Previously on Vampire Diaries: Bonnie stuck her magic in a teddy bear. It was more awesome than it sounds.
Okay, am I crazy or was that episode actually good? Like, legitimately good, not just mostly-excruciating-with-one-good-moment good? Considering how little I care about either Luke or Liv and how much of this episode dealt with their back story, that’s extra impressive. But fitting, because of all the 1994 song titles they’ve used so far, this one is obviously the best.
Speaking of which: we open on a flashback to real 1994, where a teenage Jo has been stabbed in the gut and is desperately trying to hide a very young Luke and Liv from him with magic.
The full explanation for this — which is dolled out throughout the episode — is that the Gemini coven takes its name by being really weird about twins. REALLY WEIRD. For reasons that are never fully explained, they pass down leadership of the coven to a pair of twins who must mystically merge their power when they reach the age of 22, only one surviving.
Because Kai is a both a squib and a psychopath, he and Jo were going to be passed over for this dubious honor. And that’s what prompted his fratricidal rampage 20 years ago. Except Jo managed to outsmart him by pulling a Bonnie — she hide her magic in a knife that she dropped down a tree stump in their front yard and tricked him into using the eclipse merging ceremony to banish him to the 1994 prison world.
Cut to present-day Kai in fake 1994, who has dragged Bonnie to his family home in Portland for Thanksgiving dinner. Coincidentally, Alaric, Stefan and Damon are also there in the real world, trying to track down the real world version of the MacGuffin. Which is ironic, because if Alaric had just taken the time to ask his witch girlfriend for advice, she could have told him that she’s actually had the damn thing all along. WHOOPS.
But the boys-only road trip is a good excuse to keep Damon and Elena apart for most of the episode, and also for Alaric and Damon to mercilessly rib Stefan about Caroline’s crush. So I’ll allow it.
Unfortunately, the Gemini compound is hidden by an illusion spell, so they can’t find. Leaving plenty of time for love life gossip! Stefan claims that he only thinks of Caroline as a friend, prompting Alaric and Damon to play yenta by listing her dateable qualities (hotness and organizational skills). I cannot argue with their logic. Caroline is basically the perfect woman.
MS. CUDDLES KNOWS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT
While they bicker, Stefan tosses Bonnie’s bear in frustration — um, does Ms. Cuddles really deserve that, Stefan? NO SHE DOES NOT — and the magic inside it breaks the illusion hiding the house.
Back home in Mystic, Jeremy and Cute!Matt are conveniently off-screen doing unspecified things to clean up the whole Trip mess. I’m not sure what they could possibly be doing now that all Trip’s hunter buddies know both Matt and the Sheriff are vampire allies, but whatever. CW budgets are what they are.
Everyone else is at Caroline’s Friendsgiving celebration — including hot Dr. Jo, who apparently doesn’t have any other friends than her students that she just met? That’s just sad, Jo. The real reason she’s there, of course, is because plot contrivance demanded a reason for her to run into Luke and Liv while the former just happened to be playing a home video of the twins and Jo as children.
They have an emotional reunion and explain the whole twin sacrifice weirdness to the rest of the gang. Turns out this is the real reason why Liv is such a pill all the time — she’s not looking forward to either dying or killing her brother in mortal witch combat. Okay, that’s fair, but I still don’t care about Liv. Tyler does, so he brings her back to hide out in Mystic where her coven won’t be able to reach her.
Speaking of which, we finally meet Luke and Liv (and Kai and Jo’s) infamous father! Or, more specifically, Damon does when Daddy Gemini casts another illusion spell to separate him from Stefan and Alaric. When he finds out there’s a Bennett witch in Kai’s prison right now, he immediately casts a spell to kill Jo and therefore prevent Kai from gaining her power if he escapes. Um, Daddy Gemini, if Kai is that big of a threat, maybe you should have just killed him to begin with? It’s not like killing any of the children who aren’t psycho murderers seems to be a problem for you.
The spell has Jo hemorrhaging in the middle of the party, and Elena has no other choice but to heal her in front of Liam. Earlier, she’d been contemplating telling him the whole truth, but now that push has come to shove, she seems to realize that he’s actually boring and judgmental, and compels him to forget all of this vampire weirdness and any feelings he has for her.
It’s kind of a shame, because his reaction to seeing her vamp out was the first time I’ve ever found him the slightest bit interesting. On the other hand, she’s probably just increased his life expectancy enormously, so it’s probably for the best.
Stefan and Alaric manage to save Damon from Daddy Gemini with the help of Jo’s magic dagger, but he escapes with another illusion spell. Alaric has been sufficiently freaked out by Jo’s fear of her brother, and insists they have to find some way to rescue Bonnie that doesn’t involve the MacGuffin. Damon compels him to get it from her anyway. Oh, Damon. Don’t mess with your boyfriend’s brain. You know he doesn’t like that.
Back home, Stefan runs into Caroline. Despite still hating him, she’s packed him some Friendsgiving leftovers. He confesses that when he was grieving, he pushed her away the most because he knew she would make him work through his feelings in a healthy way and he just wanted to forget and move on. She looks like she’s sort of thawing on that whole hatred thing.
“You treated me like shit because I’m a good friend? Awesome.”
Now that the cat’s out of the bag, Damon tells Elena about the four months he spent with Bonnie — apparently, it involved a Tetris phase, and I would easily have preferred watching several hours of that to most of the preceding episodes this season. Elena gives a patented Vampire Diaries speech about how she could live her life the safe way and probably be happy… or she could be with Damon and live a life of passionate misery. Ugh. I miss those brief episodes of Damon-free Elena so much already. She says needs her best friend Bonnie to help her decide. Damon promises they’ll find her.
In fake 1994: Kai pretends to strike a deal with Bonnie to let them go their separate ways, but he’s actually only brought her there to retrieve the knife full of his sister’s magic and stab her with it to attain the requisite Bennett witch blood. Now he no longer needs her to perform the spell.
Next time: Operation Bonnie Rescue is a go.