Three years from now: Alaric is working hard on something, soldering wires to a circuit board. It looks like he’s building a bomb…until he tests his soldering job by pressing a button attached to a doll. Nothing happens. His attempt to make the doll talk again has failed.
Two little girls join him in the kitchen of a house in an identified location (I call it Saltzman Shelter). They’re fraternal twins, about three years old. He tells them it’s bedtime, which they object to, and sends them to brush their teeth. They run off, giggling and protesting, but Alaric proceeds as if they’ve said they’ll do what he said. One of them is named Josie.
The girls suddenly fall silent. Alaric quietly grabs a gun from a closet and follows them to the house’s entryway, where they’re staring at the front door. When Alaric sees who’s there, he lowers his gun. It’s Damon. Alaric tells his daughters to stay behind him, then guesses that if Damon’s there, someone must have died. Damon says he’s wrong, but if Alaric doesn’t do what he says, that might change. First, Damon wants Alaric to invite him in.
Present: Alaric is back in the morgue at 5 a.m., and when the tech he’s been paying off arrives, Alaric says he wants the place to himself. The tech doesn’t like thinking about what Alaric might be doing with Jo’s body, but he’s willing to keep accepting his money. However, he tells Alaric that preserved bodies can only be kept out of the ground for a certain amount of time, and Jo’s is up. This is her last day in the morgue.
Damon is on his way back to Oscar in another part of the medical center when Lily calls. She has Elena’s coffin with her and is ready to make the Oscar/Elena trade, though she reminds Damon that Elena’s still unconscious. Damon’s using a member of Lily’s family to get a body. He’s selfish. This isn’t the insult Lily thinks it is, since Damon has always fully admitted that he’s selfish. She starts to warn that he’ll be in a lot of trouble if he’s hurt Oscar. Damon brushes her off, saying, “It’s not my first hostage swap.” After they hang up, he discovers that Oscar isn’t where he left him. His dead body has been stuffed in a cabinet.
Bonnie and Caroline catch up in the Super Suite, reuniting after Caroline’s time as a hostage at Vamp Villa. She wants to go shopping for Halloween costumes together and forget about the rest of their problems. Bonnie tells her she has plans already – she’s going to (gently) crush Alaric’s dreams of resurrecting Jo with the phoenix stone. It doesn’t matter whether Bonnie thinks the stone would work. She doesn’t want it to. With the Other Side gone, Jo’s spirit is probably at peace, and she should stay that way. “Our lives are weird,” Caroline comments. Bonnie agrees.
Damon takes Oscar’s body to Alaric’s apartment, where Stefan asks how he could let this happen. Because of course it must be Damon’s fault. He won’t let Elena rest, so now she’s in more danger than ever. Damon asks if Stefan’s now on Lily’s side after spending the day with her. Stefan accuses him of making bad decisions about Elena because he can’t be with her. Damon ignores him and says they need to get rid of the body. Stefan says that’s Damon’s problem.
Valerie’s putting on a show at Vamp Villa, pretending she’s excited for Oscar to come home. Enzo’s suspicious but doesn’t say why or of what, exactly. Lily comes home without Oscar, saying she shouldn’t have trusted that Damon would make the trade. She asks Enzo to leave so she can discuss family business alone with Valerie. Sheesh, it’s like she doesn’t even try to make Enzo feel included.
Lily tells Valerie that knows that she and Stefan had a fling in 1863. Valerie says she didn’t want to say anything before because Lily was fragile back then. Lily addresses the fact that Valerie told Stefan she would meet up with him again. Valerie apologizes for hurting him, and Lily tells her to spill anything else she’s been keeping secret. Valerie lies that she’s not hiding anything else.
Nora and Mary Louise head to Whitmore, where some not-very-creative students have put up some basic Halloween decorations in the form of pumpkins and toilet paper. The Heretics have tracked Damon to Alaric’s apartment. He and Stefan quickly hide Oscar’s body and lie that he just ducked out. Nora breaks a vase and a figurine, just for the heck of it, then starts looking around the apartment.
Damon “admits” that he lost his bargaining chip and didn’t want to tell Lily. Mary Louise decides they’re wasting their time, so she and Nora leave, though not before Nora drops her cup on the ground, again just for the heck of it. As they leave, Stefan and Damon rush to the window to grab Oscar’s body, which they hung outside. Since it’s Halloween, a guy who spots it just thinks it’s a really realistic decoration.
Damon decides to just burn Oscar’s body and call it a day. Just then, a student comes in and hands Stefan a message from Nora. Every hour that the Heretics don’t get Oscar back, they’ll kill a student. They start with the messenger, who stabs herself in the neck.
Some enterprising man has start conducting tours of Mystic Falls, earning money off of people who want to know all about the sudden ghost town. Matt busts him and reminds him that he’s violating a town-wide quarantine. The tour guide doesn’t think there are any real threats in town. Enzo arrives and asks if he’s heard about strange noises at Vamp Villa or a mysterious figure who keeps going up in the clock tower. Matt rushes the guide and his tour group away, then threatens to shoot Enzo if he hurts anyone. Enzo isn’t there for trouble, though – he wants access to the town’s surveillance cameras.
Stefan goes by Caroline’s dorm to give her coffee. She’s still experiencing the effects of Valerie’s spell, so they still can’t touch. She’s surprised that Stefan hasn’t asked Valerie to undo it, or talked to her at all. Stefan notes that Valerie’s been in town for months and hasn’t contacted him, so clearly she’s as over their fling as he is. Plus, there are other Heretics to worry about right now. He has a plan to keep Nora and Mary Louise occupied while Damon handles Oscar – he’s going to take the Heretics to that night’s Heaven & Hell Ball. Caroline says they’ll never agree to go unless they think it’s their idea.
They set the Heretics up by making sure that they see Caroline looking at a flier for the dance. She says Stefan invited her but she’s not into the modern Halloween trends of getting drunk and wearing very little clothing. Mary Louise isn’t interested in that stuff, either, but Nora wants to go (and she’s clearly the one in control in this relationship). Caroline makes them worry that they won’t fit in so they’ll agree to let her help them pick out what to wear.
She takes Mary Louise to the Super Suite, where Mary Louise picks out one of Caroline’s dresses for a devil costume. In exchange, Caroline asks her to siphon off Valerie’s spell. Mary Louise doesn’t have any sympathy for Caroline’s current inability to show physical affection for Stefan. After all, Mary Louise had to deal with being a lesbian at the turn of the 20th century. Also, she doesn’t want to get on Valerie’s bad side.
Stefan approaches Nora in the lounge, where she’s DIY-ing an angel costume. Like Mary Louise, Nora doesn’t want to siphon off Valerie’s spell and risk her wrath. Stefan says that the Valerie he knew was very different from the person Nora makes her out to be. Nora tells him that she changed after meeting Mary Louise – love does that. Maybe Valerie’s a “walking funeral dirge” because she didn’t get to be with Stefan.
Mary Louise shows off her costume, which Nora thinks is too plain. Over Mary Louise’s protests, she rips the neckline of the dress so it’s less modest. She reminds Mary Louise that she’s supposed to be a devil. To show that she has a devil’s wickedness inside her, Mary Louise sends a pair of scissors flying into an approaching student. Stefan rushes to heal him as Mary Louise reveals that she knows Stefan and Caroline have been trying to distract her and Nora. Both Heretics run off.
Bonnie gives up her own Halloween plans (not that she really had any) to meet Alaric in the morgue. He offers her extra credit in his class. Dude, if she raises the dead, she deserves a MacArthur genius grant. As she’s about to get to work, Damon drags Oscar’s body in and announces that they need to bring him back to life first. Excuse me, there’s a line. Take a number.
Caroline goes to the Heaven & Hell Ball alone, dressed as an angel. Stefan finds her there and good-naturedly busts her for planning to attend without him before he presented it as a place to take Nora and Mary Louise. She says she just didn’t want them to have their first date there. Probably a good call, since Stefan isn’t a big fan of dances (and also, because of Valerie’s spell, they can’t dance right now). But the good news is that their plan worked, and Nora and Mary Louise are there. Nora chats with a bartender, either purposely or inadvertently making Mary Louise jealous.
Bonnie tries out a resurrection spell on Oscar, with an assist from the phoenix stone, but it only works for a few seconds. Damon’s frustrated, and Alaric reminds him that he’s not the only one desperate for this to work. Damon replies that this isn’t about him: “Why does everything have to be about me today?” I wish Stefan had heard that. Bonnie tells the guys that the stone serves as a kind of bridge between Oscar’s body and spirit. She just needs to find a spell to make the bridge permanent.
Stefan calls Damon to tell him that he and Caroline have had to save three people from the Heretics. He asks how things are going with Oscar’s resurrection. In the background, there’s the sound of fire, and Bonnie yells for Alaric to put it out. “I think we’re close,” Damon tells Stefan.
Enzo brings an unconscious Halloween partygoer home with him (I guess he went trick or treating) and busts Valerie for going to Whitmore the night before. He knows Oscar was also there and has now disappeared. He knows Valerie did something, but he’s not sure what. Valerie tells him he has no idea what’s going on. Enzo threatens to go to Lily, so Valerie blurts out the truth: She killed Oscar to keep him from bringing Julian back into Lily’s life. Enzo doesn’t know who that is, but Valerie says Julian is someone he’ll want to keep far away from him, especially if he wants Lily to return his affections.
Nora dances happily at the party while Mary Louise stands by, hating the experience. Caroline and Stefan watch them from across the room, and Stefan wonders if the Heretics forgot that they came there to kill people. Caroline says they’re just distracted by their own drama – Nora wants some space but Mary Louise is afraid to give it to her and get dumped. Stefan’s impressed that Caroline picked up on all of that just from watching them. But when a slow song comes on, the couple dances with each other, their expressions showing that their feelings for each other are still strong.
Stefan wants to dance with Caroline, but he also doesn’t want to burn himself, so they have to keep their distance. She urges him to talk to Valerie about undoing the spell. Stefan says he will once Damon has resurrected Oscar. Caroline’s like, “There’s avoiding your ex and there’s waiting for your brother to raise the dead before you’ll agree to talk to your ex.” Stefan assures her that Valerie hasn’t been on his mind for 150 years. Caroline thinks he’s worried that when he sees her again, he’ll remember what they had together. Stefan hints that she’s projecting. As Caroline leaves instead of admitting that he’s right, he realizes that Nora and Mary Louise are gone.
Mary Louise finds Nora feeding on the bartender and hits the roof. She tears out the bartender’s heart and accuses Nora of being desperate for attention. Nora wonders how that’s possible since Mary Louise hasn’t stopped paying attention to her every second of the past 120 years. Mary Louise is always too cautious, and Nora doesn’t need her protection. She’s not the one struggling to adapt to the 21st century. Mary Louise tells her to do whatever she wants. She’s going to finish their mission.
Bonnie finally finds a spell that revives Oscar. “You are officially the most terrifying person I know,” Damon tells her. They head to the car so Damon can take Oscar to Mystic Falls for the hostage swap. He sends Lily a selfie of the two of them so she’ll know they’re coming. Oscar is really hungry and Damon would like to know why, but Bonnie’s like, “I don’t even know how he’s alive; don’t worry about it.” If that’s the worst consequence of his resurrection, they should let it go. Damon asks Bonnie if she wants to do this to Jo, too. She knows she can’t say no now that it’s worked, so she sends Damon to get his girlfriend while she gets Alaric’s back for him.
Enzo gets some alone time with Lily, which he uses to ask about Julian. None of the Heretics talk about him, and Enzo thinks there’s a reason for that. Lily claims that no one who ever met Julian would say anything bad about him. Yeah, because they’d be too scared that he would hear and kill them. She says he was a saint, as well as the love of her life. Enzo wants to clarify that when she says “was,” it’s because he’s gone. Lily ends the conversation when she gets Damon’s text about finding Oscar.
Mary Louise returns to the dance, looking for her next victim. Stefan shows her Damon’s photo and lets her know that she’s completed her mission. He asks about Nora, and Mary Louise opens up a little about how difficult it is to live in the modern era, when your girlfriend has her pick of women who show more skin than you do. Stefan recommends that Mary Louise try therapy. Oh, look who’s talking, Mr. I Had to Get Locked in a Safe to Deal With My PTSD.
Mary Louise doesn’t see the point in talking about emotions. That won’t keep Nora from leaving her. Stefan commiserates with her, saying that Caroline thinks that Valerie’s existence is a threat to their relationship. He wants to prove to her that Valerie’s spell is the only thing standing between them. He injects Mary Louise with vervain as part of his plan to get Caroline back to normal.
On the way to Mystic Falls, Oscar binges on blood while Damon coaches him on a story to give Lily about what he’s been up to. Oscar is solely focused on blood and doesn’t remember being in Myrtle Beach. When he’s finished all the available blood, he jumps out of the moving car and runs off. Later, Matt comes across both a car-crash victim and Damon, who thinks Oscar was responsible for the crash. Matt tells him that there are still ghost tours going through town, so Oscar’s going to have his pick of people to feed on. He insists on going with Damon to track him down, but Damon wants him out of this. He can’t add Matt’s death to a list of things he’s already responsible for.
Nora searches for Mary Louise, finally finding her unconscious, with Stefan holding a stake to her neck. He orders Nora to siphon Valerie’s spell off of Caroline or he’ll kill Mary Louise. Nora magically takes the stake from him, but Caroline zooms up behind her and puts one hand over Nora’s mouth and the other on her arm, burning her. Nora basically has no choice but to siphon the spell from Caroline. Caroline snaps Nora’s neck when she’s done, then rushes to Stefan so they can make out.
Oscar comes across a ghost tour and kills the guide. The guests weren’t impressed before, but this makes them applaud. They stop when Oscar uses their blood to paint the windows of their tour bus. Lily finds him and orders him to stop. She reminds him that one of their rules is doing everything in moderation. He stalks toward her, and just when it looks like he’s going to attack her, Damon comes up behind him and snaps his neck. “Now I get it – your favorite sons are the ones with the Ripper problems,” he says. He figures he’s still fulfilled his end of their deal, so he wants Elena.
Mary Louise and Nora wind up back at the dance, which is ending. Nora wants revenge on Stefan and Caroline for kidnapping Mary Louise, who’s pleased that her girlfriend is so mad on her behalf. Nora apologizes for their fight, but Mary Louise says she was right – they should enjoy the world, not fear it. They go back to the dance floor, delaying their return to Mystic Falls so they can have a night alone together.
Caroline and Stefan are also having a night alone together, or at least they will once she knows he understands that she’s not some jealous girlfriend. She’s just overthinking things because she’s finally gotten what she’s wanted for a long time. Stefan tells her he doesn’t need to talk about Valerie because he’s not thinking about her. He’s only thinking about Caroline. They have more history from the past few years than a lot of people have after a lifetime of knowing each other. She finally stops talking and they go at it on her bed.
Matt catches Valerie hanging out at the Grill and points his gun at her. She tells him not to do anything stupid, but he says a tour bus full of people just got slaughtered because he didn’t do anything stupid, so…no, thanks. She replies that she’s just trying to unwind after doing something really stupid. He orders her to leave or get shot, but she ignores him. Before he can pull the trigger, Enzo zooms in and pushes the barrel of the gun up so Matt’s bullet doesn’t hit Valerie. After Matt leaves, Enzo joins Valerie at the bar, guessing that she’s plotting an escape before Oscar tells Lily that she killed him. Instead of holding this over Valerie’s head, Enzo wants to work with her to keep Julian away from Lily.
Damon torches the bus and all the bodies on it. Lily tells him that Beau has removed the cloaking spell hiding Elena’s coffin, which is in the ruins of their old house. Damon declares that he’s moving back to Mystic Falls. Lily says she’ll talk it over with the Heretics (oh, suddenly they have a democracy?), but he’s not making a request: “These people didn’t deserve to be killed by one of your free-range children, Stefan’s up to his hero hair in Heretic drama, and I worry that Matt Donovan’s funeral is gonna cut into my social schedule.” Lily guesses that he wants to move back to town so he can keep the peace. That’s ridiculous – he couldn’t even hold on to Elena’s coffin.
She repeats what Stefan said earlier, that Damon’s refusal to let go of Elena is just going to put her in danger. It’s childish. Plus, he’s obviously afraid to find out who he is without Elena. He can come back to Mystic Falls if he wants; Lily clearly doesn’t care. Damon says he wants one more thing. That’s access to the wine cellar at Vamp Villa, where he grabs a bottle of wine.
While he drinks it in the ruins of the old Salvatore house, he writes a journal entry to Elena, knowing she’ll one day be shocked that he’s doing it. He tells her he waited 65 years to open the bottle with Katherine. He admired the beauty of the bottle, but that didn’t make the 65 years speed up. He felt like time was standing still. Eventually he hid the bottle, since he didn’t think the wine would taste as good as he’d made himself believe it would. That’s why he drinks bourbon. Damon admits that he doesn’t know who he is without Elena, but as long as he’s with her, time will stand still.
Tyler arrives as Damon voices over that without Elena, he might just be a selfish friend, a jealous brother, and a bad son. While Bonnie uses the phoenix stone to resurrect Jo, Stefan lies next to a sleeping Caroline, just as happy as she is to finally get something he’s been wanting for so long. Lily tends to Oscar as he sleeps. Damon and Tyler load Elena’s coffin in Tyler’s car so he can take it someplace safe. Damon writes to Elena that he might be able to do right by her. No matter how far away she is or how long he has to wait until they can be together, she’s still with him, and his heart is in the coffin with her.
In the morgue, Jo opens her eyes.
Etc.: I love the fake-out in the first scene, though I don’t think Alaric would be sweating so much if he were building a bomb. Maybe if he were trying to disarm one.
I also love the little formal details of Nora’s note to Stefan and Damon – it says “dictated but not read” and uses her full name. It’s a cute reminder that she comes from a different time.
Stefan: “I don’t have a problem asking the woman I was once in love with to remove a spell from the woman I’m now in love with.”
Also Stefan: (drugs and kidnaps Mary Louise to force Nora to remove the spell so he doesn’t have to put his money where his mouth is)
The gang would communicate a lot more effectively if they had a group text thread. Just post everything that happens in there so no one’s finding stuff out five days later.