Alaric is planning a romantic night with Jo at his place, which she appreciates since she had a rough day. The next morning, Stefan and Damon hang out in Alaric’s office, discussing the fact that Damon compelled Alaric to get the ascendant from Jo. Apparently Damon recommended the liberal use of alcohol. Back to the previous night: Alaric tells Jo that he’s pretty sure Joshua loves him. Yeah, he tried to kill Jo, but he didn’t try to kill Alaric, which in his mind is the equivalent of giving his blessing for him to date Jo.
He gets Jo to talk about leaving home when she was 22. He thinks she ran away, but she was given her freedom in exchange for helping to send Kai to the prison world. Alaric asks about the ascendant, which she stole. She feels safe having it close by; if she has it, no one can use it to free Kai. She even used to sleep with it under her pillow. Now she keeps it in her underwear drawer, next to her pot. Alaric gives her more wine and they make out.
Stefan warns Damon that Alaric will be furious when he realizes he was compelled to betray Jo. Damon says it’s his friendship to ruin, and he didn’t say anything when Stefan ruined his with Caroline. Stefan still doesn’t want to talk about that, but Damon is sure that sooner or later, Stefan will end up lying in the middle of the road, telling a stranger all about his woes.
Alaric arrives with the ascendant, clueless as to what a big deal it is that he took it. Damon rewards him with coffee and breakfast to take to Jo and compels him to forget all about this.
Hey, Elena and Jeremy are actually spending time together! Amazing! He’s joined her on campus for a run, having gotten his energy back after two weeks without drinking. He pauses to eye-flirt with some students, and Elena jokingly threatens to pants him in front of them. Jeremy doesn’t think they would mind. She asks what happened to make him bounce back after months of moping. He reveals that he canceled Bonnie’s cell phone, cried out all his grief, and decided to move on. But it turns out that no one told him that Bonnie’s alive, so moving on won’t be that easy.
Elena breaks the news to Jeremy, defending Damon for not telling them the truth about being with Bonnie in the prison world. Jeremy thinks it only took a “hollow promise” about possibly getting Bonnie back to make Elena trust Damon again. Elena swears that it isn’t hollow – Liv’s working on figuring out how to send Damon and Elena to the prison world to get Bonnie. Jeremy isn’t optimistic and won’t let himself believe that things will work out.
In order to send Damon and Elena to the prison world, Liv will have to leave Mystic Falls, even though Tyler argues that it’s the only place she’ll be safe from her coven. Liv notes that she’s not a prisoner: “Do I look like Rapunzel?” Tyler, looking at her long blond hair: “Well, actually…” He thinks she should let Luke handle this, but he’s off with some boyfriend, knowing this is the last time they’ll get to spend together before the merge.
Tyler asks Matt to back him up, but Matt isn’t going to stop Liv from doing something that could bring Bonnie back. Besides, Liv is tired of living in the frat house that is Lockwood Landing. She’s willing to risk the merge. If she survives, Tyler will have the honor of dating the new Gemini leader. If she doesn’t survive, he can date Luke. Tyler wants her to take this seriously, but Liv says it’s better for her to make jokes than let herself fall apart over the reality of her situation. He kisses her and promises to find a way to prevent the merge.
“And that was an actual fight two people just had,” Sarah says, having heard the end of the conversation. “This town is so weird.” Matt thinks she’ll get used to it. Sarah replies that the other possibility is that a vampire kills her like one killed Tripp. Matt finishes burning all the files associated with the community-protection program, which is officially kaput. Since Sarah helped, she wants a reward – a family reunion.
Word gets to Elena and Damon that Matt has asked Stefan to meet him somewhere. Damon doesn’t know what it’s about, but he hopes it distracts Stefan from the disaster his friendship with Caroline has become. He asks if Elena knew that Caroline liked Stefan. Elena says Caroline told her, and she wants Caroline and Stefan to be happy. Damon teases that Caroline could compel away all the things she likes about him.
They meet up with Liv at Miranda and Grayson’s graves, giving her the ascendant and some of Lucy Bennett’s blood. Liv’s surprised that Jo handed over the ascendant, since it’s the only thing that could free Kai and allow him to go right after his twin. Damon pretends that Jo was perfectly willing to give it up. Liv says they’ll use the moon (which is still visible above them even though it’s daytime) to activate the ascendant. Damon and Elena will have eight hours to get Bonnie before Liv brings them back. She gives them little vials of her blood to link them to her. “Hmm, bitter. Wonder why,” Damon comments after drinking his.
Once Liv pours some Bennett blood on the ascendant and says the magic words, Elena and Damon find themselves in the prison world. She remembers coming to the cemetery every day after her parents died. But in 1994, they were still alive, so their tombstone is gone. Damon tells her Bonnie’s still alive, too, so they need to get her. They should keep an eye out for Kai, though.
Actually, that won’t be necessary because Kai is now in the real world. He’s gotten his hands on some modern clothes (he hates skinny jeans) and a phone. He tries to chat with his cab driver, who isn’t interested in conversation. Kai understands – he doesn’t want to be the guy who talks a lot, like the guy he sat next to on his flight. Speaking of flying, what’s up with all the added security at airports and the fact that you can’t take more than three ounces of liquid on a plane? The cab driver explains that’s because of the threat of terrorists. Kai thinks the bigger threat is people who take off their shoes on planes.
He tries to explain that he’s extra-chatty because he just got out of prison, sort of. The cab driver ignores him as they arrive at their destination, Whitmore. Kai pays him, then uses the wire from his brand-new earphones to strangle him. He leaves the earphones in the driver’s ears and thanks his body as he leaves.
Damon and Elena head for Vamp Villa but Bonnie’s not there. Elena worries that Kai killed her. Damon cautions her not to jump to conclusions, but when she finds blood on a pillow, it’s hard not to. Damon decides to go right to the source and page Kai. First he explains how pagers work to Elena, who was two in 1994. They’ll just have to “sit by the phone like a 13-year-old girl” and wait for Kai to call back.
Enzo finds Matt and Sarah waiting for Stefan at Bell’s. He overhears Sarah saying she’s meeting a family member and offers to save her from a boring lunch. He introduces himself but she recoils when Matt tells her that Enzo killed Tripp. Enzo notes that Tripp tried to kill him first, then tells Matt he’s a horrible wingman. Matt orders Enzo to leave before he picks up where Tripp left off. Stefan arrives and backs up Matt. Enzo reveals that Sarah is one of Stefan’s family members, and she introduces herself to Stefan as Sarah Salvatore.
Elena finds a camcorder Damon used to record himself saying he was stuck in his own personal Hell. He grabs it from her, saying he was making an audition tape for The Real World: London. She thinks it was a video journal. She asks why he thought he was in Hell. Damon says it’s because he was stuck with Bonnie.
The phone rings, and the second Damon answers it, he threatens to kill Kai if he’s hurt even a hair on Bonnie’s head. The caller is Bonnie herself, since Kai left his pager with her. She’s calling from a pay phone on her drive back to Mystic Falls from Portland. She and Elena are thrilled to be able to talk to each other after so many months apart. Bonnie’s even more thrilled to know that her friends have come to rescue her. She’s in Muncie, Indiana, having hotwired a car, which impresses Elena. She’s six-and-a-half hours away, and they have seven hours before Liv pulls them out of 1994. If Bonnie gets back on the road, she can make it in time. She’s overwhelmed by the thought of finally going home.
After they hang up, Elena sees that Damon isn’t as happy as he should be – he’s too worried about Kai. He knows that Kai has an ascendant and Bonnie’s blood, so he can escape 1994. Maybe he already has.
Kai goes to Scull Bar, where Liv is working a shift. She doesn’t recognize him. She laughs at him when he orders a Zima, and he laughs back when he sees that the name on her name tag is Liv, a homophone of “live.” He finds that ironic.
Jo has discovered that the ascendant is missing, and the only person who had access to it was Alaric, so she confronts him in his office. Of course, he doesn’t know why she’s asking him where it is. He insists that he didn’t ply her with wine to get her to loosen up or tell Damon where it was. The gang wants to get Bonnie back but not at the risk of freeing Kai. Alaric promises that he would never tell anyone something Jo wanted kept secret. She notes that not wanting to tell and not actually telling are two different things. She guesses that Damon compelled it out of him. Alaric laughs at that possibility, since Damon’s his friend. Alaric, Elena’s the one with altered memories. You can’t have forgotten all the not-so-friendly stuff Damon’s done to you over the years. Jo suggests that they take a drive into Mystic Falls, where any compulsion he’s under will disappear and they’ll know the truth.
Damon and Elena kill time in 1994 by listening to the Gin Blossoms and making pancakes. Interestingly, she’s the one to apply the whipped-cream fangs this time. She notices one of Bonnie’s crossword puzzles, then spots the article about the murders Kai committed. Elena worries that he’ll try to kill Jo if he gets out. Damon says he’ll probably want to merge with her, which will end with the same result. Elena asks why Jo would give him the ascendant, then. “Because I asked her very nicely?” Damon replies innocently. He tries to distract her by going through his music collection to find something else to play. (He swears the Boyz II Men CD is Stefan’s.)
But Elena won’t drop the subject, so Damon admits that Alaric stole the ascendant from Jo (after Damon compelled him to). Elena’s furious that he would put Jo at risk to get Bonnie back. Of course Elena wants to save her best friend, but she thinks Damon just wants the same because it’ll make Elena realize what a great guy he is. It doesn’t matter if people get hurt as long as Damon gets what he wants.
Stefan chats with Sarah while Matt and Enzo sit at the counter. Enzo makes up dialogue for them, all of it insulting to Stefan. “Everyone hates you,” Matt tells him dryly. Enzo thinks he’s jealous because he doesn’t have vamp hearing. He goes back to eavesdropping as Sarah tells Stefan that she grew up in group homes and eventually got herself emancipated.
Stefan orders a couple of milkshakes, telling Sarah that it’s a Salvatore family tradition to drink them together. It’s really just a way to create noise so Enzo won’t be able to hear what Stefan says next: They’re going to walk out together so Enzo doesn’t get suspicious. They’ll have the rest of their conversation somewhere else because Stefan knows that Sarah’s lying.
Kai asks Liv if she’s on Twitter. He just joined as CobraKai1972. Liv hasn’t caught on to who he is, but she’s tired of him trying to chat, so she tells him she’s going to close up early. Kai says he wants a real drink – “no bourbon. I’m secure enough in my masculinity.” He settles on gin, which Liv says is for people who are much older. Kai is supposed to be 40, but he hasn’t aged since he was 22, so he barely looks old enough to drink. He happily shows Liv his ID, which finally clues her in to who he is.
Before she can run, Kai grabs her wrist and siphons magic from her. He reminds her that the last time they saw each other, he was trying to kill her. Now he can pick up where he left off. Liv jams a broken tap into his arm and tries to make a run for it, but Kai is able to lock all her possible exits. He thinks she didn’t recognize him because Joshua got rid of all the family’s pictures and home videos of him. Liv runs up to the second floor, just like every girl in a horror movie. Kai taunts that she was always bad at hide and seek. But she’s able to stay away from him long enough for Tyler to swoop in, shove Kai over the railing, and help her escape.
Matt and Enzo are still at Bell’s, wondering why Stefan and Sarah left. I’m wondering why Matt’s still there. Enzo says he cares about the truth. Also, he hates Stefan. How is Stefan allowed to get away with the things he’s done while Enzo does the same things and is branded a villain? “Because you kill people,” Matt says. Of course, Matt knows that Stefan has done the same. Enzo is just up-front about his actions while Stefan is “a liar with a little box of secrets.” Enzo wants to open that box.
On a drive with Stefan, Sarah tries to convince him that she’s who she says she is. Stefan is positive she isn’t because he knows where the real Sarah Nelson is – at Duke, where she’s an art major. She was adopted right after her birth by a loving family. He arranged for her to have a good life and has always looked out for her, even though she knows nothing about him. So the question is: Who is this impostor? Instead of answering, Sarah makes a break for it, not factoring in the fact that Stefan can vamp run. He stops her and she reveals that her real name is Monique.
Damon finds Elena hanging out on the front porch of Gilbert Gables. He tells her that on May 10th, 1994, he acted out and a bunch of people died. He’s felt guilty ever since, so it was reasonable to think that reliving that same day over and over meant he was in Hell. But Bonnie stayed hopeful for both of them. She’s the reason Damon survived and made it home. They’re even kind of friends now. He’s here to help Bonnie, not win Elena over. (Though I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if that happened, too.)
Elena smiles over the idea of Damon and Bonnie getting along. She thinks Bonnie must be approaching Whitmore by now. They’re on the porch swing, which Elena remembers squeaking when she was a kid. Damon says he fixed it. He and Bonnie came there every day, since it was the closest he could get to Elena. He wanted reminders of her. Elena laments burning the house down because one bad memory made her forget all the good ones she had there. She hasn’t gone inside yet, but Damon suggests that they do. She tells him she’s sorry she got rid of her memories of them; they were only half hers. “We’ll make new ones,” he assures her.
Just as they’re about to go in, they feel something strange. They’re being pulled back into the real world. Tyler is in the cemetery with Liv, and he explains that Kai has made it to the real world. Tyler wants to get Liv into Mystic Falls so Kai can’t take more of her magic. Elena insists that Liv send her back to 1994 first, but Liv says she can’t. She and Tyler are already across the border, so there’s nothing Elena can do.
Monique tells Stefan that she met Sarah at summer camp when they were kids. She was jealous of Sarah’s awesome life and decided to become her to take what Sarah didn’t want from her birth family. Stefan says he let Damon think that Sarah died in case he ever got the idea to go after her. Even though he’s not the same person he used to be, it’s still safer for Damon not to know she exists. Stefan wants her to have a normal life. He can’t have Monique out there knowing about Sarah, so he compels her to forget everything she knows and everything that’s happened in Mystic Falls.
As Monique’s leaving, Matt arrives and realizes that Stefan compelled her. Stefan explains that she’s a con artist and he needs to get rid of her. But Enzo has followed Matt, and he decides to use Monique to get Stefan to tell him what he’s hiding. Stefan repeats that Monique is a con artist – Sarah Nelson or Sarah Salvatore or whoever she is doesn’t exist. Enzo asks why he had such a long conversation with Monique, then.
Stefan tells him to let Monique go but Enzo is in a mood, and he snaps Monique’s neck. Matt wants to attack Enzo but Stefan holds him back and tells him not to do something stupid. Enzo taunts that this could have been avoided if Stefan had been honest. He’ll just have to get the truth some other way.
Elena’s crushed that Bonnie will get to Vamp Villa in 1994 and not find her or Damon there. But since they still have the ascendant, Damon says they can keep going back to get her until they succeed. No such luck – Kai has found them, and he magically shoots the ascendant out of Elena’s hand so it hits a tree and breaks.
Damon’s pleased to get the chance to fight Kai, who still has some of Liv’s magic and can beat up Damon without even touching him. He lights the pieces of the ascendant on fire right in Elena’s hand. Damon rushes Kai, who senses him coming and turns himself invisible. Damon takes a swing at the spot where he thinks Kai is standing and knocks him over the border, making him visible again. But now Kai is free to go around Mystic Falls, doing whatever he wants with no vampires to stop him.
Stefan tells Matt he’s sorry that Enzo killed Monique, but Matt doesn’t care for Stefan’s input since he didn’t stop Enzo. Stefan basically admits that he let it happen because it fit into his plans, whatever they are. Matt asks if he’s supposed to trust that Stefan knows best. Stefan says he’s supposed to trust that Stefan isn’t like Enzo. Funny, Matt can’t see the difference right now. Human lives will always mean less than vampires’, so they’ll always be on opposite sides. Tripp knew that, and now Matt gets it, too.
Elena calls Jeremy to tell him what he always knew would happen: Something went wrong and Bonnie hasn’t come back. “Bet Damon’s fine, isn’t he?” Jeremy says. He’s about to ruin his two-week sobriety when Matt stops him and offers him a different way to deal with his anger. He wants them to team up and kill Enzo.
Alaric finds Damon and tells him that he crossed the border and remembers what Damon did. He hits Damon, who reminds him that they want to get Bonnie back. Alaric says they still can, but not in a way that risks Kai’s escape. When Damon admits that Kai got out anyway, even before Damon messed with Alaric to get the ascendant, Alaric hits him again.
Elena tries to comfort Damon, who tells her that he left Bonnie a note at Vamp Villa to join them at Gilbert Gables. He guesses she’s there now, with half an hour to spare. As Bonnie races to Gilbert Gables, only to find herself still alone, Damon laments that she’s sacrificed over and over for the gang, and they couldn’t come through for her. Bonnie realizes she missed her shot to go home and tries to keep herself from losing it. She only succeeds for a few moments, before the reality of her situation sinks in: She’s really, truly alone in the world.
Kai is waiting for Tyler when he gets home. Tyler immediately shifts to attack mode but Kai quickly breaks a bottle to arm himself. He doesn’t want to kill Tyler (yet) since they want the same thing: for Liv to…well, live. “Feel like making a deal with the devil?” Kai asks.
Etc.: How did Kai manage to board a plane with an ID from 1994 and, I assume, no money? How did he know to go to Whitmore? How did he know Liv was the right Olivia?
Damon saying he made an audition tape for The Real World just makes me want to see him on a reality show. Not that one, though; he’d be miserable and would kill everyone within the first two days.
I don’t get why Damon and Elena didn’t drive out to meet Bonnie halfway. If they had to be in Mystic Falls for Liv to pull them out, that should have been made clear.
“Damon’s my friend – he would never compel me to do something I didn’t want to do!” Oh, Ric, you naïve little bunny.
I love how Matt doesn’t want to waste even the smallest bit of energy coming up with a creative insult for Enzo – he just says, “Everyone hates you.”
@CobraKai1972 is a real Twitter account, though it only has tweets from 2014-2015 and 2017. They’re pretty good, though.
You’d think that after dying, spending time on the Other Side, and getting to come back, Enzo would decide he has better things to do than stick his nose in Stefan’s business. Get a hobby, Enzo!
I assume someone associated with the show went to Duke, considering how often it comes up in the series.