Having made up after Stefan kept the secret from Elena that she looks just like Katherine, the reunited love birds are now talking in Elena’s room about the guy she hit with her car. She didn’t see his face, and she only remembers that he was wearing a hoodie and boots. Stefan gives her vervain, as well as some bracelets she can give to Jeremy and her friends to protect them from compulsion. Downstairs, a pizza delivery guy named Noah arrives, and Jeremy invites him in while he waits for Elena to pay for the food. If Elena were paying more attention, she might recognize Noah’s boots and hoodie.
Damon kicks off the next day by searching Vamp Villa’s numerous books. Stefan taunts that he’s bitter that Stefan gets to be with the woman he loves while Damon can’t get to Katherine. He guesses that Bree told Damon there’s another way into the tomb.
At school, Alaric gives Jeremy a good grade on his extra-credit paper and asks if Jeremy really thinks there are vampires in Mystic Falls. Jeremy knows the town is a hotbed of mysterious disappearances and animal attacks, but he wouldn’t go so far as to blame the supernatural. Alaric asks about Johnathan Gilbert’s journal, and Jeremy loans it to him.
Elena gives Caroline a vervain necklace as a totally normal, not-at-all supernatural-protecting friend gift. She thinks Caroline has been avoiding her so she didn’t have to admit that she’s seeing Matt. Caroline says they’re not dating – they’ve hung out a few times, but it feels like they’ve “peaked as friends.” Elena tells her that if they want to date, it’s fine; this isn’t about Elena. Caroline disagrees. She knows Matt isn’t over Elena, and he hasn’t accepted yet that she’s with Stefan now.
At the Grill, Matt chats with a bartender named Ben, who graduated from Mystic Falls High a couple years ago. Matt’s applying for a job as a busboy. Elsewhere in the restaurant, Elena has told Bonnie that she was adopted. She knows nothing about her birth parents since her birth certificate lists them as Miranda and Grayson. Bonnie encourages her to talk to Jenna. Elena’s already dating a vampire, so unless her biological parents are aliens, she probably isn’t in for any huge surprises.
Elena heads off to shop for a dress for the upcoming ’50s dance at school, and Damon takes her place with Bonnie. She doesn’t want to talk to him, since the last time she saw him, he tried to kill her. Damon thinks he deserves points for not following through on that. She reminds him that she can start fires with her mind, so he shouldn’t mess with her. Ben senses that something’s wrong and indicates to Damon that he should leave Bonnie alone. He remembers her from school, which surprises Bonnie.
Elena gets a call from Noah, who’s watching her on the street. He tells her that next time, she won’t get away from him. The next day, she goes to Vamp Villa to tell Stefan that Noah’s after her, though she doesn’t know why. Stefan thinks he’s just doing the normal predator thing of going after some prey. He gives her the vampire compass so she can always know if there’s a vampire around. He explains that the Gilberts were one of Mystic Falls’ founding families, and they used the compass to hunt vampires.
At school, Matt and Caroline goof around together while painting posters for the dance. He’s not going, since he has to work at his new job. Caroline asks when he got that job, and Matt interprets her surprise as snobbery because he has to earn money (thanks to his deadbeat parents). Caroline’s confused. Anna runs into Jeremy at the Grill and invites him to hang out later. He’s agreed to work the snack table at the ’50s dance (apparently his English teacher is going to give him extra credit), so he has plans that night. Anna asks for a rain check, then realizes she’s being pushy.
Things are still chilly between Elena and Jenna, but Jenna is willing to let Elena keep borrowing her car since Elena’s was totaled. Jenna’s chaperoning the dance at Alaric’s invitation. Elena finally asks Jenna why she never said anything about Elena being adopted. Jenna says Miranda was going to, at some point, but Elena’s 16, so…how long was she going to wait?
Jenna only knows a little about the circumstances of Elena’s birth: Her mother was a teenager who showed up at Grayson’s medical office one night, needing help. He delivered the baby and let her stay a while, but she took off a few days later, leaving Elena behind. Grayson and Miranda wanted a child and had trouble conceiving, so they just kept Elena and pretended she was theirs. The only other thing Jenna knows about Elena’s birth mother is her name: Isobel.
Stefan brings Damon their father’s journal, thinking that’s what Damon’s been searching the house for, even though it doesn’t mention Katherine or the tomb. Stefan sarcastically says that he’s sorry it won’t help with Damon’s “diabolical plan, the sequel.” Damon doesn’t think Stefan wants to help him anyway, but Stefan would love to lend a hand if it means Damon eventually leaves town. He’ll even consider letting Katherine out of the tomb, as long as the other vampires stay put. Damon asks why he would trust Stefan. Stefan notes that, of the two of them, he’s the more trustworthy brother.
As Elena gets ready for the dance, the compass registers that there’s a vampire nearby. She immediately calls Stefan, who’s left his phone in Vamp Villa’s living room with Damon. Damon tells her that Stefan’s on his way to Gilbert Gables, so Elena guesses the compass is just registering his presence. Wrong! Noah’s in the house, somehow pressing himself up against the ceiling so Elena doesn’t see him. He jumps down to attack her, but Stefan’s already arrived and is able to pull him off. Noah runs out of the house before Stefan can stop him.
Damon gets summoned to Gilbert Gables so Stefan can clarify that he doesn’t know who Noah is. Damon doesn’t, and he also doesn’t know if there are other vampires in town. Since Noah was invited into the house, he’s a threat until the Salvatores take him out. Damon suggests that they go to the dance and see if Noah follows Elena there. The house isn’t safe right now anyway. Elena agrees, effectively inviting Damon along for extra protection.
The three arrive at the dance together, and Alaric gets another look at the guy he last saw biting his wife. Jenna tells him the school does all sorts of decade dances, so he’ll have the ’60s and ’70s to look forward to down the line. Caroline and Bonnie are also there, and Caroline is curious about why Damon came with Elena and Stefan. Elena says he wanted to come, and she’s trying to learn to tolerate him since he’s around Stefan so much. “It’s not like I can kill him,” she remarks. Bonnie and Caroline disagree.
Jenna tells Alaric that she’s pleased to see such good changes in Jeremy. He tells her that the grief Jeremy’s gone through is one of the hardest things he’ll ever face. Jenna already knows that Alaric’s been there; for him, the hardest part is not knowing what happened to his wife or why. He hopes to get answers some day.
Damon approaches Bonnie and Caroline, asking Bonnie for a dance and another chance. She gives him neither. Damon asks Elena if she’d like to dance, and Elena says yes – with Stefan. Noah’s arrived, but Stefan doesn’t know it yet; he tells Elena that vampires can’t just sense each other. They start talking about fashion trends from the ’50s and Elena’s desire to learn the hand jive.
Anna shows up, because apparently anyone can come to this dance. Jeremy calls her out for acting like they’re dating when they aren’t. She’s never been to a school dance before, so she wants him to show her a good time. Bonnie and Caroline go to the Grill, partly because they’re bored with the dance and partly because Bonnie wants to ogle Ben. Caroline doesn’t get the attraction – Ben’s a “washed-up jock who pours drinks for a living.” Bonnie can do better. Matt overhears and gives Caroline the cold shoulder.
Back at the dance, Damon looks on as Stefan and Elena have fun together. Alaric introduces himself to Damon, who is apparently posing as Stefan’s legal guardian now that Zach is dead. He apologizes for Stefan’s multiple absences at school, citing family drama. Alaric tries to make casual conversation about whether Damon has lived in Mystic Falls his whole life or traveled a lot. Damon doesn’t like small talk or nosy questions, and Alaric quickly catches on and walks away.
At the Grill, Bonnie encourages Caroline to talk to Matt. She’ll also be bold and talk to Ben instead of just looking at him. Ben is very receptive to the idea of going on a date with Bonnie. Matt, however, doesn’t even want to have a conversation with Caroline. He lets her know that he overheard what she said about Ben.
Anna makes herself useful at the dance, then asks Jeremy if she can borrow Johnathan Gilbert’s journal. She’s upset when she learns that he loaned it to Alaric. She suggests that they go to his classroom and try to get it back. Jeremy asks what the big deal is. Anna’s emotions get the better of her…and she starts to vamp out. She leaves before Jeremy can see too much.
Elena and Stefan still haven’t spotted Noah, but at least they’ve had a good time. He’s sorry that she’s been dragged into the middle of vampire business. Elena notes that she chose to get involved with him and come to the dance, so Stefan doesn’t need to apologize. She urges him to show her some dance moves from the ’50s. Stefan reluctantly does, telling her that’s the last time she’ll ever see those moves.
Elsewhere in the school, Anna encounters Noah and tells him to leave Elena alone. She’s not part of their plan. Noah just likes messing with someone who looks like Katherine, since the real Katherine isn’t around for them to hang out with. Anna warns that the Salvatores will stop him. Noah says he isn’t scared of them and never has been. Anna will get what she wants; she just needs to let him have some fun.
Back in the gym, Damon has found a girl to dance with, but Stefan doesn’t seem worried that there will be any biting or drinking of blood. Elena finally spots Noah, so Stefan sends her to get Damon while he follows the vampire. Except he’s following some random guy who says Noah gave him a hoodie. The real Noah calls Elena and tells her to leave the gym in five seconds or he’ll kill Jeremy.
She obeys and runs down a hallway, eventually ending up in the cafeteria with Noah close behind. She grabs at whatever she can reach to use as a weapon. Fortunately, one of those things is a pencil, and stabbing it into his hand temporarily slows him down. She’s then able to grab a mob and break the handle to make herself a stake. She doesn’t use it fast enough, though, and Noah gets the chance to eat her.
Stefan and Damon arrive before he can, and they neutralize him with a stake to the stomach so they can chat. They also display some nice teamwork. Noah won’t say why he wants Elena, other than repeating what he said to Anna about her looking like Katherine. The brothers are surprised that he’s been around long enough to have met Katherine. Damon demands to know how to get into the tomb, and Noah gives him the same info Bree did about using Emily’s grimoire. He adds that the location of that grimoire is in Johnathan Gilbert’s journal.
Anna is listening just outside the cafeteria, but she hears someone coming and runs off. Alaric approaches as the brothers try to get Noah to tell them who he’s been working with. Noah won’t give up any names, so Stefan pulls the stake out of his stomach and puts it through his heart instead. Elena’s upset that he killed their only lead, but Damon agrees with Stefan’s actions. Stefan reminds her that Noah was invited into her house, which meant he was a threat.
The three see Alaric in the hallway, and Stefan sends Damon to intercept him. Alaric says he was just looking for someone. Damon compels him to reveal why he’s in Mystic Falls and whether he knows who Damon really is. Alaric says he’s there because he got a job, and he just knows Damon as Stefan’s brother. Damon’s satisfied and tells him to forget the conversation…but Alaric has been holding a handful of vervain.
Stefan and Damon regroup and discuss Emily’s grimoire, the missing piece to freeing Katherine. Stefan offers to help find it, and this time, Damon accepts. Back at the Grill, Caroline tries to make up with Matt, who doesn’t like that she looks down on people like him and Ben. She acknowledges that she says stupid things without thinking, but she’s working on becoming a better person. Matt tells her that he knows she wants more than friendship. He’s not sure if he’s over Elena. Plus, he likes his friendship with Caroline the way it is. He’s afraid of hurting or disappointing her. She slams him for jumping ahead without discussing things with her. Whatever they might have had is over before it could start.
Alaric takes Jenna home, asking her out on an official date, since he doesn’t think chaperoning a dance with her counts. He tells her next time, he won’t talk so much about Isobel. That’s right, his wife’s name was Isobel. Oh, and her hometown isn’t too far from Mystic Falls. A light bulb goes off in Jenna’s head.
Matt catches up to Caroline as she walks home and tells her to get in his truck. She refuses, so he gets out and kisses her. He doesn’t think a relationship with her will work out, but clearly that’s not going to stop him from giving it a chance.
At Gilbert Gables, Elena admits to Stefan that having a run-in with a vampire was kind of exhilarating. She’s proud of herself for fighting back. Stefan admits that he offered to help Damon get Katherine out of the tomb, but he’s not going to follow through. He feels like Elena and Damon have bonded, so he wants to make sure she doesn’t tell him anything. Elena promises that she and Damon aren’t that close. Stefan says he doesn’t want to be his brother’s enemy, but he can’t let Damon free Katherine. Elena says she’ll help him keep that from happening.
It turns out Noah wasn’t Anna’s only partner in crime, because she heads to the Grill to meet up with another: Ben. She tells him Noah’s dead, but that’s not really a bad thing, since he wasn’t much help. Ben gloats that Bonnie likes him, just as he’d hoped. Anna tells him she hasn’t been able to get Johnathan’s journal, but she will. They kiss, then head off into the night together.
Keep in mind: Vampires don’t have any kind of sixth sense about who else is a vampire.
Significant item update: Elena has the vampire compass.
Etc.: Noah’s ceiling trick is pretty cool. He’s like Spider-Man.
Everyone at Mystic Falls High is way too into dressing up for theme dances. There’s no way EVERYONE would wear ’50s clothes. Some of them would think it’s dumb.
It cracks me up that everyone has gone from “Damon is evil and dangerous and might kill us” to “I no longer care and I’m going to say whatever I want to him.”
Admittedly, the next few seasons are just Elena’s life being endangered over and over, and the Salvatores having to save her, but the fact that she fights back here is what makes this different from other supernatural shows. She may be a damsel in distress but she’s not completely helpless.
I love that Jenna, who never has a single clue what’s going on, is the first to realize that Alaric’s Isobel and Elena’s mother might be the same person.