After a week off and a spectacular last episode, I was really looking forward to the Halloween-themed “Haunting,” which promised to unveil Vampire Vicki finally unleashing her newfound bloodlust during Mystic Falls’ Halloween bash! What we got instead was an inspired episode in which the word “haunted” took on an unexpected meaning, a slow-burning shocker that left everyone involved emotionally drained -- including us.  

[Full recap of Thursday (Oct. 29) night's "The Vampire Diaries" after the break...] 

When Vampire Vicki is let loose in Mystic Falls, who do you think she’s going after first? That’s right: Tyler. Vicki’s struggling with her new vampire senses. She’s so scared! She’s so cold! She’s so…hungry! And if Tyler happens to be Vicki’s first snack… maybe I’d be ok with it. Luckily for Tyler, Stefan arrives just in time to stop Vicki from eating him. Damon’s there too and vampire-voodoos Tyler into forgetting it all, and the three vampires disappear into the night.  

Cue emo song and Elena waking up in bed. Even though she totally broke up with him the other week, she’s still wearing Stefan’s necklace… well, maybe she’s wearing it just for the vervain.  

Meanwhile, Jeremy wants to skip school to look for Vicki. The whole town is looking for her, but Elena knows the truth. She tries to argue her brother out of the search, knowing how dangerous Vicki is now, but Jeremy won’t hear it.  

We find Vicki hanging with the Bros. Salvatore. The two daddy vampires fight over whether they should raise their newborn: as a vegetarian or a carnivore? Stefan fixes Vicki some of his patented veggie breakfast; the sludge helps him stave off those pesky hunger pangs for human blood, although it’s nowhere close to as tasty as the real thing. Stefan encourages Vicki to resist the urge for human blood, even though she kinda wants to try human. It’s the other white meat.  

Elena shows up to banter with Damon, who compares Stefan’s quest to educate Vicki to Deepak Chopra and Henry Higgins. Ah, references: keep ‘em coming, writers!  

Stefan explains to Elena how difficult it is for Vicki to handle her new urges. Vicki is impulsive, and she’s a user. “So, she’s a vampire with issues?” Elena asks. Basically, yes. We knew it’d be hard for Vicki to be good considering her addictive personality. Stefan’s planning to keep an eye on her until she can control herself, but even Vicki’s getting impatient.  

Meanwhile, Bonnie asks Grandma Bennett (full name: Tituba Bennett) about their ancestors from Salem. They lived in secrecy way back when, just as the Bennett witches l live in secrecy now -- even though Grams teaches occult at a university and everyone thinks she’s a weirdo. Thank you, expository dialogue. Bonnie’s studying Witch History 101, basically. She’s ready to learn! But first, it’s time for real school.  

Over at the Mystic Grill, Mr. and Mrs. Mayor Lockwood, AKA the leaders of the secret mysterious townsfolk cabal, are nervous. After Logan’s death, they’re getting a little hysterical. They’re planning on rooting out the vampire, somehow. At another booth, Damon listens in with his super vampire hearing.  

Oh yes, a reminder: It’s Halloween! Caroline is obsessing over costumes and has decided she no longer needs Damon’s mystical crystal, so she gives it to Bonnie. That’s too bad; I was hoping Caroline would exact some “woman scorned” revenge on Damon for dumping her, but no. She’s already forgotten why that mystical crystal she stole from him was important.  

The power smoothie Stefan fed Vicki was a supercharged caffeine drink, which helps him forget about those hunger pangs. So basically, he’s like a vegan who only subsists on wheatgrass shots. But Vicki wants the good stuff. Stefan reveals that once upon a time, he did taste human blood. Elena’s listening to it all, learning the ways of vampire life.  

Best line of the night, courtesy of Vampire Vicki: “Why do I have to pee? I thought I was dead.” AWESOME. Watching Vicki deal with vampirism and all of its quirks is really amusing. And then, it gets even better.  

Stefan leaves Elena and Vicki alone in a room, and they start talking about Jeremy. Given Vicki’s current condition, Elena doesn’t want Vicki to keep seeing her little brother, but Vicki’s newfound vampire sass has given her some balls .She grabs Elena by the throat and lets her know that she’ll see whoever she damn wants, and that she has no qualms about killing Elena in a second. This is a whole new Vicki! Thank goodness. It’s about time characters start spicing things up. All hail Vampire Vicki! 

Elena runs to tattle on mean old Vampire Vicki, and Stefan sort of defends her – it’s hard to control this vampire stuff, especially if you’re new. Stefan confirms that Vicki seeing Jeremy is a bad, bad idea. Just the thought of Jeremy getting hurt is too much for Elena to handle.  

Upstairs, Vampire Vicki asks Damon why he turned her. He was bored, he explains. But now she’s bored! It’s totally unfair! Damon offers to take her out and have some fun, which is very promising. “She’s not Anne Frank,” Damon retorts when Stefan objects. Stefan follows them out to the front yard, just in case.  

Outside, Damon shows Vicki the “perks” of being a vampire, starting with Vampire Trick #1: using super speed to sneak up on people! She tries it by taking a running start, but she forgets to come back. Oh, right. Maybe Vampire Vicki is smarter than we thought.  

Vicki shows up at home, where Matt is happy to see her, and discovers that without an invitation she can’t enter the house. Luckily, Matt asks her to come inside. He gets mad at Vicki for disappearing on what he thinks was just another drug bender. She demonstrates her vampirific volatility by exploding in anger, right before Stefan shows up. Vicki stops Matt from inviting Stefan in. Matt begs Vicki to explain what’s going on.  

Elena tries to comfort Jeremy by telling him he needs to let Vicki go. It sounds an awful lot to him like what people told him when their parents died, and making out with Vicki was the only thing that made him happy! Life is so unfair! He and Vicki text each other secretly and plan to meet at the school Halloween dance. 

At the Halloween bash, all of Mystic Falls is getting into the festive mood. Tyler is dressed as a Spartan from “300.” Caroline and Bonnie are dressed as matching…witches? It’s hard to tell. Mrs. Mayor is dressed as Daisy Buchanan to the Mayor’s Gatsby. Everyone’s getting drunk. At the Mystic Grill, Damon makes his sexy eyes at Mrs. Mayor and joins her at her table. She remembers his hotness from back when he was hitting it with Caroline. He tries to vampire-mojo her to find out information, but it doesn’t work – she must be wearing vervain! Uncle Zach was her supplier, it seems. Very interesting… 

Aww, how cute. Elena and Matt are wearing their matching outfits from last year – a bloody doctor and a sexy nurse. They’ve both brought their siblings, which leads to another comical moment. Elena panics when she hears that Vicki is there. “You can’t miss her,” Matt explains. “She’s a vampire!” As in , Vampire Vicki’s Halloween costume is a vampire! Brilliant!  

Meanwhile, Vicki walks through the party staring hungrily at all of the exposed flesh. (Lesson to teenagers: this is why you shouldn’t go as Sexy Fill-In-The-Blank at Halloween. Plus, it’s skanky.) Stefan confronts her and tells her she shouldn’t be there. He knows what she’s going through and the hunger is only going to get worse.  

Meanwhile, Damon is doing some fine investigative work finding out more about the Lockwood’s secret cabal of vampire hunters. Mrs. Mayor tells him her vervain supply is dwindling – she only has a small portion of what her relatives left them. The Lockwoods want to give vervain to friends, family, and everyone on “the council.” Uncle Zach, it seems, knew all about this. Mrs. Lockwood tells Damon that they checked everyone at the Founder’s Ball for suspected vampirism, but eliminated anyone who arrived during the day as suspects. They still think vampires can’t go in the sunlight! Fools. They don’t know about some magical Salvatore rings! Side note: Damon should become a private dick. By which I mean, he’s a really good detective.  

In the middle of the crowded party, Stefan and Elena clash with Vicki and Jeremy; Vicki and Jeremy disappear inside a haunted hallway to make out.  

Damon asks Bonnie where Caroline is and sees her wearing his old mystical crystal, which Bonnie is using as part of her costume. He tries to take it back, but the crystal burns his hand. That was weird, he thinks. Bonnie gets freaked out and runs off.  

While Elena searches for Jeremy and Vicki in the disorienting, neon-glowy dance, but the lovebirds have snuck out to snog in the parking lot. Between periods of tonsil hockey, Vicki tells Jeremy she has to leave town, but she wants Jeremy to come with her. They can be together forever, she promises. (That’s what Katherine said to Stefan!) Jeremy is all for it, and all for more making out, until Vicki gets out of hand and bites him. She becomes crazed at the taste of Jeremy’s blood, and loses control when Elena bursts on to the scene. Vicki easily throws her into a pile of crap. Stefan shows up and tells Elena and Jeremy to run and hide.  

Elena and Jeremy are really bad at running and hiding, because Vicki catches them going into a shed. She tosses Jeremy aside and bites Elena on the shoulder, taking her first drink of human blood. Just when Elena’s petite little body is about to go limp, Stefan stakes Vicki from behind, and things suddenly get real.  

As Vampire Vicki bites the big one, Kayla Ewell acts her ass off. Those black CG veins cross her face as Vicki’s life slowly fades, and a number of emotions flit across Ewell’s face: surprise, desperation, remorse, pain, and finally, tearful sadness. She’s gone from rampaging vampire to teary-eyed teen in five seconds flat. It’s a beautiful and sad way for Vicki to die, and everyone around her feels it.  

Stefan is distraught over having to kill Vicki, whom he’d hoped he could help live a productive and peaceful life as a vampire. He holds a hysterical Jeremy back as Vicki collapses to the ground and dies.  

Meanwhile, Bonnie, still freaked out by her exchange with Damon, runs home to Grams who notices Bonnie’s mystical crystal necklace. To Bonnie, it’s just part of her costume; but Grams recognizes it as a jewel that belonged to one of the most powerful witches in their family. She takes down a photo album to prove it! See, it belonged to Emily Bennett, Bonnie’s great-great-great-great grandmother who was a pretty little witch back in 1864. Bonnie can’t believe it! 

After Stefan calls for help, Damon walks up to Elena, who’s crying over Vicki’s body. Vampire Vicki’s corpse looks pretty cool. Pale, stiff, beautiful. Seemingly forgetting her bloody shoulder wound, Elena tears into Damon for causing all of the night’s carnage (she’s right) but he says doesn’t care. She thinks that deep down, Damon really does care at least a little bit that everyone around him dies, but he lunges at her to prove that she’s scared of him, which restores his ego. Two for flinching, Elena! As she leaves, a look on Damon’s face hints that maybe she struck a chord, but as always, Damon is a puzzle wrapped in an enigma.  

Hilarious! Since it’s Halloween, nobody in Mystic Falls notices that Elena is wounded and covered in blood! Well, one person notices: Matt, of course. Elena lies and tells him it’s fake blood and that she’s headed home to shower it off. She’s doing a great job managing her pain threshold – Vicki’s bite looked awful bloody, but Elena’s acting like she just needs a Band-Aid. Whatever.  

Matt asks Elena if she’s seen Vicki, and Elena looks pained. She doesn’t want to break the bad news to Matt that A) his sister was a vampire and B) now, she’s dead forever. Poor Matt! He IS such a good brother! Will this guy never catch a break? Matt goes home to an empty house, which begs the question, where the heck are his parents?? Elena sits in her car and cries, because she’s been through a lot. 

When Elena gets home, Stefan is waiting on her porch. He’s taken Jeremy home. What a good vampire ex-boyfriend! Elena runs inside to comfort Jeremy, who now accepts her sisterly concern. He doesn’t understand what happened to Vicki, but he understands that Elena was in danger, and now Vicki’s dead. Poor Jeremy. It’s been a tough episode for brothers – Matt, Jeremy, Stefan who’s probably still waiting outside on the porch. Jeremy cries and wonders why everyone around him has to keep dying. They hug and cry in each other’s arms.  

Meanwhile, Stefan is indeed still outside on the porch, deep in thought. Finally, Elena comes out to talk to Stefan. He explains that he wanted to help Vicki, but obviously THAT did not work out. He’s quite emotional himself. Everyone is weepy tonight! Elena asks Stefan to vampo-hypnotize Jeremy into forgetting everything in order to spare him all this hurt, but Stefan doesn’t think he can do it – since he’s a vegetarian vampire, his hypno-powers aren’t strong enough and it might not work. But guess who can?  

In the episode’s best moment, a repentant Damon shows up on Elena’s porch, much to Stefan and Elena’s surprise. He offers to help Jeremy forget everything. Stefan disapproves, but Elena wants to help her brother; she asks Damon to make him think that Vicki left town on her own and that it was for the best. Elena and Stefan sit and talk, both still in shock over the night’s events. Elena tells Stefan that she wishes she could forget, too – everything, even meeting him. (Ouch.) But she can’t, because she doesn’t want to forget her feelings for him. (Yay!) After hypnotizing Jeremy, Damon walks out onto the porch and a look passes between the three of them that hints at their budding triangle; the composition even places Elena between the two brothers. Very nice, “Vampire Diaries.” Very nice.  

Next week: A lady vampire from Stefan’s past comes to town, and Elena gets jealous!