Elena’s back at school, where Caroline’s eager to share the news that she’s the valedictorian. Elena declines to help her write her speech. As Caroline says they need to get the most out of the rest of their senior year, Elena realizes that something isn’t right. She doesn’t want to be there. Damon appears and reminds her of all the fun things she’s missing out on. When Elena turns around, everyone else is gone. She realizes they’re not really there – Damon’s in her head, trying to manipulate her emotionally so she’ll turn her humanity back on. He thinks that since Elena’s nostalgic, she’s making progress. Elena says it won’t work, so Damon decides to try something else.
Elena’s still in the basement of Vamp Villa, but instead of being locked in a cell, the guys have put her in a big safe. She’s still too stubborn to give in and feel anything, so Damon tells her they’re going to keep doing this until she caves. He’s willing to wait as long as it takes, even years.
Caroline wants to see Elena, but Stefan thinks isolation will make her miserable, which will make her feel something. Caroline can’t believe there’s been no progress over the past few days. Stefan says Elena’s still avoiding all the negative emotions she’ll have to deal with when she can feel them again. Caroline doesn’t like the idea of the guys torturing her. Stefan says it’s an intervention. All they can do now is provoke Elena so they trigger some kind of feeling. Caroline asks again to talk to Elena and try to get through to her.
Stefan approves the visit, and Caroline sneaks Elena some blood since she doesn’t like that the guys are making her suffer. Elena notes that she tried to kill Caroline, so their friendship should probably end. Caroline refuses to give up on Elena, so Elena pushes her away by taunting that Tyler and Klaus have both left town because they realized Caroline wasn’t worth it. She thinks Caroline secretly wants to be with Klaus so she has the excuse to lose control a little.
Caroline tells Elena she can’t stay the way she is forever. She needs to get ready for graduation and the new lives they’re all going to start. Elena tells Caroline she’s going to look pathetic when she puts on her cap and gown and pretends to be human at graduation. Liz must be counting the minutes until Caroline leaves town and stops reminding her that she has a daughter who’s “a repulsive, blood-sucking, control freak monster.” Elena wishes Stefan hadn’t stopped her from hurting Caroline. Now she’s going to try again. She attacks Caroline, who heads off a fight by breaking her neck. She tells Stefan to do whatever’s necessary to get Elena back to normal.
Rebekah’s drinking at the Grill to celebrate the fact that Klaus and Elijah are moving to New Orleans and she’s finally free of them. For someone who claims to be happy about that, she sure doesn’t look like it, though that’s probably because she’s still feeling the sting of losing out on the cure. Matt expresses his condolences, though Rebekah thinks he wanted Elena to have it. Matt says he really is sorry, but she’s free to keep feeling sorry for herself.
He tells her he’s going to meet up with Caroline, and Rebekah asks if the gang is still keeping Elena locked up while they try to force her to flip her humanity switch. She wishes they would stop trying to fix something that’s not broken. Matt angrily says that Elena’s his friend, not Rebekah’s sidekick. If Rebekah’s so fed up with the gang and has no reason to stay in town now that Klaus is leaving, why is she hanging around? Unlike Matt, she’s not broke and failing her senior year and stuck in Mystic Falls. He would leave if he could.
Caroline calls Bonnie and asks her to come to Vamp Villa for moral support/a check-in so Caroline can be sure Silas isn’t messing with her. Bonnie says she’s no longer under his control, and also, she doesn’t want to see Elena. In reality, Bonnie’s not going to Vamp Villa right now because she’s meeting Katherine at a diner. She has some offer that Katherine is intrigued to learn more about.
Stefan and Damon take Elena to the living room, tie her to a chair, steal her daylight ring, and threaten to expose her to sunlight. Elena guesses they want to scare her, and Stefan says when that happens, she needs to focus on the fear. Elena doesn’t think the guys will actually hurt her. Plus, if she does turn her emotions back on, she’ll hate them for their treatment of her. The guys are okay with that. They open a curtain to let in the sun and she yells in pain as her skin starts to burn. Stefan looks like it’s hurting him to hurt her.
Once Stefan closes the curtain and Damon puts out Elena’s flaming arm, Damon requests some gratitude. Instead, Elena threatens to kill him. Damon will accept rage as an emotion, noting that that’s usually the first thing people feel toward him. Stefan plays good cop, telling Elena she can stop all this. She thinks part of him enjoys making her suffer – it’s revenge for their breakup. Damon still thinks they’re moving in the direction of humanity and calls for a second round. Stefan says he knows Elena doesn’t want to feel guilt after turning on her emotions. They’re trying to make the alternative feel worse.
Outside, Caroline and Matt try not to think about the pain Elena’s enduring. Caroline reveals that she ordered caps and gowns for Matt and Elena. Matt is touched, and he feels optimistic that they’ll get Elena back. Rebekah shows up with some takeout, in hopes of making peace with Matt. She offers to help Matt study for the classes he’s failing. Caroline hates that idea, but Rebekah invites her to help, too. Caroline decides to go home to get supplies (flash cards, study guides, etc.), and Rebekah teases Matt for having dated her. Out by her car, Caroline senses that someone or something is lurking. It’s Klaus.
Katherine clarifies the request Bonnie has made of her: She wants Katherine to hand over Silas’ headstone. Katherine asks if Bonnie’s running errands for Silas now. Bonnie explains that Silas wants her to use the power from an upcoming full moon to drop the veil to the Other Side. Then he’s going to take the cure and die. Bonnie agreed to help him, then started avoiding him so she could buy time, because she’s not actually going to do the spell.
Katherine asks why Bonnie wants the headstone, but Bonnie won’t tell her, since Silas could read Katherine’s mind and learn what Bonnie’s planning. Katherine points out that either of them could be talking to Silas in disguise right now. Bonnie says that Silas can’t get into her head anymore. She’s the only one who can see his real face. Katherine asks what’s in this for her. Bonnie says that if Katherine helps her stop Silas from allowing all the supernatural beings on the Other Side from returning, Bonnie will make it worth her while.
Elena endures some more sunlight torture, then takes it out on Damon by saying the sire bond made her believe she was in love with him. She taunts that if the guys get the old her to come back, she might start things up with Stefan again. She escapes her bonds and rushes to the window, opening the curtains and setting herself on fire. Damon’s ready with the fire extinguisher, which just proves Elena’s suspicions: The guys aren’t going to let anything happen to her. She has nothing to be afraid of.
The guys take a break outside, frustrated that Elena’s being so stubborn. Stefan gets it – Elena’s home and family are gone, and she’s destroyed her relationships with her friends. She doesn’t see a reason to come back to herself. Damon thinks she wants to come back and scaring her should have worked. The fact that she knows they won’t hurt her is a big obstacle. Stefan suggests that they bring in someone who really will hurt her: Katherine. Plus, since she killed Jeremy, there’s a good chance Elena will get mad. Damon isn’t sure Katherine will agree to help, but Stefan knows Elijah just abandoned her for Klaus, so she has nothing and no one. She won’t turn down the opportunity to come over and torture Elena.
Caroline and Klaus take a walk in the woods so he can say goodbye before moving to New Orleans. She tells him he doesn’t owe her an explanation. He can just move on. He says he never intended to – he can’t stop thinking about her. He asks her to come to New Orleans with him. Caroline admits that she’s afraid of him. Klaus thinks she’s really afraid of herself and her darkest desires. Elena was right, and she secretly wants to be with a bad guy. Caroline wonders how Klaus knows what Elena said to her in the basement.
He shoves her up against a tree and threatens to hurt her if Bonnie doesn’t come out of hiding. Caroline realizes that she’s really talking to Silas. He’s not happy that Bonnie’s playing games with him, and he wants Caroline to pass along his displeasure. He shoves a stake in her chest and says this is only the beginning.
Rebekah’s going to help Matt study for his Italian final, though her familiarity with the language is with its 12th century version. Matt’s anxious about possibly having to repeat his senior year while his friends all go off to college. Rebekah thinks his struggles with his schoolwork are justified, considering all the madness he has to deal with because of who he’s friends with. He’d be better off befriending her. She could compel good grades for him, and even a scholarship. Everyone needs an advantage, and she could be his. Rebekah says that when Matt convinced her to save April, she realized she could be a better person. She wants to repay Matt by helping him make something of himself. “Anyone who leaves you behind is a fool,” she tells him. “I wouldn’t.”
Katherine lets herself in and announces that she’s there to talk some sense into Elena. Matt objects, but Damon snaps at him to “let the adults handle this.” Matt goes outside to call Caroline, because…she’ll be able to talk Damon out of this? I don’t know. Anyway, Caroline was unconscious, but she wakes up as he leaves a message. She realizes Silas didn’t actually stake her.
On her way out of the woods, she comes across Matt and tells him Silas made her think he was Klaus so he can get to Bonnie. But “Matt” is also Silas, and he’s really impatient about Caroline doing what he told her to. He threatens to kill Liz if she doesn’t get on it. Caroline makes a break for the house, but Silas disguises himself as Klaus again and makes another threat against Liz. Okay, dude, she gets it. She runs to her car, calling Liz and telling her to go home and lock all the doors. She shouldn’t let anyone inside, even Caroline, who has a key. As Caroline is backing out of the driveway, she sees someone in her rear camera, but when she turns around, no one’s there. Silas appears by her window, showing his real, disfigured face. Dude, stop delaying her! She can’t do what you want if you’re harassing her!
Katherine yanks Elena out of the safe and says her boyfriends invited Katherine to find out of Elena still has a heart. She reaches through Elena’s chest and grabs that heart, even though she knows Stefan and Damon won’t let her kill Elena. Katherine asks what Elena said to Elijah in Willoughby. Elena guesses that he dumped her and Katherine is here for revenge. Katherine thinks Elena turned Elijah against her, but Elena says she didn’t have to say anything to get him to leave her. Katherine’s damaged goods.
Katherine admits that she’s done some horrible things to survive, but unlike Elena, she doesn’t turn off her humanity. She doesn’t think Elena would last a week without everyone fawning over her. She locks Elena back in the safe, then gets an idea and leaves it unlocked. She goes upstairs for a drink, and Damon reveals that he listened in on the doppelgangers’ conversation. Katherine asks if he’s ever thought that maybe Elena would be better off without him. Damon says she doesn’t need to provoke any emotions out of him – his are all alive and well, including his love for Elena and his hatred for Katherine. Katherine predicts that Elena will go back to Stefan when this is all over. Once again, Damon won’t get the girl.
Stefan runs in to announce that Elena’s gone. Katherine says she’s done helping the guys get Elena back; she’d rather watch Elena kill a bunch of innocent people and spiral further into darkness. Damon enlists Matt to come with him to find Elena. (Also, he’s moved on from calling Matt “quarterback” to using his newly earned title, “prom king.”)
Caroline leaves a message for Bonnie as she rushes to Fort Forbes. She realizes she can’t be sure that her mother is really her mother. She calls Liz’s phone, which is in Liz’s pocket, and for some reason that makes her believe this is the real Liz, as if Silas couldn’t have just stolen her phone.
Elena manages to make it into the woods, but she’s weak from lack of blood. Either that’s what makes her collapse as she’s flagging down a car or she’s putting on a show in hopes of getting help from someone she can bite. The driver is Matt, and Elena’s happy to see someone she can feed on. He reminds her that she’s his oldest friend, and no matter how many walls she’s put up with the gang, he knows their friendship still means something to her. Elena says that deep down, it probably does, but right now, she just wants to eat.
Bonnie goes to Fort Forbes, but Caroline is again wary that she might be Silas. Bonnie informs her that Liz is the one to worry about – she’s really Silas. Now that Bonnie’s seen Silas’ true face, he can’t fool her with a disguise. Caroline goes to check on the real Liz, who’s unconscious, while Bonnie tells Silas that she’s been gathering her strength and preparing for his big drop-the-veil spell. Silas knows he can’t hurt Bonnie, since she’s the only one who can do the spell, but he threatens to hurt her loved ones if he needs to give her motivation to follow through. She promises she’ll do what he wants.
Caroline feeds Liz her blood as Silas tells Bonnie that her promise is binding. He sends her away and tells her to be available the next time he comes looking for her. Since Liz is unconscious, she can’t drink Caroline’s blood, and Caroline’s getting distressed. Bonnie leaves the house without helping her.
Elena’s had enough of Matt’s blood to render him unconscious, but she wants more, so she wakes him up and pulls him to his feet. Stefan and Damon arrive and tell her she’s cut off. Damon calls Elena a spoiled brat as he grabs Matt by the neck. He can’t punish Elena, but he can punish Matt. Elena calls his bluff, but Damon says he’s done playing nice. If she doesn’t turn her emotions back on, he’ll kill Matt. Stefan warns Damon not to continue, but Damon ignores him. If Elena really doesn’t love anyone, she can prove it right now. If Damon’s wrong, who cares? It’s just Matt.
Elena stares Damon down, still thinking he’s bluffing. Without a second thought, Damon snaps Matt’s neck and drops his body on the ground.
Elena is immediately horrified and heartbroken. Damon taunts that the guy everyone loves is gone now. He reminds Elena of how great Matt always was and how much she liked him as a child. Then he reveals that Matt’s wearing Jeremy’s Gilbert ring. Elena’s flooded with relief. Damon tells her the joy she’s feeling is an emotion – it’s humanity.
Of course, Elena’s returning emotions bring with them guilt over all the people she’s hurt. She gets overwhelmed, and Stefan tells her to find something inside herself that makes her strong, and channel her feelings into it. She needs to let all her emotions in. When she does, she lets out a yell of pain, then calms down. Damon asks if she’s okay, and she says no, but she’ll get better.
Caroline grabs a syringe from a medical kit and withdraws some of her blood so she can inject it into Liz. She begs her mother to wake up so she can watch her daughter graduate. Caroline promises to get Liz out of Mystic Falls and find her a nice guy to be with. After a few scary moments, Liz wakes up.
At Vamp Villa, Matt also wakes up. Rebekah’s with him, and she tells him the plan to get Elena to flip her switch worked. She admires his courage. Matt notes that Elena saved him, so this was his way of repaying the favor. Rebekah feels horrible for putting the whole chain of events in motion, and she vows to spend every day until graduation figuring out how to make up for it. (Just to Matt, though. She doesn’t care about Elena.) (Also, graduation is in, like, two days. I guess it’s the thought that counts.)
Katherine meets up with Bonnie again, having figured out that Bonnie wants the headstone because it’s full of Qetsiyah’s blood. That means it’ll power a big spell, so Bonnie doesn’t have to wait until the full moon. Katherine just doesn’t get why Bonnie wants to drop the veil at all. Bonnie says she has her reasons. Katherine asks again what’s in this arrangement for her. Bonnie promises her freedom. She can talk to Qetsiyah once the veil has been dropped and ask her to give Katherine the same immortality and invulnerability she gave Silas. She’ll get to stop running from Klaus or any other enemies she has out there. Katherine agrees to the deal.
Back at Vamp Villa, Elena acknowledges that shutting off her humanity was cheating. Now that it’s back, she can no longer act like nothing matters. She needs to do something about the things that have happened that can’t be undone. Stefan wants her to take it easy for a few days, but Elena has lots of plans. There’s one person who’s ruined all their lives and brought them to where they are. She’s responsible for everything that’s happened to the Salvatores, she brought Klaus to Mystic Falls, she turned Caroline into a vampire, and she killed Jeremy.
When Stefan told Elena to focus on one feeling, Elena chose hate – specifically, her hatred for Katherine. Stefan doesn’t think she should waste her time or feelings on Katherine. If she does, Katherine wins. “Not if I kill her,” Elena replies.
Significant item update: Matt has the remaining Gilbert ring.
Etc.: I’m currently watching Fringe for the first time, and just a few hours after I rewatched this episode, I watched “Subject 13,” where a character tries to invoke fear in another character by making her think her friend is dead. Spooky.
Stefan and Damon torturing Elena is really disturbing. I feel like Matt could have gotten her to feel something, like, three episodes ago, without all the drama.
I don’t get how Silas is powerful enough to read minds but can’t track down Bonnie.
How, after all this time, is Damon still surprised when people walk into his house without knocking?
I wish we’d seen Bonnie go back to Fort Forbes after Silas told her to leave, so she could help save Liz. Her leaving without knowing if Liz was okay was really out of character.
Matt’s right, Rebekah has no reason to stick around Mystic Falls, where exactly one person is willing to spend time with her. Why not go someplace where no one knows anything about her and start over, pretending to be human?
So whose idea was it for Damon to kill Matt? I can’t decide if it was Matt himself or if Damon was like, “Let’s just kill Matt and see if that works,” and Stefan said, “You mean killing him while he’s wearing a Gilbert ring?” and Damon said, “Sure, we can try that, too.”
Caroline injecting Liz with her blood is really smart. I’m not sure I would have been thinking clearly enough in her position to come up with that idea.