After last week's crazy, murderiffic season opener, "The Vampire Diaries" doesn't let up as we find history repeating itself with another newborn vamp loose during a Mystic High carnival. But can Undead Caroline control her newfound bloodlust better than poor Vampire Vicky did? Will we finally see the hunky Lockwood wolf-men in action? And what do Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec have against carnival folk, anyhow?

[Find out in the full recap of Thursday (Sep. 16) night's "The Vampire Diaries" after the break…]

Caroline's undead body awakes in the hospital late at night. She's hungry. Like, REALLY HUNGRY. Luckily, something smells delicious in the next room. Caroline pinches a bag of blood that another patient was obviously using. Nothing like a bag of donor blood to quench that morning-after thirst! Caroline drains it like a Capri Sun.

Meanwhile, Bonnie and Elena discuss Katherine while prepping the school carnival. Elena doesn't want to talk about vampires, especially not Damon, who's still on her s*** list for killing Jeremy last week. Conversation turns to Caroline, who's so neurotic, it's like she's not even human! Har-har.

Now that Jeremy's been properly initiated into the world of vampires and magical life-saving rings, Stefan gives him a crash course in anti-vampire protection: vervain, stakes through the heart, the whole deal. Jeremy's still bitter over being killed by Damon, but Stefan warns him against taking revenge. Elena just wants to forget the supernatural shenanigans that have taken over her life. She wants nothing more than to ride the Ferris wheel with Stefan and make out at the top like the normies do.

Mrs. Lockwood debriefs Damon, announcing that she's now taking over as Mayor of Mystic Falls until a replacement is found for her dead husband. She wants Damon to take the lead on the Council. They're briefly interrupted by Tyler and Mason, who have returned from a joint workout. Tyler wears the Jacob Black uniform -- shorts, no shirt -- AS IF we needed more clues.

Damon uses his super vampire hearing skillz to eavesdrop on Tyler and Mason's bromantic post-run conversation, but all they seem to talk about are Tyler's strange anger issues and his work-out schedule. Tyler says he gets angry over nothing, blacks out and can't control his anger, etc. It's hard to follow because all of a sudden the only words in my brain are: Nipples. Sweat. Man-chest. Pretty.

AHEM. Back at the hospital, Undead Caroline's discovering that her skin burns in the sunlight. Matt pops in but his sweet lovey dovey visit is cut short when Caroline, hungry and scared of being released from the hospital during daylight hours, acts like a total freakazoid. She's piecing it all together! Unfortunately, she can't tell Matt what's going on. He politely leaves Caroline to cower in the shadows daydreaming of getting her hands on some more of that sweet, sweet blood.

Back home, Damon pours himself a Type AB cocktail and teases Stefan. Damon enjoys the power trip of having his friends on edge again, but Katherine's still a touchy subject. He's currently investigating the Lockwood's bizarre family secret, anyway. One obsession at a time. 

Sneaking sips from a stashed blood bag, Caroline discovers that her gifted vervain necklace burns her skin, rendering her hospital gown ensemble utterly incomplete. Worse, the blood is starting to bring out that veiny black eyed vampire face and fangs, which is totally gross! Caroline overpowers the night nurse, discovers that she can compel her, and lustily bites into the woman's neck giving one of the sexiest, most blood-spattered throes of pure ecstatic fulfillment we've seen so far on "TVD."

Over at the Mystic Falls carnival, Bonnie and Elena continue their straight-faced comedy routine. "The ring toss is out of Bart and Homer dolls AND Team Jacob tees." Oh "TVD," you're so funny. Bonnie gets her flirt on with an African American carnie named Carter, who is more than willing to fiddle with her karaoke speakers, if you know what I mean.

At the Lockwood mansion, Mason snoops around his brother's office. Tyler catches him and Mason gingerly explains that he's looking for an old family heirloom that his father had given his mom: a "moonstone," the size of a hockey puck.

Damon swaggers into the carnival and casually banters with Jeremy like nobody ever snapped anyone else's neck in the last episode. Jeremy angrily threatens to expose Damon for the vampire he is, but Damon demonstrates how easily he could just steal Jeremy's magical ring and kill him again.

Thanks to her zombie-slave nurse, Caroline is cleared to leave the hospital; she's in a big rush to get back to the carnival to make sure Elena hasn't messed it all up. And also to eat some people. Caroline cheerfully compels her nurse to forget everything. She's just like the old Caroline, only super-powered, confident, and more fabulous! Leave it to Mystic High's number one overachiever to pick up Vampire 101 all by herself in only a day.

The brothers Salvatore watch as Tyler and Mason Lockwood challenge each other to an arm wrestling contest as a crowd of swooning females looks on. Mason wins handily, so Damon volunteers his brother to take on the champ - who turns out to be stronger than just any human. Damon compels Bonnie's flirty handyman Carter into picking a fight with Tyler in order to find out what the Lockwoods really are.

Damon takes a stroll down the darkened hallways of Mystic High -- incidentally, nothing good ever comes of strolls down the darkened hallways of Mystic High -- and runs into an unusually poised Caroline. She now remembers everything he did to her during Season 1. Caroline deliver's Katherine's message and flings Damon down onto his backside with a confident "You suck," standing up to him for using her as his human feed bag. She's also wearing some killer stiletto-heeled boots, which hammer home the revelation that there's a new Caroline in town.

Meanwhile, Stefan watches as Carter picks his fight with Tyler in the parking lot. Mason intervenes, vaults over a car and leaps ten feet into the air before landing on all fours. Tyler notices Mason's yellow eyes right before Mason backhands Carter and they flee the scene.

Caroline finds Matt playing the ring toss game and explains that she feels much better. Caroline gives it a go, but shatters the bottles with her toss. Guess that means no Team Jacob tee for her, eh? As they get cuddly in the carnival, Caroline realizes that she's thirsty… for Matt. She splits.

Elena, Stefan and Damon convene in a classroom to discuss their new Caroline problem, which incidentally reminds us of how much we kinda sorta miss Alaric these days. Matt Davis's weird-ass Tweets? Not so much. Anyhow, Damon wants to nip things in the bud and kill Caroline, thinking she doesn't have the stuff to make it as a vampire. We disagree! And so do Elena and Stefan.

They go off to find Caroline, who's wandering the carnival distraught and hungry. She happens upon poor Carter, nursing his post-brawl bloody nose. You know, "TVD," it's not very nice to create throwaway characters like this just so everything bad can happen to them in one night! Caroline apologizes before eating the poor guy.

At the Maison de Lockwood, Tyler interrogates Mason about his crazy "Brazilian martial arts." Tyler Lockwood has obviously seen Only the Strong and knows what he saw wasn't capoiera.  Mason refuses to admit to any crazy shenanigans, which brings this burgeoning nephew-uncle bromance to its first bump in the road.

Damon, stake in hand, finds Caroline first. She's confused and remorseful over killing Bonnie's only known recent potential love interest, and Damon promises to help -- by killing her. But Undead Caroline doesn't want to die! And Candice Accola is doing some great teary-eyed, bloody-faced squeaky-voiced "I don't want to die!" work! Stefan arrives in time to stop Damon from staking Caroline, who wants to know what the hell is going on. Damon makes one last attempt to kill Caroline, but Elena steps between them and saves her.

Bonnie arrives in time to find out that her bestie is now a bloodthirsty killer AND that she totally drank her new almost-boyfriend. Stefan takes Caroline away to get the Karo syrup off her face and begins teaching her how to control her vampire face and the hunger that comes with it. Stefan promises not to let anything happen to her, but then we've heard that before… and so did Vampire Vicky.

Strangely weepy over the recent turn of events, Bonnie pulls a Carrie and attacks Damon, who she blames for everything bad that has happened. And everything that will ever happen. Bonnie isn't quite on the same page as everyone else about this being KATHERINE'S doing, but whatevs. Elena leaps over a gasoline-fueled river of fire to shake Bonnie out of her weirdo rage, saving Damon from an ignoble death by magical psycho fire.

In their Mystic High hallway post-mortem chat, Elena and Stefan catch up on the day's events. Elena so can't believe how insane her "normal" day went, but that's what you get when your boyfriend's a vampire, your BFF's a witch, and you have a murderous doppelganger roaming the town. Hey, at least you're not a fairy, Elena.

Tyler and his uncle make up, but Tyler hasn't given up on getting to the bottom of the family secret. He sneaks away to open a secret safe in the floor of his dad's office, where he finds files, diskettes, and the moonstone Mason's been looking for.

Damon comes home to find Jeremy dressed like a ninja, stake in hand -- but Jeremy's rethought his plan to assassinate Damon, and instead they have a heart-to-heart. They bond over what they have in common: fathers who hated vampires. Damon holds onto Jeremy's makeshift stake.

Matt makes a nighttime visit to Caroline's window and confesses that now he's insecure about their relationship, FINALLY declaring his love for her. YAY! Caroline shows him that her feelings haven't changed, but her hungry vampire face starts to come out mid-kiss. In a strangely beautiful moment underscored by that patented CW channel brand of sensitive singer-songwriter music, Caroline practices the breathing exercise Stefan taught her and is able to suppress her killer impulses. DOUBLE YAY!

But wait! There's more romance in store for us VDers, as Stefan wakes Elena just before dawn to take her on the romantic normal-teen Ferris wheel ride she wanted. Stefan says that he came back to Mystic Falls to start a life with her and declares that life is for living, which is a lesson I also learned from that Zac Efron movie about the guy who plays baseball with his dead brother.

But wait, yet again! How can Stefan and Elena get to the top of the Ferris wheel with no one around to operate it? He tells her to "hold on tight" (but stops short of calling her "spider monkey") and jumps them all the way into the top seat. The lovebirds kiss, but end the episode on a note of foreboding as they realize that life isn't ever going to be simple again.

Next week: Are Stefan and Caroline being hunted in the woods by the wolfy, shirtless Mason Lockwood? And if a werewolf can kill a vampire with its bite, what does that mean for our increasingly undead guys and gals?