'Vampire Diaries': The dead (and undead) return to haunt Mystic Falls' living

Tonight on "Vampire Diaries," the new history teacher Alaric Saltzman (Matt Davis) comes into town, the girls hold a seance and Damon reveals his "diabolical plan."

Bonnie sees something moving in the hallway in the middle of class and, curious, she leaves the classroom to see what it is. It's a girl in a bonnet, dressed in dated 19th century clothes. She follows her into a forest clearing and the girl, Emily, creepily says, "This is where it started ... and this is where it needs to end." Turns out, Bonnie is just daydreaming in class ... er, having a day-mare (a day version of a nightmare), but as she turns around, there's Emily sitting in the desk next to hers. Wait ... what's really going on? Before you can answer, Bonnie finds herself in the middle of the woods -- again.

Caroline is angry at Bonnie because she won't return Damon's necklace, and Stefan is nowhere to be seen in history class when new teacher Alaric "Rick" Saltzman makes his first appearance. Meanwhile, Damon apologizes to Stefan for staking his brother's oldest buddy Lexi, but to Damon's defense, he was protecting him from Mystic Falls. One can only imagine what they'd do had they found out that there were vampires among them -- especially ones they trusted. Bonnie recounts the visions she's had of Emily to Elena. She thinks she's being haunted and well, I would too, but maybe it's a warning.

Mr. Saltzman, proving to be a pretty cool teacher, tells Jeremy he's starting with a clean slate. Jeremy, acting like the perfect Stepford child, agrees to writing an extra-credit paper on the town's history. Jeremy notices a ring on Mr. Saltzman's hand, one that's mighty similar to the ones Damon and Stefan wear. Is Mr. Saltzman a vampire? If I were a betting man, I'd put down my entire life savings.

The awkwardness between Caroline and Matt, having grown close from Stefan's birthday party, goes up a notch after she reads too much into a normal "hey." Maybe they're both too young to realize it, but once a boy spends the night in a girl's bed, there is definitely more to it than friendship. Damon desperately tries to get Bonnie to return his necklace and he even offers to get Emily off her back; he says he's trying to protect her. Not so sure I buy that. Bonnie throws the necklace into a field; I'm 100% positive she'll regret that decision later.

When Elena tells Stefan about Bonnie's necklace and Emily, Stefan's not surprised. Why would he be? He's a vampire; they know and hear everything. Stefan tells Elena that Emily was Katherine's handmaid and a witch. The necklace belonged to Katherine and because Damon wants it back so badly, it can only mean bad things .. right? Stefan and Damon meet at the bar and actually act like siblings. Little does Damon know that Stefan has an ulterior motive, but then again, doesn't everyone?

Damon and Stefan "bond" playing football. Damon, on to Stefan's suddenly warm exterior, asks Stefan why he's bonding with him. Katherine, duh. Damon stops him before Stefan gets too deep into his Katherine analysis. Damon may be evil on the outside and he may have done some horrible things, but deep down there's a reason he's lashing out - and she just might be the answer. Stefan asks about the necklace and Damon's thrown off. He thought he was the last one to see Katherine before she died but really, it was Stefan who was. This is the first real moment where we see Damon's vulnerability, however quick and fleeting it was. We finally find out Damon's "diabolical plan": to bring Katherine back.

Damon tells Stefan that he went to Emily to protect Katherine from being killed by the townspeople. While the church was burning and everyone thought Katherine was inside, she wasn't. She was in a tomb buried underneath. Emily's spell sealed the tomb and kept her there, and in return, Emily requested that her lineage survive - thus, Damon saving Emily's children (and Bonnie).

Aunt Jenna and Mr. Saltzman get close at the Grill. She talks about Logan. He talks about marrying young, his wife dying (because he's a vampire) and moving to a town with rich history. Choice words for a newbie. What is Mr. Saltzman, aka vampire-in-hiding, really doing in Mystic Falls?

Caroline, Bonnie and Elena hold a seance once the necklace reappears. Bonnie calls on Emily. The flames on the candles flicker violently, a cold wind sweeps through the room. The windows suddenly open, the candles flame out and the necklace disappears. Minutes later, Bonnie has a massive freak-out. Elena tries to stop her from doing something she'll regret.

Emily (in Bonnie's body) and Damon have an encounter in the woods, and when Damon pleads to Emily to keep her promise, she stakes him. Emily/Bonnie reveals that she saved everyone in the church, and suddenly it all comes together. Damon didn't want to save Emily/Bonnie, he wanted to instill pain and suffering for the 27 vampires they killed 145 years ago. Stefan pleads with Damon to stop this century-old grudge, but Damon's not having it. Emily/Bonnie throws the necklace in the air -- destroying any possibility of Katherine returning -- while a signal fire rages around her. An angry (and betrayed) Damon attacks Emily/Bonnie. Being the knight in shining armor, Stefan saves Bonnie's life - and also earns Elena's love back, not that he lost it in the first place.

Damon tells Stefan that his love for Katherine was always real, that he knew everything that was going on -- even if Stefan believes otherwise -- and because their presence has caused turmoil, they decide to skip town. Meanwhile, Matt and Caroline embark on a new friendship and Aunt Jenna's "boyfriend" Logan returns to town. I'm pretty sure life in Mystic Falls is going to get a tad complicated next week, not that it was ever simple to begin with.

An interesting question was raised during this episode: If all Damon was doing was following his heart and trying to bring back the one person he truly loved and right the deaths of the people he associated with (vampire), does that make him evil? Because he felt betrayed by the one person he thought he could trust (Emily), does some of his past acts seem less horrific? After all, he was doing the only thing he thought he could do to bring his love back.

Other things to keep in mind: Is Alaric Saltzman a vampire? What does Logan's return mean? What did you think about Damon's diabolical plan? Did you think it would work?

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'Vampire Diaries': Sean Faris to sling drinks in Mystic Falls
Kevin Williamson on Vicki's death, the Stefan-Damon-Elena triangle