Enzo gets a backstory, and Matt gets a backbone.

Credit: Tina Rowden/The CW

Let’s start with the giant elephant that was running throughout tonight’s entire episode: Nina Dobrev is leaving. The actress who started as the heart and soul of the show has decided to make a graceful exit. Julie Plec and Co. all seem to be on board with this decision, but based on what I’m seeing across the internet, fans are quite divided as to if they feel the same.

Now this is not the time or place to dive deep into this (your regular recapper, Sam, already took a stab at it anyway), but the news will definitely color the way we watch the rest of season 6. Some of you may know from watching The Good Wife that when you know this far ahead of time that an actor is leaving, it’s hard to keep watching without constantly thinking about how that character will be actually exiting. But since Plec herself basically said it’s a five-episode goodbye, maybe that’s how we’re supposed to be thinking anyway?

But before we go any further, we should talk about the elephant in the recap: TVD extraordinaire Samantha Highfill heard the news that Nina was leaving and decided to give up the recapping game—kidding, she’s decided to take her feelings about it and go recover in Mexico (also known as vacation), but she’ll be back next week to take you through the rest of this goodbye “journey.”

So for now, let’s get to tonight’s episode, “I Could Never Love Like That”:

There’s nothing I love more than a scary cold open (well, maybe a voice-over-while-someone-writes-in-a-diary open, but I think that ship has sailed), but you know what’s even better? A scary cold open that is the result of No Humanity Caroline and No Humanity Stefan playing the “Can You Scare Someone to Death?” game.

They’re both in full-on evil doppelganger mode, and it’s delightful. Caroline bets Stefan she can scare the hot-bartender-who-isn’t-Matt to death, but she goes with the cliché “body drop,” so she has to compel him into thinking he’s having a heart attack, his throat is closing up, and spiders are crawling all over him. And she’s giggling. No humanity, indeed.

So what’s the prize for killing this kid? Karaoke, naturally. The local Whitmore kids are just trying to study over breakfast the next morning, but Caroline is loudly riffing on “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” (a song which Candice Accola actually selected herself; you can read about it in her EW blog). Stefan starts killing everyone who doesn’t listen and enjoy her music, but luckily the cavalry is coming. Just kidding—it’s “police officers in training” Matt and Tyler. And they’re being tortured—through more morning karaoke from Caroline.

Meanwhile, Elena and Damon are having a relatively pleasant morning. They’re enjoying breakfast made by Lily while they bask in their postcoital glow—and it’s apparently not awkward at all. They just talk about casual things like Damon’s favorite breakfast foods, memes, and, oh yeah, if Elena misses being a human. I believe this is what they call foreshadowing?

This is followed by even more foreshadowing when Elena meets Jo at the hospital and the two catch up: Kai is in 1903 prison while Lily is not. And Jo is pregnant. Elena tries to feign happiness, but the mix of sadness, jealousy, and regret is written all over Nina Dobrev’s beautiful face.

NEXT: Let the flashbacks begin!

So Enzo has taken Sarah from the hospital and tries to bring her to the Salvatore mansion, but when he sees Lily, he runs away in shock. Turns out he’s met Mama Salvatore before—she was the one who turned him. Twist!

As they drive away, he tries to explain this to a more-confused-by-the-minute Sarah, who can’t understand why she doesn’t remember this crazy family history.

“Because your Uncle Stefan compelled you to forget… to keep you a secret from your other uncle, Damon. But he killed your parents. You would have shared their fate had it not been for your other uncle.”

“That’s who you were taking me to?”

“Well, actually, no. The good brother recently went bad, and I was hoping to leave you in the care of the bad brother who actually is less bad now than the good brother.”

“I don’t understand any of this.”

“Look, love, I can try repeating it, but it won’t be any clearer the second time.”

And just when you think you can’t love Enzo anymore, he gets a flashback (regrettably without a terrible wig, though). In 1903 Enzo was dying of consumption in Southampton. He tries getting on a ship bound for New York because he hears there’s a doctor on board who can save him. Although he ultimately gets turned away, a ripper vampire named Lily helps him get on. She takes him to the doctor, but he turns out to be a “charlatan” who can’t save him anyway. But just like for Stefan, Lily is Enzo’s “angel.” She turns him, then kills everyone on the boat aside from the lying doctor so Enzo can feed and complete the change. Welcome to New York and vampirism, Enzo!

Present-day Lily is just as “helpful.” She tells Damon that she wants to do what he says to get her people back, but then she tells him the truth: She never came back for her boys. She has her new family and has never looked back. So basically she’s like the anti-Esther, a mother who would do nothing for her children. However, Damon promises to get her back to that crazy other family if she lies and helps him switch Stefan’s humanity switch back on.

Then they arrive at the Grill 2.0 (This place has a name right? For the life of me I can’t think of it.) to find Matt bleeding out. Tyler accidentally stabbed him when he got angry at Caroline for making them take a “Who’s the Better Ex-Boyfriend?” quiz.

Tyler rushes Matt to the hospital, and Caroline rushes out so she won’t be caught up in the humanity-switching cross hairs. So now we’re left with a room full of Salvatores.

The matriarch says just the right words to get Stefan to flip his switch—except we learn it was all scripted by Damon. This is definitely going to come back to bite him, right? (Mostly I’m just sad we didn’t get longer with No Humanity Stefan. He’s my fave.) Now Normal Stefan has to track down Crazy Caroline and get her to flip the switch, too.

NEXT: Hellooooo, season 6’s final Big Bad

Back at the hospital, Matt refuses Elena’s blood. Once he’s stitched up by Western medicine, he rhapsodizes about hating vampires and not relying on them. It’s typical Matt fare, but it strikes a chord with Elena, who is basically parked on Foreshadow Ave. this episode. There’s a reason they reintroduced the curse, and we all know it.

And the big reveal! Jo explains why it was absolutely terrible that Damon gave Lily the Ascendant. That corpse-ified family Lily was playing prison dollhouse with? They’re actually a witch group called the Heretics. They were cast out of the Gemini coven because they’re all siphoners like Kai. But unlike Kai, they have a friend named Lily who turned them all into witch-vampire hybrids (they do exist!). “Imagine Kai, with the bloodlust of a vampire. Now imagine six of them.” Oh, this just got good.

Overall, it was a solid episode. I’m intrigued by the Heretics storyline in a way I haven’t been excited for a Big Bad in a long time (but of course I can’t forget the last time I thought “hybrids” were supposed to be badasses). But for part one of five “goodbye” episodes, Elena played a very little role. Is this the plan? To phase her out so we won’t even notice, à la George? Nina Dobrev deserves much more than that, so I hope I’m wrong.

Crazy Theory of Mine: We know eventually they’ll have to go back to the 1903 prison world. Couldn’t they also take the cure from that time period so Elena could have a human life with one of the brothers? (Not that that would make sense as both brothers will still be on the show, but I did say it was a crazy theory.) And if not, can someone please explain time travel to me?

Other things that happened this episode:

  • Sarah Nelson/Salvatore was actually on vervain, so she drugged Enzo and tied him up. Then he tied her up. And they exchanged some very sexually charged stares after neither of them were tied up. It was a whole thing.
  • Lily did learn how to text properly, but she wanted to start it with “My dearest Elena…”
  • Alaric, Bonnie, and Liv were having a séance or something off-screen.
  • “If Matt dies, are you going to start peeing on fire hydrants again?” —Caroline to Tyler
  • A doctor at a hospital saved someone WITHOUT VAMPIRE BLOOD. Is this a first?
  • “I just introduced mom to Uber.” —Damon

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The Vampire Diaries

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

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