Previously on The Vampire Diaries, Cade forced the brothers to either kill 100 strangers or each other’s soulmate. Stefan’s been off the rails for weeks now, so of course he went straight for Elena. To get Enzo out of his way, Stefan ripped out his heart, and in a move of self-defense, Bonnie pumped Stefan full of the cure.

It also turns out Matt’s family is just as important as that of the other, well-known Mystic Falls founding families. The Armory intern, Dorian, must be working overtime because every week it seems he finds something new from the Maxwell bloodline. In this week’s episode, “What Are You?” he finds a journal that proves to be very important.

A Bell, Talisman, and Journal

What do all of these things have in common? First, they’re all artifacts tied to the Maxwell bloodline. Second, they are all found in the Armory. Third, they all seem to be very valuable to Cade.

In the beginning of this episode, Matt is having a nightmare. There are flashes of the witches who burned to death, and someone furiously scribbling in a journal. Matt wakes up inside one of the caves of the Armory. The alarm is going off as he limps down the hallway dragging a bloody foot, and sweating profusely. Alaric finds him and wants to know what the hell is going on. Matt has no idea.

Alaric tries to convince Matt that it was just a nightmare. Matt tells him it wasn’t. He could feel the heat of the flames. This is a perfect time for Dorian to walk in holding the witch’s talisman and a journal. He believes Matt isn’t having nightmares, but is seeing the memories of Ethan Maxwell. Ethan Maxwell is the smith who created the Maxwell Bell. We’ll get to the details of his story a little later in the recap. 

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The Deal is Off

Cade pays Damon a visit to tell him the deal is off. Now that Stefan is mortal, the contract is null and void. Cade has a new plan. He will take Stefan’s soul at midnight, unless Damon helps him get what he wants. And what does Cade want? You guessed it, Ethan Maxwell’s journal. Damon is like, “Bet! That’s easy.” He agrees to help without asking why Cade would want the book in first place.

Damon goes to the Armory to ask Alaric ask about the journal. Of course, it’s perfect timing because they were just talking about it. Alaric refuses to hand it over to Damon. If Cade wants it, then it must be important. Damon is ready to fight. As everyone is aware, Damon will always do anything to save his brother, no matter who or what stands in his way. Alaric pretends to have a change of heart, letting Damon think he can have the journal, but when Damon turns his back, Alaric injects him with vervain.

Alaric locks Damon in the same quarantine room where they kept Sybil. There is a window which looks into another room. Dorian and Alaric are hooking Matt up to machines. They’re going to trigger his Ethan Maxwell visions by inducing a hypnotic state. Matt goes under fairly quickly and starts relaying what he sees.

He’s at the site where the witches were burned alive, except they haven’t burned yet. He sees Ethan and Beatrice Bennett talking about the bell. Sybil walks up. We’ve heard this story before, but from Sybil’s point of view. Now, we get a few more details. Sybil tells Ethan everything about the bell, he’ll ring it 12 times, and hell fire will be unleashed upon Mystic Falls, blah, blah, blah. She sirens him into not saying anything to the witches.

When Beatrice asks what he and Sybil were talking about he just responds with, “I cannot say.” He repeats that over and over, finally handing over a note with the decoder that employee of the month, Dorian, previously found in the Armory. She decodes the note and realizes the siren’s have sabotaged the bell. The witches hold hands and chant around the bell. They absorb the hellfire that is actually meant for Mystic Falls. On the 12th ring, their souls (and I’m assuming magic) are transferred to the bell. Ethan and Beatrice are the only survivors.

They have a plan to stop the sirens. The two lure the sirens into the caves of the armory. At the right moment, Beatrice uses her magic to lock Sybil and Selene in the cave. Ethan can still hear them though, and he’s sirened to kill Beatrice if he won’t free them and unleash Cade to walk the Earth. He goes after Beatrice, but she saves herself by locking him in a room — the room where Alaric found his bones. Ethan screams through the door that he knows how to kill Cade. At this point, Beatrice is over it. She walks away as Ethan yells that he knows but cannot say. Again, he begins furiously scribbling in his journal.

Back in present day, the Ethan visions have literally given Matt a heart attack. Alaric releases Damon in order to give Matt his blood. During the commotion Damon is able to steal the journal. He takes it to Cade, and just like that — Stefan is saved. Damon asks Cade if anyone has ever been able to earn their redemption. Cade doesn’t answer, saying he doesn’t want to give Damon any false hope. Then he throws the journal INTO THE FIRE and walks away. Damon gave up a chance at killing Cade just to save his sad brother. 

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What’s Stefan Doing?

Stefan doesn’t know how to deal with being human. He’s been on a murder spree lately and the faces of his victims keep flooding his mind. He’s struggling with the guilt. He’s driving down the street, hands covered in blood from just having killed Enzo, when he’s pulled over. He’s immediately arrested. In the interview room the cop throws name after name at Stefan. They have his fingerprints at every crime scene of these murder victims. Luckily, Caroline shows up to save the day. She compels the officer to let Stefan go, and to relay to the entire precinct this was all just a big misunderstanding.

When they’re leaving the police station, Stefan overhears a little girl telling an officer her mother is missing. Stefan catches a glimpse of the woman’s picture. It’s the lady he compelled to sign the deed to Bonnie’s house. He feels guilty because he left her in the trunk of a car to die. He knows the police won’t find her body for weeks. To appease his guilt, and start on the path of redemption, he and Caroline set out to find the woman.

They finally find the car in the woods. When they open the trunk, it’s empty. She has managed to crawl out. So they follow the trail of blood. Stefan’s legs are longer so he finds the woman first. She’s terrified of him. She ends up stabbing him in the stomach, which isn’t good because he’s human now. Caroline finally catches up. Stefan yells at her to save the woman. Caroline feeds her some of her blood and then feeds Stefan. It takes a second for them to remember that won’t work because Stefan has the cure in his body.

Luckily for Stefan (again), Caroline is able to save him by calling an ambulance. They stitch him up, give him blood, and send him on his way. While he’s grateful he has someone like Caroline looking out for him, he doesn’t know what their future holds. Caroline believes he can redeem himself. They both know the first step on his path of redemption is talking to Bonnie.

Bonnie Opens a Door and Closes Another

Bonnie is still at the safe house. She starts hearing voices. Enzo is calling out to her. Then there is a knock on the door, it’s her mother. Her mom has shown up to console her. She tells her they need to bury the body so that Bonnie can start to move on. Bonnie refuses because she thinks Enzo is asking for help. Her mother does a spell and sees that Enzo isn’t really speaking to her. In Bonnie’s grief she opened a door to darkness. Whatever voice it is, it’s trying to pull her in. Bonnie collapses during the spell, and her mom uses this as an opportunity to set Enzo’s body on fire. When Bonnie comes to, first she’s upset but she realizes it needed to be done.

Bonnie goes home to find Matt waiting on her porch. Bonnie confesses that she feels responsible for everything. If she still had her magic she could have prevented all of it. He tells her how strong she is, and a little bit about how their families are tied together. It’s a sweet moment.

Stefan heads out to talk to Bonnie as well, even though he doesn’t know what he’s going to say. That doesn’t really matter, though, because someone in a black hoodie tazes him before he even reaches the steps!

A lot happened in this episode. Damon destroyed a chance to kill Cade, and didn’t really care about it either. That might be because he knows another way. He and Alaric go down into the caves of the Armory and find one of the weapons Matt saw earlier in his visions. Just as their making plans to make a plan to kill Cade, an old face shows up. It’s Kai, the crazy Gemini twin who “killed” Elena.

It looks like Kai wants to help take down Cade. The boys don’t trust him, so he makes an offer they can’t refuse — he’ll bring back Elena.

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Sound off in the comments below.

The Vampire Diaries airs Fridays at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Check out our The Vampire Diaries Facebook fan page. 

(Image courtesy of The CW)

Casey Cummings

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV