her on Damon’s last night with Katherine, and Stefan wasn’t around. Stefan reveals that he was the last person to see Katherine.
He asks again why Damon wants the crystal. Damon tries to taunt Stefan for not knowing, but Stefan gets the better of him by saying that he and Katherine had other things on their mind their last night together. (*cough* sex *cough*) Damon threatens to kill Stefan, who finds it harder and harder to take his brother seriously when he vows to hurt Stefan on a regular basis. Damon says he has a surprise in the works: He’s going to bring Katherine back.
At Gilbert Gables, the girls can’t find the crystal. Elena thinks Caroline hid it. She sees someone pass by her bedroom, but no one’s there. Bonnie spots the crystal on the bathmat in the bathroom and goes in to retrieve it. The door slams and locks behind her. Elena and Caroline bang on the door and call out to her as the lights in the house flicker. Finally they stay on and the girls are able to open the door. Bonnie immediately calms down, and Caroline accuses her of pranking them. As Bonnie leaves the bathroom, her reflection in the mirror shows that she’s really Emily.
Damon tells Stefan that when the people in Mystic Falls started rounding up vampires in 1864, Damon offered Emily whatever she wanted in exchange for Katherine’s protection. Emily used the crystal for a protection spell, which means Katherine didn’t die in the fire at the church caused by Confederate supporters firing on Union sympathizers. There’s a tomb under the church, and Emily’s spell sealed Katherine in there. She’s been there ever since.
Damon explains that witches can use the energy from celestial events to power their spells. Emily used energy from a comet passing by to power the crystal. To get it to work again, Damon had to wait 145 years for the comet to return. Stefan doesn’t get why Emily would do this for Damon. Damon says she knew the townspeople would come after her, too, and she wanted Damon to help her ensure her lineage would survive. He saved her children from the townspeople, and his promise has kept him from harming Bonnie.
Emily tells Elena and Caroline that she’s leaving and will take it from here. Elena’s confused and asks where she’s going. “Back to where it all began,” Emily replies. Elena realizes what’s going on and calls her Emily. Emily says she can’t let “him” have “it”; “it” has to be destroyed. She leaves the house, making the door slam shut and lock behind her. It’s not much of a trick, though, since Jeremy is easily able to open the door when he gets home (and doesn’t seem to care that Elena and Caroline are so freaked out).
Elena calls Stefan to fill him in. She thinks Emily is headed for Fell’s Church, the church by the cemetery from her dreams. Damon listens in on the call and races off before Stefan even notices she’s gone. He catches up to Emily and reminds her that they had a deal. She owes him for doing his part. Emily magically runs a stick through him and pins him up against a tree.
Back at Gilbert Gables, Jeremy digs out a box of Gilbert family heirlooms. Jenna comes home with Alaric, who stays on the front porch and doesn’t come inside. Jenna starts to invite him in, then changes her mind, since Jeremy’s home. After he leaves, Jeremy shows Jenna a picture he found of her and Logan. He teases her for being interested in his history teacher. Then he finds a journal that belonged to one of his ancestors, Johnathan Gilbert.
Stefan finds Damon in the woods, where Emily says she won’t let Damon “unleash them” on the world. Stefan asks Damon what he’s left out of his story. Emily explains that she had to save everyone in the church in order to save Katherine. Stefan realizes that Damon is after revenge, not love. He wants to release the 27 vampires trapped in the tomb and let them wreak havoc on the town.
Stefan says that the people now living in Mystic Falls are innocent and don’t deserve those vampires’ wrath. Damon disagrees, arguing that the town will come after the Salvatores once they learn they’re vampires. He warns Emily that they’ll come after Bonnie, too. Emily plans to solve that problem by destroying the crystal, which will make it impossible to undo her sealing spell and open the tomb.
As Elena arrives, Emily starts a pentagram-shaped fire and tosses the crystal in the air, making it explode. She turns from Bonnie to Emily and back again as it happens. Once the fire has died down, Damon jumps on Bonnie (now back to herself) and bites her. Stefan uses his blood to heal her.
Matt sneaks through Caroline’s bedroom window and admits that he didn’t flee the house that morning because he heard her mother. He freaked out because he enjoyed being in bed with her so much, even though he doesn’t actually like her. He spent the night because he felt bad for her. Yeah, just what a girl wants to hear. Matt continues that he’s lonely and knows how Caroline feels.
Back in the woods, a shell-shocked Damon tells Stefan that he was wrong about Katherine: She never compelled Damon to love her. His feelings for her were always real. He’s decided to leave Mystic Falls.
Bonnie’s physically fine, but she’s confused about Damon’s attack and how Stefan helped her. Elena promises to explain everything, adding that Stefan won’t hurt her. She gets Bonnie to her car, then asks Stefan if Bonnie’s in danger of becoming a vampire. Stefan clarifies that as long as Bonnie doesn’t die before his blood leaves her system, she’ll be fine. He’s okay with Elena telling her everything. Elena’s relieved to finally have a friend who will know what’s been going on. She’s also relieved that Stefan saved Bonnie’s life.
Elena thinks she can handle being in a relationship with Stefan after all. But now he thinks he can’t. Like Damon, he’s going to leave Mystic Falls. “Coming home was a mistake,” he admits. Elena begs him to stay, since Mystic Falls is his home. He says goodbye and walks away without looking back, even when she calls after him.
Back at Gilbert Gables, Jenna takes one last look at the photo of herself with Logan. Caroline and Matt hang out in her room while Damon finds himself unable to leave the church ruins. At Vamp Villa, Stefan is sad, and at Gilbert Gables, Elena emotionally spills all her secrets to Bonnie. Downstairs, the doorbell rings – Jenna has a visitor. It’s Logan, and he wants to be invited in.
Keep in mind: Alaric wears a unique ring.
Katherine is alive.
Witches can use the energy from celestial events for their spells.
Emily sealed a bunch of vampires in a tomb under Fell’s Church, and they’ve been there for 145 years.
Etc.: Yay, Alaric! His presence on the show brings something it needs. Every supernatural teen show needs a Giles, and he’s a great one.
I love how Bonnie’s reaction to falling asleep in class is to basically tell her classmates to mind their own business.
Seeing Bonnie being scared of Damon is so weird, knowing that later in the series, she would just roll her eyes at him for acting the way he does here.
So diplomatic of Stefan to say Emily was Katherine’s handmaiden when we all know what a Black woman in 1864 would really be. Buddy, Katherine was evil. It’s okay to admit that she owned slaves.
Fell’s Church (which was also the name of the town in the book series) is just one letter off from my hometown, so every time someone on the show says it, my ears perk up.