As Stefan learned and rejected who he was, Bonnie finally accepted her death
The Vampire Diaries Recap
Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW
Best Starting Point: ''Growing Pains'' (401) — A lot changed in last season's lead-up. It's probably best not to miss this season opener, which shows…
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It’s no secret that many TVD fans had been ready for Bonnie Bennett to go bye-bye for a while by the time she died. I’d say the only frustrating thing about season 5 has been her insisting Jeremy keep her death a secret from everyone. So I really didn’t expect to cry when her friends finally learned the truth. I made it through everyone placing something on her makeshift gravestone, but when Jeremy picked up that bell, suddenly I burst into tears. It was real. And when she spoke to a sobbing Caroline — I lost it more. Candice Accola crying always guts me. And then Tyler returned. It shouldn’t take a friend’s death to bring your boyfriend back. Does this mean we have to forgive him for his absence? He still needs to win me over (which can be done if he brought my favorite chenille blanket with him). Let’s dig in.

We opened with amnesic Stefan reading his journals from the Ripperific Roaring ’20s. “Let me guess, fun brother,” he said, referring to himself. “Safe brother,” he said, motioning to Damon. I’m glad I wasn’t drinking, because I would have done a spit-take. So hilarious. Damon crashed the car and sent it rolling to prove he is most definitely the fun brother. We learned it was time for Mystic Falls’ Remembrance Day, a tradition that involves ringing a bell to acknowledge a fallen loved one and toasting to them. Caroline, who’s been boning up on all things biology to help Stefan, impress Dr. Maxfield, and spend time with her tutor Jesse, told Elena she planned to take him with her to study in the graveyard during the festivities. Damon, meanwhile, explained the tradition to Stefan: It goes back to the 1820s, when everyone was so paranoid about cholera, they would occasionally bury someone alive. People began insisting they be buried with a string attached to a bell above ground. Families would wait graveside for 24 hours to see if they heard it ring. Now it’s just an excuse to get hammered. And speaking of drinking, Stefan was getting thirsty looking at the waitress. Not that he’s a shrink (“I’m no shrink, right?” “Right.”), but maybe he only turned Ripper when he drank human blood from the vein because of all the trauma and guilt associated with his early days as a vamp. Since he can’t remember any of that, maybe he could drink and not kill now. Damon told him not to find out.

The next scene was the funniest of the episode. We got to see Jeremy doing shirtless push-ups on a rug at Salvatore Mansion. Bonnie likes to watch, too. “You working out is my main source of entertainment,” she told him. He’s just working off some extra adrenaline. “And every girl on the other side thanks you for it.” Sigh. Swoon. Rewind. Matt phoned Jeremy to come to his place, which meant Jeremy had to put on a shirt. Boo. Matt was determined to find out the cause of his blackouts, so he’d set cameras up all over the house. Like Damon and Elena, who’d tried contacting Bonnie for help with Stefan, he’s pissed that Bonnie’s not returning his calls to help figure out what Nadia has done.

People have been talking about how hot Silas is this season, but Stefan was damn sexy in this episode. Steamy scene #1: He cornered the waitress he’d been eying earlier and compelled her not to scream or move. He said he didn’t want to hurt her or rip her head off. The thought of killing her scares him, but the hunger inside of him is just so much more powerful. His face was so close to hers. I may have forgotten to breathe for a second. Damon swooped in to stop him right before Stefan’s fangs made contact. Today, Damon is the safe brother.

NEXT: Stefan falls in love again

Damon and Elena took Stefan to the family crypt, to keep him away from humans until they could fix his memory. Was that really a good idea considering the graveyard was going to be filled with people that day? Stefan asked if there was anyone in there he hadn’t killed. The second funniest scene of the episode: “Well, we’ve covered our father, who art in hell,” Damon said, ringing the bell he carried. “Uncle Zach, my bad,” he continued, accompanied by a more solemn ring. “On the bright side, our mother died of consumption,” he added. “Oh good,” Stefan said. And ring. Whoever is bringing the funny to the scripts this season — well done. Damon got a text from Jeremy saying he needed to speak to him alone. That gave Stefan and Elena a chance to catch up.

We’d already learned that Damon hadn’t told Stefan much about Elena yet. Stefan said he hoped Elena’s backstory wasn’t as tragic as his. Ha! She rattled off all those she’d lost. She did not ring the bell because it probably would’ve made the episode run long. “How do I not remember you?” Stefan said. “You’re smart, you’re pretty, you’re funny. Obviously you’re the strongest woman in the world if you managed to figure out a way to get through all of that.” So sweet. She said she surrounds herself with amazing people who help her through it, like him. “Bonded by death,” he said. “Please don’t tell me that we met in a cemetery.” Technically, no. To the school they went.

Elena reenacted them running into each other as she walked out of the men’s room. Wait, maybe he was coming from the other direction. Perhaps they should try it again. Colliding bodies with Stefan would be a great way to spend an afternoon, I’m sure, but it wasn’t helping him remember anything. And since the football team had entered the hallway, and one player was bleeding, it was time for Elena to try something else. She took Stefan outside and showed him how to jump to the roof of the building. So no one who’d just been watching the football team practice or play a game was around to see that? Stefan figured out they’d dated. “I may have amnesia, but I’m not an idiot. I’m a 164-year-old vampire who went back to high school, so I’m guessing that had something to do with you,” he said. He guessed his Ripper tendencies were the turnoff. No. He was the most compassionate person she knew, she said. He was always in control. So he bored her? No. It was her, she said. Becoming a vamp had changed her. He wanted to know how she became a vampire. She said she’d show him. Then she fell backwards off the roof, because again, she was sure no one would see? I’ll forgive that because that was much cooler than the motorcycle scene when Elena was learning the physical joys of being a vamp.

Jesse had accepted Caroline’s invitation to study in the graveyard. She told him she wasn’t talking to her boyfriend and explained she just wanted to hang out with him that day because he was smart and nice and available. He made a classic look over there and when you turn back around, I’ll kiss you move. Good kisser. He can stick around. He apologized. He’d just been wanting to do that since the day he met her. Back to studying.

Jeremy did his best to break Bonnie’s death to Damon gently. “Don’t you say it, Jeremy. Don’t you dare,” Damon pleaded. Damon didn’t want to hear Jeremy say she was dead, because if he did, everything in Elena’s life sucks again. Too bad. “Bonnie’s dead.” Damon was pissed. Like, snarling pissed. When he walked toward Jeremy, you thought he was going to grab him and lock him up so he couldn’t share the news with anyone else. Instead, he embraced him. AHHHHHH, Damon.

Elena took Stefan on a walk down memory lane that ended with them gazing upon Wickery Bridge. She explained about her two accidents there, and what a great boyfriend he was as we heard Sara Bareilles’ “Gravity,” which is a beautiful song but almost too on the nose as fate brought the doppelgängers closer. (Update: I didn’t remember it was the song playing behind their first kiss in the series. Thanks, commenter GGael. Now I get it and approve.) Stefan said this was working — his urge to feed had settled. He could see why he was different around her and not a monster. He scared himself when he saw his vamp face in the mirror. She told him she’d never been afraid of him, and showed him how she’d touched that face when she saw him for who he is and told him not to hide. (She neglected to mention this.) She went to move her left hand away. “Don’t,” he said, taking it and placing it back on his face. Breathe, self. You must remember to breathe. They leaned in and were about to kiss when she remembered she’s with Damon. And she blurted that out. “You’re with my brother? And neither of you thought that was something I should know?” he asked. She said they weren’t hiding it from him. “And just like that, the hunger returns,” Stefan said. And he was gone.

NEXT: Wait, where did Matt get all those cameras?

Matt woke up on the sofa with a cut on his left hand. He watched the video and saw himself answer the phone, his eyes go black for a second, and then he was speaking a different language. He hung up the phone, spotted the camera, picked up the knife, and addressed the camera. “Hello, Matt Donovan. I’m the passenger inside you. I know you have many questions but all you need to know is that one day my friends will come looking for this blade. Protect it at all costs.” He cut his hand. “Or this will be your throat.” EEK!

Damon got drunk and called Elena. She told him that Stefan was gone and hungry again before he could tell her that Bonnie was dead. Caroline ran into Stefan in the graveyard. He’d been studying pictures. He knew her name and that she was his best friend. “You are much hotter in person,” he said. My shipper heart fluttered. “Sorry, I’m a little drunk.” Jesse walked up with two drinks and Caroline quickly compelled him to leave and hide after Stefan spoke about Jesse having a paper cut. Stefan asked Caroline if she had any blood bags, and he ditched her when she turned to lead him to her car.

Jesse ended up at the family crypt, naturally, where he still had a good enough signal to phone Caroline to say he had no idea why he was there. That call was cut short when Stefan bit his neck. Stefan pulled himself off Jesse. “There, that wasn’t so bad, was it? I did it. I stopped,” Stefan said proudly. Jesse genuinely seemed to not know what Stefan was. So Stefan explained. Uh oh, this version of Stefan can still brood. He said he’s good and compassionate, but he has nothing to show for it — no memories, his brother stole his girlfriend and his girlfriend let him. What’s the point in being good, Stefan asked. And then we saw a real Ripper face when he bit into Jesse again. That’s the scariest vamp face we’ve ever seen on this show. Caroline ultimately pulled Stefan off him. She told Stefan that he was better than this, he’s not this person. Stefan left. Caroline fed Jesse her blood and apologized. (Off-camera, she compelled him to forget what had happened.)

Stefan went back to Salvatore Mansion and burned his journals. He didn’t want to be the person in those journals again. He said he trusts Caroline, who told him she’d call him every hour to make sure he’s okay, and he left. “I think we just got dumped,” Damon told Elena. Now she wanted Bonnie’s help more than ever. Finally, Damon told her that Bonnie was dead.

NEXT: Prepare to cry

Stefan went back to the crypt, where Caroline found him the next day. She was wearing a black dress. She told him that her friend — their friend — had died. He asked what had happened to Bonnie, and Caroline didn’t want to answer because she’d have to think about it then. She might start crying and never stop. They sat down on the convenient bench in the crypt. Stefan wished he could remember Bonnie. Part of Caroline wished she could trade places with him. Without all the memories of Bonnie, maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much. “It’s okay,” Stefan told her. “It’s not,” Caroline said. “I’m never gonna see her again. And I have no idea where Tyler is. I just got so used to them being there all the time. And now what? I’m supposed to just learn to move on without them? How do I do that when all I have is this sadness and this anger and…”

“Me. You have me,” Stefan said. It sounds like she’s always there for him, and he wants to be there for her, he explained. He touched her hand on the bench. Ah. Elena, meanwhile, was freaking out trying to find something to wear. She had all her “funeral clothes” in the house she’d burned down. It made me think of Willow not knowing what to wear after Joyce died on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Unlike former-demon Anya in that episode, Elena was upset because she was supposed to know how to handle death. She’s seen it so many times. She just cried and let Damon hold her. Ghost Bonnie was outside the window watching.

Jeremy, Caroline, Damon, Matt, and Elena had a service for Bonnie in the woods. They all placed objects on her makeshift grave: Jeremy had a photo. Caroline had a pompom. Matt had the whistle. Elena had feathers. Damon had the grimoire. As I’ve already mentioned, I didn’t expect this scene to move me. I was sitting there thinking that Elena really should’ve worn flats. Bonnie was there. She said they needed this, and so did she. Jeremy picked up the bell and the waterworks began. She told Jeremy to tell them that even though they couldn’t see her, she’s been there the whole time. She’s watched them have the summer of their lives, and she’s not going anywhere. Jeremy continued to relay her messages as she stood next to Elena, Matt, and Caroline and said goodbye. She told Elena that she’d seen her be happy. She knows Elena thinks she can’t have a normal life, but people will find their way. She wants her to pack her things and go back to college and live it up. She told Matt she would have sent him 300 emails if she could over the summer. She misses him. She told Caroline that she’d watched her decorate that dorm room like her life depended on it. I lost it again. She knows college hasn’t felt like she expected and something is missing. Cue Tyler! I just got chills typing that. So yes, I’m going to forgive him. He was there was a single white rose. “This is good. This is all I wanted. I’ll be okay. We’ll all be okay,” Bonnie told Jeremy. And they held hands. Anyone else feel sad for Matt, standing there all alone?

Back at Dr. Maxfield’s lab, Jesse told him about his night and how he couldn’t remember a chunk of it. Maxfield had taken a blood sample — he knew there was vampire blood in his system. That meant someone had either healed Jesse from a near-fatal injury or tried to make him a vampire. Maxfield guessed the former… and then he himself did the latter. He injected Jesse with something that made him flatline. It did not look like Jesse was a willing participant in this experiment. That just makes me even more curious about what Elena’s father was up to at that school…

Your turn. What did you think of the episode? Did you cry?

Episode Recaps

Best Starting Point: ''Growing Pains'' (401) — A lot changed in last season's lead-up. It's probably best not to miss this season opener, which shows…
The Vampire Diaries

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

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