On tonight’s episode of The Vampire Diaries, “Welcome to Paradise,” Stefan visits Elena at Whitmore, but he’s got an ulterior motive. Damon and Bonnie meet a stranger who could be friend or foe. Jeremy discovers a loophole that puts Caroline and Elena in danger.

Stefan is on a tear, to say the least. He’s abandoned hope of living a normal life in the sanctuary he created for himself thanks to Enzo. Stefan uses unconventional methods to get his asshole of a boss to give him a few days off to go on a revenge spree. Finally, Stefan is returning to the fold. Well, as close as any supernatural creature can get to it. He’s also driving around with his dead girlfriend in his trunk. Truthfully, she’s as interesting deceased as she was with a pulse. He does plan to return, but it will only be possible if he manages to kill that charming vamp from across the pond.

A New and Improved Elena

Caroline, aside from still being heartbroken over Stefan’s behavior, is having trouble adjusting to the new and improved perky Elena. She tells Matt that her bestie just doesn’t seem like herself, but Matt assures her the change is “happiness,” an emotion that they haven’t seen her express in quite awhile. Elena’s in such good spirits, she’s even planning a little outdoorsy get together for the whole gang. 

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Tyler goes to Liv to supply the alcohol for the party, but she’s still holding a grudge about Tyler trying to strangle Luke. Tyler tries to make amends; he explains that he’s working on his anger issues. Luke seems over it, so Liv relents.

Luke says it’s obvious that she’s bitchy to Tyler because she secretly has a crush on him.

Hope or Hell?

Damon and Bonnie may be in an alternate dimension, but that doesn’t enable them to escape performing mundane day-to-day chores like grocery shopping. Bonnie hasn’t given up on trying to regain her powers and is even more determined now that she thinks the two of them are not alone in 1994 Mystic Falls.

Damon isn’t convinced. He thinks Bonnie could have easily filled in the crossword and not remembered, just like she talks in her sleep. Excuse me? They have the whole mansion, the whole town, and they’re sleeping within earshot. Bonnie doesn’t believe she “sleep crosswords,” but Damon still finds it more plausible than the alternative.

Bonnie thinks Damon is choosing to be a Debbie Downer because he doesn’t want to allow himself to hope he may see Elena again.

Bonnie notices that a shelf is missing pork rinds. Damon doesn’t get the significance. She tells him they’ve been on the shelf every time they’ve shopped for the past four months. Suddenly, a mini carousel outside of the store begins to run. There’s nobody on it which would concern me. If there’s somebody else there, why are they hiding? Nothing good usually keeps such a low profile.

Ripper Mode

Stefan shows up at Whitmore and plays catch up with Elena. She mentions how rough it’s been since losing Bonnie but no mention of Damon. Obviously, something is up, but Stefan’s only concern at the current time is Enzo. He asks Elena if she’s heard from Caroline. No big surprise, she’s not been returning his calls, if he’s even actually been trying. She tells him she’s going to be hanging out with everybody at the swimming hole, conveniently located on the outskirts of town, and that he should come. He tries to beg off, but when Elena says he should come and convince Care Bear that Enzo is not appropriate friend material, he tells her he might stop by.


Elena has also invited along a fellow medical center volunteer, Liam (Marco James). She sees him as a potential love match for Caroline or at least a distraction from Enzo.

The Evidence Mounts

Damon’s car, destroyed in the season 5 finale, is found by the two sitting in the parking lot. Damon admits it’s highly unlikely he left it there. Something  or someone whizzes by, a good hint that this mystery dweller isn’t a mere human. Bonnie and Damon decide to try and track whatever or whoever it is down. 

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Party Foul

The party is a success, and Elena gets to relive happier times before sexy, brooding vamps entered her life. Someone having an even better time is Jeremy. Elena swims up on her baby brother in the midst of some serious PDA with Sarah.

Elena can’t believe Jeremy brought the girl she attacked, but Jeremy doesn’t see the problem since Caroline compelled her to forget.

Matt brings a fellow fake cop with him named Jay. Jay’s a bit of an asshole. He sees Sarah and comments to Matt that he doesn’t buy the whole dog bite story. Speaking of dogs, Tyler walks up and says Elena wants to see them. There’s some Alpha tension between Jay and Tyler, and just a few “you’re a douchebag” comments sets off a shoving match. So much for having that temper under control. Boy scout Matt breaks things up, and Jay backs down.

Even though Stefan caught a ride with Elena to the party, he’s disappeared. Her attempts to get him and Caroline to reconcile aren’t working out too well. She asks Tyler and Matt if they’ve seen him, and the answer is no.

Elena puts Stefan out of her mind long enough to remind all her friends how they used to sneak out to the very particular spot where they were gathered to get wasted while their parents grilled nearby. That’s when everyone had parents. She tries to tempt the boys with Jello shots but they decline. Care Bear, on the other hands, is in the perfect mindset to booze it up.

Caroline has lost her perky optimism and makes it clear that this trip back in time is anything but fun. Elena just wants to try and forget that they are all drifting apart. Caroline tells her that not everybody wants to forget, that they would prefer to deal with reality head on. It’s clear Caroline would like to break Elena’s spell but blames her foul mood on loneliness. She doesn’t have Bonnie or Stefan anymore, and Enzo is a terrible murderous friend. Elena reminds Caroline that she’s still there for her but this brings Caroline little comfort. After all, this isn’t the real Elena.

Another Mystic Falls Resident Circa 1994

Damon and Bonnie realize all they saw was a tarp, and the carousel is on a timer. He must have left his car there at some point in 1994, and they are not in a place created by Grams, but his own personal hell. Doesn’t explain the pork rinds or the crossword.

Bonnie tries to take Damon’s ring. She says if he’s really convinced there’s no way out, why is he lingering? Hope is all she has, and his crappier than usual attitude isn’t helping.

He goes back inside the store to grab some booze, and sitting eating pork rinds is a guy who introduces himself to Damon as Kai.

Caroline to the Rescue

Enzo returns from an ice run and faces off against Stefan,but both are unexpectedly interrupted by douchebag Jay. Who couldn’t guess that guy wasn’t long for this world?

Enzo sends Caroline the bat signal and is content to call a cease fire with Stefan until they clean up their little mess. Stefan isn’t slightly deterred and goes after Enzo again, this time thwarted by Care Bear. Stefan backs off but not before making sure that Enzo has to admit what he did to Ivy.

A Bad First Impression

Kai has been watching Bonnie and Damon pretty closely. He knows quite a bit about their personalities and habits. He considers them only second to Baywatch for entertainment value. Kai, friendly enough at first, admits that he’s trying to kill Damon. He’s off to a good start when Damon takes a huge swig of bourbon laced with vervain.

Kai claims to not know much about vampires but is familiar with the stake to the heart. He makes due with a broken beach umbrella. Bonnie interrupts just in time. Kai doesn’t feel threatened since he’s watched Bonnie repeatedly fail to conjure magic. I wonder if he watched her in the shower too. Apparently, all Bonnie needed was some goading from a complete stranger because, all of a sudden, she’s got some juju back. Damon makes a run for it, and Bonnie threatens to light Kai on fire. How quickly the tables turn.

Matt’s Back in the Thick of It

Matt learns from Enzo that Jay was a vampire hunter. Poor Matt, so happy living in a vamp-free Mystic Falls and now all his illusions are shattered. His little community safety team members aren’t what they seem and know more than they let on.

Stefan Breaks Caroline’s Heart, Again

Caroline and Stefan finally talk. While she’s sympathetic about Ivy, she doesn’t believe killing Enzo is going to accomplish much. Stefan says at least he won’t have to be reminded about his brother every day. See, even Stefan knew Ivy was no big loss. Even though all his actions point to taking vengeance on Enzo, Caroline doesn’t believe that he’s written them all off so easily. She says that if even the smallest part of him came back to check on his friends, especially her, then he should stay.

The Loophole

A little overlooked caveat in compulsion. It only works outside of Mystic Falls. Once somebody returns to town, so does their free will and memories. Jeremy makes this discovery and tells Elena and Caroline. Sarah is missing, and it’s probably because she recognized the crazed brunette who tried to rip her throat out.

Talking but Not Saying Much

Damon and Bonnie bring Kai back to the mansion. Damon is all set to torture him, but he’s says they’re all on the same team. Kai swears he would have never killed Damon; he’s one third of the population. In what world would that make sense? He says he knew Bonnie would come back after her and Damon’s argument because she always does. Kai’s also taking full credit for motivating Bonnie back into being able to access her magic. He says Bonnie’s magic is the key to getting out.

A Friendship Repaired

There’s no sign of Sarah at the Lockwood place, and she trashed it pretty good.

Before heading out to search for the missing girl, Caroline decides to move back in with Elena. Elena is able to commiserate about losing Bonnie and their home. She’s also been very intuitive and supportive about Caroline’s heartbreak regarding Stefan. In fact, the new and improved Elena is a lot less self-centered than the grieving one.

Enzo Meets Tripp Fell

Enzo’s failure to adhere to the eat and erase policy doesn’t escape the attention of Trip Fell. He, along with Stefan take him down. All Tripp knows about Stefan is that he too is a member of a founding family. Stefan leaves Enzo’s fate up to Tripp.

So, we’ve got some new villains, some possible love connections, and Bonnie’s finally a witch again. Looks promising so far.

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8pm on the CW.

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(Image courtesy of CW)

Jennifer Lind-Westbrook

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Jennifer has worked as a freelance writer in the entertainment field since 2012. In addition to currently writing feature articles for Screen Rant, Jennifer has contributed content ranging from recaps to listicles to reviews for BuddyTV, PopMatters, TVRage, TVOvermind, and Tell-Tale TV. Links to some of Jennifer’s reviews can be found on Rotten Tomatoes.