Damon is trying to get out of his cell the only way he knows how: breaking stuff. He punches a wall until he dislodges a rock, then stretches to reach one of the bullets Aaron dropped outside his cell. He puts the bullet in the cell door’s keyhole and hits it with the rock to make the gunpowder ignite. That loosens the lock, and then it’s just a matter of kicking the door until it opens. Now Wes is minus one Augustine vampire.
Katherine wakes up in Stefan’s bed after their makeout session turned into a night together. She’s happy at first to be near him, but then she realizes that her hair is graying again – more than last time – and is now starting to fall out. She covers herself with a blanket and runs out before he can see her. After she gets dressed and puts her hair up in a hat, she heads out of the house, running into Damon as he’s arriving in hopes that Elena’s there. Katherine says she hasn’t seen Elena, and she knows Stefan hasn’t, either, because they were together all night. Damon would like just one moment of peace after a couple of horrible days, so of course Katherine puts the image in his head of her rolling around in the sheets with his brother.
Elena’s been moved to a different lab, one that looks familiar to her. She has a flashback from her childhood, when she was playing with a ball that rolled down the stairs into the lab. Wes asks if she recognizes the lab. He tells her she’s going to undergo blood dialysis, then knocks her out with some sort of gas.
Back at Vamp Villa, Damon gives Stefan a brief overview of what he’s dealing with: He and Elena were locked up, he was shot in the head, and Elena’s missing, which means “Dr. Creepy Ken Doll” must have taken her somewhere. “Put your hero hair on,” he tells Stefan – they need to find leverage so they can get Elena back.
That leverage is Aaron, whom they find in the common room of his/Elena/Caroline/Bonnie’s dorm. Damon lists his options for dealing with his girlfriend’s abduction by a mad scientist: Get a new girlfriend, call the police, or kill someone close to that scientist. Aaron tries to run but Stefan blocks his exit.
Wes has drained a bunch of Elena’s blood and notes that she’s still conscious after a greater blood loss than Enzo once experienced. He tells her that he’ll let her go once he’s through with her. She says her friends will find her, but Wes isn’t worried. He tells her that Aaron spent his whole life thinking his family was haunted by a “death curse,” when really Damon was just killing them all. He wonders how Elena can justify caring about Damon after learning that. Elena points out that Wes isn’t any better. He thinks science is a good cover for hurting people.
He reads some entries from experiments from 1999 that involved electricity. She calls him a monster, but the experiments weren’t Wes’ – they were Grayson’s. Wes learned all of his experiments from Elena’s father.
Stefan and Damon ask Aaron where Wes might have taken Elena. First, Aaron wants to know who Stefan is. Damon introduces him and warns Aaron that Stefan is kind of in the middle of a psychotic break. Stefan objects, but he slept with Katherine, so…point to Damon. Aaron asks how Damon isn’t dead after being shot. Damon tells him to aim for the heart next time. Dude, don’t tell the guy how to kill you! Aaron doesn’t know where Wes took Elena. Wes just told him to go back to his normal life. Damon orders Aaron to call Wes and tell him to return Elena, or Aaron will be Wes’ next patient because he’ll need his arms reattached.
Elena realizes that she and Wes are in the basement of Grayson’s clinic. Somehow, it didn’t burn down back in season 1; it’s just been condemned. Wes steps outside when Aaron calls to tell him that Stefan and Damon will kill him if Wes doesn’t give them Elena. Wes thought Damon was still in his cell, so he’s really behind the curve here. He agrees to meet the Salvatores in his classroom. Once he’s sure Aaron’s safe, he’ll give them Elena. Then Wes prepares his secret weapon, Enzo. He gets to go on a field trip and reunite with Damon.
In an attempt to get as healthy as possible and hopefully prolong her impending death, Katherine has hired Matt as a personal trainer. Matt suggests that she turn herself again, but she says her body keeps rejecting vampire blood. Nadia joins them and confronts Katherine about her suicide note. She slaps Katherine for trying to kill herself without saying a proper goodbye.
On the way to Wes’ classroom, Damon tells Stefan a little about the Augustine Society and his time as a lab rat. Aaron eggs him on to tell the rest of the story, but Stefan’s in Mean Guy Mode and tells him to shut up. Katherine and Nadia regroup at Vamp Villa, where Katherine demonstrates her desire to stay alive by drinking a raw-kale smoothie. She wonders if forgiveness is possible for all the horrible things she’s done. Nadia says it is, and that’s why she’s there. She has an idea that will keep Katherine alive longer.
Elena has another flashback, remembering how she came to the clinic’s basement to get her ball and heard something involving electricity behind a closed door. In the present, she asks Wes when he met Grayson. Wes says Gilbert was experimenting with vampire blood so he could use it as a cure-all. Elena asks if he ever brought a vampire to his clinic. She tells Wes that she saw Enzo and knows he’s alive. Wes says he’s on a trip to work on some “unresolved business” with Damon. Elena guesses there’s some kind of trap involved.
Since Wes is in Mystic Falls with Elena, he’s definitely not meeting Aaron and the Salvatores in his classroom. Instead, they’re greeted by Enzo, whom Damon is seeing for the first time in more than 50 years. Though Damon’s surprised to see him, he’s focused on the task at hand and doesn’t ask how Enzo survived the fire. Aaron has questions, though, and Enzo’s happy to get to tell the story of the last 70 years of his life.
A weakening Elena figures out that Enzo must have killed Megan. Wes advises her to save her strength because she’s about to enter the second phase of his experiment. (No, he won’t tell her what that means.) Elena asks why Megan had a picture of Grayson on her phone. Wes says her parents helped fund his projects. They didn’t know he was experimenting with vampire blood; they just thought it was an “unregulated compound” with extensive healing properties. Megan got suspicious and enrolled at Whitmore. She snuck into the lab during the party at Whitmore House and must have gotten too close to Enzo, who killed her.
Stefan uses Aaron’s phone to call Wes and remind him that Aaron is still in danger until Elena is freed. Wes replies that if the Salvatores hurt Aaron, he’ll destroy part of Elena’s brain. Looks like we have a stand-off!
Enzo is telling Aaron about his and Damon’s escape plan when Stefan returns to the classroom and reports that Wes isn’t releasing Elena. Clearly Wes doesn’t care enough about Aaron to bargain for his safety. Enzo gets annoyed that no one’s listening to his story and tears a podium out of the floor. Look, I don’t know how they did things the last time you were with other people, in the 1940s, but in the 21st century, we use our words. Enzo continues his recap, but no one’s interested. When he leaves to get a drink, Stefan notes that Damon has never mentioned Enzo. Damon dismissively asks if he’s supposed to remember every moment of his life. Stefan thinks this was a pretty significant time period for him.
Damon’s ready to follow through on their threat against Aaron. Aaron blurts out that Wes gave him some files on his family’s history that might contain something helpful. Now that Aaron knows Wes isn’t going to help him, he has no more loyalty to his legal guardian. Damon reminds Aaron that he hates the Whitmores, and if Aaron is lying, he’s going to lose his eyes. They start to head back to the dorm, but when Enzo returns with his drink (alcohol, not blood), he tells the group that Damon isn’t allowed to leave. Damon gives Stefan the go-ahead to leave with Aaron – and to kill him if his files aren’t useful.
Nadia’s big plan for Katherine is spirit possession. Since Katherine’s father was a Traveler, Katherine had to have inherited his magic. If they find a Traveler who can teach them the spell they use to become Passengers in others’ bodies, Katherine can jump into someone else. Katherine doesn’t know the magic, since her father banned the family from using it. Then Katherine became a vampire and it was a moot point.
Nadia says the magic is still in her blood, so she has the ability to become a Passenger and live on after her body dies. Katherine doesn’t want a new body, though – Stefan likes the one she has. She seems to think her night with Stefan is going to lead to something more. Nadia realizes that when Katherine asked about forgiveness, she meant Stefan’s, not Nadia’s. Katherine would like to know that Stefan still cares before she dies. Nadia turns on her, telling her to kill herself and see if anyone misses her.
Enzo chats with Damon about cricket (no, it never became popular in the U.S.) and his attempts to make art in his cell (with blood and the walls as his media). Damon asks if he’s supposed to feel guilty for not saving his friend. He really doesn’t care about anything but Elena right now. Enzo doubles over and explains that Wes injected him with poison that will stop his heart and make him desiccate if he doesn’t return to Wes for the antidote. Damon urges him to reveal Wes’ location so Damon can get the antidote for him. Then they can kill Wes together and Enzo will be free.
Enzo asks if Damon ever thought about him after he escaped. Damon promises to go back with Enzo and finish this for good. Enzo takes his hand, as if he’s accepting a deal, then tells Damon he’s not going to see Elena again. Wes told Enzo not to come back until he’d killed Damon. He grabs Damon and throws him through a window.
Damon lands on a car, and I hope the driver’s insurance covers acts of vampire. Enzo’s ready to fight his former friend, but Damon doesn’t have time for that. Enzo’s been plotting Damon’s death since 1958, though, so he’s not about to back down. Unfortunately for him, the poison Wes gave him is starting to affect him more, and he may not last long enough to kill Damon. Damon again asks where Wes took Elena, but Enzo would love to see Damon learn what it’s like to miss someone for the next 60 years. He collapses and desiccates without telling Damon what he wants to know.
Instead of retrieving his family’s files from under his bed, Aaron grabs his gun. Stefan catches on quickly and threatens to kill Aaron if it comes down to it. Aaron tells him the part Damon left out of his story about Augustine: He’s been killing Whitmores for decades. He’d rather have Stefan kill him than Damon, so if Stefan wants to do it, he should. Stefan says he’s not like Damon and starts to leave. Aaron gives him the files anyway.
Elena continues her flashback, hearing screaming from behind the closed door. Grayson finds her and reminds her that the basement is supposed to be off-limits for kids. She mentions the screaming, but Grayson says it’s okay. In fact, today’s a great day – he’s going to save the life of a girl about her age.
Wes also has good news for Elena: His compound works. Just like Pavlov conditioned his dog to salivate at the sound of a bell, he’s conditioned Elena’s cells to make her salivate at the smell of vampire blood. In other words, he’s going to do to her what he did to Jesse, but more effectively, and with just one injection. As for Jesse’s inability to stop feeding on Damon, that’s intentional. Wes plans to make vampires crave their own kind – and Elena will be patient zero. She objects, since the compound will turn her into a Ripper. “I know,” Wes replies.
He approaches her with a syringe, saying Elena will be doing the world a favor. She’ll help get rid of all the vampires by cannibalizing them. He jams the syringe into her, but before he can inject the compound, Stefan calls out Elena’s name from upstairs. She yells back to him and takes advantage of the distraction to headbutt Wes into unconsciousness. In the process, he drops the syringe. Stefan comes down into the basement and frees Elena, who grabs her father’s research journal as they leave.
That night, Nadia goes to the Grill and reminds Matt about the night they met in Prague. He’d rather not reminisce. She asks him to hold on to the Traveler’s knife Katherine used to kill Gregor. Nadia wants it kept safe after she leaves Mystic Falls, in case Katherine changes her mind about becoming a Passenger. Matt says she won’t, since Katherine only cares about herself and doesn’t do anything she doesn’t want to.
Nadia says she spent 500 years searching for her mother, and is going to lose her just after finding her. She can’t decide whether to hate Katherine for giving up or be with her when she dies. Matt can sympathize, as he’s no stranger to horrible parents. Nadia says that means he gets how it feels to want to cling to the hope that maybe your selfish mother will do what you want instead of what she wants. Matt agrees to hold on to the knife.
Enzo wakes up in Wes’ lab after Damon injected him with a bunch of liquids labeled “antidote” until he got the right one. Enzo thinks Damon’s trying to make amends, but Damon says he didn’t want Enzo to desiccate in vain now that Elena’s safe and Damon won’t suffer. Enzo rushes Damon, who grabs his heart to make him a captive audience. No, Damon never thought about Enzo after his escape. He turned off his humanity so he wouldn’t feel guilty about leaving Enzo behind.
Enzo asks what he feels now. His forgiveness wouldn’t make Damon less of a horrible person. Damon lets go of him and says they’re even. “You were the most important person in my life and you ruined me,” Enzo tells him. “But that’s just who you are, who you’ll always be – a monster.”
Recovered from her ordeal, Elena settles in at Vamp Villa with Grayson’s journal. She thinks the girl Grayson said he was going to save was Megan. He mentions her in his journal; she had a heart problem that would have killed her within months, but vampire blood cured her. Megan must have had a picture of him on her phone because he saved her. Damon can’t believe that Elena found the one happy entry in a book full of descriptions of torture.
Elena says Grayson used his research to save people. Okay, maybe he dissected vampires, and who knows what he would think about his daughter being one, but she has to defend her father. Damon gets that, since she does the same for him all the time. Elena says she’s not going to defend his decision to kill all the Whitmores, especially when he killed Sarah secretly while they were together. Damon asks why she’s still there, then. He’s bad, and he’s bad for her. Why doesn’t she run away from him? Elena replies that she loves him and made the choice to be with him.
“Well, now I’m choosing,” he says. He’s choosing to let her go. He’s choosing not to think about how she feels whenever she learns about yet another terrible thing he did in the past. He’s choosing to relieve her of the inclination to defend all of his actions. Elena notes that she’s not perfect, so she can’t judge him, especially after he was tortured for five years. “Stop defending me!” Damon screams. He won’t – can’t – change, but he refuses to change her. After he leaves, Elena tries to shake off the breakup, but she can’t hold it together for long.
Stefan finds Katherine in his room, examining her wrinkles in the mirror. He teases that she’s finally facing consequences after all these years. She wants to talk about the night before. Well, really, she wants him to talk about it. He’s ready to dismiss it as a lapse in judgment because they got caught up in things. He can’t just forget everything she’s put him through over the past 147 years.
Katherine announces that she’s dying and shows him her hair. “What does someone have to go through to get a little redemption around here?” she asks. He replies that he can’t forgive 147 years of misdeeds in one night. She guesses that even after an eternity, he still wouldn’t look at her the way he looks at Elena. She says good night and starts to leave, but he takes her hand and says he’s sorry that she’s dying. She fights back tears and says she’s sorry, too.
Aaron finds Wes still unconscious in Grayson’s clinic and asks where they are. He’s furious that Wes is doing experiments he thinks will help people, and that he didn’t do anything to save Aaron. He picks up the syringe Wes was going to use on Elena and says he never wants to see Wes again.
At Vamp Villa, Elena burns Grayson’s research journal, protecting his legacy. Katherine calls Nadia and tells her she wants to try her plan. Katherine’s a survivor: “Staying alive is my specialty.” Nadia guesses that Stefan inspired Katherine to keep fighting. Katherine thinks he still believes she can be redeemed. But she might not get a chance at redemption because she suddenly has a heart attack that leaves her unconscious on the stairs.
Etc.: Shout-out to whoever named this episode.
Damon’s trick with the bullet and the keyhole is brilliant.
The writers clearly forgot that Whitmore is supposed to be “several hours” from Mystic Falls, considering the number of trips people take back and forth in this episode.
I’d love to know if Meredith’s work with vampire blood was connected to the Augustine Society or if she came up with the idea on her own.