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

By Samantha Highfill
Updated January 23, 2015 at 03:14 AM EST
Annette Brown/The CW

The Vampire Diaries

S6 E11
  • TV Show
  • 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

Still stuck at the high school, Kai tells Elena that he finally gets why Damon’s into her: “You are crazy pants.” Clearly, he never met Amara, am I right? Regardless, Kai proves once again that he’s void of all sentiment, while Damon and Liv head to the school to save the day. But when Luke shows up and cloaks his sister and then himself, Damon has to call reinforcements. And yes, Jeremy is fully prepared to come in with his trusty crossbow. But a crossbow simply doesn’t measure up to the power of the Wonder Twins. Instead, Jo volunteers to cloak Damon, but she’ll have to stay close. In other words, she has to go into the school with him.

Inside, Kai is practicing carving a “K” into Elena’s face (When did The Mask of Zorro come out? After 1994? Because Kai would love it.) before he takes a quick break to recycle, of all things. It’s in this moment that we discover that Jo’s spell is working. With that, Damon and Jo free Elena and invite her into their super cool cloak club. It’s members only, but it might not last long considering the fact that Jo’s nose is bleeding. And yep, now she collapses. Oh hey Kai, what’s up?

Telling Jo to run, Damon faces off with Kai, who seems to have properly honed his skills. Not only does he have cloaking down, but he’s pretty good with illusions, too. When Damon thinks he’s stabbing Kai, he’s really stabbing Elena. (Good thing he wasn’t aiming for Kai’s heart.)

Kai quickly takes off after Jo only to be taken down by Alaric and Jeremy. Go re-born humans! But let’s be honest: Kai really won the fight with this one: “Oh are we not cloaking people anymore? I thought that’s what this was.” Touché, my incredibly messed up friend.

Wonder Twins update: Dad is pissed and wants them home, but Liv is ready to tell it like it is. The fact that Luke just cloaked her so easily is proof that he’s stronger and will win the merge and quite frankly, she’s scared to die. So instead of going home, Luke agrees to stay. He calls their father and tells him they’re out. He’s not interested in destiny if it means killing his sister.

In all the post-Kai turmoil, Elena and Damon finally get to have a moment when he’s picking splinters out of her—this show loves splinter-related moments—and she decides to fake him out by sort of pretending to die. She tries to get him to confess his love (or something) when she says, “If there’s anything you need to say, now’s the time,” but she cracks up before she can finish. They share a glance and a semi-hold hands when Alaric enters to ask if she’s okay. According to her, she’s never felt more alive (more or less recreating this memory for the couple).

With that behind them, the crew brings Kai to Alaric’s place to essentially keep him on ice while Jo finishes training. And that means that the fighting is over and the drinking can begin. Ric and Damon toast to “women who make crazy, screwed up decisions and loving them more for it.” Cheers!

Back at Caroline’s house, Stefan finally lets the Sarah secret slip before comforting his bestie. One hand hold is all Caroline needs to head inside and face her mom. After sending Matt home—he’s really fed up with supernatural beings already killing people in his hometown only 22 hours after re-entering—Caroline tells her mother everything she learned. Most importantly, she asks her mother to live for all the moments they haven’t gotten to have yet, her college graduation and wedding planning. “I want you to live for me,” she says, and Liz agrees.

Just as Liz drinks Caroline’s blood, we check in on the patient at Duke as he coughs up Caroline’s blood (and then some), crawls out into the hall of what has to be the worst hospital in the world, and seemingly dies. According to next week’s promo, the vampire blood speeds up the cancer and kills patients faster. So you’re telling me that not only do we have to watch Liz die, but now it’s going to be that violent?! I’m going to go ahead and buy a pack of tissues now.

Overall, the hour was filled with a number of great relationship moments between friends, enemies, lovers, and family members. Much like Kai, TVD seemed to get back into the swing of things quickly.

Episode Recaps

The Vampire Diaries

Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley star in the CW’s romance-infused vampire soap opera.
  • TV Show
  • The CW