Damon, still holding on to Elena’s necklace, meets up with Stefan at a bar. Stefan brought his own drink in the form of a biker. Damon doubts Cade will be impressed with that offering, but Stefan says his work takes time, and he’s finding ways to entertain himself. (I can’t believe he didn’t make a joke about killing time.)
Sybil calls, and though Stefan tells him not to, Damon answers: “The evil lackey you are trying to reach is no longer at your service.” She says she needs a favor, though it’s more like an order: She wants him to bring her the bell striker. Damon reluctantly agrees, still unable to fight the hold Sybil has on him. Stefan decides it’s a good time for a trip back to Mystic Falls. He lights the body of his latest victim on fire, having already placed him on top of a pile of other bodies, then says it’s time to burn Sybil to the ground.
Bonnie’s back from her and Enzo’s trip to Paris, and Caroline is thrilled to see her. Bonnie brought her a souvenir but tells her not to open it until Stefan’s back, since it’s for their wedding. Caroline notices that Bonnie has her own souvenir, a necklace Enzo gave her. It’s filled with his blood. How…romantic? Apparently he said it was a symbol of the eternity he wants to spend with her. Not that Bonnie plans to become a vampire anytime soon. Caroline doubts she would ever want to be one.
Seline calls Caroline, who reluctantly goes with Bonnie to meet her at the Grill. Seline tells them that Sybil is looking for the three pieces of the charter bell (the striker, the tuning fork, and the bell itself) because once it’s assembled, it has the power to kill her. Since Seline has the bell and the gang has the tuning fork, they should work together. Caroline has no interest in that, but Seline notes that she could have called Damon, since he has the striker. Seline feels partly responsible for all the damage Sybil has caused. She wants to atone, and she’s going to start by killing Sybil.
Caroline can’t trust Seline after everything she’s done, which Seline gets. She warns that the assembled bell is “a weapon of terrible power.” Caroline brushes her off and starts to leave, since she’s due at the Miss Mystic Falls pageant. She can multitask, though, so when she gets to Founders’ Hall, she calls Matt and Dorian at the Armory. She confirms that they have the tuning fork and tells them that Seline tried to call a truce. She tasks them with finding out where Seline stashed the bell. Dorian’s eager to come up with a plan, but Matt says he already has one. He tells Dorian just to focus on payback.
Bonnie and Caroline also have a plan – leave once the dancing starts and try to nab the striker from Damon. Speaking of Damon, guess who’s decided to attend the pageant with his equally humanity-lacking brother? Sybil pops up and tells Caroline that she’ll make them behave as long as she gets what she wants.
Caroline coaches the pageant participants, having slipped into Carol’s former role. Damon fingers Elena’s necklace and remembers dancing with her. Sybil reminds him of his instructions to get the bell striker, but he tells her he won’t do it. She goes into his mind and sees him with Elena at the pageant. She takes Elena’s place and tells him to get a grip. He agrees, then slams her head into a mirror. Sybil jumps out of his head and asks how he was able to resist her. Damon says he doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
As Stefan raids the bar, Caroline asks if this is the new him – a guy who crashes teen pageants. He taunts that she’s trying to relive her glory days. She reminds him that he wasn’t there the year she won; he was in the woods, trying not to kill Amber. Stefan replies that he doesn’t know why that was a dilemma for him. Inside, Bonnie spots Sybil sirening Violet and goes to confront her. Enzo arrives just in time to stop her. He advises her to “leave the fisticuffs to the immortals.” Bonnie notes that this is the first time in their whole relationship that he’s “played the immortal card.” Maybe it has something to do with his gift of a bloody necklace. Is it more than just a symbol? Enzo says that it isn’t.
Bonnie appreciates that he wants to spent eternity with her, but she can’t become a vampire. That could count as a loophole to Kai’s sleep spell, which she was explicitly warned not to look for. They don’t know what would happen to Elena if Bonnie turned. Even if she wanted to become a vampire, she can’t. Enzo understands but looks disappointed.
Dorian uses the tuning fork to incapacitate Seline at the Grill, telling her he’s there for Georgie. He’s not amused when she pretends not to know who that is. Back at the pageant, Caroline tells the contestants to keep things short and sweet so they can get out of there quickly. As they head off to get ready to start, Damon tells Caroline that he was finally able to resist Sybil for the first time. He thinks it’s because of Elena’s necklace. Caroline asks him for the bell striker, telling him it’s part of a weapon that can kill Sybil. Damon refuses to hand it over – he doesn’t want Sybil dead until she fixes the mess she made in his head.
He asks why Caroline gave him the necklace; it’s only caused him trouble so for. He doesn’t remember why it means something to him. Holding it gives him “a little flicker of warmth,” but it immediately goes away. Caroline realizes for the first time that Sybil has really messed with him. He somehow knows that she altered all his memories of Elena. Caroline says she gave him the necklace because it’s as magical and powerful as his and Elena’s love. The fact that he can feel something proves that their love can “win over anything.”
Damon thinks Caroline just wants to believe that so she doesn’t have to admit that she and Stefan are over. He tells her that Stefan’s a Ripper again, and he doesn’t feel the slightest bit guilty about it. Caroline says that if Damon’s telling her this, it means he cares deep down. He needs to find the place inside him where Elena is still buried and fight for her. If he doesn’t, he’ll spend eternity trying to figure out what happened to the best part of him.
Violet approaches Stefan and offers him her neck. Sybil takes credit for the offer and reminds him that he’s supposed to be “turning angels into devils,” not just binging on whoever he comes across. Stefan complains that she’s interfering with his mission by summoning Damon back to Mystic Falls. She tells him that “that dog has slipped its collar,” and that Damon is suddenly able to resist her. Stefan guesses that it’s because of Elena. Sybil shouldn’t have called Damon back to Mystic Falls, especially not today – the pageant was the day he realized he could take Elena from Stefan. For Damon, that was the beginning of their love story.
Sybil thought she’d erased all traces of Elena from Damon’s subconscious, but Stefan knows from experience that she can never completely be removed. To get Damon back to where he’s supposed to be, they’ll need to remind him what really happened at that first pageant.
Matt’s searching Seline’s hideaway for the bell when a police officer shows up, thinking he broke in. Fortunately, Matt’s status as the former sheriff of Mystic Falls carries some weight, so he doesn’t get arrested. Unfortunately, the cop has been sirened to shoot anyone who asks about the charter bell. Matt overpowers him and knocks him out before anything bad can happen. He texts Dorian that he may have a lead.
As Caroline starts the pageant, Damon decides he’s already had enough and he’s ready to leave. Stefan asks if he gave the striker to Sybil. He hopes so, since fighting Sybil is keeping Damon from being the brother Stefan wants. Damon thinks he’s just annoyed that Damon isn’t doing his share of killing for Cade. Stefan says the real problem is that Damon’s past is interfering with their ability to have all sorts of violent fun. Coming to the pageant reminded Stefan of how Damon ruined his fun at that first one. Instead of helping, Damon took his place and wormed his way into Elena’s life. Damon remembers her walking down the stairs to him.
“You think this is where your love story began, but the truth is, Damon, Elena never would have looked at you twice if I’d been there that day,” Stefan says. Damon insists that he doesn’t care about Elena. Stefan grabs the necklace from him and asks why he’s still holding on to it. Stefan gave it to Elena to protect her from Damon. He breaks the necklace, making Damon’s memory glitch so that instead of seeing Elena coming down the stairs, he sees Sybil.
Sybil approaches and asks Stefan to dance. Caroline urges Damon not to listen to Stefan, since he’s not himself right now. Damon replies that he isn’t, either. Caroline refuses to lose Damon to Sybil along with Stefan, so she drags him outside to join the rest of the people dancing. She knows dancing with Elena meant something to him, and he’s feeling something now because the meaning he attached to that day is trying to break through.
Sybil comments to Stefan that something’s going on with Damon. He smirks that he damaged his brother. Sybil’s looking forward to watching Damon’s conscious and subconscious battle each other. Damon doesn’t get how the pageant is supposed to remind him of feelings attached to something he hasn’t forgotten. Caroline makes him dance, hoping he’ll feel Elena there.
Enzo and Bonnie also dance, and he asks if she would turn if she weren’t tied to Elena. Bonnie says she would have been offended at the suggestion just a year ago. She watched her friends struggle with vampirism for a long time and only saw the hard parts. But now she’s in love with a vampire who makes her feel alive.
Caroline tells Damon they can fight Sybil, maybe by using the striker to break her influence on him. Just then, Stefan pulls Caroline away, letting Sybil take her place. Bonnie tells Enzo that she would turn for him if it just meant they could be together forever, but there’s more to it than that. She gives him back her necklace in case it really does mean something more than their love for each other.
Sybil predicts that when this is all over, Damon will thank her for everything she’s putting him through. If Elena’s the voice of his humanity, it’s no wonder he’s afraid to face her. He has a flash of memory of dancing with Elena, then says he’s not afraid to face his humanity. Sybil tells him he should be. Damon thinks that if he keeps fighting her, he’ll eventually break free. She says he will, but at some point his humanity will come back and crush him.
Damon’s memories continue to break through as Sybil lists the things he’ll feel guilty about: killing Tyler, kidnapping Josie and Lizzie, turning Enzo against Bonnie, and selling Stefan’s soul to Cade, as well as stealing his girlfriend. Damon stops dancing and says he can’t take any more of this. Sybil urges him to give up – it’s not like it matters anyway, since his soul is damned. He might as well give her what she wants. If he sticks with her on “the path of least resistance,” it’ll hurt less than reality. Damon reveals that he hid the striker upstairs and says he’ll take her to it.
Dorian is still at the Grill with Seline, and he’d like to know what she’s hiding, since there’s no reason for her to help the gang assemble a weapon that can kill a siren. She asks who’s looking for the bell. He tells her he teamed up with Matt, which pleases Seline; she’d hoped Caroline would get him involved. Once the bell is assembled, only someone from the Maxwell family can ring it.
Caroline tells Bonnie and Enzo to evacuate the pageant while she tries to get the striker before Damon gives it to Sybil. She announces that the festivities are being cut short because of a gas leak. Violet asks who won, so Caroline tells her and the other contestants that it’s a six-way tie. She tries to compel Violet to leave, but it doesn’t work. The contestants were told to stay by an honorary judge: Stefan.
Damon stashed the striker in the room where the contestants were getting ready. Before he hands it over to Sybil, he asks if she bothered to try to understand Elena while she was messing around in his subconscious. She’s a very forgiving person. Sybil tells Damon he’s slipping and needs to remember the horrible things he’s done. Damon does remember, and even though he doesn’t feel anything for Elena, he gets that she’s never going away. “There’s not enough room in my head for both of you,” he says before knocking Sybil out with the striker.
Matt breaks into the evidence room in the sheriff’s department, having guessed that the cop who almost arrested him was sirened to guard the bell there. He’s right, but the sheriff who replaced him was also sirened. Matt manages to wrestle his gun from him, then tells him to send all his deputies away so Matt can steal the bell.
Stefan finds Damon and says he’s going back on the road alone. He’s never going to get the Damon he wants back: “There’s just too much history.” Damon notes that he did what Stefan wanted – he got Sybil out of his head. But Elena’s still in there, and she’s even more powerful than Sybil. Damon can’t believe that after all he’s done to help Stefan over the past few weeks, Stefan’s choosing Sybil over him. Stefan says he’s choosing himself over everyone else.
He was made for Cade’s work, and the minute he reverted to his “best self,” Damon ruined it. Stefan won’t let his brother drag him down, too. He breaks a wooden hanger and stabs Damon in the stomach, then walks out with the striker. He takes it downstairs and gives it to Caroline, telling her she can go now. He knows she won’t want to see him kill the contestants.
Caroline protests that he can’t kill innocent people. She thought he was only going to kill evil people for Cade. Stefan says the contestants don’t know that “the world is out to crush them.” He breaks Violet’s neck, then starts to move on to the next girl. Caroline rushes him and he throws her off. He tells her Violet will be back – he gave all the contestants some of his blood. Caroline inspired him by going from Miss Mystic Falls winner to a vampire’s fiancée. Once the contestants have been turned, they’ll be destined for Hell.
Enzo and Bonnie have made sure all the attendees have left safely, and she wants to go back and help Caroline. Enzo protests, but she says he doesn’t get to make that decision for her. She knows he’s been keeping a closer eye on her since they got back from Paris, and she wants to know why. He tells her he can’t protect her from danger now. He gave her the necklace so she would always have vampire blood with her, in case he couldn’t get to her in time. He’s afraid that something will happen to her and he’ll have to go on without her. He listens to her, but he also listens to the world, and he’s willing to speak up if he’s scared for her. She softens and asks when he became a sap. “I fell in love with a human who makes me feel alive,” he replies.
Caroline reminds Stefan that not all vampires are evil. He tells her that since they’re engaged, she’s not an “innocent bystander” if she lets him kill for Cade. Unless she wants to end their engagement, she has blood on her hands, too. As he moves to kill the next contestant, Caroline grabs a piece of a wooden chair and whips it into his chest. “See? You’re good at this killing thing,” he says as he desiccates.
Upstairs, Damon wakes up from his brief hanger-induced nap and sees that Sybil’s still out. Violet wakes up next, only concerned with who won the pageant. Caroline’s like, “Well, the ‘honorary judge’ chose you, in a way, so…” Violet realizes she died and remembers that Caroline’s a vampire. Caroline tells her she’s now in transition herself and has 24 hours to drink human blood or die. She can live with this and still be herself.
Violet doesn’t want the life of someone who hurts people and drinks blood, and she begs Caroline to kill her and send her to a better place. Caroline tells her that after she turned, she did all sorts of great things. Of course there are downsides, but “life doesn’t have to stop after you die.” Violet’s still focused on the part where she’ll have to drink blood, but Caroline offers to help her, just like Stefan once did for her.
Matt is about to take off with the bell when Dorian arrives with Seline. Matt thinks Seline sirened Dorian, since the only other reason he would show up is that he’s an idiot. Seline scoffs that she figured out what the guys were up to about half an hour in. Dorian tells Matt that he should listen to Seline before he takes the bell anywhere.
Caroline waits for Stefan to revive after being been sent back from Hell again. He’s surprised she didn’t ditch him. She replies that, like she told him before, they’re in this together, even if that means she has blood on her hands. They’ll spend the next year doing whatever’s necessary to get him out of his deal with Cade – her way. That means no more making good people bad. Stefan’s only allowed to kill evil people.
He tells her he’s not just in this for a year. He’s doing this until he decides he’s done. Cade was right – he’s having too much fun to quit. Caroline reminds him that they had their own deal to get married and spend their lives together. She takes off her engagement ring and says she thinks Stefan will wake up one day and realize he’s forgotten what it’s like to be happy. She gives him the ring and tells him to stay away from her.
In other jewelry-related news, Bonnie regrets giving Enzo back her necklace. He tells her it really is a symbol of his love and puts it back on her. She says that whatever it means, she’s never known before what it’s like to want to be with someone forever. Enzo gets why she doesn’t want to turn, and he considers himself lucky no matter how much time they have together. Bonnie says they’ll just have to make that time count.
Enzo replies that a few decades with the right person can see like forever. It’s what will come after that he’s dreading. He spent forever waiting for the right person and doesn’t know what he’ll do without her. Bonnie realizes that “forever” doesn’t have to be dependent on her lifespan. What if he limited his lifespan and took the cure?
Sybil wakes up as Damon chains her to a wall in the basement of Vamp Villa. She tells him he won’t be able to find a way to torture her that she hasn’t experienced before. He replies that he’ll get into her head and make her life a living Hell like she likes to do. Sybil doubts he would know where to start. Damon guesses that her only positive relationships have been manipulated. Even her sister is done with her. He knows how painful that can be. But he also knows why Sybil has nothing now: Because she’s nothing. He’s seen the real her, before she took her human form.
Sybil sheds a couple of tears, and Damon wonders what kind of prize he gets for making her cry. She grabs him and suggests his humanity. His emotions start to return, accompanying memories of the horrible things he’s done since meeting Sybil. “I’m not the thing inside your head you have to fear, Damon – you are,” she tells him.
Keep in mind: Once the bell has been assembled, only a Maxwell can ring it.
Significant item update: The gang has the tuning fork, bell striker, and bell.
Etc.: Someone finally did what I’ve been saying they should: give vampire blood to humans so they can carry around a dose in case of emergency. Good thinking, Enzo!
I don’t think Bonnie becoming a vampire would be a loophole in the sleep spell – wouldn’t it ensure that Elena stays asleep? If her consciousness is tied to Bonnie’s lifespan, and Bonnie becomes immortal, Elena would never wake up.
Dorian: “How dumb do you think I am?” Seline: “On a scale from Matt to Alaric, you’re right in the middle.” Ouch. She hasn’t even met Matt!
I love how the gang gets the bell and striker because a) Matt breaks into the sheriff’s department and b) Stefan just hands it to Caroline because he doesn’t care what it’s for.