Bonnie's mother isn't the only relative back in the picture

By Mandi Bierly
Updated January 20, 2012 at 07:07 AM EST
Quantrell D.Colbert/The CW

In an episode with so much to cheer about — Stefan’s reaction to the kiss Damon and Elena shared, Tyler hearing he’ll have to put himself through hell to break the sire bond, Bonnie actually having something to do — it’s the return of Elijah that got me the most excited. As in: I screamed his name. Then chanted it. Then did some fist-pumping. “Are you Team Damon or Team Stefan?” “Team Stefan or Team Klaus?” At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter to me because I am, and always will be, Team Elijah. But let’s back up.

The hour began with Bonnie having one of her dreams. The witch spirits had clearly grown impatient with her because this was not subtle. In the Bennett witch graveyard, she got bit by Klaus after he told her he had figured out how to open the coffin. Cut to her inside the coffin lit by the light of her cell phone (which reminded me of Ryan Reynolds in Buried), screaming and violently shaking her head (which made me think if she was Cassie on The Secret Circle, she would have been able to bust herself out of it). A woman opened the coffin. We all knew it was her mother — but Bonnie didn’t. How sad was it hearing Bonnie tell Elena that she hadn’t recognized the woman’s face at first?

Stefan was annoyed that Bonnie had told Elena where the coffins were, but Bonnie felt she had to come clean if she was going to ask Elena to help her search through files on all the Abby Bennetts in the country to find her mother. Bonnie assumed the dreams were telling her that Abby would know how to open the sealed casket. It was Damon who produced an address in Monroe, N.C., and he wanted to go on the road trip. Elena told him Bonnie hadn’t seen her mother in 15 years, so they didn’t need him and his commentary along for the ride. Damon gave Elena a pout and a smile. Bonnie asked what was going on between them. “We kissed. Now it’s weird,” he told her. “Have a great trip,” he added for Elena. Really, we just needed something for Bonnie and Elena to talk about on their drive other than the fact that Bonnie’s mother never wrote or called, even after Grams died. Bonnie wanted to know if the kiss had been good. Elena said it doesn’t matter. Bonnie knew that meant it was. Correct.

Stefan called the girls for an update, and Elena tried to tell him that they were waiting for more possible addresses from Sheriff Forbes and spending the night at the lake house to get a break from his craziness. Stefan had been visited by Klaus, who’d helped himself to tunes and booze at Salvatore Mansion while he waited to negotiate with Stefan for the coffins now that his hybrids had left town. They’d traded threats, but Stefan knew Klaus was on to the fact that he was stalling. Stefan told Elena they needed to move quicker. Elena thought he’d bought her lie, but he was in her house, holding the sheet of paper with Bonnie’s mother’s address on it. (You left it on the kitchen table, ladies?) You assumed he’d show up in time to save them, right? That’s why it’s great that Elena ended up having to save him.

NEXT: Bonnie meets her mom, who isn’t a cougar (miss you, Matt’s mother!)

We saw Klaus talking on the phone to one of his hybrids, who assured him he knew what to do. I didn’t put it together at the time, but when Klaus said he made friends with a chatty deputy, that must have been who told him that Damon had been looking for Abby Bennett’s address. All Klaus had to do was get it himself, then call one of his hybrids in North Carolina. We watched the hybrid knock on Bonnie’s mother’s door but didn’t see what he did to her. When Bonnie and Elena arrived, I wondered why Elena took her purse inside with her. If the house was in the middle of nowhere, who was she afraid would steal it if she left it in the car? Anyway, Abby wasn’t there, but a young man named Jamie was. He said Abby used to date his deadbeat dad, and when they split, she took him in, put him through school, and didn’t freak out when he totaled her car twice.

When Abby came home, she told her story: She had been best friends with Miranda, the mother who raised Elena. Fifteen years ago, a vampire came to town looking for the doppelgänger, and no one could kill him. Abby lured him out-of-town and did a spell to keep him in a crypt in Charlotte. It was Mikael. It took every ounce of power she had and almost killed her. She recovered, but her magic didn’t, she said. Her powers never came back. Hearing that her mother was magic-less, Bonnie was ready to bounce. But Elena left the house so they could have a mother-daughter heart-to-heart instead. Bonnie wanted to know why Abby didn’t come home to her. Abby said she was in a new city with a chance to be Abby Wilson (woman), not Abby Bennett (witch). She’s not proud that she ran, but she knew Bonnie had her father and Grams. Bonnie had to tell her mother that Grams had died, but there was only time for a few tears….

Stefan had shown up and surprised Elena outside. He was behaving badly in the barn, and Jamie popped up to check on Elena. Or so we thought. Stefan compelled Jamie to leave, but he just came back carrying a shotgun. He fired at Stefan with wood buckshot. Bonnie heard the shot and turned from Abby to go to the window to see what had happened. That’s when Abby proved she wasn’t totally powerless as long as the earth provides herbs and used some to knock her out. (What herbs do that?) Abby had been compelled to find out where Stefan was hiding the coffins. Abby drove Bonnie to meet the hybrid while Jamie stayed and watched Stefan and a tied-up Elena.

Abby told Bonnie that the herbs had temporarily muted her magic. Bonnie had to tell her where the coffins were because Jamie had been compelled to kill himself if she didn’t. I look forward to Price Peterson’s annotated screen grab of Bonnie’s “Eh, don’t care” face. Apparently that hybrid was looking the other way when Abby typed “Warn your friends” on the cell phone. Stupid hybrid. Eventually, we saw Damon show up at Witch Central, and amidst all the lit candles, out walked Klaus. “What took you so long?” Klaus asked. The witches gave Klaus a bad headache, but they caved after he made it clear that 100 dead witches have 1,000 living descendants and he was happy to start killing them until he got his family back. In fact, his hybrid friend was ready to end the Bennett line. I was already thinking that they could just show Klaus three of the coffins (even if the fourth one was there). That’s what happened, only they didn’t show him the fourth coffin because Bonnie had given Damon enough time to move it. Klaus threatened to kill Damon slowly until he told him where it was, but Damon learned from Stefan: Same rules apply. Klaus wants his family, but he wants what’s in the fourth coffin even more. Therefore, he had to let Damon live. Also, Damon had to be free so Stefan could rough him up…

NEXT: Stefan and Elena have a heart-to-heart, and Damon gives us back Elijah

Jamie had told Elena that whoever had compelled him told him not to hurt her, so she had the brilliant idea of telling him the rope on her hands was too tight. He moved in to make her more comfortable, and she grabbed the shotgun and clocked him with it. BAD. ASS. She went to Stefan, who was still on the ground, and he told her every time he moved, he could feel wood scraping his heart. She had to get it out of him. This reminded me of Sookie having to suck silver shrapnel out of Eric on True Blood, only it wasn’t as hot, Elena used her fingers, and Stefan genuinely needed her help. When Elena pulled out the next to last piece of wood, Stefan just looked at her. His voice changed. It had softened. He sounded more like Old Stefan. “You’ve changed. Something’s different about you. You’re stronger. Tougher,” he said. “You’re not the only one who changed, Stefan. We all had to,” she told him. “It’s good though,” he said.

Now what made Elena think THAT was the right time to tell him about the kiss with Damon? Actually, it was the perfect time, unless you expected Stefan to fly off the handle, which I did. “There’s something I have to tell you. And it’s not because I feel guilty that it happened. It’s because I feel guilty that you don’t know,” she said, pulling out the last piece of wood but about to wound him again. “I kissed Damon.” I assume she phrased it like that in an attempt to deflect some of Stefan’s anger from Damon. But maybe a part of her believed him thinking she initiated the kiss would hurt him more than if she said “Damon kissed me” — and after the way Stefan hurt her last episode with the bridge stunt, she wanted him to feel some pain. (Then again, maybe she thought hearing Damon initiated it would hurt him more — since she said it would be Stefan’s love for Damon and not her that would ultimately save him — and she was trying to be nice.) Regardless, Stefan just looked at her, calmly and quietly, as though he was processing it. She seemed puzzled. He stood up and walked away, which was so much more interesting than if he would have kicked another chair.

When she caught up with him, she wanted him to say something. He said he shouldn’t have kidnapped her. He went too far threatening to drive her off the bridge where her parents died. But, he said, she can’t lie to him and go rogue like she’d done that day. She told him she just wanted to give Bonnie a moment with her mother without all this added drama around it. Without him around, Stefan said. I guess Stefan was so calm because Elena wasn’t saying anything he hadn’t already told himself — he couldn’t go back to life before the Stefan and Klaus ripper roadshow. Things were different between them. He’d lost her. He’d made sure of that by continuing to push her away. She was strong enough to try to do things her way. Seeing how levelheaded he was, Elena felt the need to tell him she hadn’t planned on kissing Damon. “You’re better than him, Elena,” he said, sounding like Old Stefan again. “You’re better than both of us.”

Stefan went home to Salvatore Mansion, and Damon was waiting to tell him that he’d only been able to get the mystery coffin out before Klaus arrived to reclaim his family. Oh, and if he was counting on Bonnie’s mom to open it, he was screwed because she has no magic. That didn’t surprise Stefan. It’d been that kind of a night, he said. Stefan turned to walk away, and Damon asked if Elena was okay. I love that we saw Stefan take the same “What the f—?” beat Damon took when he’d made the decision to kiss Elena. Stefan turned around and slugged him. “I take it you two had a heart-to-heart… and I take it you don’t want to talk about it. Noted,” Damon said. But Damon had something else he wanted to talk about. He pulled a dagger out from behind his back (fitting). But who had he taken it out of?

Klaus wasn’t ready to open his siblings’ coffins yet. The hybrid asked him what business he had to finish first, and then, we heard the unmistakable sound of a heart being ripped out of a body from behind. The hybrid dropped, and there stood Elijah. Cue me yelling “E-LI-JAH!” in my Oprah voice. “So Niklaus, what’d I miss?” he asked his brother. And so began my chanting and fist-pumping. Maybe it’s just because Elijah got to drop the truth about Klaus and the curse on us last season and changed the game we thought we were playing, but I feel like Daniel Gillies is the best at hiding his cards on the show. I remember talking to Gillies last year and him describing a danger in Elijah’s elegance, his “economy of movement, of words, of action.” For me, it’s like if you were to picture him standing still, you’ll never see him lean one way or the other. He stands straight, so he can move in either direction at any time. That’s what keeps you guessing, and makes any sudden movement seem like a strike (the ripping out of a heart, his signature move, for instance). I can’t wait to see how he surprises us again.

NEXT: Dr. Fell is apparently good, and Tyler is gonna hurt bad

It’s a good thing Elena didn’t let Damon go with them to North Carolina because he was crucial to the Alaric-Meredith and Tyler-Caroline story lines at home. Damon walked in on Meredith and Alaric having lunch at the Grill and was worried about her sanity even before Alaric told him that she had been dating the medical examiner, who called her a “psycho case,” and Damon informed Alaric the medical examiner was dead. Damon said women who are that hot and smart are always damaged. Is that really common knowledge? I can’t think of one super-hot smart woman with notably large baggage. Anyway, Damon said you can’t trust an ex’s word, which is a widely known fact. (What would Alaric’s exes call him? “Nothing, they’re all dead,” Damon cracked. Also true.) But if Damon were a cop, Meredith would be a suspect for her ex’s murder. That’s true, too. Cops always question the current or former lover. This is one thing I’ve learned from TV procedurals.

Damon went to see Meredith at the hospital, and found it interesting that she had signed the death certificate. He wanted to know if she was a psychopath, because that would be bad for Alaric, and she said if he cared about Alaric, he should go figure out how Alaric recovered from being hit by that car. Fair enough, Damon said. He went to leave, and she vervained him. Another badass move for the ladies. Welcome to the show, Meredith. She took some of Damon’s blood. When Damon came to, he went to see Alaric, who was home working out — not shirtless, but in a tank top, so that’ll do. Damon said he was looking for a bunny (because Meredith is Fatal Attraction crazy). Damon told him Meredith had vervained and blood jacked him. “I proved your theory,” Damon said. “Diagnosed psycho case. You’re welcome.” (I’m choosing to believe Damon is a fan of MTV’s Awkward.)

Alaric went to see Meredith just as Caroline’s father was brought into the ER. It turns out she’s not psycho. She’s just a doctor who hates to lose a patient, so if she can use vampire blood to save someone, she’ll cheat. Alaric sort of smiled hearing this. I suppose this was the best case scenario, especially for his track record. Later, Alaric brought Meredith back to Elena’s house to share his secret — he’s a semi-retired vampire hunter with a ring that keeps him from being killed by vamps and other supernaturals. She went to take off the ring, presumably just to look at it, and he stopped her. Is he afraid she’s a supernatural being, she asked. You can’t be too careful he said, and kissed her. Seriously, Alaric, YOU can’t be too careful. I’m not buying that there’s not more to Dr. Fell to be revealed…Elena interrupted their kiss, and Meredith left. Alaric felt weird, kissing another woman in the home where Elena had caught him and her Aunt Jenna half naked and eating ice cream. But Elena assured him that he had a right to move on.

Meredith had used Damon’s blood to save Bill Forbes. Truthfully, I thought Tyler asking him for help with learning to resist his sire bond (since Bill had learned how to resist compulsion) was a bad idea because Bill would just want to kill him. But Caroline’s dad seems to genuinely want to help Tyler, as long as Tyler’s fully committed to regaining his free will. It won’t be easy. The sire bond is about gratitude: Tyler is grateful to Klaus for taking away his painful werewolf transformations. To break the sire bond, Bill said Tyler had to make himself turn. If he owns his pain, he won’t owe Klaus anything, and he’ll be free. Tyler didn’t really want to break every bone in his body, but this plan required him to be chained and shirtless, so I was all for it. At first, it seemed like we, the audience, weren’t going to be forced to revisit Tyler’s pain on screen, and I was grateful. I have to mute the TV when I suspect bones will be breaking. But we needed to see this again to begin to forgive Tyler for being SUCH A DOUCHE RECENTLY. Tyler wanted to stop, and Caroline wanted to at least give him a minute to rest. Bill told Caroline if she couldn’t take it, she should leave. It had to be done his way.

Caroline left, and Bill picked up an axe and starting cutting Tyler. Not the upper body, Mr. Forbes! He told Tyler if he didn’t turn, he’d kill him because the sire bond put Caroline in danger. As Tyler’s back started breaking, we were all thinking Mr. Forbes best be hoping those chains would hold — and that, of course, they wouldn’t. Tyler told him to run, but it was too late. Tyler pounced on him. Somehow Mr. Forbes, with bite marks and gashes covering more than half of his body, survived long enough to get to the hospital. He wouldn’t have made it without the blood Meredith took from Damon. How was Mr. Forbes found in the woods? I don’t see others hanging out in that spot. If Tyler changed back and was able to call it in, couldn’t he also have called Caroline so she could feed her dad blood?

Tyler went to see a fully recovered Bill in the hospital. (Meredith’s colleagues aren’t gonna be curious about that?) Tyler got some bad news: To break the sire bond, the change needs to be painless — which means he’s gonna have to put himself through that again and again. Mr. Forbes won’t let him near Caroline until he’s capable of acting on his own free will. Sucks to be you, Tyler. This reminds me of Spike fighting for his soul so he could be a vamp worthy of Buffy. What I like about this twist, aside from the chance for Tyler to redeem himself, is that if he breaks the sire bond, Stefan and Damon could put him to work. It would give Michael Trevino more to do on the show.

Your turn. What did you think of the episode? How happy were you to see Elijah? Do you think the mom story line will make Bonnie more interesting? (Abby told her that her magic had actually drifted away from her the longer she stayed away from Bonnie — nature’s punishment for her abandoning her child perhaps. So maybe, Abby said, Bonnie could help her get it back so she could be of use to her.) Where do you think Stefan’s dimmer is positioned now? Where do you want it to be? And do you think Damon left Elijah a note in his coffin to call him?

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