So, when we last left
Meanwhile, Elena wakes to an Imogene Heap song and tries to write in her diary. She gives up, apparently because there isn't anything interesting to write about besides the whole domestic abuse situation going on with Caroline and her boyfriend. She goes to the bathroom and runs into Vicki, who plays it off all nonchalant. "Morning! Fucked your brother!" Elena runs to tell Aunt Jenna about her Jeremy's carnal transgressions, but AJ doesn't care. She's got a date with Newsman. Elena tells Jenna that she hasn't heard from Stefan in three days. Wait a minute, has Vicki been living at their house for three days? She came over at the end of episode four. Has no one noticed her presence in their house for three days? Elena tells Jenna that everything is fine with Stefan disappearing off the face of the planet, but it's pretty obvious that things aren't fine, because Elena is never fine with anything.
At Salvatore Castle, Stefan is planning to go back to school after his three day, unexcused absence. You're going to have a lot of homework to make up, buddy. Zach doesn't think it's such a good idea, leaving Damon alone with him in the house, but Stefan just warns him to keep out of the basement. Right, Zach, you're the only member of the regular cast over age thirty, I'm sure you'll be totally safe alone in the house with a dangerous killer.
Caroline and Bonnie are hanging out in Caroline's room, and Caroline expresses concern that she can't remember if Damon kissed her, or bit her, or if she wanted him to bite her, or what, because she has holes in her memory. Bonnie, who is becoming ever more pyromaniacal, is playing with a candle and not really listening, and the crystal Damon stole from the mayor's party is hanging in direct sunlight. This is important, and I know this because they linger on it. That's a trick of the trade, kiddos. It's just usually not done so artlessly.
At school, any worries Elena might have had about Caroline's well-being are squashed when Caroline strolls through the halls, instructing all the cheerleaders to be sure and slut it up hardcore at the bikini car wash they're having on the weekend. Stefan shows up and reassures Elena that Damon has been, "taken care of," or "dealt with," or some other kind of mob talk, and apologizes for his absence. He tells Elena that he'll meet her at the restaurant in town to explain everything. That's really the best place to do it. If there's one thing I learned from Jerry Maguire, it's that if you're going to fire someone or tell your girlfriend that you're a vampire, you want to do it in a crowded restaurant to avoid a big scene. Elena is going to come to school the next day and say, "Don't worry. I'm not going to do what you all think I'm going to do, which is just flip out!" right before she steals the well-mannered fish from the biology lab. Caroline sidles up to ask Stefan what happened to Damon, and he informs her that Damon won't be coming back, ever. Why Elena doesn't immediately assume, from the earlier comments about having dealt with Damon and now this little tidbit about him never coming back, that Stefan has murdered his brother, I don't know. Because that would be the first thing I would think.
Later that day, at the Mystic Grill, Matt is playing pool and waiting around to fulfill his sole purpose on the show, which is to have Elena walk up to him and ask if he's seen Stefan.
Back at Casa Dracula, Zach thinks, "I'm going to completely disregard my uncle's warning about staying away from the vampire. In fact, I'm going to go taunt him." This doesn't go over well, despite the warning he gives to Damon that he's "full of Vervain." Luckily, Stefan shows up just in time to save his nephew from certain dismemberment. The entire point of the scene, I guess, is to show us that Damon still has some strength, and that there is some serious shit going on in the Salvatore family. Thanksgiving is probably... tense.
Back at the grill, Elena decides to rachet up the awkward between her and Matt by talking about how his sister is boning her brother. Then, she asks Matt if he thinks Stefan is a good guy. This is Matt's chance to be like, "I saw him curb stomp a puppy!" but Matt isn't that kind of person, so he tells the truth. Stefan is good at football, so that makes him a-okay in his book. Just then, Stefan shows up-- an hour late-- and Elena decides that rather than let him do that explaining she just waited an hour for, she's going to storm out. An old guy (not really old, just super ancient to kids watching the show... this guy is probably fifty) thinks he recognizes Stefan, but Stefan insists he must be mistaken. The guy argues that it has to be him, and "you haven't aged." Elena knows there's something up, and Stefan knows she knows, but he lets her storm off in a huff, anyway. Interestingly enough, Elena goes home to write in her diary about instinct... which is awfully rich coming from the girl who doesn't realize her boyfriend is a vampire.
The Newsman and Caroline's sheriff mom are at the grill, trading notes on their plan to eradicate the vampires, when Jenna shows up for her date. You know, if this whole, "kill the vampires" thing is so super secret, to the point of having to form a cabal to deal with it, maybe you shouldn't be discussing this shit while waiting for a date, Newsman. You would not last a day in The Da Vinci Code.
Jeremy takes a time out from his anti-teen-abstinence protest to check on his sister. Elena tells him that she's miserable, but Jeremy has something up his sleeve. He knows that Stefan is downstairs cooking dinner for Elena. Elena isn't as impressed by this orchestrated assault on her dating life as Stefan though she would be, I'm guessing, but he keeps cooking anyway and informs her that if she's going to dump him, she's at least going to know who she's dumping. Then, he starts telling her about Catherine. So, is she dumping Catherine? He tells her that Catherine was the most beautiful, sexy girl ever, but she was with Damon first. He and Damon fought over her like mongrel dogs, and Stefan's biggest regret is that he didn't tell her what she truly meant to him before she died.
While Stefan pours out this heartwarming tale of the girl Elena will never measure up to, Vicki goes through the upstairs medicine cabinet and finds the left over Vicodin prescription Elena got after the car accident that killed her parents. While most people would be like, "Yurgh, what a very creepy reminder that this poor girl watched her parents die in front of her very eyes. I need to reevaluate my life," Vicki takes a "waste not; want not," approach to life and decides that crushing them up and snorting them is a better idea. Jeremy laments that all they ever do is get high, and Vicki accuses him of wanting her to change. I have to side with Vicki on this one. Jeremy, you used to be her dealer, and you used to get high with her all the time. You think your awesome skills with your wang are going to just snap her out of the prescription narcotic habit you helped her build?
Back in the kitchen, Stefan is still talking about himself. I mean, really, really talking about himself, and Elena makes the obligatory comment about him eating garlic that people always make to vampires when they don't know they're talking to a vampire. I think she was trying to change a subject, just so he'd stop talking about his musical preferences. Or, she's figured out he's a vampire and wants to stuff his mouth full of garlic to shut him up forever. I'm good with either one. Elena decides to help cut stuff up and, like people always do when they don't realize they're in the kitchen with a vampire, and you'll never, ever guess what happens next. No, seriously. You'll never guess. She cuts everything up in uniform pieces without cutting herself. JUST KIDDING! She totally cuts herself. She rushes to the sink to rinse off the blood, and Stefan just stands there, vamping out with crazy eyes and bulging veins. Unlike the Buffy vampires, Stefan has a reflection, and Elena sees him getting all monster-like in the window above the sink. He turns around to hide his face and get under control (why didn't he do that to begin with?), but it's too late. In the single most charming act ever performed by a male on this show, Stefan lets Elena think that she was hallucinating rather than fessing up to being a vampire. Taking lessons from a certain sparkly young cad I know, aren't you, Stefan?
Back in timeout, Damon tries to mentally communicate with Caroline, and a giant crow shows up on her windowsill. Caroline proceeds to beat the fuck out of it, and Stefan decides that Damon is ripe for more taunting, so he goes to do that.
Next up, Elena wears a sweater to the bikini car wash. And another shirt underneath that. What this is basically telling the audience is that, unlike all the other whores at this school, Elena is pure and good, because she is unwilling to shake it for the athletic boosters. It's like whoever is writing the teleplay for this read Twilight and thought, "You know, the strong feminist message in this is really turning me off." Bonnie is standing by when a cheerleader calls a nerdy kid's car a piece of crap, and she uses her witchy powers to make suds explode from the bucket and drench the mean girl. Yeah, that will show her! You got her all wet! At the car wash! She was never expecting that!
Because nothing news-worthy has happened in Mystic Falls, you know, aside from several people dying horrible in the last four episodes, Newsman is there covering the car wash. Aunt Jenna comes to reminisce with him about the time they had sex in the back of a minivan (no, I'm not kidding), which Newsman thinks is the definition of a good date. Elena notices that Stefan is wearing his ring and suggests he take it off while dunking his hand in suds and potentially scratching the shit out of a paying customer's paint job, but Stefan isn't hip to burning alive, so he doesn't. Caroline goes into the school to get "more shimmy things," and encounters Damon's ghostly image, which freaks her right out. The "old" man from the grill shows up and Elena grills him (ha! a pun!) about how he used to know Stefan. When the old man first moved to Mystic Falls, he stayed at the Salvatore boarding house, and was staying there when the owner, Joseph, was mauled to death in a mysterious animal attack. The rude cheerleader strolls up and informs Elena that this is her grandfather, and he has Alzheimer's disease. Which would explain why he thought he knew Stefan. But then he goes on to tell Elena about the ring that Stefan wore, and how he knew him and his brother Damon in 1953.
Elena confronts Stefan about this information in a sneaky kind of way, and pretends that she didn't know he was Italian. Yeah, he's not buying that, either.
Vicki decides that since she and Jeremy are a couple now, he needs to meet the important people in her life. And those people are the burnouts in the cemetery.
Elena busts AJ macking on Newsman and asks if things are going well enough that she can ask a favor. She wants to look at all the news clips from the past century or so. Newsman is happy to complain, so they pile into the newsmobile and take off.
Meanwhile, Caroline has abandoned the bikini car wash, as well. The cheerleaders are fleeing this thing like rats from a sinking ship, let me tell you. Guided by Damon's ghostly commands, she goes to the basement and finds him in vampire jail. Then, she snaps out of his spell and says she won't open the door, because, "you bit me." Damon counters with, "you liked it," and gets her to open the door. Zach tries to stop her just in time, but Damon is too strong. He busts out and takes off after Caroline, who has the good sense to run. Upstairs? Downstairs? What's happening in this chase scene? She makes it to the door, and Damon charges after her, straight into the sunlight without his ring. The results are... not favorable. While he fries like Hayden Christiansen at the end of Revenge of The Sith, Caroline runs away like her life depends on it. Which it does.
Back at bikini car wash, the rude cheerleader hands Bonnie a squeegee mop and tells her to get to work drying off the pavement. Bonnie Potter has other ideas, though, and uses her mind powers to dry off the pavement with witchcraft. Somehow, she sets the water on fire, which sets a car on fire. Stefan, recognizing another freak, realizes that it's Bonnie doing it, and stops her before she goes full Firestarter on the entire car wash.
At the station, Newsman gets called away, presumably to cover the fire at the bikini car wash (Fire at The Bikini Car Wash, wasn't that a movie? Like, on USA Up All Night?), leaving Elena to investigate the newly digitized archive footage. In a clip that looks stunningly like a modern day newscast, Elena sees Stefan standing at the door of his house, in 1953. Or, 2009 with a grainy black and white filter on it. Six of one, half dozen of another, right?
Back at the cemetery, Vicki produces the bottle of pills she took from the Gilbert house and offers them to her friends. Jeremy is understandably pissed that Vicki would steal prescription drugs from his house, and tells her it's not cool. Vicki gets all self-righteous, like Jeremy has done something wrong, and threatens to go back to Tyler. Which is right on schedule, really.
Back at the car wash, Matt decides to give Stefan some friendly advice about Elena. She's apparently "big on trust." Yes, the girl who is using her connections in the news media to investigate her boyfriend is "big on trust." He goes on to warn that if Stefan is hiding something, Elena will ferret it out somehow. Big on trust. Trust.
Sheriff mom finally checks on her daughter, after how many episodes of violence and sex happening right in her very own house. Caroline informs her mother that if she's having boy trouble, she'll talk to her dad about it, since he's successfully landed a boyfriend. Zing! Top score, Caroline!
Night has fallen. While Elena's voice over insists that she doesn't believe in the paranormal, Stefan finds Damon missing and Zach all knocked out on the ground. Caroline sleeps in beams of light filtering through the super important crystal. Bonnie's grandma is Mimi from Rent. Newsman paws through Jeremy's stuff and steals the Gilbert family pocket watch. And, in the moment we have been waiting for through four episodes of screaming, "He's a vampire, dummy, why don't you get it?" at the TV, Elena finally realizes that her boyfriend is not human.
Vicki is drowning her sorrows in pills, booze, and the company of her burnout friends in the cemetery, when she finds Damon doubled over in pain. She tries to aid him and... I would assume this is the end of Vicki, because they show her her hand clinging to something and then limply letting go. That's the universal visual sign for death, right?
Stefan is about to head out the door, stake in hand, only to find Elena on his doorstep. She demands to know, "What are you?" and the audience collectively facepalms, because HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW AT THIS POINT? EVEN BELLA SWAN FIGURED THIS ONE OUT.