The Vampire Diaries: Track the Ripper (PHOTORECAP)

Dang, you got HOT over the summer! I mean, I had a feeling this would be your year, but you've really bloomed! You must have been super busy because you didn't respond to any of my emails or Skypes or Friendster requests. That's cool, I was pretty busy too. I raised a narwhal from birth, no big deal. I was thinking about going out for lacrosse but I'm concerned that my bones are too spongy from drinking too much pop. Hey do you want to go to off-campus lunch with me? Long John Silver's. Heather had her baby and it is NOT cute. Okay, see you in homeroom!

Um, seriously you guys, The Vampire Diaries is back. It is BACK in a big way. I don't know about you, but I kind of needed the entire summer to recover! Season 2 got intense! After it ended I hung a dreamcatcher over my bed and it got so clogged up with nightmares that I had to regularly scrub it with a wire brush like it was a filthy barbecue grill! I also enrolled in a lamaze class just to regulate my breathing, because WHEW! This show!

Anyway, let's DO THIS.

The first new thing about Season 3? A brand-new "PREVIOUSLY ON..."!! That's right, no more Stefan gazing out a window shirtless. Now it's some insanely complicated montage that I didn't even understand?

Something about a werewolf vampire and possibly a cabin, and I guess ghosts? Dang, I THOUGHT I understood what was going on last season, but I guess I was wrong. Oh well! It's never slowed me down before.

The actual episode began at an isolated house somewhere in Tennessee, in a perfect example of what film students would call in medias hoochie.

This lady was just outside chillin' by her croquet set when a southern drawlin' 500-year-old werewolf-vampire hybrid just sallied on over and asked to use her phone.

She was like, "No way" and he was like "Yes way" and [SPOILER ALERT] he finally compelled her to invite him inside.

Klaus was asking tons of questions about some dude named Ray Sutton, who tended to come home "once every month." Everybody knows that's werewolf talk, so this chick (who looked like an extra from Friday the 13th Part 8) just immediately bolted. I agreed with this notion!

But whoops! She didn't realize there'd be an undead hunk at the door.

YIKES! Stefan ate those ladies UP.

Meanwhile back at Elena's house, she was just chillaxin' in her bed like she was too cool to sleep. Either that or she was experiencing unknowably deep spiritual devastation. One of those, can't be sure which.

Wake up, Jeremy! Jeremy looked super comfortable in his bed. Sleeping slightly upright against vertical pillows is probably the best way to sleep, everybody knows this.

If there's one thing all teenage boys can agree upon, it's that having your sister rip the covers off of you in the morning is the best. "I hope my sister startles me awake and tears the covers off of my boner area." —Teenage boys.

Now, if you recall, last year Jeremy officially traded in his goth vibes for a straight-up frat dude aesthetic, and now it's like that times ten. But not everything's happiness and sunshine for this bro—you could tell right away that Jeremy was TROUBLED by junk.

Guess who was still crashing at their pad? Alaric! I guess his old apartment smelled too much like murder. Plus I bet Greta clogged up the shower drain with hairballs. Anyway, nothing at all strange about a history teacher sleeping on his female student's couch all summer! Good thing this isn't a conservative small town in the South where rumors might spread.

Hey Caroline! She was looking good, everybody. I liked this part because it was so charming to think that Mystic Falls has stores. Please. Mystic Falls does not have stores. I'm guessing Caroline was just re-using old shopping bags for a trip to the discount swap meet? I bet that pink bag is full of, like, old yarn.

Nice new haircut, Alaric! It looked good, right? See, Alaric dealt with his grief in the best way possible: BY GETTING A MAKEOVER.

Damon's back too! And to answer your question, no, he did not spend the summer having a fantastic romance with Elena, you guys. Sorry. Tear down those Damon+Elena collages inside your lockers because that's never going to happen. Instead Damon's been growing his hair out into a mullet and having sexy banter with a compelled news anchor. Living the dream, basically!

Andie was like, "No I will not follow your directions to get you more champagne even though you've melted my brain by compelling me every ten seconds. Maybe you should take a not-at-all gratuitous naked stroll through the mansion."

What's cool is that Damon's modesty was protected by the RANDOM TABLE OF KNICK-KNACKS he keeps in the CENTER OF HIS BEDROOM? Every person should have one of those.

Elena was simply SHOCKED by this brazen nudity, although you know she was doing the mental math that anybody would do when they've seen TWO BROTHERS' junk. Compare and contrast, lady. It's called science!

In the grand tradition of Bonnie being useless, her one appearance in this episode was via FaceTime while Jeremy was working in the back room of Mystic Grill because OH YEAH Jeremy works at Mystic Grill now! (Quick question: Did the same manager also hire Matt and Sean Faris, because this manager is doing EXCELLENT work.)

Anyway, Bonnie's out of town visiting family who she describes as "like wet paint that never dries." I had to pause the show and think about this because WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? Does she mean that her family is colored and gets her high? That is offensive, Bonnie!

Immediately after Jeremy hung up on her, Ghost Vicki appeared! Jeremy was VERY scared, except hasn't this been going on for like two months now? You'd think by now he'd just be annoyed at these chicks. "Get out of here, ghosts."

Jeremy got kind of jacked over the summer, credit where credit's due. But anyway, then ANOTHER shocking thing happened. Right when Jeremy bent down to pick up the napkins...

...we found out that Mystic Grill gets its supplies from Trader Joe's! Holy moly! Now, we know there is no way that Mystic Grill has a Trader Joe's of its own, so I'm just assuming the same awesome manager probably drives out of town to pick up supplies. Just truly a saint, that guy.

Meanwhile Matt got all frantic because Caroline and Tyler were eating out front. It turns out that they too had abstained from falling in love over the summer, except the tension was clearly starting to get to them.

They both looked like they were reaching the limits of their platonic relationship and were about to snap into a makeout session at any moment. APPROVE.

Meanwhile at the diviest bar in Tennessee, Klaus and Stefan arrived to find this Ray Sutton character. I guess he'd slept there? Because hadn't those girls in the first scene said he was already there and it was nighttime then? Who knows? Nobody knows or ever will.

Klaus did his classic Klaus move of sidling up next to someone at a bar and purring in some European accent. Everybody knows that if there's one thing Southern dudes love, it's that. Oh and P.S. Ray Sutton is played by the kid from 7th Heaven!!

Anyway, both Klaus and Stefan cornered Ray and immediately told him their scheme: They wanted to know where Ray's werewolf pack was so that Klaus could convert them all to vampire-werewolf hybrids like himself. The perfect scheme, basically. It was very shocking when Ray expressed doubt about its merits!

Meanwhile the two eldest members of the Mystic Falls #1 Teen Detective Agency arrived at the Tennessee house and came across a horrendous scene.

Had to be done. I mean, what kind of weirdos lived here anyway? That star on the wall? The lamp placement? Nevermind the werewolf dungeon under the floorboards, these people were maniacs.

Okay, THIS was THE WORST. Really, The CW? During this ad, Candice Accola gave us some juicy tidbits about Caroline's love triangle and she spilled the info that she'll be sharing scenes with both Matt AND Tyler this season. Very cool, very major spoilers there. But then at the end it showed Bing being used to look up "Mystic Falls romantic restaurants" and just take a gander at the results:

First of all, if you are ever in Mystic Falls do NOT call those restaurants, those phone numbers do NOT work. Second of all, we're supposed to use a search engine that returns "Mario Lopez Fan Art" when you search for restaurants? Perfect search engine! Third, just what in the hell is The Grille, and why is it located just off La Brea Avenue? In other words, Bing is awesome.

Anyway, back at the Salvatore Bros' underlit mansion (although, does Elena still own this joint?) the kids were setting up a house party. Let's see—Keg? Check. One thousand red Solo cups? Check. Valentine's Day balloons? Check. Quinceañera decorations? Check. Heisler party cube? Check. All set!

Tyler casually mentioned he'd be bringing a lady of loose morals to the party and Caroline got kind of huffy. At this point Tyler blurted out that as a new werewolf he was unbelievably, constantly horny. And Caroline lit up in agreement, the same thing happens when you're a vampire!

Aaaand then she dropped the subject. Very smooth! Wait, I don't really remember why they never hooked up? I think it's because Tyler liked her but then stood by when she got shot in the head a bunch by werewolves? I can't remember, honestly, but I'm guessing Caroline's in the right. Either way, it was clear that Tyler wanted back on the Caroline love train and she wasn't having it.

Ray was NOT having a good time. It was pretty cool how Stefan compelled the whole bar to not pay attention to Ray's suffering so this particular game of wolfsbane-darts went completely unnoticed by the other A.M. drunks in the room.

At this point Klaus was informed that Damon had been snooping around and he set out to have Damon killed.

But Stefan was like, "I'll handle it." Then Klaus was like "How can I trust you to handle it?" and Stefan was like "You can trust me to kill my brother because of that one time when I sacrificed everything so that you wouldn't kill my brother." It was perfect logic, in other words.

Once again Elena went digging through the old clothes of the Salvatore ancestors. Gross, Elena. But then again, Mystic Falls doesn't have stores, so where else would she get her clothes?

Okay, we need to talk about Damon's hair. He looked like Janet from Three's Company! This was seriously one of the grossest mullets I've ever seen, and I grew up in Fresno. What is going ON here? Doesn't the CW have a Standards & Practices Department?

That being said, it was nice seeing Elena smile FOR ONCE. She seemed to actually be happy that her friends had thrown her a birthday party...

...Until she realized that TOO MANY people were enjoying themselves.

At which point she immediately started pouting and openly judging people. Very cool!

In my favorite moment of the whole episode, Jeremy and Matt shared a doob and had a heart-to-heart. (Quick question: Smoking joints on TV is okay but not cigarettes??) Anyway, the conversation literally began this way:

Jeremy: "You know I died, right? And Bonnie used magic to bring me back to life?"

Matt: "Yeah, Elena told me."

Okay, WHAT? First of all, that is a hell of a thing to lead with. Secondly, they've been hanging out for months and Matt never brought up that he'd heard this particular piece of gossip? (And that is THE BEST gossip, btw). If you heard that your bro-worker had been literally murdered and then resurrected via witchcraft, wouldn't you ask him about it immediately? Anyway, this was a big reminder that Matt's officially an "insider" when it comes to supernatural stuff, and that makes him immediately more likable.

Oh and that reminds me! Sheriff Forbes? She seems to be helping Damon track down Stefan by keeping an eye out for "animal attacks" in the South. Does this mean she's fully on the good guys' team now? We'll see! What I'm saying is, I'm glad more and more main characters are getting hip to things.

Meanwhile at the darkened TV studio, Andie Starr had an encounter with a Ripper. Uh-oh!

Oh, another Bing commercial! Have you ever wondered how Kevin Williamson gets all his story ideas?

Now you know!

Meanwhile at the party Tyler was dancing 2 Close Real Close to Slutty Sophie (Caroline's nickname for her). Watch out Sophie, there's only one other Mystic Falls student with a name and she was NOT invited to the party.

Like any non-crazy female, Caroline stood like five feet away, staring daggers at them both while drinking hard liquor like a maniac.

Then Matt came over and spoke to her for I guess the first time all summer? He started off all mad, teasing her about being a monster, but quickly apologized and you could tell he was feeling pretty rotten for having teamed up with her mom to trick her that one time.

Then Elena discovered that Damon had been tracking Stefan the whole time WITHOUT her knowledge. She was super butt hurt, obviously, but it was pretty clear to us that he was doing it because he didn't want her to know the extent of Stefan's rampage. In my opinion that's just thoughtful on Damon's part.

Nice hair! Nice sign!

Responding to a phone call from Andie, Damon showed up at the news studio only to finally come face to face with his estranged brother. It did not go well!

Like most small-town news stations, this one had a catwalk four stories above their heads and Andie jumped off of it. Aw, poor Andie! RIP babygirl. Although, shouldn't there be vampire blood in her system? I don't know. I don't have all the answers, you know? I'm just an old man sitting on a catamaran typing this story on a Speak 'N Spell.

Back at the party, two stoned bros attempted to carpool home until one of them kept seeing lady ghosts.

Matt seemed vaguely freaked out that Jeremy had "talked to" his sister Vicki. Fair enough!

Whoa hey I just remembered something—Jeremy was hooking up with Vicki when Matt was hooking up with Elena. They'd each boned each others's sisters!

After jealously compelling Slutty Sophie to bounce, Tyler finally demanded to know why Caroline was cockblocking him so much if they were only friends?

Boom! And then it was like someone started pounding jungle drums because they just WENT AT IT.

Back at Jeremy's joint, he and Matt were having an ice cream 'n giggle party until Jeremy got serious and decided to be honest about his ghostly encounters.

I don't think Matt ever really grasped what Jeremy was telling him. Oh well, nobody ever said mashed potatoes made a good confidante.

This plotline was still happening? Back at the bar, Klaus was force-feeding his own blood to the werewolf dude and then snapping his neck. Typical Klaus.

Meanwhile Stefan was very clearly feeling bummed for all the stuff he'd been doing. Klaus even called him out, saying Stefan isn't actually as evil as he's pretending to be.

Cue sad music and closing montage!

Tyler and Caroline were getting it on in his bedroom like crazy. I hope they did proper stretches and stuff! Someone's gonna get tennis elbow!

Then Damon trashed Stefan's room, which—SERIOUSLY with the candles?

Check out this insane drawing that Jeremy drew for Elena's birthday. It's a heart with roses and angel wings written in a tattoo-style font? Hello, Jeremy is NOT a goth anymore, Art Department! Current Jeremy would have drawn, like, a yellow Lamborghini and, I don't know, a jug of Creatine?

Also, just what in the F is this strawberry figurine? And is that a FELT CROWN? Is this how Elena chose to replace the junk that one warlock stole from her? Oh man, Elena's lucky she found those vampire brothers because she's clearly heading down a cat lady path.

Anyway, RING DING DING, Unknown Caller calling!

Okay, this scene was actually really moving. Stefan remained silent while Elena told him she loved him and that basically she'd still be there when he got done murdering tons of folks. (Ugh, Elena's brain.). But still, well done and definitely touching.

Meanwhile, in our closing STINGER of a cliffhanger, Caroline snuck out while Tyler flexed in his sleep.

WHOOOPS! Mrs. Lockwood caught Caroline red-handed and she was NOT thrilled about seeing Caroline cavorting with her son. And as we all know, this actress has a deep pool of real-life emotion to draw from for this performance. It was very method.

Awkward! Caroline did her best to just get out of there, but she didn't anticipate exactly HOW MAD Mrs. Lockwood really was.

OH, FUDGE. Now if there is one thing I hate, it's seeing Caroline in pain and danger. But do you know who LOVES seeing her in pain and danger? THIS SHOW. So obviously ten minutes after getting some hot werewolf action she's nearly murdered. That's just how things work in Mystic Falls. Welcome back!

... Are we headed for a Mayor Lockwood vs. Sheriff Forbes smackdown?
... Who has the best new haircut: Alaric, Jeremy, or Damon?
... Why does Klaus need an army of hybrids?
... What does Ghost Vicki need help with?
... How much slash-fic are you going to write about Matt and Jeremy this weekend??

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