Everything changed, again

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Vampire Diaries
Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW

Do you like how I didn’t even try to write a real subhead for this recap and just went with “Everything changed, again?” So much happened. And no one was even shirtless. Let’s dive in.

So Mystic Falls has THE worst security of any high school in America. Not only can kids work out in the weight room late at night by themselves, but, as we found out when sweaty Matt opened a classroom and set off a slew of mousetraps, they can also break in for senior prank night. Honestly, the mousetraps seemed pretty lame to me, but that’s coming from someone who was part of a senior prank that involved setting mice loose in the school. And by “mice,” I mean TWO mice because that’s all my friend Jen was able to buy. The mice wouldn’t leave the container she carried them in when she put them down on the floor of the cafeteria under our seats, so she had to dump them out, and they still wouldn’t move. So then she said we all had to act scared to throw suspicion off us. When I get nervous, I get honest, so I sat there with my head on the table praying for the moment to end. A teacher came, picked up the mice, and took them outside to a field behind the school. That can’t even be called a prank. It was a misfire. The best prank at my high school was a few years earlier when someone — presumably the two rock climbers in that senior class — scaled the outside of the building and altered the school’s name: Penns Valley became Penis Valley. BRILLIANT. But back to the show. While Tyler set out to lead the Saran Wrap toilet seats charge, Elena caught Caroline’s soon-to-be-senior spirit and was off to superglue Alaric’s desk shut when she ran into Klaus.

Where were Elena’s usual saviors? Well, Damon and Katherine had been driving aimlessly for hours (“Stop being cute” / “It’s not possible”), which turned Katherine on enough for them to have a little makeout session. One of my pet peeves is when people on TV shows don’t actually look at the road when they’re driving, but these two are immortal, so I’ll let it slide…because I didn’t know Katherine had Jeremy in the trunk! Neither did Damon until he finally hit a rest stop to give Katherine a break from the sexual tension — he’d pulled away from her during that kiss because she doesn’t do it for him anymore — and demanded she tell him her plan. She told him she had Elena’s necklace, which Klaus wanted, but more importantly, that she had something even better — Jeremy. Turns out, Pearl had told Katherine that she knew a way to kill Klaus but had never revealed how to anyone but her daughter, Anna. When Bonnie told Katherine (posing as Elena) that Jeremy could talk to his dead exes, she had the idea to get him to ask Anna for help. Convenient? Yes. But it’s not like Katherine is known for sharing information until she absolutely has to.

Stefan, meanwhile, was waking up again in Klaus’ truck. Rebekah told him Klaus had been breaking his neck all afternoon and knew that Elena was still alive. Stefan charged her, and they fought. She told him to consider her jealous and staked him in the stomach with a crowbar. Rebekah eventually made her way into the school after that because she popped up in the hallway and interrupted a post-prank makeout session between Tyler and Caroline. I loved that Caroline instinctively stood in front of Tyler to protect him once she realized Rebekah knew who and what they were. Rebekah bit Caroline and apparently knocked her out.

Bonnie was busy toilet-papering the pool with Matt and his pause-the-DVR-they’re-so-pretty blue eyes. She told him that she and Jeremy have been having a bit of a tough time since he shared that he’s seeing the ghosts of his ex girlfriends. Cue the slightly awkward conversation about how all Matt had to worry about last summer was Elena breaking up with him and how much he sucked at CPR. You knew there was a reason we found out that both Matt and Bonnie were lifeguards… They were going to rendezvous in the gym after Matt went to the bathroom to pick up more TP. Matt had told Bonnie he wanted to see Vicki himself so he could say goodbye. All he saw in the bathroom was the stall door move on its own, but we saw Vicki say that she could help him.

NEXT: Damon is officially over Katherine

Of course, as Elena told Klaus, he should have just killed her quickly. We all know what happens when bad guys get too chatty with their victims in movies — it gives time for a rescue or escape. But props to the writers for turning that notion on its head. We thought they were working overtime to make us believe that Klaus would legitimately want to drag this out because he genuinely likes to make people suffer. That’s why he broke up the large group of senior pranksters in the gym — WORST SECURITY EVER – and told everyone to go home but two. He compelled the girl (Not Now, Dana!) to lift her foot up and the boy to beat her to death if she dropped it. Survivor: Mystic Falls! We didn’t find out until much later that it was Klaus’ distrust of the Original Witch, who hated him, that told him to wait until he found out what she said to do about his hybrid issue and then do the opposite.

When Bonnie and Matt finally made it to the gym, Klaus gave Not Now, Dana a break and turned his attention to Bonnie. She’s to blame for Elena surviving the sacrifice and his subsequent reproductive problems, so she has to find a way to make his hybrids work. Cue Rebekah’s entrance with Tyler. Klaus force-fed him his blood and broke his neck. [Insert gasp.] He told Bonnie to go look for answers in her grimoires and let her take Matt with her. Bonnie told Matt her grimoires didn’t go back 1,000 years, and since she couldn’t contact the dead witches for help, she had to hope Jeremy could. Rebekah dragged Tyler out by one arm, while Klaus stayed in the gym with Elena and the doomed pair. Now it was time for Stefan to enter the fray.

He tried to play the good little minion again and said he wanted to pledge his allegiance to Klaus. Fine, Klaus said, and told him to kill the couple. Elena told Stefan not to, Klaus wasn’t going to kill her yet. Klaus struck Elena, and Stefan charged him. Knowing Stefan’s word meant nothing now, Klaus did something he hadn’t had to do all summer — he compelled Stefan to obey him. He couldn’t run or hide. He told Ripper to kill the couple, and Stefan bit Not Now, Dana, right in front of Elena. He later killed the boy.

Bonnie was trying to reach Jeremy and Damon, but Katherine had both of their cells. She and Damon were waiting for Jeremy to make contact with Anna. When she came through, she told Jeremy she wasn’t going to help Katherine and Damon. Katherine suggested Damon play rough, and after he gave Jeremy ONE boo-boo, she spilled. The answer was Michael, the vampire who hunts vampires. But they don’t want to wake him, Anna said. He’ll kill all of them. Eventually, while Damon tried to keep Jeremy awake in case he had a concussion (“Thanks for the concern, d—“), Katherine gave Damon back his phone and he saw the messages from Bonnie about Klaus. He told Jeremy to go with Katherine so he could help Anna guide her to Michael. That’s not safe, but at least Jeremy has his ring on. Damon was heading back to save Elena. “You’re gonna get yourself killed. The Damon I remember wouldn’t have been that stupid,” Katherine said. “I wouldn’t have done it for you,” he told her. That was a beautiful moment. He wasn’t trying to hurt Katherine — that was just a bonus. He was merely being honest.

NEXT: Matt has his biggest moment ever, which could have been shirtless but wasn’t

Back at the school, Caroline woke up to find Rebekah playing with her phone and filling her in on what had happened to Tyler, who was still unconscious. Rebekah started flipping through the photos on Caroline’s cell and saw one of Stefan and Elena — and zoomed in on Elena wearing her necklace. “Why is that doppelgänger bitch wearing my necklace?” she screamed. Into the gym Rebekah came demanding Elena tell her where her necklace was. Rebekah bit Elena, but Klaus stopped her. Elena told Klaus that Katherine had stolen the necklace. Change of plans: Now that the necklace is out of play because Katherine is on the run, Klaus had to apply more pressure to Bonnie and pacify himself by torturing Stefan and Elena. He put 20 minutes on the game clock in the gym and told Stefan that if Bonnie hadn’t figured out a way to fix his hybrid spawn situation when time ran out, he was to feed on Elena. Amazing that Elena was composed enough to think of Stefan instead of herself: “Don’t do this to him,” she told Klaus. No one was to leave the gym. If Elena tried to run, Klaus said, Stefan was to fracture her spine.

Bonnie was getting antsy (had Klaus even told her about the new deadline?). She was waiting for Matt to meet her so they could drive to Jeremy’s house and look for him. Matt went to pick up his gym bag and saw that his clothes were thrown about. A trail led him back to the pool. His keys were at the bottom. Instead of taking off his shirt, he took off his Nikes. Booooo. One of them shot into the pool. He got a message on his phone: “I can help you Matty.” Vicki wanted to help him, but she needed him to hear her. Matt phoned Bonnie and told her that he thought Vicki was there and wanted to help them save Tyler. Since Jeremy could talk to the dead because Bonnie brought him back to life, that’s what she had to do for him. Bonnie told him she can’t do that kind of magic anymore since the dead witches cut her off. She doesn’t have to do magic, Matt said. She just had to be better than he was at CPR. So wait, every person who comes back from the dead through CPR can see ghosts, or just the ones who received CPR from a witch, Matt? That was a big assumption to make, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Matt put on a weightlifting belt and chained a weight to it. As the show’s death theme played, he jumped into the pool. To quote my notes, “HOLY S—BALLS!” To quote reader Andrea Dimayuga, who tweeted me, “I was so excited to see semi-teary eyed Matt!! You of all people know how sexy he is when he cries :)” — correct. He sank and drowned with his face right in the camera. Freaky but beautiful. Seriously, Matt should always be at that pool, wearing a navy outfit, flashing those blue eyes.

Bonnie ran to the pool and dove in to fish out Matt, who was tethered lifelessly to that weight. She got the belt off and raised him to the surface. As she did CPR, Matt had his near-death encounter with Vicki. Cheating, I thought. She told him she didn’t have much time. She needed him to give Bonnie a message… But first, back to Elena and Stefan.

Elena tried to tell Stefan that if Caroline’s dad could stop himself from being compelled, so could he. And if he couldn’t, well then he could just drink from her. Klaus hadn’t said to “kill her.” Slight problem, Stefan said: He’s in Ripper mode now, he won’t be able to stop. Okay, back to Plan A. Their love could conquer that compulsion. Stefan just had to fight hard enough, which he owes her after all they’ve been through. Nice try, Stefan said. The fact remains: The more blood he gets, the more he wants it, and if he gets near hers, she’s dead.

NEXT: Paul Wesley steals the episode

Speaking of blood, as Tyler woke up and learned he was in transition to become a hybrid and would die if Bonnie didn’t find a way to save him, Matt finally got around to toweling off and delivering that important message to Bonnie. Vicki had said it was from the witch that had put the curse on Klaus: Elena wasn’t supposed to have survived Klaus’ ritual. Hybrids can’t transition because Elena’s still alive. WELL, DUH, I thought. Klaus overheard this hallway chat. Don’t worry for Tyler, lovelies. He’d choose the hybrid over the doppelgänger every time, he said. Not comforting, Klaus. We knew Elena wasn’t going to die, so how were they writing themselves out of this?

The clock ran out, and Stefan begged Elena to run, even if he was going to chase her. He couldn’t hold back the hunger. She ran and he followed, propelling himself into walls of lockers trying to slow himself down. It reminded me of how I used to run into the waist-high walls at the roller rink to stop. Only Stefan didn’t fall to the ground like I often did. Anyway, Elena again ran into the arms of Klaus. Stefan, meanwhile, made his way to a broom, broke it in half, and staked himself in the stomach to slow himself down. Klaus walked in with Elena and yes, as he pointed out, the only thing stronger than Stefan’s craving for blood is his love for Elena. Klaus wanted Stefan to flip the switch. He took out the broomstake and said “Turn… it… off.” “Nooo,” Stefan shouted, weakly shoving Klaus away from him. I rewound that multiple times. It felt like the moment those first four episodes of the season had been building to. We had to see Bad Stefan so we’d learn to stop taking Good Stefan for granted. You felt how much he loved Elena, how much he was fighting for her, and how much he was willing to suffer.

And because you finally understood and appreciated Stefan, it made what happened next all the more cruel. Klaus pushed him back and shouted “Turn it off!” with such force that Stefan, in his weakened state, couldn’t resist doing what he was told. That’s not what I thought happened at first watching Stefan quietly fade away: I wondered if Stefan had somehow been holding another broomstake behind his back and used the force of Klaus’ shove to stake himself from behind. That would have been a beautiful death but obviously waaaaaaay too soon to lose Stefan. It wasn’t until I rewound that I realized what Paul Wesley was doing. He was physically showing Stefan’s humanity dying. It was the calm and quiet of someone taking his final breaths and releasing his soul with his last exhale. For a show that likes to put stakes in Stefan’s stomach, and torture him with vervain while shirtless, that felt like finally giving us a satisfying death scene. What had Klaus done to Stefan? He’d “fixed him,” he told Elena. “Ripper, perhaps you’d like a drink from the doppelgänger’s neck,” Klaus said. Stefan vamped out and looked at Elena with a cold, killer stare. He didn’t look like himself. He was even hotter? He bit Elena.

NEXT: Damon is a vampire and a gentleman

It was time for Klaus to reveal his master plan to Tyler, Caroline, and Rebekah. If the Original Witch said Elena must die for his hybrid-making to work, then he assumed he needs to keep her alive. That had always been his plan: Find out what the OW said to do, then do the opposite because he knows how much she hated him. I think we all understood his reasoning, but so there was no confusion, Klaus later explained it more thoroughly to Rebekah as they waited outside the hospital for the compelled nurse to finish taking more of Elena’s blood. (Why weren’t they waiting inside? I guess even vamps don’t like hospitals.) It turns out, the OW had a failsafe plan (or so she thought): In order for Klaus to break the curse and become a hybrid, he had to kill the doppelgänger. The only way for him to make more hybrids was to feed them the blood of the doppelgänger during their transition. So even if Klaus managed to break the curse, the OW had still condemned him to a life of being alone. And as Rebekah figured out, that’s really why Klaus wants to make others like him. He doesn’t want to be alone. (Maybe it’s why he travels with his family’s coffins?) Klaus had confirmed Elena’s blood was the key to making hybrids when he fed it to Tyler and he’d successfully changed after some writhing on the floor. Does this mean no more shirtless transformations for Michael Trevino? That would be the only drawback to giving him this juicy story line. Tyler’s loving his life now and assured Caroline that their senior year was going to be great. The look of concern on her face was mirrored on viewers everywhere.

Outside the hospital, Klaus sent Rebekah to fetch the truck so he could grab Elena and get them out-of-town. That’s when Damon finally showed up. Klaus didn’t want to kill Damon because, unlike Stefan, he keeps his word. But then he decided New Stefan wouldn’t mind and was ready to end Damon. Luckily, Damon could still eek out that he and Katherine had found Michael and told him Klaus is in Mystic Falls. Klaus gave Damon a boo-boo and bolted. Knocking people’s heads into things is the outdoor substitute for slamming people into walls on this show. I can’t believe Klaus left without grabbing Elena. THAT’S how scared he is of Michael. Damn. Damon walked into the hospital and found Elena. Old Damon could have taken that bag of her blood for himself, but no, all he carried out of that room was her. Ah, Damon.

Let’s stay with those two. Damon got her home to Salvatore mansion and gave her some bourbon. It would help her forget, as could he if she let him compel her. She wouldn’t do that. She needs to remember all of it, she said. Damon had stolen her necklace back from Katherine and offered it to her. She didn’t take it. “He’s really gone this time. I watched it happen,” she said. “After everything that we went through to help him, now he’s just gone.” Ready for your heart to break? “Where were you, Damon?” she asked. “I shouldn’t have left,” he answered. “I promise you I will never leave you again.” She nodded. For the first time in her life, that idea didn’t scare her.

“Well isn’t this cozy?” someone said. It was Stefan. In the house. Looking hot. Damon asked him what he was doing there. Last Stefan checked, he lived there. Klaus is gone, but he told Stefan to keep watch of Elena until he returns.”From now on, you are under my protection,” he said. “By all means, carry on,” he added. That is fairly awesome. Elena finally gets her wish of having Stefan back, but he’s a total douche. She could have let him go and he would’ve always loved her, but she had to hold onto him and now he doesn’t care about her at all.

Katherine and Jeremy did find Michael eventually. He’d been entombed in a cemetery in Charlotte in the ’90s by a witch, Anna had told them. Katherine opened the stone coffin and his eyes popped open. He was wrapped in chains. Bring it, sir!

Bonnie tried to tell Matt, who was feeling good that his plan had worked, that he doesn’t want to get sucked into the supernatural world. He needs to be the only one in the group who lives a normal life. He told her he still felt Vicki around him and wanted a moment alone to say goodbye to her. Bonnie left, and when he sensed someone behind him, he assumed she’d returned. But it was Vicki. He could see her. She said hello, and he smiled. It was good to see him grin, but do we really think Matt will be allowed to be happy for long?

Your turn. What did you think of the episode? Are you happy with New Stefan, Hybrid Tyler, and Michael? Do you think Ghost Vicki is as nice as she looks?

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The Vampire Diaries

Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley star in the CW’s romance-infused vampire soap opera.

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