It wouldn’t be Mystic Falls without a party or drama, and tonight is no exception.  It’s Caroline’s 18th birthday, and I was happy to welcome her back to the storyline.  Not only do I appreciate the way her character has changed from a spoiled, annoying brat to a thoughtful and caring vampire, but she’s so pretty.  And who doesn’t like to look at pretty things?

Caroline is the birthday girl!

Oh, but first!  DAMON NAKED IN THE SHOWER!  DAMON WALKING AROUND IN A TOWEL!  Every time they do this, I know it’s a just a hook for the ladies, but you know what?  I’m okay with it!  They can feel free to do it every episode!

[Spoilers may or may not be ahead.  Proceed with caution!]

The hybrids around town are getting out of hand, causing their hybrid mayhem.  One interrupts Bonnie’s attempts to open Klaus’s family caskets and Damon kills him.  No one is sure whose body is in the last casket, and the curiosity is all-consuming!  Meanwhile, Jeremy prepares to leave town and Bonnie is upset that Elena has taken away his choice in the matter by having Damon compel him.

Tyler approaches Caroline at school and apologizes for putting everyone in danger.  He gives her a charm bracelet for her birthday.  In another pairing, Stefan visits Klaus to demand that he remove the hybrids from town or else the caskets will disappear into the ocean.  As a promise, Stefan kills a hybrid in front of Klaus.  Klaus gets that smirky face that he gets when he’s about to do something horrible, and calls Tyler in to bite Caroline.  Knowing that his bite will prove deadly to her, Tyler refuses, which seems all too easy.  In the last episode Tyler admitted that he’d jump off a bridge if Klaus asked him to, so his sudden backbone is suspicious.

Caroline feels depressed because she’s undead and stuck at age 17 –  a “filler year” where nothing exciting happens.  Elena’s fun birthday plan is to hold a funeral for the life Caroline used to have so she can move on with her new life.  Matt and Bonnie tag along, and no one thinks this is bizarre.  I mean, there are symbolic ceremonies, and then there are creepy drunken nights in a crypt.  Also, who hangs out in a crypt at all?

Alaric and Damon

While those four have a funeral party, Damon and Alaric head to a Restoration Fundraiser, which is cover for a Council meeting.  Klaus is there, chatting up Mrs. Lockwood.  He is offering the town protection in exchange for Stefan leaving his hybrids alone.  Mrs. Lockwood falls hook, line, and sinker for Klaus, but good old Sheriff Liz sides with Damon and doesn’t want anyone controlling her town.  Alaric walks in on Dr. Fell having an argument with her ex, who is also the medical examiner.  This is IMPORTANT INFORMATION for later.  Stefan tries to kill another hybrid at the party but Damon intervenes, not wanting to cause a scene.

In a weak and drunken moment, Caroline texts Tyler, who shows up to the funeral.  He draws her outside and tells her he loves her.  Caroline is all aflutter and they kiss, but then Tyler bites her neck and runs away.  So, still under Klaus’s bidding, then.  Stefan kidnaps Elena as she and Matt look for Caroline and drives off, telling Klaus that if he doesn’t get rid of the hybrids, Stefan will get rid of his ability to make any more (with Elena’s blood).  While Klaus listens on the phone, Stefan forces Elena to drink his blood and speeds toward the bridge her parents died on, planning to turn her into a vampire.  In a panic, Klaus agrees to get rid of the hybrids.  Elena is understandably upset and jumps out of the car.  After telling her that revenge on Klaus is all he has left, Stefan drives away.

Matt carries Caroline home and Klaus appears, offering his help in exchange for the Sheriff’s support.  She agrees and invites him in.  Klaus offers to let Caroline die, if that’s what she wants, but describes a beautiful world waiting for her.  He offers her his blood, and she accepts.  Caroline awakens the next morning good as new, with a present from Klaus by her bed.  It’s a much more grown-up and expensive bracelet than the one Tyler had given her.

Jeremy leaves town, and Dr. Fell shows up at the bar where Alaric is working on his alcoholism.  Meanwhile Sheriff Liz brings Damon out to a crime scene – the murdered body of the medical examiner, with a stake sticking out of his chest.  Bum bum bum!!!

Damon and Sheriff Liz at the scene of the crime

This was what I like to think of as a “groundwork” episode.  There wasn’t a whole lot of action, but there were lots of plans being made and plot seeds being planted.  Dr. Fell certainly doesn’t seem to be on the up-and-up.  She has a fight with her ex and suddenly he shows up murdered?  Sounds like the perfect way to set up Alaric, who threatened to kick him in the teeth.  Bonnie and Elena don’t see eye-to-eye on Jeremy leaving – is there trouble ahead in friendship paradise?  Tyler has demonstrated that he can’t resist Klaus’s orders, and Klaus now has the backing of the Mayor and the Sheriff.  It can’t be much longer before he’s running the whole town.  The wedge between Stefan and Elena is growing bigger and bigger by the minute.  Threatening to kill a girl at the same spot her parents were tragically killed?  That’s not going to win any young lady over.  There are only so many times Stefan can push her away before Elena just gives in and stops caring.  Something tells me exciting things are in store for Elena and the gang, especially Damon.  Eventually he’s going to have to choose between his brother and the girl he loves.

If you missed the previous episode be sure to read our ‘The Vampire Diaries: ‘ recap to catch up.