Three years from now: Stefan hurriedly opens a Brooklyn storage unit with two coffins in it. Coughing and trying to catch his breath, he opens one of the coffins, which holds a desiccated Damon. “Wake up. I need you,” Stefan says, feeding his brother a bag of blood. Damon starts to undesiccate and sits straight up in his coffin.
Present: Just like Elena requested, Caroline is keeping a journal that Elena can read when she wakes up. It’s been a few weeks since then, but we haven’t reached the point at the end of the previous episode where Mystic Falls was in shambles. Right now, it’s still the normal, welcoming place it usually is.
Caroline writes from a bench in the town square that Damon decided to distract himself from thinking about Elena by focusing on helping Alaric grieve over Jo. He took Alaric to Europe; they’re currently in Amsterdam, chugging beer. Caroline assures Elena that they have a chaperone, Bonnie. Damon’s watching out for Alaric while Bonnie watches out for Damon. Caroline isn’t sure who’s watching out for Bonnie, though.
Matt is about to graduate as a sheriff’s deputy. Caroline’s happy for him but wishes Liz were there to see it. The bench she’s sitting on has a little plaque dedicating it to Liz’s memory. Caroline’s been visiting it a lot. She thought that might help her with her grief so she could move on with her life, but it’s not working. Stefan approaches as she tries to think of anyone she hasn’t covered in her journal entry. He tells her he’s going to check out the disappearance of some blood bags from the hospital, which Matt mentioned to him. He guesses Lily’s behind it.
Caroline asks how Damon is. Stefan says that he knows from Damon’s behavior the last time he had to wait for a girlfriend for decades that they should worry. Both of them are awkward with each other, and Stefan blames himself because he told her how he feels about her. He assures her that while she’s healing, they’ll just be friends – no pressure for anything else. His visit has made her happy, and when she goes back to her journal, she tells Elena that things are great.
Caroline isn’t the only person writing in a journal in the town square. Valerie Tulle, however, isn’t as happy about her life as Caroline is. She thought she would be coming to a place better than where she came from, but she was wrong. She’s learned three things in the weeks since she’s arrived: The food is awful, the air is gross, and everyone is interested in what everyone else is doing. Valerie feels like she doesn’t fit in, but she doesn’t want to anyway. This isn’t the world she imagined. She then learns a fourth thing: Don’t text while you’re crossing the street. A couple of teenagers hit her with their car.
The guy, Stu, wants to just leave Valerie in the street. His panicky girlfriend (who doesn’t get a name, and the actress’ name is ridiculous, so she’s Stuella) knows that’s not the right thing to do, but they just smoked some pot, so Stu can’t risk the police busting him. He convinces Stuella to get back in the car and drive off, leaving a seemingly dead body behind. But Valerie isn’t dead, and she quickly recovers as they flee. How? She’s one of Lily’s Heretics.
They’ve been staying in a house Lily found for them, living together just as they did in the 1903 prison world. The other Heretics, as Valerie voices over, are “stoic Beau, Nora the brat,” her “devious” girlfriend Mary Louise, and Malcolm, whom Valerie says is Lily’s favorite. It’s probably because he’s a suck-up. Nora and Mary Louise complain that they’re only allowed a small amount of blood every day. Lily notes that Beau isn’t complaining. Mary Louise reminds her that Beau is mute.
In Amsterdam, Alaric and Damon are drinking again, this time in an outdoor café. They’re so drunk that Bonnie has to tell them where they are. She writes a journal entry for Elena letting her know that this is all the guys do now. (She says she wants it on the record in case Alaric dies from alcohol poisoning.) Damon taunts that Bonnie could choke to death on the peanuts she’s eating, in which case he can tell Elena this in just a few hours.
Bonnie decides to rent a bike and go do something touristy alone. Damon tells her not to wear a helmet and to ride on tram tracks. Hey, you saved her from Kai. You don’t get to wish for her death now. Alaric suggests that Damon go with Bonnie, but Damon doesn’t want to leave him alone. He doesn’t want to be alone himself, either, since he needs the distraction. Alaric says he’s happy Damon’s with him, and he actually sounds genuine.
Back in Mystic Falls, Lily tells the Heretics that she’s going out to meet up with Enzo. They’re annoyed that she’s making them stay in the house all the time. She reminds them that their tendency to kill people without a care in the world led them to live on the run, then got them trapped in a prison world for more than a century. They need to change their way of living. Mary Louise turns up her nose at Lily’s desire for the Heretics to coexist with everyone else in the world. There’s another Heretic, Oscar, whom Lily sent on some errands a few days ago, and Nora doubts that he’s hiding out and behaving himself.
Valerie comes home, disheveled and banged up from her hit-and-run. Lily’s the only one concerned about her; Nora and Mary Louise are 100+-year-old mean girls who don’t like her. Valerie complains that the teens who ran her down left her in the street like she was dead, and she had to play along because Lily wants them to be pacifists now. Nora and Mary Louise try to convince Valerie that they have each other and don’t need anyone else. Yeah, with the way you two treat her, she should be grateful to have you! Lily praises Valerie for resisting the urge to fight back. She’s learning.
Lily’s positive feedback doesn’t have the intended effect on Valerie. She tracks down Stu and Stuella at Mystic Falls High, where they’re cleaning evidence of the hit-and-run off of the car. She smashes Stu’s face into the windshield, then corners Stuella. She’s brought Nora and Mary Louise along, and the three of them intimidate Stuella and berate her for letting Stu talk her out of doing the right thing. Valerie feeds on her, then notes that Lily will be mad. Nora takes a selfie with Stuella’s body and says, “Lily needs to learn that Heretics aren’t designed to coexist.”
Later, someone alerts the police, and Stefan and Matt come to look at Stu and Stuella’s bodies, which have been hung upside down over the spot where they were killed. They head to Vamp Villa and call Damon, Bonnie, and Alaric to discuss the situation. They figure the Heretics are responsible, and they think they’ve found where they’re staying, a foreclosed house that had its power randomly turned back on a few days after the wedding. Caroline went over there to do recon.
Stefan asks Alaric to tell him how to make a bomb. Alaric is so drunk he doesn’t know which part of the phone to talk into, so Stefan’s going to need a plan B here. Alaric tells him to use some other weapon, but Stefan wants to take all the Heretics out at once. Alaric says he’ll call Stefan back from a less public place (yeah, probably not a good idea to talk about building a bomb in earshot of other people), then pass out and pretend this never happened.
“Lily won,” Bonnie realizes as Alaric leaves. She wanted her family back and now she has them. Damon’s sure that Stefan will take care of things, but Bonnie thinks he just wants to stay out of this and continue his downward spiral. Damon replies that it’ll be approximately 22,916 days until he can see Elena again, assuming Bonnie doesn’t get some sort of fatal illness. He’s going to be spiraling for a while. Bonnie reminds him that Elena wants him to live his life, not sit around moping and waiting for her. Damon tells her that she doesn’t get to use Elena against him like that.
He takes Alaric’s drink, which he didn’t finish, but thinks his bourbon tastes weird. Bonnie tastes it herself and identifies it as tea. Alaric isn’t drunk after all. He’s with a psychic, showing him a red stone (which we’ll come to learn is the phoenix stone). He asks the psychic if he can commune with Jo and tell her that Alaric has the stone. The psychic asks for something of Jo’s to reach her spirit, so Alaric gives him her ring. The psychic holds it and says it holds a lot of energy. Jo loves Alaric unconditionally and wants him to know she misses him.
Alaric slams the psychic for exploiting his clientele. The ring is a fake. He had to replace the real one, which the first psychic he talked to kept. “Maybe your wife’s better off dead,” the psychic says. Ooh, bad idea. Alaric attacks him.
Lily meets Enzo at a bar in New York; she’s made him stay away while she teaches the Heretics moderation because seeing him live freely is a bad influence on them. She asks Enzo to help her find an item she lost back in 1903, which was on display in a museum until recently. It’s the phoenix stone. Enzo asks why Lily wants it, but she won’t tell him because he could be in danger if anyone knew he was looking for it.
He asks again why it’s significant, but she just says it’s a “family matter.” Enzo notes that he’s supposed to be part of her family. Lily says they want to believe he’s on their side. He reminds her that he stood by her when her own sons turned against her. Lily asks if that means he’s ready to admit that Damon and Stefan are monsters and turn his back on his friendship with Damon. Enzo doesn’t reply, so I guess that’s a no. Lily wonders what happened to the boy she met back in 1903. He tells her he’s not her errand boy and won’t find the phoenix stone for her.
Stefan’s working on his bomb when Caroline comes to report on her recon: There are five Heretics in their house, and Lily and Enzo aren’t around. This is the perfect time to bomb them. Stefan confirms that Caroline wants to be the one to do it. She notes that they’ve seen his picture (since they lived in his house for 100 years) and would recognize him if he showed up. Stefan urges her to call him out if this plan is too crazy. Caroline asks if there’s any version of the plan where he doesn’t worry about her. Uh, no. So let’s go bomb some Heretics!
Caroline shows up at their door with some flowers, pretending she lives down the block and wants to welcome them to the neighborhood. While she’s chatting with them, Matt sneaks in and places the bomb next to a gas pipe he then breaks. He sets the timer for 60 seconds. Mary Louise and Nora admire Caroline’s jacket, which delays her from leaving in a timely manner. Matt pretends he’s just arriving at the house and tells her they have to get going.
The mean girls aren’t done messing with Caroline. Nora compels Caroline to hand over her jacket, which Caroline does because she can’t let on that she’s an uncompellable vampire. Mary Louise then compels Caroline to tell Nora how good she looks in the jacket. Gotta love a supportive girlfriend, even if they’re both evil. Valerie smells the gas as the timer counts down. Caroline zooms off and she and Matt make it out of the house before the bomb detonates.
Damon and Bonnie go looking for Alaric, sniping at each other for losing him and not realizing he wasn’t drunk in the first place. As they’re thinking about where to go, Damon sees a van turning the corner and coming down the street toward them. He hesitates, then pulls Bonnie out of its path. She thanks him, then realizes he waited a few seconds before saving her. She tells him she’s not going to spend the rest of her life thinking he resents her. Damon isn’t sure how else to feel – whenever he looks at Bonnie, all he sees is “not Elena.” Bonnie points out that she lost Elena, too. Damon is one of the few reminders Bonnie has of her, so no matter how he feels about her, he’s stuck with her.
On her way back to Mystic Falls, Lily gets a call from Stefan telling her that the gang blew up her house and her family. She has until tonight to leave town or they’ll come after her next. Lily just laughs at him, doubting that the bomb took out all the Heretics. She advises Stefan to start running now.
A bunch of townspeople gather in the town square for Matt’s deputy class’ graudation. Nora and Mary Louise are there, but not to honor the graduates. Mary Louise gets uncomfortable holding hands with her girlfriend in public, though Nora reminds her that it’s the 21st century and they don’t have to hide their relationship anymore. Valerie joins them and teases that they’re on their first public date.
The three start a spell together as Stefan arrives and finds Caroline (sadly, the only member of the gang in attendance) to warn her that there’s a problem. Anticlimactically, the sprinklers go off. The Heretics smile, then set the water on fire. While people run away, the Heretics – now joined by Malcolm and Beau – start feeding. Whoever doesn’t get away either gets burned or bitten. Matt tries to help his fellow deputies while Stefan comes close to staking Beau. Mary Louise and Nora incapacitate Caroline with a magic migraine.
Lily arrives from the world’s fastest drive back from New York and takes in the massacre. She reminds the Heretics that she worked to help them learn to coexist and sacrificed to make them a family again. They should be ashamed of themselves for jeopardizing that. She’s calling an end to the bloodshed. She takes her family home, leaving Caroline, Stefan, and Matt to clean up their carnage.
Stefan and Caroline go back to Vamp Villa, unsure how the Heretics survived the bomb. The entire new deputy class is dead, except for Matt, and the new sheriff was also killed. While Caroline laments all the deaths, Stefan just studies his neck in a mirror. He asks her to help him get out a splinter that’s embedded there. As she does, she says she can’t see Mystic Falls surviving a war between “us and them.” Lily’s not going to be able to control the Heretics. Stefan announces that he thinks he knows how to get through to her. “Let’s just say it’s a good thing Damon’s not here,” he says.
Caroline writes another journal entry, this one telling Elena that when she wakes up, Mystic Falls will look very different. Matt and Stefan join in her voiceover, explaining that the gang made up a story about an underground mining fire (there are mines in Mystic Falls??) so they could evacuate the town. The gang can’t beat the Heretics, so they’re walking away before the Heretics destroy the town and its people. Stefan has made a deal with Lily: The townspeople get time to leave, and anyone who stays or comes back is fair game for the Heretics. Stefan and Caroline use compulsion to ensure that everyone leaves. Mystic Falls is now a ghost town.
The Heretics move into Vamp Villa as Matt and Stefan help close off a road into town. The gang may hate the Heretics, and vice versa, but at least they’ve called a truce. They’ll share the town, living next door to their enemies until…well, I don’t know what the endgame is. Maybe until the Heretics get bored and move away.
Caroline finds Enzo at Liz’s bench, unscrewing the memorial plaque. He had the same idea she did about putting it away for safekeeping. She guesses there’s a catch before Enzo will give it to her, but he says there isn’t one. Caroline thinks he’s on Team Heretic, so why is he doing something nice? He needs to pick a side: “Us or them.” Enzo says he sounds just like Lily. Caroline tells him it’s because neither of them trust him.
Stefan is helping himself to a beer at the Grill when Damon arrives with some questions about what he missed while he was on vacation. He hates that the gang just backed down and let the Heretics have the town. Maybe they should have tried something other than their brilliant Matt-puts-a-bomb-in-a-house idea. Hey, Matt wasn’t the problem! It’s not his fault the Heretics didn’t die!
Stefan is fine with the truce, and he doesn’t want Damon to threaten the peace. Damon guesses that Caroline convinced him to walk away and save a town full of people he doesn’t care about. “Stefan hangs up his hero hair for the girl,” Damon taunts. “And here I thought my future was bleak.” Stefan reminds Damon that Elena wanted him to be happy. If she wakes up and everyone she loves is dead, she won’t forgive Damon. Stefan isn’t doing this all for Caroline – he’s doing it for his brother.
Bonnie finds Matt and says some of the same stuff as Damon: They can’t surrender the town to the Heretics. Matt reminds her that they were locked up back in 1903, but Bonnie betrayed Kai, so he let them out. Now all the new deputies are dead. Not that Matt’s blaming Bonnie or anything. He heads out to patrol as a storm moves in. It’s the last scene from the previous episode, where Matt’s driving through the half-abandoned town while Damon looks out from the clock tower.
With his home taken over by Heretics, Damon goes to the Super Suite. “So I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t get hit by a truck, huh?” Bonnie says when she finds him there. What, like he needed you to let him in? He argues that he only hesitated three seconds but she thinks that’s plenty of time for something horrible to happen.
He tells her that in the first second, he thought about getting Elena back. By the second second (…heh), he could feel himself kissing her. But by the third second, he realized how horrible it would feel to lose Bonnie. Damon will wait for Elena, and Bonnie will help him: “You’re stuck with me, too.” Bonnie blames herself for the Heretics being in Mystic Falls but Damon says it’s on Lily, as well as everyone’s fear of standing up to her. Bonnie’s on Damon’s side, though, and ready to fight.
Malcolm comes across a homeless man in Mystic Falls and attacks him. After he feeds on the man, he turns to see Bonnie nearby. She introduces herself as the “town witch.” She gives him a magic migraine, but as a siphoner, he has the upper hand and can halt her power. Damon, however, has an even higher upper hand, which he uses to pull out Malcolm’s heart.
Caroline makes up the couch for Stefan to sleep on at Fort Forbes, wondering if they made a mistake letting the Heretics have the town. He asks what Liz would do. Caroline knows she would protect the humans in town. In that case, Stefan says they’re not making a mistake. Caroline tells him that she thought she would heal from Liz’s death and she’d be ready to move on after some time had passed. Now she knows she’ll never stop missing Liz.
Stefan says she can’t sit back and wait for the good parts in life. But she can forgive herself for trying to be happy. Caroline tells him she’s happy – because of him. Elena’s gone, Liz is dead, and the town is a wreck, but she’s happy when she’s with him. She finally takes a step forward by kissing him.
Alaric goes to Whitmore Medical Center, where a morgue attendant has been reluctantly storing Jo’s body well past the typical 30-day period. He pays the attendant to keep ignoring the policy. The attendant thinks Alaric needs to bury Jo so he can start the grieving process. Alaric replies that he’s not going to bury her – he’s going to resurrect her. No, ha ha, he’s just kidding! There’s no way Alaric could resurrect a dead woman!
Valerie spots Beau examining the X-shaped scar on his throat that took away his ability to talk. She encourages him not to hide it. It marks him as a survivor, something he should be proud of. Nora and Mary Louise come home with Malcolm’s body, the sight of which devastates Lily. She asks who took him from them.
Caroline wraps up the day with another journal entry, this time in her dorm lounge. Enzo interrupts and tells her that one of the Heretics was killed. Caroline says they had a deal, but Enzo notes that trust is fickle. He’s been thinking about trust and how he needs to earn it. That means choosing a side. Caroline understandably thinks he’s chosen the gang’s side, but he hasn’t. He injects her with vervain and says he chose Lily.
Three years from now: Damon’s not happy about being revived before Elena woke up. Stefan tells him they have to go. He senses someone approaching and quickly spins Damon’s coffin around so the lid is facing the entrance to the storage unit. Some arrows fly into it and Damon says, “She’s back.” They hide behind some crates as a woman fires a gun at them. Stefan says the scar on his chest opened up this morning, so he figured she was back, but he didn’t realize she was so close. “She’s not gonna stop until you’re dead,” Damon tells him before they run off together.
Significant item update: Alaric has the phoenix stone.
Etc.: I hate time jumps. HATE THEM.
No way is Elena going to read every journal entry her friends write. She’s going to get through less than a month’s worth before getting bored. They’re absolutely wasting their time writing everything down. Not to mention that they have to keep track of these journals for the next 60+ years. Whenever they move somewhere, they have to pack them all. Try a blog, guys!
How much training did Matt get as a deputy? Six months’ worth? Yeah, that should be enough.
The writers making Nora and Mary Louise lesbians gets the same response from me as Luke being gay: No points for a weak attempt at diversity that never comes to anything.
I can’t imagine anything less fun for Bonnie than spending weeks in Europe with a guy whose fiancée just died and a guy who’s just gearing up to spend 60+ years whining about his comatose girlfriend. Still, free trip to Europe, so…maybe it’s worth it.
I believe Damon when he says he cares about Bonnie and doesn’t want to lose her – after all, I keep saying he loooooves her – but I also think that three seconds are about how long he would wait after her death to go see Elena.
Caroline has a lot of restraint, considering she and Stefan have a house all to themselves but she goes to Whitmore alone instead of staying there with him.