Stefan's not the only one keeping a secret after another plan goes kaboom

By Mandi Bierly
Updated November 09, 2012 at 05:49 AM EST
Bob Mahoney

I keep saying each week that the show is feeling more like the Vampire Diaries we know and love, and this week was another step in that direction — even if you’re just talking about the promo shown for next week, when Katherine returns! We’ve got people scheming against Klaus (Tyler, Hayley, and now Caroline), and the Salvatore Brothers working toward a common goal (find a new hunter since Connor bit it) and keeping a secret from Elena (she doesn’t know she killed her chance to become human). We’ve also got Jeremy and Bonnie trying to have their own story lines (and his is actually interesting!). Let’s dig in.

We picked up with Connor’s conversation with Professor Shane and learned that the Prof had promised to give Connor answers about his hunter’s mark once the tattoo was complete. That’s why he sent Connor to Mystic Falls — so he could kill enough vampires and hurry it along. The Prof asked Connor that he not hurt the witch who’s caught up in this mess (oh, we remember you, Bonnie!) because she’s important to what he has planned. Connor would make no promises, so the professor said he’d occupy Bonnie himself. He sent Connor on his way — which was to the Grill with werewolf venom extracted from that hybrid he’d decapitated to escape Klaus, along with stakes and a knife that he promptly put to Jeremy’s throat.

At home, Elena woke up to journal. “Dear diary, I know it’s been a while. A long while. I haven’t needed, I haven’t wanted to write this stuff down. But I don’t want to say it out loud either. The thing is, I’m a vampire. And I hate it.” I laughed. I’m not sure if it’s Elena’s vampire 101 vibe that doesn’t land with me — I get that Elena is going through all this for the first time, but we, as fans of the show and genre in general, have seen plenty of transitions — or if it’s the writers’ concerted effort to make each episode accessible for new viewers. Let’s have Stefan recap where we are with dueling journal voiceovers! Again, I understand that the show is called The Vampire Diaries, that this is one way for the audience to hear what the characters can’t say to anyone, and that Stefan’s journal was actually used later by Damon to verify his story about Klaus telling him there’s a cure. But I thought we did away with the journaling long ago because it plays cheesy. Plus, as a faithful viewer who doesn’t need the recap, it just wastes time.

Klaus’ call with Stefan to inform him that Connor had escaped and had werewolf venom — which was a problem since Klaus, the only known antidote, was in Italy digging up Alexander the Hot to rob his corpse of his sword — was less painful. That’s new information, at least to Stefan, who Klaus tasked with capturing Connor alive and keeping Damon from killing him. Stefan said that would be easier if he could just tell Damon that Connor’s tattoo, when read with Alexander’s sword, is a map to the cure that will make Elena human again. But Klaus doesn’t trust Damon and believes that the more people who know about it, the more people who will be going after it. Wars have started for less? Reaching, Klaus. But fine. Bottom line: If Stefan tells anyone about the cure, Klaus will throw the sword into the Mediterranean and Elena will have to suck it up. Klaus also worked in a mention of daggering Rebekah, so new viewers would know why April would come to the Grill asking Matt if he’d seen Rebekah. April’s bad luck continued — Connor took her and Matt hostage, too.

Damon came to see Elena because Stefan was dodging his calls. We found out Elena hadn’t told Stefan about dirty dancing with Damon after she got high on blood at the Murder House Party. Damon knows she’s in a shame spiral filled with newbie vampire remorse, but Elena still wouldn’t admit it to anyone but her diary. When Stefan wouldn’t answer a call from Elena’s cell, they realized something must be wrong. Cut back to the Grill and Connor using Jeremy’s phone to text Stefan, Damon, and Tyler that he had hostages who would die at sundown.

NEXT: Surprise! Stefan and Damon disagree

When Stefan met up with the Scrappy Gang, Damon already had a plan in motion to go in hard and fast. Caroline’s mom had police cars blocking off the street, Tyler had called in the hybrids, and Damon asked Caroline to get “the wicked witch of the west” to come out of retirement. Stefan told them they weren’t all going. “He shot me like nine times. If we’re killing him, I want in,” Tyler said. Ha! Stefan explained that they have to figure out what they’re walking into since Connor is known for setting traps and having werewolf venom. Smart.

Caroline couldn’t reach Bonnie because Professor Shane had her turn off her cell phone during her witch therapy session. That started with him making self-deprecating jokes about the books he’s written, making her tea, and then making her take off her earring with hypnosis. Hypnosis, he says, is how he’ll make her confront her fear and guilt of practicing magic again and “remove it.” Note to self: If I ever undergo hypnosis, have someone I trust in the room to make sure I’m not being told to do anything I don’t want to do.

While Stefan was busy phoning Klaus and asking him to get his hybrids onboard with his plan, Damon found Alaric’s map of the tunnels that conveniently provide an entrance to the Grill. Since Connor doesn’t know she’s a vampire yet, Elena wanted to offer to trade herself for the hostages. Damon rightfully thought that was a stupid idea (at least for now) because she’s not ready to go up against a professional killer. A mock fight ensued that ended with Elena straddling Damon on the bed. (Cheers.) She said Jeremy was the only thing holding her together, and he promised they’d get him out.

Jeremy was fine for the moment. Connor wanted to show him his homemade bomb of nails soaking in werewolf venom. He told Jeremy he’s really doing this so he can learn his own story. Connor sent Matt and April into the back, but he made sure they knew all the doors were rigged so they wouldn’t try to escape. Is it wrong that I kind of want bumbling April to die already?

Damon wondered why Stefan was making references to Klaus in his plan. He was going to make a move with or without Stefan, so Stefan had to vervain Damon with some of Alaric’s stash. (Also handy!) Stefan didn’t tell Elena the truth — he said he was worried that Damon would get Jeremy out and then go after Connor with no regard for Matt and April’s lives. He’s probably right. Elena wanted to go with Stefan, but he told her she wouldn’t be able to handle the guilt if she had to defend herself and kill Connor. Really? He’s threatening to kill three people she cares about, I think that should be taken into consideration. Still, Stefan told her trusting him this time was the most important thing he’s ever asked her to do. So she agreed. They kissed, and he was gone.

At Lockwood Mansion, Caroline finally met Hayley and found out she’d been crashing with “Ty.” Tyler was trying to convince hybrid Dean that he didn’t have to follow Klaus’ orders to capture Connor with non-lethal force. Tyler called Klaus, who threatened to tell Caroline the secret about his little friend Hayley in Appalachia, so Tyler backed down. Didn’t Tyler realize that Caroline’s vampire hearing would have picked up Klaus’ voice? We saw the crushed look on her face.

NEXT: Bye, Dean

Stefan called the Grill and told Connor that if he released the hostages, they could have a talk, and he would tell Connor about the Five and why Klaus wants him alive. Connor just slammed down the phone. Matt had his hands full in the back trying to convince April not to believe Connor’s talk about vampires and to chisel through the blocked tunnel. While waiting for Dean to make his move, Connor had time to tell Jeremy that he didn’t used to think all vampires were bad. A vampire he was hunting once turned a friend of his. The friend said she’d keep it under control but didn’t. So he had to kill her, too. “A vampire’s like a loaded gun. Eventually it’s gonna go off,” Connor said.

Dean finally made his entrance, carefully stepping over the trip wire but not realizing Connor had also set up a pressure-sensitive Bouncing Betty mine. Once he stepped off of it, the bomb blew. Connor was covered in nails, but lived until Connor shot a hole in his chest — like a literal hole. Dean was the distraction — Stefan had finished the job Matt started from the opposite end and was there. He gave Matt his phone with the map to get out of the tunnels and told him to take April to Caroline’s so she could be compelled. Problem: Matt didn’t have a good enough signal yet to pick up Elena’s call when she phoned Stefan to ask what that explosion was. Damon woke up, and she wanted him to go to the Grill, but Stefan had taken his day ring, so he couldn’t. (Smart, Stefan!) Elena decided she was going, and Damon told her to use the fact that Connor doesn’t know she’s a vampire to get as close as she could before making her move. Already, I was envisioning Stefan having to yell “He can make you human!” as she was inches from striking…

But no. Connor had put Jeremy on a Bouncing Betty, and was prepared to shoot him if Stefan didn’t come out. Stefan wanted to trade information for Jeremy’s life, but Connor wasn’t making deals with a vampire. Elena rushed in and pleaded with Connor to set Jeremy free since he’s all the family she has left. Connor said he’d shoot Jeremy right in front of Elena on the count of three if Stefan didn’t come out. He got to two and Stefan appeared. Elena tackled Connor, but he fired and it hit Jeremy in the gut. Stefan had to get falling Jeremy off the mine fast enough so he could shield them from the bomb with a table. Elena paused her assault on Connor to ask if Jeremy was okay, and Connor was able to flip her. She held him off long enough for Stefan to get Connor off of her — and Stefan sped away with him. That would tend to support Damon’s theory that Stefan has either made a deal with Klaus or is compelled.

After Elena fed Jeremy her blood to save him, he told Elena about Connor’s tattoo and that someone had compelled him to forget the day he’d spent with Connor. Stefan took Connor through the tunnels and ran into Damon, who said he had to punch through a boiler room basement and septic tank to get there. Luckily, his face only had one smudge of dirt on it. Damon was determined to kill Connor, so Stefan told Connor to run as fast as he could. Damon then focused his anger on Stefan and grabbed his brother’s heart — gross. He was going to rip it out if Stefan didn’t tell him why he was protecting Connor. Stefan finally told him, and the way Damon’s face softened — “Klaus told you there’s a cure for vampirism?” — was so great. You could see him processing it. He wants her to be like him, but he wants her to be who she wants to be more. He let Stefan go.

Connor, of course, ran into Elena in the tunnels, and she took a big bite on his neck. “Stay the hell away from my brother,” she said. Connor dropped to his knees and called Elena the biggest monster Jeremy would ever meet. He staked her. “You missed,” she said, and snapped his neck. That’s like the Vampire Diaries of old! But do hunters die that easily?

NEXT: More Bonnie means higher candle budget

Back at the college, Bonnie had spent seven hours with Professor Shane, though she hadn’t realized it. He told her she didn’t have to be afraid of the spirits or anyone because she has a power of her own that she hasn’t even approached yet — and she’s stronger than them. He told her to close her eyes, say she didn’t have to be afraid and mean it, and she’d be able to light the candle on his desk. She said it, but the candle didn’t light. However, every other candle in his office did. Beautiful image, but I don’t understand how his hypnosis works. Is he able to throw her thoughts in whatever direction he wants without speaking?

Next we saw Elena, she was digging a grave to bury Connor in the woods. She hadn’t taken the time to wipe her bloody mouth. That always puzzles me. She sobbed when Stefan and Damon showed up. She’s pissed: Stefan said he’d protect Jeremy and save her from killing Connor, and he hadn’t. Damon had told her to kill Connor, and she had. Now she’s overwhelmed because she killed someone. YES, SOMEONE WHO TRIED TO KILL YOU, STEFAN, AND JEREMY, ALONG WITH APRIL, AND MATT, AND TYLER, AND THE LIST GOES ON. I know her emotions are heightened, but shouldn’t the forgiveness because it was self-defense also be heightened?

Back at Tyler’s, Caroline walked in on Tyler comforting Hayley over the loss of Dean and freaked out on him. Tyler isn’t the douche we thought he was! He told Caroline he’d rather have Klaus think he boned Hayley than know the truth, which is that he and Hayley want to help other hybrids break their sire bond. If Klaus finds that out, he’ll kill them all. Ah, so is Caroline going to pretend she’s broken up with Tyler and flirt with Klaus to keep him distracted? Fun!

I guess hunters can be killed that easily. After Matt and Jeremy convinced a freshly compelled April to wear a vervain-soaked bracelet (what? she’s a teen girl, so of course she’ll wear a bracelet that two hot boys said looks good on her every day?), Jeremy saw a tattoo on his hand. WHOOOAAAA. Jeremy gets a major story line! How is this gonna play out? Will Jeremy keep it a secret, or will he eventually tell someone about the tattoo and then they’ll have to decide if endangering himself to become a hunter is worth it to turn Elena human again? (And where are these vampires coming from that he’s supposed to kill in that latter scenario?)

At Salvatore Mansion, Stefan moped around in a white tank (thank you!), because Elena won’t speak to him other than to say she wants to be alone. Damon and Stefan agreed not to tell Elena that she killed her (alleged) chance at becoming human again. Stefan’s new plan is to hope Klaus, who found the sword, doesn’t kill him for losing Connor and a hybrid, and then search for another hunter. (So each of the Five must have passed along his mark?) Damon said he’d help, but he wanted to know one thing: Does Stefan want to cure Elena because she’s a vampire and she’s not cut out to be, or because he can’t love her if she’s a vampire? Stefan said he’ll always love her, so it’s because she’s not supposed to be a vampire. Damon said he wanted to make one thing clear: He’s fine with her either way, so if he’s doing this, he’s doing it for Stefan. That was probably my favorite scene of the episode. It’s nice to have the brothers back on the same side and hear that music that makes me think of Scandal.

After taking a tortured shower, Elena journaled some more about how the worst feeling isn’t when you lose someone, it’s when you lose yourself. She started seeing drops of blood, then splotches that led her into the bathroom. Blood was everywhere. Written on the mirror was “Killer.” Was she hallucinating because one of those werewolf-venom nails grazed her? That would be lame. No. As we saw in the promo for next week, Klaus reveals there’s some consequences for killing a hunter. Looks like she’s going mad! And even better, something brings Katherine back to town! Could she have killed a hunter in her day and know how to make Elena sane again? Thank god she’s here. Her bite is one way to balance out sad Elena.

Your turn. What did you think of the episode?

And P.S. In the issue of Entertainment Weekly out Nov. 16, we’re asking Vampire Diaries showrunner Julie Plec to take on fan questions, comments, and concerns about the current season. If you want to ask Julie something (or even just sound-off about the season), leave a comment below. (Keep in mind: If your comment is selected, your display name will be used.)