Matt is working out in Mystic Falls High’s weight room at night, seemingly alone in the building because the school year hasn’t started yet. He hears noises and goes to investigate. When he enters a classroom, he gets spooked by a loud noise. It’s the sound of dozens of mousetraps going off. Elena, Caroline, Bonnie, and Tyler are there setting them up for the annual senior prank night. Caroline has made the group participate so they can create memories together. Elena isn’t thrilled to be there, but she cheers up when she decides to super-glue Alaric’s desk shut.
Tyler teams up with some other students as Elena heads to Alaric’s classroom…and runs straight into Klaus. He’s not happy that she’s alive.
Damon and Katherine are on the road to her mystery destination, which she still hasn’t shared with him. He appreciates getting some time away from Mystic Falls and Elena’s judgmental attitude toward his behavior. Katherine starts making out with him, even though he’s driving, but he tells her she doesn’t do it for him anymore.
Stefan wakes up in the truck with the coffins, and Rebekah tells him that Klaus spent the afternoon killing Stefan over and over. She adds that Klaus knows Elena’s alive, and that Stefan knew and didn’t tell him. When Rebekah says that Klaus has gone to kill Elena, Stefan tackles her. Rebekah notes that he really does love Elena. She stabs him jealousy.
Klaus drags Elena to the school gym, where a bunch of students are setting up cups of water all over the floor. Klaus uses his fake American accent to tell them they’ve been busted and need to go home. He recognizes Chad and Dana and keeps them behind. He compels Dana to stand on one foot, then compels Chad to beat her to death if she puts her other foot down. Elena tells Klaus he doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but Klaus disagrees.
Damon’s tired of driving, so he pulls over at a rest stop to make Katherine take over. When she comes around to get the keys, he throws them into some woods. He won’t go any farther until she explains what they’re doing. Katherine tells him that Klaus wants Elena’s necklace, which means Katherine has leverage. She asks Damon if he’s willing to do anything it takes to stop Klaus. He is, which is good, because he’s going to get yelled at when he gets home. Katherine has kidnapped Jeremy, and he’s been unconscious in the trunk of the car the whole time.
Tyler and Caroline take a break from pranking to talk about whether Matt’s okay. Tyler thinks Matt’s struggling because he doesn’t really have anyone to talk to. Instead of being jealous that Caroline is thinking about Matt, he loves that she cares so much about him. Caroline says she just wants everyone to have a good year, even though their lives are crazy. They start making out, but Rebekah interrupts. She introduces herself as “the new girl” and attacks Caroline.
Bonnie and Matt are toilet-papering the pool and trying to convince themselves that they’re having fun. She admits that she and Jeremy are having some trouble because he didn’t tell her he can see Anna and Vicki. Matt says he’d like to see Vicki himself, since he never got to say goodbye to her. He reminds Bonnie that just last summer, they were lifeguards at the local pool, and Matt only had two problems: Elena had dumped him and he sucked at CPR. Now, Elena’s with a vampire, Bonnie’s a witch, Vicki’s dead, and Matt’s just wondering how things got so bad. Bonnie feels horrible for him.
Matt heads to a bathroom to get more toilet paper so they can decorate the gym next. A stall door swings back open after he closes it, and Matt sees “R.I.P. Vicki Donovan” written on the wall. Vicki appears behind him and tells him she can help him, but he can’t hear or see her.
Dana’s having trouble keeping her balance on one foot. Elena asks Klaus were Stefan is, and Klaus says he’s in time-out. Bonnie and Matt come in, and Klaus gives Dana a break before turning his attention to the witch who helped ruin his sacrifice ritual. Rebekah brings Tyler in, and Klaus introduces his sister to the group, warning that she can be mean. He announces that Bonnie is going to find a way for him to successfully create hybrids. To motivate her, he feeds Tyler his blood, then kills him.
As Stefan regains consciousness outside the truck, Elena reassures her friends that Tyler isn’t dead for good; he’ll just wake up in transition. Klaus tells Bonnie and Matt to go get grimoires and whatever else Bonnie needs to make sure Tyler comes back as a hybrid. He’ll hold Elena hostage in the meantime. As they run off, Rebekah comments that the original Petrova doppelganger was prettier than Elena. (We’ll meet the original one in The Originals, where she’ll also be played by Nina Dobrev.) Klaus tells Rebekah to take Tyler somewhere else until he revives.
Bonnie doesn’t have any spells that will make Tyler a hybrid, and she’s been cut off from the Hex House witches, so she’s stuck. She realizes that while she can’t contact the dead, Jeremy can.
That’s exactly why Katherine kidnapped him: Pearl once told her about a vampire who said he knew how to kill Klaus. Pearl wouldn’t share the information with Katherine, despite supposedly being friends with her. The only person she told was Anna, whom Jeremy (now conscious) is able to talk to.
Stefan goes to the gym and asks Klaus to forgive him for keeping secrets. He claims that Elena doesn’t mean anything to him anymore. He’s still loyal to Klaus and will do whatever Klaus wants. Klaus tests that loyalty by telling Stefan to kill Chad and Dana. Elena begs Stefan not to, telling him that Klaus isn’t going to hurt her, so he doesn’t need to do this to protect her. Klaus backhands her and knocks her down, which makes Stefan try to attack Klaus. So much for Elena not meaning anything to him.
Stefan says he’ll do whatever Klaus wants if he lets Elena go. Klaus can’t trust that, since Stefan spent months lying to him. He uses compulsion on Stefan for the first time in their summer together, to make Stefan stop fighting him. Stefan begs him not to do this, but Klaus needs a way to ensure Stefan’s loyalty. He compels Stefan to completely submit to his will, no matter what Klaus tells him to do. Then he orders Stefan to kill Dana and Chad.
Katherine checks Jeremy’s phone and tells him Bonnie keeps texting. Damon requests an end to the “teenybopper drama.” Jeremy opens himself to a visit from Anna, who refuses to help Damon and Katherine, even if they’re trying to stop Klaus. Katherine advises Damon to get physical with Jeremy to force Anna to talk. Damon slams Jeremy’s head into a picnic table, and Anna gives in. She tells Jeremy that the person who knows how to kill Klaus is Mikael, a vampire who hunts other vampires. But waking him is a bad idea because…you know, they’re vampires, so they shouldn’t invite attention from someone who kills vampires.
Caroline has been unconscious in a hallway while everyone else in the school is panicking, and she wakes up to find Rebekah sitting nearby, entertaining herself with Caroline’s phone. She tells Caroline that Tyler’s “dead…ish.” Despite never having used a cell phone before, Rebekah’s gotten pretty good at taking selfies. While admiring her photo, she spots a picture of Stefan and Elena. She’s very unhappy to see Elena wearing her necklace.
Stefan finishes up with Chad and Dana as Klaus points out to Elena how much her boyfriend’s enjoying killing innocent people. Rebekah storms in and demands her necklace. When Elena says she doesn’t have it, Rebekah accuses her of lying and tries to attack her. Klaus separates them, and Rebekah demands that he make Elena tell her where the necklace is. Since Rebekah’s being the bad cop, Klaus turns into the good cop, calling Elena “sweetheart” and gently asking her where the necklace is. She tells him Katherine stole it. That’s going to make things harder for Bonnie.
Klaus decides to add a time constraint to the situation. He puts 20 minutes on the gym’s countdown clock and announces that if Bonnie hasn’t found a solution by then, Stefan is to feed on Elena. No one can leave, and if Elena tries to run, Stefan should break her spine.
Matt calls Bonnie, who’s out in the parking lot, having been unable to reach Jeremy. They decide to go by Gilbert Gables and see if he’s there. Matt goes to get his things from the weight room so he can meet Bonnie at his truck, but his stuff has been strewn all over the place. He finds some of it at the pool, where his keys have been dropped in the deep end. As he’s about to jump in and get them, Vicki appears again and says she can help, but she needs him to hear her. She kicks one of his shoes, and he sees it fly into the water. Then he finds a text message on his phone from Vicki saying she can help him.
Matt calls Bonnie again and says he thinks Vicki’s trying to reach out to him. Since they can’t find Jeremy, they need a new plan. He has an idea but will need Bonnie’s help. He takes some weights from the weight room to the pool and tells her to meet him there. Jeremy can see ghosts because Bonnie brought him back from the dead, so Matt wants Bonnie to do the same for him. She tells him she can’t do that kind of magic anymore. He says this won’t require magic, just CPR. As Bonnie races to the pool, Matt picks up some weights and jumps in to drown himself.
Damon has found his keys, and now he wants Katherine to give him back his phone. She asks if he needs to check in with Elena. She took the phone so he wouldn’t get distracted, which is why he’s missed texts from Bonnie about what’s going on back in Mystic Falls. Katherine insists that they continue their trip and focus on the big picture, but Damon wants to go back and save the rest of the gang (let’s be honest – he just wants to save Elena). Jeremy will stay with Katherine so Anna can keep helping them. Katherine warns that Damon will get himself killed. The Damon she remembers wouldn’t do something this stupid. “I wouldn’t have done it for you,” he replies.
Bonnie gives Matt CPR, growing more and more distressed when it doesn’t work. Matt briefly crosses over to the Other Side and sees Vicki, who tells him to give Bonnie a message. Finally, Bonnie revives Matt.
Stefan paces in the gym, waiting until the remaining six minutes pass and he has to attack his girlfriend. Elena remembers that Bill was able to resist compulsion and thinks Stefan could do it, too. Stefan knows he can’t master that in the next six minutes. She tells him he can drink from her when the buzzer goes off, but just control himself. He reminds her that he’s a Ripper, so no, he can’t just decide to control himself. All he can hear is her heart pumping blood through her body.
Elena is sure that Stefan can fight his urge to feed on her until she’s dead. He just has to want it enough. His love for her should make him able to control himself. After everything they’ve been through, he owes her that. Stefan says she’s the one thing that has kept him from giving up and turning it all off. But he can’t help who he is, and if he starts to drink from her, he won’t stop until she’s dead.
Caroline has taken Tyler to a science lab and is waiting for him to wake up. Rebekah has her own countdown clock on Caroline’s phone; there are only three minutes left. Tyler revives and doesn’t remember what happened, so Caroline has to tell him he’s in transition. Rebekah tells him he’ll only survive that if Bonnie comes through.
Bonnie’s mad at Matt for his stupid plan, but he tells her it worked. He gives her Vicki’s message, which is really from the Original Witch, who put the hybrid curse on Klaus centuries ago: The hybrids can’t transition because Elena’s still alive. Okay, well, we knew that already, but thanks for your help, Vicki! Klaus finds them and says he thinks Tyler will outlive Elena.
In the gym, with just seconds left to go, Stefan tells Elena to run. It’s the only way to ensure he won’t kill her. Elena still think he can resist Klaus’ compulsion, but he can’t. She tells Stefan she loves him and he can’t give up. Stefan struggles to keep himself from running toward her. He yells at her to run, and she takes off. She only has a few seconds’ head start, but Stefan slows himself down, forcing himself to stop running after her every few feet. Just as she makes it to a classroom where she can hide, Klaus finds her.
Stefan goes to the cafeteria and breaks a broom so he can stab himself in the stomach and immobilize himself. Klaus brings Elena in, fascinated that Stefan’s love for her has proven stronger than his craving for her blood. He suggests that Stefan turn off his humanity, but Stefan refuses. Klaus taunts that Stefan isn’t strong enough to keep resisting. He repeats his order for Stefan to turn off his humanity. Stefan resists again, shoving Klaus away. Klaus slams him against a wall and compels him to turn it off. Elena asks what Klaus just did. “I fixed him,” he replies. To test that it worked, Klaus tells Stefan to drink from Elena’s neck. Stefan would be delighted to.
Klaus joins Rebekah, Caroline, and Tyler with a new idea. Since the Original Witch said Elena has to be dead for hybrids to be created successfully, Klaus thinks the opposite is actually true. He gives Tyler a vial of Elena’s blood to drink to complete his transition. Caroline objects, but Klaus points out that Tyler will die without feeding anyway. Tyler drinks, and whatever the blood does is really unpleasant for him, but since he stays alive, Klaus is optimistic.
Elena wakes up in a hospital, where a nurse has been compelled to extract her blood. When Elena tries to fight her, the nurse sedates her. Outside, Klaus tells Rebekah that he knew the key had to be doing the opposite of what the Original Witch said, since she hated him and wouldn’t have wanted him to succeed. Rebekah notes that after 1,000 years, the Original Witch is still screwing with him. Klaus knows it was a failsafe – breaking the curse required killing a doppelganger, but killing a doppelganger meant no army of hybrids, and an eternity of solitude for Klaus.
Rebekah asks if Klaus’ obsession with hybrids is just about his desire not to be alone. He says he just wants to take Elena and Tyler and leave town. He sends Rebekah to get the truck with his coffins. After she leaves, Damon arrives to get Elena. Klaus says he promised Stefan he wouldn’t kill Damon, but with Stefan’s humanity off, he won’t care. Just as Klaus is about to really hurt him, Damon blurts out that Mikael knows where Klaus is. Katherine and Damon found him, and they’re using him as leverage. Klaus tosses Damon aside and takes off. Damon easily finds Elena inside and figures out that Klaus was taking her blood. He carries her out of the hospital.
Tyler and Caroline are still at the school, and he feels awesome now that he’s become a hybrid. He knows this will be a great year. Now Caroline isn’t so sure. Bonnie tells Matt that she knows he wants to help the gang, and that he misses Vicki, but he made a really dumb, reckless decision. Matt agrees, but he thinks it was worth it, since it worked. She tells him he shouldn’t be a part of all the supernatural stuff. He’s the only one of the gang who gets to live life as a normal person, even if he feels lost.
He asks for a minute alone in the weight room, since he knows Vicki’s there. He wants to say goodbye to her on his own. Bonnie leaves, and Matt discovers that his plan worked better than he thought – he can now see and hear his sister.
Damon takes Elena to Vamp Villa and gives her some bourbon to help her forget what happened with Stefan. He offers to compel the memories away for real, if she wants. Elena declines, wanting to remember everything. He gives her back her necklace, which he stole back from Katherine. Elena realizes that Stefan is really gone this time, after all they did to try to help him. She doesn’t put the necklace back on. She tearfully asks Damon where he was. For once in his life, Damon skips the quips and doesn’t try to mask his emotions. He says he shouldn’t have left and promises not to leave her again.
“Well, isn’t this cozy,” Stefan comments from the doorway. Klaus has split town, and he wants Stefan to keep an eye on Elena and Damon until he comes back. They’re under his protection now. Stefan tells Elena and Damon to keep doing whatever they were doing while he moves back into his room.
Anna sends Jeremy and Katherine to a mausoleum in Charlotte, where Mikael has been entombed since the ’90s. He’s wrapped in chains and has desiccated, but when Katherine removes the top of his coffin, he opens his eyes.
Keep in mind: Hybrids will only survive their transition if they drink Elena’s blood (until we find out there’s another way in season 1 of The Originals).
Etc.: I love the idea of Alaric showing up on the first day of school and being unable to open his desk, and Elena sitting there, completely poker-faced, going, “Huh, that’s weird.”
It’s a cheap recurring joke whenever someone comments that one of the Petrova doppelgangers was prettier than the others, but I still laugh every time.
Matt, honey, the appropriate response to finding out your friend died, came back to life, and can now see ghosts is not, “Cool, I’m going to try that myself.”
Klaus is pretty dumb not to compel someone to guard Elena’s hospital room if he wasn’t going to be there to keep an eye on her himself. And why take her to the hospital at all? Why not steal hospital equipment and just set her up in the truck with the coffins?
Also, I’m concerned that Elena’s friends aren’t worried about what happened to her. Caroline and Tyler know Klaus got her blood somehow. Wouldn’t they suspect that he hurt her? Are they just like, “Bonnie got in touch with Damon; he’ll take care of it”? And how did Damon figure out where Elena was anyway?
Speaking of Damon, it’s pretty bold of him to leave Jeremy with Katherine and trust her not to hurt him, Gilbert ring or no Gilbert ring.