Enjoying life, Elena invites everyone she knows and a few people she barely knows to a swimming hole party, which turns out as well as one would expect on this show. Meanwhile, Bonnie tries to convince Damon that they’re not alone. Here is a recap of the Vampire Diaries episode “Welcome to Paradise.”
Stefan compels his boss to dispose of Ivy’s body and give him a raise when he returns from killing Enzo. Priorities. After much begging, Elena convinces Caroline to come to a party at the swimming hole. But first, Caroline has plans with Enzo, one of the more stable people in her life. She fills him in on how to reference Damon when around Elena. Later, Caroline voices her concern to Matt that Elena’s not her old self. Matt’s not too worried. Plus, he’s distracted by Trip washing “red mulch,” i.e. incinerated vampire, out of his van. Tyler bumps into the twins and suggests they bring a keg to the party. Liv might or might not. Luke’s well aware that Liv is doing that thing where she acts all rude and mean because she likes a guy. Elena spots a cutie classmate nicknamed “Brag” in the hallway. His real name’s Liam, but Brag suits him better. He’s also invited to the party because Elena wants to set him up with Caroline. After hugging Stefan, Elena mentions Enzo will be at the party, so Stefan decides he’ll come.
Damon and Bonnie shop in an abandoned supermarket. He refuses to have hope, but Bonnie believes they should, and it’s all because of pork rinds – more like the lack thereof. The shelf that used to be stocked with them is empty, meaning someone else is there. Drawn outside by creepy carousel music, they see something moving around; it’s just a tarp.
After showing off her rope swinging and flipping skills, then interrupting Jeremy’s make out with Sarah, Elena finds Caroline not having fun. Caroline unleashes her pent up feelings that some people face their problems, instead of pretending everything’s okay. Jay, Matt’s training buddy and secret vampire hunter, goes after Enzo and gets killed. Enzo texts Caroline that there’s a problem – Stefan’s pointing a stake at him. Caroline and Stefan have a moment, in which she realizes he came back to see Elena and kill Enzo. Caroline needs him and knows he misses them, but Stefan just leaves. By talking to the girl Caroline compelled to get ice, Jeremy discovers compulsion wears off at the town line. Oh no, Sarah knows about Elena.
Back in the store, Damon meets Kai, the eater of pork rinds. Kai admits to following them around for entertainment. Damon takes a swig of bourbon that’s filled with vervain. Kai wants to kill him, so he stabs Damon through the hand with an umbrella and smashes more bottles of vervain. Bonnie arrives, and in panic, recovers her magic. She traps Kai in a burning ring of fire while she and Damon skedaddle. With Kai tied up in the Salvatore mansion, Damon plays a game of “get it right, get a pork ring; get it wrong, get the fire poker.” Kai swears they’re on the same team; he needed to re-activate Bonnie’s powers because they’re they key to getting out of this place.
Liv storms in to pick up Tyler and the keg, taunting him by magically rolling it away each time he reaches for it. It’s easier for her if he’s aggressive and unlikeable, so she doesn’t have to worry about falling for him. Caroline decides to stay in the dorm a bit longer and confesses to maybe having feelings for Stefan. At a bar, Enzo chills with Tripp until Tripp injects him with vervain. Enzo worked on his immunity, so it’s no big deal. Stefan enters and shoots Enzo, bonding with Tripp over being from founding families.
– “Welcome to Paradise” felt like a season one episode both in a good way and a bad. On the bright side, it was simple, easy to follow, entertaining, and emotional. On the bad side, the teen party storyline has been beaten to death, and this episode added nothing new to the topic.
– Damon and Bonnie held this otherwise average episode together. Their bickering like a married couple and differing outlooks on their situation provided for both humor and dramatic conflict. It was amusing to see them enjoying the simple things in life, like testing out sunglasses without removing the tags or complimenting the progress he’s made on his almost edible pancakes. Here’s hoping they keep this relationship growth if/once they make it out.
– It was great to see Stefan getting back to his vampire ways in the opening of this episode. I’m curious to see if suppressing his true nature in favor of starting over as a normal guy in Savannah will lead to him unleashing havoc later on – not sending him back into ripper territory, but still something to let him metaphorically explode as a vampire.
– Tyler once again almost got into a fight, teasing what seems like his inevitable return to a werewolf. I’d like to see him return to that state by the end of the season since it brought out more of his vulnerability and rounded out his character.
– The Caroline-Stefan-Elena relationship is simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. I’m glad to see Elena being okay with Caroline’s budding interest in Stefan and her commitment to their friendship regardless of that being her ex. While I recognize his pain, Stefan’s general attitude about his place in his friends’ lives decreases my opinion of him, especially after Caroline has indicated to him more than once that she needs him around.
– Two of the new teen characters introduced this season, Kai and Liam, are interesting additions. Kai provided a fun and sassy spark to the other side, while Liam may allow Elena to explore a new type of romantic relationship, or at least he’ll bring out a new side to her.
– The Vampire Diaries is known for incorporating popular music into its episodes, but none has made me happier than hearing “I Swear.” I’m having flashbacks to my childhood.
– Speaking of flashbacks, Liv and Tyler’s scene by her truck in the woods was making me think of the scene between Peyton Sawyer and Lucas Scott in the One Tree Hill pilot.