Family is everything.

Even through all its crazy teen/vampire romances, constant violent deaths and frequent partying, The Vampire Diaries stays true to that ideal. And this episode, “Bringing Out the Dead,” is the perfect example of that.

The Family That Stabs Together…
Picking up right where we left off last week, Elijah has made his surprise appearance at Klaus’ House of Hybrids. Klaus quickly gets over his shock at seeing his brother inconveniently un-daggered and offers a drink. Elijah prefers to fight. This causes the house to get quite smashed.

In the midst of all of this fighting, Klaus slips the dagger out of one of his other brothers (Cole) and makes a fairly useless re-daggering threat against Elijah. Klaus also mentions the death of Mikael and the fact that the Salvatores have the magical, mystery coffin hidden somewhere.

A disinterested and super-irritated Elijah is only finally brought around to Klaus’ way of thinking when the hybrid reminds his big brother about some old oath of loyalty to family. Elijah relents somewhat, and the dagger goes back in Cole.

Dysfunctional family life reigns supreme over at the Gilbert house as well, where Alaric is recovering from a night of drunken debauchery with Dr. Meredith Fell. His hangover is rudely interrupted (and probably enhanced) by the arrival of Sheriff Forbes with the stake that killed Brian the Medical Examiner. It seems that this is a “special” stake from the Gilbert family collection — and only Elena’s fingerprints are on it.

Elena is, of course, too sweet and innocent to be a suspect. Meredith, on the other hand, jumps right to the top of everyone’s list. Except Elena’s list. Young Miss Gilbert just wants to keep Meredith innocent, if only to stop Alaric’s love-life from turning into a total tragedy. Oh Elena! No power in the universe can help with that…

Passive-Aggressive Theater
Out in a field that should be full of butterflies and young lovers, Damon meets up with Elijah. It seems that Damon, after un-daggering Elijah, left the Original a note (ending with “X-O, X-O”) explaining the whole let’s-take-down-Klaus situation.

Meanwhile, down in the Cave That Hates Vampires, Stefan shows Bonnie and Abby to the sealed coffin. He generally acts like a jerk before sauntering out. Alas for his saunter, Elena is waiting. She wants to know if he killed the medical examiner, because he’s evil and stuff. Stefan actually seems offended by this question and stalks away.

This leaves just Bonnie and Abby down in the caves. Bonnie, being a sulky but incredibly justified teenager who was abandoned by her mother while a toddler, uses absolutely everything as an excuse to guilt-trip Abby. Mama Bennett only redeems herself a little bit when she notices a drawing in the Grimoire that indicates the two witches can undo a binding spell by working together.

The passive-aggressiveness continues up at Salvatore manor, where Damon wants Stefan to clean himself up for dinner with the Originals. Stefan is understandably dubious about this plan, but Damon points out that they just need the time for the witches to open the coffin.

Aren’t You Supposed to Get Better in Hospitals?
In the hospital, Meredith meets Caroline. Instead of providing useful medical information, Meredith complains about Mr. Forbes’ ingratitude (for saving his life with the blood of hated vampires). The doctor also makes it clear that she knows all about Caroline’s vampire-ness.

None of this matters, of course, because Mr. Forbes has already checked out of the hospital. And he didn’t call Caroline, the jerk. Caroline complains about this to the suddenly-appearing Elena — who is seriously everywhere in this episode, by the way. The girls quickly move on to the more interesting topic of Alaric’s disastrous love life while Caroline calls Daddy.

But then… Caroline can hear the phone ringing somewhere nearby. She and Elena follow the sound to a supply room. There, sprawled against some sinister shelving, is a very, very bloody Mr. Forbes.

Not good.

Of course, Daddy is chock-full of vampire blood, so the death-thing doesn’t stick.

Even with his resurrection, Mr. Forbes is having a bit of an anxiety attack, what with the sneak-attack from behind and the transitioning into vampire-ness. He totally wants some blood, but that’s not going to happen. An anti-vampire purist like Mr. Forbes would rather just die than become a vampire.

You can imagine how much Caroline wants to hear this.

As Caroline and her father leave to have angst and die, Elena races home with the dagger used in the attack. Sure enough, it’s another Gilbert Special, this time one of the weapons hidden in the foyer. Alaric, who is probably considering the monastic lifestyle right about now, points out that Meredith was present for the two attacks and (thanks to her romp with Alaric) had access to the weapons.

Were Cain and Abel Fighting Over a Girl?
Damon and Stefan arrive at the Hybrid House for an extremely formal dinner and peace summit with the Originals. Seriously, it’s formal. They even have food, not just pretty ladies to kill (although they have those too).

While Damon and Klaus attempt to one-up each other over the hors-d’oeuvres, we find out that Klaus has already spilled the beans to Elijah about the mother-murdering thing. And Elijah is cool with that.

Why is that? Well, basically, the Original boys have already worked out all of their issues. And it all ties in to the mysterious Petrova doppelganger.

It seems that the Salvatores aren’t the only brothers to fall head-over-heels for a doppelganger (or two). Back in the olden times, Elijah and Klaus were both madly in love with a girl named Tatia. The rivalry eventually got to the point where Mommy Original had to step in. Because Mommy was a witch of questionable morals, her solution was to “take” Tatia and use the girl’s blood to create the Original vampires.

Thus, neither boy got the girl (although her descendents through an illegitimate daughter would keep producing doppelgangers ad infinatum) and a truce was called. “Family above all” became the motto.

This is not good for the Salvatores. Things get worse when Klaus refuses Damon’s trade — in exchange for the coffin, all of the Originals leave town, the Salvatores and Elena. Klaus, instead, makes it clear that he’s not leaving Elena to the tender mercies of two vampires determined to love the poor girl to death. Granted, Klaus’ suggestion of Matt (and babies and future generations) isn’t so great either.

Klaus’ final offer is to ensure Elena’s safety for all her life, presumably from a distance. Damon is disinterested. Stefan considers it. Klaus eats a girl. Stefan considers it some more and then appears to go for it… But you can’t trust a handshake from a vampire. Stefan will consider “no deal” with Klaus.

The hybrid’s reaction is typical. Stefan finds his hand plunged into the fire, a threat of burning death given unless Damon takes Elijah to get that magical coffin right away. As Damon and Elijah leave in compliance, we learn that the price of Elijah’s loyalty is Klaus turning the other Originals over to his brother.

Unusually Sad Dealings with Death
While her father slowly drops dead inside, Elena and Caroline hang out on the Forbes’ porch and theorize about whether Tyler or Meredith is the more likely serial killer. Elena is now firmly in the Meredith-did-it camp and has passed her suspicions on to Sheriff Forbes. More seriously depressing conversation about dead fathers continues. Only the sudden arrival of Matt alleviates the sadness.

Elena and Matt leave after awhile, and Caroline goes inside to find Dad gloating over her cheerleading trophies. The father and daughter talk about death and a guy named Stephen (do we know who that is?), before Caroline can’t take it anymore. She pretty much begs Mr. Forbes to just drink some blood and not die. He won’t, saying it goes against his belief system. But he loves her anyway.

So it’s OK. Except Mr. Forbes dies. That’s less OK.

Back to That Coffin
In the cave, Bonnie and Abby are doing the chanting thing. It’s not working. Bonnie accuses Abby of not trying. Abby blames the spirits for this, but Bonnie knows that Abby is just being a wimp, yet again.

Eventually, Bonnie does manage to guilt her mother into some creepy witch chanting. And it seems to work. The candles explode, and the coffin is almost ready to open. Bonnie runs out to text Damon the news, leaving Abby behind. But something else is still in the cave. A quiet noise makes Abby turn back to the coffin, where she sees…

Something. Something bad.

Elena Bennett, Psycho Killer
Matt walks Elena home and points out the obvious fact that Mystic Falls is a seriously screwed-up town. You’d think he would remember this mere seconds later when the pair discovers the power off at the Gilbert home.

And then they discover blood. A lot of blood. Each taking one of those hardcore Gilbert kitchen knives and totally ignoring the “Don’t go in there!” screams of the entire audience, Elena and Matt follow a trail of bloody handprints upstairs. Where they find… Alaric. The serial killer has struck again!

Fortunately, Alaric is only mostly dead and manages to gasp out a request for Elena to kill him. He’s got his ring, and Elena counts as supernatural. So he’ll heal if she’s the killer.
Matt is very not cool with this situation, but Elena does better. The pretty little doppelganger proceeds to stab Alaric in true psycho-murderer fashion. We always knew you had it in you, Elena!

Not that she’s happy. Elena begs Matt to stay with her until Alaric wakes up, mostly because she can’t lose anymore family, even bad role models that she stabs with kitchen knives.

This moment of angst is made more angsty by calls from the Forbes family. Mr. Forbes is dead and they all have to look for a new killer. Turns out, Meredith was in surgery during Alaric’s attack… As that man wakes up, coughing blood, we all have to start naming new suspects.

It All Comes Back to Family
Klaus, still taunting Stefan with imminent death, is shocked at the quick return of Elijah and Damon. Without the coffin. But Elijah does have something new — a whole bunch of daggers. As Klaus looks on in horror, the entire Original family (including Rebekah and her prom dress) arrives to take care of some “family business.”

The Salvatores wisely make their exit. On their way back to the Anti-Vampire Caves, Stefan acknowledges that Damon’s plan actually worked out. He’s also kind of thankful that Damon bothered to return and save his life.

But all is not well between the brothers. Stefan declares his love for Elena, despite all the rampant douchebaggery of recent months. Then Damon declares his love too. That’s awkward. And Damon ignoring Elena’s phone call doesn’t help.

Was Klaus right?

Right or not, Damon and Stefan have bigger problems to deal with right now. They reach the cave, only to find both Bonnie and Abby unconscious. As for the magical coffin, it’s open. And empty.

Back at the Hybrid House, Klaus is getting a thorough beat-down from his siblings. Their plan seems to involve killing Elena, using the coffin’s contents, and leaving Klaus alone forever. But, like so many plans on The Vampire Diaries, this one will need some changes.

Because that’s when another person enters the room. It seems that that last, magically sealed coffin belonged to none other than the Originals’ mother. And now she’s back.

Klaus expects vengeance, but that’s not what mothers are for. Instead, sweet, terrifying Original Mommy offers forgiveness and a chance to rebuild the family, probably at the expense of countless innocent lives.

Aw… Even to the creepy, badass, murderous Originals, family is everything. Which totally sucks for the rest of Mystic Falls.

(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.