After an agonizingly long summer, The Vampire Diaries is finally back, and if spoilers are to be trusted, the impossibly gorgeous Mystic Fall residents we love are about to face innumerable changes. Before we jump right into the good stuff, here’s just a very abbreviated recap of where the season four finale left off.

On the plus side, Bonnie was able to bring Jeremy back from the dead, but on the downside, she died trying. Elena force-fed Katherine the cure during an epic cat fight. Elena chose Damon over Stefan. But, Stefan didn’t have time to mire himself in angst because he found out he was Silas’ doppelganger just before the big baddie shoved him in a vault and threw Stefan into a deep, remote reservoir. Nobody knows that Silas is not only still alive and kicking, but also has revealed his true visage to be the same as Stefan. Klaus gave Tyler permission to return to Mystic Falls as a graduation present for his beloved Caroline. Rebekah and Matt were planning a romantic getaway to Europe.

The Long, Hot Summer

We get a quick “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” type rundown from Elena who is emailing Bonnie who, with the help of Jeremy, everybody thinks is out of town. Technically, this is true, she’s just much further away than her friends realize. We learn that Elena and Damon have been having lots and lots of sex, no shocker there. Now the fact that ex-high school quarterback Matt is having threesomes with Rebekah across the pond is pretty scandalous. Given how much the guy’s life sucked during high school, he deserves some decadent fun. Tyler is doing some werewolf outreach, and Caroline is getting ready to take college by storm.

Jeremy is helping Bonnie keep the fact that she should technically be six feet under a secret by responding to all of her correspondence – she dictates, he types. Hard to believe nobody has an urge to actually pick up a phone. Guess kids today prefer the lack of intimacy that texting provides.

Miracles Never Cease

Even though Elena rarely, if ever saw the inside of a classroom last season, she’s off to the Whitmore College with overachieving Caroline. Baby brother Jeremy is staying behind under the watchful eye of Damon. How is Jeremy able to return to the land of the living without arising suspicion? He’s telling everyone he faked his death as an act of teenage rebellion.

Elena’s Intuition

As for Stefan, he’s still at the bottom of the reservoir because everyone assumes he took of to nurse his broken heart once Elena hooked up with his brother. Now that school is about start, and Elena’s taking a break from her summer of fornication, she admits to Caroline that she has a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach in regards to Stefan. Caroline tells her it’s just guilt for casting him aside and that Elena shouldn’t rub her happiness in her old boyfriend’s face by calling him.

Roommate Woes

Sheriff Forbes drops her daughter and Elena off at college and it turns out that Elena’s adopted father was a student there as well. Their dorm room is spacious and fabulous, the kind that only exists on TV because real dorms are horrible. The girls are forced to deal with one unforeseen complication, a roommate named Megan. While Elena is determined to go with the flow, Caroline resents the girl’s presence. In a childish attempt to annoy Megan and possibly get her to leave, Caroline helps herself to a bottle of Megan’s protein water which turns out to be infused with vervain.

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Death Becomes Her

Jeremy encourages Bonnie to come clean or come up with a plan B because she can only be on vacation for so long. I’m curious as to where her body is. Did she and Jeremy bury it, burn it, embalm it? She doesn’t want her friends to find out she’s dead because it’ll put a damper on their college experience? And yes, she’s not that close to her dad, but he did hand Bonnie her diploma. He’s just content with a few postcards here and there and has no expectations as to when she might return?

Mortal Enemy

While Elena is still unpacking her delicates, Damon gets a visit from the now mortal Katherine. Who knew being human would take such a toll on her looks. I mean girlfriend could at least run a hairbrush through that hair. Damon offers to turn her, but Katherine is unsure whether the cure would enable her to complete the transition. Meaning, she could drink his blood, and he could kill her, but she might not wake up. Even as a mere mortal, Katherine’s primary concern is self-preservation. She tells him someone is after him, and in actuality she has many enemies, any of which would love to end her life if they were to find out she is human. She begs Damon for protection.

An Affair to Remember

Matt and Rebekah stay true to their agreement of no strings attached. The two are back in Mystic Falls, but Rebekah isn’t staying around. I’d say it’s safe to assume she’s heading to New Orleans. One interesting detail; Matt is no longer in possession of the Gilbert family magic ring that allows the wearer to cheat death at the hands of a supernatural creature. It turns out the third member of their menage a threesome stole it.

Even Immortals Take Vacations

Silas finally makes an appearance, and he has no interest in trying to secretly integrate into Stefan’s life. He immediately outs himself to Sheriff Forbes. I’m really not a fan of the TVD writers relying on the doppelganger gimmick again. Stefan clarifies to the good sheriff that he is unkillable, immortal and psychic, and to function, he has to drink human blood. That does not make him a vampire. Silas came first, and he views vamps as merely disgusting perversions of him.

Party Girls

While Caroline is now suspicious that Megan is a vampire hunter and wants to compel her to forget about her vampire roommates, Elena suggests they just act as normal as possible so they don’t make her suspicious. What’s more normal on a college campus than hitting a party? Which is exactly what they do where they meet fellow co-ed Jesse. Caroline gives him the cold shoulder, spurring a lecture from Elena that Caroline should leave her romantic options open. It turns out, she hasn’t heard from Tyler, and it doesn’t even look like he intends to matriculate at all.

Their attempt at normalcy goes awry when they aren’t able to enter the party because of that whole pesky have-to-be-invited-in-by-the-owner loophole. While Elena tries to forge a good cover story, Caroline is convinced the only course of action is to dispose of Megan. Nothing homicidal, just use a few vamp tricks to remove Megan from the picture if she happens to be a threat. It turns out Caroline need not have worried, Megan is flung from a second story window drained of blood. Looks likes there’s at least one other bloodsucker on campus.

Old Habits Die Hard

Not only does Damon have his hands full with Katherine, but Jeremy is turning out to be a handful as well. Needless to say, if the locals think you faked your own death, they might not have a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings towards you. When a few classmates try to start a fight with Jeremy, his hunter instincts, still very much intact, kick in and he kicks some serious butt. This leads to his expulsion which Damon is able to reduce to a three day suspension. 

Video Interview: Ian Somerhalder Discusses Challenges Ahead for Damon>>>

The Truth is Revealed

Silas has a brief family reunion with Damon at the grill. He does not reveal his true self as he did with Sheriff Forbes. He is interested in the whereabouts of Katherine which must have to do with the cure. Jeremy senses something is off, and the ever-lurking Bonnie realizes that her death must have freed the 2,000 year-old immortal.

Freshman Orientation

Caroline and Elena soon learn the police who handle crimes on the Whitmore campus are either clueless or used to cover ups. An officer informs the girls that they found a note and are ruling Megan’s death a suicide. For some unknown reason, Caroline thinks the fact that Elena calling Megan to offer a feasible excuse as to why she and Caroline left the party is in someone incriminating, so she steals Megan’s phone. The police officer questions Caroline and Elena if they’ve seen it. Now, they look guilty since they are absconding with evidence in a police investigation. Is it still an investigation, if they think it’s suicide?

Damsel in Distress

Damon shows up just in time to save Katherine from the clutches of the evil Silas. We also learn that unlike Elena, who was an ancestor of her doppelganger, nature made a carbon copy of Silas that could be killed once he became immortal, a “shadow self.” Damon chivalrously refused to turn over Katherine until he realizes that Silas has done something with Stefan and it isn’t something pleasant.

Damon put Jeremy in charge of getting Katherine as far from Silas as possible. He calls Jeremy and tells him to bring her back. Katherine’s not about to go gently into that good night and causes Jeremy to crash the car.

You Never Forget Your Third

As a very long day draws to a close, Matt spots Nadia, the easy European girl. She returns the ring to Matt, but like most visitors to Mystic Falls, she has another agenda. A dark stranger (Is there any other kind?) Does some kind of mind meld on Matt while speaking in ancient tongues. Afterwards, Matt simply collapses.

Conspiracy Theory

Elena and Caroline return to their dorm room only to discover that someone has taken Megan’s tablet and her suicide note. Caroline’s mind is in overdrive. Not only did they have a roommate who obviously knew about vampires, but she was killed by one before attending her first lecture. On top of that, it appears the college could be covering it up. Elena starts going through the pictures on Megan’s phone and finds a picture of the girl with her father.

The Biggest Bad of All

Silas makes one last appearance and this one is the least subtle of all. He uses his power of mind control on the entire populace of Mystic Falls and just for kicks, slits Bonnie’s dad’s throat in front of them. Being the mayor of Mystic Falls is like being a drummer for the band Spinal Tap. He then commands the entire town to search for Katherine.

It looks like now Bonnie’s dad will finally find out his daughter is dead. Damon has to keep Jeremy and Katherine alive, battle Silas and find his brother all the while keeping his activities a secret from his true love. Will Tyler ever return, and truthfully, do we really care? And, it looks like we’ve all learned a valuable lesson about the possible repercussions of sexual experimentation.

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

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(Image courtesy of The 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.