'Vampire Diaries' recap: I Shot You To Protect You

When we left off about a month ago, Damon vamped Bonnie's mom, to save Elena's life, so of course Bonnie is not in this episode. Why develop her as a fully realized character, when she's such a convenient deus ex machina? When something happens to Bonnie, the writers ship her out of Mystic Falls, so they don't have to deal with her. This time, she and Caroline are at Abby's, helping Abby through her transition.

We flash back to 1912, where there's a serial killer on the loose -- I mean other than all the vampires that haunt Mystic Falls on a regular basis. The serial killer seemingly turns out to be Miss Samantha Gilbert, who like her grandfather before her, went crazy. Thank goodness she was also a diarist, so our modern day Mystic Falls residents can piece it all together. Samantha and her grandfather both had the Gilbert protect-o rings. It seems dying and coming back too often messes with a person's head. They lose track of time and eventually go crazy. 1912 is also where we meet vampire Sage (Cassidy Freeman) who, in the course of a brief conversation, persuades Damon to ditch the morose attitude he's had for the past 48 years, just by teaching him the simple pleasure of playing with his food.

It looks like the 2012 serial killer is Alaric, who is wearing one of those protect-o rings today. Of course Jeremy has one too, so maybe he's snuck back into town. There's a lot of Alaric in this episode, but the plot involving him, Meredith, and Sheriff Forbes is so convoluted that I'm just going to save it for the full weecap. Suffice it to say that Elena (thanks to the help of Samantha Gilbert's journal) realizes Alaric might be the killer, just when Meredith and Alaric are coming to that conclusion. Across town at Mossy Manse, Damon and Stefan have the same suspicions.