Did you miss vampires and werewolves and hybrids and doppelgangers like I did?  Then let’s jump right into tonight’s episode.  [Ahoy! Spoilers ahead!]

Jeremy takes aim

Elena and Bonnie discuss the state of fear and paranoia they live in since Klaus is still on the loose.  Bonnie has dreamt that she finds four caskets in the basement of the witches’ tomb/abandoned house, and that inside one of them is Klaus. Elena runs into a stranger while on a run and assumes that he is tailing her.  There’s a definite sense of doom and gloom drifting overhead, which isn’t alleviated when Alaric and Damon discover that Jeremy has been fired from his job at the grill but kept it a secret.

Jeremy can’t be bothered with schoolwork or work-work  because he’s spending his time in the woods with Tyler learning various weapons.  Tyler encourages Jeremy to shoot him with a crossbow since he’s a hybrid and can only be killed through extreme measures, like decapitation.  This will come back into play later.  Jeremy aims the bow at Tyler, but Tyler catches the arrow in his hand.

Klaus surprises Elena and Damon at the grill.  With him is his newest hybrid Tony – the runner that Elena met that morning.  She’s not paranoid after all – so what does that say about Bonnie’s casket dreams?  Klaus says he’s looking for Rebekah, but he also says he won’t be leaving town until they divulge where Stefan is, as Stefan has stolen something from him.  We the audience know that it is the four undead family members, but for the moment Elena and Damon are in the dark.  Klaus promises that no one is in danger if they cooperate with him.

Bonnie goes in search of the coffins on her own but instead finds Stefan.  He asks for her help hiding the bodies of Klaus’s family. Elena and Alaric confront Jeremy about losing his job and spending time with Tyler.  Despite Tyler’s dangerous hybrid status, an angry Jeremy invites him into the house.  Tyler explains the difference between compulsion and being sired – compulsion is mind control, but being sired is a blind loyalty to the person who did the siring.  FORESHADOWING!!  Are you paying attention?!

Klaus pays Damon a visit at the Salvatore home.  They’ve both been betrayed by their younger siblings – Stefan ruined the plan to kill Klaus, and Rebekah lied to Klaus about Mikael.   Klaus tells Damon that Stefan has stolen his family’s bodies and that he’ll continue to hurt people until they are returned to him.  As a demonstration, Klaus calls someone on the phone and tells them to go ahead and do the “thing” he ordered.  Back at the Gilbert house, Jeremy gets off the cell phone and disappears, leaving his Gilbert ring behind.  When Elena and Alaric rush outside, he is standing in the middle of the road, about to be hit by a speeding car driven by Tony.  Alaric knocks him out of the way and is hit instead.

Jeremy quickly snaps out of the compulsion that Klaus put him under on the phone.  Alaric is wearing his own eternity ring, though, so he should be able to heal from the accident.  Tyler returns to Klaus, and is shocked that Alaric was killed – he had thought Klaus was going to send a warning.  I guess being sired isn’t all that awesome after all, eh, Tyler?  Try and compel that guilt away.  ZING!

Damon tells Elena that Klaus is looking for his family.  She wants to give Rebekah’s body to Klaus, but Elena is the person who staked Rebekah, which she’s not likely to forgive.  Elena and Damon visit Stefan in the basement (what does he do all day down there?) and Elena begs Stefan to return the bodies.  Stefan is cold and unyielding. He later confesses to messing up the plan to kill Klaus in order to save Damon.

Jeremy confronts Tyler in the woods and shoots him with the crossbow again.  Tyler tells him to stay at home because Klaus won’t be finished with him until he gets his family back.  Alaric comes back to life, but something is wrong – he is coughing up blood.  Elena calls the paramedics, but Tony arrives and compels them away.  His blood could save Alaric, but that would mean inviting him into the house.  Just then Jeremy arrives at the house and shoots Tony with an arrow.  He chops off Tony’s smug head with a cleaver.  It’s a chilling moment to see Jeremy standing calmly with the huge knife, covered in Tony’s blood.  Any innocence he had left is long gone.

Damon demands to know why Stefan saved him.  He grills Stefan about why he stole the coffins and says he wants to be a part of the new plan to ruin Klaus.  Stefan agrees as long as Elena stays out of it.  When they walk back into the house, the coffins are there.  Stefan says the ghost witches hate Klaus and are using their powers to hide the coffins.

Alaric is treated by a young attractive doctor named Meredith Fell.  Love interest alert!  He is in fine condition already since Damon gave him his blood.  Elena offers Klaus Rebekah in exchange for Jeremy’s safety.  Klaus agrees but asks again for Stefan’s whereabouts, threatening everyone until Stefan is delivered to him.

Klaus and Tyler face off

Alaric and Jeremy worry that Alaric’s ring is broken since it didn’t heal him properly.  Jeremy has a new hard edge when talking about staking vampires, but Elena’s game face is showing cracks.  She worries about Jeremy and how she’ll keep him safe.  On Elena’s orders, Damon compels Jeremy to leave Mystic Falls behind and “never think twice about it.”  He’ll move to another city with family and live a normal life.

Before Rebekah can reawaken, Klaus re-stakes her.  Bonnie tries to open the coffin that in her dream held Klaus’s body.  She thinks a witch’s spell is keeping it closed.  Elena gives Damon a heartfelt thank-you full of lingering hugs and longing eyes.   Before it gets beyond that, Damon tells Elena that Stefan didn’t screw them over, and that he spared Klaus in order to save Damon.  He feels guilty about wanting Elena and backs away, but then comes back and kisses her.  Watching on my couch, I cheered out loud like he was coming back to kiss me.  It’s a delicious, thrilling moment that leaves Elena speechless and a little breathless.

So much happened in this fast-paced return to Mystic Falls!  Despite whatever action or thrilling romance is happening onscreen, there’s always a palpable undercurrent of foreboding and sadness.  Dreams about caskets, blood spatter and gore, the pain that the characters inflict upon each other physically – these certainly keep the audience tense.  But the moment in tonight’s episode that stuck with me most was Damon crouched in front of Jeremy, wiping his memory again in order to keep him safe and to give him the normal life that Elena can no longer have.  It was sad the first time Damon compelled him, and it was even sadder this time.  Jeremy is the only family Elena has left, and she has to send him away to save him.

Next week holds promise of Stefan vowing to be a “bigger villain” than Klaus.  Oh, what vampire hijinks are coming?  I can’t wait to find out!