You'd think the people of Mystic Falls would know by now that road trips never end well. Still, they're always good for us - this episode had everything from pain to fisticuffs to an amazing, exciting ending (guess who's back, back again!).
Let's start with Alaric, though, who's falling for the mysterious Dr Fell. But is she all she seems? When Damon finds out that he's dating her, he's automatically suspicious. And when Alaric lets slip that Meredith used to be with the medical examiner - you know, the dead one - Damon's even more concerned.
Continuing their amazing bromance, Damon decides to investigate Meredith for himself and heads to the hospital. When he finds her, he confronts her - turns out that she signed old medical examiner's death certificate. Meredith claims that she was just covering up the weird 'staked-like-a-vampire' situation.
Damon pushes her, saying he cares about Alaric, but she questions how Alaric survived after being on his deathbed. It's basically a touché situation, but as Damon walks away Meredith grabs him, injects him with vervain and steals his blood. Not too friendly.
Meanwhile, Tyler goes to see Caroline to apologise for biting her (though understandably she's still furious). But Tyler's got a plan - he's called Caroline's dad Bill! He figures that if Bill can resist compulsion, he might be able to teach him to resist the sire bond. And Bill's agreed because Tyler wants to make things right... much like he does.
Unfortunately, it looks like a tough process. Bill realises that the sire bond is based on the fact that Tyler owes Klaus for ridding him of the curse of turning. So if Tyler can force himself to turn, he'll no longer owe Klaus anything and will be free. Tyler's horrified at the thought of turning, but Bill tells him it's the only way.
So Tyler forces himself to start the process, though it's obviously horrendous and painful. Caroline finds it so hard to watch that eventually both Tyler and Bill order her to leave. When she's gone, Bill picks up an axe and starts cutting Tyler, making him angry to speed up the process (it's awful to watch). But soon Tyler's so strong that he pulls free of his chains. He growls that Bill has to leave, and he starts to run, but Tyler catches up with him at the door, growling...
Meanwhile, Alaric's not a happy bunny that Damon went to investigate Meredith, but what he hears clearly has an impact, so he goes to confront her at the hospital. But Meredith tells him to stick around if he wants to know what she really does, and then, conveniently, Bill's brought in. He's not going to make it... but Meredith injects him with the vampire blood she's collected. She admits that she cheats, but she hates it when people die... It works, anyway, because later the pair get a bit kissy.
Later, Tyler goes to see Bill at the hospital to apologise, saying he never meant to hurt him. But he's shocked when Bill announces that they'll continue training tomorrow - Tyler needs to keep turning until it's no longer painful. This is going to take a long time... but if Tyler doesn't agree, he'll never be allowed to see Caroline again.
It's classic Vampire Diaries that all that drama was only the subplot. Bonnie's still having weird dreams about that locked coffin - she has nightmares about seeing the graves of her ancestors and being trapped inside the coffin by Klaus, before being released by someone.
Bonnie tells Elena about the coffins (causing Stefan to be less than happy), and explains that she needs her help - the person who releases her in her dream is none other than her mother (who she hasn't seen for 15 years). Maybe she can help them open the coffin and kill Klaus?
Of course, they have to find her first. It's just as well they have Damon on hand to do a little compelling and find out her location. But Elena refuses to let Damon come with them on the road trip and get in the way of Bonnie's reunion with her mother Abby. Bonnie's a smart one, though, and soon realises there's something between them...
Meanwhile, Klaus shows up at the Salvatore home to pressure Stefan to release his family (he points out that Stefan has no friends left, and it's an interesting moment - does Stefan care anymore? There's a flicker that he does.) Anyway, it spooks Stefan, and he calls Bonnie to find out if she's had any progress tracking down her mum.
Bonnie and Elena are actually on their way to meet her when he rings, but Elena answers the phone and claims that they've gone to the lake house to continue their search through police records. Unfortunately, Stefan's actually at Elena's house and knows they've tracked down Abby. Even worse, they're not the first ones to do so. Klaus has a hybrid all ready and waiting outside Abby's house, and orders him to do something. He goes and knocks on her door and she answers...
Bonnie and Elena finally arrive, but Abby's out. Instead, they're greeted by Jamie - Abby was in a relationship with his deadbeat dad, but took him in when they split up. This was a really nice touch, as it made the reunion so much harder on Bonnie - how could Abby care so much for someone she wasn't related to when she abandoned her daughter?
When Abby returns, it's an awfully awkward reunion. Elena's surprised to hear that Abby was her mother's best friend, but Bonnie's still fuming about her decision to leave Mystic Falls. Abby explains that a vampire came looking for Elena - Mikael. She lured him out of town and cast a spell to dessicate him, but it used up all her magic and she's now powerless.
Bonnie wants to leave - she's upset and it sounds like Abby can't help them. But Abby begs to talk to her, so Elena does the nice thing and goes to wait outside. Unfortunately, she's not alone... Stefan's here!
Back inside, Abby and Bonnie are having a difficult chat. Abby admits that she's not proud of leaving, but she thought she had a chance to start over. And then Bonnie is forced to reveal that her Grams has passed away. It's all a bit teary, and Abby explains that she wants to help Bonnie - she can still use herbs, even if she can't cast spells.
Outside, Stefan and Elena are doing that arguing thing exes do when they insist they don't care about each other. When Jamie arrives, Stefan compels him to leave. But, instead, Jamie murmurs that he's not supposed to be there, grabs a gun and shoots Stefan with wooden bullets, before tying Elena up. Yes, he's been compelled! What's more, Abby grabs some herbs, rubs them on her hands, and then covers Bonnie's mouth, dragging her into a car...
Abby drives to meet Klaus's hybrid and insists that she couldn't find out the location of the coffins. When Bonnie wakes up, she begs her to reveal the location, revealing that the hybrid has compelled Jamie to kill himself if the coffins aren't discovered. Bonnie is reluctant but Abby begs her... and texts the message "Warn your friends" on her phone to show her.
Meanwhile, at Abby's house, Jamie's feeling confused by his actions but reveals everything he's been compelled to do. Elena asks what his orders about her were, and he explains that he's not to hurt her. Elena's a smart one and says the ropes tying her up are hurting, so Jamie goes to loosen them. As he does, she grabs his gun and bashes him over the head with it, knocking him out.
Then all she has to do - simple - is pull the wooden bullets out of Stefan. This gives them a chance to have some proper time together, as Stefan notices that she's changed. But Elena can't keep quiet and admits that she kissed Damon (she's not guilty, but is guilty that Stefan doesn't know). This scene is incredible - there's a really long silence as Stefan says nothing, before he gets up and walks away. The tension is palpable - it oozes out of the screen.
Elena catches up with him and he apologises for kidnapping her, but adds that she can't lie to him like she did today. Elena agrees, but explains that she just wanted Bonnie to have a reunion with her mum with nothing getting in the way. Stefan's still hurt though, and says she means him. It's so SORE to watch. Elena says she never meant to kiss Damon, but Stefan says she's better than him - than both of them - and leaves.
Back in Mystic Falls, Damon goes to the witch house but the coffins have gone! Why? Klaus is in the building! The witches aren't too pleased with his presence and give him a splitting headache, but when he reveals that one of his hybrids is about to end the Bennett line, they promptly stop. And, when he asks, show him the coffins.
But wait a minute... the fourth isn't there! Turns out Bonnie had time to warn Damon, and he hid it just in time (though he couldn't get the others). Klaus is furious, threatening to tear Damon limb from limb and only rip his heart out when he's a "writhing mess of blood and flesh" (not one to take home to the parents, Klaus). But Damon's going to use the fourth coffin as leverage...
Meanwhile, Elena's on her way to pick up Bonnie, so there's time for a bit more mother-daughter chat. Bonnie promises that Klaus will leave Jamie alone since she gave up the location of the coffins... but she's still hurt that Abby would do all this for someone she's not even related to. But Abby wants to help Bonnie - she admits that her magic waned the longer she was away from Bonnie. Maybe if they spend time together, she'll get her magic back. She doesn't want it, but she'd do that for her daughter...
Back in Mystic Falls, Stefan arrives home and Damon explains that he managed to hide the locked coffin, but adds that Abby has no magic. But when he asks if Elena's okay, Stefan wheels round and punches him (it's a brilliant moment). Damon realises that Elena told Stefan about the kiss, but he has more pressing matters to discuss - he shows Stefan a dagger...
Meanwhile, Klaus's hybrid is wheeling in the coffins, but Klaus says he won't open them yet - he has some unfinished business to take care of. The hybrid asks what that is... but then someone pulls out his heart. It's only Elijah! Oh. My. God. "What did I miss?" Elijah purrs, and everyone watching falls off their chairs. Amazing... what on Earth could come next?
- "Ric likes you. If you were a psychopath, that would really suck for him." Also: "I think psychopaths are incredibly high maintenance."
- It's always fun to see Jack Coleman. I'm glad Bill Forbes is back.
- Michael Trevino really deserves credit for Tyler's turning scenes - they're always horrific to watch.
- "I went to the hospital to accuse her of killing her ex-boyfriend. It's a very sensitive subject."
- Meredith. I'm still not convinced she's not up to no good. What do you think?
- Kat Graham's screams inside the coffin ripped right through you, didn't they? What a horrible nightmare.
- "We kissed. Now it's weird. Have a great trip!" I love matter-of-fact Damon.
- The Vampire Diaries excelled in this episode at mixing some really personal, emotional stuff - Bonnie's tough reunion with her mother - with supernatural craziness. Good work from Kat Graham.
- I'm really enjoying the relationship between Elena and Alaric - when she finds out he's dating Meredith, she's all supportive. It was lovely to see her thanking him for looking after her and Jeremy, and the moment as she says Jenna's gone and he's allowed to move on was really touching.
- Oh my God, that Stefan-on-Damon punch was amazing.
- Elijah. ELIJAH. Who else squealed?