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The Vampire Diaries recap: 'Woke Up With a Monster'

Damon works to save Elena from Kai while Caroline finds a cure for her mom … or so she thinks.

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Vampire Diaries 02
Annette Brown/The CW

The Vampire Diaries

TV Show
run date:
Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Paul Wesley
The CW

Welcome to 2015, a year that is sure to be filled with amazing Kai one-liners, many more Salvatore kitchen scenes, and unfortunately, what now looks like it will be a very bloody end for Liz Forbes. Altogether, if this year plays out like this episode did, it’ll be a pretty good one.

The Vampire Diaries‘ first episode back felt like a return to form in a lot of ways. The writing was sharp, the chemistry between characters—both platonic and not—was effortless, and in the final moments, it hit the whole “emotional drama” thing out of the park. This is a show about characters we love, and this hour proved once again why we love (most of) them (and dislike others).

We kick things off at the Mystic Grill, where Kai is enjoying a delicious breakfast with Elena. Well, technically, she’s not eating, but nobody said he was a gentleman. Before Elena can complete her “what have you done to me” face—which she’s had years to perfect—Kai has all the answers. In his upbeat, oh-so-messed-up sociopath manner, Kai explains how he now has ridiculous amounts of magic, and because of that, he’s not so great at controlling it. Example A? The manager of the Mystic Grill, whose dead body is currently being cloaked by Kai, but is lying on the table in front of Elena, a fact she soon realizes. See, Kai tried to give the man a heart attack, but one thing led to another and well, he kind of exploded. So now, Kai needs some magic target practice, and Elena’s always been good for that, right?

So with Elena off enduring large amounts of torture, Stefan wakes up—with a shirt on—to the sound of things breaking at his house. He then proceeds to put another shirt on, which just seems like overkill to me, but whatever. Downstairs, he finds a shirtless Jeremy in the kitchen—oh sure, he can be shirtless?—generally being a grump and stealing all the coffee while Jo tries to perfect the art of magic in the living room. Spoiler: She’s not very good at it, and she’s only got 30 days to pull a Rocky and become the fighter who’s capable of taking down Ivan Drago. Are you all too young for that reference? If you are, please just lie.

As Jo continues to practice, we catch up with Damon sleeping in a chair in Liz’s hospital room. He tells her about the last texts Elena sent him—there’s a cold shower emoticon?—before asking her to put out an APB on Kai. She’s already on it when Caroline comes in bringing her a kale smoothie. (They help slow cancer.) But when Caroline brings up the idea of giving Liz some vampire blood, Damon isn’t on board. Wait, was Damon just the voice of reason? What is happening?!

After an adorable wink—Liz and Damon forever—Damon heads home, where he will find Liv in one of his T-shirts—Jo burnt hers—before receiving a call from Elena. Now at the high school, Kai attempts to turn Elena’s blood to acid—that’s a spell?!—when he melts her daylight ring instead. She gets away in enough time to call Damon, but Kai finds her within minutes and, after a few misfires, snaps her neck. Also, did anyone else pause at Kai’s comment about her ring meaning so much to her? I’m sure it’s mostly that it’s her daylight ring and her lifeline, but part of me wondered if that was a shout-out to Stelena fans, because we all remember the moment she got that ring. Just a thought for you shippers!

Speaking of shippers, Caroline returns home to find Stefan, who has moved Liz’s TV so that she can watch it from her favorite chair. Caroline gets her mother all set up to binge-watch Friends on DVD (doesn’t she know it’s on Netflix now?) before she tells her that she’s going to Duke to meet with a specialist. Stefan can stay with Liz to watch Friends. Then this happens:

Caroline: “Stefan, you know how to laugh, right?”

Stefan: “Opinions vary.”

So much yes. However, when Stefan hears the word Duke, he immediately thinks of Sarah Salvatore and offers to drive Caroline so that he can check on his “friend.” Caroline’s thought? “Stefan, I know all of your friends: Elena, me … and then that’s it.” Caroline is just the best. The two hit the road anyway.

Once at Duke, Stefan immediately heads to a gallery for a student exhibition. He promises to meet up with Caroline later. For now, he just wants to watch Sarah “Nelson” like a proud uncle. That is until Enzo arrives. You can guess what comes next: Enzo and Stefan threatening each other until Enzo agrees to back off and Stefan has to meet Caroline. The twist? Enzo ends the episode by boxing up all of Sarah’s pictures. So what’s he up to?

Back to Caroline! Our favorite blonde meets up with a specialist and after a bit of compulsion, Caroline finds out that the only option her mother has is full brain radiation, but even that isn’t a sure thing. In fact, it’s more likely to solve nothing and ruin Liz’s quality of life. Basically, there are no feasible medical solutions, which is why Caroline jumps straight to the supernatural. Sneaking into the room of a patient with the same tumor as her mother, Caroline feeds the mystery man some of her blood. And by the time Stefan meets up with her, that same patient is up and walking and, for the first time in days, has an appetite. So it worked? TBD. (I don’t know why she didn’t compel the doctor to keep her updated on the patient’s condition.)

NEXT: Cloaking is cool