What makes a good episode of The Vampire Diaries? Romance, obviously. Creepy mysteries help. A betrayal works. And a dead body or two is always a plus. Fortunately for us, “The New Deal” has all of this and more!

What Dreams May Come…
“The New Deal” opens with Bonnie wandering through the Witch House. Eerie whispers lead her to a basement filled with Original coffins. Bonnie goes to open one — as you do when faced with coffins — only to find Klaus inside, clutching Elena/Rebekah’s necklace. Bonnie reaches for the necklace and…

It’s all a dream.

The importance of the Witch House established, we quickly cut to Elena, who is jogging to keep herself in prime form for any vampire staking and/or lovemaking she may need later. Alas, the morning run is interrupted by the presence of a be-hoodied man who jogs after Elena in a very sinister way.

Is he dangerous? Nope, he’s just another jogger. Or is he…?

Back at the Bar
A brief teen angst/dream interpretation discussion between Bonnie and Elena at the Mystic Grill sets up the fact that Damon has resorted to alcohol to mask the pain of Stefan’s betrayal. While Damon tries to drink the bar dry, Alaric — in one of those rare “Hey! I’m a history teacher!” moments — grades papers. Imagine Alaric’s concern when he realizes that Jeremy has managed to both fail history and get fired from his job when no one was paying attention.

And where is Jeremy now? He’s off in the woods with Tyler, bonding over girl trouble. This, of course, requires a crossbow and beer.

Meanwhile at the Grill, Damon throws a few darts, displays drunkenness and generally makes himself irresistible to Elena. Alas for the flirting, Klaus picks this moment to crash the party — along with his hybrid sidekick, Tony the Jogger (he was dangerous!).

Klaus wants Stefan. Klaus wants his sister. Klaus wants a pint. Neither Damon nor Elena express much interest in Klaus’ wants.

Odd Couples
Bonnie, convinced that her dream might not be nothing (because she’s, you know, a witch), visits the Witch House. Only this time, the basement hides Stefan instead of coffins. Although neither seems terribly happy to see the other, Stefan manages to enlist Bonnie’s help to hide the coffin collection from Klaus.

Back at the Gilbert house, Alaric and Elena prepare for a traditional family dinner and intervention. Jeremy wanders in late, all teenage rebel-like, and rejects their concern over the fact that he’s hanging out with Klaus’ minion. In fact, Jeremy proves his stupidity independence by inviting Tyler in for the meal.

Although horrified, Elena and Alaric take advantage of their chance to grill Tyler on the whole siring issue. Tyler gets angry at the suggestion that Klaus controls him — because it’s totally rational to rip out one’s own heart if so requested — and eventually leaves.
Meanwhile, Klaus and Damon share a drink at the Salvatore house, where Klaus fills Damon in on the whole Stefan-stole-his-family issue. When Damon refuses to give in to Klaus about everything, Klaus makes a phone call.

Secrets Revealed
Who answers? It turns out that Jeremy is the lucky recipient of Klaus’ attention. Hey, at least someone is paying attention to the poor kid! Elena and Alaric clear up the nonexistent dinner and fail to notice that Jeremy has disappeared.

By the time they realize he’s gone, Jeremy is in the middle of the road, waiting to be mowed down by Tony the Jogger/SUV Driver. Alaric leaps in front of the vehicle to save Jeremy. That’s not so great for Alaric, but he’s wearing his magic ring and therefore cannot be killed by a supernatural hit-and-run.

Tyler, meanwhile, heads to the Klaus House, where he’s shocked to hear of Alaric’s “accident.” Klaus responds to Tyler’s concern with a “Go Hybrids!” pep talk. Tyler is not totally convinced.

To distract herself from not-dead Alaric, Elena calls Bonnie, who almost instantly reveals that Stefan is at the Witch House. Elena and Damon head over. Damon is somewhat hindered by witch spirits that want to kill him, so Elena gets to face Stefan alone. Alas, the new-and-unimproved Stefan is an uncaring jerk fully deserving of the slap he gets from his ex-girlfriend.

Despite the witch booby-traps, Damon sends Elena away and reaches Stefan. They insult and then fight each other. After he stakes Stefan with a tree branch, Damon finds out that Stefan’s betrayal was only to save his brother’s life. Damon is unimpressed and manages to convince Stefan to team up for a later Klaus takedown.

Stefan rewards Damon with a trip to the empty basement. Except that now the basement is magically full of coffins — it seems the witches have been hiding them.

Ring Malfunction
Alaric finally un-deads himself, only to collapse again while coughing up blood. But Elena’s call for paramedics goes awry when Tony the Jogger/SUV Driver/Paramedic Compeller shows up to offer his healing blood in exchange for an invitation. Elena hesitates.

And then Tony falls over, an arrow in the back, courtesy of Jeremy. A meat cleaver and some blood splatter later, Tony is no more and Jeremy is officially a badass — much to Elena’s dismay.

Alaric eventually reaches the hospital, which proves fairly pointless after he’s healed by some of Damon’s blood. The medical treatment does, however, allow for a flirtation-filled meeting between Alaric and Dr. Meredith Fell. That’s Dr. Meredith Fell of the Founding-Family Fells, I presume.

Family Guilt
Elena takes a break from her family’s drama to hang out with Klaus. Elena trades Rebekah, still daggered and stored in a back room, for Jeremy’s safety. Klaus is happy to oblige. He’s a little less happy when he finds out that Rebekah knows about Klaus’ ancient matricide and will therefore reanimate with a grudge.

Klaus, ever ready to avoid emotional confrontation, ends up making the sad/selfish decision to keep Rebekah daggered for the time being.

Elena, meanwhile, has a sad/selfish decision of her own. She decides that Jeremy has gotten too badass for his own good and convinces Damon to perform another round of season-1-style compulsion. Jeremy thus gets the urge to move to Denver where he can be an ordinary teenager who doesn’t chop up vampire/werewolf hybrids with kitchen utensils.

Dreams Come True
Bonnie goes to visit the Witch House and Stefan again, this time determined to complete her dream sequence by opening one of the coffins. Unfortunately, this proves impossible. What is inside? We’ll have to wait for that…

Better things are happening back at the Gilbert house, where Elena is fretting about her choice to mess with Jeremy’s brain. Damon consoles her and then totally blabs about Stefan’s plans. Elena recognizes that Stefan might not be totally evil, which makes Damon feel guilty.

Then, in a burst of wonderfulness the likes of which The Vampire Diaries has never seen, Damon realizes that it’s better to be guilty of doing, rather than just lusting. So he kisses Elena! Elena does not seem to object.

And then Damon walks away while Vampire Diaries fans everywhere celebrate.

Did the return of The Vampire Diaries meet your expectations? Why won’t that coffin open? Is Jeremy gone for good? What comes after that kiss? Share your thoughts below!

(Image courtesy of The CW)

Laurel Brown

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Laurel grew up in Mamaroneck, NY, Grosse Pointe, MI and Bellevue WA. She then went on to live in places like Boston, Tucson, Houston, Wales, Tanzania, Prince Edward Island and New York City before heading back to Seattle. Ever since early childhood, when she became addicted to The Muppet Show, Laurel has watched far too much TV. Current favorites include ChuckModern FamilySupernaturalMad Men and Community. Laurel received a BA in Astrophysics (yes, that is possible) from Colgate University and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and History of Science from Columbia University before she realized that television is much better than studying.