How much can change in a year? The whole world, apparently — especially if you’re Elena Gilbert living in Mystic Falls. We can’t believe it’s only been 12 short months (in TVD time) since Elena first met Stefan. But she’s calling it their anniversary in tonight’s ep. So it must be. Wow.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” opens with Elena waking at the crack of dawn to go out into the woods for slayer training with Alaric. Her plan is to make like Buffy and stake Ripper Stefan into submission. Or at least imprison him long enough for them to figure out how to kill Klaus. There’s only one problem. Our girl’s not strong enough to use the secret crossbow weapon Alaric designed for her. At least not yet. But give her, say, 40 minutes or so. You know how ambitious Elena can be.
After her third failed try with the stake-puncher, Elena turns to Alaric and says, “You think that I’m crazy to believe that I can protect myself from a vampire who’s flipped the switch on his humanity?”
“I think you found a way to get out of bed this morning and that makes you the strongest person that I know,” Alaric replies. And, yes, that is a bit of foreshadowing.
First Day Jitters
In addition to being the first day of training, today is also the first day of Elena, Bonnie, and Caroline’s senior year at good ol’ Mystic Falls High. Rather than reflect on the ridiculous body count the school amassed during their junior year, Bonnie and Caroline try to be psyched about the start of a wondrous new era. “Why should I let the fact that my boyfriend is seeing the ghosts of his dead ex-girlfriends hinder this experience?” Bonnie asks. Caroline replies, “And why should I let the fact that my boyfriend was turned into a hybrid put a damper on an otherwise fabulous day?”
As history teacher Alaric would say, those are both good questions. Too bad the boys have nothing of that caliber on their minds. Stronger and faster, Tyler’s psyched about his new hybrid status. Meanwhile Matt’s too busy talking to his sister Vicki’s ghost in public to notice anybody else’s problems. Jeremy’s the only guy who doesn’t have his head in the sand, though, he probably wishes it was. Bonnie is mad at him because he keeps seeing his dead ex-girlfriends on the side. And we’re with her on that one. It’s like supernatural cheating or something.
The Curious House Guest
The dynamics of the Scooby Gang isn’t the only thing changing. Across town, Rebekah is busy moving — uninvited — into Stefan and Damon’s den of iniquity. Apparently a brother’s love only goes so far. The moment Klaus heard Mikael was looking for him he ditched town, leaving his little sister behind. Rather than pout, the original vampiress turns those rotten tomatoes into a Bloody Mary by showing up at the Salvatores’ place asking, “Which one is my room?” When neither brother replies, she picks one. “So I guess she’s staying,” Stefan says. You guessed right.
Rebekah is not only staying, she’s making moves. Projecting her anger for her brother and her jilted feelings for Stefan onto Caroline, Rebekah enrolls in Mystic Falls high and decides to take over Blondie’s life. She picks the same classes as Caroline and even takes out a cheerleader so she can join the squad. “Hey, you can’t just come here and infiltrate all of our lives,” Caroline says. “I’m only interested in yours,” the O.V. replies. “Your spark. Your popularity. Maybe even your boyfriend.” Them’s fighting words right there.
You’ve Been Sired
Speaking of Tyler, he’s loving the heck out of the “gift” Klaus gave him. Acting like an immortal juicehead, he compels his coach to end practice early so the team can party at the bonfire. Later, when Elena and Co. ask him to help capture Stefan, Ty refuses because that would not please Klaus. This response sounds warning bells in Damon’s head. Oh snap, Tyler’s been sired, which apparently means that you obey your maker above anyone else.
Meanwhile, Damon’s former stoner chick turned vampire, Vicki, keeps picking at her little brother Matt. Playing the I’m-all-alone-card, she keeps pestering him until he agrees to help her come back. Not come back in a zombie sense. But come back in a way that would allow her to appear and disappear whenever she likes.
Apparently all it takes for Matt to pull Vicki through is for him to stand in a circle of candles, bleed onto a photo of him and his sister, and say, “I accept you.” While he’s pulling, Vicki says some witch will push her from the other side. It will be easy peasy.
And it is fairly simple. The only problem is that the minute Vicki arrives she announces that the only way she’ll be allowed to stay is if she puts the kibosh on Klaus’s hybrid army-building plans by killing Elena. Matt’s not too cool with his big sis offing his ex. So he says as much. In response, Vicki hits him over the head with a monkey wrench.
While Matt is foolishly liberating his sister’s ghost, Elena is busy flipping her bitch switch in order to capture Stefan. At the school’s bonfire (that Caroline magically found time to throw together and promote), E pretends to be drunk and unruly to draw Stefan away from the crowd. She goes a bit Method with it, literally drinking more alcohol than her little body should consume. But it works. He follows her out to the bleachers, where they have a boozy talk before she allows herself to fall off the top row. Stefan vamps over and catches her before she hits the ground. They have a moment. Then Alaric shoots Stefan in the back with monster-sized Vervain darts.
Next, the history teacher and the former cheerleader load the vampire into the teacher’s SUV. Elena climbs in the passenger side and Alaric moves to take driver’s seat, stepping over an oddly placed gas can. “I see all the geniuses came out to the bonfire tonight,” he says. Before the irony of Ric’s words can sink in, Vicki drops a lit match into the trail of gasoline she’d drawn around the car. As the flames crawl up the outside, she ghosts inside to keep locking the doors so that Elena can’t get out. “I’m sorry Elena,” Vicki says. But we all know she is so not. This is, after all, the second time she’s tried to kill our girl. And, for a sec it looks like this might work. Alaric can’t break the window. Elena can’t get out. The fire rages. But then Stefan comes to long enough to kick out the hatchback door on the rear of the SUV. Right before the car goes up in smoke, Elena calls to Alaric to get Stefan out.
Rising From the Dead
Later, back at the Salvatore manse, Stefan asks Elena why she didn’t let him burn. She says it’s because she still loves him and she won’t give up on his humanity. “Do you have any idea how pathetic that makes you?” Stefan asks. “No, Stefan, it makes me strong,” Elena replies. Then she punches him in the gut with the crossbow weapon Alaric made. And this time it works. Stefan recoils to pull the stake out of his innards. Elena calmly takes off the weapon and gives it to Alaric. Stefan can only grin.
When he comes to, Matt calls Bonnie for help. She stops raging at Jeremy long enough to go over and clean up his mess. She cuts Matt’s other hand, and rocking and chanting, she manages to pull Vicki away from Elena. But only into the room. “What is she doing?” Vicki asks. “Fixing my mistake,” Matt replies. Vicky begs him to stop. But he does the right thing and lets Bonnie adios his sister to the afterlife.
While Matt was sending Vicki home, Jeremy was calling Anna out of the other world. Just as Vicki goes poof and Jeremy tells Anna that he can’t stop thinking about her, the two former lovebirds find that they are once again in the same world.
Meanwhile, Katherine’s in nowhere land, waking Mikael up. Elena’s evil double has spent the last few days trying to wake the vampire-slaying vampire. She used all manner of rodent and beast before dripping blood from a corpse onto his lips. Turns out Mike’s a weird vegan vamp. He comes to cranky and pissed that Kat has pushed him off the abstinence bandwagon.
“A little blood will grease those muscles up real quick,” Katherine tells him. “I don’t feed on living things,” Mike replies. “Then what do you eat?” Kat asks. Wrong question. He grabs her and turns her neck into a blood buffet.
Back in Mystic Falls, Damon is having a bit of trouble of his own. Just as he’s about to settle down for the night, someone creeps into his house. He turns to catch them but they’re fast — vampire fast. Before he can react the person stops. It’s Tyler’s hot uncle Mason. Yes, the one who was supposedly dead. The episode ends as Mason grabs Damon and tosses him across the room. “This is going to be fun,” he says as Damon lays wounded on the floor.
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