We're back, VDers! After going far too long without our beloved "Vampire Diaries," the story picks up right where we left off in the wake of Grams' death (and the subsequent Katerina Graham master class that seemingly won her this week off). Damon, still struggling with the knowledge that Katherine totally dissed him, turns to alcoholism and shirtlessness to ease his pain. Interruptions, bad mothers, new faces, and more mentions of Isobel than you can handle are in store as we dive into Episode 15: "A Few Good Men."

[Full recap of Thursday's (March 25) "The Vampire Diaries," titled "A Few Good Men," after the break…]

A lone hiker in the woods hears a noise. Oh, it's only sort-of creepy Afro-American escaped vampire guy! Vampire guy asks the hiker what year it is. His name is Harper, and he's super polite. So polite he even apologizes to the hiker before busting out his fangs, drinking his blood, and stealing his clothes! When the dude's cell rings, Harper's all, WTF? and throws the thing down in a panic. So far, homicide aside, this Harper kid is A-OK in our book.

Elena's at home trying to get a hold of Bonnie, but since Grams died she's been MIA. (Read: Katerina Graham had this week off.) Aunt Jenna's feeling helpful this week, and shows Elena what she's found in her dad's old logs about Elena's teenage runaway mom, Isobel. Jenna Binged Isobel's name and traced her last name to nearby Grove Hill, Virginia. (Down with Google -- everyone's Bing-ing!) A certain Trudie Peterson may have known Isobel; they find a picture of the two as cheerleaders circa 1993. Aunt Jenna continues her usefulness kick with another key detail: she remembers that Alaric Saltzman's dead wife was also named Isobel. Which means she's totally dead. But she could have been Elena's mom!

Elena and Stefan ponder the possibility. Elena wants to give Trudie a visit but she's not ready to hear that her birth mom could be dead. Stefan assures Elena that the chances that Alaric's wife and her mom are the same woman is too great. Yeah right. Like nothing farfetched has ever happened in Mystic Falls!

Damon's also still dealing with learning the truth about Katherine last episode. His method of "dealing," however, consists of partying with a bunch of vampire groupie sluts who love being bitten (but not all the way killed). Stefan interrupts the pity party to check on Damon, who insists he's fine -- and that he hasn’t killed anyone. Yet. We like this sad, depressed and alcoholic Damon. Stefan mentions Isobel to see if Damon remembers killing her, but Damon's in no mood to be serious and goes back to his sorority sluts.

Meanwhile, Caroline and Matt are hanging at his parent-free house, when Caroline suggests they take advantage of the lack of supervision to get busy. Their half-naked make-out session is interrupted… by Marissa's mom from "The O.C.!" She's also Matt and Vampire Vicky's mom, and she's finally home in Mystic Falls!

At the high school, Alaric flirts with Jenna as she hangs a sign for a Mystic Falls fundraiser in which Jenna plans on pimping him (and other local hotties) for charity. He kisses her, but Jenna interrupts the moment to get something off her chest: Elena's birth mother was named Isobel. Could it have been his wife? She shows him the picture of Cheerleader Isobel from the internet; it's totally Alaric's Isabel. Flustered, he takes off. Way to blow it, Jenna.

Elena shows up at Trudie's doorstep and awkwardly asks if Isobel pulled a Juno back in the day. Trudie immediately recognizes Elena as Isobel's daughter. The camera lingers on Elena's feet crossing over the threshold into Trudie's house, and as Trudie closes the door a nervous look flits across her face. Hidden meaning much??

Trudie hadn't seen Isobel since she left town to have her baby 17 years ago. They kept in touch on and off but lost track over the years. Trudie never learned who Isobel's baby daddy was, but she does know that Isobel went to Duke University in North Carolina. In the next room, Trudie sends a text message to an unknown person: "She's here."

Matt and his MILF of a mom catch up, but it's clear they're not terribly close. She teases him for dating the Sheriff's daughter, and as she pours herself a breakfast vodka she waves off Matt's concern for Vicky, who they still think is off wandering the world alive and well. Eh, I'm sure she's having a blast in the vampire afterlife.

Alaric meets with Stefan in the middle of town to trade clues about Isobel and her link to Elena. An increasingly emotional Alaric demands that Stefan interrogate Damon about what he did to Isobel way back when, but Stefan insists that Damon's too unstable right now. They have a chiseled face-off in the single most testosterone-filled camera close-up two shot so far on "The Vampire Diaries" before Alaric gives Stefan a photograph of Isobel to aid in his investigation.

Alaric flashes back to when Isobel was still alive. She's up late working on her research - investigating the small town in Virginia where she grew up, where mysterious deaths are attributed to animal attacks. Sound familiar? They're vampires, she swears! Alaric teases her for believing the mumbo jumbo, which is so darn cute. Mia Kirschner rocks. Whoever casts "The Vampire Diaries," keep the awesome guest stars coming!

Back at Trudie's, Elena's learning all about her mother. But wait - Elena tastes vervain in her tea, which means that Trudie knows something about vampires! When Elena's all, WTF? Trudie demands that she leave. As Elena makes her way to her super cute mini Cooper, she sees an ominous figure standing in the road behind her. She takes off before the mystery man approaches.

At the Mystic Grill, Damon sidles up to Alaric at the bar. They're both tipsy. And it's still the afternoon! We're noticing two prominent themes in this week's episode: interruptions, and functional alcoholism. They exchange polite-but-almost-menacing chatter before Alaric takes off to drunkenly grade term papers, and Sheriff Forbes sidles up to Damon at the bar. Drunken Damon orders the Sheriff a drink. She recruits him to join the Mystic Falls bachelor raffle and he agrees - in exchange for inside information on Alaric Saltzman, who now gives Damon weird vibes.

Mystery Man rings Trudie's doorbell and thanks her for the text message. Alarmed, she insists she didn't tell Elena anything but reports that Elena knew something was up. He's satisfied, but he still has to kill her. Since he's not a vampire, he proceeds to come right on in and throw Trudie down the stairs. Bye, Trudie.

Harper, the cute polite vampire, makes his way into Mystic Falls. The poor guy's bewildered by the cars and cell phones and skateboarding teenagers that now occupy the town square. He exchanges a glance with a strange random woman sitting on a bench and bolts.

Over at the Salvatore Mansion, Elena arrives to find Damon and his sexy pubic bones spilling out of a pair of tight jeans. He's still drunk, and asks Elena to help him button his shirt. She tells him she found out who her birth mother is, but he's too depressed to care. But you know who's never too distracted with his own issues to care about a girl's maybe-dead birth mother? Stefan Salvatore. Elena tells Stefan about her visit to Trudie's and how totally weird it was that Trudie had vervain. Stefan explains that Alaric thinks Isobel knew about vampires and was killed by one, and asks Elena to keep it on the DL for now.

At the bachelor raffle, Alaric's all tarted up and primed to sell off his goods. Jenna comes by to fail at flirting by bringing up Elena and Alaric's dead wife again. That kissing mood Alaric was in this morning? So not happening any more. Meanwhile, Stefan shows Damon the picture of Isobel and asks if he recalls eating her in North Carolina, but Damon denies any memory of her.

At the Grill, Caroline boasts to Elena that HER BOYFRIEND MATT has already been hit on by a thousand cougars. Matt's mom, Kelly, arrives and greets Elena warmly, simultaneously dissing Caroline to her face. Awkward! Elsewhere, an inebriated Damon flirts with Tyler's mom. Sheriff Forbes shows up to give Damon that info he wanted, and Damon realizes that Alaric's wife was the woman who Stefan asked him about. Now everyone's on the same page about Elena's birth mother named Isobel who married Alaric and was killed by a vampire! Well, almost.

Let the Bachelor Raffle commence! With Mrs. Lockwood emceeing, the bachelors introduce themselves one by one; when the microphone comes to the now-resentful Damon, he taunts Alaric and tells him he had drinks with his wife years ago in North Carolina. In the middle of the bachelor raffle, our heroes realize the same awful truth: Alaric masks his rage on stage; Elena sits horrified as she realizes that Damon ate her mom, and Stefan emotes sensually, powerless to stop any of it.

Elena runs outside for fresh air and Stefan follows to explain that technically, they don't know if Damon killed Isobel because the police never found her body. Sad and angry, Elena demands to know why Stefan's still trying to protect Damon, who actually doesn't know that Isobel was her mom. Stefan still hopes that Damon can change and is trying to protect him in his fragile emotional phase. Elena and Stefan's almost-fight is interrupted when she spots the mystery man from Trudie's spying on them down the street.

They go back inside to the safety and protection of the bachelor raffle, where Caroline congratulates Kelly on winning Bachelor #3, only to get a withering verbal smack down. Kelly tells Caroline she thinks she's fake, just like her mother, and she doesn't like her. Poor Caroline.

Back inside, Elena literally runs into Damon and reams him for taunting Alaric. Damon doesn't understand why Elena's so mad -- she totally doesn't care about the hundreds of other humans he's eaten -- until she explains that Isobel was her mother. Hopefully, that's the last time I'll have to type that in this recap now that EVERY SINGLE PERSON finally knows who Isobel was. Geez. Elena storms out and Stefan dutifully follows, leaving Damon actually looking adorably remorseful as he realizes what he's done.

Outside, Mystery Man has been waiting for Elena to exit the building. (Seriously, was he just going to stand there all night until she left?)  He warns her to stop looking for Isobel, because "she doesn't want to know you." Way harsh, Mystery Man. "Does that mean she's alive?" Elena asks. But he just keeps repeating his message because, as Stefan notices, he's under the control of some vampire's mojo. His mission complete, Mystery Man steps out into traffic to be run over by a truck… and becomes Mystery Meat.

At the bachelor raffle, Jenna magically pulls Alaric's number while Mrs. Lockwood somehow wins the date with Damon. I smell a fixed raffle! The cougars of Mystic Falls should file a complaint! Jenna, of course, is delighted -- until Alaric bails to find Damon and exact his revenge. Their date will have to wait until he's avenged his wife, or died a horrible death in the process. Alaric flashes back again to a blue-hued time when he asked Isobel to give up her vampire obsession.

Meanwhile, Matt escorts his hot mess of a mother back home. She drunkenly apologizes for skipping town for so long, although obviously since he was forced to take a demeaning minimum wage job barbacking at the Grill, he's done fine for himself, right? What Matt really wants to know is why she came home. Her boyfriend finally left her, which means Matt is all she has in the world. Well, him and the absentee 17-year-old daughter she doesn't know is dead. More great parenting from the folks of Mystic Falls!

Back at the Salvatore house, Damon pours himself another drink as Alaric attempts to sneak in wielding what appears to be a katana. What is he, The Bride? Only Damon's way ahead of him and heard him coming, and turns to confront him. As Damon smacks Alaric across the room, I can see that it's only a stake that Alaric's holding, which dashes my ninja vampire fight fantasy to pieces. Alaric demands to know where Isobel is and what Damon did to her, but as Damon handily fends him off he explains that he didn't kill her -- he turned her, and by Isobel's own request. Also, he slept with her. (Ouch.) In the ensuing struggle, Alaric is stabbed with his own stake. Damon, apathetic but somewhat sympathetic, watches Alaric die.

Stefan arrives too late and admonishes Damon, telling him he hasn't been handling his lingering Katherine malaise too well. But Damon's obsession has been rekindled, and he fantasizes that maybe Katherine somehow sent Isobel to him for a reason. Damon leaves Alaric's body for Stefan to deal with… but as Stefan sits pondering his predicament, Alaric's fingers twitch. And then he comes back to life!!

Both Stefan and Alaric are shocked; did he have vampire blood in his system? Was he turned by a vampire? No, it's something else, Alaric deduces, peering at his giant decorative man ring. We've been wondering what Alaric's magical-looking ring was all about! He flashes back YET AGAIN to the night when Isobel gifted him the thing.

"Just tell people it's a family heirloom," she tells him. (That's exactly what he told Jeremy a bazillion episodes ago!) She asks him to wear it forever to ward off bad things. Back in the present, Alaric explains to Stefan that the ring somehow protected him from dying, which they agree is kind of totally impossible.

At home in bed, Elena grabs a photo of her adopted parents off the shelf. And as she explained before, when she thinks of her dead adoptive parents she thinks of her maybe-dead birth mother. She looks at the cell phone she lifted off of the mystery man after he became road kill and thinks, what the heck? She pulls up the last dialed number -- (919) 399-2507, which you can call IRL for a very special message -- and hits send. A woman's voice picks up the phone. "Isobel?" Elena asks. The woman hangs up.

Meanwhile, nice vampire boy Harper has trudged all the way through the woods to find the woman from the bench in a cozy little house in the middle of nowhere. She answers the door and calls for Pearl, who greets Harper with her daughter, Anna. Behind them is an older woman who Pearl calls Miss Gibbons, who invites Harper in at Pearl's request. (Duh-duh-duhnnn!)

**I'm reminded by the TV spot that flashed during this episode that you over-18 VDers should check out the new flick "Chloe," which features "The Vampire Diaries"' own Nina Dobrev in a supporting role.

 

Next week: Stefan and Elena double date with Matt and Caroline and Damon has a play date with Anna!