Katherine and Stefan are dancing at a party at the Lockwood mansion in 1864, while Damon looks on unhappily. He finds someone else to talk to: Elena. Stefan follows as Damon leads her away, but the door leads him to the Grill. Elena offers him a turn at the pool table, or so it seems – she’s actually playing with Damon. He gets overly friendly with her as Katherine approaches Stefan and tells him that now he knows how she feels. She urges him to fall back in love with her. Back at the mansion, Katherine kisses Stefan and tells him she loves him and they’ll be together again.
Stefan wakes up with Elena at his side in his bed. As he starts to go back to sleep, he realizes she’s Katherine. She taunts him for letting down his guard, which let her get into his head and mess with his dreams. She vampcepted him! He’s ready to fight her, but they both know she would win. Stefan asks her once again why she’s back in town. Because the first 18 times he asked, she didn’t answer, but maybe he’ll get lucky with #19. Katherine says she has three reasons, and they’re all him. She reminds him that their relationship long ago wasn’t one-sided.
Damon finds Elena hanging out at the Grill and brings up how she stabbed him in the back. She corrects that she tricked him into telling the truth, which was just using his tactics against him. She reminds him that she doesn’t want to have anything to do with him. Damon says that’s fine. By the way, he’ll see her later at Jenna’s barbecue. He got Alaric to talk Jenna into throwing one so the gang would have an excuse to spend time with Mason, who’s an old friend of Jenna’s. Damon plans to expose Mason to silver so he can see if Mason’s really a werewolf.
Mason’s leaving Lockwood Landing for the barbecue when Tyler asks him for more information on his secret werewolf identity. Mason doesn’t see the point in telling Tyler anything because he’ll never need to know it. Richard never triggered the curse, and Tyler won’t, either. Mason doesn’t even want to tell Tyler how the curse is triggered. Tyler can’t believe that Mason expects him to just shut up and accept that something weird is going on without asking questions. Mason says it’s better for him to stay in the dark. Tyler asks if he ever found the moonstone, then wonders what’s significant about it. Mason says it has sentimental value.
Stefan catches Katherine reading his journal at Vamp Villa. Considering he lives with a guy who wants to steal his girlfriend and would love to find out more about her, Stefan should hide that better. Katherine knows that Stefan doesn’t drink human blood, and that he recently had a run-in with a werewolf. He asks her what she knows about werewolves. She’s familiar with the fact that their bites are fatal to vampires. And how does she know so much about them? Because she’s the one who chased them out of Mystic Falls in 1864.
1864: Katherine and Stefan are at the event from Stefan’s dream; it’s the annual Founder’s Party. Damon leads a toast to George Lockwood, who’s back home after fighting in the Civil War. Henry pulls Katherine away from the crowd to tell her that some recent attacks weren’t committed by vampires. Katherine says that’s good news, but it’s actually not, because the Founder’s Council is going to investigate and dig up stuff that shouldn’t be dug up. Henry thinks they should leave town before anything is uncovered. Katherine says Mystic Falls is her home and the vampires are her family. She won’t let anything happen to them.
Present: Katherine tells Stefan that she knew George would be a problem from the beginning. There’s a werewolf gene running through their family, but not all Lockwoods are wolves. Stefan asks if there are other, non-Lockwood werewolves. Katherine says yes, but not many. She grabs Stefan’s diary and asks why he kept a picture of her. Just like he wants to know why she came back to town, she wants to know why he’s there. She doesn’t think it’s because of Elena. She thinks Stefan wanted to fall in love with Katherine again.
Stefan puts a hand to her cheek and asks what it is about her that makes him still care. They kiss, but it’s a ruse to get Katherine close so Stefan can inject her with vervain. He locks her up in the basement and asks her YET AGAIN why she came back to town. She says again that she came back for him. Stefan is tired of her playing games, so he grabs a stalk of vervain and sears her cheek with it. He tells her he’ll do whatever it takes to make her tell the truth. Katherine goes back to her memory about the Founder’s Party, telling Stefan he’ll want to hear this.
1864: George wants to talk to Katherine, who’s surprised because she’s a vampire and could kill him. He pretends to be confused, but she knows he knows her secret. Likewise, she knows his. She did her homework before she decided to make Mystic Falls her home.
Present: Stefan asks Katherine what George wanted. She won’t answer. Stefan, stop interrupting!
Over at Gilbert Gables, Elena and Jenna get ready for the barbecue. Jenna asks why Damon’s coming. Elena blames Alaric for taking pity on him. Okay, but it’s your house, ladies. Don’t let Alaric bring a guy you don’t like. Elena tells Jenna to be nice to Damon, which is strange because why does she care if Jenna’s mean to someone Elena doesn’t like? Anyway, Jenna’s ticked at Damon because the last time she saw him, he was kissing Elena (well, as far as Jenna knows).
Elena leaves the kitchen as Mason and Alaric come in to start socializing. Damon arrives, so Jenna leaves the guys alone. He and Mason officially meet, and Mason says he’s heard great things about Damon. Damon doubts that, since everyone hates him. On the porch, Elena leaves a message for Stefan, who hasn’t been returning her calls. Caroline is also at Gilbert Gables, still trying to fight her new urge to drink blood all the time. She tells Elena that Stefan said she’s a “constant temptation” for him. Elena’s stunned.
Katherine still won’t talk, so Stefan does that parent thing where your kid won’t eat their vegetables, so you say you can sit there all day until they do. But Katherine never does anything she doesn’t want to do, so that won’t work for her. She asks if Stefan pretends to be human when he’s with Elena. He says he never has to pretend when he’s with her. That’s what makes their relationship great. Katherine asks if Elena knows that he loves Katherine. Stefan says he doesn’t love her, but Katherine remembers things differently.
1864: Stefan takes Katherine home after the party and makes it clear that she’s welcome to stay with the Salvatores as long as she wants. He knows they haven’t known each other long, and that Damon also likes her, but she makes him feel the way no woman ever has. She’s like an angel. When he kisses her, he knows he’s falling in love. They kiss, but Katherine doesn’t want to let things progress. She tells him there are things he hasn’t learned about her yet. His admission of his feelings for her surprised her.
Katherine goes to her room, where Damon’s waiting for her. He heard what Stefan said to her. She admonishes him for eavesdropping, the tells him she’s tired and wants to be alone tonight. When Damon tries to protest, she compels him to go. Then she touches her lips and thinks about her kiss with Stefan.
Present: Katherine tells Stefan that no matter what he does to her for revenge, he won’t change the truth: She never compelled him to love her. Both of them had completely authentic feelings for each other.
The barbecuers are playing Pictionary, with Damon drawing a picture of what looks like a dog in a tutu. Mason correctly guesses his clue, Dances With Wolves. When the game is over, Damon follows Elena to the kitchen and tells her that Jenna’s getting drunk. Elena’s like, “Well, if you stop pouring her drinks, she’ll sober up.” Damon thinks he and Mason are becoming friends, which is part of his plan to find out more about Mason. Jenna joins them and starts snarking at Damon. She’s dated a lot of guys like him, so she knows his type well. Damon calls himself a work in progress and admires the family’s silver set.
Back in the basement, Stefan denies that he ever loved Katherine for real. When he transitioned, he remembered her compelling him. Katherine says she only used compulsion after she revealed that she was a vampire, and that was just so he wouldn’t be afraid. Stefan tells her it doesn’t matter what he felt back then – now, he just hates her. She comments that there’s a fine line between hate and love. She can wait.
She continues her story: George was killing people and using the vampires to cover his tracks. He told the founding families about them. Katherine was able to make a deal with him to get rid of all the vampires.
1864: George tells Katherine that the vampires will be rounded up that night. She tells him to make sure there’s a body count before the church is set on fire. The official record needs to say that there are 27 vampires. George gives her an escape route, promising to free her once the fire starts and everyone’s distracted. Katherine’s plan all along was to fake her death.
Present: Stefan confronts Katherine for letting her vampire “family” get rounded up and killed. She fully admits that she helped it happen.
Damon has brought a peach cobbler to the barbecue, and he offers Mason the first piece. Instead of using the silver knife Damon’s provided, Mason just grabs a piece with his hand. Gross, dude. Alaric asks if Jenna and Mason ever dated. Mason says Jenna was always into Logan, and Jenna says Mason was too popular with other girls to ever have time for her anyway. Damon comments that he figured Mason was a “lone wolf.” Mason replies that he probably wasn’t half the “lady killer” Damon was.
In another room, Elena tells Caroline that she wants to go find Stefan. Caroline tries to talk her out of it, since she’ll look clingy. Elena says she’s just concerned. Caroline offers to drive her to Vamp Villa, but when they go out to her car, she lets the air out of one of her tires.
Stefan asks Katherine what George got for helping free her. She says he got something he desperately wanted. Stefan still can’t believe that she sent 26 people to their deaths so she could fake her own. She must have been running from something. Katherine tells him that everyone has a past. She needed to stay far away from hers. But Stefan almost ruined her plans.
1864: As we saw in “Children of the Damned,” Katherine meets up with Stefan one last time but realizes too late that she’s been busted, and Giuseppe has used Stefan to give her vervain. Then we jump ahead to “Blood Brothers,” when Stefan and Damon try to save Katherine from the roundup.
Present: Stefan’s upset because he and Damon died trying to save someone who didn’t want to be saved. Katherine corrects him: They died for love.
Mason and Damon end up alone in the kitchen, and when Damon makes a quip about Mason “barking up the wrong tree,” Mason tells him he’s done with the dog/wolf comments. He knows exactly what the barbecue is a front for. Damon asks how Mason knows about him, since Richard didn’t. Mason says it doesn’t matter – they’re not enemies. Damon disagrees, since Mason almost attacked Stefan. Mason says that wasn’t his fault. He couldn’t restrain himself in time, and once he starts shifting, he has no control. “What, no obedience school?” Damon asks.
Mason doesn’t want them to ignite an old feud that has nothing to do with them. He lost his brother; he’s just in town to be with his family. He thinks he and Damon can keep things peaceful. Damon shakes his hand as if he’s agreeing, but after Mason leaves, he grabs a huge knife from the silver set.
In the car on the way to Vamp Villa, Caroline makes more comments indicating that she doesn’t think Elena and Stefan are a good fit. She shows off a feature of Caroline’s product-placed car. Bleh. The tire finally gives out. Mason wants to continue the party at the Grill, but no one else is interested. Damon leaves Gilbert Gables just after he does.
Elena and Caroline are by the side of a road, waiting for a tow truck to arrive. Elena’s anxious to get to Vamp Villa, but Caroline keeps coming up with reasons for her to stay put. Why should she rush to get to a guy she’s not going to end up spending her life with?
Elena tells her to stop projecting her breakup with Matt onto Elena’s relationship. Caroline says she’s not – Elena will never be happy in a long-term relationship with a vampire, especially if it means she can’t have children. Elena’s done with this and starts to walk away, but Caroline grabs her arm and begs Elena not to leave her alone. Elena asks what’s wrong with her. When the tow-truck driver finally arrives, Elena leaves.
Damon follows Mason to the Grill and, without much lead-up, stabs him with the silver knife. He plans to stash his body in the back of his own truck, but Mason just pulls out the knife. Apparently the lore that silver harms werewolves isn’t true. Mason guesses that werewolves made up the story to stay a step ahead of their enemies. Speaking of enemies, Damon has a new one in Mason.
Stefan asks Katherine YET A-FREAKING-GAIN why she came back to town. Katherine insists that she’s already answered that question: “I want what I want, Stefan, and I don’t care what I have to do to get it.” That includes killing Elena. Stefan thinks that if she wanted Elena dead, she would have already made it happen. Katherine says they both know she can kill Elena in an instant. Stefan threatens to stake her, but Katherine barely blinks, knowing he won’t be able to do it. She taunts that he doesn’t hate her as much as he thought he did.
Katherine announces that she doesn’t want Elena and Stefan to be together anymore. If they don’t break up, she’ll kill everyone Elena loves while she watches, then kill Elena while Stefan watches. Stefan raises his stake again, putting his hand around her neck and vamping out. He tells her that she shouldn’t get too comfortable thinking he won’t kill her.
She fights him off and easily unchains herself. She reveals that she’s been sipping vervain every day for the past 145 years, and she’s built up a tolerance to it. She wasn’t about to let Stefan catch her by surprise again. Katherine could have escaped the whole time she was in the basement, but she stayed because she wanted to spend time with Stefan.
Upstairs, Elena arrives and calls out for Stefan. Katherine stabs Stefan’s stake into his leg and goes up to meet her doppelganger face-to-face for the first time. Elena’s shocked by how alike they look and wonders how it’s possible. Katherine tells her that’s not the question she should be asking. She zooms off when Stefan comes up to make sure Elena’s okay.
Katherine heads to the Grill, where she corners Caroline in the bathroom. She’s unhappy that Caroline failed her assignment to keep Elena occupied while Katherine was with Stefan. Everything Caroline said about Elena and Stefan’s relationship was on Katherine’s orders. Caroline thinks she got to Elena, and Katherine says she better be right, because she killed Caroline once and can do it again.
Tyler hides the moonstone when Mason gets home, then tells his uncle that he knows where it might be. He just wants to know how the curse is triggered. Mason doesn’t want to tell him since Tyler won’t be able to think of anything else. Tyler says he can handle it. The two yell at each other for a little while until Mason shares the secret: You trigger the curse by killing a human.
Stefan and Elena head to the Grill, where Caroline apologizes to Elena for being weird earlier. Elena admits that everything she said was right. It’s just hard for her to think about her relationship not lasting. Caroline was just trying to be a good friend, in her own way.
At a table across the restaurant from Caroline, Stefan and Elena talk about how he spent the day with Katherine, and how they need to keep their guard up. Stefan says that she’s sadistic and used to getting what she wants, so if she wants them to break up, she’ll make it happen. Elena tells him not to give Katherine any power over their relationship. She’s getting between them and making them fight. Stefan says she’s already accomplished her goal. Upset, Elena leaves the restaurant. Caroline’s been listening the whole time, and she’s not the only one – at the bar, Damon has heard everything, and he’s pleased that Stefan and Elena have ended things.
When he leaves the Grill, Katherine’s waiting for him outside, happy to rub it in his face that she spent the day with Stefan. Damon tells her he doesn’t get jealous anymore where she’s concerned. Amazingly, he passes up the opportunity to mention Elena and make KATHERINE jealous.
She asks why he’s pouty, and he says he was unable to kill a werewolf: “I feel like I’m not living up to my best self.” She says werewolves aren’t easy to kill. Damon asks what she knows about them, and she tells him to ask Stefan. She warns Damon not to try to be the hero, because he’ll end up dead. He says he’s done that; this time, it would be worth it, at least.
Elena goes home, where Stefan meets her in her bedroom. Their fight at the Grill was staged, and they’re still together. They knew Caroline would eavesdrop and report back to Katherine. Elena thinks Damon was listening, too, so they’ll have to keep him in the dark to make things more realistic. Elena can’t believe Katherine’s going this far to try to get Stefan back. Stefan says Katherine only cares about herself. She’s not capable of love. She has to have another reason to be back.
1864: George meets up with Katherine after she’s escaped from the church and provides her with a carriage out of town. His payment is the moonstone. George promises that they’ll take each other’s secrets to the grave. Before heading off with him, Katherine goes back to where Stefan is on the ground, dead and on his way to becoming a vampire. She tells him she loves him and promises that they’ll be together again, then kisses him.
Present: Katherine touches her lips, remembering the kiss. She smiles up at the moon, then goes off to put whatever the next part of her plan is in motion.
Keep in mind: Vampires can build up a tolerance to vervain.
If you have the werewolf gene, you trigger the curse (and your transformation) by killing a human.
Etc.: I think we can count this episode as the official point where Alaric and Damon cross over from enemies to friends. Alaric is fully on board with Damon’s plan to expose Mason, no matter how poorly thought-out it is.
Most of Damon’s dog/wolf jokes are dumb, but the one about obedience school is admittedly clever.
I wish they’d made Caroline’s presence at the barbecue a little less glaring. It’s weird to see her hanging out with Jenna’s friends, even though she’s there to be with Elena.
I’ve never understood why none of the Lockwoods told Tyler about their werewolf gene, or how he could grow up in that family without finding out. It’s one thing for the Founder’s Council members not to tell their kids that vampires exist, but to keep a secret from a family member about a supernatural creature they might turn into one day? Seems unlikely.