It’s May 10th, 1994, again and Bonnie is making breakfast (not pancakes) for herself. (Music: “Check Yo Self,” Ice Cube) She crosses days off of a calendar and sees that in the real world, it’s her birthday. Then she throws the calendar in the fireplace.
She may not want to celebrate but Elena does. She tells Jeremy that Bonnie would want them to spend the day thinking about her. Jeremy doesn’t see the point in having a birthday party for someone who won’t be there. Elena replies that they could celebrate him going away to art school, except for the fact that he’s not going because he never applied. He doesn’t think he could get in, since he’s failing all his classes. Plus, he doesn’t want to leave Mystic Falls without knowing if Bonnie’s okay.
Caroline calls Liz from Vamp Villa, pretending she’s double-checking a cake recipe (the cake has already been made). She doesn’t want to seem like she’s checking up on her terminally ill mother. She gets spooked by the sight of Miss Cuddles and tells Stefan she feels like the bear’s eyes follow her when she moves. She confesses that Bonnie didn’t lose the original Miss Cuddles like she thinks she did – Caroline stole her after they had a fight. She didn’t want Liz to find out, so she buried Miss Cuddles in the woods. She left M&Ms to mark the grave, but when she went back later, they were gone.
Stefan thinks Bonnie’s past that, but Caroline doesn’t like the thought of both Bonnie and the bear being alone. She decides to find the original Miss Cuddles as a birthday present for her owner. Stefan thinks she’s using this as a distraction so she doesn’t have to deal with her real problems. Caroline fully acknowledges that, but she can’t do anything to help Liz or save Bonnie, so she’s going to do something that will actually make a difference.
Damon and Elena sneak a cupcake before the party starts, risking the wrath of Caroline. They bring up their kiss after Elena saved Liz, which they haven’t discussed since then. She assures him that they’re “good.” They kiss again but get interrupted by Kai. Damon thinks he’s just dropping by before he goes home to Portland. Kai wants them to give Jo a letter (he can’t find her, even with a locator spell). He’s been experiencing some weird things since the merge. Most humans would call those things “feelings.” Kai got some from Luke in the merge.
He looked up how to process emotional pain and saw a suggestion about writing everything down. He wrote a letter to Jo and was confused to find water coming out of his eyes. He burned the letter but the feelings didn’t go away, so he wrote another letter apologizing to Jo for destroying their family. Kai thinks Elena, of all people, should be able to look past the things he’s done and see that he has good inside him. She was able to do that with Damon, after all. Damon’s ready to shut down the conversation but Elena has an idea of how Kai can be of use to them.
Enzo takes Matt to Duke so they can stalk the real Sarah Nelson together. Matt thinks Enzo wants him to help destroy an innocent woman. Enzo just wants Matt to do some tasks for him. Matt would rather just let Enzo kill him, but Enzo needs a puppet, so he forces Matt to do his bidding by threatening to hurt Kelly.
Elena has tried to put the ascendant back together so the gang can use it to go get Bonnie, but she’s not a witch and has no idea what she’s doing, so it’s unusable. Damon asks Kai if they can use it to send Bonnie a message for her birthday. He cranks up the guilt, which Elena loves. Kai decides it’s worth a try and asks what the message will be. Damon has realized that all Bonnie needs to get out of the prison world is magic, so he wants to let her know where she can find some.
Liv is trying to pack up Luke’s dorm room but she’s having trouble concentrating. She asks Tyler how Luke could have agreed to merge with Kai instead of her. Tyler reminds her that Kai is going to come after her and the rest of their coven, so they need to get moving. Liv doesn’t want to run away like Joshua did and spend the rest of her life worrying that Kai will find her. She should have just done the merge; at least she and Luke would still be together. They’ve never been apart, and she doesn’t know how to live without him. She can’t run. Kai took her life and there’s nowhere for her to go. Tyler promises to help her do whatever she wants to do next. Liv asks him to help her kill Kai.
While Kai examines the ascendant, Elena tries to figure out the magic source Damon’s thinking of. He gives her a hint: “scorned lover.” Elena’s mind immediately goes to Katherine, then Silas. Finally she guesses Qetsiyah, whose blood is in Silas’ headstone. Bonnie just needs to go to the island and get it. Damon says he was planning to take a trip there in the prison world. Kai is relieved to feel something familiar – he still hates the idea of Damon and Elena being together.
Stefan follows Caroline to the woods and watches her dig in the spot where she thinks she buried Miss Cuddles. He asks if she really thinks finding the bear will make everything right. She taunts that she could pick a bar fight with a stranger instead. She knows this is crazy but she doesn’t care. Stefan is half worried/half amused and says he’ll stick around in case she has a breakdown.
Elena and Damon have told Jeremy what they’re planning with Kai, but Jeremy doesn’t think he’s actually changed enough to help them. Kai says he would have been fine with any of Luke’s other qualities, including his sexuality, but the whole compassion thing is bugging him. Elena’s willing to believe they can trust Kai if it means connecting with Bonnie. Kai describes his personality change as “Elena in reverse.” First she was a good person, dating “the good Salvatore.” Then she became a vampire, stopped caring about right and wrong, and got with “the bad Salvatore.” Apparently Damon told him all this in the prison world. Damon tells Kai to stuff it, get his “Gemini jumper cables,” and fix the ascendant.
Liv tells Tyler that when she and Luke were kids and they played hide and seek, they would cheat by using a spell to see through each other’s eyes. She’s able to do the spell to look through Kai’s eyes instead and see that he’s at Vamp Villa. She’s not surprised that Damon is trying to work with him. Tyler doesn’t want Liv to run head-first into danger, but she can’t just sit back and let Kai get away with killing Luke. She’s sure Tyler didn’t when Carol died.
Tyler reminds Liv that since Kai is the new Gemini leader, killing him will also kill her, Joshua, and Jo. “We’re dead anyway,” she says. Kai will kill the whole coven, along with anyone else he feels like. This way, Liv can take him with her. Tyler vowed to stop anyone who tried to hurt Liv, and he’s willing to apply that promise to Liv herself. But he’s human and can’t hold up against a witch who can render him unconscious with just a few words.
At Duke, Matt strikes up a conversation with Sarah about photography. She thinks he’s flirting and gently turns him down. Enzo comes up with a new plan, hopefully one that doesn’t make Matt seem so pathetic. Back in Mystic Falls, Kai tells Elena, Damon, and Jeremy that he has a way for them to see Bonnie. It’s like Ghost, where Bonnie’s Demi Moore and the rest of them are Patrick Swayze. It’s astral projection, more or less.
The four are transported to the prison world, where they’re able to see and hear Bonnie but not interact with anything. She has no idea they’re there. She watches the video Damon made, followed by one they made together of a fake newscast. Damon realizes she’s drinking the oldest bottle of bourbon in the house. They made a pact that if they couldn’t stand being trapped in 1994 any longer, they’d drink it together, then kill themselves.
Kai loses his connection to the prison world and the four travelers wake up back in the real world. He tells them he couldn’t die in the prison world, but that might be because his punishment involved living there forever. Bonnie might be able to die for real. Elena wants to try to send her a message, even though, as Jeremy points out, they can’t communicate with her. Damon says the message is already there – he wrote some notes in an atlas, so if they can turn to the page that features the island, maybe Bonnie will see it. First, though, Kai will need a power boost.
Jeremy suggests that they conserve magic by having Kai just send him back. Kai thinks that if he can hold the spell long enough, he can give Jeremy the ability to physically interact with the atlas. If Kai can’t pull it off, he’ll be overwhelmed by magic and won’t be able to pull Jeremy back out. Jeremy will be stuck in astral-projection land forever. Elena hates that idea but Jeremy’s willing to take the risk. Even if he can’t get through to Bonnie, he’ll be with her if she dies.
Caroline has been digging for hours with no luck. Stefan teases her by pretending he sees an M&M by one of her many holes. She’s upset that he’s not taking this seriously. She tries to swipe his flask but he won’t let her take it. He notes that she’s angry, which she denies. She says she’s just annoyed because she’s in an emotional state and Stefan’s mocking her. “Definitely angry,” he replies. And she should be – her mother is dying, Bonnie’s stuck in a prison world, and all Caroline can do is dig up a stuffed animal.
She shoves him and tells him to shut up. Stefan asks if that made her feel better. She says no, so he encourages her to try again. She does, even tripping him with the shovel so he falls on his back. She also nabs his flask. Stefan knocks her legs out from under her so she ends up on the ground next to him. He’s pleased with himself for getting her to let out some of her emotions.
Kai does his Ghost spell again, looking like he won’t be able to hold it for long. Damon tells Elena that he and Bonnie made their death pact after watching The Bodyguard a billion times. He didn’t think she would actually go through with it. Unable to watch what’s happening, he leaves the room, and Elena follows him. Yeah, they should definitely leave Jeremy alone with Kai. That’s a great idea.
Enzo has taken all of Matt’s stuff so he can tell Sarah he left it in a car belonging to a friend who then bailed on him. She takes pity on him and offers to buy him coffee and take him to a bus stop. Damon finds the “suicide bourbon” and decides to open it since he and Bonnie agreed to drink it together. Elena shares the bottle, toasting to the birthday girl. She asks if Kai is right that she changed when she became a vampire. Damon doesn’t think she should listen to the mass murderer. Elena’s just curious about whether she would be with Damon if she were still human. He doubts it – Elena chose Stefan and was on her way to see him when she died. After she turned, Damon was back in the game. Elena decides to go check on Jeremy but finds that a barrier spell is keeping her in the room.
Jeremy and Kai are back in the prison world, and Jeremy’s able to open the atlas to the right page. Kai suddenly starts bleeding – in the real world, Liv has stabbed him. Jeremy wakes up and tries to stop her but she magically tosses him aside and knocks him out. She gives Kai a magic migraine, but before she can do anything worse, he makes a fork fly into her neck. He throws alcohol on her, eager to watch her burn to death. As he picks up a candle, she tells him to just kill her. He’s already killed her best friend. Kai’s emotions hit him and he can’t bring himself to do it. He tries to convince himself that he doesn’t care about his sister. He hesitates long enough for Liv to whip the fork into his chest.
Jeremy’s conscious again, and he throws a butter knife into Liv’s shoulder to stop her from stabbing Kai again. Elena uses her vamp hearing to listen in and figure out that Liv is trying to kill Kai. Damon yells for Jeremy, who’s dragging Kai to the kitchen for another attempt at the Ghost spell. Kai agrees to try it again, even though he’s weak. They make it back as Bonnie is drinking more bourbon and crying over her decision to end her life. She smashes the bottle, then leaves with the video camera.
In the woods, Caroline decides to call the search for Miss Cuddles quits. But Stefan spots an ear in the ground and they realize she found the bear after all. Unfortunately, Caroline accidentally rips her head off while trying to clean her off. She and Stefan crack up. They’re standing close enough to kiss, but Caroline turns away, starting to cry. She apologizes and he comforts her.
Liv goes looking for Kai, yelling for him to come out. Damon realizes that she’s in the living room, right below the room he and Elena are in. He kicks a hole in the bricks in the fireplace and grabs his suicide bourbon, reminding Elena that he was saving it for something special. He drops it through the hole, creating a fireball in the fireplace downstairs that blows Liv across the room. She’s knocked out, which takes down the barrier spell she did to keep Damon and Elena trapped.
Jeremy follows Bonnie to the garage, where she plans to give herself carbon monoxide poisoning. He tells her not to do this, but of course she can’t hear him. She records a goodbye message saying she’s sorry. She tried to make it work but she misses too much about the real world. She can’t take being alone all the time. This is the only way to make it stop. She hopes Jeremy is living a life he wants with no regrets. She wants him to stay strong and never give up on himself.
The words “stay strong” remind Bonnie of what Sheila said to her before sending her to the prison world. She decides she’s not ready to die. Unfortunately, the exhaust from the car is almost too much for her to overcome. Jeremy tries desperately to open the garage door and let in fresh air, but he can’t do it. He yells for Bonnie to get up and keep trying. Finally he’s able to open the door.
Damon and Elena find Kai and Jeremy, and Damon gives Kai his blood to heal him. Jeremy announces that he saw Bonnie and she’s going to be okay. It’s too bad Liv and Kai’s fight in the living room ruined all the party supplies because the gang really has something to celebrate now. Jeremy admits to Elena that he understands how Bonnie feels – alone and trapped with no end in sight. Elena tells him that it’s okay for him to move on. Bonnie saved herself, and Elena thinks she would want him to do the same. He should go to art school and find the life he wants.
Liv wakes up back in her dorm room, healed because Tyler convinced Elena to give her some blood. Now that he knows Liv is okay, he’s done with her. He’s furious that she lied and chose death over him. Matt regroups with Enzo and asks what the point of this was. Enzo says he wants to know what Sarah’s like. She’s clearly a good person, about a 9.5 out of 10 on a purity scale. When Enzo’s through with her, he wants her at a 1. He’s going to make her do things she’d never imagined doing until she begs him to turn her. Stefan’s going to see how wrong he was to think he could protect her.
Elena tells Damon that, just like Jeremy, she needs to move on with her life. She’s made big mistakes but being with Damon isn’t one of them. Even though she was going to see Stefan the night she died, she wound up with Damon. She always finds her way back to him, vampire or human, memories or no memories. Damon thinks she’s saying this because she can’t change what she is. Elena denies that – she doesn’t care what she would have done if she were still human. That’s all hypothetical, and this is real. They need to stop living in the past. He likes that idea, and they seal the agreement by making out.
While Jeremy goes back to his art-school application and Caroline repairs Miss Cuddles, Bonnie finds the atlas. “Damon, you’re a genius,” she says. The next morning, she gets in his car and sets out for Nova Scotia, her first stop on her trip back home.
Etc.: Who taught Kai how to use the Internet?
How bored was Damon in the prison world that he told Kai all about Elena?
What did Zach Roerig do to deserve Matt’s crappy plot in this episode?
Kat Graham (Bonnie) is so good at making you believe she’s devastated.
If only Bonnie knew that there were a bunch of dark objects in New Orleans that she could use without having to go all the way to the island. Then again, that trip is crucial to the rest of the season.