|“||Do you know how many days need to tick by before I see Elena again? 22,916 days, and that's assuming you get some old person's disease. I haven't even began to approach rock bottom.||”|
LIFE WITHOUT ELENA — After a twisted plan left the life of his girlfriend Elena linked to that of his best friend Bonnie, Damon is forced to navigate his new reality without the love of his life. A newly empowered Bonnie has decided that she will be Damon's moral compass and keeps a close eye on him as he, in turn, cautiously keeps tabs on Alaric, following the loss of his fiancée Jo. Meanwhile, as he waits for Caroline to sort out her emotions, Stefan takes an active role in protecting the town from Lily and her family of Heretics, who have wasted no time wreaking havoc in Mystic Falls. Elsewhere, Enzo struggles to find his place in Lily's new life, and is quickly forced to decide where his true loyalties lie. Finally, with the stakes higher than ever, Matt, who has recently completed his deputy training program, teams up with Stefan and Caroline to put a stop to the Heretics, but an unexpected turn of events leaves one of them in a dangerous position.
The episode starts three years from now in Brooklyn, NY. Stefan opens up what seems to be a garage door to reveal 2 coffins. He's clearly injured and opens up one of the coffins, which reveals a desiccated Damon He feeds him and yells at him to wake up.
It's now normal time and Caroline is writing a diary for Elena when she wakes up. She reveals that Damon is away at Europe with Alaric to cheer him up with Bonnie. Matt is also graduating to become a deputy and there's a memory bench for her mother. Stefan shows up and says he's looking for whoever stole blood bags from the hospital, who he thinks might be Lillian Salvatore. They then drift off and start to talk about their feelings for each other and settle with wanting to be friends.
Another girl's perspective is shown, she is also writing a diary and writes about how much she hates living at Mystic Falls. On her way home while scrolling through her phone, she's hit by a car. Two teens rush and the girl says she wants to call the ambulance but the boy convinces her that if they do that, they'll up in jail - they drive off. The girl, Valerie then wakes up, revealing she's a vampire and a part of Lily's group, saying that she's making it hard for them to live by telling them to try and fit in. Nora and Mary Louise complain to Lily. Beau is also a part of her group but he is mute, along with Malcolm, whose shown to be the more civilised of them all and appears to be Lily's favorite.
Bonnie is writing in her diary for Elena. She gets up to go cycling, leaving Alaric and Damon. Alaric tells him he doesn't need a babysitter but he says that he's only here because it helps him to take his mind off Elena.
Lily is about to leave and tells them to behave and not go anywhere. They're upset and Mary-Louise complains that they're fine how they are. Lily reminds them that they're way of living got them locked up in a prison for a hundred years and that it didn't work. Nora reminds her that Oscar's been gone for days and that he's probably not just running errands. Valerie charges in angrily, yelling at Lily that two teenagers ran her over and left her to die, Mary-Louise and Nora make fun of her. She says that this is happening because of Lily and that she couldn't stand up for herself, Mary-Louise and Nora comfort her but Lily says that they are learning.
The 3 sisters show up at where the two teenagers are working and go after the girl. Valerie kills her, but worries that Lily might find out. Nora tells her she won't and that vampires aren't supposed to co-exist with humans. Stefan shows up to find the bodies of the 2 and starts investigating into it. He rules out Lily as a suspect and calls Damon for help. He's found out where the Heretics are living and asks Alaric to help them kill him. Bonnie tells Damon that he needs to live his life and be happy because that's what Elena would want - but he says she doesn't get to say that.
Alaric is with a psychic, trying to talk to Jo. First he brings out a stone and asks him if he's ever seen it before, the psychic says he hadn't. He then gives him their 'wedding ring' and asks him to help them talk. He claims she says she's telling him that she loves him, making Alaric furious. He says the ring is a fake and so is the psychic. He says she's better off dead, making Alaric angrier and violent.
Lily meets up with Enzo. She takes out a picture of a stone, the same one Alaric was holding, and asks him to help her find it as it's an important possession. When asked why, she refuses to say, saying it's a family matter. He's offended and says that he was with her when her own sons abandoned her, they both agree that they hate the two. She asks him to help her and he leaves, telling her to find it herself and he's not an errand boy.
Stefan's got together an explosive to blow up their house. He's with Caroline, who goes to the Heretic's house, posing to be their happy-cheery neighbour, there to welcome them. They don't let her in but the barges through anyway. Matt quickly sneaks in while the door is open to plant the device. She puts her plant pot down but Matt makes a noise while putting it down so she drops a vase on the table as a distraction. Nora tells Caroline she loves her jacket. Matt shows up and tries to get her out, but Nora compels her to give it to her, she plays along. Valerie says she smells something, but she runs out before it explodes. Stefan calls Lily and tells them that her family's dead. She tells him to run, the Heretics are survivors.
Damon is with Bonnie while she's talking. A car is coming from behind and Damon has a 5-second thought before whisking her to the side in super speed. She thanks him until she realizes that he hesitated since he saw it coming before. She's deeply hurt by this and he justifies it by saying that Elena would be here if Bonnie wasn't.
The awarding ceremony to promote youngsters into deputies. Nora and Mary Louise are standing behind everyone as it goes on. Valerie comes in and tells them to work on their revenge. They start chanting a spell, which appears to only start the sprinklers from the sides, making the three giggle. Their true intention starts when Valerie sets the whole place on fire and start killing everyone inside. Half the people are dead and the 3 and Stefan and Caroline fight until Lily comes in and breaks them up. She's furious with them all for killing the civillians and says that they've jeopardised their existence by doing this.
Stefan and Caroline bicker about the failed plan, she's upset about the innocent people who died. Stefan has another plan: Matt uses his position as deputy to make a story of a gas leak to evacuate the whole of Mystic Falls. Stefan negotiates a deal with Lily to let them live with him. Anyone who trespassed was 'fair game for the Heretics'. They close and seal off the borders of Mystic Falls. This sends almost all of the population out of the town, most compelled by Caroline to leave.
Enzo is taking the plaque off Carolin'e mom's bench and she tells him to pick a side.
Damon also comes back and isn't happy with Lily and the Heretics living in their house. He makes fun of him for doing this for Caroline but he says that he's doing it for Damon. If Elena wakes up and sees what's happened to her town and people, she won't be happy either. Bonnie also meets up with Matt and says that evacuating the town isn't a good idea. He says it's the only way, since she was the one who betrayed Kai, who then let them out. He says it isn't her fault though.
Damon goes to visit Bonnie. He complains to her about the Heretics and says he has nowhere else to go. He says it was only 3 seconds but she reminds him that that's a long time in a life and death. He says she's her best friend and that he wouldn't forgive himself for doing that. She says she wants to fight against the Heretics with Damon. Malcom is feeding off a trespasser in the town, since that's the rule. Bonnie shows up and attacks him with a spell, he retaliates by taking her magic but Damon rips his heart out from behind.
Alaric goes to visit the morgue to see his wife. The doctor reminds him that he can only keep the body for 30 days but he says that's why he's bribing him. He 'jokes' that he's going to bring her back.
Nora and Mary-Louise bring in a dead Malcom, the 4 try to hide him but Lily shows up and cries over his death. She demands to know who did it.
Caroline is writing in her diary and Enzo shows up. He says he's picked his side like she said, indicating he's with them, but he vervains her, saying he's chosen Lily.
The episode ends with it being back to 3 years in the future. Damon says he didn't want to be awoken until Elena was. Stefan tells him he needs help. just then, arrows and bullets start flying towards them and they run to hide. Damon says "she's back," and that she won't stop until Stefan's dead. Her identity isn't revealed.
Special Guest Star
- This is the fourth season premiere to start with a time jump but this time jump is the longest. (Three years)
- Julie Plec said that it will show how Damon is coping with Elena's 'death', and it will not be pretty.
- Oscar is the only member of the heretics that doesn't appear in this episode.
- Elena was last seen in I'm Thinking Of You All The While in her magically induced sleep, by Kai, preserved as she is in the moment he used the spell on her.
- Both Bonnie and Caroline are writing things down in a diary that she promised to Elena she would keep in I'm Thinking Of You All The While so Elena will know what happened while she was sleeping.
- This is the first episode to not feature any female doppelgänger.
- Is also the first episode where only one doppelgänger appears that is Stefan.
- Katherine Pierce was last mentioned in I Never Could Love Like That and was last seen as a hallucination by Elena in While You Were Sleeping.
- Brookylyn, New York
- Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- Psychic's office
- Mystic Falls, Virginia
- Stu - smashed skull; killed by Valerie Tulle
- Stu's Girlfriend - blood loss; killed by Valerie Tulle
- Homeless Man - blood loss; killed by Malcolm
- Ceremony Guests - blood loss or burned; killed by the Heretics
- New Mystic Falls Deputies - blood loss or burned; killed by the Heretics
- Malcolm - heart extraction; killed by Damon Salvatore
Behind the Scenes
- This episode had about 1.38 million viewers in the USA.
- This is the first episode ever to not have Nina Dobrev as Elena Gilbert, Steven R. McQueen as Jeremy Gilbert and Michael Trevino as Tyler Lockwood as main characters.
- This episode marks the 100th appearance of Matt Donovan on the show.
- Matt Davis' 70th appearance as Alaric Saltzman.
- The Salvatore Boarding House is seen as a location this season even though Glen Ridge Hall was torn down in April 2015. On July 20, 2015 Annie Wersching posted on her Instagram account a picture of two of the Herectics (Malcolm and Beau) on the front entrance of the house. All exterior shots of the house will be stock footage.
- Candice Accola and Kat Graham are the only remaining main female cast members from Season One to be in this season after Nina Dobrev left the series at the end of Season Six.
- This is the first episode of the series, in which Candice Accola is credited as 'Candice King', using her husband's surname.
- Hashtag during the airing is #ReturnToMysticFalls
- Damon: "You want to tell me who the hell's living in our house?"
- Stefan: "The deal has been made: We don't mess with them. They don't mess with us."
- Caroline: "Are we making a huge mistake in handing over our home town to a bunch of supernatural terrorists?"
- Stefan: "Yeah probably."
- Heretic: "Mystic Falls is ours now. So is any human who steps inside of it."
- Damon: "Well there's a lunatic."
- Lily: "I thought we had a deal."
- Damon: "Bad deal."
- Bonnie: "We need to stop them!"
- Enzo: "God I hate whiners."
- Stefan: "I need you to teach me how to make a bomb."
- Damon: "About how long do we have before this evil engulfs the world? Just trying to plan my week."
- Alaric: "I can't....feel my cheeks. What are we drinking?"
- Damon: "No idea. Can you read German?"
- Alaric: "That's uh...actually Dutch."
- Damon: "Oh. Wait. Where are we?"
- Bonnie: "Amsterdam. Dear Elena, Yep. Halfway across Europe and they're still...drunk."
- Alaric: "Is that really necessary?"
- Bonnie: "Elena told me to keep a journal of everything of everything she's missing. When she wakes up in sixty some years and finds out Ric died from alcohol poisoning, she's gonna want to know what happened."
- Damon: "Unless you tragically choke to death on those cocktail peanuts, then I can tell her myself!"
- Bonnie: "Oh! So sweet. I'm going to go rent a bike, see the city like a normal tourist."
- Damon: "FYI. They don't wear helmets here."
- Bonnie: "Keeps getting funnier."
- Damon: "Hey! Riding the tram tracks? Don't look both ways!"
- Bonnie: "Got it!"
- Stefan: "Whatcha writing?"
- Caroline: "Stefan! What are you doing here?"
- Stefan: "Matt reported some blood bags missing from the hospital so I'd thought I'd check it out."
- Caroline: "Do you think it's your mom?"
- Stefan: "If it's not, then she has quite literally dropped off the face of the earth. I'm still deciding if that's...good thing or bad thing."
- Caroline: "So...how's Damon."
- Stefan: "Well...if the last time he sat around waiting decades for a girl taught us anything, then I am worried."
- Caroline: "Well if you're worried, then I'm terrified."
- Stefan: "I made this...ugh...a thing, didn't I?"
- Caroline: "You made what a thing?"
- Stefan: "Why I told you how I felt about you and now it's...it's weird."
- Caroline: "No! It's not...weird, Stefan..."
- Stefan: "You just asked about my brother who you hate to fill awkward silence."
- Caroline: "Okay I don't hate Damon. I'm just...obviously...you know...scrambling to fill the awkward silence!"
- Stefan: "Right..."
- Caroline: "Okay, it's a thing! You made it a thing. Congratulations."
- Stefan: "Alright, how about this? New rule: You live your life. You heal and in the meantime, we're friends."
- Caroline: "I like that rule."
- Stefan: "Good."
- Caroline: "Okay."
- Stefan: "Happy writing."
- Caroline: "Thank you!"
- Damon (to Bonnie): "You know how many days need to tick by before I see Elena again? Twenty-Two thousand nine hundred and sixteen days and that's assuming you get some old person's disease. I haven't even begun to approach rock bottom."
- Damon (to Stefan): "Reception went a little fuzzy brother. Sounds like you said mom got her family of crazies back?"
- Alaric: "Okay, great. Well the party's over."
- Lily (to Enzo): "What happened to that sick boy I met on the boat? The boy abandoned at the workhouse at the age of four. The boy who never knew kindness until the day I saved his life."
- Stefan (to Caroline): "I understand if you need time to heal and to live your life without me. I'll wait and when you're ready for me I will be ready for you."
- Stefan: "I made this...ugh...a thing, didn't I?"
- Caroline: "Okay, it's a thing! You made it a thing. Congratulations."