Well, there’s nothing like facing mortality to bring some drama to Mystic Falls. And tonight was about just that: In addition to Liz still dying and Bonnie contemplating suicide, “I Day I Tried to Live” was also mixed with one ex-sociopath, numerous relationship developments, and a new Salvatore. Any questions?
We start in 1994, where Bonnie informs everyone (meaning no one) that it’s her birthday. But back in present day, Elena and Caroline are well aware, and they’re planning a party to celebrate their friend. Except when Caroline can’t stop feeling like 1994 Ms. Cuddles is staring at her, she decides to go find the original Ms. Cuddles, as in the one that she stole from Bonnie when she was 9 and then buried in the woods so that her mom wouldn’t find out what she’d done. And yes, she realizes that her mother is dying and her best friend is in an alternate universe, but right now, finding Ms. Cuddles is the only one of those things she can do anything about. So with that, she heads off into the woods, and Stefan follows with a flask in hand.
Meanwhile, Damon and Elena are enjoying some birthday cupcakes—I’m not complaining that he fed her but it felt a bit awkward, no?—before Elena tells him that she’s good with the whole kissing thing. In fact, she wants to do it right now. Unfortunately, the ultimate mood killer comes knocking: Kai.
Since he merged with Luke, Kai has been experiencing something he’s never had to deal with before: empathy. No longer a full-blown sociopath, he’d like Elena to give Jo a letter—that he cried actual tears writing!—so that she can know how sorry he is for destroying their family. In exchange, Elena gets Kai to help them reach out to Bonnie.
After Damon uses Kai’s new found feelings against him by telling him it’s Bonnie’s birthday, the ex-Big Bad agrees to help them send Bonnie a message. Damon’s plan? To tell her to go to Nova Scotia and use Silas’ headstone—which is covered in Qetsiyah’s blood—to get enough magic to find her way home. And yes, Elena, Silas was definitely hot.
But when Jeremy finds out that Damon and Elena are working with Kai, he’s not a fan. Jer doesn’t quite understand how someone can switch personalities overnight. However, Kai’s got the answer to everything: Elena did it first. From what Kai has figured out, human Elena was good and sweet and loved the good Salvatore. She then became a “blood vacuum” overnight and decided she loved the bad Salvatore. I love that all it took was one ex-sociopath and about 30 seconds to explain this entire series. Well done, writers.
And Kai’s little speech works. Jeremy is in. According to Kai, they’re all essentially going to reenact Ghost, with Bonnie being Demi Moore—the alive one—and the rest of them being the collective Patrick Swayze. She won’t be able to see them, but it’s worth a shot. And it works! However, by the time they get to Bonnie, she’s opening a bottle of bourbon that Damon immediately recognizes. It’s the oldest bottle in the house, and the two of them made a pact that if they got to the point where they couldn’t take this world for one more day, they’d kill the bottle … and then themselves. And with that realization, Kai loses the spell and they all wake up in present day.
At this point, you’re probably asking if Bonnie can die in that world. I didn’t think so, but according to Kai, that rule only applied to him, because the coven didn’t want him to cut his own sentence short. So what now? Jeremy asks Kai to send him, and only him, back. Kai agrees. (Wow that merge really did change him, huh?)
Upstairs, Damon opens the present-day version of the suicide bourbon to drink alongside Bonnie when Elena enters. Unable to get Kai’s synopsis of her life out of her head, she asks Damon if he thinks it’s true. Did she completely change when she became a vampire? (Um, yes.) But more importantly, does he think they would be together if she were still human? Damon’s answer: No. Because she had that choice and she chose Stefan. She was on her way to Stefan when she died and then boom, suddenly Damon was back in the picture. You have to love how honest he is. But the rest of that conversation will have to be put on hold because Liv just showed up and trapped Elena and Damon in his room.
NEXT: Somebody hugs, somebody breaks up, and somebody has sex
Liv—who’s spent the episode thus far crying about Luke, deciding to kill Kai, and knocking out Tyler to get him out of her way— stabs Kai through the abdomen and once again pulls Jeremy out of 1994. Kai quickly retaliates with a fork in Liv’s neck, but when he goes to burn her alive, those pesky things called tears start threatening his eyes again. The Luke in him can’t bring himself to do it. Instead, she puts the fork in his chest, and then Jeremy finally makes himself useful, stabs Liv with a knife, and rushes Kai to the kitchen, where he quickly sends them back to save Bonnie.
Back in 1994, Jeremy watches as Bonnie drinks the last of her bourbon and heads to the garage, video camera in hand. She turns on Damon’s car to asphyxiate herself before turning on the camera and leaving a message for her friends. But when she tells Jeremy to fight for the life he wants and to “stay strong,” she remembers that those are the words Grams said to her: “Stay strong.” In that moment, Bonnie decides to live, only she’s too weak to make it to the door. Somehow using love to overcome his ghostliness, Jeremy is able to open the garage door and save the woman he loves. All in all, it was a really beautiful scene—probably my favorite Bonnie-Jeremy scene in an odd way.
After Jer returns and Damon and Elena escape his room—thanks to Damon using the chimney to knock Liv out—Elena and Jeremy have a chat. Jeremy says he knows what Bonnie was feeling because he too feels trapped. Elena tells him to go to art school, to move on and find himself. “Find the life that you want and be happy,” she tells her younger brother. “Get out of here and don’t look back.”
Speaking of never looking back, Tyler ends the episode by leaving Liv behind. When she wakes up back in her dorm—thanks to Elena’s blood—he lets her know that she lied to him and then, to make things worse, she chose death over him. So yeah, he’s out. (Also, you should not have candles in a dorm room, Liv.)
Catching up with Stefan and Caroline in the woods: Caroline spends half the episode digging hole after hole in hope of finding Ms. Cuddles while drunk Stefan—my favorite Stefan—mocks her from the sidelines. But really, he’s trying to help her cope. First, he makes her angry, and after she shoves him a few times, she feels a bit better. But knocking him to the ground feels best. Of course, he retaliates, landing them both on their backs.
But by the time they get back on their feet, Stefan spots Ms. Cuddles’ ear. Thinking it’s a miracle, Caroline grabs the bear, only to accidentally decapitate her. What follows is a mixture of laughter, an almost kiss(?), tears, and the sort of hug that only Stefan can give.
From hugs to sex—back at the house, Elena is done dwelling on the past. She tells Damon that being with him was never a mistake. Somehow, she always finds her way back to him, so she doesn’t care what human Elena would’ve done because human Elena isn’t here. Vampire Elena is here and she wants sex with Damon! Obviously, he obliges.
Also going on this hour: Enzo threatens Matt’s mom so that he will help Enzo figure out what kind of person Sarah Salvatore is. And after she rejects Matt’s pick-up line and then offers to help him get a bus ticket when she finds him “stranded,” Enzo decides she’s a 9.5 out of 10 on the purity scale. And by the time he’s done with her? She’ll be a one. According to him, his plan is to insert himself in her life and make her do things she never thought she’d do until she begs him to turn her into a vampire. The short version: He wants to prove that Stefan can’t protect her.
In the episode’s final moments, Jeremy applies to art school and Bonnie finds the atlas that Jeremy dropped when Kai brought him back to 1994 the second time. The page is open to Nova Scotia, and Bonnie immediately hits the road. She’s off!
Between Kai and Enzo’s humor and the drama that came from suicide, a general feeling of loss, and the recognition of love, I’d say it was a pretty solid hour spent in Mystic Falls, wouldn’t you?