The CWRemember Zach Salvatore?
You can be forgiven if you don't — he was only around for a few episodes way back at the beginning of The Vampire Diaries' first season. Then Damon killed him.
As it turns out, Zach is actually important and the plot point around which most of "Black Hole Sun" revolves. Everything else in this episode is pretty much a trip down memory lane too — and a gift to Vampire Diaries fans who have stuck with the show for so long.
What Happened on Damon's Worst Day?
Damon thinks he is stuck reliving that single day in May of 1994 as punishment for something absolutely horrible he did so long before. No, it's not killing Kurt Cobain as a newspaper briefly suggests. It's not even showing up in Mystic Falls to annoy Stefan (and to remind him that Damon's vengeance is eternal -- another early episode shout-out!).
1994 is when Damon killed a pregnant lady.
To make matters worse, Damon killed the girlfriend of the aforementioned Zach Salvatore right before that fellow's eyes. He then compelled Zach to forget everything — a guilt so strong that Damon felt the need to kill Zach years later to bury the grief.
Even in Purgatory, Damon's feelings are so strong that he makes pancakes in the dead lady's honor.
But This Isn't about Damon's Worst Day
No, the prison that is grunge-era Mystic Falls has pretty much nothing to do with Damon (although the timing does seem rather coincidental). This particular Hell belongs to Chi.
As we learn in this episode, Chi is actually a semi-witch from a coven out in Oregon. But Chi is some crazy abomination who has no witchy powers and merely sucks other witches dry with a touch. His family's rejection obviously hurt a lot, so he killed them.
I mean, he killed all of them! It's bad. And creepy Chi doesn't even feel regret for doing it.
He is, however, annoyed with the rest of the coven, who exiled him to this repetitious prison. Only with the use of some tool called the Ascendant and only with Bonnie's powers can they escape.
Damon and Bonnie need to bring Chi with them too -- if they try to cut him out, he will drain Bonnie's witchcraft dry and leave alone.
Back in the Real World...
Remember how, a few seasons back, Alaric was a semi-father figure to Jeremy? He is back in that role now, hauling a very hungover teenager to the hospital to avoid alcohol poisoning and later counseling the kid about how much everyone else's life sucks too.
These actions also allow Alaric to flirt with the hot doctor-professor, at least as much as his blood lust will allow.
Matt and Tripp do some bonding too, although this leads mostly to deep, dark secrets. By playing dumb (a solid skill for Matt), the younger man gets Tripp to open up about why exactly he is in town and hunting vampires. It turns out that Tripp was once married to a lovely lady who died in a "car crash." Only that car crash was actually a vampire murder that Tripp was compelled to forget.
When he returned to Mystic Falls after the de-magic-ing of the town, Tripp remembered the truth and set out on his quest. Now Tripp wants Matt to help and brings the guy to see Enzo.
Note: Do we think Damon was the one to kill Tripp's wife? Stefan? Surely it must be one of the vampires known on the show!
Meanwhile, Elena and Stefan head back to his garage town so that Stefan can teach the newbie vampire all about reinventing a life every few decades. They do a rather hilarious bit about being rednecks in love, and then Stefan gets into a bar fight. Elena isn't impressed but that's OK -- Stefan isn't impressed about how Elena forgot about Damon either.
A Few Final Revelations
A show like The Vampire Diaries needs to end with cliffhangers and twists, so here they are -- in no particular order -- for "Black Hole Sun":
First of all, Elena totally finds out about how Alaric erased her memories. He has very little to say about this (other than his rather hilarious "I think it's time I stop pretending that I know what's best") and simply hands the girl her diary: It's filled with warnings about how bad Elena will feel if she remembers. As a result, Elena elects to stay ignorant -- for now.
Then there's the issue with Sarah, the poorly compelled girl. She reappears at the Salvatore house to confront Jeremy about a photo she found. It turns out that Damon's murder victim from 1994 was Sarah's mother and that Elena's doctor father totally saved the baby even after the mother died. Zach Salvatore was the father, so that mansion may just belong to Sarah now.
Finally there's Stefan's dead girlfriend Ivy. She's not so dead. Instead, Ivy is in transition to become a vampire, courtesy of Enzo and his mischievous/evil ways.
So much for Stefan finding a new life!