When a show is famous for its last-minute twists, taking the time for a two-minute monologue in a cemetery is special -- particularly when it's Damon doing the talking and ghost Alaric shows up to listen. "I miss you, too, buddy," Alaric said, as Damon walked away. Last year, when EP Julie Plec told us about moments on the show that made her cry, she spoke of a theme that has emerged in the series: "Being a supernatural creature, and specifically being an immortal, is in its own way the loneliest thing that you can be," she said. "And all of our characters, in their own way, are being driven by the desire to not be alone." That was never more clear than in this episode. Let's dig in.
We opened with Damon and Stefan arguing over how baby vamp Elena should be raised: Damon thinks she needs to experience the blood lust to be able to control it and drink first from the vein; Stefan believes if he can get her hooked on animal blood first, he can save her 100 years of torment. Her compassion is heightened, so if she hurts someone, the pain will overwhelm her and she'll turn off her humanity switch. "You name me a vampire who didn't kill at least one person when they were new," Stefan said. "You name me one who went on a bunny diet and didn't kill dozens," Damon answered. Good point. But Elena's choice: A camping trip. She cried over drinking from Bambi, but the deer lived.
Oh, to be a tree in the woods of Mystic Falls. They get all the action. It used to be the walls that braced characters for hot supernatural sex on this show, but now it's all about the trees. Stefan was trying to teach Elena how to work her vamp speed (didn't she master that when she stopped Damon from killing Matt, and haven't we seen the former cheerleader jogging?), but she couldn't concentrate with his hands on her body. "What does it feel like?" he asked, standing behind her, caressing her arm. Note: You rewound this scene too many times if you started wishing he'd put her arm over her head like Patrick Swayze does Jennifer Grey's in Dirty Dancing and run his fingertips down. "It feels like you're touching every nerve on my body," Elena said. "Everything is heightened. Taste, smell, sight, touch," Stefan teased. Elena turned, he picked her up and pushed her against a tree, and it was on. Her hoodie was unzipped, his shirt came off. I assume this was the first time they were going to have sex since reuniting. Unfortunately, she had to stop. She sped away. And puked. Romantic!
Damon, meanwhile, was drowning his sorrows as he always does -- by drinking. Only this time, Alaric wasn't in the seat next to him at the Grill. Liz, now back in uniform because the Council is dead, asked Damon if he'd started the fire. Not his style, Liz. Enter Connor Jordan, the new vampire hunter we, the fans, have been hearing about. Of course he didn't introduce himself as that. He's an "independent contractor" investigating the fire. He'd checked out the house on Pastor Young's cattle ranch, now he wanted to talk to Liz. The close-up on his gloved hand shaking Liz's should've been a tipoff that he'd soaked the gloves in vervain to ID vamps. Liz and Connor walked away to chat, and the camera shot Damon at an angle that reminded us just how empty Alaric's chair is.
At the school, Matt helped Jeremy load the paper lanterns the student council made to honor the dead after the memorial and talked pretty loudly about how Elena's a vampire because of him so he wants to pay that back or forward. Maybe don't talk about how she's a vampire in the school parking lot, Matt. Start there. Also, you can wear a light blue Henley that complements your eyes every day instead of a dark one like the one you had on in that scene (his mourning Henley). April, the daughter of Pastor Young that Elena used to babysit, came up for an awkward conversation with the boys. She's back from boarding school and enrolling at Mystic Falls. Welcome.
NEXT: Stefan gives a minor alcohol