As Damon tries to make Elena remember her feelings and Caroline tries to forget hers, Bonnie makes a bold move and Jo's backstory unfolds.

By Mandi Bierly
Updated November 14, 2014 at 05:25 AM EST
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Bob Mahoney/The CW

The Vampire Diaries

S6 E7
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This might just be the best episode of the season to date. It moved plotlines along and had a great Steroline heart-to-heart (and, yes, a Delena rain kiss). We saw Bonnie again, and Jo remained awesome. Plus, there was no Jeremy. Here we go.

So as the promo for this episode spoiled, Elena’s memories of good Damon do not come rushing back when she sees him at her dorm. All she remembers is the pain and the bad things he’s done to those she cares about. She knows she loved him (cue his sweet smile) and somehow forgave him, but she doesn’t feel anything now. Damon is surprisingly calm, which makes it all the more sad when Elena says she is truly sorry as she closes the door in his face.

Damon nurses his wounds by screwing around with the medical equipment in Alaric’s hospital room like a child while they banter about his worst deeds. He knows Alaric would take back his compulsion if he could. Jo comes in and informs Damon—and the audience—that saving Alaric is not an act she can repeat for other vampires: It was a treatable wound, perfect timing, and the fear/adrenaline of losing the most interesting man she’s dated in a while. It’s rough out there, ladies. She tells Damon he’ll tell no one about her rescue. “She’s bossy, I like her,” Damon says to Alaric. (His approval made me happy, and I was glad no one else was in my apartment to see it.) Jo releases Alaric—and invites him to a hospital fundraiser.

Stefan, Enzo, and Matt, meanwhile, have Tripp in a Zero Dark Thirty situation. Stefan wants to kill him quickly, Matt wants to wait for the vervain to leave his system so they can just compel him to forget them and leave Mystic Falls, and Enzo wants to know what Tripp’s minions are up to (and then kill him). Stefan smashes Tripp’s hand with a hammer and Mr. Tough Guy sings: They’re tracking vampires, like Caroline. Stefan rushes off but instructs Enzo to take two hours to get as much information out of him as possible and then kill him before he becomes a liability. That’s a nice touch: At this point, people have seen enough movies to know you should kill the bad guy soon instead of talking to him.

At Whitmore, Elena tells Caroline about her lack of feelings for Damon and his pretty eyes, and Caroline is thrilled: Since she’s giving Stefan the friend boot, they can both take a break from the Salvatore Brothers. Elena’s McDreamy, Liam, arrives to invite Elena to the fundraiser as his date and to tell her that the young woman she miraculously healed at the corn maze came into the hospital for shoulder surgery and doesn’t even remember getting injured. He’s going to check her labs to make sure she’s not an alien or super soldier.

Back at the Salvatore Mansion in 1994, Bonnie wakes up on the couch to find Kai trying to put the Ascendant back together. He assumes she’ll help, but she won’t. He reminds her how he can just take her magic, and she goes old school and stabs him with a pen in the neck. While he dies (temporarily), she puts the broken Ascendant pieces in a bag and bolts.

Stefan shows up at Caroline’s dorm room to tell her she’s not safe, and she doesn’t want his protection. But her mother calls and, as you probably expected, Tripp’s men have run her off the road and taken her hostage. Caroline is classic Caroline in the ride with Stefan to Tripp’s location: The queen of organization can’t understand what kind of person sets a ticking clock but doesn’t know what time he set it. She’s nervous it’s already been two hours, and Enzo won’t answer his phone. Finally he does and explains his fingers were bloody so the touch screen wouldn’t work. Ha. Enzo tells Tripp and Matt about Liz, and Tripp says to send him with Matt to the border for the meet.

NEXT: The fundraiser where no one talks money

Like she’s in an episode of The Walking Dead, Bonnie goes scavenging in the hospital for antibiotics, pain killers, and bandages. She’s going to put the Ascendant back together herself.

At the hospital fundraiser, Tyler has volunteered as a bar-back to try to repay Liv for killing that dude so he wouldn’t trigger his werewolf curse. Wearing a “lame ass tie” is a sacrifice in his book. When she straightens it, the sparks fly. She tells him to take pride in his appearance, and I imagine most of us said, “Because we do!” at home. Alaric and Jo arrive, and we get a hint as to how Jo was able to be so calm at the corn maze tragedy: She’s patented a battlefield medical clamp, so presumably she has either been in a war zone or just understands mass trauma. Damon crashes the party and claims it’s to hang with Alaric, but he beams when he sees Elena walk in. But then she’s with Liam, who’s super smart and medical royalty, according to Jo. Poor Damon watches Elena and Liam kiss, and then Elena winds up having to explain why the boyfriend she said was dead was alive. It was just a figure of speech. Sure. Damon compels Liam to tell him how freaked out he is: “I feel a little threatened, but I think I could take you,” he says. “Confident… sexy,” Damon cracks. He sends Liam on his way to get Elena a glass of chardonnay, which he knows she hates, and takes her to the dance floor. Maybe he’s switched plans: If she can’t remember loving him, make her fall in love with him again?

Caroline and Stefan meet up with Enzo and find Tripp passed out. Caroline and Stefan immediately start bickering, and Enzo suddenly gets why Caroline’s been so upset since Savannah: “She hates you, because she doesn’t hate you at all… She’s got a thing for you, mate,” he tells Stefan. Then he leaves. Caroline doesn’t deny it. She just tells Stefan that whatever Enzo said will never be spoken of again. He’s in confused agreement. But you guys, it’s out there. I know it’s season 6, but it still feels like a gift that it’s happening this soon.

As Damon shares his gift of dance with Elena and the world, he describes how he filled in as her escort at the Miss Mystic Falls pageant, including the facts that he was “sexy as hell” and that at one moment everything faded away but the two of them. Obviously, she could let herself fall into bed with Damon. But she knows he wants things to go back to the way they were and she can’t. She feels guilty, but he’s angry: He literally went through time and space to be with her. He never would have given up his memory of her, no matter what amount of pain he was in.

Alaric and Jo toast to being powerless and mundane, and we learn she relinquished her magic and put it away for safe keeping. She removed herself from a tragically dysfunctional family—Kai’s? Cut to Luke showing up at the benefit with a radiologist he met at the gym. He reminds Liv that when the coven calls them home, they won’t care if she’s in love. He sounds like their father, she says, which is not a compliment. She wants to be left alone with her gym fling. Yes, Liv. Get to it.

Bonnie realizes she’s missing the last piece of the Ascendant right before Kai shows up at the hospital with it. We think she knocks him out, but somehow he beats her to Damon’s car and is waiting in the backseat when she gets in and can’t get the engine to turn. When he says there’s an hour until the eclipse, the teensiest part of you wonders if he’s (gulp) going to try to rape her. I mean, you know that’s not this show, but Kai certainly does like to infuse some sexual undertones into his dominance of Bonnie.

Elena ditches Liam off-camera and steals one of what appeared to be many shots Damon was having. She tells him missing a part of her is driving her crazy so she’s willing to try to trigger her memories and suggests they work backward: She asks him to take her to the last place she told him she loved him. Meanwhile, Kai tries to play nice with Bonnie by bringing her stuffed animal along and claiming he won’t really kill the rest of the Gemini coven because he realizes he could’ve handled his anger better and would give anything to have his family back. Either way, she pretends to believe him and tells him to get ready to go home.

NEXT: The fault in our stars

Speaking of home, the exchange is made. Caroline gets Liz back, and Tripp walks across the border. Slight problem, Tripp’s throat magically gets slit and he dies. Stefan says Enzo must have turned him into a vampire. Ah! That’s why Tripp was passed out when they arrived. Well, frankly, good for Enzo.

Bonnie does the spell, but nothing happens. We see a drop of her blood fall on the bear, and, in the cheesiest thing on the show since that motorcycle shot after Elena became a vampire, we learn BONNIE HAS HIDDEN HER MAGIC IN THE BEAR. Just like Jo, she’s relinquished it for safe keeping. The bear is gone, and Kai is pissed.

Damon takes Elena to the Mystic Falls border and tells her about the night she climbed into the car with him before they died. She wants to hear something happy, so he tells her there’s an ice machine in Denver that has some stories, and about her post-graduation speech about not apologizing for loving him, and about a summer night they had together during a meteor shower that got ruined by rain. It’s so romantic that she just gets frustrated: No matter what she learns about their relationship, she still just feels like she’s looking at a stranger. She’ll never be able to give him what he wants. She marches herself across the border and seems to get back images of them together, but then she starts coughing up water and drowning. He pulls her back to safety, and she explains she was trying to break the compulsion. But he won’t risk her life to do it.

Caroline insists her mother get checked out for a concussion, which gives Caroline and Stefan time to talk about that thing they’re never supposed to talk about. He asks her why she has a thing for him, or why she did. He wants to know how, why, and how he missed it. Why? Because when she woke up as vampire, he told her she’d get through it and she did. Because when she watched Elena move on with Damon, she couldn’t imagine why she’d let someone like Stefan go. Because he was her best friend and someone she trusted. He apologizes for not seeing it, but he doesn’t say he didn’t feel it back—he’s not sure what he felt then, his mind was so mixed up. He’s just genuinely sorry for the way he treated her. She says she knows what he was feeling, and it wasn’t what she was or he never would have walked away. She doesn’t hate him for that, or for mourning Damon in a jerk manner, and she accepts his apology. BUT, she still has to hate him because—and this is one of the most honest things ever said on the show—if she doesn’t hate him for ruining their friendship, she has to hate herself for ruining it. And she thinks she deserves better than that. When one friend feels more than the other, you have to create distance.

Damon takes Elena home, and she tells him she remembered bits and pieces. She wants to know what happened after it started to rain at the meteor show. But now his mind has changed: Seeing her almost die again, he realized that she’s getting a chance at that normal life she wanted before they got together. He wants her to live her life and be happy. He loves her enough to let her go. And also to lie. He tells her when it rained, it got cold and muddy, and she was miserable, so they drove home.

Alaric and Jo head back to her place, and when she changes out of her dress, we get confirmation that she is, in fact, the sister Kai took the spleen out of. Alaric isn’t scared off by a dysfunctional past. They make out on the couch. Loving these two.

Liam comes to see Elena because the girl she saved no longer needed that surgery because her chronic injury had miraculously healed. That, combined with meeting her dead boyfriend, makes him think Elena has secrets. Either she tells him or he’ll figure it out on his own. Now she’s gonna need Damon’s help, right?

Damon walks to the family tomb, drinking his beloved bourbon. I assumed he’d lied to Elena, but I thought the ending to the meteor shower story would be that they got in the car and had hot sex. Instead, they stayed in the downpour and kissed passionately—before and after she made him promise this relationship was forever. Gut-wrenching! Elena should know he’s lying because why would that memory of them have been his favorite if she were miserable?

The good news: Damon found Bonnie’s bear at the tomb. It’d made the trip because of Bonnie’s blood. He know she’s alive. Get ready to take back your power, Jo?

Episode Recaps

The Vampire Diaries

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