Mystic Falls is full of its regular sounds – a lawn mower, barking dogs, sirens, everything else you’d hear on a suburban morning. They just seem a little louder than usual. Elena wakes up in her bed, distressed, and Stefan tells her she’s been in and out for hours. She doesn’t remember what happened until he tells her she was in an accident. She asks about Matt, and a ticked-off Damon says Stefan saved him. Elena thinks Stefan must have saved her, too. Damon says he didn’t.
The brothers explain that when Jeremy took Elena to the hospital, Meredith used Damon’s blood to heal her. Elena realizes with horror that she’s only alive right now because she died in the water. Stefan says Bonnie’s looking for a way to fix this without Elena having to feed on human blood and complete her transition. Damon isn’t optimistic about that and says Elena will have to feed. Stefan notes that they have a full day before Elena needs to do anything, so they might as well take advantage of it. Damon is sure there’s no way out of this. If Elena doesn’t feed, she’ll die.
Elena emotionally says she was ready to die. She was supposed to. She doesn’t want to be a vampire. If Bonnie can do something, they need to try. Damon sarcastically says it’s Elena’s decision, as always.
Downstairs, Damon slams Stefan for giving Elena hope in a clear-cut situation. Stefan says Damon wasn’t there the day Elena told him she never wanted to be a vampire. Damon replies that Stefan shouldn’t have let her die, then. Stefan argues that he was once again fulfilling Elena’s wishes – she told him to save Matt. Not that that will change Damon’s mind, since he cares less about Matt than pretty much anyone in the world. Stefan says he’ll regret the choice he made for the rest of his life. He’s going to try to fix it.
Elena’s feeling the first effects of transformation, like heightened senses and the beginnings of her fangs. Jeremy knows what she’s in for, since he saw it with Vicki, and he warns that she’ll start remembering things she was compelled to forget. Elena says she’s fine – she’s not Vicki. Jeremy knows that means she’ll pretend everything’s okay instead of asking for help.
He talked to Bonnie, who thinks the witch spirits might come through like they did when she brought him back from the dead. Yeah, there might be consequences, but Jeremy figures they’re a better alternative than Elena being a vampire. He needs his sister, not another vampire. Elena promises that they’ll find a way out of this. After he leaves, she gets frustrated with a buzzing light bulb and breaks it with her bare hand.
Klaus (in Tyler’s body) finds Bonnie in the Lockwood cellar, where they’ve stashed Klaus’ body. Their deal was that Klaus would jump into someone else’s body after Bonnie did the swap, but since Klaus’ body didn’t burn up, he wants her to put him back in it. Bonnie says she can’t right now – Elena is her top priority. Klaus doesn’t care about her, since she’s dead (and no longer useful to him). Bonnie notes that if she can keep Elena human, Klaus gets his supply of hybrid juice back. He allows her to move him to #2 on her to-do list.
Meredith gets a visit from some Mystic Falls residents who have been authorized by the Founder’s Council to shut down her questionable medical practices. Pastor Young is the new head of the council, and he’s going to do everything necessary to protect the town. Elsewhere in the hospital, Matt (who spent the night after almost drowning) tells Caroline how guilty he feels that Stefan saved him, which led to Elena becoming a vampire. Caroline hasn’t left town because she doesn’t know where to go or how to handle this without Tyler, who she thinks is dead.
Pastor Young has Carol arrested, then tells Liz she’s being removed as sheriff. He’s already poached her deputies and taken her vervain stash, as well as the vervain they found at the Salvatores’. (Told you they should have installed a security system.) Liz calls Caroline, who’s just now packing up to leave town, but the call ends abruptly when Pastor Young’s minions capture and vervain Caroline.
Elena tries to eat something at Gilbert Gables but all she can think about is blood. Stefan regrets not saving her first. Elena notes that that means Matt would be dead, which would have left her grieving yet another person she cares about. She doesn’t blame Stefan for respecting her decision like he always does. Stefan says that if Bonnie can’t figure this out, Elena will have another choice to make: become a vampire or die. She says she’ll cross that bridge when she comes to it. She realizes what she said and starts laughing, then crying. Darn those heightened emotions! Stefan promises that no matter what happens, he’ll help her.
It’s suddenly night as Elena goes up to her room and finds Damon waiting for her. She’s confused when he compliments her pajamas, since that’s not what she’s wearing. When she hears her own voice coming from her room, she realizes this is actually a memory previously erased by compulsion. It’s the night Damon gave her back her necklace, then told her he loves her. Elena watches the scene from outside it, then reaches for her necklace, which she doesn’t wear anymore.
At the Haus of Klaus, Rebekah’s grieving for the brother she thinks is dead. Damon comes by and Rebekah comments that Elena’s situation is tragic and she hopes Matt has car insurance. Damon tries to ambush her with the indestructible stake, but she has pretty excellent reflexes after all these centuries and is able to hold him off. Suddenly shots are fired. Damon zooms out but Rebekah is hit by a couple of bullets. She also takes an arrow to the chest and desiccates.
Back at Gilbert Gables, Elena hears noises downstairs. Stefan’s surrounded by Pastor Young’s minions, who are all holding guns on him. Carol calls Tyler (but gets Klaus instead) to tell him that the council is looking for him. Klaus is unhappy to learn that the council has taken Caroline.
They’ve also taken Rebekah, and they’re driving them somewhere in a van. Klaus crashes into them and starts to free Caroline as police approach the scene. She’s confused about how “Tyler” is still alive, and he says he’ll explain later. He rescues Caroline and leaves Rebekah behind, letting her know who he really is by saying, “Keep ’em busy, little sister.”
Liz goes to Gilbert Gables, where Damon and Meredith have found the house trashed and everyone gone. Liz and Carol have lost access to anything they would be able to use to take back control. Caroline called Liz to let her know she’s safe, but she didn’t say where the van was when she escaped, so there’s no way to know where Stefan and Elena are being taken. Matt arrives and Damon immediately attacks him. “In what world are you the one that gets to live?” he seethes. Meredith and Liz make him back off.
Elena is at Pastor Young’s farmhouse, trying to ignore all the heightened sounds she’s hearing. He thinks she’s fully human and needs protection from vampires. He’s implementing the emergency plan the council has had in place for a while, something Miranda and Grayson once advocated for. He tells her Stefan is someplace where he can’t hurt her. Elena says he would never hurt her, but of course Pastor Young doesn’t think vampires can be good. He knows Elena attracts Salvatore vampires like a magnet, so he’s using her, Stefan, and Rebekah as bait to draw in their siblings. Then once the council has the white oak stake, the “vampire race” will be exterminated.
Elena starts struggling with the sight and smell of the food Pastor Young is cooking, and she eyes his neck. When a tea kettle whistles, she feels overwhelmed and says she needs to get out of there. Pastor Young lets her go outside, then yells for his minions to grab her.
Caroline and Klaus make out in the woods, then start getting naked. Uh, Caroline, your friends are in danger. Keep it in your pants for a little while. Klaus calls her “love” and says they need to slow down, since this is the wrong time and place, and he has the “wrong equipment.” Caroline is turned on by the idea of fugitive sex, though. Elena is dying, Caroline! This is not the time for you to be horny! Anyway, she realizes “Tyler” called her “love,” something he never does. She quickly figures out that he’s really Klaus. He says he risked exposure to rescue her, and I assume he’s expecting sex as a thank-you. Caroline orders him to undo the body swap, and Klaus says he’d be happy to. Then maybe they can have sex?
Bonnie and Jeremy are at Hex House, where she’s trying to get in touch with the witches’ spirits. No luck. She has another idea: She goes to the Other Side and brings Elena back. Since Elena’s not fully dead or alive right now, her spirit might be on both sides. Jeremy notes that Bonnie can’t go to the Other Side if she’s alive. That’s the part of this plan that makes it really risky: Bonnie wants to use the heart-stopping spell she did on Jeremy to temporarily kill herself. The power she used to desiccate Klaus makes her stronger than she’s ever been, and she thinks she can get Elena back.
Damon, Matt, Liz, and Meredith are still at Gilbert Gables, trying to figure out where the council may be taking their captives. Matt says Pastor Young has a cattle ranch with pens that could be modified to hold vampires. Damon tells Matt this is his chance to prove how sorry he is that Stefan saved him instead of Elena.
Elena ends up in one of those cattle pens, across from Rebekah’s and next to Stefan’s. Bars have been installed in the pens so they’re basically jail cells, and vervain is being pumped into the barn like steam. Elena’s weakening and knows she needs to feed before it’s too late. Rebekah though Elena died in the crash, but now she gets what’s going on. She thinks Elena has less than three hours to feed before Rebekah gets to watch her die again.
Bonnie tries her second spell, which makes her nose bleed. Jeremy tries to stop her, but she ignores him and keeps going until her veins turn black and she collapses. She finds herself in Elena’s pen, though Elena can’t see or hear her. Bonnie takes her hands and helps her up. Elena’s really confused. Sheila suddenly appears and makes Bonnie let go. She tells Bonnie she needs to stay away from this kind of magic. Elena isn’t her problem to solve. If she doesn’t go, the spirits will keep her there. If she uses dark magic again, they’ll make her suffer. Bonnie wakes up and tells Jeremy that she couldn’t make her plan work.
Elena is looking really bad, and she tells Stefan she’s dying. He yells for help and tells the minion who comes in that Elena needs to be released. The minion doesn’t care about her, and when Stefan yells at him, the guy fires wooden bullets into his legs. Rebekah doesn’t seem to be enjoying herself as much now.
Klaus and Caroline join Bonnie and Jeremy, who say that Bonnie can’t undo the body swap right now. Klaus doesn’t care about their excuses, and he’s tired of waiting. He reaches into his chest and grabs Tyler’s heart, threatening to rip it out, then jump into someone else’s body, like Jeremy’s. Jeremy knows he can’t do it without help from a witch, but Klaus claims he has one who will do what he wants. Bonnie needs to choose between Jeremy and Tyler. It’s not even a question, so Bonnie says she’ll undo the swap.
Elena’s barely conscious now, and Stefan wishes they’d listened to Damon that morning and had her feed then. Elena’s glad that he had hope – that’s all she ever wanted him to have. She tells him she was on the bridge because she was coming back to town to see him. She picked him because she loves him. No matter what happens, that’s the best choice’s she ever made.
Damon and Matt arrive at the farm and Matt asks what the plan is. Damon says they need bait, then bites Matt’s neck. Okay, that’s one plan. Anyone else have another? Anyone? There are no bad ideas here. Damon lures Pastor Young outside and offers to let Matt go if he hands over Stefan and Elena. Pastor Young won’t take the bait.
Bonnie does the body unswap, but Sheila returns and reminds her of the warning not to use dark magic anymore. The spirits start hurting Sheila to punish Bonnie. Bonnie calls out for them to stop as the others look on in confusion, unable to see or hear Sheila. Sheila disappears and Bonnie worries about what she’s done.
As some minions come into the barn, Stefan and Rebekah exchange a glance and silently formulate a plan. She offers a minion anything he wants from her family’s vast wealth if he lets her go. He’d prefer to watch her die. Rebekah rushes the bars of her pen, and when the minion jumps back, Stefan grabs him and slams him against his bars. The minion falls to the ground, either dead or badly hurt, and blood pools out around him. Stefan gets Elena’s attention and she manages to reach through her bars far enough to touch the blood. She brings her fingers to her lips and tastes it.
Minions try to capture Damon but he easily takes them out. He kicks Matt, who’s still on the ground. He invites Damon to kill him: “You can’t possibly hate me more than I hate myself.” Damon begs to differ. He puts his foot on Matt’s chest and presses down, but Elena zooms in, vamps out, and orders Damon to leave him alone.
Matt stumbles into the barn, where Stefan feeds him blood until Matt protests. “Stop saving me!” he exclaims. He wishes Stefan had let him drown. For the rest of his life, Matt has to live with the fact that Elena’s a vampire because of him. Stefan corrects that he doesn’t have to live with it – he gets to live with it. Elena put Matt before herself, so he’d better earn that every day.
Back outside, Elena yells at Damon for hurting Matt. She chose to save him and Damon needs to accept it. He says it’s hard to keep track of all of her recent choices. Aw, someone’s feeling grumpy because he got rejected. Elena announces that she remembers everything he made her forget, like how they met before she met Stefan, and Damon said he wanted her to get everything she wants in life. She asks why he never told her about that meeting. Damon doesn’t think it would have made a difference.
Elena says that Damon asked her to make a choice, and she did. If he’s going to be mad, he should be mad at her, not at Matt or Stefan or anyone else. If Damon had been the one to jump in the water, of course he would have saved her. But Matt would have died because Damon can’t let go. Damon doesn’t care, since Elena would have lived. She would get to grow up and have the life she wants and deserves. He didn’t always get that, but he does now, and he wants it for her. He would have given it to her and let Matt die because he’s selfish. But he knows Elena knows that because their first meeting isn’t the only thing she remembers.
Klaus (now back in his body) is packing up Elena’s blood when Rebekah comes home and yells at him for saving Caroline instead of her. He points out that she can’t be killed, so it’s not like she was in danger. He thinks he had a worse day than she did anyway. He’s ready to leave town and find werewolves so he can make his hybrid family. Rebekah tells him he doesn’t know anything about family. He replies that he knows how to shut them up with a dagger. Rebekah grabs a bag of blood and throws it at the wall. She picks up the others and complains that Klaus has never appreciated her love or loyalty. She squeezes the bags until they burst. Klaus tells her that from now on, Rebekah’s not his family – she’s nothing. He breaks her neck and walks out.
Stefan and Elena end the day on the roof of Vamp Villa, aware that everything is about to change since the council knows they’re vampires. He assures her that they’ll figure things out. She tells him he doesn’t have to convince her that everything will be okay.
He wishes he could promise that she’ll never feel pain or crave blood, but she will, and she’ll hate it. But Elena acknowledges that she’ll still have a life. She’ll get to be with her loved ones, and she’ll have the option of spending eternity with Stefan. She says she’ll get through this like she’s gotten through everything else, one day at a time. The sun is about to rise, so Elena says they need to go inside, but Bonnie thought ahead and has already made her a daylight ring, so there’s no rush. They can watch the sunrise together.
Pastor Young disconnects the gas line in the kitchen of his farmhouse as he tells the council that the vampires are all out and will most likely come after them soon. He locks the door and says that he’s been chosen to lead the group in a movement. “Soon you’ll be free to pass through the gates and we’ll all reunite in eternity,” he says. The confused council members start getting worried. “We are the beginning,” Pastor Young announces before flicking a lighter and igniting the gas.
Etc.: Hey, Meredith, thanks for showing up and doing nothing in this episode. You’re a big help!
Klaus does a really good job pretending to be Tyler. Or maybe I should say that Michael Trevino does a really good job pretending to be Klaus pretending to be Tyler.
Elena having to spend what could be the last minutes of her life dealing with Rebekah is just adding insult to injury. Then again, I wouldn’t want to be Rebekah, trapped in a cattle pen and forced to watch Stefan and Elena reenact the end of a Nicholas Sparks movie.
Damon and Matt are the only characters in this episode who have the right priorities. Fine, let Bonnie try to find a way to keep Elena from having to become a vampire, but everyone else should be working on finding Stefan and Elena. Klaus and Tyler can wait. Who cares whose body Klaus is in if Stefan and Elena are dead?
I like to think that Rebekah helped save Elena because she wanted to be able to continue torturing her. She really had no other reason.
I have to say, blowing up the council is a pretty good deus ex machina. You can’t argue with taking out a bunch of villains all at once.