Bonnie splashes water on her face in a restroom and checks out her scabs in the mirror. They’re starting to spread. She’s at a hospital where Virginia’s now being kept in a more secure area than she was in Asheville. Bonnie asks why Alex wants her to open the vault. Virginia tells her that people have been wondering what’s in it since 1882, when her great-grandfather first opened it.
1882: Dalton St. John and a few other people enter the vault, which opens up into a cave. A woman’s voice whispers his name, but no one sees anyone. The lanterns they’re carrying all go out and Dalton yells out in terror.
Present: Bonnie asks Virginia what’s in the vault. Virginia tells her it’s not a what or a who: “It’s what it does to you.”
1882: The adventurers leave the vault as Virginia tells Bonnie that what’s inside strips away your compassion. Sometime later, Dalton whistles “Pop Goes the Weasel” and wipes blood off of a huge knife. He’s killed his fellow adventurers and strung them up from the ceiling.
Present: Virginia says that the vault makes you lose your empathy and ability to love. It eats away at your soul until only darkness remains. Dalton was only in the vault for a short time, but Yvette has been inside for four years. Virginia doesn’t want to think about what she’s become. Bonnie, like Enzo, doubts that Yvette could still be alive after all this time. Virginia agrees, but Alex has heard Yvette calling for help. Virginia begs Bonnie to promise not to let Alex release what’s in the vault. Bonnie promises.
Damon and Enzo are in Frankford, Delaware, continuing their work on Rayna’s kill list without Bonnie. Enzo thinks Damon is taking too much time beating up their victims; they need to move faster. As they burn their latest victims’ bodies, Stefan calls to tell Damon that he’s had a lot of success in Alabama. Damon thinks Stefan’s using this opportunity to take out his frustration over Caroline not wanting to talk to him. Stefan asks how Damon, “the authority on being hated,” would handle the situation. As if Stefan doesn’t know his brother well enough to figure that out himself.
Damon give Stefan his next assignment, killing a vampire from the Age of Enlightenment who’s in the body of an MMA fighter. Hey, no fair! Phoenix-stone vampires should only be allowed to take over the bodies of scrawny, easily killable people. Also, Damon wants Stefan to work with Matt. You know, the guy who released Rayna from the Armory to kill him. Sounds like a winning partnership. Damon answers Stefan’s earlier question about dealing with being hated: He has to stop caring. Stefan notes that Damon cares an awful lot right now, considering all he’s doing to save Bonnie. Damon says he’s fine with her hating him as long as she stays alive to do it.
Stefan needs a new partner because Alaric’s still in Dallas. He’s preparing to go back on the road, and now Caroline wants to go, too. She can’t stay home with the girls when Bonnie needs help. Bonnie returns to the cabin, where Rayna’s come up from the cellar to burn pages of her kill list. She’s borrowed one of Bonnie’s shirts, which she thinks is a small concession, considering she’s giving Bonnie her last lifespan. Bonnie says she should have negotiated for more – Rayna’s not getting much out of the deal.
Rayna doesn’t get the appeal of immortality. She’s lost everything that ever mattered to her, and she never got it back after her first lifespan. She’s ready to die. She wants to see her father and know love again. So while Bonnie doesn’t think she’s getting anything out of this arrangement, Rayna’s getting peace. Bonnie absentmindedly uses magic to put out a stray flame, then realizes that this means the magic-neutralizing pills are out of her system. The Armory will be on their way to find her.
Stefan and Matt have a long, awkward drive ahead of them, and Stefan decides this is a good time for them to talk about whatever it is Matt is holding against Stefan. Stefan thinks he should let it go, since he got what he wanted when he kicked all the vampires out of Mystic Falls. Matt says that was the second best decision he ever made. Stefan asks what the first was.
Two years ago: Matt’s on his computer in bed, but he closes it when Penny comes into the room. She asks if he’s hiding something weird and encourages him to share it anyway, since they’re at the point in their relationship where there can share things like that. She wrestles the computer away from him and opens it. He’s not hiding anything freaky, though – he was looking up ideas for how to propose. Penny says yes before he even asks. The ring is so nice that she almost becomes speechless. She worries that he spent too much money. Matt tells her that he’s about to be promoted from deputy to sergeant, so that’s not a problem.
Present: They were in the process of planning their wedding when Penny died. Stefan expresses his condolences and says he heard she was in a car accident. Matt says that’s the official story, but they both know that’s not what really happened.
Damon has just finished off a vampire when Bonnie calls looking for Enzo. She tells Damon that her magic’s back, so the Armory could be at her door any second now. Damon says that since they don’t know she’s findable again, she still has time. They’re going through the kill list at top speed and will take care of this. Plus, Bonnie’s died a bunch already, so this shouldn’t be a big deal.
She thanks him, then says that while she’s still mad about being abandoned, she forgives him. Damon objects to that, since he doesn’t think she means it. She’s just saying it because she thinks the gang will fail. He promises that they’ll make it through the list and orders her to stay strong.
Instead, Bonnie wants to become weaker, in a way. She’s convinced Rayna to give her some of her blood to suppress her magic and findability again. Rayna says it’ll only work for 24 hours at a time, and Bonnie might not have enough time left to keep doing it after that. Bonnie’s only thinking ahead 24 hours at a time, though, so she injects herself.
At the Armory, Alex goes to the vault and hears Yvette calling for her through the door. Alex promises to get her out soon. Meanwhile, Caroline and Alaric head to Lexington, Kentucky, to kill a vampire couple who are currently on a spree. Not a killing spree – a sex spree. Alaric feels a little bad about ambushing them in bed, but Caroline thinks they’re committing a mercy kill. They might as well rip out the vampires’ hearts before they do it to each other.
Alaric invites Caroline to talk about Stefan if she wants, instead of pretending he doesn’t exist. She replies that she ignored him at the house because she didn’t have anything to say to him, and she doesn’t have anything to say about him now.
Damon and Enzo are in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, waiting for Rayna to tell them where to find their next victims. She tells them that Bonnie took some of her blood. Enzo’s furious that Bonnie cut more time out of their already short deadline. He thinks the gang is close to wrapping things up. She tells him they’re not – there are still pages of names all over the cabin floor. Enzo vows to kill everyone Rayna sends him to. Damon nods in agreement. But Bonnie knows her time is almost up, and she just wants her boyfriend to come home and spend however long she has left with her.
After they hang up, Enzo lets out his frustration. Damon can empathize, since he’s spent three years unable to do anything for the woman he loves. He tells Enzo this isn’t about him or his fears or anger. If this goes badly, Enzo will have plenty of time to feel all of that. He needs to go to Bonnie. Enzo doesn’t want to give up, but Damon says he’s not. He’ll be making sure that Bonnie doesn’t.
Back on the road alone, Damon calls Alex to propose a deal. He has a long list of vampires who need killing, and Alex has a staff full of people who kill vampires. If the Armory finishes off the kill list, Damon will deliver Bonnie to them.
Stefan and Matt arrive in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and search for their next vampire in a house that’s under construction. Stefan brings up Penny, asking why Matt thinks her death wasn’t due to a car accident, since he’s sure all the vampires had left Mystic Falls by then. Matt says things just didn’t add up – there were no tire marks in the road, and though a tree limb came through the window, the airbag didn’t deploy. He thought there was a cover-up. He dug until he discovered that there was at least one vampire in Mystic Falls the night Penny died.
Two years ago: That vampire is Stefan, who’s come to leave flowers on Liz’s grave.
Present: Stefan confirms this – he came back on the anniversary of Liz’s death, both to honor her and to be there for Caroline if she showed up. (She didn’t.) Stefan asks if Matt really thinks he would hurt Penny. Before Matt can answer, the vampire they’re looking for bursts in. He tosses Stefan aside, then holds Matt’s face over a table saw. Stefan is able to save Matt, then use the table saw to cross another name off the kill list.
In Lexington, Caroline and Alaric track their couple to a tattoo shop. They pretend they’re there to get matching tattoos before their upcoming wedding. They open fire on the vampires, but they’re only able to capture one. Ashlynn ditches her boyfriend to save herself. After Alaric and Caroline have taken him out, they chase Ashlynn into an alley. Two men appear and kill her before Caroline and Alaric have to. A few more men arrive and one tells Alaric and Caroline to come with them.
Enzo returns to the cabin, reminding Bonnie that he always comes back to her. She tells him not to be sad, since she’s decided she won’t be. She won’t think about all the things they won’t get to do together. Instead, she’ll think about their happy memories. Enzo doesn’t think he made her time in the cabin very exciting, but Bonnie points out that Beauty and the Beast made do under similar circumstances. “Please. You were never that beastly,” Enzo teases.
Rayna comes in with some wood and is suddenly hit with visions of Armory guys killing vampires. She tells Bonnie and Enzo that the kill list is getting shorter. Damon calls Stefan to let him know that he’s outsourced their jobs. Stefan notes that Bonnie will now have even more reason to make up with Damon. Damon says it’s more complicated than that. Stefan’s still mad because Damon put him “quite literally through Hell,” but he appreciates all the good stuff Damon’s been doing lately.
Matt tells Stefan that he doesn’t think Stefan intentionally hurt Penny, but Stefan must know something. During his investigation, Matt checked footage from his dash cam.
Two years ago: Stefan and Matt chat in the woods, and the dash cam captures Stefan telling Matt that Penny died in an accident and didn’t suffer. He compels Matt to forget that Stefan was there.
Present: Matt pulls his gun on Stefan and demands to know what happened.
Damon joins Bonnie and Enzo at the cabin, where she tears into him for offering her up to Alex. She’d rather die than be forced to open the vault. Damon asks what happened to the new Bonnie who wasn’t willing to sacrifice herself. All she has to do is open the vault and she’ll get Rayna’s last lifespan. Bonnie says Alex can’t be trusted. Damon tells her to stop being dramatic – Alex just wants her sister back. Bonnie replies that whatever’s in the vault turns people into monsters, and she won’t let it be released.
Damon asks Enzo to chime in, but Enzo wants Bonnie to make her own decision. Damon replies that Enzo will get to make decisions for her when she’s dead, like what she wears to her funeral. Alex calls and asks to talk to Bonnie. She has something she thinks Bonnie will want to fight for: Caroline and Alaric.
Despite being a hostage, Alaric’s first visit to the Armory is almost enjoyable. He gets to see an artifact he spent three years searching for and eventually decided didn’t actually exist. “Good thing we got kidnapped, ’cause that gives you a little bit of closure,” Caroline quips. She regrets talking him into letting them both go on the road. Alaric notes that he probably would have died if he’d come alone, so it’s okay.
He tries to reassure her that they’ll be fine and will get to go home to the girls, but he’s distracted by all the weapons and artifacts in the Armory. Half of them were supposedly lost and half of them aren’t supposed to exist. If the Armory could make them disappear, the two of them might suffer the same fate. So it’s not so much that he thinks they’ll be fine as much as he’s hoping someone can give the Armory whatever they want so they’ll release Caroline and Alaric.
Stefan warns Matt that anything he reveals will just make things worse. Matt just wants answers, and he knows Stefan was the last person to see Penny alive.
Two years ago: Penny finds Stefan in the woods and busts him for having blood bags in his trunk. They’ve never met, so she doesn’t know he’s one of the good vampires Matt told her about. Stefan starts to explain himself but she fires her gun at him before he can.
Present: Matt asks if Stefan killed Penny in self-defense, or if he was just mad because Caroline didn’t show up. Stefan replies that if Matt thinks Stefan would hurt Penny for that reason, he should just shoot Stefan now. Matt demands the truth again, ignoring Stefan’s insistence that he doesn’t want to know what happened. He takes off his vervain bracelet and drops his gun, begging Stefan to tell him. Stefan gives in and compels him to remember.
Two years ago: Matt goes into the woods looking for Penny when she doesn’t respond to his radio call. He senses someone around, and when he sees a figure passing by, he fires his gun. Stefan appears and Matt realizes he accidentally shot Penny instead of a vampire. Stefan offers her his blood but she’s dead before she can drink it.
Present: Devastated, Matt realizes that the death he’s been blaming on Stefan for two years is actually his fault.
Bonnie goes to the Armory and does a spell to open the vault. It only takes a few moments, and Alex keeps her promising, saying Bonnie, Alaric, and Caroline are free to go. Elsewhere in the building, Enzo tells Damon that this stunt is going to ruin his chances to get Bonnie to forgive him. “I didn’t know it took so many words to say ‘thank you,'” Damon quips.
Enzo knows Damon didn’t do this just to save her – he wanted to ease his guilt over the way he left her. Damon acknowledges that he was selfish not to want Bonnie to die, but he thinks Enzo would have made the same deal if it meant not losing Bonnie. Enzo’s lucky that someone Bonnie already hates made the move instead. Enzo gets what he wants while Damon looks like the bad guy. Bonnie joins them, ready to get Caroline and Alaric and get out of there.
Alex and some other Armory employees enter the vault and look for Yvette. Like Dalton and his crew, they can hear Yvette whispering Alex’s name, but they can’t see anyone…until Alex comes across her sister’s very dead body. Suddenly one of the guys gets yanked up into the air. Alex tells everyone else to run, but Bonnie has sealed the doors to the Armory from the outside. She’s keeping her promise to Virginia – no one’s getting out.
Stefan explains that he compelled Matt to forget killing Penny so he wouldn’t be consumed by one mistake he couldn’t take back. Matt feels awful for releasing Rayna and putting Caroline in her path to punish Stefan for something he didn’t do. But he still blames Stefan for Penny’s death – it wouldn’t have happened if Stefan hadn’t come back to Mystic Falls. He should have stayed away from Caroline, who clearly didn’t want to see him. He ruined Matt and Penny’s lives. Whose life will he ruin next?
Enzo moves Bonnie to Vamp Villa while they wait for Damon to wrap things up with Rayna and get her last lifespan. Caroline cooks her soup (which Bonnie hates) and remembers that she signed the twins up for something the next day. Alaric says they can go home right now, but Caroline wants to make sure Bonnie’s okay first. There’s always the possibility that Damon will screw things up.
Alaric thinks Caroline also wants to stay because of Stefan. After all, they left things unfinished. She insists that they’re finished – Stefan made sure of that three years ago, when he “Ashlynned his way out of town.” No relationship where one partner ditches the other because things got messy needs any finishing. Alaric says there hasn’t been any closure. Caroline replies that she doesn’t need it, but he tells her he does. His last wedding didn’t go great, so if there’s a chance Caroline and Stefan might get back together, Alaric wants a heads up. He wants to commit to her and make their family work, but not if she wants to be with someone else.
Caroline promises that she wants their family to work, too, but Alaric seems to be the one who’s unfulfilled. When they were at the Armory, it was obvious that Alaric has missed the supernatural and has “been Indiana Jonesing” for a way back into that world. Their lives aren’t normal, considering Caroline’s a vampire and the twins are siphoners. If they need to go back to the supernatural stuff so Alaric will be happy, Caroline’s in.
Damon and Rayna go to the woods to meet a descendant of the tribe that made her a huntress so he can transfer her last life to Bonnie. (Bonnie doesn’t have to be there, I guess; Damon just provides a vial of her blood.) While they do the transfer, Enzo, Caroline, and Alaric wait with Bonnie. At the last minute, Damon realizes that Rayna left something out when she agreed to the transfer. “Do you think I could ever forgive you for the things you did to me?” she asks with a grin. “Now neither will Bonnie.” When she wakes up, she’ll not only have Rayna’s last life, she’ll also have Rayna’s hunter instincts. She’ll be unable to rest until she’s wiped all vampires from the face of the Earth.
The transfer is done. As soon as Rayna dies, Bonnie wakes up.
Etc.: I hope the gang enlisted Jeremy to help with the kill list off-screen. What better way to kill a bunch of vampires than send a vampire hunter after them?
Maybe this is a silly question but did any of the gang think about flying from place to place instead of driving everywhere? Though I guess between security checks, rental-car arrangements, and what I imagine is Damon’s inability to sit on an airplane without kicking the back of the seat in front of him, driving might have been the better option.
One of the Armory guys who finds Alaric and Caroline in Lexington calls Alaric “Professor Saltzman.” So polite!
I love that Alaric’s like, “I know we’ve been kidnapped but this is basically Disney World for me and I’m not going to let anyone ruin my good time.”