1. Elena as a vampire is crippled by her compassion. Given Mystic Falls’ tendency to be a constant bloodbath, the fact that Elena can now literally feel other peoples’ grief is a huge problem. As usual, though, she wants to convince everyone that she’s fine, and bottling up all that heightened emotion has a profound effect on her.
2. Bonnie is awesome. In a lot of ways, she gets to be the hero of the first episode. While nearly everyone else is getting kicked around by the council (who are much smarter than we expected), Bonnie is proactive, powerful, and pivotal. She decides to kill herself — at least, temporarily — to bring Elena back from the dead. What happens after that has a profound effect on her. Kat Graham is a real standout in the premiere episode, and in the second episode, she lets someone into her house who hasn’t come in before. And it’s great.
3. A surprise appearance! We’re obviously not going to tell you who, because we kinda like this job, but someone we thought we’d seen the last of comes back in one of the first two episodes.
4. Klaus-slash-Tyler is fantastic. Yes, we all love Joseph Morgan, and he’ll obviously be back — but in the meantime, don’t forget to enjoy Michael Trevino’s work as Klaus, because it’s really well done and just darn fun to watch. (By the way, Klaus and Caroline do get pretty hot and heavy — briefly — while he’s in Tyler’s body, but to Klaus’s credit, he absolutely does try to tell Caroline before she full-on mouth-attacks him.) Later, when Tyler has his body back, we see a really heroic moment from him that’s been building for a long time. As for Klaus, the first thing he does when he’s back in his own body is break someone’s heart pretty brutally.
5. We presume Jeremy can still see dead people – but that’s not the only thing he can see that other people can’t. Hmmm.
6. It’s been teased that Damon will confide in an “unexpected friend” in the second episode — and he will. But obviously, he’s not replacing Alaric easily. He even makes Elena choose a different chair when she tries to sit in Alaric’s old seat at the Mystic Grill bar.