Previously, on The Vampire Diaries
Picture it, Bulgaria, 1490. A very pregnant Katherine goes into labor. In the present an ER doctor struggles to restart Katherine’s heart. In the past Katherine gives birth to a daughter. In the present that daughter, Nadia, arrives at the ER where Stefan informs her that Katherine has had a heart attack. In the past Katherine’s mother shows her the baby for a moment before Katherine’s father, declaring she has shamed the family, takes the baby away. Katherine cries hysterically and screams for her child. In the present, Katherine’s heart starts again.
In the hall Stefan fills Nadia in on Katherine’s prognosis. Every organ in her body is failing and she is not expected to survive the day. Title card!
Elena wakes up in the Improbably Large Dorm Room because the show is pretending like the college aspect still matters. Meanwhile Damon’s passed out at the Grill. Caroline and Bonnie bust in on Elena and Matt and Jeremy discover Damon. The girls serve up mimosas for Elena’s “break-up breakfast” while Damon has for breakfast the same thing he had for dinner, copious amounts of alcohol. It looks like we’re going to have a boys-vs-girls split episode but calls from Stefan to Elena and Damon bring the groups together at Casa Salvatore.
Damon creates a drinking game, encouraging Matt and Jeremy to recite one of Katherine’s litany of sins and take a shot, then come up with a worse transgression to take another shot. Damon starts: Katherine pretended to be buried in a tomb for 145 years. (shot) She pretended to be Elena and kissed him on the Gilbert’s old porch. (shot) Jeremy: Katherine fed him to Silas and he died. (shot) She made him crash his car into a pole and left him for dead. (shot) Matt’s sister Vicki is dead because of Katherine, because Damon wouldn’t have been in town to turn Vicki if Katherine hadn’t lied about being in the tomb. (group shot) The girls arrive and Elena cuts Jeremy off, making only the second time in the show’s history a minor was denied alcohol.
Just kidding! Elena joins in the game. Katherine impersonated her repeatedly. (shot) She compelled Aunt Jenna to gut herself and cut off John’s fingers (cancels out; no shot) Bonnie’s in. Grams died trying to close the tomb Katherine wasn’t in. (shot) Caroline’s in too. Katherine caused Tyler’s werewolf curse to trigger. (shot) Now everyone’s just shouting stuff out. Klaus followed her to Mystic Falls, costing them Jenna and Alaric. (shot) Matt runs off to fetch more hooch as Elena recalls that Katherine tried to kill her twice. Caroline: “She did kill me! Although I’m weirdly better off.”
Upstairs Katherine rests while Stefan attends her. She knows they’re talking about her but Stefan claims they’re “reminiscing”. She’s more concerned with whether she’s visibly aging and makes Stefan promise to stab her in the throat if she starts sagging. She can’t figure out why he’s being so nice. Compassion for the dying, he replies.
Down in the hooch cellar Nadia knocks Matt unconscious because of course Matt has to end up unconscious.
Upstairs the game continues, with Damon insisting that Katherine once burned down Atlanta, when Stefan pops in and tells them all to knock it off. Damon hands him a shot and a warning not to let frail human Katherine cloud his memories of evil psycho Katherine.
Stefan offers up that in 1864 Katherine moved into his house, compelled him to love her filled him and Damon up with vampire blood and started a war on Mystic Falls that got them both killed. Damon and Elena drink but Stefan continues that centuries before that Katherine was a frightened girl shunned by her family who spent 500 years doing whatever she had to do to survive. She’s a survivor and that’s who Stefan drinks to.
Damon snarks that Stefan’s letting one night of hot sex allow him to look past Katherine’s overall awfulness. The sex is news to Elena and Bonnie because Caroline forgot to spill that particular tea. Damon uses the excuse of an empty bottle to attempt a getaway but is stopped short by the sight of Nadia, “the devil’s spawn,” something else Caroline forgot to mention. She tells the assembly that she’s found a way to save her mother but needs their help. Damon refuses for all of them leading Nadia to reveal she has Matt buried in that damn safe without his protecto-ring.
Stefan and Elena “volunteer” and Nadia takes them to a tumbledown house in search of a Traveler. Because Katherine is of Traveler blood she can learn the Passenger spell and live on in another body, like Gregor did with Matt. The Traveler can then bring Katherine forth in that body. Our heroes object to the idea of allowing Katherine to hijack someone else’s life but Nadia tells them she’ll be giving Katherine her body.
Jeremy, Bonnie and Caroline start searching the grounds for where Matt might be buried and Caroline wants to dish about the Stefan/Katherine hookup. Jeremy’s all we’ve all slept with our share of bad decisions and Bonnie’s all excuse me? The penny drops and Caroline figures out that they had sex and didn’t tell Elena about it. “Scandalous sex! Even better! Why am I the only person on the planet not having scandalous sex?” Jeremy takes that as a cue to bolt with Bonnie.
On her deathbed Katherine flashes back to Bulgaria, 1492, the time when she discovered that her family had been slaughtered by Klaus. Damon invades her brain to taunt her. Stay classy, Damon!
In the present Damon’s about to smother her with a pillow until Sheriff Liz intervenes. “If you kill her it’s murder. I’m gonna have to bring you in, lock you up. There’s all that paperwork.” Damon reflects that Katherine is responsible for every bad thing he’s ever done and Liz tells him to take back the control Katherine still has over him.
Stefan, Elena and Nadia enter the house and meet a Traveler named Mia. Stefan realizes that the price for Mia’s help is them. Nadia zhoops off and when Stefan and Elena try to follow the sunlight burns them; traveler magic is blocking their daylight rings. A gaggle of chanting Travelers converge on the building, tearing sections of the walls away to force Stefan and Elena into a smaller and smaller area until they are literally cornered.
Caroline listens for Matt in the woods until she runs smack into Klaus. She zhoops off and Klaus follows her. Caroline’s all, what part of zhooping away at the sight of you do you not understand? Klaus tells her that Damon filled him in on Katherine’s impending death and he’s there to gloat over her death. Caroline is unimpressed and zhoops off. Klaus zhoops after her and asks if she’s at all interested in hearing about Tyler? Klaus makes some mention of sending Tyler away with a bruised ego which I assume refers to event from The Originals which I refuse to watch even if they do have a hot gay vampire. Caroline tells him that she made Tyler choose between her and revenge and he chose wrong. She suggests Klaus learn from Tyler’s example and let Katherine die in peace.
Liz lays out some syringes loaded with sedatives that she got from the hospital because that is totally a thing hospitals will do, hand out loaded syringes to just anybody. Katherine refuses the drugs since they will allow Damon to get back inside her head. Liz asks after Elena and Katherine picks at the scab, informing her that Damon and Elena broke up. Damon doses her just to shut her up.
And to get back in her head, where she’s flashing back to 1864 and her arrival at Mystic Falls in the company of her witch maid Emily Bennett. They spot Stefan with a broken-down carriage at the side of the road and Katherine instantly changes her plans from staying with the Lockwoods to staying with the Salvatores.
In the present, Katherine explains that despite her resistance to the cosmic binding of Doppelgangers to each other, the moment she first saw Stefan she felt drawn to him inexplicably.
The Travelers keep chanting and a hot Traveler places two buckets at their feet and slices their arms, bleeding them into the bucket. Elena throws out the possibility of ripping the hottie’s head off but Stefan suspects that the rest of the building will fall off if they do.
Caroline continues listening for Matt only for Klaus to find her again. He asks if she would give him the same choice she gave Tyler. She tries to play dumb and then to deflect but Klaus tells her he’s found Klaus and sent a rescuer.
Cut to Matt, sprawled out in the safe (and flashing an intriguing strip of belly flesh).
He scrambles out of the safe and someone behind him chides him for not being able to stay out of trouble.
Dammit TVD, I thought we had a deal!
Katherine asks Damon to leave since he’s proved his point. Jenna with a big butcher knife asks “What point?” and drives the knife into Katherine’s stomach. Next John appears and chops off her fingers. Hey, we were just talking about this!
A voice from the back of the room calls out “Enough!” and Elijah comes to Katherine’s side.
She reaches out to him, only to have him turn back into Damon playing another mind game. he taunts that no one’s coming because no one cares. Nadia takes him from behind, snapping his neck. “I care.” She brings Mia to Katherine’s side.
Stefan and Elena are still bleeding and Stefan jokes about not being claustrophobic any more. Elena realizes that Katherine helped him get over that fear and exasperatedly asks if she can still hate her anyway. Stefan’s fine with that but he doesn’t. Despite everything he hopes she’ll find peace. He has similar hopes for Damon, whom he says is only pushing Elena away because he hates himself. He reminds Elena that she never gave up on him so she shouldn’t give up on Damon either. The Travelers get all the blood they need and our heroes heal up. They make like a tree and get the hell out.
Nadia begs Katherine to repeat the spell so she can jump to Nadia’s body but Katherine sends Mia away. She tells Nadia that not fighting harder to keep her is Katherine’s greatest regret so she spent the next 500 years fighting for everything she wanted and had a good life along the way. As Damon revives on the floor behind them, Katherine continues that Nadia has spent the last centuries searching for Katherine and now it’s Nadia’s turn to have a life. Nadia retorts that Katherine can drift off into oblivion if she wants but Nadia won’t be by her side while she does it. She storms out and Katherine gives herself another injection.
And we’re back in the woods with Klaus and Caroline. He asks her again if she would give him that same choice. He promises that he’ll leave forever and never return if she gives him her “confession” of how she truly feels about him. She admits that she’s warm for his form and they bang against a tree.
Stefan arrives at Katherine’s death chamber just as Damon fully revives. Damon departs and Stefan takes his trip inside Katherine’s head, back to her massacred family. She hates and blames herself for their deaths. Stefan removes her father from the scene, then her mother. He tells her she was a 17 year-old girl and that none of this was her fault. he adds Katherine’s baby to the memory. She goes to the crib and is bathed in a glowing light. At her deathbed Stefan bids her goodbye. From the doorway Elena asks if she’s gone and Stefan says no, but that she won’t wake up again.
Stefan and Damon share a drink on the roof and Stefan tells Damon he needs to fix whatever’s wrong between him and Elena. Damon can’t live without her but believes Elena but that he’s no better than Katherine and Elena will be happier without him. But his resolve is weak and Damon decides fine, whatever, screw the universe, he’s going after Elena.
Caroline arrives back from her scandalous sex picking leaves out of her hair and claiming she got lost. Matt asks whether Bonnie as the Anchor to the Other Side will feel Katherine pass through her. She thinks so, and Matt asks who else she sees over there. Bonnie sees Grams and the other witches, and Vicki. Bonnie doesn’t want to talk about it but Vicki appears. She asks Bonnie to tell Matt that she loves him, that she watches over him and to stay away from Rebekah. I can sign off on all those points.
A confused Matt asks what he’s missing and a newly-arrived Tyler says “Me.” He tells Matt that Rebekah asked him to tell Matt that he, Tyler, is a “parting gift”. Beats the hell out of a case of Turtle Wax. He and Matt embrace while Caroline silently freaks.
The Brothers Salvatore arrive and Stefan is shocked that they’ve gone through four bottles of bourbon. Alaric appears and cracks wise on the boozing.
Both Bonnie and Jeremy can hear him. Jeremy wonders why he’s back. Alaric gives an extended response which Jeremy boils down for Damon: “He says you’re a dick.” They’re all basking in the glow of each others’ majestic presence when Bonnie spots Katherine. Through sheer force of will Katherine revives herself to find Elena at her side.
Elena gears up to deliver her final speech to Katherine, who anticipates repeated use of words like “hate” and “bitch”. Elena allows that yes, those figured in, but in addition, “I forgive you.” Elena recognizes that Katherine wasn’t born evil and that she sees how she could have wound up like Katherine under similar circumstances. Katherine asks Elena to administer a last injection of sedative and thanks her for her forgiveness.
Elena administers the parting shot; Katherine grabs her and recites the spell. Elena’s eyes black out, as does Elena. She revives a moment later to Elena’s ringing cell phone. She answers and Mia brings Katherine forth. Nadia anxiously asks if it worked. “Of course it worked. I’m Katherine Pierce. I survive.” She hangs up and regards her new body same as the old body in the mirror. “Hi. I’m Elena Gilbert.”
Well, that was fun. Katherine’s double-cross was visible from space but the various farewells to Katherine were effective. Although Nadia’s in retrospect becomes confusing; was it for Damon’s benefit? It also seems needlessly risky. There was no guarantee that Elena or anyone else would be at her side before she died or that she could will herself back after her heart stopped. The return of the Originals wasn’t horrible. I will hold Klaus to his promise not to come back and take Becky’s “parting gift” as a similar promise. Elijah and his wonderful suits are welcome any time. As much as I’ve enjoyed the show’s bringing back some of its many dead characters, they’ve gone to that well so often it’s hit the point of diminishing returns.
No word yet on who might be playing Luke, the new gay Whitmore College student announced for this season, or when he might be introduced. He’s described as handsome and sarcastic so I’m hoping The CW brings back one of its Secret Circle hotties, the perpetually shirtless Louis Hunter. Who would you like to see in the role?