Liz is getting ready to leave work for the night, and she asks a deputy to check the Lockwoods’ property, since Carol reported seeing a stalker. Hmmm. She also wants the staff to be ready for complaints about a bonfire some teens are holding. She tries to ignore her ringing phone so she can leave, but she decides to take one last call. It sends her to the hospital, where she learns about a car accident at Wickery Bridge. There were two casualties and one survivor: Elena. Yep, it’s a flashback. In the present, Liz is packing up her office, reluctantly giving up her job as sheriff as she faces whatever remaining time her terminal cancer gives her. She spots a file for Miranda and Grayson’s accident and picks it up.
Elena and Damon meet with the principal at Mystic Falls High, hoping he’ll agree to let Jeremy graduate early so he can go to art school. The principal says no, since Jeremy’s whole high school career has been subpar. Also, there was that whole thing where he faked his death. Damon tells the principal that actually, they went to an island to find a cure for vampirism, and Jeremy… Elena cuts him off.
She asks the principal to approve their plan so Jeremy can leave town. The answer is still no. Damon asks if they can try his way now. Elena’s reluctant, since they already used compulsion to get Jeremy into art school. She’d prefer if he got his degree legitimately. Damon’s too impatient for that, so he compels the principal to let them do what they want.
Jeremy, Alaric, and Matt celebrate Jeremy’s “graduation” with shots at the Grill. Alaric is being lenient by letting Jeremy drink right now, but he warns that he’d better not get a call from a drunk tank in Santa Fe. Jeremy asks if he’ll make Jo give him another STD test. “That cleared up, right?” Alaric asks. I can’t tell if he’s kidding and I don’t want to know.
Matt, who’s been monitoring his phone, gets a call from Enzo, which prompts two fair questions from Jeremy – why is Enzo still alive and why is he calling Matt? Matt won’t answer either. Enzo tells him he’s brought Sarah to Mystic Falls and wants Matt to make her feel welcome. She’s in town under the belief that Matt talked his manager into hiring her to take pictures of the Grill. Damon and Elena arrive with Jeremy’s diploma and mortarboard. They admit that they had to “help” the process. After Elena walks away, Damon tells Jeremy that he put a present inside his hat, courtesy of Jo’s pot stash. If Jeremy tells Elena, Damon will kill him…again.
Caroline and Stefan go to Bill’s cabin, wanting to surprise Liz with a peaceful place to stay while she waits to die. Caroline’s brought along a bunch of things Liz loves and books she’s always wanted to read. Stefan’s carrying a box when his phone rings so he asks Caroline to get it out of his pocket. Awkward! But not as awkward as Caroline seeing that Liz is the caller. She tells Liz that she knows she asked Stefan to look after her and help her move on. Liz is pretty sure that’s not the only reason he’s with her right now.
Damon comes by Liz’s office, where she’s trying to tackle some open cases so she doesn’t leave behind any unfinished business. He offers his help, IDing himself as the culprit in a few crimes. She hands him the file for Grayson and Miranda’s accident, which she never looked into closely because she was busy taking care of Elena and Jeremy right afterward. Then everyone moved on and Liz became friends with Damon, so she didn’t want to dig into the possibility that he was involved. He promises he wasn’t. Liz plays him a message that Miranda left her a couple hours before the accident. She asked Liz to call her back so they could discuss something urgent. Damon thinks they have a mystery to solve.
Jeremy heads to the alley behind the Grill to smoke his graduation present, but Elena catches him. She wishes she could chastise Alaric for not keeping a better eye on Jeremy, but he left so he wouldn’t get recognized in Mystic Falls, since everyone there thinks he died there years ago. “Our lives are so weird,” Elena says. She decides to try to do something normal for once: smoke a joint with her little brother.
Caroline finds her childhood bike at the cabin and tells Stefan about the tantrum she threw when Liz made her take off her training wheels. He’s making some repairs around the cabin without having been asked. Caroline tells him he can leave if he needs (or wants) to be somewhere else, but he says he’ll stay. Back in Liz’s office, Damon dips into her secret alcohol stash and tells her she’s a terrible sheriff for having it. She thinks she’s actually terrible because one of her best friends is responsible for a bunch of her open cases.
She asks why Stefan and Damon were both in town the night Grayson and Miranda died. Damon says their mother died around that day decades earlier, so he would visit her grave in the years his emotions were on. Liz notes that Damon never talks about his mother. He doesn’t think there’s anything to say other than that she died of consumption. Liz guesses that he’s leaving something out but Damon isn’t going to clue her in.
He wonders why Grayson chose to take Wickery Bridge home when it would have been faster to take Old Miller Road. Plus, there are no skid marks on the road and the trunk was full of luggage like the Gilberts were going on a trip. Liz says that something must have happened that they don’t know about.
Jeremy asks Elena if he can take her car with him to school. She can compel herself a new one. She eats some fries and asks how many cars they’ve destroyed over the past couple of years. They can think of three – their parents’ car, Elena’s SUV that Ben made her crash, and Jeremy’s car that Katherine made him crash. Elena ignores a call from Liz, worrying that they’ve been busted for smoking pot. She thinks she’s the world’s worst sister – she let Jeremy be Jenna’s problem after their parents died, since she couldn’t deal with taking charge. She shut everyone out. Jeremy doesn’t think that made her a bad sister. He appreciated having someone to go through things with. He felt alone when Elena got better, but it’s not her fault that she healed before he did.
Damon calls to ask Elena to come to Liz’s office so they can discuss the accident. Elena tells him she’s not really in a state for seeing the sheriff right now. “Jeremy and I smoked your going-away present,” she whispers gleefully. Now she’s “lightly buzzed.” Damon tells her to sober up and come over anyway. As she leaves, Enzo arrives to have a chat with Jeremy.
Matt keeps up his ruse with Sarah until Enzo calls and tells him to take Sarah to a tunnel off Route 13. Matt doesn’t get why he has to take a field trip. Enzo tells him he has Jeremy and implies that blood will be shed if Matt doesn’t cooperate. At the cabin, Caroline worries that the last book Liz reads won’t be worth it. Stefan offers to take over the responsibility of picking one since he’s read most of the books Liz has to choose from. Why can’t Liz pick her own book?
Elena looks over the accident case file but can’t provide any answers on the route her father took or why there was luggage in the trunk. She was texting with Bonnie when the crash occurred, so she doesn’t know why Grayson suddenly skidded off the road. Damon asks about Miranda’s message for Liz, but Elena was already at the bonfire and doesn’t know what it was about. Liz isn’t 100 percent sure there’s anything to investigate, but considering where they live, they can’t rule it out. She apologizes for not doing a more thorough job of working the case. Elena knows Liz had the added responsibility of taking care of her and Jeremy, and she appreciates what Liz did for them until Jenna got it together to become their guardian. She says she’ll call Jeremy and ask if he knows anything. After Elena leaves, Liz starts weakening.
Matt takes Sarah to the tunnel, supposedly so she can take photos. Enzo calls and tells Matt to step to his left to see him. When Matt does, a car speeds through a tunnel and plows into him. At the cabin, Stefan tells Caroline that it doesn’t matter what book Liz is reading at the end of her life, or whether it’s good or bad. Life isn’t about your final moments – it’s about the rest of your moments. Caroline wants the end of her mother’s life to be perfect, which Stefan knows is just part of her control-freak nature. “If anyone can control death, it’s you,” he says, taking her hand.
Caroline tells him that she knows Liz asked him to take care of her, and she’s okay with it. She won’t be able to face this alone. Stefan promises that he’s not there because Liz asked him to be. He’s there because Caroline is his friend and he knows what she’s going to face losing her mother. Plus, he hated hearing her say that she hated him. She tells him that wasn’t true, and she’s sure he already knows it. Stefan moves closer to her and they lean in for a kiss. It’s gentle and tentative at first, as they’re feeling each other out, but they both go back for more. When they both pull back, they’re not sure what to say.
Matt tells Sarah to get out of there, but she’s still with him when Enzo comes over. Matt tells him to do something. Enzo warns Sarah that she’s about to see something she’s never seen before. He bites his wrist, which freaks her out, and feeds Matt his blood. Sarah looks on in shock as Matt instantly heals. Then Enzo zooms away. As for Jeremy, he’s not in danger at all – he’s already home, telling Elena that Enzo attacked him. She threatens to go after him but Jeremy doesn’t really want his sister beating up bullies for him.
She tells him that Liz had some questions about the night Miranda and Grayson died. The accident may not have been an accident after all. “What else could we possibly go through?” Jeremy asks. Elena tells him about Miranda’s message, and after giving it some thought, Jeremy laughs. Miranda caught him smoking pot in his room that night and threatened to have Liz arrest him. She called to scare Jeremy, who could hear Jenna giggling the whole time. (Probably because Jenna herself indulged in pot as a teen.) Jeremy says that’s the last time he and Miranda spoke – bickering through his door.
Elena passes this along to Damon, who tells Liz that Miranda’s message wasn’t about anything serious. Also, there was a storm the day before the crash, which rained out a surprise family trip Grayson had planned to the lake house. That explains the luggage in the trunk. Liz remembers that the storm downed a power line on Old Miller Road, so Grayson had to take Wickery Bridge instead. The road was probably slick because of a drainage issue, so there wouldn’t have been skid marks. There’s no mystery – the accident really was an accident.
Liz asks Damon to call Caroline and ask to postpone her big surprise until tomorrow. Once she’s alone, she takes off her badge and leaves it on her desk. She takes a last look at her office and turns out the light, maybe not satisfied that she completed all her unfinished business but ready to walk away anyway.
Damon calls Elena to let her know that Liz’s condition is deteriorating. Jeremy doesn’t think it’s a good time to leave town, but Elena and Alaric want him out of harm’s way and living a normal life. Alaric sends Elena to be with Liz while he takes Jeremy to the airport. Elena surprises Jeremy by promising to send him her car after all, as long as he doesn’t crash it.
Damon takes Liz home and compliments how she looks in her pajamas, which she finds disturbing. He knows she’s not satisfied with how the Gilberts’ case turned out. She wishes there were a supernatural explanation for the deaths of two people who died too soon. Damon guesses that she wants someone to blame. Liz cries, frustrated that she did everything right in her life and is now going to die. “Sometimes really terrible things happen to really amazing people,” he laments. She admits that there’s some peace in knowing she’s one of the only people in Mystic Falls to have an ordinary death. She’s “exceptionally ordinary” and she’s okay with it. But Caroline was meant to be extraordinary, and Liz wants her to know how proud she is. Damon says Liz can tell her that herself.
She thanks him for hanging out with her today and being with her now. He says he didn’t get to spend much time with his mother as she was dying. He volunteered to write her eulogy, but when she died, he couldn’t bring himself to even go to the funeral. Liz offers him a second chance by asking him to write her eulogy. (“Nothing dirty,” she admonishes.) She asks him to get her a drink, then loses consciousness.
Caroline and Stefan rush to the hospital, where Damon tells them that Liz is in a coma and the doctors will make her comfortable as her life ends. “She’s not comfortable, she’s dying!” Caroline exclaims. She’s devastated that she didn’t get to say goodbye.
Stefan calls Tyler and leaves him a message letting him know that he should come back from wherever he is to support Caroline. Damon tells Stefan that Liz has a DNR, so when she declines, the doctors won’t save her. Caroline regrets not getting to spend Liz’s last day with her. She was supposed to give her mother peace and reassure Liz that she would be okay. She wanted to thank Liz for being such a good mother and be with there in her final moments. Stefan reminds her that she still can.
Instead of taking Jeremy to the airport, Alaric drops him off at a bus stop. He’s not going to art school – he’s going vampire hunting. They’ve kept the truth from Elena so she won’t worry about her brother’s safety. Alaric is a little uneasy about this, but Jeremy’s an adult now, and Alaric’s pleased that he’s figured out his purpose in life. He’s going to send Jeremy leads so he can keep up the work. Alaric gives him a big hug goodbye and says he’s proud. If Bonnie makes it back home, Alaric will call Jeremy immediately.
Stefan helps Caroline go into Liz’s mind and give her a happy memory, a la Damon and Rose. (Music: “Colour Me In,” Damien Rice) Caroline chooses the day she told him about earlier, when Liz taught her to ride her bike without training wheels. Caroline worries about falling, but Liz promises she won’t, since Liz is holding her up. Even though Caroline says she’s not ready for Liz to let go, Liz does, and Caroline rides off on her own.
Damon, Elena, and Matt join Caroline and Stefan as Liz flatlines. Caroline sadly realizes that her mother’s gone and there’s nothing more she can do.
Etc.: I don’t blame Steven R. McQueen for leaving the show. Jeremy hasn’t gotten anything meaningful to do since season 4.
If parents can go to jail for bribing schools into admitting their kids, what would be the punishment for Damon and Elena using compulsion to get Jeremy admitted?
Elena whispering into the phone while high is hilarious.
I was dreading recapping this episode, since it always makes me cry. And I’m not someone who cries easily at TV and movies. This show, man…