Recap: 'The Vampire Diaries' - 'The Ties That Bind'
Tonight's episode of "The Vampire Diaries" chews through an awful lot of plot -- I think, in addition to B and C storylines, we might have some D and E ones as well. But the ones that resonate the most have to do with rejection and what these continually challenged characters are willing to do for love (both romantic and familial) -- which, as you might expect, is a heck of a lot.
We start with what I hope is Bonnie having another one of her nightmares. She dreams about the mystery casket in the middle of the woods, then Klaus appears and the next thing she knows, she's buried alive in a casket. I feel like Bonnie is having to go through an awful lot for something that really shouldn't be her problem at all, but I guess this is just part of one's witchly duty.
Bonnie finally tells Elena about not only her dreams, but the coffins. Elena can't believe Bonnie kept the secret from her, but really, it was for her own good so Elena can't be too pouty about it. Stefan can, however, and he shows up to give Bonnie a lecture. Why on earth would she tell Elena about the coffins? Bonnie points out that she has a very good reason, and not just that she needed someone to talk to now that her life seems to be dominated by cranky vampires and horrible nightmares. Elena can help her find the one person Bonnie is sure can assist her in opening the sealed coffin -- Bonnie's mother, Abby.
Later, as they look for every Abby Williams they can find, Elena tells Bonnie what seems pretty obvious. Bonnie doesn't have to do any of this, especially not drag her long lost mom into all this vampire drama. But Bonnie declares that, as the coffin is spelled shut, it's a witch problem, and thus hers to handle. So, I guess witchly duty wan't far off. Damon helpfully finds out where Bonnie's mom is (if I had to wish for a supernatural power, I'm thinking compulsion is the one to go with) but Elena won't let him tag along on the road trip there. Oh, Elena, stop fighting it!
Caroline comes home to find Tyler on her couch. How dare he! He bit her! Yes, but he seemingly had no control over that -- which means he's still under Klaus' power. Thus, he's brought Caroline's dad Bill to the house in the hopes he can "fix" him. While I realize Bill has found a way to fight compulsion that works for him, I'm seriously in doubt that his rehab program is one size fits all. Tyler is, of course, desperate to shake Klaus loose, but I'm afraid working with Bill is going to lead to even more problems.
Ric buys Meredith lunch at the Mystic Grill, then tries to buy her a beer -- right before she goes back to work. As a DOCTOR. For crying out loud, Ric, show some common sense! Despite the fact Ric is pushing booze at Meredith, sparks are flying, which means Ric can count on Damon to come along to poke his nose into his business. Ric admits to Damon he's looking for red flags, as it is a bit hard to believe a smart, attractive doctor like Meredith is on the market. It doesn't take long for Damon and Ric to put together what they know and realize that the dead medical examiner is Meredith's ex.
Klaus pays a visit to Stefan. He wants his family back! Well, Stefan wants him to leave town! The stalemate remains intact. I have to think Stefan's underestimating his opponent just a bit, but then, maybe I'm still convinced Stefan has a marshmallow, Elena-loving center under this crackly crust he's been wearing, so I can't rule out the idea he really can out-villain the villain.
Elena and Bonnie commence their road trip to Abby's in a zippy little Prius. Bonnie doesn't want to talk about her mom, and Elena doesn't want to talk about Damon, and yet they still do a fair amount of talking about the things they don't want to talk about. It's not necessarily a moment that drives the plot, but it's one that gives these two girls a chance to act like, well, girls hanging in the car, talking about boys. As much as they need it, we do, too, to remind ourselves they aren't simply spell-throwing, vampire hunting (and loving) machines.
Of course, Elena and Bonnie's road trip won't be fun and games for longer than a minute. Klaus sends a hybrid to Bonnie's mom's house, who apparently does... something devious right before Elena and Bonnie's arrival. After they knock on the door, Bonnie and Elena meet Jamie, a cute guy who might interest Bonnie if she wasn't so distracted. Elena, however, is quick to find out whether or not this young hunk is a relative of Bonnie's (he's not). He's got dating potential with no skeevy second-cousin undertones! His dad dated Abby, and Abby took him in after his father proved himself a loser. Finally, Bonnie and Abby meet face-to-face, and while it's not a huggy, happy reunion, Abby seems appropriately emotional and apologetic. What follows is friendly, cozy and probably a very big set-up for something bad happening momentarily.
Bill tells Tyler he needs to own his pain so he can break Klau's hold on him. This involves turning. Tyler is not thrilled at the prospect of turning -- the great thing about being a hybrid is that he didn't have to turn anymore! But Bill insists, even though it breaks every bone in Tyler's body. I feel that Bill takes way too much pleasure in the sadistic aspects of deprogramming, but, again, it's not like Tyler can call up Promises in Malibu and get clean.
Abby explains to Bonnie why she left, and as expected, it's not as simple as you might expect. She was luring a vampire, Mikael, out of town, and because he was an Original, the process sapped her of her powers, which never returned. Of course, that doesn't explain why she didn't return to Bonnie.
Elena, wanting to give mother and daughter some space, wanders into the backyard -- and bumps into Stefan. Arguing ensues, as she lied and, well, Elena's just mad at him for so many things.
Damon, suspecting Ric's new girlfriend might be a murderer, decides to drop in on her at the hospital. After some confrontation and banter, Meredith ends the conversation by stabbing Damon with a hypodermic full of vervain and then draws his blood. So far, Meredith is not doing much to make herself look innocent, really.
Meanwhile, Tyler turns and screams and writhes. Not surprisingly, Caroline can't stand to watch and, with Bill practically shooing her out the door, leaves the two men alone. Bad idea. With Caroline gone, Bill feels comfortable beating Tyler with an ax in order to make him angry enough to turn. Bill, however, doesn't seem to realize that hybrids are mighty strong -- stronger than werewolves -- and he's going to realize his little ax and some rusty chains aren't going to be much protection.
Abby tells Bonnie she never came home because, well, she wanted a normal life. But she wants to help Bonnie, and she does care for her. Bonnie appears to be softening up just a little...
... which is about the time Jamie hurries to break up the argument between Elena and Stefan and shoots Stefan in the chest. Meanwhile, Abby mashes some herbs into Bonnie's face. And now we know what the hybrid did on his visit.
Damon drops in on Ric to inform him that his girlfriend vervained him and then bloodjacked him. Ric seems more upset that Damon visited Meredith than anything else, but after a moment, he realizes exactly how weird Meredith's reaction to Damon was.
As expected, Tyler rips his chains out of the wall and goes galloping after Bill.
Abby drags Bonnie off to meet the hybrid. She needs her to tell him where the coffins are, because if she doesn't Jamie's been compelled to kill himself. Bonnie is a little unnerved and hurt that her mother would essentially throw her under the bus to protect kid who isn't even hers. Meanwhile, Jamie tells Elena exactly what the hybrid compelled him to do -- and Elena takes advantage of his "do not harm Elena" order to knock him out with the butt of his gun. Her reward for this, unfortunately, is that she now has to pick wooden buckshot out of Stefan's chest.
Damon goes to the witch house -- and finds Klaus waiting for him. Bonnie has chosen to do the right thing (save Jamie's life), and the witches give up the coffins. Except for the fourth. Which Damon has hidden. Bonnie, thanks to Abby's prompting, had gotten word to him in time to at least do some damage control.
While Elena pulls wood out of Stefan's chest, he notices that she's changed. She's stronger and tougher. Elena sees this as an opportune moment to tell him she's also kissed Damon. Stefan stares at her blankly and, once the last hunk of wood is out, just walks away from her.
Ric goes to confront Meredith at the hospital. Given how many non-patients are interfering with her work, I'm surprised Meredith still has a job. But Meredith agrees to show Ric what her motives were in drugging and bleeding Damon just as Bill is wheeled in, having been torn apart by Tyler. He won't survive -- unless Meredith gives him some of Damon's blood. Ric's charmed. She's a good guy after all!
Time for Elena and Stefan to talk things out, just a bit. Stefan apologizes for the kidnapping and tells her she shouldn't have lied about the road trip. And all he'll say about that kiss? That she's better than Damon is and better than either Salvatore brother, really. Elena has no response to this.
With Jamie out of danger, Bonnie freed and all of the hybrid-induced drama put to rest, Abby wonders if Bonnie can help her get her magic back. She doesn't want it -- but she'd do it if it could help Bonnie. It's a small gesture, but one that's clearly important for Bonnie, who was starting to feel like yesterday's leftovers compared to Jamie.
There's time for more bonding, as Ric tells Meredith he's a semi-retired vampire hunter. He then tells her about his ring. I wish he wouldn't, as that seems to be asking for trouble, buy Ric wants their relationship to be open and without secrets. I'm guessing Meredith probably has a few more secrets, though.
Stefan goes home, sees Damon, checks on the coffin status, then slugs him. He doesn't want to talk about the kiss, but his feelings are pretty clear. But whether or not this episode will clear a path to Damon and Elena getting together, to Elena and Stefan getting back together or Elena just flying solo for a while isn't really clear. Yes, Stefan has feelings, but are they feelings of betrayal or a smoldering fire?
At the end of the episode, we see Klaus with most of his coffins. He chats with his hybrid -- just as he has his heart torn out. Behind him, we see... Elijah's back! It looks like things are about to get interesting!
Do you trust Abby? Do you think Elijah is back to battle or bond with Klaus? And do you think Ric is falling too fast for Meredith?