What is it about a flashback-themed episode that makes me so giddy inside?  I think it comes down to pretty people wearing pretty costumes and talking in old-timey accents.  I’m a sucker for it!  Hark!  Spoilers ahead!

1912 Damon

Alaric wakes from the dead AGAIN (I’ve lost track of how many resurrections this makes!), this time in a jail cell.  Dr. Fell used vampire blood to heal his wounds, but Dr. Fell isn’t so great since she told Sheriff Forbes that Alaric is the one who has been killing Council members.  What a low-down, dirty lady!  The audience assumes she is just doing this to cover her own tracks, which makes me strongly dislike her.

Matt tells Elena that Bonnie’s mother is going to transition with Caroline’s help.  She doesn’t have too much time to feel guilty though, as Sheriff Forbes calls her with the news of Alaric’s arrest.  Damon is furious about Alaric’s false imprisonment but shows no remorse over biting Abby, even teasing Elena about it.  Damon remembers that in 1912 Mystic Falls had another serial killer in town and is intent on finding out who it was.

FLASHBACK!  Stefan meets distant members of the Lockwood and Gilbert bloodlines at his “cousin” Zachariah’s funeral in 1912.  Zachariah was one of the Council members murdered by the original serial killer.  Damon confronts Stefan in the cemetery.  At this point Damon is still angry at Stefan for turning him, but Stefan is no longer feeding from humans.  Damon agrees to a drink.

MODERN DAY!  Damon asks Stefan to go for drinks, and hopefully his help in solving the murders.  Mayor Lockwood is at the bar, drinking with Rebekah of all people.  Rebekah is pumping her for information about the old white oak tree and where it might be located.  The most she can get from the Mayor is that the logging mills at the time were owned by the Salvatores.  Damon advises Stefan against going cold turkey with human blood.  At the jail, Sheriff Forbes lists off the evidence that Meredith has compiled against Alaric, and it doesn’t look good for our vampire hunter.  Rebekah slinks up to the brothers at the bar and gets nosy about the 1912 killer.  Damon doesn’t believe it was a vampire until Stefan reminds him of a vamp named Sage, a spunky redheaded boxer who caught Damon’s eye.

Sage, the feisty boxer

Elena confronts Meredith about the case she’s making against Alaric, but Dr. Fell has done research on his criminal past.  She’s convincing – is it possible she believes what she’s saying?  That’s more troublesome than if she’s just trying to frame him.  Elena and Matt search Meredith’s house (where do they get these lockpicking skills?!) and find the files of the attacked Council members in her closet.

FLASHBACK!  Sage happens upon Damon feeding from a woman.  Sage is disappointed that Damon sees feeding as perfunctory instead of pleasurable.  He is serious and solemn, pining over Katherine who is still stuck in the tomb.  Sage tells Damon that he should be going after the women who are “all buttoned up,” since they are most yearning for release.  She picks out a lady for him – Samantha Gilbert.

MODERN DAY!  Rebekah mentions that Sage was obsessed with her brother Finn.  While Matt and Elena hide in her closet, Meredith comes home.  She is waiting for them as soon as Elena opens the door and calls the police.  Sheriff Forbes is angry because any evidence they found is worthless as fruit of the poisonous tree.  Meredith writes a letter to the Sheriff apologizing for falsely accusing Alaric.  Another about-face?  What is this lady playing at?!

Rebekah offers to help Damon with Stefan.  While Stefan is close, Damon starts feeding on a girl.  Either Stefan drinks from her a little, or Damon will give her to Rebekah, who will kill her.  Stefan gives in, and Damon dismisses Rebekah, who is irritated at being used.  Damon heals the girl, but Elena and Matt arrive on the scene to witness Stefan’s blood-smeared mouth.  Elena is disgusted and leaves.

Elena has a heart-to-heart with Matt.  He can’t understand what would draw her to vampires, and she confesses that she felt safe with Stefan because it felt like he would never die on her like her parents did.  Her feelings for Damon “snuck up” on her.  Matt says it’s hard to fall out of love with someone, a very pointed remark when you’re talking to your ex-girlfriend.  Matt delivers a Gilbert family journal to her, and Alaric finally comes home.  Elena and Alaric hug in an extended, emotional moment.  They only have each other left as family, and they’re holding onto each other as tightly as they can.

FLASHBACK!  Flush with victory (and blood), Damon encourages Stefan to drink from a human again.   Copying Sage’s advice, he picks out Marianna Lockwood for Stefan.  When Damon tries to stop Stefan from draining the girl, Stefan accidentally kills her.  He is immediately upset and runs off.  A short time later he loses himself in becoming The Ripper.

MODERN DAY!  Damon says he could have stopped Stefan in 1912 but didn’t want to.  Now, though, he will be there “until you don’t need me.”  Stefan is all Damon has left, having alienated everyone else (except maybe Alaric).  Stefan finds evidence that Samantha Gilbert confessed to the murders 10 years later, but the problem with Samantha being the serial killer is that Damon killed her in 1912.  At the same time Elena discovers she is reading Samantha’s journal, and that she went mad.  Meredith comes to the Gilbert house and begs to explain that she was just clearing Alaric’s name.

Stefan and Damon express their love

The next connections are made quickly.  Alaric received the Gilbert eternity ring, which is why he can die and come back to life over and over.  That ring had been passed down for centuries through the family bloodline.  Is it possible that Samantha Gilbert had it and didn’t stay dead?  This is what Stefan suspects.

Meredith proposes that Alaric is going crazy like Samantha Gilbert and asks, “How many times can you die before it changes you?” She thinks Alaric is the serial killer and doesn’t even know it himself, even going so far as to self-harm.

Poor Alaric!  This guy can’t catch a break!  This episode was a nice return from the winter hiatus.  We were introduced to quite a few new characters, and Meredith’s flip-flopping between being malicious and helpful to Alaric kept me on my toes.   Amidst the drama, there were some genuinely touching moments between Matt and Elena, Alaric and Elena, and of course, Stefan and Damon.  I’m anxious to see Sage and Rebekah interact – I have a sense that their dislike for each other will make for fun viewing.

So what did you think of the show?

Missed the previous episode? Be sure to read our ‘The Vampire Diaries: All My Children’ recap.