The Vampire Diaries recap: 'Welcome to Paradise'
While Elena is happy, Stefan hunts Enzo, Caroline makes a confession, and Bonnie and Damon have a breakthrough.
We live in a world where Caroline has now acknowledged that she “had” feelings for Stefan—a world that Damon and Bonnie could possibly return to now that she has her magic back. This episode has the Vampire Diaries pace of season 1: boom, boom, boom. Here we go.
Stefan shows up at his sanctuary/garage wearing a badass crewneck and tells his dick boss that he’s a vampire who was trying to live a normal life until his friends showed up yesterday and killed his girlfriend. He compels his boss to take his car, bury Ivy (who’s in the trunk) in the woods, and forget everything—except that he’s going to give Stefan a raise when he returns from killing Enzo. It’s not as good as Silas at the bus stop, but it’s one of the show’s better in-episode recaps.
At Whitmore, Caroline can’t get out of memory-swiped Elena’s dorm room fast enough, but she agrees to come to the swimming hole party that afternoon so the gang can all be together. Caroline is right when she phones Matt to tell him that Elena is not herself—and it’s not just because Alaric has made her forget Damon was ever anything but a soulless homicidal maniac. The Elena who hasn’t been tortured by her love for two Salvatore Brothers is one who likes Jell-O shots and calls Liam, the hot guy who also volunteers at the hospital, “Cute Brag.” (Groan.) Be careful what you wish for everyone: Sullen new vampire Elena is almost preferable to this.
While Matt falls for Tripp’s “red mulch” story when he catches him and young Jay hosing Tripp’s van of death down, Sarah is busy raving about Salvatore Mansion’s “dirty” four-head shower. Get in line, lady. We’re reminded she’s looking for her dad and learn that her dead mother lived in Mystic Falls for years before she had her. Jeremy drinks bourbon, as one does in that house, and is otherwise worthless. More fun, however: Tyler asks Liv if he can grab kegs from the bar she works at for the party, and Luke knows that Liv is only being a bitch to Tyler because she likes him. Luke approves, of course: Partly because Tyler is working on his anger issues, but mostly because Tyler’s hot.
Stefan meets Elena at Whitmore and is all smiles, but Damon and Bonnie are all scowls as they do grocery shopping. Won’t you be a bit sad when these two have to join the others? Seeing them argue over who’ll push the cart and whether Bonnie “sleep crosswords”—all while Ace of Base’s “The Sign” is playing—is pure comedy. Bonnie knows Damon doesn’t want to have hope and risk disappointment. He still refuses to believe they aren’t alone even when she notices both a lack of pork rinds in the grocery store and the tiny carousel outside running. (If that’s the sound of hope, none of us want it.)
Elena and Stefan find an empty classroom and catch up. She’s totally cool with him having a new job and a new girlfriend. She invites him to the swimming hole, and he decides to come when she says he can help convince Caroline that Enzo is not best friend replacement material. Caroline and Enzo are now close enough to eat off the same plate but still have very different ideas of what’s on the menu (RIP, Shirley).
NEXT: Bonnie is badass again
On the drive to the swimming hole, Elena and Stefan talk up Caroline to Liam, who naturally thinks Elena and Stefan are a couple. We get our timeline straight when Elena says it’s been two years since they broke up. Damon and Bonnie establish that it’s only 2012 in the show timeline as they argue about how his car suddenly appeared 18 years in the past in the grocery store parking lot. Now Damon has hope. He’s going to tell Elena he loves her when they get out—and apologize for killing Bonnie (callback joke!). They see someone move. Correction: Something—it was only a tarp. Also, the carousel is on a timer. Damon feels like a fool, but clearly he hasn’t lost all hope because he won’t let Bonnie take his day ring when she suggests he just end it all if he really thinks he’s in his own private hell. While Damon visits the liquor aisle to sulk, he hears someone eating pork rinds. Hello, Kai.
The swimming hole is super popular. Elena wants to brag about the flip she does off the rope into the water, but all she really has to do is walk around in that bikini. She looks so amazing, you hardly notice Jeremy is shirtless when she interrupts him making out with Sarah. While Elena and Jeremy fight over his recklessness, Matt’s new friend Jay acts like a total douchebag with Tyler. It’s clear Jay doesn’t believe in simple “animal attacks.” Tyler and Matt meet up with Elena and Caroline long enough to not do Jell-O shots with them. Again, Caroline finds it difficult to be around clueless Elena. Later, Elena apologizes to Liam for Caroline being surprisingly antisocial. He doesn’t mind though, because as we read on his face immediately, he’s into Elena. He kisses her, and she seems to like the attention.
Stefan finds Enzo, who was on an ice run for Caroline, in the woods. Before Stefan can kill him, Enzo saves Stefan from Jay—who was about to fire a stake gun at him from behind. Enzo texts Caroline about their problem, and fortunately she gets there in time to stand between the boys when Stefan thinks about using the gun on Enzo.
Things we learn about Kai: He misses Baywatch (and sorry, Damon totally watched it). He’s been following Damon and Bonnie everywhere and counting how many times Damon’s temper has driven her away (13). You think he’s scared of Damon (who admits he actually likes Bonnie—ah!), but nope. He tells Damon to grab a drink and then says, “If you really want to know the reason I’m following you, it’s because I want to kill you.” At first, I thought Damon was just doing a spit-take. But Kai had been following him to learn his habits: He’d put vervain in the bourbon. Brilliant.
Kai uses wood from the grocery store-quality patio furniture to stake Damon’s hand and taunts him. Classic mistake, you think, though it’s nice to know that Damon plays dirty at Monopoly with Bonnie. When Damon tries to fight back, Kai smashes more of the bourbon bottles so they burn Damon’s face—oh, now it’s on, Kai. Not the face. He’s ready to deliver the fatal blow when Bonnie shows up. Kai calls her the “useless one” and asks if she’s going to “fail” at him, since he knows she’s been trying to do magic for months. He’s embarrassed for her. Turns out, she just needed proper inspiration. The candle lights, and Kai knows he’s in trouble: “Uh oh,” he says. Bonnie tells smiling Damon to run, and she sets the spilled alcohol on fire. “Giving up so soon? I’m embarrassed for you,” she says. Damon knocks Kai out and pays her a compliment. “I’m sorry I called you the most annoying person in the world. I hadn’t met him yet.” Friends!
NEXT: Caroline has a lot of feelings
Speaking of friends, Matt learns Jay was a vampire hunter when Enzo dumps the body in the back of Matt’s truck. Caroline catches up to Stefan in the woods and tries to tell him that killing Enzo won’t bring Ivy back and that if any part of him came back to check on Elena—or more importantly to check on her—he should stay. He walks away. A–. She begins to cry, and Elena’s there. She heard everything. The good news: The girls hug it out. Even if Elena isn’t willing to deal with her own grief, she’ll be there for Caroline.
When the random girl Caroline compelled to go get ice returns without it, shirtless Jeremy informs Caroline that her compulsion fades in Mystic Falls. Why didn’t we think of that? So Sarah knows what Elena is, and who she is.
Damon and Bonnie sit Kai in a chair in front of the fireplace at Salvatore Mansion (Uncle Mason flashback!), and Damon is prepared to use a poker to get answers. Kai claims he was never going to kill Damon—it was a setup to give Bonnie the motivation to get her magic back. He too knows it’s the key to getting them out of there.
More good news: Matt wasn’t knowingly training to be a dick. He really thought Tripp was just concerned about keeping old ladies safe. Matty Blue Eyes takes his tears elsewhere when Liv shows up to pick up her kegs. She uses magic to keep one away from Tyler, who pushes her up against her Jeep and asks if this is what she wants (YES!)… to see him break (oh, no). She tells him it’s easier for her if he’s a dick so she doesn’t have to worry about falling for him. Are they going to do it right there in the headlights? No. She leaves without a kiss. It’s the only real sexual tension on the show at the moment—gotta keep it alive.
Jeremy returns to Salvatore Mansion and finds that Sarah trashed it before she bolted. Caroline realizes living on the border of Mystic Falls if there are vampire hunters in town isn’t a great idea, so she’s going to move back in with Elena. They have a heart-to-heart, and Caroline sees that Elena, who keeps a piece of Bonnie’s clothing, hasn’t moved on from everything. And now that Elena isn’t using her brain to focus on just her own love life, she asks Caroline if she has feelings for Stefan: “Yeah, I think maybe I did,” Caroline answers. Off they go to look for Sarah while we all cheer and wish balloons would fall from the ceiling. (Who expected Caroline to actually admit it?)
Back at the restaurant where Enzo killed Shirley, he’s at the bar trying to order some pie when Tripp, the only other patron, vervains him. It seems Caroline was right about Enzo drawing too much attention. Enzo thinks he can fight the vervain long enough to kill Tripp, but he gets shot from behind by Stefan with one of Tripp’s men’s guns. Tripp can’t conceive of a Founding Family member being a vampire, so he thanks Stefan and asks that he be the one to kill Enzo. Stefan hands back the gun and tells him to make sure it’s painful. Still feeling a little Team Enzo on this. You?
The Vampire Diaries