Tonight’s Vampire Diaries starts out strong — with one of Bonnie’s (Kat Graham) witch ancestors acting as the nucleus to a hottie atom. It’s in the middle of a night in 1110 A.D. We’re in the woods. And the Bennett witch is standing in a circle of five shirtless hunks, each holding a sword. Chanting, she lifts a caldron filled with fire over her head. Lighting strikes it. Then she pours the flames onto the ground. Their tentacles climb up the hunters’ swords and over their bare skin, inking them with marks similar to Connor Jordan (Todd Williams). Can every Vampire Diaries episode start this way?

Turns out, these men are The Five — the mystical slayers Damon (Ian Somerhalder) hopes to learn more about from the stuff he boosted from Connor’s RV. ”I’m looking for [Connor’s] supernatural handbook,” he tells Stefan (Paul Wesley) as he empties a box of stolen goods onto a table in the Salvatore library. The Sheriff calls while Damon’s looking through the loot. It’s bad news but when Stefan asks, D refuses to share the deets (even though Stefan should have heard it with his super-vamp ears). “Can’t tell you. We’re in a fight,” the older bro says. Stefan replies, “You’re in a fight. I’m not in a fight. I’m over it. I’ve been over it.”

Forgive but don’t forget
Of course Stefan is not over anything. It kills him that Damon let Elena (Nina Dobrev) feed from him, which, apparently, is the vampire equivalent of rounding all the bases but not sliding into home. Damon knows this. But he refuses to apologize for letting his brother’s girlfriend suck on his wrist. What’s more, he tells Stefan that he’s determined to teach Elena how to safely feed on humans. ”She needs to learn Snatch-Eat-Erase now more than ever,” he says.

Stefan disagrees. But, later, during his combat training with Elena, his girlfriend will tell him that she’s 100 percent on board with Damon’s plan. In fact, her lessons will start during Bonnie’s roadtrip to Whitmore College. Apparently Elena is a vampire foodie who can only drink from the vein — an act that sends Stefan to a dark, Ripper place. Seeing his worry, Elena tries to calm Stef. “You’re the one who’s getting me through all this,” she says. “No matter who teaches me how to feed.” Yeah, right. We don’t believe it either.

While Elena tries to calm Stefan down, Rebekah (Claire Holt) is in town at the Mystic Grill, trying to buy Matt’s (Zach Roerig) forgiveness. She interrupts his shift by tossing a set of keys onto the counter. They belong to a truck that she has bought outright and insured in his name. Matt would have to work 24-hour shifts for years to afford that. Still he initially turns the gift down. ”If that’s your idea of an apology,” he says, “you should probably give it to Elena. She’s the one you killed.”

Matt walks away to leave Rebekah staring speechless. Watching nearby sits Klaus (Joseph Morgan). “You’re trying too hard,” he tells Beks. His little sister is both surprised and disgusted that he’s even speaking to her, seeing how he disowned her last week — right before he snapped her neck. But Klaus is on a new mission. He needs Bekah to help him uncover The Five’s secret. “I don’t care about The Five and I don’t care about you,” she says.

College Road Trip
The witch of Mystic Falls has been invited to Whitmore College by a professor friend of the family. The prof, sexy Dr. Shane or something like that, wants to return some of Grams’s belongings. For reasons we don’t fully understand, Bonnie lets Damon and Elena turn her road trip into vampire smorgasbord. “Better you learn this now than at freshman orientation,” she says. And we wonder if she’s been compelled to do so.

The professor’s lecture has already started when they arrive. Apparently he’s a got a PhD in all things witch-related. He calls them “the architects of the supernatural.” Damon calls him “Witchepedia.” While the professor talks, Damon schools Elena, telling her why she should or shouldn’t pick certain students to feed on. In the end, he outlines that she should feed on pretty blondes because they’re so self-absorbed and accustomed to being flattered that they’re easier to catch.

Speaking of easy catches, back in Mystic Falls, Klaus has Connor tied up medieval style on a torture table from the Inquisition. When Stefan discovers this, the OV doesn’t blink. Instead he easily ropes Stefan into his latest plan by telling the Nice Guy Salvatore about the brotherhood’s 900-year-old vampire slayer history and how Rebekah even fell in love with one of them. “Oh, Stefan. Trust me when I say this,” Klaus says. “That hunter in there holds the answer to all your prayers.”

Lately, the only thing Stefan prays for is Elena. So he agrees to help Klaus find out about the evil The Five plans to unleash on vampire kind. To do so, Stefan has to convince Rebekah to share what she knows about the Brotherhood of Five with the brother she hates. Beks would rather eat dirt than help. But when Stefan tracks her down at the Grill, he offers to give her “a clean slate” — true friendship and a fresh start in Mystic Falls. Stefan sees that she’s lonely and not planning to leave town, so he offers to help her start over and maybe even smooth things over with Matt.

Apparently Matt’s name is all Rebekah needs to hear. She accompanies Stefan back to Casa Klaus, where they bicker over a fancy feast, complete with vegetables and human stuff we thought vampires didn’t need to eat. They stop arguing just long enough for Klaus to tell Stefan that Rebekah fell in love with one of The Five, Alexander. But, because she was still loyal to the family, she invited Alex to dinner with her brothers. Once there, Alex vowed to use “the ultimate weapon, which no vampire can survive” to destroy all of the bloodsucking kind. Of course he was unknowingly sitting at a table of vampires. Or so Rebekah thought.

During pillow talk, Rebekah learned that the tattoos on The Five double as Prison Break-style maps where X marks the spot of vampire genocide. Klaus tells Stefan that, over the years, The Five figured out how to hide their ink. Enter Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen). Turns out, the OV kidnapped Elena’s lil bro. With Stefan watching, he takes Jer’s live-forever ring and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t draw the tattoo he sees on Connor.

Meanwhile, over at Whitmore College, Damon helps Elena hunt. She fails to bite her first victim when she the woman’s screen saver on her phone. It’s a picture of the pretty blonde holding a little girl — her sister. This annoys Damon. “Everyone is someone’s uncle or father or camp counselor or bible study teacher, Elena,” he says. “Why do you care?” Elena responds, “I care because I’m still me. I still have the same feelings. I’m sorry if that spoils your master plan to turn me into a super vampire.”

One More Chance
Until now. Connor’s existence gives Klaus hope that he can use the cure on Elena. If she’s human again, he can make more hybrids. He and Rebekah bicker over this. After she storms off, Klaus tasks Stefan to get her to spill on the location of the sword The Five used to read the map. ”You have a chance to save Elena from the very thing that’s going to destroy her,” he says. “You can call it a deal with the devil if you like.” And Stefan likes.

Back at Whitmore, Bonnie learns that Grams was a huge Stephen King fan, leaving behind a Cujo first edition. Professor Shane returns the book to her, then asks, “Do you practice?” “Not anymore,” Bonnie admits. She goes on to tell him that she lost control and the witches punished her. After admitting that he’s not a warlock, the professor offers to help Bonnie find other ways “to practice.”

Meanwhile, downstairs Damon and Elena boldly Snatch, Eat, and Erase their way around the dance floor. They get a contact buzz from all the drunk coeds and start bumping and grinding with blood dripping from their mouths to Calvin Harris’s song “Feel So Close.” Bonnie comes in and sees them. She’s repulsed. Elena’s embarrassed. She leaves Damon dancing with his eyes closed. Elena runs outside. “Who am I? Why am I acting like this?” she asks Bonnie. “I should be here with Stefan.”

Damon steps outside in time to hear that last bit. Bonnie accuses him of wanting Elena to go over the edge. He argues that she needs to learn to revel in being a vampire. Not hating herself and enjoying it will be the only way she, like him, can make feeding fun and not go nuts and kill hundreds of people.
It doesn’t spoil anything. It just slows things down a bit. Lesson No. 2 starts later that night when they go with Bonnie to meet the professor at a fraternity’s costume Halloween party. (Yeah, that doesn’t make sense to us either.) Seeing how they didn’t plan on trick or treating, the trio comes up with last-minute costumes. Damon dresses as Jack the Ripper. Elena and Bonnie go as his latest victims.

Once at the party, Bonnie heads upstairs to meet the prof while Damon and Elena case the room. At first Elena can’t decide whom to choose. But then she spots a guy slipping a roofie into a girl’s drink. She bumps into the guy and accidentally spills the tainted drink. Then Elena lets the would-be date rapist follow her into a room. There she feeds. “Remember, the idea is not to kill him,” Damon says. Elena barely listens. Once again Damon has to pull her off a dude. “I feel good,” she says as she wipes her mouth. “I want more.”

Back in Mystic Falls, Jeremy chats Connor up while he draws the slayer’s tattoo. Connor tells him his origin story and how it all started back in Iraq, when one of the fellow soldiers recruited him. Like Jeremy, Connor noticed the tattoo that only the anointed can see. Connor tells Jeremy that the more vampires he kills, the bigger the tattoo gets. “Like it’s trying to tell me something. I just don’t know what,” says Connor.

Rebekah knows: The map leads to a cure for vampirism. Back in the day, Alex showed her that the slayer’s sword, and the symbols carved in its handle are the keys to reading the ink. Alex asked Rebekah to run away with him, so they could follow the map together. 

Enamored, she agreed. But it turns out she wasn’t the only double agent. As they made out, Alex stabbed Beks with the white oak ash-dipped dagger he kept on his bedside. Then he staked the rest of the Original family. Klaus, who is immune to the ash ,woke and saved them all, killing The Five. Their tattoos disappeared when their hearts stopped beating. Klaus thought he’d lost the map forever. But he didn’t care.

The Truth Shall Set You Free
Once she calms down, Rebekah goes to visit Stefan at his house. She asks Stefan if he would take the vampire cure if offered. He doesn’t answer. Instead he tells her that he must help Elena before she kills someone and flips her humanity switch.  “Elena’s driven by love. When she turns off her humanity, I don’t’ think we’ll ever get her back,” he says. “So I’d do anything to save her.”

Beks is a sucker for a good love story. So this softens her. She tells Stefan that she was going to marry slayer Alex; they’d even picked out a church. But she says she can’t help Stefan because that would be helping her jerk brother. Hearing this, Stef gets desperate. He needs Rebekah to help him find the cure. So he tells the Original sister that, if offered, he would take the vampire cure so he could live out a human life with Elena. This tugs at Beks’s heartstrings. She spills that she buried Alex in the churchyard where they’d planned to get married. The second after she says it, she realizes her mistake. She has given her brother what he needed to know. “I’m sorry,” Stefan says. Klaus steps out of the shadows, holding the ash-dipped dagger. The OV cries as he stakes his sister, again.

But the tears don’t slow him down. Rather than put Beks body in a coffin, he heads for the airport and his private jet. He threatens Stefan, saying that if he doesn’t watch over his sister and compel Jeremy to forget the days events, he will kill everyone Stefan loves.” It’s just you and me in this, Stefan,” he says. “Some secrets are stronger than family.”

Home Not-so-Sweet Home
Speaking of family, Stef’s big brother, Damon, accompanies Elena home during a sort of reverse walk of shame. She apologizes for letting things get out of hand at the party then accidentally hurts his feelings by saying she hates thinking that he’s right about what a vampire is supposed to be. “Because you don’t want to be like me,” Damon finishes. Gulp.

After D leaves, Stefan asks what happened. “I learned how to feed without hurting someone,” Elena says. “And it was awful. You were right. I got caught up in it.” Stefan tells her it will get easier but she says she doesn’t want that. She’s afraid to become a raging vampire. (Our words, not hers.) Stefan promises that will not happen. “You just have to hold on,” he says as he hugs her.

Having overheard half the conversations in the house, Connor knows this night will not end well. So, as soon as Klaus leaves ,he channels some slayer strength and breaks the bar that holds him to the table. When one of the hybrid guards moves to stop him, he bites the guard’s earring off then uses the pin to free his chains. Later, when the guard returns with water and food, Connor beheads his hybrid jailor. Before fleeing, he pauses to watch as his tattoo grows up his arm. Then he runs… straight to Professor Shane’s office. “Shouldn’t you be in Mystic Falls killing vampires?” The prof asks. Connor answers, “Why the hell did you send me there?” Behind them, the sacred symbol for The Five hangs framed on the wall. 

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