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What a fantastic episode! We'll get to the crux of it momentarily, but will start this recap by delving into a few of the side stories and characters:
- We meet Caroline's mother. She's the sheriff and she and her daughter don't get along well. It sounds like Caroline's father ran off with another man years ago.
- We also meet Tyler's parents. They help explain why he's such a jerk, as his father is the town's mayor and his mother is simply stuck up. These two host the town party that is the focus of the hour and Tyler is clearly ashamed to be there with Vicki, due to his parents' attitudes. As a result, she leaves, goes over to the Gilberts and makes out with Jeremy. Good choice, girl!
Now, on to the meat of the episode:
Everyone attends the annual Mystic Falls party mentioned above. Before going over there, though, Stefan is told a major secret by Zack: he's been growing Vervain, the herb contained in Elena's necklace that prevents Damon from getting into her mind. If Damon can be poisoned with this, he can be stopped. Stefan's first attempt at spiking his brother's drink fails, however.
But it seems like he has another plan.
At the shindig, Caroline - who seems to actually know Damon is a vampire; she and him talked openly about it in private earler, as she's clearly under a permanent spell of some kind with him - dances with Stefan, leaving Damon alone with Elena. He tells her the story of the original Salvatore brothers, whose named are on the guest registry for the first-ever one of these gathertings. (Viewers all know, of course, that the Stefan and Damon written on the registry are the same ones we see now.)
According to Damon, there was a major Civil War battle around Mystic Falls, the Battle of Willow Creek. During it, Confederate soldiers burned down a churn because they believed those inside were Union sympathizers. When the original Stefan and Damon tried to save a woman inside, they were shot and killed in cold blood.
Is this the way Katherine actually died? Is any part of this tale true? We'd imagine so. But it's hard to tell at the moment.
From there, Elena tries to elicit more information from Stefan, but he's mum on his past. She's annoyed and flees for the bathroom, where she runs into Caroline - and noticed the bite marks on her neck and back. Not suspecting the work of a vampire, of course, Elena just assumes Damon is abusing her friend. She confronts him about it outside and tells him to stay away from Caroline.
When Damon gets Caroline alone in the backyard, he acts like he forgives her. But then he says he has no use for her anymore. Cue fangs! He takes a chunk out of her neck, but then instantly falls to the ground. Stefan walks over and has finally gotten one over on his brother. He says he spiked Caroline's drink with Vervain, drags Damon away and we see him and Zack lock him up in the basement. Case closed? Not quite.
Caroline is still alive, but not too well. When she comes to, she sees a crystal lying next to her. Damon had stolen it from the Lockwood house and said he'd put it there years ago. She hides it in her purse and cries into Elena's arms when her friend comes around.
We're then taken back into the Lockwood household. The Lockwood parents are there, as is Caroline's mother and a man named Logan. He has a history with Jenna, having previously dated her and then cheated on her. At the party, we saw him try to win her back over, and now we know why:
This group wants to collect certain items, such as a Gilbert family pocket watch that Elena gave to her brother. The reason? They know there are five dead bodies, all of which have had their blood drained. How will these items help? It's unclear for now. But as Logan says to close the episode: "They're back!"