There were so many things I loved about this hour. It had the dramatic impact that comes along with saying goodbye to a beloved character; it had multiple twists; it had romance; and more than anything, it had 10-year-old Stefan, with his gorgeous hair and sparkling eyes. Altogether, these elements created an hour that flew by and yet, it’s one that I’ll remember for a while.
We start things back in Caroline/Liz’s memory of Caroline’s first bike ride. Last we saw, Caroline was riding on her own. Now? Well, like all kids, she crashed and needs her mother to fix her up. First asking if her cuts and scrapes mean that she’s going to die, baby Caroline then wonders if her mother will die. Liz tells her, “Everyone dies eventually sweetie, but not for a long, long time.” And if Liz dies and Caroline’s still around? “You’ll be all grown up and you won’t need me,” Liz says. Oh-so-wise little Caroline then responds, “I think I’ll always need you.” With that, Caroline wakes up from her sleep.
Sleeping on a couch in the Salvatore house, Caroline is surrounded by friends, with Matt and Tyler sleeping on the floor, Elena on a couch, and Stefan asleep in what looks like the world’s most uncomfortable chair. In the kitchen, Caroline finds Damon trying to write Liz’s eulogy. But when Damon tries to explain that he thinks Liz wanted to teach him a lesson about his own mother, well, Caroline stops him there. She’s not exactly trying to kick off the worst day of her life by bonding with Damon.
And they definitely don’t bond. Instead, Damon informs Caroline that today won’t be the worst day of her life. That will come next week, once her support group has gone back to life as usual and she’s stuck without her mom. And someone remind me why we are letting him write the eulogy?
But instead of letting her emotions get the best of her, Caroline does what she does best: Makes a checklist and starts handing out tasks. First up, she and Elena are going casket shopping.
Brief pause for our first glimpse at Bonnie, who is on day 278 of living in the prison world. But considering that she successfully retrieved Qetsiyah’s headstone and has sucked the magic out of it, she shouldn’t be here much longer. That is, of course, unless Kai dies…
Speaking of whom, when Kai shows up on Jo’s doorstep vomiting blood, things aren’t looking good, especially considering that Jo spent the entire morning vomiting. Kai’s theory is that, by merging with the wrong twin, he’s going to die. And if he dies, the entire coven dies, and all the prison worlds collapse. That’s right, prison worlds, as in plural. Kai’s solution? For Jo to willingly give him her magic. More on that in a moment.
First, we have to go back in time and meet adorable baby Stefan, who’s trying to tie a tie for his mom’s funeral. Big—much older?—brother Damon steps in to help when Stefan says the most Stefan thing you could ever imagine: He’s not going to cry at his mom’s funeral because his mother’s angel visited him in his sleep and told him everything will be alright. He then asks his big brother how the eulogy is coming. Even then, he was so responsible and optimistic. I can’t handle it.
Back in present day, Stefan is once again checking to see how Damon’s eulogy is going, but the youngest Salvatore quickly switches gears to ask Damon for Caroline advice. When Stefan tells Damon they kissed, he—and the rest of America—responds, “Finally.” But when Stefan doesn’t know how to handle it, Damon tells him to let Caroline go. “She’s not the one. If she was, you wouldn’t have to ask,” Damon tells him. According to big brother, Stefan has been in love twice—and yes, they had the same face, get over it—so he knows what it feels like. And if it doesn’t feel like that then it’s not true love and he should let her go… but not today. Definitely not today.
While casket shopping, Caroline and Elena have a similar conversation, only the outcome is very different: Caroline needs to know how Stefan is feeling and she decides that she needs to know today. (This should go well.)
Speaking of things that should go well, Damon still hasn’t finished his eulogy when Elena comes to gather him for the funeral. But when she tells him he’s a nice(ish) person and speaks a few words of wisdom about how the eulogy isn’t about Liz or Damon, but rather that it’s about Caroline, Damon finds his inspiration, once again flashing back to his mother’s service and the look on baby Stefan’s face when he showed up after having missed the chance to give a eulogy. Let’s just say baby Stefan cries, and I’ve never felt pain like this before in my life.
Across town, Jo contemplates giving up her magic, and Alaric promises to support her no matter what. More specifically, he tells her, “I loved you when you weren’t a witch, and I’m pretty sure I will still love you regardless.” Technically, he’s 92 percent sure. And yes, he did just drop the “L” bomb. Moments later, Jo has decided to give her magic to Kai, because, you know.
The bad news? All of this Kai drama has pulled Bonnie from her prison world—where it was nearly time for the eclipse—and put her in a snowy tundra where she finds a house … with pictures of Damon and Stefan? With the Northern Lights shining bright outside, Bonnie finds a journal: She’s in Nov. 1, 1903. But why?
NEXT: “Goodbye, Sheriff.”
And from 1903 to present day, Caroline is at the church when Stefan rounds the corner—I honestly thought it was Klaus for a second and got way too excited. Never one to beat around the bush, Caroline tells Stefan that she was trying to put him into a category so that she’d know what to say to him, but she wasn’t sure what category he wanted to be in. And yes, she’s having this talk now, because there’s “no time like the horribly inappropriate present.” But Stefan tells her that now is not the time, making his answer pretty obvious.
After a hug, Stefan leaves Caroline alone with her mom. Caroline tells her mom, “I’m gonna be alright, mom. I promise. Everything will be fine after today.” Then Elena grabs her best friend as the service is about to begin.
But before it can, Matt has to keep Tyler from entering the church because Mr. ex-hybrid/ex-boyfriend decided to show up drunk, and Matt tells him that Caroline doesn’t deserve that crap. #preach
Inside the church, the tears flow as Sheriff Forbes is honored by her fellow service members and Damon gives his eulogy, in which he tells Caroline how proud Liz was of her. “You’re a beautiful, strong woman,” he tells her, suddenly opening Stefan’s eyes to what’s right in front of him. Damon describes Caroline as a “generous friend,” and “a bright light in a sea of dark.” Much like Liz said, Caroline is extraordinary. Damon’s final words: “Goodbye, Sheriff. You will be missed.”
Then, because there’s no such thing as enough tears, Caroline stands up and sings a song to her mother. And in that moment, it’s obvious that Stefan sees something extraordinary in Caroline. (Matt can relate, am I right?)
After the service, everyone heads to the Mystic Grill, where Matt reveals his future plans to Tyler: Seeing Sheriff Forbes being honored inspired Matt to pick up an application form for an officer training program. Correction: He picked up two applications, one for himself and one for Tyler. Raise your hand if you’d object to seeing these two in uniform. (Did anybody raise their hand?)
Okay, now’s about the time that we need to check in on Jo. When she starts to transfer her magic to Kai, it gives Bonnie the opportunity to get back to her world just in time for the eclipse. The real twist? She begins to do the spell when a woman in very hip 1903 garb shows up—and maybe comes with her? Is that who I think it is? Spoiler: Yes it is.
When Bonnie and Damon reunite in present day—over pancakes, naturally—Bonnie runs and jumps on Damon, straddling him and making me fall even more in love with them. Then, she shows him the video camera from the moment she escaped prison. Yep, that’s his mom. It doesn’t seem like she made it back, but this does mean that she’s not so much dead as she’s stuck in a witchy prison world. So she’s a witch? Is she a Gemini specifically? I have so many questions!
But wait, while we’re talking about witches, we can’t forget to discuss one of the episode’s most surprising and chill-inducing moments: Kai informs Jo that she’s pregnant! And instead of freaking out, Ric proposes. But like, he really proposes. Even though it looks like a pity proposal at first, Alaric quickly reveals that he had planned to do it this morning over breakfast in bed, but there was that whole Jo-violently-vomiting thing. According to him, he bought the ring the day after her brother died, because life is too short. (And also, all of his significant others die.) Telling her that he’s 92 percent sure in the proposal—nice touch—Alaric pops the question and Jo says yes! Suddenly, I’m dying for this wedding. (And also weirdly missing Jenna. My emotions are all over the place right now.)
With the day coming to a close, Caroline leaves the Mystic Grill early, only to have Elena figure out her plan and meet her at her house. Elena finally pieced it all together: Caroline was so insistent on getting through today because she doesn’t plan to feel anything tomorrow. In other words, she’s going to flip her humanity switch. Elena tries to talk her out of it, but Caroline needs the pain to be gone. So when Elena hugs her friend and tells her that she’s not going to let her flip the switch, Caroline snaps her neck.
And because timing has never been his strong suit, Stefan meets up with Damon at the bar to tell him that he’s wrong about Caroline. Sure, he can’t explain what he feels for her but it is something. Not all love is true love in the “massive way” that the Salvatore brothers have experienced it, but as he puts it, “I think this could turn into something even better.”
With that, Damon tells him to get to Caroline. But by the time Stefan arrives, Elena’s on the floor and Caroline’s nowhere to be found. What a day, right?
So we’ve got our Bonnie back, along with a baby and a wedding on the way, a new witchy mother hanging around somewhere, and a potentially out-of-control control freak. And it all came about in a well-paced hour full of honest emotion and just enough Salvatore brother moments. I’m sad to see Sheriff Forbes go, but what a way to end things.