We begin with Alaric lying in an MRI scanner – Dr. Fell wants to check that his recent murderous tendencies don’t have a natural cause, because as she says to Elena, “If it’s medical, I can treat it.” (A little optimistic there, dontcha think?) Alaric is still skeptical about her theory that he’s the killer and the Gilbert ring is responsible, but while he’s in the scanner the face in the mirror starts looking evil.
The scan turns out normal, but Alaric gives Elena the Gilbert ring back, just in case. Damon shows up to collect them and gets an earful from Elena about forcing Stefan to drink human blood in last week’s episode (not in those words, obviously). Damon, however, is unrepentant:
Stefan built himself a delusional wagon which he has fallen off of.
Elena wants to call Bonnie to see if there is some witchy way to reverse the damage to Alaric’s mind. But does Bonnie want to talk to her? Becaue Bonnie is in her mother’s house trying to get her mother used to being a vampire. Abbie is discombobulated as vampirism means she’s lost her witchy connection to the earth and can’t feel nature anymore.
Caroline is there (yay!) to supply blood (“My personal favourite – B Positive!”) and issue pep talks to Abbie’s adopted son, Jamie, about how Abbie still needs support and love. Bonnie has been ignoring Elena’s calls, but gets through to Caroline, and Bonnie agrees to try to help Alaric. Jamie, fired up by Caroline’s encouragement, comes in to the house to see Abbie and give her a hug: and she, of course, bites him. Cue wailing and gnashing of pointy teeth, but Bonnie wants Abbie to stay:
The only way you’re going to hurt me again is if you leave.
In Mystic Falls, the Wickery Bridge (scene of death and trauma for Elena, subject of the Mayor’s endless fundraisers), is being rebuilt, and there is some kind of rebuilding-opening press conference: it involves the mayor in a hard hat, anyway. She asks Ric where the sign he promised her is, but he doesn’t even remember promising it. In the crowd Damon spots Sage, ye olde lady boxer from last week, and they get reacquainted:
Sage: My favourite student.
Damon: My hottest teacher!
Sage tried to pull the old “just passing through” trick but Damon isn’t having it for a second: it turns out she and Finn (the only Original on Esther’s side) used to have a thing back in the day (i.e.: 900 years ago), and when she heard he had been re-animated, she came to claim him. Rebekah spots them and is highly scathing about Sage’s chances with Finn. Sage and Damon go for a walk away from the judgy eyes of Rebekah to catch up: Finn was Sage’s maker, as well as her lover, and his family never liked her. Klaus in particular always treated her “like a peasant whore.” Damon wonders why Rebekah has been hanging around asking questions about old trees, and Sage tells him to get inside her head, like she taught him. Damon has tried, he says, but she’s too strong, so he and Sage come up with a plan to get her to lower her defences… tagline:
Two’s company, three’s a party!
At the Salvatore house, Elena gets in to get a book about Samantha Gilbert (the last person the ring made insane) and finds Stefan pouring a blood bag into a whiskey tumbler. He’s a classy, classy bloke. It’s all very awkward, and gets more so when Stefan tells Elena what happened to Samantha: she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, tried to give herself a lobotomy with a knitting needle, and bled to death (historical accuracy questionable ““ lobotomies weren’t a thing in the US until the 1930s. Unless “lobotomy” is Stefan’s term for “putting a knitting needle up your nose and wiggling it around.” Bad TV writers!). Elena duly leaves; Damon arrives and finds Stefan at the basement fridge with many blood bags sucked dry. He diagnoses “stress eating,” and Stefan wants to know what Damon told Elena about the night before. Damon just wants him to leave the house:
Unless you’re interested in a Sage/Rebecca sex sandwich, I suggest you make yourself scarce.
Alaric, thinking he’s safe because he’s taken the ring off, is with Meredith, going through the police records she’s collected about him. There is one thing that’s not there, though, he tells her – he was the one who killed her vampired cousin, Logan Fell (waaayy back in the first season, the TV guy who was Jenna’s ex). She doesn’t seem to mind, “The vampire thing, it’s not my fight,” but she does ask why he’s never killed Damon. “I tried once. He killed me.”
Alaric gives Elena a list of all the essentials: his bank details, where to find his will, etc. But Bonnie also needs something of his from before he started wearing the Gilbert ring, and the obvious thing is his wedding ring (from when he was married to Elena’s biological mother Isobel, later the vampire pawn of Elena’s doppelganger Katherine: do keep up at the back!). Elena heads back to his apartment to get it, where she finds Stefan, who says things like, “I can’t be who you want me to be right now.” Elena is insistent that she won’t give up on either him or Alaric – then while looking for the ring she finds a drawer full of photos and plans related to the murders, and an envelope for Jeremy with a note asking him to, “continue the work.” Stefan also tells her that Samantha Gilbert also killed people after she was committed i.e.: after she stopped wearing the ring – how was this information not relevant before? I wonder – as we cut back to Alaric sneakily getting rid of all Dr. Fell’s syringes of tranquillisers. Dun-dun-DUN.
Meanwhile, Damon and Sage’s sex sandwich plan seems to have gone well – compelled human pianist, dodgy Damonic dancing, bottle of wine stolen from a queen: “not sure which one” – and Sage comes in to access Rebekah’s memories while she’s post-coitally sleeping. She then shows Damon the memories (in the shower, as you do): Rebekah is looking for the remains of the white oak tree. Damon goes through the old Salvatore ledgers, and finds it was cut down in 1912 and used to build – wait for it – the Wickery Bridge. Damon then burns the ledger and tells Sage what he’s found. She is not best pleased, as the wood could also be used to kill Finn (wherever he is), but Damon strikes a deal: if she helps him, he will consider Finn untouchable.
Meredith is innocently making coffee in Elena’s kitchen when Alaric comes in and asks her if she ever feels remorse for betraying the ideals of the Founders’ Council. Cue a horror-film-esque sequence of stabbings, running upstairs, etc. that ends with Meredith locking herself in Elena’s bathroom with a large abdominal wound, and Alaric emerging with a stabbed hand… just in time for Stefan and Elena to get back to the house. Stefan sees the blood in the kitchen, and Elena meets Alaric on the stairs. In fairness, she twigs that something is wrong and lies to Alaric about the ring and the fact that she met Stefan, so when Alaric goes for her with the knife, Stefan is behind him to knock him unconscious. But Meredith’s aforementioned large abdominal wound is fairly pungent to Stefan, and he asks Elena to follow him upstairs where they find Meredith in the bathroom. The blood makes Stefan turn, but he exercises control long enough to give Meredith his blood, and then he runs from the house.
Damon goes to the Wickery Bridge to salvage the white oak wood, but Rebekah got there before him and has made a pretty bonfire of it. Sage betrayed Damon, much to his frustration:
I told you I’d save your creepy boyfriend!
But Sage saw more than she told Damon in Rebekah’s mind, and she found out that all the Originals were linked by Esther’s spell so that if one dies, Finn dies too, and that she can’t have. Damon tells her that Finn was the one Original who was on Esther’s side ““ he has a death wish and any love he had for Sage wasn’t enough for him to stay alive.
The next morning, Alaric wakes up in bed (in Elena’s?). Damon is there to fill him in ““ Bonnie has done the spell, he is on house arrest-lite. Downstairs, Bonnie gives Elena herbs for Alaric to take twice a day ““ Elena apologises again for Abbie, Bonnie forgives her, and they hug. Awww. Back at Abbie’s house, though, things are not going well ““ Caroline catches Abbie writing a goodbye note, and though she tries her best to persuade her to stay for Jamie’s and Bonnie’s sake,
No one is better off without their parents.
Abbie leaves anyway.
Elena calls Jeremy and asks him if he’s talked to Alaric recently. He says no, and she lies to him about why she’s asking. Jeremy seems totally normal, which could mean anything and nothing.
And in my favourite part, the Salvatores toast to self-control, and Damon reveals his secret. The old bridge sign was also made of the same white oak tree, and he has it.
We have a weapon – the game’s back on, brother
Things I liked: the continuing ex-induced awkwardness between Elena and Stefan – every time they’re in a room together my toes curl with vicarious embarrassment. I appreciate that the show isn’t rushing to get them back together. I also love Caroline, and her trying to help Abbie in the way that she wasn’t allowed to help her father. Some questions: does anyone else find the explanations for the Gilbert ring’s insanity-inducing abilities totally implausible? Why does Elena keep lying to Jeremy even though she knows he’ll be very unforgiving whenever he eventually finds out? What kind of weapons will Damon and Stefan make out of the oak sign ““ will they go for the classic stake, or something a little different? And Damon’s dancing skillz ““ yea or nay?
Screencaps from www.homeofthenutty.com.