While Damon and Elena travel back to 1994, Kai heads to Mystic Falls.
Was this hour all that exciting? No. Blame the lack of Caroline, who’s on vacation with her mother and the death of
Sarah Monique, who no one other than Matt really liked anyway. But it did manage to move people into positions where they could become interesting now: Kai wants to team with Tyler to save Liv (by killing Luke, presumably), and Matt wants Jeremy to help him hunt Enzo. Here we go.
We open with Jo remaining awesome: She’s had a tough day and isn’t originally thrilled at the sight of Alaric’s sex beacon (tons of candles), but a bottle of wine and Thai food get her in the mood. First, she opens up about the Ascendant: Having it makes her feel safe, because then no one can use it to get Kai out of his prison world. She used to keep it under her pillow, but now she’s an adult and keeps it in her underwear drawer next to her pot. The next morning, Alaric delivers it to Damon and Stefan, and Damon compels him to forget he was compelled to retrieve it.
Jeremy gets a moment of happiness, running in a sleeveless shirt with Elena on campus. (Therefore, we all had a moment of happiness.) He’s finally canceled Bonnie’s cell phone and cried the pain away. So, of course, Elena decides to tell him she’s still alive so Damon and Liv are trying to figure out a way to bring her back. And just like that, he’s intolerable again: He’s heard “everything will be fine” before.
Tyler vows to find a way to keep Liv safe and doesn’t want her venturing outside his mansion, where she’s safe. But it’s for Bonnie, so Matt’s no help. If Tyler wanted to, he could have probably delayed her by kissing her a little longer. Just saying.
Damon and Elena head to the graveyard and meet Liv, who’s understandably surprised that Jo “gave up” the Ascendant. But she moves ahead with the plan: If Elena and Damon (who brought some Bennett blood for the required spell) drink Liv’s blood, they’re linked and she can find them to bring them back. They’ll have an eight-hour window to find Bonnie and give her some of Liv’s blood as well.
They go to 1994 and Kai, meanwhile, is back in our world riding in the back of a cab. Like Ichabod Crane, he’s anti-skinny jeans. He’s, however, pro-technology and ends up strangling the driver with his headphones once they arrive at Whitmore. No one sees this, of course.
NEXT: Don’t get your hopes up, Bonnie
Matt takes Sarah to a restaurant to meet Stefan, one of her two living relatives you’ll recall, but Enzo shows up first and engages in some banter. Damon and Elena get nervous when they find blood on a pillow at Salvatore Mansion, but all Damon can do is call Kai’s pager. While they wait for a return call, Elena finds a camera that served as Damon’s video journal during his time in Kai’s prison. We don’t get to watch it because Bonnie calls from a payphone in Indiana. Good news: She hot-wired a car (anyone else think she meant Hotwire.com’d, at first?) and is only 6.5 hours away. Liv is pulling them out in seven. Drive like the wind, Bonnie. It should be easy with no one else on the road. After Bonnie mentions Kai took her blood, Damon worries that Kai is already out. He should be: He saunters up to the bar where Liv works. “Liv… ironic,” he says.
Jo has her panties in a bunch over the Ascendant being missing and, being smart as ever, realizes that Damon must have compelled Alaric. Alaric can’t believe Damon, his friend, would do that. So Jo tells him to walk across the Mystic Falls border to see if the compulsion wears off and he remembers anything. After Damon makes his signature blueberry pancakes (this time it’s Elena who makes the whipped cream fangs), she spots the newspaper with the story about Kai’s murders and pressures Damon to admit how he got the Ascendant. Elena storms off thinking Damon just sees Bonnie as a way to win her back. What Damon wants, Damon gets.
Stefan somehow figures out that Sarah is lying about being Zach’s daughter and orders them milkshakes so Enzo and Matt wouldn’t be able to hear him tell her so and that they’ll be leaving. Kai, on the other hand, orders a real drink so Liv will card him. The first time she looks at his license, she just sees his birthdate, 1972, and laughs. He tells her to look again at the name and address. Borrowing some of her magic, he’s able to stop her from leaving. She heads upstairs and eventually, Tyler comes out of nowhere and knocks Kai through the railing. Sure, why not.
Enzo and Matt get some more quality time together so Enzo can complain about Stefan being considered a hero while he’s billed as a villain. Cut to Stefan revealing how he knows Sarah’s lying: The real Sara Salvatore was adopted right out of the hospital and is now at Duke studying art. He’s watched out for her, for her entire life, even if she didn’t know it. “Sarah” makes a run for it, but Stefan stops her. Her name is Monique.
NEXT: The return of the porch
Damon finds Elena on the porch swing of the house she’d burn down years later after Jeremy’s death. As you no doubt predicted, he tells her that he thought this was his hell and Bonnie had hope and is the reason he made it out. He’s doing this for her, not Elena, because it turns out if you spend time with someone and don’t kill them, you become friends. Elena believes him, and he joins her on the swing. It used to squeak, she says. Damon and Bonnie came there every day to feel close to Elena, so he fixed it.
It’s a sweet moment, on the porch, which was always Elena and Damon’s special place. She wants to go inside the home and stops to apologize to Damon for erasing her memories—they were only half hers, she realizes. He touches her face and tells her they’ll make new ones. They were about to kiss it seemed when they got sucked back to present day an hour early. Tyler is there with Liv and tells them Liv has to go back to Mystic Falls because Kai is here. Poor, Bonnie.
Monique tells Stefan that she met Sarah at sleepaway camp and decided that if Sarah had no interest in finding her real family, she’d do it because they couldn’t be worse than her foster family. Well, let’s remember Damon thought he was in hell for slaughtering a bunch of people, including Sarah’s mother. Stefan asks Monique to remove her vervain necklace and compels her to forget she’d ever met Sarah Salvatore and leave the state and never return. Enzo had convinced Matt to tail Stefan, and they arrive just in time for Enzo to take Monique hostage and threaten to kill her if Stefan doesn’t tell him the full story. Stefan doesn’t, because he doesn’t want anyone, including Damon, to know that Sarah exists so she can live a safe, normal life. And so, Enzo snaps her neck. You’re still the dick in this situation, Enzo. Cute, but a dick.
Elena and Damon decide to sit in the graveyard and talk about how bad Bonnie will feel when she gets to the house and they’re gone. He says they can go back again, as long as they have the Ascendant. The problem is, Kai’s there and some of Liv’s magic is still in him. He gets Damon out of the way and ultimately burns up the Ascendant, which also sets Elena’s arm on fire. Kai uses the family’s disappearance act, but Damon senses where he is and sends him flying across the Mystic Falls border. So Elena’s fire goes out, but now, there’s a psycho in Mystic Falls and no vamps to stop him. Fun.
Since Stefan can’t tell Matt that he sold Monique out to save Sarah, essentially, Matt thinks Stefan is just like Enzo: someone who believes human lives don’t matter as much as vampires’. Matt’s had enough. He heads back to Salvatore Mansion, where Jeremy is about to drink some bourbon after getting the call from Elena and hearing Bonnie isn’t back but Damon is still fine. Matt throws Jeremy a crossbow and asks him how he feels about being a hunter. Of Salvatores? No. Of Enzo. Matt and Jeremy have a storyline! Hooray. And perhaps more training montages. More fun.
Alaric finds Damon and tells him Jo drove him across the border. Long story short, Damon gets punched twice, and Alaric doesn’t care that Kai being out isn’t technically Damon’s fault. Elena is there to comfort Damon, but he’s not thinking about losing Alaric’s friendship. He’s thinking about Bonnie. He’d written her a note telling her they’d be on Elena’s porch. She’d just be getting there. Cut to Bonnie running up to the porch, finding no one, and, after holding it together, finally collapsing to her knees in tears. She’s all alone. After that long of a drive, too. It’s painful to watch. Well done, Kat Graham.
Tyler returns home, and Kai is waiting. Part of you wants Tyler to kill him, even though it’d trigger the werewolf curse, but Kai holds broken glass to Tyler’s throat and tells him to hold up: He wants to save Liv’s life. Will Tyler make a deal with the devil? Next week’s holiday episode will tell. It looks like we should expect some torture. What Christmas carol will they set it to this year?