Having captured Ivy, Tripp has chained her up with a couple other vampires to drive them over the anti-magic border. He acts like he’s doing them a favor since he doesn’t think they want to live this way. Ivy struggles to get out of her chains, but she doesn’t get anywhere before they cross the border. She watches in terror as the other two vampires die, then dies herself.
We go back and forth between Damon and Stefan reuniting in the Salvatore crypt and Caroline telling Elena the next morning that Damon’s back. He tells Stefan that Bonnie sacrificed herself so he could return. He doesn’t want anyone to know so they don’t have to hear that there’s no hope of her returning. Instead, they sell the story that Damon was in the prison world alone. Damon wants to put off telling Stefan all the details of his time in the “flannel hellscape” until after he’s seen Elena.
Elena, however, doesn’t want to see Damon. Alaric tries to convince her that if she’d thought there was any chance she would ever see Damon again, she never would have asked him to erase her memories. Stefan shares this little wrinkle with Damon as Alaric tells Elena that Damon’s going to kill him. (Or at least try, since Alaric is an Original vampire and can’t be killed without white oak.) Damon thinks that the second Elena sees him again, she’ll remember everything and they’ll get their happily ever after.
Elena disagrees – she has no interest in meeting up with a guy she only remembers as a psychotic murderer. Alaric notes that she’s forgotten all the good things about Damon. Elena doesn’t know what good there could be that would balance the bad. She asks Alaric to promise not to undo the compulsion. He says he won’t do anything until she asks him, but he hopes she does ask.
To continue avoiding Damon, Elena has decided to pick up an extra shift at the hospital. Alaric warns that she should add Jo to her list of people to avoid, since he tried to compel her to forget their time together at the corn maze, but it didn’t work. That means either she’s on vervain or there’s something else going on. Elena agrees to find out the answer. She asks Alaric to check in with Jeremy, since she had to tell him that Damon’s back but Bonnie isn’t.
Jeremy and Sarah are still crashing at Vamp Villa, and she wants to start looking into her long-lost family, the Salvatores. Jeremy’s not in the mood, and she’s annoyed about it. She asks what got him to finally get off the couch and want to leave the house. It can’t be school or work, and if he’s going to see another love interest, he should shower first. Ooooooh!
Matt takes Enzo some blood in Tripp’s secret cabin and gloats over his captivity. Enzo thinks Matt will help him escape, but Matt says that if Stefan turned Enzo in to Tripp, Enzo deserved it. “When did Stefan’s moral compass become the new true north?” Enzo wonders. After all, he abandoned the gang and let them think he was looking for Damon when he’d actually given up. Matt ignores him and says people are safer if Enzo’s locked up. Enzo threatens to tell Tripp about the other vampires in the gang and the people who have been aiding and abetting them.
Tripp joins them, telling Enzo that his tip about vampires in Savannah was a bust. He’s annoyed that Ivy turned up 500 miles away instead. Enzo has until the end of the day to point Tripp in the direction of any other vampires he knows about, or they’re going to take a drive into Mystic Falls. Matt quickly calls a meeting with Caroline and Alaric to tell them that Tripp captured Enzo. Caroline’s unhappy that Matt didn’t say anything earlier. “I’m sorry, I was confused about which vampires we like and which ones we don’t,” Matt says. He reveals that Tripp killed Ivy.
Alaric tells Matt to find out what Tripp is up to now. They need to get ahead of him if he has another target. Matt warns that Enzo could ID the vampires in the gang, but Caroline says that won’t happen – they’ll rescue him first. (Not necessarily because she wants to save him; she mostly wants to beat him up for getting caught in the first place.) Stefan arrives and reveals that Enzo didn’t get caught – Stefan hand-delivered him to Tripp.
Damon goes by the Super Suite as Elena’s getting ready for work. She won’t open the door for him and says she doesn’t want to talk. He tells her that her feelings for him were real, and they’re not gone for good: “No matter how badly you want want it one, it doesn’t make it any less of a lie.” She moves toward the door, which allows him to hear her breathing. They both put their hands on the door in the same spot. Damon urges her to open it so things can go back to how they used to be. Elena finally turns the knob, but when he opens the door, she zooms out the window.
She calls Stefan, who tries to talk her into seeing Damon. Elena says she knows how she’s supposed to feel, but the way she actually feels is overshadowing it. She’s happy and doesn’t want to disrupt the new life she’s built for herself. She admits that she kissed Liam, and Stefan tells her not to let Damon know. Elena thinks it’s because Damon will kill Liam. Stefan says she’ll have to see Damon eventually, but Elena tells him she’s not ready.
She’s at the medical center, and she hangs up when she sees Jo putting down her coffee cup before going to see a patient. Elena tastes the coffee but doesn’t detect any vervain. Sarah sneaks into Tripp’s office, where Matt is trying to look at his computer files. She wants information on Zach, whom she’s guessed didn’t actually die in an “animal attack” (and neither did Gail). Since Tripp knows a lot about “homicidal wildlife,” Sarah decided to talk to him. Matt points her toward death records so she won’t tell Tripp what she caught him doing.
Alaric reunites with Damon, who’s waiting in his office with a bottle of bourbon. The reunion isn’t happy for long, though, since Damon has some complaints about the “anti-magic hamster ball” keeping him from going home, as well as that whole thing where his best friend compelled his girlfriend to forget that she loved him. Alaric says that Elena loved Damon too much; it was killing her. Damon’s like, “Well, I’m back now, so undo it.” Alaric refuses until Elena says that’s what she wants.
Damon points out the catch-22 here: Elena won’t want to be uncompelled because she can’t remember why should would want to be. Alaric gets it, and he’s sorry, but he’s not going to take away Elena’s happiness without her consent. Damon says he wants Elena to be happy, too – with him. He knows Alaric won’t budge, though, so he just leaves (taking the bourbon with him, as if Alaric doesn’t have his own stash).
Stefan and Caroline head to Tripp’s cabin, debating whether Stefan made a good move giving Enzo to Tripp. Caroline is con – Stefan handed him over so the gang wouldn’t be targeted, but now they have to free him so they won’t be targeted. Stefan says he thought Tripp was going to kill Enzo right away. That doesn’t help his argument. Caroline asks if Stefan ratted out Ivy, too. He asks how he’s the bad guy here when Enzo turned Ivy and Tripp killed her. I mean, you’re not the good guy. You were going to ghost her and run away.
Stefan points out that Enzo’s the one threatening to turn in other vampires to save himself. Caroline reminds him that he turned in Enzo in the first place. She thinks Stefan came along to rescue him because he feels guilty for giving up Damon’s friend. Stefan confirms this – he gave up on Damon, but Enzo never did. This could make it up to Damon. Caroline asks when Stefan plans to make things up to her. They spots some community-protection guys leaving the cabin and hide until the coast is clear. But they’re too late, because Enzo has already been moved.
Elena tries to get her hands on a bracelet Jo’s wearing so she can find out if it contains vervain. That doesn’t work. Jo asks her opinion on a patient who suffered a number of injuries from the crash at the corn maze but was never admitted to the hospital. She’s talking about Lady Whitmore – Liam told Jo about her miraculous recovery. Jo would like to know how Elena pulled that off. Elena starts to come up with an excuse, but Jo stops her and reveals that she knows what Elena and Alaric are. P.S. Jo is going to keep her eye on the hospital’s blood supply.
Damon hangs out in the Super Suite, annoyed that Elena doesn’t have any pictures of him. He draws a stick figure of himself on one of them. Jeremy arrives and asks why Bonnie didn’t come back with Damon. Damon lies that she wasn’t with him. Jeremy admits that he kept paying her phone bill so he could call her phone every day and hear her voicemail message. Damon says he’ll try that himself, which confuses Jeremy, since he thinks Bonnie hated Damon. Damon tells him that Bonnie found peace and is in a better place.
Elena asks Jo how she knew Elena and Alaric are vampires. Jo reveals that she caught Elena sipping her coffee. As for Alaric, it was a combination of his attempt to compel her and her history of bad luck – of course her new crush is a vampire! Elena asks what Jo is, since she can’t be compelled. Jo won’t tell her. Elena’s surprised to still have a job. Jo is fine with a vampire working at the medical center since she saved Lady Whitmore instead of feeding on her.
Elena notes that Jo isn’t surprised or even phased that she’s met two vampires. Only one supernatural being can resist compulsion without the help of vervain: a witch. Jo ends the conversation by promising not to ask Elena any more questions if Elena stops as well. She adds that Elena can tell Alaric that if he wants to avoid a complicated relationship, he doesn’t have to use compulsion.
Sarah picks a lock on a drawer in Tripp’s desk as Caroline calls Matt to tell him that Enzo isn’t at the cabin. Sarah finds a phone in the drawer, and Matt realizes it’s Ivy’s. Caroline’s phone number is in it as one of the people she called recently. Tripp has most likely figured out that Caroline’s a vampire, as well as where to find her.
In the Super Suite, Damon finds a picture of Bonnie and calls her voicemail. He critiques her message, since it’s too short for him to get any satisfaction from hearing the sound of her voice. He’s grateful that she gave up her chance to come home so she could send him back instead, which will allow him to see Elena. He’s sorry he couldn’t save Bonnie, and he admits that he misses her.
Elena calls and tells him they should meet. She knows she can’t run from him forever. She asks him to meet her at the Super Suite, and he pretends he’s not still there. As he’s straightening up and making sure he looks his best, Tripp arrives. Damon vamps out at the sight of his vervain gun and catches a dart Tripp fires at him, throwing it into Tripp’s leg. He grabs Tripp and asks who he is. Just when it looks like Tripp is in danger, a couple of his minions arrive and knock Damon out. By the time Elena gets home, they’re all gone, with only Damon’s phone left behind.
She calls Alaric, who tells her to meet up with Caroline and go to the border. As he leaves his classroom to join them, Jo arrives, wanting to talk about how he tried to compel her. Alaric doesn’t have time to talk, as he explains: His best friend just came back from the dead, but now Alaric has to save him from being driven across an anti-magic border and killed again. So when Alaric told Jo to keep her distance from him, she should have listened, because his life is insane.
Damon wakes up in the back of Tripp’s van with Enzo. Enzo’s happy to see him alive but tells him he won’t be for long, since they’re headed for Mystic Falls and the “really big vampire bug zapper” at the border. Damon wishes Stefan had told him there was a vampire hunter in town. Enzo guesses that Stefan didn’t say anything because he’s responsible for Enzo’s captivity. Damon asks why Stefan would turn him in. “Probably jealous of my accent,” Enzo says. Heh. Or maybe it’s because Enzo killed Ivy.
Elena and Caroline speed to the border while Liz shuts down a road so Tripp will only have two options to enter Mystic Falls. Caroline busts a tire to make it look like they’re blocking the road because of a blowout. Elena suddenly announces that she wants her memories back. If Damon survives, she’ll ask Alaric to uncompel her. She can’t imagine loving Damon, but she also can’t ignore the things she doesn’t like just because she’s in denial. She can’t make decisions without knowing the full story. Caroline can’t really get behind Elena and Damon getting back together, but she seems supportive of this choice.
Stefan and Alaric are at the other Mystic Falls entry point, faking their own car trouble. Alaric thinks Stefan feels guilty for what’s happening. He admits that he gave up on Damon, too. He’s spent every second of his time since returning from the Other Side thinking about how he’s a vampire and how much it sucks. He searched for Damon to distract himself, but he was just going through the motions. He didn’t think they’d actually find Damon.
Tripp comes down the road, and Alaric tells Stefan to stay in the car since Tripp is familiar with him. Stefan thinks Tripp still believes he’s anti-vampire (and human), but Alaric notes that Enzo could have told him the truth. Stefan calls Elena while Alaric approaches Tripp and asks for help. Damon hears Alaric and tells Enzo that he’d better be up to something good because he owes Damon. Tripp tries to get back on the road, telling Alaric that he’s in a hurry. Alaric says he is, too, then shatters Tripp’s window.
Tripp manages to grab his dart gun and shoot Alaric in the arm. Alaric grabs on to Tripp and the steering wheel as Tripp slams his foot on the gas, driving straight toward Stefan’s car. Stefan zooms out as the van clips the car, then flips over. It flies through the “welcome to Mystic Falls” sign and lands upside-down across the border.
Still on the phone with Elena, Stefan takes in the scene. He tells her that Damon and Alaric crossed the border, then hangs up so he can save them. But that means crossing the border himself, which will bring back the gunshot wound that killed him. It hits him as soon as he takes a step into Mystic Falls, but he keeps moving. In the van, Damon, who has his own gunshot wound, can’t believe this is happening: “I came back for this?” Enzo and Alaric are both coughing up blood, Enzo because he died of consumption and Alaric because he was stabbed in the chest.
As Stefan tries to get into the van, Jo appears at Alaric’s side, having followed him from Whitmore. Stefan starts to free Damon from his chains, but Damon pulls a Grayson/Elena and tells him to save Enzo first. Meanwhile, Tripp makes a run for it. Alaric tells Jo to get him back across the border before all his vampirism is stripped away and he dies. Jo says he’ll die if she moves him; she needs to stop his bleeding. She recognizes his injury and happens to have some super-special gauze with her that will help him.
Stefan gets both Damon and Enzo out of the van, and the three of them stumble back across the border, healing themselves. Jo continues working on Alaric, chastising him for trying to compel her to forget about the corn maze, where she saved a bunch of people single-handedly (and without smearing her makeup). Alaric is fading fast, but she refuses to let him die and have the last word. She gives him chest compressions as Stefan watches from the border, helpless. Eventually Alaric gasps for breath, stable again. He tells Jo that something’s wrong – he’s not supposed to be alive. She tells him she fixed him up, so he’ll be fine.
Elena returns to Caroline after zooming over to the site of the crash, which she didn’t reach until after everyone had left. Caroline has just gotten the details from Stefan, and she tells Elena that Alaric crossed the border, but Jo saved him. Elena confirms that he’s okay but realizes that something’s wrong – this is great news, but Caroline isn’t happy. Caroline tells her that by the time Jo saved Alaric, his vampirism magic was gone. He’s human again. Again, that’s great news, but both of them know the problem it causes.
Matt takes Sarah to Vamp Villa and tells her that the house belongs to members of her family. Also, they’re vampires, so Sarah shouldn’t want to get to know them. They hear Jeremy yelling from another room and find him drunkenly trying to cancel Bonnie’s phone, which he can’t do without her PIN. He breaks the phone and smashes some bottles, hitting the pool table over and over in anger. He tells Matt that Bonnie’s gone.
Elena talks to Alaric on the phone, since he’s at Mystic Falls Hospital and she can’t go see him. He’s sorry that he’s lost his ability to compel her to remember Damon. Elena assures him that she’s just glad he’s okay. She didn’t even want her memories back until recently. She made the choice to be compelled, and now she has to live with the consequences. She’s happy one of them got what they wanted. Elena now has to prepare herself to face Damon and find out how she feels about him.
Jo isn’t a fan of Mystic Falls Hospital, and she tells Alaric she’s going to have him transferred to Whitmore Medical Center (where I imagine Elena will just feed him her blood and heal him). He’s grateful that she didn’t just save him – she gave him back his life.
Damon and Stefan go to Scull Bar so Damon can drink away his frustration over Elena losing her chance to get her memories back. He’s also tired of everyone apologizing and saying how hard his departure was for Elena. His time away was hard for him, too. Stefan points out that at least he had a home to come back to. To Elena, Damon was just gone. Damon comments that he still is, in a way. He doesn’t want Elena to be happy anymore – he wants her to be miserable like he is.
Stefan asks if he’s done complaining, then sends him to go see Elena. Damon’s worried that their love won’t be enough to overcome her compulsion. Stefan says he won’t find out if he doesn’t go see her. As Damon leaves, Stefan spots Caroline walking by outside and goes out to talk to her. She asks if she’s the last stop on his apology tour. He wants to get past their struggles, but it’s not that easy for her. Stefan asks what he needs to do to go back to being her friend. Caroline admits that she doesn’t want to be friends with him anymore.
Damon goes to the Super Suite, where Elena’s looking through her box of his things. She steels herself and opens the door. When he sees her, he lets out a breath like he’s been holding it for months. She just looks at him, waiting to see how she’ll feel.
Etc.: As a longtime soap opera fan, one of my favorite tropes is people coming back from the dead (assuming they’re characters I like and the explanation isn’t too ridiculous). So I love getting to see Damon reunite with Stefan and Alaric, especially since Alaric didn’t get to interact with Damon when he first got back from the Other Side, so they’ve been apart longer than Damon and the others.
Elena should stick to medicine because she sucks at detective work.
Damon calling Bonnie’s phone just to hear her voice because he misses her = adorable.
I love a good twist, and Alaric becoming human again is a really good one. I applaud the writers for finding a way to complicate things for Damon and Elena that it’s hard for them to be upset about.
I can’t believe Damon thinks he suffered more than Elena while he was gone. I’m sure he was bored reliving the same day over and over with just Bonnie around, but come on. That’s nothing compared to what Elena went through.