We kick off this episode with Matt working out in the school gym. He hears something, and goes for a creepy midnight stroll through the hallways. He steps carefully into a darkened, deserted classroom, and WHAM! A thousand mousetraps go off at his feet. It’s Senior Prank Night at Mystic Falls High, which I presume is some sort of American tradition, but being Canadian I have no idea. It could just be something the writers made up because it sounded Halloweeny.
In true fast-paced, Vampire Diaries fashion, the hijinks don’t even last past the opening credits. (One thing that’s awesome about this show, it always moves at a breakneck pace.) The moment Elena heads out into the hallway, Klaus grabs her by the arm and smirks, “There’s my girl.” Uh-oh, Klaus, you don’t want to make your boyfriend Stefan jealous.
After the credits we come back to Katherine and Damon on their road trip, providing for some snarky banter which makes me ship Damon/Katherine SO much more than Damon/Elena:
Katherine: Are you hungry? Let’s stop for a bite. Maybe a truck stop. Or a trucker.
Damon: Oh, stop being cute.
Katherine: That’s not possible.
The snark leads to a heated kiss, which looks as if it could lead to the possibility of car-sex-while-driving, which they’d both survive since they’re both vampires, unless the car catches fire but what are the odds of that, so why not? But without warning, Damon shoves Katherine away. “Thought I’d give it a shot,” he says. “Truth is, you just don’t do it for me anymore.” Oh, Damon’s got it bad.
While his brother is in a car making out with his ex, Stefan is in a truck waking up next to his (other) ex, Rebekah. “My brother’s been breaking your neck all afternoon,” Rebekah tells him. Heeeeee. She says they know Elena is alive and Klaus has gone looking for her. Stefan attacks Rebekah, which only serves to piss her off: “You really do love her, don’t you? Consider me jealous.” Then she stabs Stefan in the gut with a crowbar.
Inside, Klaus drags Elena into the gym where kids are setting up pranks, all aspiring to be the next Ashton Kutcher, marry Demi Moore and have group sex in hot tubs. Klaus pretends to be a teacher, tells the punkers they’ve been punked and tells them all to get lost. He keeps two red-shirts behind to torment, just for funsies.
Out in the hallway, Caroline and Tyler are kissing, oblivious to Elena’s pain. Caroline stops and asks Tyler if he thinks Matt is okay, to which Tyler replies, “I’m kissing you and you’re wondering about your ex-boyfriend?” They are so cute together. Caroline knows that Tyler and Matt are friends, and that Matt has had a hard time since Vicki’s death. She just wants everyone to be happy, and Tyler loves how big her heart is. Awww.
More smoochies follow, but Rebekah interrupts them. She calls them adorable, and we agree. Then she attacks, with which we heartily disagree.
More oblivion is happening at the pool. (I wish my high school had had a pool!) Bonnie and Matt are busy toilet-papering it, making it look like a giant toilet. Okay, reconsidering that pool-at-the-school idea. Matt goes off to the boys’ room to get more toilet paper. When he gets there, doors start opening and closing on their own. It’s the ghost of his dead sister, trying to reach out to him, but he doesn’t see her.
Bonnie and Matt then head off to toilet-paper the gym, where they find Klaus and Elena. Rebekah comes in dragging Tyler, and it’s one big senior prank night reunion. Klaus then shares with the class his dilemma: “Every time I attempt to turn a werewolf into a vampire hybrid, they die during the transition. It’s quite horrible, actually.” He then tears open his wrist and force-feeds Tyler his blood. “I need you to find a way to save my hybrids, Bonnie,” he says. “And for Tyler’s sake, you’d better hurry.” SNAP goes Tyler’s neck, and he falls to the floor dead.
Back on the road, Damon stops the car and asks Katherine to drive, because he needs “a break from the sexual tension.” Snerk. Katherine then pops the trunk to reveal Jeremy unconscious inside. Damon is understandably confused, because if you’re going to hide a body in the trunk, shouldn’t it be a dead body? Or at least have teeth marks in its neck. But last week, Katherine found out that Jeremy was seeing Anna’s ghost, and that gave her an idea.
Katherine: What if I told you there was a way to kill Klaus? And not dagger-dead, dead-dead.
Damon: I’d say you were desperate and lying. Or drunk. Or desperate lying drunk.
But Katherine’s not desperate lying drunk high or stoned. Seems that Pearl, Anna’s mom and Katherine’s only friend, knew a vampire who knew how to kill Klaus.Pearl never told Katherine how to find this vamp, she only told Anna. And Jeremy is the only one who can talk to Anna.
Jeremy wakes up and reaches out to Anna, but she refuses to help, telling him that Katherine and Damon are not his friends. Undeterred, Damon threatens to break Jeremy’s neck unless Anna tells them what they need to know. Damon can’t see Anna, but Anna can see him, and she caves: they’re looking for Michael, a vampire who hunts vampires. “You don’t want to wake him,” Anna says mysteriously. “He will kill all of you.”
Jeremy’s cell phone keeps ringing; it’s Bonnie, but Damon won’t let him answer it, presuming it’s a teenage romance thing. When he finally checks his own phone, he finds that Bonnie has been texting him: Klaus is back in town, and he has Elena. Damon orders Jeremy to stay put so that he can get more info from Anna, bizarrely trusting Katherine to not eat him. Damon’s going back to rescue his beloved.
Katherine: You’re gonna get yourself killed. The Damon I remember wouldn’t have been that stupid.
Damon: I wouldn’t have done it for you.
Stefan wakes up in the parking lot with a crowbar in his gut. He yanks it out, runs into the school, and finds Elena and the red-shirts in the gym with Klaus. Stefan attacks Klaus in an effort to save Elena. He and Klaus fight, but Klaus overpowers Stefan and compels him to obey. “All I wanted was your allegiance. Now I’m going to have to take it. You’ll do exactly as I say, when I say it.” He then orders Stefan to kill one of the red-shirts, which he does, right in front of Elena.
Caroline wakes up on the floor (everyone’s waking up on the ground! It’s like the zombie apocalypse – quick, everyone run to Laura’s house) next to a dead Tyler. Rebekah fills her in on what’s going on, but she’s distracted, busy playing with Caroline’s cell phone. Bex comes across a photo of Stefan and Elena and sees that Elena is wearing her necklace. That bitch!
Rebekah bursts into the gym and bites Elena, demanding her necklace. Elena tells them she doesn’t have it anymore, Katherine stole it. Klaus says that’ll make things harder for Bonnie to contact the original witch and find a solution to his hybrid problem. “So let’s put a clock on it,” he says, and starts the gym timer. “Twenty minutes,” he tells Stefan. “If Bonnie hasn’t found a solution by then I want you to feed again. Only this time, I want you to feed on Elena. You know you want to.”
Matt and Bonnie are desperate to find a solution; the only way to contact the original witch is through Jeremy, because he has the I-see-dead-people disease. They can’t find Jeremy and he’s not answering his cell phone, so Matt devises the CRAZIEST PLAN EVER and decides to drown himself in the pool. Bonnie revives him with CPR, not magic, but while he’s near-deathing it he sees Vicki, and she has a message for Bonnie from the original witch: Klaus can’t turn any more hybrids because the doppelganger is still alive. In order for him to create hybrids, he has to kill Elena.
The clock is ticking down, and there’s only six minutes left. Elena tells Stefan that he can resist Klaus’s compulsion – Caroline’s dad did it. Stefan argues that it takes years of training, and besides, he’s a ripper:
Stefan: I listen to the words that come out of your mouth, and all I hear is the sound of your heart pumping blood through your body. And when that clock ticks down, I’m going to have to feed on you. And you want to know what’s worse? I’m not going to be able to stop.
Elena: I don’t believe that. You can fight it. You just have to want it bad enough.
Stefan: Why? Because I love you?
Elena: Yeah! That’s right, Stefan, because you love me! You’ll fight because after everything that we’ve been through, you owe me that.
Stefan: You’re right. I owe you everything. Because through all of this you are the one thing that has kept me from giving up. From turning it all off. But I can’t help what I am, Elena.
When the buzzer goes off, Stefan tries to fight the compulsion, but it’s too much for him. He tells Elena to run and she does. He chases her through the hallways of the school but he rams himself into walls and lockers in an effort to stop. Finally he stumbles into an empty classroom, grabs a broomstick, snaps it in half and tries to stake himself. But whoops! Klaus barges in with Elena and the stake ends up in his gut instead of his chest. Two gut wounds in one day; Stefan must have a serious case of sepsis.
Klaus find the whole ordeal fascinating. “The only thing stronger than your craving for blood is your love for this one girl,” he says. “Why don’t you turn it off? Come on, your humanity is killing you. All the guilt, must be exhausting.” Stefan refuses to “flip the switch,” as Damon calls it – so Klaus compels him to.
Elena: What did you do?
Klaus: I fixed him.
Oh, Stefan. Everyone’s trying to fix you. You must really be broken. And so is this storyline. How much better would it be if Stefan cared about both Elena and Rebekah? If he loved both Damon and Klaus as brothers? I wanted internal conflict, making a choice, and a longer build-up toward that choice. The whole compulsion thing gives Stefan an easy out for when he inevitably reforms. He couldn’t help it! He was compelled! It wasn’t his fault! It’s too much like the issue of the “soul” in the Buffyverse, and frankly I’m pretty bored with that metaphysical loophole. Instead of Angelus the Soulless Bastard, we have Stefan the Mindless Automaton. This is why I loved Battlestar Galactica. Even the Cylons had free will.
In the classroom,Tyler has revived and is suffering the torments of the transition. Klaus comes in with the news:
Klaus: Well, the verdict’s in. The original witch says the doppelganger should be dead.
Rebekah: Does that mean we can kill her?
Klaus: No, I’m fairly certain it means the opposite. Call it a hunch.
He holds out a test tube to Tyler: “Elena’s blood. Drink it.” Caroline protests, but Tyler will die anyway if he doesn’t feed, so she relents. Tyler swallows the blood, drops to the floor and writhes in agony, then comes up sprouting fangs. Klaus smiles and remarks, “Now that’s a good sign.”
Elena wakes up not on the floor, but in a hospital bed. Klaus has compelled the staff to take blood from her (so he can make more hybrids) and keep her sedated. Outside, Klaus explains to Rebekah how he figured out the solution: the original witch hated him, and she deliberately cast the spell so that if Klaus broke it, his only way to create new hybrids (i.e. the doppelganger) would be dead. Thus leaving him alone for the rest of his existence.
Rebekah: Is that what this is about? Your obsession with hybrids? You just don’t want to be alone?
Klaus: What I want is to take my girl, take my hybrid, and get the hell out of this one-pony town.
It’s nice to see a rare moment of vulnerability from Klaus. The only other time he displays it is when he’s pining for Stefan. Another story opportunity lost. Sigh.
Damon shows up and confronts Klaus, telling him he’s not taking Elena with him: “You’ll have to kill me to do it,” Damon says. “I’d love to kill you,” Klaus replies, “but I made a pledge to your brother and unlike him, I keep my word. Although you know what? Thinking about it now? He probably doesn’t care much anymore.” Klaus grabs Damon by the throat and pins him to the hood of a car, which is awesome. But Damon has leverage: “Don’t you want to know about your friend Michael? Katherine and I found him.” Klaus sneers in frustration and buggers off, and Damon romantically carries Elena out of the hospital.
At the school,Tyler tells Caroline that he feels phenomenal. He picks her up and spins her around, and says, “This is going to be an amazing year.” Jinx!
In the gym, Bonnie and Matt have a talk:
Bonnie: I know you want to help, and I know you miss your sister. But what you did was reckless and stupid.
Matt: I know. But it worked.
Bonnie: You don’t want to be a part of this, Matt. You’re the only one of us who gets to live their life like a normal person. No matter how lost you feel, don’t forget that.
Must be tough on Matt, being the only Normal in a school full of Mutants. He asks for a few minutes alone, and Vicki appears to him once more. He finally gets to tell her goodbye.
Damon takes Elena back to the Salvatore mansion and feeds her bourbon. He says it’ll help her forget, and then he offers to compel away the memories she doesn’t want. Elena declines, saying she needs to remember all of it. Damon gives Elena back her necklace, saying he stole it back from Katherine, but Elena lets it lie there on the table, and the conversation that follows is tearful and riddled with pain:
Elena: He’s really gone this time. I watched it happen. After everything we went through to help him. Now he’s just… gone. Where were you, Damon?
Damon: I shouldn’t have left. I promise you, I will never leave you again.
But pain has no place in the new, improved Stefan’s heart, as they both find out when he walks through the front door.
Stefan: Well, isn’t this cozy?
Damon: What are you doing here, brother?
Stefan: Last I checked, I live here. (to Elena) Klaus is gone, but he’s asked me to keep watch on you until he returns. From now on, you’re under my protection.
He pours himself a drink, and he could be doing the Damon-imitation he did back in Season One. Only then, it was funny. Now it’s just frustrating. One of the things I love about Damon is that he makes no apologies for who he is. He flips the switch when he wants to; he chooses to be good when he wants to. He’s a psychopath, but he does it because it’s fun. Stefan flipped the switch because he was compelled, and that makes his bad behaviour much less fun. Two episodes ago, Klaus promised, “By the time I’m done with him, Stefan won’t want to be saved.” But apparently, what Stefan wants has nothing to do with anything.
At a cemetery in Charlotte, Jeremy and Katherine are breaking into a crypt. Anna told Jeremy where to look for it. Katherine pushes the cover off a sarcophagus; a mummified body lies within. Its eyes snap open, and then – BLACKOUT.
Tune in next week, when the mummy vampire demon hunter and the hybrid army face off for the zombie apocalypse, and we have to summon the dead Mormon spirit of Laura Stone to save us.
SHIRTLESS SOMERHALDER SIGHTINGS: Zero.
QUIPPITY QUIP: “Always nice to see a vampire in his true element. The species has become such a broody lot.”