The ladies of Mystic Falls (who aren’t lucky enough to be dating a Salvatore) get turned down left and right this week on “The Vampire Diaries,” while Stefan, Elena, and Damon team up to track down the mysterious hooded vampire guy from last week. Best of all, Elena gets her first taste of female empowerment…and she kinda likes it!

Read on for the full recap.

Elena and Stefan lie in bed, which is always a good start. Except there’s no kissing, just talking. (Sad face.) Who was that man in the road after the crash, she wonders?

Stefan has no idea, but since there’s another vampire in town he’s been busy making jewelry filled with vervain for Elena and Aunt Jenna. He’s also crafted a man-bracelet for Jeremy, which is sweet! Guess you pick up a lot of hobbies when you’ve been alive for a hundred years. He tells her she can spike anyone’s food or drink with it to protect them. There’s so much to remember, she sighs. Yeah, living with vamps is hazardous. Hey, let’s wonder some more about who that hooded vampire guy was!

The doorbell rings. Some nondescript dude is here with a pizza delivery, so Jeremy invites him in and calls Elena downstairs to pay. Pizza Guy looks surprised to be invited in, then steps into the house with a grin. He smiles especially nicely at Elena, and probably not just because she gave him a tip. As he walks away from the house, we see Pizza Guy pull on the hood of his hoodie! Pizza Guy is Hooded Vampire Guy!

At the Salvatore mansion, Stefan finds Damon pulling books off the shelves, desperately looking for something. Stefan tries to provoke Damon by bringing up last week’s escapade, in which Damon took Elena on a joyride to Atlanta, and rubs in the fact that he gets to be with her while Damon’s left grasping at straws trying to bring Katherine back. What did Bree tell Damon, Stefan wonders? Damon doesn’t fall for the bait, and won’t tell Stefan that Bree revealed that there’s another way to get Katherine back.

In Alaric’s class, Jeremy’s gotten good marks for an essay about vampires in Mystic Falls. Oh, kids and their wild imaginations! Alaric tries to throw Jeremy off of the truth, brushing off the old vampire stories as myth. But hey, he would like to see Jeremy’s ancestor’s journal – for research, of course. Yes, vampire hunting research.

Elena gives Caroline a “lesbian friend necklace” filled with vervain in an effort to renew their lapsed BFFship. Caroline is receptive, but gives it to her straight: “I feel like we’ve peaked as friends,” she says. (Burn.) Also, she’s totally trying to date Matt, which violates the “chicks before dicks” rule of dating.

Speaking of Matt, he’s over at the Mystic Grill talking to a bartender about how he has to start bussing tables for spending money. Matt sees a bleak future in the hard labor of stacking dishes for a living, but we have no time to feel sorry for him because the bartender he’s talking to is… Sean Faris! Ladies, you’ll want to pay attention.

Elena tells Bonnie that she was adopted, which Bonnie points out is nowhere near as bad as finding out your boyfriend is a vampire. Elena takes off to get a dress for the retro Decades Dance, leaving Bonnie alone to talk to Damon, who’s trying to make amends so he can get Emily’s witch book. Bonnie doesn’t buy it and warns him to leave her alone. Along comes Sean Faris to the rescue! Ooh la la, is romance in the air for the Debbie Downer of Mystic Falls?

Meanwhile, Elena gets a phone call from a stranger. “Who is this?” she asks. “You hit me with your car,” he replies. Elena realizes she’s being stalked by her car crash vampire guy, and glimpses him across the street. Elena drives away with the quickness as he promises that next time, she won’t get away.

Over at Stefan’s house, Elena whines about her stalker. It sucks being popular, doesn’t it? Stefan explains that vampires are predators and they like playing with their food. He gives her another present: Jeremy’s heirloom pocket watch. It’s not just any watch, he says. (Duh.) It’s a compass that points towards vampires in the near vicinity. (Oh.) Back in the day, Elena’s ancestor (or rather, adoptive ancestor) Jonathan owned it because he was a vampire hunter.

After school, Matt is helping Caroline paint posters for the dance. They banter and flirt. It’s adorable! She likes that they’re hanging out, but since she’s calling it “hanging out” they’re obviously not yet official. He tells her that he’s got a new job working at the Grill, but thinks that she looks down on it since her family has money.

At the Mystic Grill (this place must do insane business since there’s no other establishment in town that people hang out at), Anna, Jeremy’s home-schooled friend-who’s-a-girl-but-not-girlfriend-in-that-way, finds him playing pool. He thanks her for her help on his vampire essay, but when she keeps talking about vampires because it’s the only thing they have in common, he says he doesn’t believe in them and looks for an escape. She tries to ask him out on a date, but Jeremy’s really not feeling the whole “being pursued” thing, and he leaves to serve punch at the school dance.

Back home, Aunt Jenna is decked out in colorful ‘50s clothes; Alaric has asked her to help chaperone! Her face lights up when she says his name, which she pronounces “A-LAR-ick.” But Elena’s not feeling friendly and brings up the whole, “Why didn’t you tell me I was adopted?” conversation, bursting Jenna’s bubble. Jenna fesses up: One night about 17 years ago, Elena’s parents took in a young mother who gave birth to Elena and then disappeared. They kept it secret, and the only other detail Jenna knows is the name of Elena’s 16-year-old birth mother: Isabel.

Damon’s doing some heavy reading at home when Stefan pops up to give him their dad’s journal, trying to find out what Damon’s after. It won’t help, he says. Stefan offers to help Damon free Katherine – but not the other 26 vampires – if it means Damon will leave town with her.

Elena gets dressed for the dance, oblivious to the fact that her vampire-detecting pocket watch is going nuts. Is there a vampire in the house?? She races downstairs and calls Stefan but Damon answers, telling her Stefan is on his way to her place. Relieved, she hangs up, only to be attacked by Vampire Pizza Guy! Luckily, Stefan IS there and Vampire Pizza Guy high tails it in a blur. Ah, vampire boyfriends. What would we do without them?

Later, Damon joins Stefan and Elena and the three try to figure out what Pizza Guy wanted. Damon suggests they get the guy that night by using Elena as bait at the dance, because otherwise he could come back any time. (It’s fun watching Damon conspire with the good guys! They should form their own Scooby Gang once all this evil mystery vampire drama is over.) Elena’s sure she’ll be safe, since both of her vampire boys will be there. Which means she probably won’t be.

Over at the Decade Dance, Caroline and Bonnie are sock-hopping it up with the students of Mystic Falls. Chaperone Alaric watches over the dance with a smile – until he spots Elena and Stefan walk in with Damon. Before he can do anything, Alaric is spotted by Jenna, who proceeds to latch onto him like a leech.
Elena catches up with Caroline and Bonnie, who’s also displeased to see Damon there. “What is this, a threesome now?” Caroline teases. Oh, Caroline. We miss you and your snark when you take an episode off.

In the middle of a crowded gymnasium filled with reveling teenagers, Jenna takes the opportunity to bring up Alaric’s dead wife. Classy move. Like Anna, she doesn’t seem to understand that this is not a date. Alaric says his wife’s murder still keeps him up at night, but he hopes for closure someday. He glances over at Damon.

Damon approaches Bonnie and Caroline, asking Bonnie to dance. Disgusted, she and Caroline both walk away. Elena asks Stefan to dance, and the lovebirds twirl it up on the dance floor as the be-hooded Vampire Pizza Guy makes his entrance a few feet away. The cheese stands alone.

As they dance to doo-wop, Elena and Stefan look for Pizza Guy, but become distracted while bantering about how cute Stefan looked in the real 1950s. In a subtle move, Stefan spins Elena and vampire-speeds his way to catch her on the other side, the entire dance floor none the wiser.

Over at the punch bowl table, Anna shows up in an attempt to flirt with Jeremy some more. He lays it to her gently, if firmly, pointing out that she acts like they’re dating even though they’re not. She takes it well, considering that he’s basically calling her a stalker.

At the Mystic Grill, Caroline and Bonnie show up, still in costume. Caroline teases Bonnie for crushing on Sean Faris’s Ben the Bartender, who apparently graduated only a few years earlier. But the joke’s on Caroline, because Matt overhears her telling Bonnie she could do better than a “washed-up jock who serves drinks for a living.”

Damon is watching Elena and Stefan do the Twist when Alaric approaches and introduces himself, pretending not to recognize him. Damon tells Alaric he’s Stefan’s older brother and legal guardian, and that they have no parents. As Alaric continues to question him, Damon gets suspicious and Alaric backs off. 

Bonnie suddenly grows a pair and boldly approaches Ben the Bartender. She asks him out on a date, which he accepts with enthusiasm. Score one for Bonnie! Caroline confronts Matt and asks him why he’s been brushing her off, and she realizes that he overheard her insulting Ben.

Back at the punch bowl, Anna is now helping Jeremy serve drinks, despite not ever being asked. She casually asks to borrow Jonathan Gilbert’s journal, but Jeremy doesn’t have it; he lent it to Alaric. Anna gets tense, and tells him he shouldn’t be giving it to just anyone who asks, and gets so upset that VAMPIRE EYE VEINS burst out in her face! She leaves in a hurry when Jeremy notices.

Elena and Stefan have now been dancing for forever while waiting for Pizza Guy to make his move. Apparently it never occurred to them to bring the vampire-detecting pocket watch with them. Elena begs Stefan to show her some 1950s dance moves, so he tosses her around like he’s on American Bandstand, to her delight.

In the darkened school hallway, Anna spies Pizza Guy. His name is Noah, but I much prefer “Pizza Guy.”) They appear to know each other. She explains that she’s trying to get the journal, and chastises him from going off-plan by pursuing Elena. He’s stalking Elena because he “likes” her because she looks like Katherine, but Anna reminds him that she’s not Katherine. Yes, yes, we all know this. Stupid boys, always getting hung up on other girls. She begs him to stop messing with Elena since Elena runs with the Salvatores, but Pizza Guy wants to keep playing with her.

Jesus, there’s a lot of ‘50s dancing in this episode. Worse, we’ve heard more bad ‘50s cover songs than anyone deserves to. Elena spies Pizza Guy lurking across the gym in his super-obvious black hoodie. He looks like Robert Hoffman in Step Up 2 The Streets, going to underground dance clubs to hone his street moves wearing hoodies so nobody will recognize him. Now that’s something I’d like to see happen: Pizza Guy and Stefan having a dance-off in the middle of the Decades Dance!

Alas, my wishes do not come true. Stefan chases Pizza Guy into a hallway only to find that it’s some high school kid; Pizza Guy has given his hoodie away to throw Stefan off! And he fell for it! Meanwhile, where the heck is Damon? The Salvatore brothers are not on their game tonight.

Pizza Guy calls Elena from across the gym and orders her to exit through a side door, or he’ll kill Jeremy. Elena spots Pizza Guy standing ten feet away from her unsuspecting brother, who’s still gleefully serving up punch. Elena follows Pizza Guy’s instructions, then runs desperately through the halls as Pizza Guy calmly stalker-walks after her. Elena, however, is out of luck; all of the doors in the school are locked (which is probably a fire code violation). Pizza Guy catches up to her in the cafeteria and throws her across a table.

Then comes this episode’s best moment: Elena falls and grabs a bunch of No. 2 pencils, which she proceeds to stab Pizza Guy with. Smart move! They slow him down, giving her time to break a mop handle into a stake, but just as she’s about to go all Buffy on him he grabs her wrist. Female empowerment sequence over. As Pizza Guy lunges for Elena’s neck, Stefan once again shows up in time to throw him off his girlfriend.

Cornered by Stefan and Damon, Pizza Guy tries to escape. Damon tosses the other half of the mop handle to Stefan, who shanks him in the gut, which cripples, but doesn’t kill him. They interrogate Pizza Guy who explains that he’s been after Elena because she looks like Katherine. (Elena must be really tired of all this Katherine business by now.) Damon and Stefan are surprised to know that they weren’t the only lucky guys who crossed paths with Katherine. Also, Damon doesn’t remember Pizza Guy, but Pizza Guy remembers him. He tells them they need the “Grimoire” to get into the tomb, and that more info is in Jonathan Gilbert’s journal. Anna watches unnoticed through the cafeteria door, but hides as Alaric approaches. Stefan demands to know who Pizza Guy is working with, but he won’t talk, so Stefan stakes him and he dies.

Alaric, who saw the whole thing go down, is swiftly walking away like he knows nothing. Damon interrogates him to find out what he knows, Alaric is able to lie and hide his thoughts, so Damon lets him go thinking he wiped his memory. A relieved and stunned Alaric looks down at an object in his hand that he’d been clutching. Did it help him pass Damon’s lie detector test?

A little while later, Damon and Stefan stand in the hallway discussing what just happened. They suspect Pizza Guy had an accomplice. Stefan deduces that the Grimoire, AKA Emily’s witchy journal that Bree mentioned, is what Damon needs to reverse the spell. Stefan repeats his offer; he’ll help Damon free Katherine as long as he’s there when it happens and they leave town immediately, leaving the other vampires behind. The brothers Salvatore reach an agreement.

Back at the Mystic Grill, Caroline apologizes to Matt. He could easily be Ben, Matt says. But Caroline’s insult isn’t the real problem; Matt doesn’t know if he’s over Elena yet. (OUCH.) And he assumes that Caroline wants to be more than but he doesn’t want to ruin their friendship in case it ends badly. (DOUBLE OUCH.) Caroline, understandably, friend-breaks up with him in return.

 

Alaric walks Jenna home, thanking her for chaperoning the dance while clarifying that it wasn’t a date. But just as we hope that he’s going to turn her down like Jeremy and Matt did tonight, Alaric asks Jenna out for real. Jenna gets the hungry eyes; this is exactly what she was hoping for! All her dreams are going to come true, even if she has to hear all about Alaric’s dead wife whose name was…ISABEL! Jenna connects the dots and her hungry eyes fade to “Oh, shit” eyes.

Meanwhile, after being bitten by vampires like a thousand times already this season, Caroline hasn’t learned not to walk home in Mystic Falls late at night. She’s still stomping down the street in her hoop skirt and heels when Matt drives up in his truck to give her a ride home. She’s so pissed that he tries another tack, getting out of his truck to confront her – by laying a smooch on her pouty lips! She is delighted, of course, as is whoever bought the domain rights to CarolineAndMatt4Eva.com.

Back home, Elena is feeling something weird, a new sensation she’s never felt before: it’s the adrenaline rush of standing up for herself for the first time, ever! It felt so good to stab that evil vampire with pencils! Elena is digging the whole empowerment thing, until Stefan harshes her mellow by confessing his promise to help Damon free Katherine, which he says was a lie. Stefan explains that he’s telling Elena this because she’s grown close to Damon lately, but she pledges her allegiance to the flag of Stefan and only Stefan.

Back at the Mystic Grill, Anna stalks Ben the Bartender as he closes up for the night. She attacks him with her vampire face on, but he pins her to a wall, revealing that he’s a vampire, too! And Ben was in cahoots with Anna and Pizza Guy (AKA Noah) the whole time! Turns out all three of them were working on different Mystic Falls assignments, and Ben’s job is to get close to Bonnie. (Poor Bonnie. Are any guys in this town not hiding something?) Anna and Ben make out before walking off into the shadows, which means they’re totally a couple and she’s been faking her attraction to Jeremy. (Or has she…?)

Next week: Elena helps Stefan dig up the past (literally!), we flashback to see how Katherine turned Mystic Falls upside down long, long ago, and James Remar guest-stars as Daddy Salvatore!