Plots are described below, so plotlines will be revealed!

Sheriff Forbes interrupts a completely inappropriate conversation between Elena and Alaric to bring bad news: not only was the medical examiner killed with one of the Gilberts’ special stakes, but the only fingerprints on it are Elena’s.  Bonnie and her mother Abby are led by Stefan to the sealed coffin and set about trying to spell it open.  Elena confronts Stefan and asks if he killed the medical examiner.  She says she doesn’t know what he’s capable of anymore, and Stefan retorts with, “Did you ask Damon if he’s killed anyone lately?”  Elena’s silence speaks volumes to Stefan, who manages to look even grumpier and sulkier than usual.

Caroline comes to the hospital to pick up her father, but finds out from Meredith that her father was already discharged.  In a creepy move, Meredith reveals that she knows Caroline is a vampire, and that she knows who all the vampires in town are.  Stalker, much?  I bet if you opened Meredith’s work locker she’s got a map of Mystic Falls with those red pins to mark each vamp’s location.  Hearing his cell phone ringing, Caroline follows her ears to a room where her father is slumped, stabbed with a stake and throat slit.  Of course, he had been fed vampire blood to heal his original hybrid wounds, so when she pulls out the stake, he wakes up.

Mr. Forbes says he was attacked from behind.  He refuses to drink any blood, but if he doesn’t feed and transition, he’ll die.  The blade in his chest also belongs to Alaric.  All clues point to Meredith being the killer, since she had access to Alaric’s weapons and knew where they were.  Damon and Stefan meet with Elijah and Klaus to come to a fake truce.  Klaus forces them to eat dinner together.  Damon points out that Klaus killed his mother but Stefan killed his father.  Klaus is a nice foil for Stefan, showing what could be if he hadn’t changed his violent ways.

Klaus tells the dinner party the story of Tatia, the originator of the Doppelganger curse.  Klaus and Elijah both fell for her.  Tatia wouldn’t decide between them, driving the brothers apart.  It was Tatia’s blood that their mother Esther made Elijah and Klaus drink to become vampires.

Abby finds a symbol in the Grimmoire that means two generations must work together to break the sealing spell.  Bonnie accuses Abby of not trying.  Abby tries to blame the witchy spirits for being angry at her, but Bonnie says Abby won’t open herself up.  Bonnie tells her the way to make up for leaving town is to help her now.  They try the spell again, and this time, magic explodes around them.  The coffin almost opens, and Bonnie rushes off to call Damon.  When she walks away, the coffin busts open.

Damon offers to exchange the mystery sealed coffin for Klaus and the rest of the Original family leaving Mystic Falls.  Klaus doesn’t want to leave Elena and her doppelganger blood behind.  Matt walks Elena home from Caroline’s house, but suspicions are aroused when the power is out.  Elena finds a puddle of blood in the kitchen.  They follow bloody footprints and handprints to the staked body of Alaric.  This murderer is a fast mover!

Alaric doesn’t know who assaulted him.  His ring will only help him if he dies a supernatural death, and Elena is the supernatural doppelganger, which means she needs to kill him so he can come back.  So…she stabs him again, which has got to be one of Alaric’s worst nights in the recent past.

Klaus counters Damon’s deal with Elena’s happiness – he’ll ensure her safety for the rest of her life, making sure she marries a human and keeps the bloodline going.  When the brothers aren’t impressed with this idea, Klaus cuts to the chase.  He breaks Stefan’s arm and thrusts it into the fire as Elijah holds Damon back.  Klaus wants the sealed coffin or he’ll burn Stefan entirely.  Elijah and Damon leave to get the coffin.  Although Damon and Elijah have previously met to confer, it seems Elijah has sided with his brother again.

Caroline and her father have a sweet moment together.  She begs him to become a vampire, but doing so would be going against what he believes in.  He tells Caroline she’s exactly who he hoped she would grow up to be, beautiful and strong and good.  He has accepted his rapidly approaching death, saying “This is what it means to be human.”  We’re so used to supernatural creatures and heirloom immortality rings that this moment stands out.  Caroline’s father is choosing a human life and a human death, and it’s touching and sad and somehow very right when he finally passes away.

Elijah returns with his newly unstaked brothers Kol and Finn, as well as Rebekah.  Klaus looks like a caged rat as they circle him, taking turns stabbing or striking him.  Damon and Stefan leave them to their “family business.”  As they walk together in the woods, Stefan tells Damon that he loves Elena, and Damon replies, “So do I.”

Alaric awakens to the news that Meredith was in surgery when he was stabbed, so she has been cleared as a suspect.  Stefan and Damon return to the caves, where Bonnie has been knocked out.  Abby and the coffin contents are missing.

Rebekah wants to kill Elena, and then the family plans to leave Klaus all alone.  Esther walks in – she was in the last coffin!  She forces Klaus to look her in the eye and asks if he knows why she is there.  “To kill me?” he asks.  She says she is there to forgive him, and that she wants them to be a family again.

Tonight’s episode was all about family – family dying, family in danger, family coming back to life to be reunited with each other.  Bonnie needs her mother quite literally to perform a spell.  Elena watches what’s left of her family – Alaric – die and come back to life.  Caroline’s father dies, but won’t be returning to this world.  The Originals are back together (without Mikael) and seem to be intent on healing their wounds, although I’m not sure how they’ll all deal with Klaus toting their dead bodies around for centuries.  Most interesting, in my opinion, is the family of Stefan and Damon.  Are they destined to be a pair of brothers driven apart again and again over a girl they both love?  Theirs is a complicated relationship, but they do care about each other.  After all, they’ve taken turns saving each other so much that I’ve lost track of whose turn it is.  There’s no easy answer, which is what makes this show so intriguing.