Stefan and Caroline head to New Orleans ... but not at the same time

By Samantha Highfill
February 27, 2016 at 01:59 AM EST
Annette Brown/The CW
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Well guys, what can I say? After this episode, I simply had too many thoughts — and tears — to keep from recapping, and Dalene was nice enough to let me step in. There’s a lot that I love about this episode, from the nostalgia, to that phone call, and every dramatic realization in between. For me, this episode felt very reminiscent of earlier seasons; in the style, the return of Klaus, and the reappearance of Tyler’s werewolf transition. It also had one of my favorite opening lines in TVD history, so let’s get to it.

In the flash-forward, Caroline walks into a bar in New Orleans, holding the hands of her daughters as she explains to her tiny children, “All right girls, you know what this is? It’s a bar.” The only thing that would’ve made this moment better would’ve been Klaus showing up saying, “You have babies … in a bar.” But instead, Caroline is greeted with the news that “nobody’s seen or heard from that man in three years.” As fans of The Originals know, that could very well mean that the prophecy came true and Klaus is either dead and the sire line unlinking spell worked or Klaus is desiccated somewhere. Either way, I have chills.

Back in present-day, Stefan is on his way to New Orleans — Valerie is guiding him to the magical safe house that was established in The Originals’ second season to protect everyone from Dahlia. But when Stefan makes a pit stop to get a phone charger, he learns exactly what it means to be a target of Rayna Cruz. Fun fact: It means you have to be a hummingbird. (You stop moving, you die. Get it?) Needless to say, Rayna shows up and chases Stefan off.

Elsewhere, Bonnie is at Damon’s side as he tries to find a way to save his brother. It seems Bonnie promised Caroline that she’d make sure Damon didn’t make things even worse for his baby bro. Arriving at The Armory, Bonnie and Damon are greeted by Enzo, who explains that The Armory is home to a society of supernatural artifact collectors who’ve taken great care to keep themselves out of the history books. And because Rayna Cruz is “one of the supernatural wonders of the world,” they’ve recruited Enzo to find her … in exchange for information about his family. The plan is simple: Get Stefan to The Armory, and when Rayna follows, they’ll lock her up. Bonnie and Damon are in.

Taking a page out of Stefan’s playbook, Ric also decides it’s time to hit the road. But this time, he’s leaving Mystic Falls for good. (And not saying goodbye to anyone? What happened to Ric and Damon’s friendship?) Seeing his baby girls for the first time made him realize that he’s got to get out of town for them. He’s moving to Dallas today … and Caroline’s going with him. After all, there’s no better road-tripping partner, and thanks to her vampire healing powers, she’s all good to check out.

In New Orleans, Stefan arrives at the safe house/bar when Klaus slides him a shot, a callback to their time together in Chicago in the 1920’s. Klaus then gives us this wonderfully meta line about the crossover: “Stefan Salvatore in the Crescent City. This ought to be good … or entertainingly bad.” Also, I’d like to give props to the music supervisor for choosing a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Changes” for this scene.

Catching up with Klaus, Stefan claims he chose a location that’s invulnerable to magic because he doesn’t want Damon to be able to find him. After all, “I figure you of all people can relate to family drama.” How many of you have missed that Klaus smirk? (I hope none of you because you should really be watching The Originals. This season is great.) 

Knowing Stefan and Caroline better than he knows himself, Klaus quickly mentions the “mining fires” that prompted a townwide evacuation in Mystic Falls. Commenting on how noble it was of Stefan to save the humans, Klaus also calls out the fact that Stefan did it “in such uncharacteristically sweeping dramatic fashion.” When Stefan mentions that he had help, Klaus quickly says, “How is Caroline?” Not gonna lie, my heart skipped a beat. 

Well, speaking to how Caroline is doing in this exact moment, she’s currently stuck in a “bell jar of baby noises” on the road with Alaric while Matt and Valerie work together to try to track down Stefan. As for Valerie’s “siblings,” we catch up with Mary Louise and Nora at a gas station just long enough to get some witty banter about death by salt and a brief moment of reconnection before The Armory shows up and captures them both.

NEXT: Tyler’s alive!

Valerie, proving once again that she’s the most useful heretic, updates Damon and warns him to get away from The Armory. It seems they tried the same plan with Beau years ago, except they were more than willing to let Rayna kill Beau to get what they wanted.

Heading back inside The Armory, where Enzo is telling Bonnie his sob story — no family, dead by 27 and whatnot — Damon grabs Bonnie. It’s time to leave. After all, Enzo has betrayed them before, not to mention that “Stefan’s 1863 siphon crush” is telling Damon that The Armory is full of shady folk. Spoiler: She’s right. Enzo knocks both Damon and Bonnie out.

By the time Damon wakes up, he’s in a super fancy cell next to Tyler Lockwood, who survived Damon’s attack, but only barely. The poor guy is in a coma, and they’re waiting for the full moon in the hopes that his transition will stir him awake. Apparently, Tyler is another consultant for The Armory. In fact, he’s the one that called them about Enzo when Enzo was making trouble for Matt. But instead of killing Enzo, The Armory enlisted him. And now? Well, Damon’s locked in a cell with Lockwood … on a full moon.

In one of my favorite Enzo scenes to date, Enzo updates Bonnie on the situation, telling her that he’s locked up her, “bestie, your sidekick, your humanity project, the man who spins your moral compass in a tizzy.” And unless Damon gives up Stefan’s location, he’s a dead man. As for Bonnie, well, her magic is no good thanks to something Enzo injected her with that puts her on a “magical timeout.” As he tells her, “Feel free to dispense with the menacing posture.” Yeah, I love him.

Back in the cell, Damon’s informing the “tween wolf” that he might get his shot at revenge very soon. Another great line? Tyler warns Damon that if he turns, Damon’s as good as dead, to which Damon says, “You don’t think I know that, Copernicus? Once bitten, twice shy.” But Damon’s not interested in killing Tyler now that he knows Elena’s alive. And Tyler, taking a stance, calls him out on the fact that if Elena were dead, would he kill him “because you have no one else to be accountable to?” It seems time has made Tyler both wise and sassy.

Long story short, Damon’s attempts to slow Tyler’s transition don’t work, so Damon quickly calls his brother in an attempt to ensure that Stefan get his hands on some Klaus blood while he’s in New Orleans. Because there’s a good chance Damon will need it. 

Although, not if Bonnie can help it. After Enzo shares with her that he wants someone whose first instinct is to help him no matter what he’s done — much like Bonnie’s instinct is to help Damon regardless of what he did to Tyler — Bonnie knocks Enzo out and uses his hand to scan herself in to see Damon. More on that in a bit.

First, we have to get back to Klaus, who’s all caught up on the baby situation when he points out the one thing Stefan and Caroline have both been too scared to admit: There’s no way Caroline is going to have two children and then abandon them. Of course, Klaus puts it much more elegantly than I just did, but you get the point. 

Avoiding the topic, Stefan asks for Klaus’ blood when his Rayna scar starts to bleed through his shirt. Recognizing the scar immediately, Klaus is pissed. Apparently, Rayna Cruz was born in New Orleans and terrorized the city for many years, even killing some of Klaus’ best men. He claims she’ll pursue you until paranoia and despair outweigh the desire to live. And no, he doesn’t have a way to help Stefan.

NEXT: The #Klaroline phone call

Naturally, Klaus is less than pleased that Stefan drew the huntress to the town where his family resides. If Stefan leaves, Rayna will kill him. And if he stays, Klaus will. In a moment so reminiscent of Klaus screaming “Turn it off” at Stefan in season 3, Klaus yells at him to “Get out.” (This was the first time I cried, mostly because I love season 3 so much.)

And Stefan does just that, in such a hurry in fact that he leaves behind his phone. And when Caroline calls — why doesn’t Stefan have any photos for his phone contacts? — Klaus takes the opportunity to make me cry a second time with his “Hello, love.” (ALL THE NOSTALGIA, GUYS.)

It takes Caroline a second to register what’s happening, but when she does, Klaus gives her a bit of parenting advice — and asks her about hand-me-downs, which is my favorite thing ever — before she tells him the babies aren’t hers. Yes, he knows. Her BOYFRIEND made that very clear.

Realizing that Caroline is in the middle of a freakout, Klaus decides to be helpful: He promises Stefan will be safe. Because “I will ensure it.” Then, in a moment that might kill all the Klaroline shippers, he references her season 5 speech to him — nearly word for word! — about how she’s now in college, building a life for herself, planning a future, etc. Caroline admits that children weren’t part of her plan, but when she mentions again that they’re not her kids, Klaus proves his wisdom. He tells her that his family might challenge the bounds of his sanity, “but as it turns out, my family is what makes me truly happy. It’s not a crime to love what you cannot explain,” he tells her. 

Then, he follows that with a heartfelt, “I was sorry to hear about your mother, Caroline,” which only makes me cry harder. But when baby finally falls asleep on Caroline’s chest, Klaus knows the conversation has to end. His final words, “Goodbye, Caroline.” Caroline, on the other hand, simply hangs up … perhaps left feeling a little speechless at the realization that she doesn’t intend to leave those babies behind?

Back in Damon’s cell, Tyler breaks free and is sassier than ever. After Damon says he’s refusing to give up Stefan’s location because his brother has a “bad habit” of taking a bullet for Damon, Tyler claims that him killing Damon might be great for everyone else because “nobody will ever have to take a bullet for you again.” Tyler knows that Damon won’t kill him because if he did, Elena would dump him. But as Tyler explains, if it’s not Tyler, it’s going to be somebody else. There no way Damon’s lasting 60 years “without royally screwing up.” And if Bonnie opens that door, she’ll die too. “Your friends, my friends, they’ll keep risking their lives trying to save you until they’re all dead.”

Taking that to heart, Damon tries to stop Bonnie — who just took things to a whole new level and chopped of Enzo’s hand to save him — from rescuing him, but she opens the door anyway. And as a result, she ends up with some serious head trauma before Tyler runs off. 

The thing I love about this moment is comparing it to where we started the season, when Damon was willing to hesitate for three whole seconds before saving Bonnie’s life. And now? Hesitation isn’t even on the table. The bad news, however, is that whatever Enzo injected her with prevents magic, and the healing power of vampire blood falls into the magical category. So with that, Damon takes Bonnie to the hospital.

Damon’s plan is to wait until whatever Enzo gave her is out of her system, and then he will heal her. He then tells her, “You are a terrible friend.” After all, if she’d died, Damon would’ve had to have gone through some serious guilt and self-loathing, “not to mention the resentment I’d feel if I was forced to break in a new drinking buddy.”

Making a decision, Damon explains, “You’re not supposed to die for me, Bon. Neither is my brother.” But because he knows neither of them will stop trying, he has to take himself out of the equation. He tells her it all ends tomorrow. “You never have to worry about me again.” In other words, Damon’s about to desiccate himself. (Although if he desiccates himself without helping save Stefan from Rayna, will Stefan ever forgive him? It sounds like this is the rift Julie Plec was referencing.) 

NEXT: The Tale of the Salvatores and the Mikaelsons

Back at The Armory, Enzo wakes up with his hand in tact, but just as he’s about to storm out, mysterious Armory woman informs him that his father founded The Armory. Furthermore, she claims that her name is Alexandria St. John that she’s his family. Sister? Cousin? We’re not sure yet.

In Dallas, Caroline sets Alaric up with a beautiful home, a nanny, and gets him an appointment with an electrician … but she still can’t make herself leave. She asks to stay the night, to which he responds that she can stay as long as she wants. Forever? That’s TBD.

Getting back to New Orleans, Stefan doesn’t get far out of town – he literally only makes it to the bayou — before Rayna catches him. Thankfully, Klaus made a promise to Caroline, so he shows up and (temporarily) kills Rayna long enough to get Stefan out of werewolf territory on a full moon.

Driving back home, Klaus asks if Caroline loves Stefan. (Yes, I cried again.) Stefan wonders if Klaus still has feelings for her, to which he says, “I have far too many complicated women in my life already.” But when Klaus suspects Stefan got the scar from protecting Caroline, Stefan admits it was from protecting Damon. “Then let her go, Stefan,” Klaus says. “Let her go or spend an eternity sacrificing everything good you have with her for your brother. Believe me, I’ve spent an eternity watching Elijah do the same for me.”

This is where we need to talk. I love nothing more than a good Stefan-Damon/Elijah-Klaus parallel. It’s something we’ve heard before, from the first moment Elijah called Stefan “honorable” in season 2. But how devastating is this idea that Stefan could go his entire life losing the women he loves because he puts Damon first? Or is it beautiful because his love for his brother trumps all? Regardless, it’s not only something we’ve seen with Elijah, whose greatest goal is Klaus’ redemption, but it’s the theme at the center of The Vampire Diaries: As much as you might ship one couple or another, at its core, this is the story of two brothers. 

Look at the end of season 2, when Katherine told Elena, “He just sacrificed everything to save his brother, including you.” Look at season 3 when Elena told Damon that, “I think that you’re gonna be the one to save him from himself. It won’t be because he loves me. It will be because he loves you.” Or even season 6, when Stefan told Caroline that in the end, he needed Damon more than he needed Elena.

Are the Salvatores destined to follow the same pattern as the Mikaelsons? Does Stefan’s love for his brother eliminate any chance he has at his own happiness? Or is his only true happiness saving his brother? If this is their cycle, do either of them stand a chance?

Regardless of the answers to those questions, I love being reminded of this central theme, which is only made more interesting when looking at it through the prism of the Mikaelson brothers. 

At the end of the day, this is the story of the Salvatore, and one is currently headed back to New Orleans to see a witch.

What did you all think of the hour. Hit the comments with your thoughts or find me on Twitter @samhighfill.

Oh, and by the way, Joseph Morgan took over Julie Plec’s blog for the week, and you’re not going to want to miss it. Check it out here!

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