Synopsis: With Elena gone, the gang tries to move on; unfortunately, with Mommy Salvatore’s witchy heretic family, the grieving process gets a little more complex as Mystic Falls is evacuated. Oh, and Ric is working on bringing Jo back from the dead.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Welcome back to another fang-tastic season of TVD!

The episode frames the season starting three years after the events of last season. A desperate Stefan feeds Damon blood to wake him up from a (self-imposed) sleep and finishes at the end of the episode with the brothers fleeing from some sort of new vampire hunter who inflicts cross-like wounds on his/her victims.

Last time we saw the Mystic Falls supernatural (cheer) squad, Elena and Bonnie were magically linked  so that as long as Bonners lives, Elena is catatonic. Oh, and Kai also murdered Jo and her unborn baby twins on Ric’s wedding day. So everybody’s grieving.

*cue Bonnie, Damon & Ric’s Drunken, Depressed European Adventure!!*

While the trio are drinking away their sorrows, back in Mystic Falls, Elena’s coma has spurred an epic journal club. Seriously. It’s the return of the tired journaling narrative we saw from Elena in season 1. The characters (Caroline and Bonnie) are all writing down their experiences for Elena to read when she wakes up from her coma.

Anyway, Lily’s witchy heretic friends are back – and ready for revenge. After one of them gets left for dead by two teens in a hit-and-run, the heretic clan bash in the drivers’ heads (literally). Lily, aghast at her family’s violence, tries to get them to assimilate into society.

Hint: it doesn’t work.

Caroline and Stefan concoct a plan to blow up the heretic hideout. Matt plants a bomb while Caroline distracts the family. The bomb explodes, destroying the house, but apparently the heretics are cockroaches that don’t die.

The heretics crash Matt’s police deputy graduation ceremony and kill the entire graduating class (sans Matt).

Afterward the carnage is hosed from the streets, Stefan and Mommy Salvatore make a deal: Mystic Falls will be evacuated, and any trespassers who remain are fair game for heretic meals.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Ric ditches the duo to go see a fortuneteller – he has a mysterious red stone and he wants to bring Jo back to life. Coincidentally, the same stone that Mommy Salvatore is getting Enzo to look for. Also, surprise! Ric’s only feigning drunk this entire trip.

Damon and Bonnie go to look for Ric, and Bonnie nearly gets run over by a car in the process. Damon hesitates, but then saves her life. The two argue over his hesitation, but Damon promises he won’t let anything happen to her just so he can get Elena back earlier.

The trio return to Mystic Falls and see the evacuation. Ric convinces a coroner to keep his wife’s body on ice longer, while Bonners and Damon decide to fight the heretics – Bonnie corners one with magic while Damon rips out his heart.

Mommy Salvatore is heartbroken and it looks like the temporary truce is now over. The scene closes with Enzo choosing to defect to Lily’s team by drugging Caroline. The mute heretic also shows the audience his cross-shaped scar we saw at the beginning/end of the episode which presumably left him mute.

Oh, and Steroline happens!

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