Previously on Vampire Diaries: Elena became a vampire! The spirits were dicks! The council displayed more competence in one day than they have in the last three years! (And then blew themselves up? Maybe? It was all pretty unclear, to be honest.)
So, I’m not going to lie to you all: this whole episode was super good for me. Starting with the previouslies, where I notice that a shot of Damon cradling Alaric’s dead body is lodged nicely in between the voiceover for “those we’ve loved” and “those we’ve lost.” Oh, the tragedy! I miss my best boyfriends already. (But more on that later. Be prepared for copious snot and flailing by the end.)
Anyway, we open on Elena’s vampire training, about which Damon and Stefan are (naturally) already fighting. Stefan wants to start her on an all moose and squirrel diet, hoping it will bypass the uncontrollable blood lust all baby vamps seem to experience, and also keep her from accidentally killing anyone.
Not, of course, because killing someone would be a terrible thing in and of itself. No, he’s just worried that the pain and guilt of that would be magnified by her new vamp emotions and cause her to flick off her humanity switch and then she’d be lost to him forever. Oh, cry me a river, Stefan.
Damon, on the other hand, favors the “rip the bandaid off” approach, since he thinks Elena will have to go through this eventually and they might as well just get it over with. (The phrase “from the vein” gets used a lot. It gets a little old after a while.) But Elena wants to at least try Stefan’s plan. So she steels her nerves and has a little Bambi snack, which seems both upsetting and arousing, judging by her reaction after.
Oh, and then she throws up a lot. It’s okay, Elena. I find venison a little rich too. (Stefan somehow doesn’t hear or smell any of this, even though he’s not that far away? Way to be observant, Stefan.)
Cut to An Attractive Stranger, who (spoiler!) is the next Big Bad, poking around the wreckage of the cabin where all the council members died. He notes pretty quickly that the explosion was deliberate, and discovers there’s a letter addressed to “April” in the stove. HMMMM.
Liz finds Damon daydrinking at the Grille, as is his wont. He tells her that Alaric’s regular seat is taken even though it’s empty, and my heart gets all sad for him. HE JUST MISSES HIS BOYFRIEND, YOU GUYS.
Anyway! It turns out the official story is that the council was killed in a freak faulty gas line accident, but Liz wants to know if Damon did it. He’s hilariously indignant. (I still love their friendship.) But the interrogation is interrupted by the appearance of Attractive Stranger Guy, whose name is actually Connor Jordan. He plays it cool for now, drawing Liz away to chat about the explosion.
Meanwhile, this week’s Formal Town Function is the mass funeral of everyone killed in last week’s explosion. The good news about the entire council (and I guess all those suddenly competent commando guys?) being taken out at once is that Liz and the Mayor both have their jobs back with none of the non-vampire hunting citizens the wiser. Convenient!
Jeremy and Cute!Matt are helping with the funeral set up, because of course they are. (All these kids ever do is help set up town events. They should all just skip college and open up a party planning business.) Apparently, this involves a bunch of paper lanterns to be burned later.
Cute!Matt, bless his little heart, is still feeling guilty about Elena sacrificing her humanity for him. Jeremy, to his credit, does not seem to hold Matt responsible (unlike everyone else, who can just SUCK IT). Their sensitive mantalk gets interrupted by the appearance of Pastor Young’s daughter, April, who I guess has been away at boarding school.
She looks the same age as the rest of these 20-something high schoolers, but I guess the show wants her to be young enough that Elena used to babysit for her? Oh, and it seems like she’s totally crushing on Jeremy, so I bet that writing’s on the wall. Hey, anything that gets him away from Bonnie…
Elena surreptitiously leaves Damon a message about needing his help with the whole blood thing while Stefan is in the other room. Uh-oh. Stefan comes back with a bottle of bubbly from the year she was born to celebrate her first feed. Elena starts to explain how it actually made her sick, but he misunderstands and is so relentlessly cheerful about everything being all right that she doesn’t seem to have the heart to correct him. The celebration is interrupted by a call from Damon with the news about the council’s deaths.
Cut to Elena at the bar, accusing Damon of having set the explosion. He remains indignant. He also continues the running gag about the empty seat to his left being taken “because the alternative would just be too depressing” and I think I’m just going to take as a sign from the writers that invisible ghost!Alaric is sitting there and has actually been following Damon around all day. Just because.
Elena explains her inability to keep Bambi blood down. Damon is unsympathetic, and charmingly points out all the local ethnic food options. Gross, Damon. On multiple levels. But when Elena freaks out, still refusing to drink from a live human, he relents and pulls her into the bathroom to offer up his own blood — on the condition that she not tell Stefan, because apparently blood-sharing is “personal.” Um, Damon? I believe you mean DEAD SEXY:
Elena hesitates for about .5 seconds before going for it, and Damon just kind of stands there cradling her and looking kind of desperate, and it’s all super, super erotically charged. You know, kind of the usual with these two.
Caroline and Tyler are in bed together at his house, but because this is The CW and not HBO, she’s still wearing her bra and underwear. Sure, CW. Sure. Anyway, she’s feeling guilty about having sex while half the town is in mourning. Tyler, bless his horny little heart, could not care less. I’ve got to say: considering all the people who died were planning on murdering them both, I’m team Tyler on this one. Still: he’s a little pushy. (No means no, Tyler! Having just rewatched the pilot, I really don’t need to see you reverting to grossness.)
Connor shows up downstairs and bulldozes his way in the door over the Mayor’s objections. This brings Tyler running, but when he shakes Connor’s hand, it turns out it’s a trap: the dude’s hand is wrapped in a vervain soaked glove. And when Tyler reacts in pain, Connor doesn’t hesitate to whip out a gun and shoot him multiple times in the chest. Fortunately, the Mayor’s screaming gets Tyler up and vamp speeding away before Connor can finish him off. DUN!
(They’re both gone by the time Caroline gets a robe on, leaving her standing alone with her boyfriend’s mother in her underwear. Awwwkward.)
Tyler must have lost Connor, because we next see him getting patched up at the Salvatore house while Caroline watches. Turns out the bullets are not only wooden but engraved with some sort of mystical-looking markings. They think only the fact that Tyler’s a hybrid saved him.
Stefan heads over to Bonnie’s to see if she can give him any info on the bullets, but finds her there in a state of depression and grief over Grams’ spirit death, or whatever that was last week. I know I give Stefan a hard time a lot and am also blatantly pro-Damon/Bonnie being a thing that should happen. But… this scene was really sweet, you guys.
Stefan can’t get in without an invite, and Bonnie provides it seemingly without a qualm, which is a big deal, given how anti-Stefan she’s been in the past. When she spills her angst over Grams to him, he pulls her into a hug and reassures her that it’s not her fault because the spirits are kind of just dicks. Aw, Stefan. I like you so much better when you’re being a platonic confidant to anyone other than Elena!
Anyway, seeing that she’s upset, he tries to leave without bothering her with the latest disaster. But Bonnie insists — only the writing on the bullets isn’t magical, as far as she can tell. Couriouser and couriouser!
At the church, Elena runs into Matt. He notices that she’s looking a little rough and she explains that her heightened emotions are making the funeral prep extra difficult. She sees April, and they have a nice, dead parents bonding moment… before Elena becomes totally distracted by how enticing April’s veins are and has to run off to the bathroom to vomit all of Damon’s sexy blood back up. (Damnit! I was kind of hoping that Elena would have to keep feeding off him forever.)
They really don’t spare the visuals on this one. I mean, the room and poor Elena are basically covered in vomit blood. Ew. She freaks out and calls Damon to bring her a change of clothes. But before he gets there, Connor’s pounding at the door. (Really? The church just has one unisex bathroom?) Elena stalls him, trying to clean the blood off the counter and floor in a panic.
Damon shows up with a clean dress and they give the cover story that Elena spilled coffee on her other one. I don’t know why they didn’t just go with the truth: she’s not feeling well and threw up. I mean, she looks like she’s on death’s door now anyway. Connor tries the handshake trick with Damon, but he begs off, claiming to be a germophobe. Heh.
Outside the church, Elena tries the blood bag he brought for her, but almost immediately gags. Damon is disturbed, but repeats his “from the vein” refrain. Elena is still resisting the possibility of hurting anyone, though. She thinks she’s dying — and that maybe she’s better off that way. Damon strongly objects to this line of thinking, and tenderly wipes the blood from her face, reassuring her that it’s going to be okay. Naturally this turns into one of their patented, standing too close, intense staring contests before she heads back inside.
Stefan shows up in time to witness this detente and is predictably pissy when Damon “accidentally” spills the beans about Elena drinking from him. Oh, shut up, Stefan.
The funeral’s about to begin and everyone’s there, including Tyler and Caroline. Stefan thinks Tyler’s unwise to show his face with a hunter after him, but Tyler refuses to let this guy keep him from doing the things he needs to do. Plus, Caroline is all hotly protective, promising to rip Connor apart if he shows his face. Aw!
Meanwhile Connor has found April alone in the balcony… and promptly stabbed her. Damn. So, not hunting vampires because he cares so much about people, then? Downstairs, Elena is not looking good at all. Nevertheless, when April fails to appear to give a eulogy for her father, Elena steps up to the podium to say a few words.
She’s barely holding it together enough to get a sentence out, though. Oh, and matters aren’t helped any by April’s blood dripping down from above, which is clearly Connor’s intention. All the vampires notice, and realize it’s a trap to lure them out — and indeed we see Connor with a sharp shooter rifle waiting to see who reveals him or herself.
Stefan rescues Elena at the podium, pretending she’s just overcome with grief. But she’s clearly seconds away from flipping out and going into a blood frenzy. The vampires have a whispered conference in the pews as the service continues and I kind of can’t believe no one else isn’t hearing this or at least glaring at them to shut up, because God, rude. Anyway, they need to get Elena out of the building before she loses it, but they know they’re being watched. Damon is just about to say hell with it and go try to rip the hunter’s throat out when Cute!Matt steps in, offering his own blood to Elena. Aw, Matty!
Connor is clearly suspicious of all of them and watches this closely through the scope of his rifle. But for a new vamp who’s supposed to be so out of control, Elena is remarkably able to drink from Matt on the down-low while pretending he’s just giving her a comforting hug. And she even stops before taking too much! Thank God for high collars.
That crisis momentarily over, they realize the source of the blood smell must be April, who’s still MIA. Tyler, apparently having had enough of all this, decides to take one for the team. He charges up to the pulpit to make a speech about Pastor Young, and sure enough, before he can finish explaining how he was the first person to teach Tyler about self-sacrifice and community… he’s been shot with one of Connor’s stakes. Aw, Tyler!
This, of course, sends all the norms screaming out the door and lets the other vampires leave without giving themselves away. Clever boy! Damon and Stefan take off after Connor, while Caroline and Elena help Tyler — once again fine as soon as the stake’s been removed. His mother insists on calling an ambulance, since the whole town just saw him get shot. (I… assume one of the vamps will compel the EMTs to believe he still has a mild wound?)
Damon catches up with Connor and both 1) completely gives his vamp status away, and 2) completely gets his ass kicked. Stefan’s appearance on the scene saves him, though, and Connor takes off. Stefan gives Damon an extra punch for his trouble. Because he’s petty like that.
Meanwhile, Elena and Caroline find April bound and bleeding but still alive up on the balcony. Elena finally loses it and is inches from attacking her, but Caroline pulls her back and calms her down. She also feeds April some of her blood to heal her, but refuses to compel her to forget everything; she wants Elena to do it instead.
Elena’s scared at first but Caroline talks her through it, and she eventually is able to get April believing that she watched the entire service from up on the balcony and it was lovely and everything’s going to be fine because Elena will take care of her. Um, okay. That’s nice and all, but aren’t people going to question that story once they find the huge pool of blood up there? And also put two and two together and realize the shooter had to have been up there? (And won’t April herself realize something is up once the entire rest of the town talks about how someone got shot at the funeral?!? This is a poor plan. – Incandescentflower)
Jeremy and Cute!Matt are at the Grille talking over the events of the day while Connor — who I guess neither of them recognizes, even though this town is not exactly a haven of diversity, so it seems like a description of HOT BLACK GUY YOU DON’T KNOW might not be that hard to spot — listens in. He notices the bandage on Matt’s neck and asks about it, causing him to lie really, really badly. Geez, you’d think these kids would be better at coming up with excuses for mysterious wounds by now.
Anyway, the boys take off, but not before Jeremy can compliment Connor on his intricate full arm tattoos. But after they leave, Matt claims he didn’t have any tattoos. DUN!
Later, we see Connor returning to a camper that looks like his base of operations. He’s got newspaper clippings of various murders, Tyler’s name written with multiple question marks, and the letter from the stove, which we discover is a suicide note from Pastor Young to his daughter that promises some “greater evil” is on it’s way and that he’ll see her in heaven. O…kay.
Back at the Salvatores’ place, Stefan confronts Elena about lying to him, which is valid. On the other hand, he seems more upset about her drinking from Damon than he is about her slowly starving to death and feeling unable to share that with him, so… shut up, Stefan. Elena apologizes but starts crying and getting overly worked up due to her out of control vampire feels. She says her life feels like a never ending funeral, and all she can feel is grief.
So Stefan calls everyone together for a mysterious outdoor meeting. He’s got the lanterns Jeremy and Matt were working on before the funeral, and wants to finish the memorial service so they can all work through some of their losses from the last year. Damon, of course, wants none of this, because he hates feelings and also thinks they have bigger fish to fry at the moment. But he’s overruled, and they take turns lighting them for the various dead people: Zach, Lexie, Vicki, Caroline and Tyler’s fathers, Elena and Jeremy’s parents, Anna, Jenna, Grams, and of course… Alaric.
(No love for Uncle Sexy Lockwood? Or Rose? That’s cold, guys.) (Also, it’s kind of hilarious that Damon murdered at least three of the people on that list and yet everyone’s still okay with him being there. If I was Matt, I would totally be buying a stake-shooting sniper rifle of my own, just sayin’.)
ANYWAY. Every time Alaric’s name is mentioned, the camera cuts to Damon’s increasingly stormy face, which would have been enough to make me happy. But then! He storms off in a huff… only to head straight to Alaric’s grave. There, he proceeds to stage a private memorial of his own, getting drunk and rambling on about all his various FEELS to his DEAD BOYFRIEND:
Because in the end, when you lose somebody, every candle, every prayer is not going to make up for the fact that the only thing you have left is a hole in your life where that somebody you care about used to be. And a rock. With a birth date carved into it that I’m pretty sure is wrong.
OH MY HEART!
And as if that wasn’t enough, we see Alaric’s ghost (!!!) sitting right there listening, although Damon doesn’t know he’s there. Damon complains that Alaric left him there to babysit the kids and owes him big. At the end of this diatribe, ghost!Alaric just sadly murmurs that he misses him too. And… all the tears people. ALL OF THEM.
(Seriously, just picture me weeping on the couch, making various undignified noises while I flail my arms at the screen.)
I knew the actor was willing to come back for some guest appearances this season, but I didn’t expect it would be so soon. I really, really hope this isn’t the only one we get. I LOVE YOU, ALARIC! NEVER LEAVE AGAIN!
Okay, so I’m still completely confused about why the pastor killed everyone in town who knows about the vampires, but presumably it had something to do with getting Connor to town? More spirit nonsense? Especially since the only other thing only Jeremy can see is ghosts? (But can’t Matt see ghosts too? Why would Jeremy’s power continue and not Matt’s since they both gained it after dying? Because Jeremy’s was a magical death? I DON’T UNDERSTAND. – Incandescentflower)
Next time: Connor’s after Cute!Matt — don’t you touch my baby, Connor!