Welcome to the episode that exploded the internets. Two months since we last saw our heroes, and for a big portion of the viewing audience, it was worth the wait. Fire, passion, heat, flames, and that’s just on the message boards. It’s for realz this time, kids, and you either love it or hate it. Unless you’re me, in which case you’re just jonesing for more Klaus/Stefan.
But we don’t start off with that. This episode opens quietly, with Bonnie walking through the woods, heading for the burned-out witchy mansion. Inside, she finds 4 coffins. She opens one of them, and Klaus is inside, apparently dead. He has his mother’s necklace wrapped around his fingers. Something moves behind Bonnie but we don’t clearly see what it is. Bam! Bonnie awakes in terror, safe in her bed. All a dream, but what does it mean?
Next we see Elena running through the neighbourhood, keeping up her mission to be strong like bull. She spots a guy in a hoodie running at her and it spooks her big time – what if it’s one of Klaus’s minions? She runs away, loses him, and when she stops to catch her breath, he suddenly appears behind her. “Sorry,” he says, “I should watch where I’m going,” and then runs off.
Cut to Elena and Bonnie at Mystic Grill. “I feel like I’m going crazy,” Elena tells Bonnie. Ever since Klaus, she’s completely paranoid. Bonnie says, join the club, and she tells Elena about her nightmare, which happens to be recurring.
Bonnie then asks Elena if she’s heard from Stefan. Frowing, Elena says, “He betrayed us,” referring to Stefan’s actions last episode, where he stopped Damon from killing Klaus. “The Stefan that we knew is gone.” It’s sort of nice to see Elena finally acknowledging this – maybe she’s moved from the “bargaining” to the “acceptance” stage of her grief.
Damon, meanwhile, appears to be stuck on anger. He’s over at the bar drinking, trying to convince Alaric to join him. “You have your choice,” Damon says, “screwdriver, Bloody Mary. Brunch in a bottle.” Alaric is doing his best to ignore him, so Damon ups the ante: “C’mon, Ric, I can’t drink all this by myself. I mean, I can, but then somebody’s getting naked.” Bwah!
Despite Damon’s attempts at seduction, Alaric won’t bite. He’s not there to hang out with Damon, he’s there to see Jeremy, who’s an hour late for his shift. The bartender overhears this and tells Alaric that Jeremy got fired a week ago. “Oops!” Damon quips, and Alaric is not pleased.
Cut to Jeremy and Tyler in the woods, shooting tin cans with a crossbow.Tyler is being all friendly and nice, except for when he brags about how invulnerable he is, now that he’s a hybrid. Jeremy shoots at him, and Tyler snatches the arrow out of the air. This can’t lead anywhere good.
Back at the grill, Elena chides Damon about being “day drunk,” which is “not his most attractive look.” Damon leers, asking what is his most attractive look, and Elena quickly backpeddles. “I’m not saying you have any attractive look. Just that this is my least favourite one.” Aw, c’mon, Elena, anyone with eyes can see that Damon is hot stuff. Throw the boy a bone. But Elena’s more worried about Jeremy, who’s spiralling: getting fired from work, goofing off from school, seeing ghosts, not to mention that he’s “lost everyone that he cares about.” At that, Damon replies, “Not everyone. He still has you.” This is a lovely callback to last season, when Jeremy said the same words to Elena. All the hearts.
Their moment is interrupted by Klaus, who shows up with the runner who was trailing Elena. Klaus introduces his pal as Tony, one of his new hybrids. Looks like Elena’s instincts are bang-on – it’s not paranoia when everyone’s out to get you. Klaus is looking for Rebekah, and also Stefan. He says Stefan stole something from him, and he wants it back.
Back to Bonnie in the woods again, heading towards the mansion, only this time, it’s real. She finds Stefan in the basement, and assumes that Stefan followed her there. In fact, Stefan has been hiding out there since he stole the coffins. He lets Bonnie in on his secret, and tells her he needs her help to keep the coffins hidden.
Next we get an incredibly tense family dinner with Jeremy, Alaric and Elena, in which Jeremy invites Tyler into the house. Elena and Alaric are freaked, now that Tyler has an all-access pass to their home. Tyler tells them to chill, he’s not under Klaus’s control, he still has free will. He calls being sired more like “faith” than mind control. Elena balks, saying “Klaus has terrorized every single one of us, and you’re just blindly loyal to him,” while Alaric calls it “weird cult logic.”
Still on his drinking binge, Damon is at home enjoying his liquor when Klaus shows up. “I think it’s about time we had a drink, don’t you?” he says, and Damon replies, “I’d say we’re overdue.” I love watching these two actors together – you can tell that they have a great deal of fun playing off each other, watching each other suspiciously. The facial expressions, body language, tone of voice – it’s all carefully modulated, two enemies sizing each other up. Even though Damon is no real threat to Klaus, Klaus still shows him a healthy amount of respect.
Klaus tells Damon that Stefan stole his coffins, containing the bodies of all his daggered family members. He wants them back, because he thinks it’s time for a family reunion. Klaus says Damon is the one with the most hope of finding Stefan, so it’s time for a demonstration of what Klaus will do to Elena and her family if she and Damon don’t cooperate. He takes out his cell phone, calls Jeremy and tells him to “get on with that thing we talked about.” Jeremy, still at the house with Elena and Alaric, takes off his magic protecto-ring, goes outside and stands in the middle of the street. Tony barrels straight at him in an SUV and tries to run him down.
Elena and Alaric see Jeremy trying to get himself killed, and at the last minute, Ric rushes out into the street and shoves Jeremy out of the way. He gets killed, instead. Oh, Ric! This is the third time you’ve gotten yourself dead. It must be starting to hurt, by now.
Tyler goes to see Klaus, where he’s busy preparing a mansion for the arrival of his family. (I love the religious symbolism of this: there’s a line in the gospels where Jesus says, “In my father’s house there are many rooms, and I go to prepare a place for you.” This is one of the hazards of being a lapsed Catholic: you see Jesus everywhere, even in evil vampires on TV shows.) Tyler asks Klaus if the plan went okay. He’s clearly uncomfortable with what happened, saying, “I didn’t think we’d have to kill anyone.” Klaus tells him that human life is just a means to an end for hybrids, and he’d better learn to embrace that. Tyler frowns, and you can see that there’s an ethical showdown brewing behind his eyes.
Damon arrives at Elena’s house, where Alaric is lying on the couch. “He’s dead, but he had his ring,” Elena explains, and it’s both funny and sad how blasé she is about it. Stuff like this happens every day in Mystic falls. Damon asks Jeremy why he’s not wearing his vervain bracelet is, and Jeremy replies that he doesn’t know. Elena deduces that Tyler took it; he was hanging out with Jeremy to get him off vervain so that Klaus could compel him to kill himself. Damon then lets them both in on the reason for all this: Klaus wants them to find Stefan and get his coffins back. Damon says, let’s do it, which leads to this key exchange:
Jeremy: That’s your big plan? To steal back four dead originals so this evil hybrid doesn’t kill me and everyone else we know?
Damon: You got a better idea?
Jeremy: Yeah. Let’s get the hell out of here, pack our bags and go. This happens every time, no matter what we do. You get on my case about school and work – who cares? None of us are gonna make it out of this town alive.
This hits Elena where she lives, but for the moment, she stays silent. Instead, she says that maybe they can give Klaus Rebekah. Damon says no. Elena daggered Rebekah in the last episode, so when she wakes up, the first thing she’s likely to do is try to kill Elena.
Elena calls Bonnie and says they need to find Stefan. Bonnie tells her where Stefan is, and Damon and Elena head off to the haunted mansion to find him. Elena confronts Stefan in the basement; she tells him that Klaus tried to kill Jeremy, and that he’ll try again unless Stefan gives the coffins back. Stefan is unmoved and says, “That’s not really my problem.” OH, OUCH. Paul Wesley’s face is stone cold during this exchange, and you can almost believe that he really doesn’t care about Elena at all. Elena slaps him across the face and tells him to go to hell. She storms out, frustrated and angry. Damon tells her to take his car and go home: “You go deal with your brother. I’ll deal with mine.”
Then we get a kick-ass fight scene where Damon finds Stefan in the basement, shoves him against the wall, up the stairs, out the door and into the woods, breaks off a tree branch and stabs Stefan in the gut. Damon is ROYALLY pissed. “THAT is for screwing up my plan. You stop me from killing Klaus and you steal his family. Why? It doesn’t make sense!” He drives the branch in deeper, and Stefan yells in pain. “Answer me!” Damon shouts. “I had him Stefan! Why’d you screw it up?”
Stefan yells back, “I did it to save you!” He shoves Damon off him and yanks the branch out of his gut. “He was one step ahead of us. If Klaus died, his hybrids would have killed you.” Damon’s face when Stefan tells him this is a mixture of agony and fury. “When are you gonna get it through your head?” he says, and he stabs Stefan again. “Stop saving me!” Then he walks away, leaving Stefan writhing in pain on the ground.
Oh, WOW. This scene is just so visceral and gut-wrenching, and not just because Stefan is getting stabbed in the gut. Damon’s guilt upon hearing why Stefan saved Klaus’s life is just heart-rending. His words from earlier this season ring true: No matter how far over the edge Stefan goes, he still can’t let Damon die. BOYS.
Elsewhere in the woods,Tyler is drinking. Jeremy tries to sneak up on him and shoot him in the back with the crossbow, but Tyler hears him coming. “Don’t even try it, Gilbert,” Tyler says. “Why not?” Jeremy retorts. “You stab me in the back, I stab you.” Oh, I love badass Jeremy. Tyler protests that he didn’t think Klaus would try to kill anyone. “It’s Klaus, Tyler!” Jeremy shouts. “What did you think was going to happen? Whenever Klaus wants something, someone ends up dead. You think about that next time, before you blindly do whatever he says.” Tyler looks suitably chastened, and warns Jeremy that Klaus isn’t done with him.
Elena arrives home to find Alaric waking up on the couch – he’s alive, but he’s coughing up blood. Apparently his magic ring is starting to lose its mojo. Elena calls an ambulance, but Tony the Hybrid shows up and compels the paramedics to leave. Tony tries to get Elena to invite him in, offering to heal Alaric with his blood. Elena is torn and panicking: if she refuses Alaric could die, but if she lets Tony in, they could both die.
Just when she’s about to make her choice, Jeremy shows up and shoots the hybrid in the back. Tony collapses on the front porch, but Jeremy declares, “He’s not dead yet.” Then he goes to the kitchen, gets a big honking meat cleaver and chops off the hybrid’s head. “Now he’s dead,” Jeremy says, and his face is spattered with blood. I read an interview with head writer Julie Plec online where she says, “That was a very convincing blood spatter,” and I really have to agree. Did I mention that I love badass Jeremy? The thing I love about this scene is that it’s not sanitized in the least – Elena actually yelps and turns her face away when Jeremy cuts off the hybrid’s head, and Steven R. McQueen puts all his strength into that killing blow. Awesomely done.
Back at in the woods, it’s dark; Damon and Stefan have apparently been yelling at and stabbing each other until nightfall. “You know what I can’t figure out?” Damon asks. “Why save me?” Oh, Damon, don’t you know? He really does want an answer, but Stefan doesn’t give him one. “Fine, next question,” Damon continues. “Why steal his coffins?” Stefan replies that Klaus’s family is the one weakness he can use against him. “Use against him to do what?” Damon asks. “You’re not going to kill him. You know how I know that? Because there was only one way to kill him, and you blew that to save me.”
“You’re wrong,” Stefan says, “there has to be another way.” Damon considers this, and he’s obviously hoping that Stefan is right. “Whatever you’re doing, I want in,” Damon says. “You go after Klaus, you’re gonna have to be cut-throat and devious. And I’m so much better at that than you.” Ahahahaha. Self-knowledge for the win.
Stefan says okay, but it’s just him and Damon. Elena stays out of it. Damon agrees. Stefan takes Damon back inside the haunted mansion and into the basement; this time, when he gets there, Damon can see Klaus’s coffins. “The witch spirits hate Klaus as much as we do,” Stefan explains. “They’re using their powers to hide the coffins.” So even if Klaus finds Stefan’s hideouts, his coffins will remain hidden from view.
At the hospital, Alaric is miraculously healed. A lovely doctor is intrigued by Alaric’s case. Her name is Meredith Fell (played by Torrey DeVitto, Paul Wesley’s real-life wife.) “What is your secret?” Dr. Fell asks Alaric. “Guardian angel, or did you sell your soul to the devil?” Alaric replies, “A little of both,” which is the best answer ever.
While Damon and Stefan are out plotting their plotty schemes, Elena lets herself into the Salvatore mansion, and then she lets Klaus in. She gives Klaus Rebekah, in exchange for his word that Jeremy won’t be harmed. Elena tells Klaus that she’s the one who daggered Rebekah, and when she wakes up, she’ll come after Elena. Klaus says, not to worry, he can control his sister. And besides, he needs Elena’s help to find Stefan, and Elena has so many more loved ones he can kill: Bonnie, Caroline, Damon. “It’s only a matter of time before Stefan gives me what I want,” Klaus says. Elena isn’t convinced: “He doesn’t care about me anymore. You made sure of that. You turned him into a monster. Now he’s your problem. And just so you know? I’m not the only one Rebekah wants dead. She knows what you did to your mother. She knows that you killed her.” Then she leaves Klaus alone with his dead sister, telling him to let himself out. Did I mention that I love badass Elena? Those Gilberts, you don’t wanna mess with them.
Jeremy goes to pick up Alaric from the hospital, and they have an amusing exchange:
Alaric: I guess I have Damon’s blood to thank for the fact that I’m still walking?
Jeremy: He said to say you owe him a drink.
Alaric: That’s funny. I’d rather have head trauma.
Bwah! On a more sober note, Jeremy tells Alaric how he just cut a guy’s head off. Alaric says, “You can talk to me about this stuff, you know?” Aww, I love Ric trying to be all daddy. Jeremy just shrugs and says it’s the way things are in Mystic Falls. He’ll just have to get used to it. Poor boy, dealing with so much death at such a young age.
At home, Elena’s hands are drenched in red; she’s wringing out a bloody rag in the sink. Damon arrives and asks her how she’s doing. She tells him, “I think I got most of the blood off the porch.” Poor Elena, dealing with so much death at such a young age! And trying to be a mom to her baby brother, besides. She tells Damon that she gave Rebekah to Klaus. Damon freaks, afraid that Rebekah will come after her, but Elena knows that Klaus needs her alive to negotiate with Stefan. There’s a flicker of guilt across Damon’s face, now that he’s keeping secrets from Elena, but he just says, “My brother’s sort of running his own show right now.” Elena replies, “Yeah, well, my brother just chopped off someone’s head.” She’s clearly shaken by the night’s turn of events. “It’s not right. It’s not fair. He’s 16 years old. He shouldn’t have to live like this. There has to be another way. We have to fix it.”
In his big fancy mansion, Klaus gives a monologue to his dead sister. He tells her he wanted her to be there with him, when he finally built a home for his family. Unfortunately, she’ll have to wait a little longer. He daggers her again, saying, “We’ll meet again one day.” Whether he’s keeping her dead because she knows that he killed his mother, or just waiting to retrieve the rest of his family, is left unclear. Probably it’s a little of both.
As Klaus says goodbye to his sister, Elena says goodbye to her brother. We get a very moving scene in which Damon, overseen by Elena and Alaric, compels Jeremy to leave Mystic Falls. He’s going to go stay with some friends in Denver, go to school there and never look back. “You’re gonna have a better life, Jeremy,” Damon tells him, and Elena is in tears. This whole scene is beautifully executed: everyone involved knows that what they’re doing is wrong, but they really do believe it’s the best option to keep Jeremy safe. And the thought of sending him away is clearly heart-wrenching for Elena.
I have mixed feelings about this development. On the one hand, it’s completely in character. It’s not the first time Elena has asked Damon to compel Jeremy in order to save him. And she confesses that she feels guilty about it, knowing how upset Jeremy was when he found out. On the other hand, this show is all about the fraternal bond, and leaving the main character without a sibling (or any family other than Ric, her adopted dad) could potentially change the whole dynamic of the show. Maybe the writers want to focus more on the romantic relationships? We’ll have to see where it goes.
At the haunted mansion, Stefan shows Bonnie the coffins, and she recognizes them from her dream. She moves towards the coffin that she saw Klaus in, and Stefan tells her he can’t open it, no matter what he tries: blowtorch, axe, crowbar, nothing works. Bonnie deduces that it’s closed with a spell. The witches led her there for a reason, and whatever is inside that coffin is the answer to their Klaus problem.
Out on Elena’s front porch, Damon tries to console her for what they’ve done. “Take it from me. Estranged is bad. Dead is worse.” (Awwwwwww.) Elena says thank you to Damon, not just for this, but for everything. “I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t here.” Damon, clearly moved, tells Elena that Stefan screwed them over for a good reason: he saved Klaus in order to save Damon, then he stole the coffins to get even.
Elena: If he wanted to save you, why would he steal the coffins? What does it even mean?
Damon: It means I’m an idiot. Because I thought, for one second, that I wouldn’t have to feel guilty anymore.
Elena: For what?
Damon: For wanting what I want.
Elena takes a step back, and Damon gets it: “Brother’s girl, and all.” He starts to walk away, and then turns back: “No. You know what? If I’m going to feel guilty about something, I’m gonna feel guilty about this.” He kisses her, and Elena kisses him back.
AND THE INTERNET EXPLODES.
Then Damon says goodnight, and walks away. Fade to black.
OK, I have to say, I love Damon. I think Ian Somerhalder is scalding hot, and he and Nina Dobrev have great chemistry (witness Damon/Katherine). Nevertheless, I don’t really ship Damon/Elena. I love the friendship that’s developed between them, but in general, I’m not a huge fan of human/vampire romances. Elena doesn’t want to be a vampire (she said as much to Stefan, last season) and I kind of want her to have a human boyfriend who doesn’t lie to her or go evil or, you know. Kill people.
Having said that? The kiss was hot. I like the fact that it was done on her front porch, which is where Katherine kissed Damon, temporarily convincing him that it was Elena. It was very tender and sweet, and I like the way Elena’s sort of tentative at first and then gives in.
Still. I rather watch Damon/Katherine. Or Stefan/Klaus. But the internets seem happy, so that makes me happy.
SHIRTLESS SOMERHALDER SIGHTINGS: Zero.
QUIPPITY QUIP: That’s why I hate witches. They’re so fickle and passive-aggressive.