the Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries 2.1, The Return: Game On

We get a repeat of the end of “Founder’s Day,” this time with an important clarifying detail, most likely because people spent the summer wondering about it: Katherine tells John that Jenna left to meet with the fire chief about the fire at Grayson’s building. Jenna obviously knows nothing about how the fire started (John) or why (to kill vampires). John asks about Jeremy, whom Katherine says is up in his room. He’s currently unconscious, but it’s not clear whether Katherine knows that.

Elena gets home as Katherine takes a knife to John’s fingers, then stabs him. After hearing John making noise in the kitchen, Elena goes in and finds him on the floor. Katherine lurks nearby as Elena calls 911. John tries to alert her to Katherine’s presence, but Katherine zooms out before Elena can see her. Elena picks up the bloody knife Katherine left behind and goes looking for the person who stabbed John. Katherine watches her for a little while before zooming out of the house.

Realizing that Jeremy could be in danger, Elena rushes upstairs and finds him unconscious. He wakes up quickly. Sometime later, Stefan arrives at the house as paramedics take John to the hospital. Elena tells Stefan that Jeremy ingested some of Anna’s blood and took some pills. She thinks he’s turned. Stefan examines Jeremy and determines that he’s fine – he’s not in transition.

Disappointed, Jeremy tells Elena and Stefan that Anna’s dead. Stefan harshly warns him not to try to kill himself again, because Anna’s blood could leave his system at any time, and he wouldn’t turn, he would just die. Elena asks about the pills Jeremy took. Stefan says he didn’t take enough to die. Anna’s blood healed whatever effects the pills would have had on their own. Oops! Stefan tells Elena that he’ll babysit Jeremy while she goes to the hospital.

Matt’s still there, waiting for news on Caroline. He tells Bonnie about the crash, and she connects what happened to Tyler with the Gilbert device. Damon is also at the hospital, since Liz left him a message and needs his help. She tells him that Richard is dead, thanks to confused deputies putting him in the basement with the tomb vampires. Damon, of course, already knows this, but he innocently asks, “Mayor Lockwood was a vampire?” Liz says he wasn’t, but she’s not sure why he was affected by the Gilbert device, and she’s too worried about Caroline to investigate right now.

Elena arrives, and Damon watches from nearby as she asks Bonnie if she can do a spell to heal Caroline. Damon says she doesn’t know how; it took Emily years to learn that kind of magic. He offers to heal Caroline with his blood. Elena doesn’t want to take the risk, but Bonnie does. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to save Caroline. Damon wants a truce with Bonnie in return. Bonnie won’t go that far, but she knows Damon will save Caroline anyway, for Elena.

Now alone with Elena, Damon wants to talk about what happened tonight. He means the kiss he thinks they shared on her porch, but she thinks he means John’s attack, which she believes was the work of a tomb vampire. This is news to Damon, who asks if that happened after he left. Elena’s confused, since she didn’t know Damon was at the house tonight. Damon thinks she’s messing with him, because there’s no way she could forget what happened. Elena thinks he’s messing with her, too, because she definitely didn’t kiss him. He tells her that if he wants to pretend nothing happened, that’s fine, but he can’t do the same.

Jenna interrupts, having gotten a message from Elena about John. Elena asks where Jenna was. Now Jenna’s as confused as Elena and Damon, because she told Elena she was going to the fire department. As Elena and Jenna disagree over whether or not they talked, Damon puts it all together: He and Jenna both encountered Katherine, not Elena.

Stefan greets Elena as she returns to Gilbert Gables with the news that Caroline isn’t doing well. He hugs her, and she says it’s just what she needed. She goes in for a kiss, but Stefan’s smarter than Damon, and he’s figured out she’s not really Elena. Katherine’s pleased to have at least fooled one of the brothers. They hear a noise on the porch, so Katherine breaks Stefan’s arm and throws him on the ground, then zooms out of the house. Elena and Damon enter, and Damon immediately guesses that Katherine was just there.

The brothers discuss their ex, and why she said she fooled one of them. Damon admits that he fell for her act as Elena. Elena has just told Jeremy everything, because she’s finally learned that keeping him in the dark won’t go well. She’s worried since Katherine’s been invited in (THANKS A LOT, JENNA) (I know she didn’t know what she was doing, but it’s technically still her fault) and can come and go as she pleases.

Damon guesses that she has something cooking, since she left Elena alive. Stefan says they need to refrain from provoking Katherine while they figure out what those plans are. He asks what happened when Katherine was posing as Elena. Damon spills that they kissed, getting a little too much pleasure out of throwing this in his brother’s face. Elena calms Stefan down by pointing out that Damon didn’t actually kiss her. She wouldn’t have allowed that.

Elena thinks John can provide them with some answers. There must be a reason Katherine attacked him. Damon doubts it – Katherine just loves messing with people. Elena won’t uncover anything before Katherine wants her to. Stefan disagrees, thinking there’s a connection between John and Katherine’s ties to Isobel. Damon’s plan is to just ignore Katherine. That’ll make her come out of hiding and make a move. Then they can just kill her.

Bonnie returns to the hospital the next morning and connects with Matt, who spent the night. He tells her that Damon stopped by the night before. In completely unrelated news, as far as Matt knows, Caroline is doing really well. Bonnie’s so relieved that she cries.

Carol holds a wake for Richard at Lockwood Landing, but she’s not going to let her grief over her husband stop her from conducting a little town business. She tells Liz and Damon that she wants answers about how Richard ended up in the basement. Liz asks if she knows any reason Richard would have been affected by the Gilbert device. Carol’s offended that she would suggest that Richard was a vampire. The deputies screwed up, so Liz is responsible. Damon tries to make peace as Liz notes that Richard put the plan in motion with John. He tells them they have to stick together in the wake of this terrible loss.

Outside, Richard’s brother Mason arrive for the wake after about six years away from his family. Tyler’s happy to see him.

Back at the hospital, Elena and Stefan visit John, though at first he thinks Elena is Katherine. She gives him back his Gilbert ring and asks what Katherine wants. John doesn’t want to give Stefan any information, and no matter who Elena is to him, he’s not going to help her if she’s teaming up with a vampire. He says he’s never talked to Katherine directly, since she never trusted him, so he doesn’t know anything. Elena slams him for being so hateful of vampires – that will get him killed.

She leaves, but Stefan stays behind long enough to give John some of his blood and threaten to turn him. He orders John to leave town within the next 24 hours, before the vampire blood leaves his system. If he doesn’t go, Stefan will turn him and watch John hate himself more than he already does.

Damon spots Mason and asks Liz who he is. He’s worried they’re dealing with another John, but Liz says Mason isn’t a “believer.” He also doesn’t want to have anything to do with the Founder’s Council. Meanwhile, Katherine shows up for the wake, and Tyler, thinking she’s Elena, invites her into his house.

As Elena and Stefan leave the hospital, he admits that he ordered John to leave town. Elena’s fine with that – she doesn’t want him in her or Jeremy’s lives. Stefan wants to find Damon and confront him for kissing “Elena.” She tells him to let it go. Katherine’s messing with the brothers, and they shouldn’t do anything to make it worse.

Bonnie meets up with Damon at the wake and tells him that Tyler was affected by the Gilbert device. Damon’s more interested in the fact that the device worked after Bonnie said it wouldn’t. He knows she feels guilty about what happened to Caroline, which is why she let him heal her. Bonnie says he should be glad that she’s sparing him because of this good deed. She knows who he is, even if he’s fooled Elena and Liz and everyone else in town into thinking he’s a good person. “One wrong move and I’m gonna take you out,” she warns. Damon tells her to stop threatening him with magic: “You’re starting to believe your own press.” Bonnie proves that her threats aren’t empty by giving him a psychic migraine.

She goes outside and runs into someone she thinks is Elena. She rants about Damon for a few moments, then touches Katherine’s arm and realizes she’s not Elena. Katherine catches on that Bonnie is on to her. Bonnie confirms that she’s dealing with an impostor when she calls Elena, who’s just now on her way to Lockwood Landing. Katherine follows Bonnie and introduces herself. She’s familiar with everyone in Elena’s life, thanks to Isobel, and she’s immune to Bonnie’s migraine trick. Bonnie goes with plan B, magically opening the doors to the room they’re in so there will be witnesses if Katherine tries to hurt her.

Stefan has arrived at the wake, and when he tells Katherine to leave Bonnie alone, she obeys. She indicates that she’s there to see him. When Matt approaches, she pretends to be Elena, completely fooling him. After he walks away, she gushes to Stefan about how blue Matt’s eyes are. He tells her to leave, so Katherine taunts that Damon was a lot happier to see her. He says he’s not going to play Katherine’s game.

She invites him to go for a walk so they don’t have “couple’s fight” in front of a bunch of people. Stefan asks her to just tell him why she’s in town. She says it could just be that she missed him. He wants to know what game she’s playing. Katherine flirtatiously asks if he wants to play with her. Stefan isn’t sure, since he can’t play if he doesn’t know the rules. She replies that there aren’t any. She starts to leave the room, then pauses, gesturing for him to come with her.

Outside, Elena, John, and Jenna have arrived. Elena checks on Damon, guessing that he’s struggling with the events of the past few hours. “I kissed you. I thought you kissed me back. Doppelganger hijinks ensued. How do you think I’m doing?” he says. Elena knows he’s hurt, and she’s worried that he’ll do something stupid. Damon guesses that she thinks Katherine will send him off the deep end. He doesn’t need her help on that front. He asks why Elena’s so surprised that he would kiss her. Elena’s not – she’s surprised that he thought she would kiss him back.

Bonnie rushes up to tell them about Katherine as Jeremy offers Tyler his condolences inside. Tyler’s tired of hearing kind words from people who don’t really care about his grief. Jeremy gets that, since he went through it with his own parents. Tyler says that in that case, people were being sincere about Grayson being a great guy. When they say that about Richard, they’re lying. Jeremy agrees. Tyler offers him a few sips from the flask he found in his father’s desk, but that’s when Mason comes in. He sends Jeremy away and shares a drink with his nephew.

Katherine and Stefan go for a walk around the lake on the Lockwoods’ property. Katherine comments that the family has a lot more land now, as they took all the stuff that belonged to the tomb vampires. Stefan wonders why she wanted the vampires dead, considering she was the one who turned most of them. She tells him there’s nothing more annoying than a vampire who wants revenge.

Stefan comments that Katherine hasn’t changed at all. She says he has – he’s stronger, meaner, and sexier. He shuts down her attempts to flirt, since he’s not the brother who spent a century and a half obsessed with her. Katherine disagrees, judging by the fact that he’s dating someone who looks just like her. She admits that it bothers her that he’s fallen in love with someone else. Stefan says he was never in love with Katherine. It was all compulsion; none of his feelings were real. Katherine disagrees again.

He tells her she’s the same shrew she’s always been, and she needs to get on with whatever brought her to town before he kills her. Katherine claims she came back to Mystic Falls for Stefan. He tells her he hates her, so that’s not going to work out well for her. She grabs a metal post sitting in the ground nearby and stabs him with it. “That sounds like the beginning of a love story, Stefan, not the end of one,” she says.

Later, Elena tends Stefan’s wound, and he tells her he was trying to play along so Katherine would tell him something. Damon joins them, having failed to track Katherine down. He teases Elena that Katherine’s trying to steal her boyfriend. Stefan says that’s not going to happen, though Damon says it would be fair, since he went after Stefan’s girlfriend.

Elena leaves to check on Jeremy, and Damon jokingly invites Stefan to fight him. Stefan thinks they should take things more seriously – Katherine is going to try to turn them against each other. Damon says they have an unbreakable bond, so Stefan shouldn’t worry. Stefan takes it a step further, saying he won’t even confront Damon for kissing Elena. It shows that Damon feels something for her, and Stefan won’t let Katherine destroy the part of him that’s feeling again. She’s going to try to break the brothers, and how they respond to that will define them.

John goes back to Gilbert Gables to pack up and split town. Jeremy’s not exactly upset to see him go, since he was only in town to kill vampires. John argues that he was taught to hate them – he and Grayson both were. Bro, that’s not the argument you think it is. It’s like saying racism was okay in the past because “it was a different time.” Jeremy thinks Grayson would have seen things differently. John says he would have done things differently, but he would have agreed with John that vampires are evil.

Jeremy asks why John’s ring, which was originally Grayson’s, didn’t protect Grayson the night he died. John explains that the rings only protect their wearers from supernatural-related deaths. Jeremy wonders what his father would think about how things are now, and about his son wanting to be a vampire. John tells Jeremy that his knowledge about vampires in Mystic Falls brings responsibility. He’ll have to accept his family’s legacy of handling them.

After all the guests have left Lockwood Landing, Tyler trashes Richard’s desk and tells Carol he hated his father. When she tries to hug him and he pushes her away, Mason races in and tackles him. Tyler rages against him, but Mason gets him to calm down.

Katherine pops into Vamp Villa, telling Damon she’s going to leave town since no one wants her there. She’d like a goodbye kiss, but he suggests that he kill her instead. He asks why she came in the first place. She tells him she’s not up to anything – when she is, he’ll know it. Katherine invites him to either kiss her or kill her, since he can only do one. She gets him on the floor and tries to seduce him, and just when it looks like he’s going to kill her, he makes out with her instead.

Their clothes start coming off, but Damon needs one thing before he can let go of the 145 years he spent waiting for her and how much he loved her. Then they can start over and spend eternity together. Katherine already knows the question he’s about to ask: Did she really love him? She admits that she didn’t. She only loved Stefan.

Elena’s getting ready for bed at Gilbert Gables when Damon shows up in her room. She thanks him for keeping an eye on everyone. He’s drunk and upset, which Elena knows is a bad combination. Damon claims he can’t be upset because that would mean he cares. He’s hurt that Elena’s surprised that he thought she would kiss him back. If she thinks that there’s nothing going on between the two of them, she’s a liar. She’s lying to Damon, Stefan, and herself.

He kisses her, but she stops him and asks him what’s wrong with him. He moves in again, and she tells him he’s better than this. She cares about him, but she loves Stefan, and she’ll always pick him. Jeremy comes over, having heard them fighting, and Damon sees his chance to lash out in a way that will truly hurt Elena. He grabs Jeremy around the neck and reminds him that vampires can shut out their pain and the part of themselves that cares. “All you have to do is flip the switch and snap,” he says. With “snap,” he breaks Jeremy’s neck.

Horrified, Elena drops to her knees next to her brother. She looks up at Damon, who leaves the room without a word. Before Elena can really start grasping what just happened, she sees that Jeremy’s wearing John’s ring. He won’t stay dead for good.

Back at Lockwood Landing, Mason tells Tyler that his temper is “the curse of being a Lockwood.” He’s learned to manage his own. Tyler doesn’t want to be aggressive anymore, but Mason says that’s what makes it a curse.

Stefan comes to Gilbert Gables to try to reassure Elena that Damon wouldn’t have killed Jeremy if he hadn’t seen that he was wearing a Gilbert ring. Elena is sure he didn’t see it. Stefan blames Katherine, since she got under Damon’s skin and undid all the good inside him. Elena says that Damon wants to be hated because it’s easier. As Damon beats himself up for his actions, Elena tells Stefan that Damon got what he wanted – she hates him. Just then, Jeremy wakes up.

Caroline wakes up in her hospital bed to find Katherine in her room. She wants Caroline to give the Salvatores a message: “Game on.” She grabs a pillow and holds it down over Caroline’s face, suffocating her.

Keep in mind: Damon used his blood to heal Caroline.

The Gilbert rings only protect their wearers from death by supernatural means.

Significant item update: Jeremy has John’s Gilbert ring.

Etc.: Nina Dobrev is severely underrated for playing two completely different characters in such a way that often you can just look at one and know which one she is.

John should welcome the excuse to leave town. Katherine and Damon both have excellent reasons for killing him. He’s lucky they don’t go after him.

I’m constantly amused that Katherine – who once had two of the most attractive men I’ve ever seen in my life wrapped around her finger – practically gets weak in the knees when she looks at Matt. Not that there’s anything wrong with Matt’s looks! He just doesn’t seem like her type.

Everyone basically ignores the fact that Jeremy came super-close to turning himself into a vampire. Like, that seems like something they should probably address?

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