Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW Photo: Elena Talks With Damon and Alaric in Season 3, Episode 1: “The Birthday”

 

The Season 3 premiere of The Vampire Diaries starts with Stefan (Paul Wesley) slaughtering two women, and it ends with him standing in a parking lot listening to Elena’s (Nina Dobrev) voice and fighting back tears. What happens in the middle? A party, a parting, and some other pretty intense stuff. Here’s a recap of “The Birthday,” the comeback TVD episode we’ve been dying to see.

1) Klaus goes on a mission
Apparently it’s not enough to be an invincible vampire-werewolf hybrid, the most evil of original vamp baddies must also have an army of like-minded monsters. The problem? Klaus (Joseph Morgan) needs werewolves to make more hybrids, but he has killed every wolfman (and woman!) that he knows. So he hits the road to find new ones. He’s particularly interested in tracking down the pack that the little brother from 7th Heaven belongs to. (Minister’s kid/werewolf? Whole different kind of hybrid.) “I want to create more of me,” he tells the kid (who’s now called Ray) when he and Stefan catch up with him in a bar called Southern Comfort. Let the carnage begin.

2) Our girl turns 18
But Elena is in no mood to celebrate. That’s understandable. After all, it’s been a rough summer. Just two months ago, E watched her aunt get turned and killed. Then her uncle-father died, her little brother had to be resurrected from the dead (again), and her boyfriend went missing. If that’s not the recipe for an unhappy birthday, we don’t know what is.

3) Caroline throws a party
Elena doesn’t want a birthday to-do but that doesn’t keep Blondie from throwing her one anyway. The supposedly small event, which Caroline hosts at the Salvatore mansion, corrupts half the minors in Mystic Falls. There’s under-aged beer, hard liquor, and weed consumption — especially by Matt (Zach Roerig) and Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen). (Jeremy we expect this from, but Matt?) It’s all a bit much for history teacher Alaric (Matt Davis). “I am every parent’s worst nightmare,” he says as he surveys the room. “I am the chaperone teacher from hell.” We love you, ‘Ric, but… accurate.

4) Stefan frees “The Ripper”
What can we say? Stefan is broken. So, so broken. Clearly, the combination of cutting a deal with Klaus and drinking human blood has sent him over the edge. To repay Klaus for saving Damon’s (Ian Somerhalder) life, Stefan has become his muscle — we’re talking the murderous, maniacal bodyguard kind. And it’s so not cute. (See next item.)

 

Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW Photo: Klaus, Ray, and Stefan Have a Chat in Season 3, Episode 1: “The Birthday”

5) Stefan shows his killer style
Dark Stefan has a very particular M.O. for killing people. Damon explains it best when he and Alaric come across Stefan’s latest crime scene. “He feeds so hard he blacks out and rips them apart,” Damon says. “But then when he’s done he’s he feels remorse and he puts the bodies back together.” Worst. Jigsaw. Puzzle. Ever.

6) Jeremy sees dead people
We told you he came back wrong! Now lil’ Jer keeps seeing his dead exes, Anna (Malese Jow) and Vicki (Kayla Ewell). Or, rather, they keep haunting him. Anna turns off the lights when he’s on the phone with his still-living girlfriend, Bonnie (Kat Graham). Vicki pops up in the Grill.

But it’s not all bad. When Jeremy, who’s high as a kite, starts to drive drunker-than-a-sailor Matt home, both girls appear. Vicki ghosts into the car. “Help me,” she says. Then Anna appears in front of it. “Maybe we’d better walk home,” Jeremy says. Yes, maybe.

7) Action News reporter Andie Starr bites the dust
Remember the reporter Damon compelled to share in his bathtub naughtiness? We thought they’d broken up. But we were wrong. Not only was the reporter back in tonight’s episode (and in Damon’s bathtub), she was too good at her job. After Andie helped Damon track Klaus to Ray’s house, the original vamp sent Stefan to fix the problem. Stefan’s solution was to compel Andie to jump to her death while Damon watched.

8) Damon tries to protect Elena. And fails. Again.
The truth hurts. And Elena’s already had enough truth to kill a village. So, even after Stefan offed his girlfriend, Damon tried to hide the fact that his little brother was alive and killing. But, you know E. Rather than attempt to enjoy her party, she hid out in Damon’s room where she discovered the war board he used to search for Team Ripper. “Why didn’t you tell me you’ve been tracking Klaus’s victims?” she asks. “Because they’re not Klaus’s victims,” Damon replies. “They’re Stefan’s. He’s left a trail of body parts up and down the eastern seaboard.” And did he mention, happy b-day?

9) Caroline and Tyler finally hook up
We wanted it to happen. And it did. After trying to deny their animalistic attraction for each other, werewolf Tyler and vampire Caroline (Candice Accola) finally give in. The end of making supernatural love in the Lockwood Mansion. Which, as you’ll see in the next item, was not a smart idea.

10) Mayor Lockwood does some vampire hunting
After their monumental hook-up, Caroline leaves Tyler sleeping in his bed and she tries to sneak out of the house. Emphasis on the word “tries.” When Car hits the living room to get her purse, Tyler’s mother steps up behind her. Caroline’s hand burns when she touches her bag. She cries out in pain. Before she realizes that Mrs. Lockwood has doused her bag with holy water, the mayor shoots her in the back with four vervain darts.