Oh, Stefan. Klaus still loves you. So much! Even after all the abuse he put you through, and all the times he threatened to kill you and your loved ones, anyone can see that he just wants you to be happy. He’s giving you permission to work out your feelings for Damon! He’s being so magnanimous! Hasn’t he suffered long enough? You really should take him back.
Can you say “irony,” Stefan?
We’ll get to their “epic” love story later in the episode, but first, we open at the school. Rebekah and Caroline are cleaning up from the Decade Dance. They share a rare moment of mutual sympathy: Caroline says she’s sorry about Rebekah’s mom, and Bex says she’s sorry about Alaric. But whoops, it turns out Alaric isn’t so dead after all. He attacks Rebekah in the hallway. Caroline comes to her rescue and stabs Ric with his own invulnerable white oak stake. Ric looks to be invulnerable, too, because the stake doesn’t kill him.
It does, however, slow him down long enough for both Rebekah and Caroline to escape the school. Ric follows them outside, smoking and peeling because of his lack of daylight ring. He manages to snap Caroline’s neck and drag her back inside. Rebekah runs home to tell brother Klaus that Alaric is an invulnerable hunter out to kill them. Bex declares that she’s leaving town right now this minute, but Klaus won’t leave without his doppelganger.
Stefan shows up at Elena and Jeremy’s house, saying he wanted to check up on them. Damon shows up, too, dragging a dazed and bloodied Bonnie. She gives them the bad news: the spirits of dead witches zombie-sleepwalked her into feeding Alaric her blood and forcing him to turn into a vampire.
Alaric calls Elena and tells her that he’s holding Caroline hostage. He orders her to come to the school alone and not tell anyone. Elena sneaks out the back of the house, without Damon, Stefan, Bonnie, or Jeremy seeing her. When she gets to the school, she finds Caroline with a vervain-soaked gag around her mouth and pencils shoved through her hands pinning her to the desk. OW, that must hurt.
Klaus comes to Elena’s place and says he’s leaving town, and he’s going to take her with him. Stefan and Damon tell him to forget it. Klaus can’t get in without an invitation, so he throws a hissy fit, starts hurling stakes through the windows and threatens to burn the house down. Not sure what Klaus was expecting here—for Elena to willingly walk off into the sunset with him? Not exactly the most devious of his master plans.
While Klaus launches wooden missiles at the house and the Salvatores hide under the kitchen table, Stefan gets a call from Alaric. Stefan waves the white flag at Klaus and comes outside for truce talks: he tells Klaus that Alaric has both Elena and Caroline, and he’s going to kill them both unless Klaus turns himself in.
Klaus: How do I know you’re not asking me to walk into a certain death?
Stefan: I really wish we could. But unfortunately if Alaric kills you, there’s a one-in-four chance that we die, too.
Damon: I’ll take those odds.
Stefan: And a hundred-percent chance that Tyler dies.
Damon: I could live with that, too.
Snerk. So now, Klaus is on the same side as the boys. But it’s Bonnie who comes up with the plan: she wants to use the same desiccation spell on Alaric that her mother used on Mikael. She calls in Abby to help her do the spell. Abby tells her that in order to stop Alaric’s heart, she has to also stop a human one. Jeremy, armed with his magic-protecto ring, volunteers.
Outside the school, Stefan causes Klaus’s thousand-year-old heart to leap with hope:
Klaus: If this does go off and we drop the history teacher in the Atlantic, I’m still leaving with Elena.
Stefan: I’ll go with you.
Klaus: Really? What’s the catch?
Stefan: No catch. I’d turn my back on everything here to make sure Elena’s safe.
Klaus: And that is what makes you her better option. It’s a shame it’s not easier for Elena to see that. I mean, personally, I think she’s wasting her time with Damon.
Stefan actually chuckles, and it’s so obvious how much Klaus still wants him! He’s smitten with the idea of Stefan travelling with him again. Sadly, the feeling is not mutual, and Stefan retorts, “All the time and energy you’ve spent trying to get me and my brother to hate each other—it’s actually had the opposite effect.” Aw, Stefan, can’t you forgive Klaus for all the ways he’s abused, threatened, and tormented you? He’s being such a nice guy! To quote Caroline’s words from last week, “Fair is fair.”
Bonnie interrupts their epic love story to give a vial of her blood to Stefan, Damon, and Klaus. She orders them them to drink it; it will bind them to her, so that when they subdue Alaric, she’ll be able to work her magic on him. In order to make a connection, one of the vamps will have to be in contact with Alaric’s cardio-vascular system: vein, artery, something connected to his heart.
Klaus then continues his courtship of Stefan by announcing, “I was the one who created your vampire bloodline, therefore I am responsible for your lives. And Tyler’s life, Caroline’s life, and of course, Abby’s life. Should anything go wrong.” Damon accuses him of lying, but Klaus dares them to call his bluff. “Let the teacher kill me. You’ll all be dead soon thereafter.”
And with that juicy bit of blackmail, they’re off on a mission.
Inside the school, Alaric continues to torture Caroline, and tries to convince Elena to put her out of her misery. “Isn’t this what you wanted, Elena? For me to teach you how to kill a vampire?” Then he says, “Your parents led the council. It was their life’s mission to keep this town safe. They weren’t dead six months before you undid it all. Do you actually think that they’d be proud of you?”
OUCH. Talk about hitting her where she lives. Elena looks stricken, and Ric hands her the white oak stake. She spins around and tries to stab him with it, but he’s too fast and catches her wrist. “I thought I taught you better than that?” he sneers. “You did,” Elena shoots back. Then with her other hand she grabs the beaker full of vervain and breaks it in his face.
GO ELENA! You are a total badass. Ric falls to the floor, screaming in pain, and Elena has just enough time to free Caroline and hustle her out the door. As Caroline runs, Alaric stops Elena. Caroline looks like she’s about to go back for her, but Klaus grabs her from behind and whispers in her ear: “We’ll save Elena. You go straight home. You stay inside, you understand?” In a small voice, Caroline whispers, “Thank you,” and she looks genuinely grateful for his help. She takes off, and Klaus, Stefan, and Damon rush off to rescue Elena.
Alaric gets Elena pinned up against the school lockers and threatens to snap her neck, but he relents and lets her go. Elena’s brain is spinning—she knows there’s a reason why he won’t kill her, but she can’t figure it out. As she’s pondering, the Three Vampketeers jump Alaric. He snaps Damon’s neck—REVENGE!—and Stefan’s too. Klaus puts his fist into Alaric’s chest and Bonnie, off in the woods, starts to do her spell. But Ric throws Klaus off and the connection is broken.
Alaric tries to stab Klaus with the white oak stake, but Elena, holding a knife to her own throat, orders Ric to let Klaus go or she’ll kill herself. “There’s a reason why Esther used me to make you,” Elena deduces. “She didn’t want you to be immortal, so she tied your life to a human one. Mine. That way you’ll have only one lifespan to kill all vampires, and then you’ll be gone. If I die, you die too.”
Not only is she badass, she’s smart, too! Give that girl a gold star.
Alaric calls her bluff, but Elena starts to slice her neck open. In a panic, Ric yells at her to stop, and Klaus uses the opening to shove him away. He grabs Elena and flees the school with her.
Next we see Elena waking up at Klaus’s mansion, tied to a chair with blood bags attached to her arm. Klaus is draining her of all her blood, so that he can leave town with a supply of hybrid-making juice. He was going to take Elena as a living bloodbag, but now that he knows that Elena’s death will also kill Alaric, he wants her to die so that he can live hunter-free.
And just because he likes her, Klaus decides to lay on the guilt trip: “You know that once you pick a Salvatore, you’ll destroy their bond. Consider this me doing you a favor. Once you’re dead, you won’t have to choose. No broken hearts. Their family stays intact.”
On a character level, I like this psychological manipulation. Elena does feel responsible for everyone else, and of course she would feel guilty. So it works that Klaus would try to take advantage of that guilt. But on a meta level: Really? Is she really responsible for Stefan’s and Damon’s family harmony? Never mind that both of them are killers, and that they’ve both abused her and everyone she loves. She has to worry about not hurting their feelings!
At the school, Damon and Stefan recover from their neck-breaking injuries. Alaric fills them in on Klaus’s doppelganger-kidnapping ways. It’s time for the Salvatores to run off and do what they do best: saving Elena’s life.
Tyler, who’s been at Klaus’s mansion all along helping him pack up his stuff, has been quietly waiting for Klaus to leave the room so he can untie Elena and set her free. He finally gets his chance, but just as he unties her, Klaus comes back and catches them in the act. He attacks and is about to kill Tyler, but Stefan and Damon storm in and jump him.
While Damon and Tyler hold Klaus back, Stefan shoves his fingers into Klaus’s chest. And presto, Bonnie does the desiccation spell. She stops Jeremy’s heart, and as she does so, Klaus dries up and withers into a vampire raisin. He looks genuinely hurt that Stefan is the one to “kill” him, and there’s some wonderful facial expressions from Joseph Morgan as Klaus faces the end of a thousand years of terror.
Stefan and Damon walk Elena home. (I’m surprised she’s still walking, after all the blood she’s lost! Wouldn’t she need a transfusion?) At the front porch, Elena feels the need to confess her guilt: “I know it’s selfish. I know that it seems like I’m stringing you both along, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. If I choose one of you, then I lose the other. And I’ve lost so many people—I can’t bear the thought of losing one of you.”
Oh, Elena. Your heart is too big for your head. Keep the vampires as friends and go date The Immortal. Then you can go dancing in Italy and the boys can bond over how they’re so hard-done-by.
Speaking of friends, Elena does occasionally have some good ones. When she goes inside the house, she walks into a victory party. Caroline, Bonnie, Jeremy, Tyler, and Matt are celebrating the Lack of Klausness. Matt says he’s pissed that they didn’t invite him to the Original Takedown, but Tyler says he would have ended up in the hospital. “Please, I’m more stealthy than that,” Matt quips. “I’m like a ninja.” Heeeee.
Caroline hands Elena a tequila shot. Again, blood loss! One shot and her bloodstream will be sixty percent alcohol! Caroline tells Elena that she heard the front-porch confessions, and that sooner or later, she’ll have to choose. Okay, I take back what I said about Elena having good friends.
Next we see an emergency council meeting at the Mayor’s house, called by none other than Alaric Salzmann. He informs the council members that they have a couple of moles in their midst. He is shocked—shocked, I tell you!—to learn that the sherriff’s daughter is a vampire, and that the mayor’s son is half-vamp, half-werewolf. Liz tries to leave, but Ric blocks her way and says they’re just getting started.
Out on the open road, Damon and Stefan are driving Klaus’s casket to a watery grave. “Turns out we make a pretty good team,” Stefan says. “It only took a century and a half,” Damon replies. Oh, boys. No one ever accused you of being smart. Stefan ruins the mood by asking what’ll happen once Elena makes a decision. Damon says, “You know how these things pan out, Stefan. She’ll probably make a list of pros and cons, and at the end of the day, dump both of our asses.” Finally, a sensible solution!
Stefan gets his martyr on, and says that if she chooses Damon, he’ll leave town and let the two of them be happy. Damon looks sort of disgusted by the idea and says, “And in sixty years, we’ll go back to being brothers and none of this will have mattered.” Finally Damon caves, and says he’ll do the same if she picks Stefan. Can I just knock their heads together now?
At home, the party is over and Elena and Jeremy are commiserating. “Alaric never wanted any of this,” Jeremy says. “Once he carries out his plans, what if he decides he doesn’t want to live anymore? And he kills his human connection to end his life? That would mean I would lose you. I’m not going to let that happen.” Awwwwww, Jeremy. He heads off to bed, leaving Elena alone. Moments later, she collapses to the floor, bleeding from her nose.
What did I tell you about that tequila?!?
SHIRTLESS SOMERHALDER SIGHTINGS: None.
QUIPPITY QUIP: “Poor lad. Loses one questionable father figure, only to be replaced by the likes of the two of you.”