For the second episode in a row, Damon wakes up after a night with Elena, only this time she’s still in bed with him. He regrets letting her stay, since he promised Stefan he would break the sire bond and send her away. Elena gets it, so he really doesn’t have to remind her that everything she feels is because of the sire bond. She says it feels real to her, and she’s not ready to let go of it. Damon says he could make her, and she basically dares him to do it. Damon says again that he told Stefan he’d do it, but he’d much rather have sex with Elena again. They don’t have time for that, though – Elena has to meet up with Bonnie, who’s teaching Jeremy how not to kill Elena. She invites Damon to tag along.
Klaus is painting at the Haus of Klaus, because deep down he’s a sensitive artist, or whatever. Stefan pops in for some art criticism. Klaus says the painting is for a fundraiser at the town’s Winter Wonderland event. He tells Aiden to deliver it to the Grill, and Aiden reluctantly does it to make Klaus think he’s still under Klaus’ control. Stefan comments that slaves have been free since the 1860s. Klaus asks the point of having hybrids if he can’t make them do whatever he wants. I don’t know, man, I thought they were supposed to be your family. Then again, you make your actual family members do whatever you want, so I guess it makes sense to you.
Stefan tells Klaus that Elena is sired to Damon (which Klaus had already figured out), so they should be looking for the cure harder than ever, not painting snowflakes. Klaus notes that he already did his part by getting Alexander’s sword. Stefan’s the one not holding up his end of the deal by getting Jeremy to complete his hunter’s mark. Stefan says they’re having trouble getting Jeremy to differentiate between vampires it’s okay to kill in service of the tattoo and vampire family and friends who need to stay alive. Klaus is like, “Not my problem – gonna paint as many snowflakes as I want because I did my part of the group project already.”
Stefan accuses him of lying about finding the sword. Klaus asks why he would lie about that when this is a team effort. He opens a big safe where he’s keeping the sword and shows Stefan the hilt, which they’ll use to decipher the tattoo when it’s complete. Then he changes the subject to the fact that Stefan moved out of Vamp Villa. Klaus thinks he’s a martyr. Stefan says he’s not there to bond, but Klaus says he’s the best friend Stefan has right now. I guess he doesn’t know how close Stefan and Caroline have gotten.
In the Lockwood cellar, Adrian complains about Klaus to Tyler and Kim. Kim would like to get the ball rolling already on the revolution Tyler and Hayley promised the hybrids. Hayley arrives and reports that she found a witch who will save all the hybrids’ lives. Tyler says that the hybrids have done their part by breaking the sire bond. Now it’s his and Hayley’s turn to help them free themselves. Hmm, lots of group projects happening right now.
The Winter Wonderland has kicked off downtown, so there are festive decorations and fake snow everywhere when Tyler tells Caroline his and Hayley’s plan: Their witch will put Klaus in someone else’s body, then encase it in concrete and bury it. Caroline asks why they can’t just desiccate him like Bonnie did. Tyler reminds her that they would have to stop a human heart to do that again. Caroline asks who volunteered their body as a “Klaus sublet.” Heh. Tyler admits that he did. He promises it’s only long enough for the hybrids to disappear. Caroline doesn’t care. Tyler says this started with him, so it has to end with him.
Jeremy’s been hanging out at the Gilberts’ lake house, building muscle and…um…I’m sorry, I got distracted by Steven R. McQueen’s biceps. Where was I? Oh, right. Jeremy’s chopping wood when Elena and Damon arrive. He’s immediately on high alert, and Bonnie tells him that they’re there to help him. She asks him to trust her, and he lets her take his axe. They head inside to join Shane, whom Elena tells Damon she invited.
Elena hasn’t been to the house since she turned, so Jeremy’s first test as a hunter with a vampire sister is inviting her in. He does, but then he pulls a stake on her. She grabs it before he can use it.
Caroline calls Stefan from the Winter Wonderland, annoyed that he’s not there with her. Stefan’s at Vamp Villa, since Elena and Damon are out. He tells Caroline that Klaus said the hilt of the sword deciphers the tattoo. Caroline says they need to get the sword ASAP, since the hybrids are taking Klaus out tonight.
Blink and you’ll miss Matt at the Grill, where Caroline goes to look at the charitable donations, which I guess are for a silent auction. When Klaus arrives, she asks, “Here to steal Tiny Tim’s crutches?” She does like his painting, though. She says there’s something lonely about it. He considers that a compliment. He offers to get her some champagne, but she knows she can’t drink when there are so many adults around. However, if he’s going to keep making friendly conversation, she will need alcohol to get through it. Klaus asks if that’s their thing. “We don’t have a thing,” Caroline replies.
When Klaus goes to get their drinks, Caroline texts Stefan so he can break into the safe. Unfortunately, the sword isn’t in it. Stefan calls Damon, who tells him to search the whole house. Maybe it’s in a sock drawer. Maybe it’s in a bowl of soap! Damon has two other ideas: a) Kill Tyler before the hybrids can kill Klaus, or b) Tell Klaus what the hybrids are plotting and let him kill Tyler. “Nobody’s killing Tyler,” Stefan says. Aw, nuts. He gets distracted by a stash of letters he finds.
Stefan asks Damon if he knows where Elena is. Damon stammers a response about her trying to “deprogram” Jeremy. Stefan asks how she took it when Damon broke the sire bond. Damon lies that she didn’t take it well. Then he says he has to go because Bonnie has included “Dr. Evil” in her plan, so Damon needs to thwart him.
Inside the lake house, Shane ties Jeremy to a chair as he and Bonnie explain to Elena that Jeremy’s subconscious is controlling him. Persuasion will change his thoughts. Instead of going from seeing a vampire to wanting to kill a vampire, they’ll add a step between, a detour where Jeremy’s subconscious will recognize Elena as someone he loves and wants to protect. Then he can choose to take the detour instead of follow his urge to kill.
Shane invites Elena to talk to Jeremy, who’s basically under hypnosis, and give him reasons to take the detour. She reminds her brother that the lake house is a place where they spent a lot of great times together with their parents and Jenna. Their parents would want them to stick together now. Jeremy says Elena ruined their lives and isn’t even his real sister. Ouch. She’s the reason everyone Jeremy has ever loved has died, and he’ll kill her even if it means he dies himself. Shane brings Jeremy out of the hypnotic state, and Jeremy, who has no idea what he said, asks if it worked.
Stefan meets Caroline behind the Grill and tells her he couldn’t find the sword. They need Klaus to find the cure, so Tyler needs to call off the plan. Tyler appears nearby and says that’s not going to happen. He’s upset with Caroline for telling Stefan about the plan he’s been working on for so long. Stefan just wants a little more time, but Tyler won’t put the hybrids at risk. He notes that Stefan and Jeremy already killed a hybrid, and Tyler doesn’t owe Stefan anything. As he starts to leave, Stefan zooms out to stop him. Caroline alerts him to the fact that the other hybrids have surrounded them.
Elena mopes by the lake, lamenting to Damon that Shane’s tactics didn’t work. She should have known reprogramming someone’s mind was a bad idea. If it were that easy, they wouldn’t be dealing with the sire bond. She remembers how in love she was with Stefan the last time she was at the lake house. Now, she’s happy to be there with Damon, but she’s not sure if it’s because of the sire bond. Damon comes up with an excuse to go back to the lake house.
Tyler has Caroline and Stefan locked up in the Lockwood cellar so they can’t interfere with the hybrids’ plans. Stefan tells Tyler he has to think about the big picture, not just revenge. Tyler says he knows Stefan wants the cure, but the hybrids don’t – it’ll revert them to regular werewolves who have to turn at every full moon. He’s also mad that Caroline wasn’t on his side.
Jeremy’s looking at some old pictures when Bonnie tells him that Shane wants to try the detour thing again. Damon objects, since using a vampire to suppress a hunter’s urge to kill vampires won’t work. He suggests that Jeremy attach his happy detour feelings to someone else. Jeremy acknowledges that he has good feelings for Bonnie, so that might work.
Back outside, Shane tells Elena that Damon had a good idea. He addresses the sire bond, but he doesn’t know how to break it. He gets complicated love stuff, though – his wife and son died, and he spent some time looking for a way to stop missing them so much. Damon joins them, carrying an axe, and asks what good Shane will be to him after they get Jeremy out of his “must kill all vampires” mindset. He wants to know why Shane wants the cure. Shane says he doesn’t, he just knows where it is. The gang doesn’t even need the sword to send them in the right direction. Shane’s already been there.
Carol gives April instructions for her Winter Wonderland responsibilities as the reigning Miss Mystic Falls. She grabs some champagne for a quick toast with Tyler, who then ruins her Christmas by telling her that he’s going to let Klaus squat in his body for a while. Apparently it’s going to be for a few months because Tyler will have to miss graduation. Tyler wants to be the one to do this since he’s the alpha. Carol agrees, saying he should do what he needs to do. She thinks Richard would be proud of his son, who’s a leader just like he was. Yeah, and he does it without hitting anyone!
Shane shows Elena and Damon the rock he showed off at the occult exhibit, Silas’ headstone. Dude, why are you carrying that around with you? He recaps the story about Silas, Qetsiyah, and the immortality spell. Elena clarifies that the cure for vampirism is really a cure for immortality. Shane says that human blood is an immortal being’s life force. Without immortality, you no longer have the need to drink blood to survive. They’ll get the cure when they dig up Silas.
Damon calls Stefan to tell him that the Tyler problem is solved. Stefan tells Caroline that they don’t need the sword after all. Back at the lake house, Shane points out the story in the sketch Jeremy did of Connor’s tattoo. It’s all about Silas, Qetsiyah, and the woman Silas wanted to become immortal with (we’ll later learn that her name was Amara). The completed mark will contain the spell they need to dig up Silas. Shane still hasn’t revealed where he is, though, since he needs something to hold on to so Damon won’t kill him.
Elena asks Shane what’s in this for him. Shane says he just wants to get close to Silas, who’s only ever been a myth. Damon calls bull, but Shane says it doesn’t matter – they just need to believe that he’s going to help Jeremy. He promises that when the hunter’s mark is complete, he’ll take the gang to the cure.
It’s night now, and Caroline has convinced the hybrids to let her go. She meets up with Tyler and Hayley in a restroom at the Grill so she can offer up a plan B. Instead of putting Klaus in Tyler’s body, they can put him in Rebekah. She’s daggered, so she won’t put up a fight. They can put Klaus in her, bury her, and get rid of two Originals at once. Hayley thinks it’s too late to change the plan, but Tyler disagrees. He thinks it’s a brilliant idea. As Tyler heads off to tell Carol he’s not leaving after all, Hayley texts Shane to say there’s a problem. He replies with an order to fix it.
Bonnie’s working on the detour thing with Jeremy when Caroline calls her to ask if her idea with Rebekah will work. Bonnie says it should, then offers to leave Jeremy with Elena and come help. This is the first Caroline’s hearing that Elena’s with Jeremy and Bonnie. It’s also the first she’s hearing that Elena brought Damon along. Caroline’s annoyed but doesn’t have time for that. She hangs up and tells Hayley that the plan is a go. Hayley responds by breaking Caroline’s neck.
Elena digs out some Christmas decorations she and Jeremy can take home to make Gilbert Gables a little more festive. She tells Damon that she thinks Shane is going to fix things for them. Damon is still very skeptical, especially since he thinks Shane is responsible for the council explosion. He busts Shane for eavesdropping, and Shane explains himself: Pastor Young asked for “supernatural assistance” when he became depressed after his wife died. Shane couldn’t help because the pastor was too deep into his depression. He never thought the pastor would kill other people.
Jeremy announces that he and Bonnie may have perfected the detour thing. They test it out by having Jeremy approach Elena while holding a stake. Damon steps into his path and Jeremy hands him the stake, which means the detour works so well that Jeremy doesn’t want to kill his sister OR a guy he hates. He’s even able to give Elena a hug.
Happy moment over: Hayley texts Shane to tell him he’ll get his 12 hybrids. She’s at the Winter Wonderland, where Stefan spots her talking to Klaus. Klaus asks Stefan where he’s been all day; his disappearance plus Caroline’s niceness make him think the gang has been trying to distract him again. He threatens to compel Stefan to tell him what’s been going on. Stefan willing tells him the truth – he broke into the Haus of Klaus to get the sword because he doesn’t trust Klaus to provide it when the time comes.
Klaus is pretty fed up with Stefan’s refusal to trust him when he’s been transparent in every step of their plan. Stefan reveals that he found the letters, which belonged to Klaus’ victims from over the past 1,000 years. Klaus sees his habit of stealing them as a ritual just like Stefan writing his victims’ names on a wall. He says he and Stefan “memorialize” their victims because of loneliness. They literally hold their victims’ lives in their hands, then end them. Writing their names and stealing their letters is a way of remembering that “in the end, we’re left infinitely and utterly alone.” Stefan, internally: “Not me. People like me.”
April finds Caroline temporarily dead in a stall in the Grill restroom. She yells for help, but Caroline revives and prevents her from leaving. She ignores April’s confusion over the fact that she didn’t have a pulse five seconds ago while she calls Stefan to tell him that Hayley has gone rogue. She sends him to the Lockwood cellar to make sure Rebekah’s body is still there. Caroline then compels April to forget everything she just saw and heard.
As Caroline leaves the restroom, Matt finds her and tells her that Adrian’s taking Klaus to the Lockwood cellar. Caroline complains that April found her during the two minutes she wasn’t following Matt around. She tells him that she compelled April to forget what she saw and heard, but Matt breaks the news that April is wearing vervain and can’t be compelled anymore.
Tyler leaves Carol a message telling her things will be fine. He finds Hayley, who tells him there’s no witch to put Klaus in Rebekah’s body. She made that up. In the woods, the hybrids wait for Adrian, who arrives along with Klaus. Hayley tells Tyler that she was never going to let the hybrids take Klaus down. She needed him for a sacrifice. In the woods, Klaus tears out Adrian’s heart, then goes after the other hybrids with Alexander’s sword.
Hayley tells Tyler that she made a deal with someone to help her find her family. She needed 12 for the sacrifice. That would be 12 hybrids, who Klaus is currently killing. She tells Tyler that if he runs now, he might make it out alive. Klaus has killed almost all of his “family,” but Kim’s still alive and trying to hide in the cellar. He asks her where Tyler is, and when she says she doesn’t know, he kills her.
Elena, Jeremy, and Bonnie look through Christmas decorations while Damon sits outside by himself and Shane…I don’t know, checks for matches on his Who Wants to Date a Creepy Weirdo? dating app. Elena waves Damon over, but he keeps his distance. She takes some mistletoe to him, saying he participated in the dramatic part of the day but is missing the part where they celebrate. She holds up the mistletoe to try to tempt him into kissing her. It doesn’t work.
Elena says that Damon can’t keep telling her this isn’t real. She knows how she feels and she knows he feels the same way. He needs to stop fighting it. Damon says he likes seeing Elena and Jeremy getting along again. He and Stefan always enjoyed Christmas together, too. Elena guesses that Damon’s thinking about how upset Stefan will be when he finds out the two of them are together.
Damon admits that he’s been lying to his brother all day. He was supposed to do the right thing by both Elena and Stefan. And he’s going to do it now. He tells Elena to go home. He’ll stay with Jeremy and teach him to hunt so he can complete the hunter’s mark. He’s setting Elena free. It’s what he wants, what will make him happy.
At Vamp Villa, Caroline’s worried because she can’t reach Tyler or April. Stefan is less happy about Klaus’ fate than he expected to be. He actually feels a little guilty. Caroline admits that she does, too, despite all the horrible things Klaus has done. Stefan notes that they’ve all done horrible things – what makes them better than Klaus? He thinks it’s because they have family they can trust. Caroline scoffs at that, since she knows what Stefan’s family has been up to that isn’t exactly trustworthy. She asks if Damon told Stefan where he was today, then if he said where Elena was. Stefan realizes that they’re together. He asks Caroline how together the two of them actually are. Caroline’s lack of an answer tells Stefan all he needs to know.
Jeremy says goodbye to Bonnie as she and Elena get ready to go home. Elena has lost the urge to stay with Damon, so she doesn’t fight his instructions to leave. Back at Vamp Villa, Stefan takes out his anger on a chessboard. Buddy, of all the problems people are facing in this episode, yours are without a doubt the least important, so chill.
Tyler finds the bodies of the hybrids in the woods, then Kim’s body in the Lockwood cellar. He leaves without seeing that April’s also in the cellar. She opens Rebekah’s coffin and is shocked to see her sort-of friend dead inside.
The Winter Wonderland is over, but Carol’s still there, near a fountain. She tries to call Tyler for a ride home, since she’s been drinking. Klaus finds her and she begs him not to hurt her son. He’s all she has. Klaus notes that, likewise, Carol is all Tyler has. He thinks there’s a “beautiful symmetry” to that. He grabs her by the neck and forces her head under the water of the fountain. She fights him, but he holds her under until she drowns. Then he leaves to spend Christmas infinitely and utterly alone.
Etc.: R.I.P. Carol, who started out a cliché upper-class bitca but ended up not being that bad. I hope Heaven has champagne.
Klaus says something about post-modernism in relation to his painting, and I experience an hour-long bout of hysterical deafness related to PTSD about college literature discussions.
It’s too bad Damon was previously invited into the lake house, because it would have been fun to see everyone having to talk Jeremy into inviting him in.
Before you ask, no, I will never stop laughing about the moonstone in the bowl of soap.
I’ve always thought the loophole in the sire bond is for the sire to tell the sired, “Do whatever makes you happy.” Then if the sired wants to stay with the sire, it’s because they chose to.
You have to feel really bad for April. First her mom dies when she’s young and she gets sent to boarding school. Then her father dies in some weird explosion that no one wants to talk about. Then this group of people is really nice to her, but it turns out a bunch of them are vampires and they’ve been lying to her about everything that’s happened since her came back to town. Also, one of them is in a coffin. I think if I were April, I would go back to boarding school ASAP and never return to Mystic Falls.