Damon and Elena have finally come face to face for the first time since “Home,” and he’s desperate to know if seeing him again has jogged anything in her memory. Unfortunately, it hasn’t. All she remembers from knowing him is pain and hatred. Damon thinks she just needs a little more time. She tells him she knows she loved him and forgave him for all the horrible things he did, but she doesn’t remember that, and she doesn’t feel the way she used to. She feels bad about that, but she also doesn’t want to spend any more time with him.
The next day, Damon goes to the hospital to see Alaric. For some reason, they decide to list all those horrible things Elena remembers Damon doing: using Caroline as a “personal blood juice box,” turning Vicki into a vampire, threatening to kill Bonnie (multiple times, but sometimes just as a joke, Damon claims), and actually killing Lexi and Jeremy As they talk, Damon messes with a bunch of stuff in Alaric’s room and eventually pats him right on his reopened chest wound. Alaric regrets altering Elena’s memories, but Damon has to admit that he’s glad that Alaric is still around. He pushes a button on a monitor and makes it register Alaric’s heart rate as flatlining. Alaric reminds him that if he dies again, it’s for good. Eh, not on this show.
Jo comes in all, “Hi, we haven’t met, I’m Jo and I need you to stop.” Damon tells her that if she can repeat what she did for Alaric at the border, she’ll have vampires lined up to ask her to turn them human again, too. Jo says she was able to save Alaric because of luck (right doctor, right time) and her refusal to lose the most interesting guy she’s ever dated. She won’t be able to repeat that, and also, Damon needs to keep her heroics quiet. Damon calls her bossy and tells Alaric he likes her. Jo invites Alaric to go to a hospital fundraiser with her that night, because apparently he’s healed enough to be released.
Remember how Tripp ran away after the crash at the border? Matt picked him up, but instead of helping him hide out, he took him to Tripp’s secret cabin. Now Enzo and Stefan are trying to decide what to do to him. Surprisingly, Stefan is in favor of killing him right away, while Enzo wants to interrogate him. Matt suggests that they wait until he’s vervain-free, then compel him to leave Mystic Falls forever. Enzo notes that Tripp has minions and connections, and he wants to know what they’re up to. Tripp won’t talk, so Stefan smashes his hand with a hammer. Tripp says his buddies are tracking the gang’s friends, like Caroline. Stefan allows Enzo and Matt two hours to find out everything Tripp knows. Then they need to kill him.
At Whitmore, Elena tells Caroline that she felt nothing when she saw Damon (except for fear and an admiration for his eyes). Caroline, who I’m sure is secretly relieved, doesn’t think Elena should stress over this. She’s doing great and has Liam as a potential love interest. Now that Caroline has ditched Stefan as a friend, she and Elena can enjoy their lives without the Salvatores. As she heads off, Liam joins Elena, telling her that he talked to Lady Whitmore, who doesn’t remember the crash at the corn maze. He wants to look at her records to see if she’s some kind of supernatural entity. (He’s kidding. He’s still clueless.) He invites Elena to go to the hospital fundraiser with him, then kisses her.
Damon thought that Bonnie was doomed when he left her behind in 1994, but it turns out she’s okay, at least for now. Yeah, she has a wound from where Kai shot her with an arrow, but she’s alive. He’s trying to put the ascendant back together, since he wants to give escape another shot that afternoon. Bonnie refuses to help him or let him leave 1994. She thinks he would kill her as soon as they got out anyway. Kai reminds her that he can siphon her magic, so she can’t rely on it to protect herself. Maybe not, but she can protect herself without magic. She stabs him in the neck with a pen and runs off with the pieces of the ascendant.
Just as Caroline is trying not to look at a picture of herself with Stefan and Elena, Stefan shows up at the Super Suite. He warns her that Tripp’s guys know she’s a vampire and could come after her. Caroline tells him she doesn’t need or want his protection. But she’s not the one in danger – Liz calls to report that two of Tripp’s minions just ran her off the road, and they’re going to kill her if they don’t get Tripp back.
Caroline tries to call Enzo as she and Stefan speed to Tripp’s cabin. She feels horrible for sleeping in instead of calling her mom like she does every Saturday morning. Stefan is calm, which Caroline doesn’t understand, since they now have less than two hours before Enzo kills Tripp. Enzo calls to let Caroline know that Tripp is still alive, so the gang can trade him for Liz.
In the cabin, Tripp tells Matt that he wanted to help people like him learn to defend themselves against supernatural threats. Instead, Matt’s on the wrong side. Matt disagrees, saying it’s not the wrong side, just a complicated one. Enzo comes in to announce that Tripp’s minions kidnapped Liz. Tripp says it was a predetermined contingency plan in case anything ever happened to him. Matt’s like, “Which side is the wrong one now?” Tripp tells the guys to make the trade at the border. Matt should do it, since Tripp’s guys trust him.
Bonnie makes her way to the Mystic Falls Hospital so she can get some supplies for her wound. She has a little less than two hours to put the ascendant back together before the eclipse. Hmm, everyone has a two-hour deadline in this episode. Back in the real world, it’s nighttime already, and time for the fundraiser. Liv has agreed to let Tyler work with her as a caterer; it’s his way of trying to repay her for saving him from retriggering his werewolf curse. Though he admits he’d rather chain himself up and turn every month than wear the tie that’s part of his uniform.
When Jo and Alaric arrive at the fundraiser, he learns that she’s actually the guest of honor – she won an award for creating a battlefield medical clamp. Alaric thinks that means she’s a genius. Damon, who’s just joining them, thinks she used magic to achieve this success. (I guess Elena told Alaric that Jo is a witch, and Alaric told Damon.) Jo says she doesn’t practice anymore. She asks why Damon’s even there, and Alaric says he invited himself so he could stalk Elena. Damon lies that he’s actually there to spend time with Alaric.
Elena enters just then with Liam, who immediately goes on Damon’s list of people to mess with. Alaric and Jo smirk at him. Damon takes back what he said about liking Jo. He spots Elena and Liam kissing, then approaches Elena as soon as Liam steps away to get them drinks. When Liam comes back, Damon introduces himself as Elena’s ex (the one Liam thought was dead). He claims they’re friends now. He compels Liam to be honest about how he feels about meeting his new love interest’s ex. Liam says he feels threatened but thinks he could take Damon. Damon sends him to get Elena chardonnay, which he knows she hates, then takes her to the dance floor.
Stefan and Caroline get to the cabin, where Tripp’s unconscious, though Enzo acts like it’s not a big deal. He confirms that all Caroline had to do to get Stefan to respect her was stop paying attention to him. Caroline complains that Enzo tied Tripp up with three chains, then blasts Stefan for teaming up with his “sworn enemy.” Enzo’s delighted to realize that Caroline hates Stefan because she…doesn’t hate him. She likes him. His work here done, Enzo heads off to let the two of them work through the awkwardness of what he just revealed. Caroline tells Stefan they won’t be discussing it.
Damon reminds Elena of their first dance at the Miss Mystic Falls pageant. She chastises him for showing up at the fundraiser without warning and ruining her night. “I literally went through time and space to be with you,” he notes. She asks if she’s supposed to feel guilty. She does, but that doesn’t change the fact that she doesn’t remember their relationship. Damon’s upset that she erased it when he never would have. He would rather feel the pain of losing her than forget her.
As Elena goes outside to get some air, Alaric tells Jo that her problems with Damon are his fault. Jo reminds him that Elena made her own choice. Also, he shouldn’t drink while he’s taking painkillers. He tells her he’s not taking anything. He’s actually enjoying feeling the pain because it reminds him that he’s human again. “To being powerless and mundane,” Jo toasts. Alaric asks if they should start a support group for formerly supernatural beings. She says she gave up her magic willingly – she “put it away for safekeeping.” Yes, that’s a thing witches can do. She had a hugely dysfunctional family and wanted to distance herself from them. She has no regrets.
Speaking of people who have dysfunctional families, as they’ve mentioned many times, Luke and Liv catch up (or at least they would if she would tell him anything about what’s going on with Tyler). He reminds her that if their coven summons them home, she’ll have to leave Tyler behind. She tells Luke that he sounds like their father, which isn’t a good thing. She’s perfectly fine having a fling she knows might not last long.
Bonnie fixes the ascendant but runs into the nightmare of anyone who’s ever put together a huge jigsaw puzzle: One piece is missing. The lights in the hospital all go out and she goes to see what’s going on. Kai is there, holding the last piece of the ascendant. (Bonnie seems to have forgotten that he can’t be killed in the prison world.) He followed a trail of her blood to the hospital. She magically traps him behind some furniture and runs for an emergency exit, but it’s locked. She manages to get outside, but her car won’t start. Kai’s waiting for her in the backseat anyway, and she’s no match for him. The eclipse will happen in an hour, and Kai is ready for both of them to go home.
Damon mopes at the bar, where Elena steals one of his shots. She tells him she wants to remember him and their relationship, or at least try. She hates knowing that there’s a piece of her life missing. Compulsion is off the table, but maybe they can unwind her memories until something gets triggered that makes them all come back. She asks Damon to take her to the last place where she told him she loves him.
Kai and Bonnie go to the spot in the tunnels where the eclipse will send them home. The bloody arrow she was shot with is still down there. Kai has brought Miss Cuddles along so Bonnie can take her with them. He doesn’t want Bonnie to think of him as a murderer. I mean, yeah, he killed some of his siblings, and yeah, he vowed to finish off the Gemini coven when he got out, but he claims he wants his family back. He’s nervous about how to live in the world again and hopes Bonnie has been a good influence on him. He wants to be more like her. Bonnie is skeptical of this, as she should be, but seems resigned to taking him out of 1994 with her.
Matt, Stefan, and Caroline go to the border for the hostage exchange. Matt has to remind Caroline not to cross the border to run to Liz (who’s fine). Liz tells Stefan to release Tripp first, and once he does, Liz is let go. But the second Tripp crosses the border, he realizes something’s wrong. Suddenly a huge wound opens up on his neck. The minions run as Matt sadly watches his former mentor die. Stefan says that Enzo must have turned Tripp without any of them knowing.
It’s eclipse time, so Bonnie starts the spell with the ascendant. Kai grabs her hand to ensure that she can’t leave without him. She tucks her foot under Miss Cuddles as she chants the spell, but the ascendant stops working. She tells Kai that something happened and she lost her magic. Kai grabs her arm to siphon it from her and realizes there’s nothing there. Bonnie reveals that she put her magic someplace safe. She reminds Kai that he wanted to be more like her – loyal, brave, and patient. He realizes that she put her magic in Miss Cuddles, then sent the bear to the real world. Kai yells in frustration but Bonnie doesn’t even blink. She tells him they’re stuck there forever.
Damon takes Elena to the border, the last place they saw each other before all the Other Side shenanigans. She remembers that Damon blew up the Grill to kill the Travelers, but not the fact that she was with him in the car. When she invited herself along, he realized she was the perfect person for him – she’s just as crazy as he is. Elena asks for another memory, something happy. “There is a motel ice machine in Denver that’s got some stories,” Damon replies. And the night she graduated, she declared her love and said she wasn’t sorry about it.
One of Damon’s favorite memories is of a night they spent together before she started at Whitmore. They were supposed to watch a meteor shower, but it started raining. She insisted on waiting until it stopped so they could still see the shower. He takes her hand the way he did then, but that doesn’t help Elena remember. She gets frustrated, unable to remember how she felt when they were together. When she looks into his eyes, she feels like he’s a stranger. She can’t give him what he wants because she can’t remember.
Damon insists that some things can’t be erased. He wants to kiss Elena but she doesn’t let him. Instead, she heads for the border. When she steps over, she’s flooded with bits of memories of their time together. Actually, “flooded” is a bad word choice because crossing makes her start to drown. Damon pulls her back to safety, not wanting her to risk her life to get back her memories.
Caroline and Stefan take Liz to Whitmore Medical Center since Caroline thinks she has a head injury from being run off the road, and she knows Liz won’t get it checked out when she’s back in Mystic Falls without Caroline there to bug her. She dismisses Stefan but he doesn’t budge. When Caroline leaves to find out how long they’ll have to wait, Stefan asks Liz for suggestions on how to get Caroline to forgive him. As Liz is finally examined, Caroline tells Stefan to leave her mother out of this. Yes, she heard him – she has vamp hearing and hears everything. “Only when you listen,” he replies.
He brings up the elephant in the room, asking why she likes him. She says she doesn’t, so he asks why she used to. Caroline still doesn’t want to have that discussion, but Stefan can’t figure out how he missed it. “Maybe it’s because I thought you were worth having a thing for,” she tells him. When she turned, he told her she would get through becoming a vampire, and she did. She couldn’t imagine Elena ditching Stefan for Damon. Stefan was practically Caroline’s best friend, and she trusted him.
He apologizes for not seeing her interest in him, but she thinks he’s actually sorry for not returning her feelings. He says he was going through a difficult time. He’s sorry for how he treated her. Caroline says she knew what he felt because if he had returned her affections, he wouldn’t have walked away. She doesn’t hate him for that or for mourning Damon or for being a jerk. In fact, she accepts his apology. But she still hates him. If she doesn’t, she has to hate herself for ruining their friendship, and she doesn’t think she deserves that.
Damon walks Elena to the Super Suite, where she tells him she remembered a bit of their night watching the meteor shower. He tells her that when she became a vampire, part of him was happy because there was a chance she would be in his life forever. But the rest of him was devastated because she lost the possibility of having the life she wanted.
Elena asks what happened after it started raining. Damon ignores her, continuing that she’s happy now. She might still be happy if they got back together, but she’s better off without him. He died and she started over. She needs to continue on that path. He loves her but he’s going to let her go. Elena asks again what happened after it started raining. Damon says she wanted to go home, so they did.
Jo and Alaric end the night at her place, where he catches a glimpse of her while she’s changing clothes. He asks the story behind a huge scar on her abdomen. She tells him that when she was younger, her brother stabbed her and she ended up losing her spleen. Alaric notes that they both have tragic, dysfunctional histories. Maybe that’s why they’re so good together.
Liam goes to the Super Suite with Lady Whitmore’s medical records. An injury she had been dealing with for a while is no longer an issue – it’s as if it healed itself. That plus Damon not being dead makes Liam think that Elena is a liar and is keeping secrets. He’d like her to tell him what’s going on, and if she doesn’t, he’ll figure it out on his own.
A drunken Damon goes to the cemetery and pours a little bourbon on Honoria Fell’s grave (though he calls her Horatio). He remembers what really happened the night of the meteor shower. He was the one who wanted to leave, but Elena talked him into staying. They kissed in the rain and she asked him to promise that they would be together forever.
Damon heads to the Salvatore crypt, toasting to optimism. He finds Miss Cuddles sitting outside the crypt and recognizes her as Bonnie’s bear. He quickly realizes what this means: Bonnie is still alive.
Keep in mind: Witches can store their magic in inanimate objects.
Jo’s brother tried to kill her and she lost her spleen.
Etc.: How sweet is it that we’ve gone from Caroline barely speaking to her mother in season 1 to her calling Liz every Saturday morning in season 6?
As for the opposite of sweet, I don’t like that Damon and Stefan have barely spent any time together since Damon got back. And I don’t like how little time Elena and Jeremy spend together this season. Part of it is the problem Caroline identified earlier, with the gang trying to deal with their grief alone, but it makes for an interruption in their relationships, which isn’t fun to watch.
I know I should stop trying to figure out time stuff on this show, but how does an entire day pass in the real world in the two hours Bonnie spends fixing the ascendant?
“Belong,” the song that plays when Damon and Elena dance, also played when she declared her love for him in “Graduation.”
I’m a little fuzzy on how Tripp could turn into a vampire without knowing it. How did Enzo get him to drink human blood and complete his transition?
Think about how messed up your life must be if your response to learning that your new girlfriend’s brother tried to kill her is basically, “Yeah, bad stuff has happened to me, too.” (Though, to be fair, Jo’s pretty nonchalant about it.)