Damon is speeding down a road in a car that isn’t his Camaro as Stefan reads from one of his old journals in the passenger’s seat. Since revealing that he doesn’t remember anything, Stefan has been told that he’s a vampire and is trying to figure out what that means for him. The journals haven’t helped him recover any memories, and he’s having trouble processing his situation. Also, he thinks Damon isn’t driving fast enough, which means he’s the safe brother and Stefan is the fun brother. Damon speeds up, then purposely flips the car so Stefan will get it straight.
At Vamp Villa, Elena talks to Caroline on the phone about agreeing to let Damon take the lead on orienting Stefan. Caroline guesses they’ve killed some Girl Scouts by now. She tells Elena that it’s normal for patients with amnesia to become volatile. She’s been studying lots of biology, both to help Stefan and to impress Wes. She’s also been studying with Jesse, and she’s bringing him to Mystic Falls for their annual graveyard bell-ringing tradition (which we’ve somehow never heard about before). Caroline suggests that Elena bring Stefan along so they can all enjoy the irony of him having amnesia on Remembrance Day.
The graveyard isn’t the only place people ring bells to honor the dead in Mystic Falls – they also do it while toasting their departed loved ones with beer at the Grill. Stefan asks Damon if the townspeople are always so upbeat about dead people. Damon explains the origins of the tradition: During a cholera epidemic, people were sometimes accidentally buried prematurely. Some would request to be buried with a bell, and their family would hang around their grave for 24 hours hoping the bell would ring and they would find out their loved one was actually alive. Now it’s just an excuse to drink.
A waitress comes to take away the guys’ empty shot glasses, and while Damon calls her “darling,” which I don’t think Elena would appreciate, the bigger problem is that Stefan wants to feed on her. He asks Damon’s permission to act like the vampire Damon’s spent all day telling him he is. Damon breaks the news that Stefan can’t hold his blood. Stefan suggests that he became a Ripper because of the trauma of forcing Damon to become a vampire and killing their father. Maybe without those memories, he can feed without going too far. Damon doesn’t think they should test that theory.
Elena joins the guys, disappointed when Stefan doesn’t remember her name. Damon tries to brush off the fact that he hasn’t told Stefan about her. (To be fair, Stefan’s 160-something years old and has only known Elena for the last couple of years, so it’s going to take a while to get to that part of his history. Also, Damon would have to explain how Elena dated Stefan and is now dating him, and that’s just a whole thing.)
Jeremy is working out shirtless at Vamp Villa. Bonnie pops in and tells him all the women on the Other Side appreciate it. He asks how long she’s going to joke around while he hides her death from the gang. They’re stuck waiting for Bonnie to come help them because that’s what she does. Jeremy knows he said he was okay with Bonnie making this decision, but he’s really not.
Matt calls Jeremy over to Lockwood Landing to tell him about the weird things that happened to him the day before. He thinks he blacked out and lost time, and it’s happened before. Jeremy wonders if the Gilbert ring is messing with him, but Matt thinks it’s something else. Silas couldn’t use mind control on him, and Nadia may have put something in his head. He thinks it’s still there.
Jeremy notices a video camera, and Matt explains that he set some up all over the house in hopes of helping him figure out what happens when he loses time. He’d like to talk to Bonnie, but Jeremy says she’s still out of town with Abby. Matt worries that he did something to make her mad, since she’s barely been in contact for months. Jeremy plays dumb, then leaves before he spills the truth.
Back at the Grill, Elena chastises Damon for not making any breakthroughs with Stefan. She decides to call Bonnie; a witch broke Stefan’s brain, so maybe another witch can fix it. Damon’s already tried that but, of course, Bonnie hasn’t called back. Until she does, they should let Stefan be Stefan, or at least the version of Stefan that doesn’t have any guilt or, possibly, a blood problem. That’s a great idea, but in the five seconds the two of them aren’t looking, Stefan disappears.
He’s followed the waitress to the storeroom so he can compel her to let him feed on her. He wants to see if he can drink without losing control. He’s scared at the possibility of killing her, but his hunger is too strong to resist. Before he can take a bite, Damon zooms in and stops him.
Elena and the Salvatores go to the cemetery, where people are drinking among the tombstones. Stefan sees the name Honoria Fell on a tombstone and mocks it. Damon shushes him because Stefan’s the one who killed her. They go to the Salvatore crypt so Stefan can keep his distance from humans until they fix him. Damon rings a bell for Giuseppe (“our father, who art in Hell”), Zach (“my bad”), and their mother Lily, who died of consumption. Cough. (That was an “ahem” cough, not a consumption cough.) Jeremy texts Damon, demanding a meeting, and Damon leaves Stefan and Elena so he can “go see a man about a witch.”
Stefan comments that he hopes Elena’s family history is better than his. Nope, sorry. She tells him that in just the past three years, she lost her adoptive parents, her birth parents, Jenna, Alaric, and Jeremy (though he came back). Stefan remembers that Jeremy lives at Vamp Villa, and Elena explains that he had to move in because she burned down their house. Stefan can’t believe he doesn’t remember her. She must be the strongest woman in the world to survive all that. She tells him she has great support from wonderful people, including him. Stefan says they’re “bonded by death.” He hopes they didn’t meet in a cemetery. She laughs, though that was their second meeting. She offers to show him where they had their first.
Damon calls Jeremy, eager for news that he’s gotten in touch with Bonnie. Jeremy just tells Damon that he needs to meet up with him alone. “And I need you to be less vague and less weird,” Damon replies. Jeremy says he knows where Bonnie is.
Stefan and Elena reenact their first meeting in the hallway at Mystic Falls High. It doesn’t help him remember, but it’s cute. Some football players pass by at the end of the hallway, one of them bleeding a little, and Elena rushes Stefan outside. She teaches him to do a super-jump, in an echo of the way he taught her to vamp run, and they hang out on the roof. She tells him he once took her to the top of a Ferris wheel. Stefan guesses they dated, and she may have dumped him because he was a Ripper. Elena says he’s actually the most compassionate person she knows. He’s always been in control. She broke up with him because she changed after she became a vampire. Stefan asks for that story, so she suggests another field trip.
Caroline and Jesse study in the cemetery; she’s been learning all that biology stuff so Wes will let her back into his class. She tells Jesse she’s learned so much so quickly because she likes to prove people wrong when they tell her she can’t do something. He wonders if she invited him there to prove to Tyler that she doesn’t need him. Caroline hasn’t spoken to or seen Tyler recently and doesn’t even know where he is. She just wanted to hang out with Jesse because he’s a nice guy. He kisses her, and though she seems interested, he doesn’t linger or make her admit her feelings.
At Vamp Villa, Jeremy starts to tell Damon that Bonnie’s dead, despite her protests. Instead of saying it straight out, Jeremy reminds Damon that he died and wasn’t supposed to come back. Magic found a balance. Damon slowly realizes that Bonnie paid the price for bringing Jeremy back. He tries to keep Jeremy from confirming it, since it’ll ruin Elena’s life. Bonnie gives the same order, but Jeremy wants the truth out. Damon’s mad and looks like he’s going to kill the messenger, but instead he hugs Jeremy and actually looks sad that his Bon-Bon is gone.
Elena takes Stefan to Wickery Bridge, where he wonders how it’s possible to get into two accidents on the same bridge. She wonders if it was fate. He asks why he didn’t save her, since he was there both times. She explains that she asked him to save Matt instead the second time. Stefan thinks that was a dumb move on his part, but she tells him he was the perfect boyfriend because he valued her decisions. He says that their little tour isn’t helping him remember anything, but it’s distracting him from his hunger. He may have been a monster before, but he can see how he was different with Elena.
She tells him he was never a monster. She was never scared of him. The first time she saw him in vamp face, she told him not to hide. She touches his face like she did then, and when she starts to pull away, he tells her not to. They almost kiss, but she tells him she’s with Damon. Stefan doesn’t get why they didn’t tell him earlier. Now he’s hungry again. He zooms off before Elena can stop him.
Matt wakes up from a nap and sees that his hand is bleeding. He checks his video footage, which shows him taking a phone call and speaking Czech to the caller. The person possessing him explains that he’s a Passenger and Matt needs to protect the knife he found the night before. If he doesn’t, the Passenger will do to Matt’s throat when he did to his hand.
Damon calls Elena, who’s been searching for Stefan without any luck. She tells Damon about his disappearance before he can tell her about Bonnie. She’s worried that Stefan will bite someone in the cemetery. Caroline runs into him and he comments that he’s seen her picture but she’s hotter in person. (He’s drunk.) Jesse joins them and Caroline asks for some privacy. Stefan says that’s a good idea because Jesse has a paper cut and the blood is making Stefan crazy. Caroline compels Jesse to hide somewhere, then reminds Stefan that he doesn’t feed on people. She offers to get him a blood bag from her car. But again, he disappears.
Jesse calls Caroline from the Salvatore crypt, confused about why he’s there. Stefan finds him and bites his neck. He’s proud that he just took a sip and stopped himself. Jesse begs Stefan to let him go, and Stefan says he knows that would be the right thing to do, but he doesn’t know what he has to show for all his self-control. His memories are gone, his brother stole his girlfriend, and she let him. What’s the point of being good? Stefan goes in for another bite.
Jeremy goes back to Lockwood Landing to tell Matt about Bonnie. Caroline finds Jesse and Stefan and pulls the Ripper off of his victim. She tells Stefan he’s better than this – he’s not this person. Stefan just says he has to leave. Jesse’s bleeding a lot, so Caroline feeds him her blood. She feels bad for getting him into this and letting him kiss her.
Stefan goes home and burns his journals in the fireplace. He tells Damon and Elena that he doesn’t want to be the person in those entries anymore. He doesn’t want to live at Vamp Villa, he doesn’t want Damon’s advice, and he doesn’t want to hear about how he used to support Elena. He’s leaving, but he agreed to let Caroline check in with him to make sure he’s not hurting anyone. He trusts her. “I think we just got dumped,” Damon comments to Elena as Stefan leaves. Elena wants Bonnie’s help, but Damon tells her that’s not possible.
The next day, Stefan goes back to the Salvatore crypt, where he tells Caroline he feels better (and hasn’t killed anyone). She gives him the news about Bonnie and says she’s barely holding it together. He wishes he could remember her. Caroline, however, kind of wishes she could have amnesia so she wouldn’t be in so much pain. She got used to Bonnie and Tyler being around all the time; how is she supposed to learn to move on without them? Stefan promises to support her, since he’s sure she’s always been there for him.
Elena can’t find anything to wear for a funeral because all her appropriate clothes burned at Gilbert Gables. She tells Damon she can’t keep losing people she loves. Bonnie gave up her own life to bring Jeremy back, and Elena had no idea. Damon tries to comfort her, but this is grief that can’t be alleviated with a hug. Bonnie watches them, feeling helpless.
The gang (minus Stefan) goes to the cemetery to hold a memorial for Bonnie. They place meaningful items on a tree stump, like a pompom, a lifeguard whistle, and feathers. Elena and Caroline cry and cling to each other as Bonnie tells Jeremy that she’s ready to see her own memorial. She and the gang all need it. Jeremy rings a bell for her but isn’t sure what to say. She tells him to say that she’s not going anywhere, and she’s been here the whole time, even though no one could see her. She got to see her friends have a great summer.
Through Jeremy, Bonnie tells Elena that she’s wrong if she thinks she can’t have a normal life. She needs to go back to Whitmore and enjoy her time there. Bonnie tells Matt that he didn’t do anything wrong. She wishes she could have kept in better contact. As Bonnie’s telling Caroline that she can have a good time at college without Tyler, he suddenly arrives. Bonnie assures Jeremy that she’ll be okay. She got the goodbye she wanted.
At Whitmore, Wes asks Jesse about his trip to Mystic Falls. He can’t remember all of it and thinks he must have gotten drunk. Wes knows better. He’s tested Jesse’s blood and found vampire blood in his system. He guesses that someone used it to heal him and compelled him to forget. Wes says vampire blood is step 1 to creating a new vampire. Step 2 is Wes injecting Jesse with something that stops his heart.
Etc.: Even for a soap opera fan who often enjoys amnesia storylines, I think this one is dumb.
Interesting that Damon goes from “I need to show Stefan I’m the fun one” to “I should wreck the car.”
“I need you to be less vague and less weird” cracks me up every time.
The episode’s soundtrack seems to be trying to jog Stefan’s memory, too. When he and Elena go up to the roof of the school, “The Longest Night” by Howie Day plays; it was also used in “By the Light of the Moon.” And when Stefan and Elena go to Wickery Bridge, “Gravity” plays.
Stefan, buddy, you need to calm down. Damon and Elena not telling you about your love triangle is nowhere close to being your biggest problem right now.
The characters get a lot of flak from the audience for using Bonnie so much, but this episode shows how much they really appreciated her friendship. Elena and Caroline can’t keep it together during the memorial. They truly loved her and never imagined not having her in their lives.