“Heart of Darkness” opens with Alaric duly locked in the Salvatore dungeon — where he has been sentenced to do time until his evil alter ego pops out and spills the deets on the last White Oak dagger. Elena stops by to deliver a few necessities and to tell him that she and Damon are heading to Denver to get Jeremy. “Now that Klaus knows where Jeremy is, it’s not safe,” she says. Plus the quality alone time with Damon just might give our girl a chance to decide which Salvatore bro she truly wants. Ah, decisions, decisions…
Leaving Stefan to babysit Ric, Elena and Damon fly first-class to Denver, where they find her little brother striking out in a batting cage. Jer is not happy to see them. “What’s wrong?” he says. Well, hello to you too.
After explaining their whole lineage dilemma, Damon asks Jeremy to help them out by ghost whispering to his recently dead ex Rose. “So you traveled across country to get me to talk to a dead vampire?” Jer asks, exasperated. “I think dead vampire is redundant,” Damon replies. “But, yes.”
As they leave the batting cage Jeremy perks up the tiniest bit. He wants them to meet his new friend. Before he can make the introduction, a horrified look washes over Elena. His friend is Original Vampire Kol. Before D can react, Jer’s new bud breaks a Louisville Slugger on the sexy Salvatore’s face.
The younger vampire retaliates by staking Kol with a piece of the aforementioned baseball bat. It doesn’t kill the O.V., but it does buy them enough time to get out of town and into a no-tell motel where Jeremy can do his seeing-dead-bloodsuckers thing — which, BTW, is surprisingly easy. All Damon has to do to entice Rose to appear is close the curtains and wax nostalgic about the last moments he spent with her.
Sadly, Rose says she doesn’t know which Original planted their family tree. But she promises to dig up some info on her own sire, Mary Porter, an older, much crazier vampire who does know.
Back in Mystic Falls, Rebekah has made a few new friends of her own — namely the members of the school’s dance committee. Seeing how Elena staked her before she could go to the last dance, the Original Sister has decided to hijack planning the Decade Dance, turning it into a “Roaring Twenties” affair. Caroline, chair of the dance committee, is not amused. Or so it seems. Turns out Blondie is just pretending to be upset over the O.V.’s power move. In reality she was planning on it all along. She needs the dance to keep Rebekah busy so she can sneak off to the woods to see her boyfriend.
Yes, Tyler is back. For some unknown reason he’s feeling stronger — like he could possibly disobey Klaus. So he’s come home to test the sire bond. Oh, and also to get, ahem, some. “You have no idea how much I missed you,” he tells Caroline when she meets him outside of the ruins of the old Lockwood mansion. They kiss. And, next thing you know, they’re doing it in the dungeon. “At some point we’re going to do this in an actual bed, right?” Caroline asks.
Across town Stefan is boozing it up with the history teacher, hoping the liquor will free Alaric’s evil side. It doesn’t. And when Klaus arrives and learns that the appearance of Ric’s alter ego is all that stands between him and the location of the last dagger, he kills the vampire slayer with one sucker punch.
While Klaus is knocking the sense out of Alaric, his little sister is having a family reunion. Their mother Esther has returned. The minute Beks sees her, she grabs dear old mom by the neck and slams her into the wall. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t kill you right now,” she says. Esther trembles when she replies, “Because I’m dying.”
Turns out the spell that preserves Original Mom only worked because it drew power from the living Bennett witches. But, she tells Bekah that when Damon turned Bonnie’s mom, it broke the family line. Since then the spell has been slowly wearing off. Rebekah stops hating her mom the minute she hears those words. The women share a tender moment before Esther apologizes to her daughter, grabs her hands, and dies on the living room floor.
While Esther lay dying, Ric is slowing coming back from the dead. The Klaus knockout, we soon discover, did not work. Ric is still, well, his usual nice guy self. So he takes off his live-forever ring and begs Stefan to beat the evil out of him. This does not sound like a good idea. You know what else does not sound like a good idea? Elena and Damon sharing a motel room. But they do. And rather than share a bed with her little brother (which would be awkward but a gazillion times less tempting), Elena allows Jer to take one bed while she lays in the other. Later, we see Elena watch as Damon opens his shirt, pours a drink, and sits in the chair for his nightcap.
Damon catches Elena looking. Then he walks over to lie next to her in the bed. And heaven help us we nearly pass out when we realize that her lips are within kissing distance of his bare chest. But Elena doesn’t act on temptation. Instead, she talks to Damon about the final dream he implanted in Rose — the one that allowed the vampire to die in a happy place. “Why don’t you let people see the good in you?” Elena asks. “Because when people see good they expect good,” Damon replies. “And I don’t want to have to live up to anybody’s expectations.”
Damon takes Elena’s hand and watches her chest heave. Just when we think she’s going to kiss him, Elena hops out of the bed and heads out to the concession machine. Damon follows. And they kiss on the balcony — a deep lover’s kiss. Damon pushes E up against the podium. They pause to share a we’re-gonna-do-this look. And then… Jeremy interrupts them. “Rose found Mary. She lives in Kansas,” he says. And he looks so disappointed in Elena.
Delena wastes no time explaining their behavior to Jeremy. They jump in the rental car heading for Kansas and “Scary Mary’s” house. They get there in record time. But not fast enough. They find her staked to the wall. Dead. Kol sits in a chair across the room. “Shame about Mary,” he says. “She used to be a blast.”
Once again, it seems, Klaus was a step ahead of our gang. The hybrid maker warned Kol that the Salvatores would come looking for one of the few vampires old enough to know who sired whom. And his little brother shut Mary’s “original groupie” mouth permanently. He smirks as he tells Damon this. Then he proceeds to beat the snot out of the eldest Salvatore.
After he leaves, Damon gathers himself and moves to check on Elena. He caresses her face. Elena closes her eyes and relaxes into his touch before pulling his hand off her cheek. “What the hell is this?” Damon asks as Elena walks away.
Elena explains that Stefan knows she might have feelings for him and that his brother wanted her to go on this roadtrip to make sure that she was making the right decision. But Damon hears the words she’s not saying. He knows both she and Stefan are hoping he will do something awful on this trip that would turn Elena against him. He asks what she will do if he doesn’t intentionally misbehave. When she doesn’t answer he says, “I’m sorry Elena. This time I’m not going to make it so easy for you. This time you’ll have to figure it out for yourself.”
Back in Mystic Falls, it takes some convincing, but Stefan finally agrees to knock the Jekyll out of Alaric’s hide. Minutes later, after a butt-kicking session that would kill an average man, it works. Just as Stefan’s blood thirst kicks in, Ric’s alter ego pops out. And dude has the nerve to talk smack. He taunts Stefan, calling him spineless, hellbound, and a bunch of other things before the vampire finally gets fed up, and threatens to break his neck.
Bleeding from the head and spitting blood, Evil Ric sings like a canary. He tells Stefan that he’s hidden the stake in the spellbound cave that vampires can’t enter. Little does he know that these are the words that Klaus, and now Rebekah, were waiting to hear. The minute after Evil Ric spills, Bekah marches him off to the underground chamber, leaving Stefan and Klaus alone.
Meanwhile Damon, Elena, and Jeremy drive back to Mystic Falls in awkward silence. Unbeknownst to Delena, Rose is in the car too, sitting in back with Jeremy. She tells him that Elena makes Damon a better person while “Damon is either the best thing for her or the worst.” Jeremy looks like he wants to puke.
A similarly disgusted look crosses Tyler’s face after he goes to Caroline’s house and spots the portrait Klaus drew of his girlfriend sitting on Car’s bedside table. Tyler asks if Klaus has a thing for Caroline and she dodges the question. Then he asks why she kept the drawing. When she says she doesn’t know why, he decides to sleep at his mom’s house.
Speaking of mothers, the episode ends with a twist we did not see coming. When Rebekah marches Evil Ric down to the cave, she stops at the door and shoves him into the spellbound room. He retrieves the dagger, then, thinking he is safe, tries to cut a deal. “There’s only one stake out there,” he says. “That means only one Original has to die. Help me. And I’ll make sure it’s not you.”
Rebekah gives Evil Ric good points for effort. Then she stops inside the room unscathed. “I don’t want one Original to die,” she says. “I want them all to die.” Evil Ric tries to hide the oh-crap look in his eyes. But Rebekah spots it. “I thought you of all people would understand,” she says. “After all my son did use your body at one point.” Yes, folks, it is what you think. Flashback to that moment in Casa Klaus when Esther grabbed Bekah’s hands: Turns out Mama wasn’t trembling because she was dying. She shook with effort as she transferred her essence into her daughter’s body.
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