Well, that was a thing, huh? There's no way to sum it up in a recaplet, so let's stick to the highlights. In "The Ties That Bind" we learn some more about Meredith (whom I still don't trust). Tyler works with Bill Forbes to break Klaus's control over him. Bonnie and Elena search for Bonnie's mother.
Bonnie's been having dreams about the fourth coffin and realizes she needs the mother who abandoned her 15 years ago, if she's going to unseal it. Elena and Bonnie go off to meet Abby Bennett Wilson, but Klaus has already sent a hybrid down to lean on Abby and Jamie, the young man Abby has been raising since his own father abandoned him. Learning Abby took in someone else's child, when she couldn't stick around and raise her own, is every bit as painful for Bonnie as it sounds. Kat Graham, making hay while the sun shines on her character who too often lies fallow in the shadows, does some lovely, subtle work.
Although Elena lies to Stefan and tells him she and Bonnie are just going to the Lake House, Stefan knows better and meets them at Abby's. Because Jamie has been compelled by Klaus's hybrid, he shoots Stefan with wooden buckshot and ties up Elena. Elena questions Jamie until she's nearly free of her ropes. When she finds out he's also been compelled not to hurt her, she uses this to her advantage and complains that the ropes are, in fact, hurting her. Jamie goes to examine her, so our girl breaks free, grabs his shotgun and knocks him out. She then digs the buckshot out of Stefan's torso. Thank goodness, she's not a damsel, yet again. I love it when Elena is fierce. I'm struck though, by the image of her hands covered in Stefan's blood. This is the second time in three episodes that Elena has had blood on her hands. Is it foreshadowing, or just a powerful image?
Abby drugs (well, herbs) Bonnie, and takes her out to meet Klaus's hybrid on the side of some dark road. She explains that if Bonnie doesn't tell her where the coffins are hidden, Jamie will kill himself, because the hybrid has compelled him to do so. Bonnie refuses at first, because she says this situation is bigger than the two of them, but then her mom texts herself and shows her phone to Bonnie. It reads, "Warn your friends." Their story ends, this week, with Abby offering to help unseal the fourth coffin.
Back in Mystic Falls, Damon gets the warning, but only has time to move one casket before Klaus shows up at the Witch House, so he chooses the magically sealed fourth one, and hides it. Klaus retrieves his sibling's caskets and brings them back to Klaus Haus, to be with Rebekah's casket, but Damon is a tricksy devil. He pulled the dagger out of Elijah before Klaus got him back. Elijah awakens, kills one of Klaus's hybrids, then asks, "So Niklaus, what did I miss?" Whee!
The most compelling (sorry) parts of the episode are (as mentioned above) the scenes between Bonnie and Abby, and the scenes between Stefan and Elena. While digging the buckshot out of Stefan, Elena tells him she kissed Damon, and prefaces her admission by saying she's not making it because she feels guilty about what she did, but because she feels guilty about keeping it secret.
Stefan is not wearing any masks this week. He is hurting and Elena surely knows it. He apologizes for kidnapping her and threatening to drive her off Wickery Bridge, saying he went too far. Oh silly Stefan, she kissed Damon before that even happened. You went too far when you were willing to let Jeremy die, rather than end your vengeance quest against Klaus.
Stefan tells Elena she can't be lying to him, like she did today, not while Klaus is still alive. Elena knows this. She just wanted to give Bonnie time with her mother, without everything else getting in the way. Stefan says, "Without me getting in the way." When Elena tells Stefan she hadn't planned on kissing Damon, Stefan says, "You're better than him, Elena. You're better than both of us." Well, yeah, on account of not being a blood-sucking fiend.
Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev have great chemistry in this break up scene. It's not presented as a break up, but that's what it is at its core. Elena has finally let go, and while there's regret and sorrow, there's also relief and acceptance. "The Ties That Bind" fulfills every promised evoked by the title. I know I singled out Graham, Wesley and Dobrev, but the whole cast brings their A Game to this moving (if somewhat crowded) story. Bravo, show.
In other news, Tyler works with Bill Forbes to try to break his sire bond to Klaus. Klaus gets the dead witches to unveil the caskets by threatening to end the Bennett line. Damon tries to figure out what Dr. Meredith Fell is up to, and Alaric and Meredith kiss. Oh and Stefan chooses a unique way to reveal to Damon he knows about the kiss with Elena. I'm not even skimming the surface, here. I'll cover it all, in the full weecap, which will be up ASAP. In the meantime, please grade the episode up top and join us in the forum, where we have Tyler, in chains.
Elijah is back. Bonnie knows Damon and Elena kissed. Elijah is back. Stefan knows Damon and Elena kissed. Elijah is back. Klaus retrieves three of his four coffins. Elijah is back. An awful lot happens in this emotionally resonant episode, so you're probably expecting another one of my recaps (or even a mega-recap like last week), but I am turning over a new leaf. It's an actual weecap or bust. Stop laughing and pointing, you fresh kids. I mean it this time. I really do.
Have I mentioned Elijah is back? He doesn't return until the very end, so let's beat a hasty path to our sweet, sweet reward. I'm mostly going to attack this episode plot by plot, rather than tell the story in the order in which is appears on screen, because I am serious about this being a weecap. (No snickering.) Let's start with our Evil Pixie Monster, shall we?
Damon sees Alaric with Dr. Meredith Fell. When he realizes Meredith is the dead Medical Examiner's ex, Damon decides to gather some intel on her, to protect his BFF Alaric (who still can only just tolerate being in the same room with him). Damon finds Meredith at the hospital. He makes it clear he's suspicious of her, so she dopes him with vervain and then draws some of his blood.
Meanwhile, Tyler turns to Caroline's father, Bill Forbes, to get help resisting his sire bond. Bill thinks the root of the bond is Tyler's gratitude to Klaus for releasing him from the monthly agony of transitioning into a werewolf. He chains up a (shirtless, bless) Tyler and orders him to turn. If Tyler owns his pain, he will no longer feel indebted to Klaus and the sire bond will be broken. Tyler gives it his all, but is in so much agony, Caroline wants to let him rest, before he tries again. Tyler knows he has to go through with this. He doesn't want to endanger her or anyone else again. He eventually tells Care Bear she has to leave.
Once his little girl is gone, Bill gets tough with Tyler, who can't quite make himself go through with the transition. And when I say tough, I'm not exaggerating. Bill takes an axe to Tyler, and even cuts into his lovely flesh a few times, in an attempt to both intimidate him into complying and to anger him (thereby inducing his transition). Either Tyler forces himself to complete the bone-breaking transition, or Bill will kill him. Tyler, the poor noodle, is determined to break his bond to Klaus (and to be fair to him, he is so determined, not just because of Bill's threats, but because it is the right thing to do).