Elena is still at the lake house, reading one of Johnathan Gilbert’s journals. One entry talks about how the townspeople celebrated after supposedly killing all the vampires. In flashback, Johnathan is dining with a few townspeople, including Thomas Fell, who’s still uneasy. Johnathan uses the vampire compass to try to prove that there are no more vampires in town. But the compass spins because there are still two vampires in Mystic Falls. One of them, Stefan, kills Johnathan (who only survived to write this journal entry thanks to his Gilbert ring).
Stefan’s hanging out by the water when Damon calls to tell him that Tyler left town last night. Damon spent the night with Andie again, so she’s off to work with another neck cover-up. The brothers note that with the werewolves gone, they can focus on killing Elijah. Damon hopes to confirm that the dagger and white oak ash John gave him will do the trick.
Jenna gives Elijah a tour of Mystic Falls, though he knows more about the town’s history than she does. For example, it was settled 200 years before everyone thinks, by witches from Salem. The founding families just glossed over that part. Jenna blames the men, saying they’re territorial. Speaking of territorial men, here comes Alaric, inviting himself on the tour so he can keep an eye on Elijah.
Jenna goes to get something from her car, and Elijah IDs Alaric as someone on Elena’s list of loved ones who need to be protected. Aww, that was nice of her. Elijah assures Alaric that he’s not interested in Jenna; he doesn’t go after younger women. Alaric doesn’t respond, so Elijah tells him, “It’s a joke, Ric. Lighten up.” (It’s funnier later, when we find out that Elijah is literally 1,000 years old, so every woman in the world is younger than he is.)
Bonnie and Jeremy meet up at the Grill, both saying they’re thinking about the night before. He’s thinking about their kiss, and he tries to hide his disappointment when she says she’s thinking about the spell she did on Luka. It was draining for her, so Jeremy invites her over to practice that night. Luka arrives and confronts the two of them for doing something to him the day before, though he doesn’t know what it was. They lie that nothing happened.
Elena asks Stefan if he’s still mad at her for agreeing to let Klaus sacrifice her. No, he got over your decision to let yourself be killed in just 12 hours. He asks about the journal, and she mentions that it contains things Stefan knows but never told her. He sees the entry about himself and explains that he and Damon wanted revenge on the founding families for supposedly killing Katherine. Elena’s disturbed because Johnathan described Stefan as a monster. Stefan accepts that that’s what he was. He wants Elena to know the whole story. That means more flashbacks!
1864: Stefan kicks off his new vamp life by bringing a bunch of women to the Salvatores’ house and feeding on them (much like Damon does now). Damon’s upset with him for partying when the founding families could be coming for them. He compels the women to leave the house and tells Stefan that they need to be careful and clever, like Katherine was. Stefan notes that that didn’t get her very far. Damon announces that he’s done with his brother and will be leaving town. Desperate not to lose his brother, even though Damon promised to give him “an eternity of misery,” Stefan promises to do better. Damon doesn’t think he will. Stefan’s behavior will get them killed, and Damon doesn’t want to be there when Stefan is taken down.
Present: Stefan tells Elena that the guilt he felt over what he did to Damon and Giuseppe was too much to bear, so he turned off his emotions. Elena says that it sounds like he was Damon. “I was worse,” Stefan replies.
Damon meets up with Alaric and Andie for lunch at the Grill. Alaric complains about Elijah, and the other two comment that he sounds jealous. Alaric is uncomfortable having this conversation with Andie there. Damon says she’s been compelled to keep his secrets, so they can say whatever they want in front of her. Jenna arrives with Elijah, and Andie suggests an idea that Damon loves (it was probably his idea anyway), because he’ll be able to keep a closer eye on Elijah: a dinner party. Damon offers to host that night. Alaric is the only one who objects.
There’s no possible way Katherine could have desiccated as much as she has since we last saw her, but anyway, Damon visits her and gives her some blood to revive her. He’s also brought her some clothes and some questions. He mentions that John’s back in town and has told him how to kill an Original. Damon’s hoping Katherine knows whether it’s true.
Katherine isn’t about to help Damon, especially if it involves killing Elijah – if he dies, she’ll be stuck in the tomb forever, since he won’t be around to undo his compulsion. She warns Damon that killing Elijah would be a suicide mission. When Damon mentions the dagger and white oak ash, Katherine’s reaction confirms that they’ll get the job done. He realizes how scared she is. Katherine promises to help do whatever Damon wants to Elijah and Klaus if he gets her out of the tomb. Damon knows she’s lying, so that’s a no. He’ll be killing Elijah tonight.
Stefan tells Elena that he spent the next few weeks doing nothing but hunting prey so he could feed. Since there was a war going on, he had easy access to blood.
1864: Stefan’s feeding on a dying soldier in a makeshift hospital in the woods of Mystic Falls when he spots a woman he decides to target as his next meal. But when he starts messing with her by zooming around her, she easily grabs him and throws him on the ground. It’s Lexi!
Present: Stefan explains that Lexi came to Mystic Falls because she heard there were other vampires to hang out with. She just didn’t make it there until after they’d all been rounded up. Stefan invited her to stay with him.
1864: The sight of Stefan’s dead victims left lying around his house makes Lexi uncertain about the accommodations. She realizes Stefan’s a Ripper and announces that they’ll have to change that.
Present: Stefan needs a moment before he continues the story, since thinking about Lexi makes him remember her death.
Jenna and Andie get things set up for dinner at Vamp Villa, talking about Alaric. Jenna confides that she really likes him and wants their relationship to work, but she can’t shake the feeling that he’s keeping something from her. It doesn’t help that John keeps saying the same thing about him. Andie reminds her that trust is very important in a relationship. She’s so glad Damon tells her everything.
Elsewhere in the house, Alaric worries that Damon’s come up with a bad idea. “There’s no such thing as a bad idea. Just poorly executed awesome ones,” Damon replies. Alaric doesn’t like that Elijah and Jenna will be under the same roof. Damon says this is just a fact-finding mission. Alaric tells him not to do anything that could put Jenna in danger. Damon says he won’t, but I’m familiar enough with the face he’s making to know not to take him seriously.
Andie sends Alaric to help Jenna with something, which allows Damon to prepare “dessert,” AKA the weapon of Elijah’s demise. He knows Elijah is older and stronger, so Damon’s only advantage will be the element of surprise. Andie wishes Elijah didn’t have to die, since he’s so classy. Damon tells her that after dinner, she should suggest that the guys come to the living room for drinks while she and Jenna have coffee in the kitchen. Andie says that’s sexist, so Damon tells her to shut up. John crashes the party, having heard about the guest list from Jenna. Alaric tells him it’s just a friendly dinner party – nothing to worry about.
Speaking of friendly dinners, Jeremy’s plans for Bonnie at Gilbert Gables are…a little more than friendly, judging by the candles he’s lit. Bonnie doesn’t want them to move forward until she’s talked to Elena about the situation. Jeremy’s fine with that, especially when Bonnie confirms that she would have appreciated the romantic dinner otherwise.
Elijah arrives at Vamp Villa, immediately warning Damon to rethink any plans he might have to do something to Elijah. If Damon makes a move against him, Elijah will kill him and everyone in the house, regardless of his deal with Elena. Damon continues pretending that the only thing he has planned for tonight is dinner and friendly conversation.
The group talks local history, and Elijah brings up the Salem witch settlers, who came to Mystic Falls to escape persecution. Jenna finds the witch idea a little wacky, and Andie says there’s no proof there were any actual witches in Salem. Elijah says there was anti-witch hysteria, and people rounded up and burned a bunch of witches. He’s looking into the locations where the witches were killed, but only because he’s a curious historian/fake writer.
Elena keeps reading at the lake house, telling Stefan that Johnathan got crazier and crazier as time went on. He also got more helpful: He researched the Originals. He even has a journal entry about the dagger and white oak ash. The wood from an ancient white oak tree was the only thing that would kill an Original permanently, but the tree burned. Some ash was saved, and witches made a dagger that it would bond to. Stefan tells Elena that John gave that dagger to Damon. Elena reads the fine print: Only a human can use the dagger on an Original. If a vampire tries it, they’ll die, too.
Stefan realizes that John was hoping Damon would use the dagger and get himself killed. He tries to call his brother, whose phone is off. He tells Elena that Damon’s planning to kill Elijah tonight. In fact, he’s planning to do it any minute now, since dinner’s over and the group is about to split up along gender lines.
Jenna’s acting a little weird with Alaric, who guesses that John is somehow to blame. John admits that he told Jenna that Alaric hasn’t been completely honest about Isobel. He also demands his ring back again. As Alaric gets a call from Stefan, Damon and Elijah, alone in the living room, discuss the witch burial ground Elijah wants to find. Damon guesses it has to do with the sacrifice. He hints that he knows where it is, not that he’s going to share the location with Elijah.
As Elijah starts talking about books, and Damon prepares to use the dagger on him, Alaric enters and says they forgot about dessert. He sends Elijah off with Andie, then writes a note to Damon (so Elijah can’t overhear) telling him the dagger will kill him if he uses it.
Everyone returns to the dining room for dessert. Andie asks Alaric to get her notebook out of her bag so she can ask Elijah some questions. Damon brings up Elena’s relationship to John, telling Elijah that since she hates her uncle/father, “there’s absolutely no need to keep him on the endangered species list.” Andie goes to get the notebook herself, since Alaric’s taking too long, so only Damon, Elijah, and John remain at the table. John asks Elijah how he plans to kill Klaus. Elijah wants to make something clear: Damon’s only alive so he can protect Elena. Elena’s allowed to live at home and have her normal life as a courtesy. If Damon threatens their deal, Elijah will take her away and Damon will never see her again.
Andie returns to the table, but before she can get out her first question, Alaric jams the dagger into Elijah’s back and through his heart. Once Elijah’s fully desiccated, Alaric sets the dagger on the table and tells Damon to get rid of the body before Jenna comes in with dessert. Damon’s so shocked, he can’t come up with a quip.
At the lake house, Elena blasts Stefan for keeping things from her. If he doesn’t like her decisions, that’s fine, but she still deserves to know what the Salvatores are doing when it affects her life. Stefan says he’s going to do whatever he can to make sure she keeps that life. She asks if he’s been telling her about his past as a distraction. Stefan tells her he wanted to talk about a time in his life when he felt lost and wanted to give up. Elena denies that she’s giving up by allowing Klaus to sacrifice her. Stefan disagrees, and since Lexi wouldn’t let him give up, he won’t let Elena give up, either.
1864: Lexi takes Stefan back to the makeshift hospital, asking what the sight of all the dying and dead soldiers makes him feel. Stefan says he feels nothing, thanks to his decision to turn off his emotions. Lexi tells him there’s a better way. He’ll have to feel the pain he’s trying to avoid, though. Stefan doesn’t see the point in that. Lexi says that once he can hurt, he can love. Vampires’ feelings are intensified, so pain is stronger than when they were human. But that means love is also stronger.
Present: Stefan tells Elena that from then on, he fought for a better way, which helped him survive. He wants Elena to do the same.
As Damon and Alaric stash Elijah’s body in the basement, Alaric confronts Damon for lying about not planning anything during dinner. There wasn’t supposed to be any violence tonight. Damon points out that Alaric was the one who actually committed the act of violence. Like Elena, Alaric’s mad that the Salvatores have kept stuff from him. Damon doesn’t have many friends, so he needs to be open with the ones he has.
After a phone call from Damon, Stefan reports to Elena that Alaric killed Elijah. Elena clarifies that, according to Johnathan’s journal, the dagger was designed to kill any vampire who tried to use it on an Original as punishment for showing dishonor. As long as the dagger stays in the Original, the Original will remain dead. What’s that? Oh, yeah. There was more fine print. If you take the dagger out of an Original, the Original revives. Stefan calls Damon to let him know, but it’s too late – Elijah has already revived and left Vamp Villa. Now he’s with Jonas, requesting a locator spell so he can find Elena.
Bonnie shows Jeremy a fire trick she’s been working on. She tells him witches can channel other people or elements to power their spells. Jeremy suggests that she channel him. As she’s about to, Jonas bursts in and magically pins Jeremy up against a wall. He demands to know what Luka told Bonnie. She says she knows that Klaus has Jonas’ daughter, and she’s willing to work with him to get her back.
Jonas doesn’t want a partnership, though. Instead, he grabs her face and chants something. He warns that if anything bad happens to Luka because of Bonnie’s spell on him, she’ll have to answer to Jonas. After he leaves, Jeremy drops back to the floor and rushes over to check on Bonnie. She tells him that Jonas took her powers.
Elijah goes to the lake house and grabs a handful of rocks to do his special window-shattering trick. Stefan hears him outside and tells Elena he’s there. Elijah uses the rocks to make the door burst open, but Elena reminds Stefan that he can’t come in. Elijah hears and says he’ll wait outside as long as necessary.
Elena tells Stefan to let her handle this. Remembering that Originals value honor, she tells Elijah that Damon and Alaric shouldn’t have done what they did. She’d like to renegotiate their deal. Elijah says she doesn’t have anything to negotiate with. Elena pulls out a knife and threatens to stab herself so Klaus loses another doppelganger. Elijah knows that Stefan will save her, but Elena says that after he heals her with his blood, she’ll kill herself and turn, just like Katherine did. But if Elijah promises again not to harm anyone she loves – even if they’ve harmed him – she won’t hurt herself.
Elijah thinks it over and decides she’s bluffing. Elena steels herself, then stabs herself in the stomach. Elijah tries to run to her, but she’s still inside and he can’t get in. He agrees to the deal and asks Elena to let him heal her. Once she’s satisfied that he’s being honest, she stumbles out of the house…and stabs him with the dagger. Elijah’s body falls, and Elena collapses as well. Stefan quickly gives her some of his blood. Damon appears in the doorway, having made it to the lake house before Elijah, and reminds them not to pull out the dagger.
Jenna’s done being passive-aggressive with Alaric, and when he takes her home after the dinner party, she asks him straight out what happened to Isobel. He tries to convince her that John is just trying to stir up trouble. Jenna’s worried that she’s doubting Alaric when she doesn’t have a reason to, so she wants to give him the chance to be honest with her. He says nothing, so Jenna figures that’s all she needs to know.
She leaves the room just as John comes in and comments that that was awkward. He offers to tell Jenna everything tomorrow, if Alaric would like. Alaric takes off his ring and puts it on the counter, noting that after what John tried to do to Damon, John will need it more than Alaric does.
Stefan, Damon, and Elena take Elijah’s body back to Vamp Villa’s basement, where Damon snags the “little moonstone bar of soap” from Elijah’s pocket. For now, their problems are over. Elena tells the Salvatores that if they want her to fight for her life, she will, but they have to be honest with her. From now on, they’re doing things her way. The guys agree that that’s fair. When she leaves, Damon comments that she’s had a change in attitude. Stefan explains that he told her about his own change from predator to good person. Damon knows Lexi was involved, and Stefan pointedly asks, “You remember her?” Someone’s still a little mad that his brother killed his best friend.
1864: Lexi meets Damon as he’s leaving the Salvatores’ house for the last time. She tells him that he doesn’t have control over his hatred toward everyone. It’ll eventually get the best of him. Damon asks her to help Stefan, and she says she will.
Present: Damon goes to his room, where someone’s using his shower. He thinks it’s Andie, but it’s not – it’s Katherine. Turns out that when you kill an Original, even temporarily, any compulsion they’ve used wears off. Katherine knew that, so she used reverse psychology to get Damon to kill Elijah. Now she’s going to follow through on her promise to help the gang with their Klaus problem.
Keep in mind: Once an Original has been daggered, the dagger has to stay in their body. If it’s removed, the Original revives.
If a vampire uses a dagger on an Original, that vampire will also die.
An Original’s compulsion wears off after that Original dies (even temporarily).
Significant item update: The gang has the moonstone.
Etc.: This episode really didn’t need flashbacks, but since Lexi’s in them, I’ll let it go.
Jenna, STOP TELLING JOHN STUFF. Just…don’t talk to him at all.
Elena seems to have forgotten that she and Stefan went to the lake house for a romantic getaway, not to read 160-year-old journals.
Whether or not you agree with Elena’s idea to make Elijah recommit to their deal, you have to admire the sheer guts of saying, “Do what I want or I’ll stab myself,” and then actually doing it.
In the most perfect song cue ever used on this show, the song in the last scene is “Happiness Is Overrated” by the Airborne Toxic Event, which starts with the lyric, “And speaking of little Miss Catherine…”