When we left our favorite gaggle of undead perpetual-teens, Damon (Ian Somerhalder) had just convinced Elena (Nina Dobrev) to turn off her humanity. Sure, this managed to quell her grief for our dearly departed Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) (RIP) and allowed for a sensational shot of the brothers Salvatore and Miss Gilbert strutting out of the house Elena had just burned to the ground, all Viking-funeral style, but it is sure to have some dire consequences.
Stefan (Paul Wesley) is quick to point this out at the start of The Vampire Diaries Season 4, Episode 16, “Bring It On,” reminding Damon that Elena’s humanity is the best thing about her. It’s also the thing both brothers love most. But Stefan doesn’t say that part out loud. Because — awkward.
While Damon pretends to shrug all this off and continues to drink scotch like a boss, Elena is across town. She is laying on her back in the middle of the highway, because having your humanity off is pretty much exactly like having clinical depression and/or a distaste for hygiene. This particular brand of victim luring is something Damon himself has used.
And, when the more-cheekbone-having of the brothers Salvatore himself catches Elena draining the good samaritan who tried to help her, he tells her to show some restraint. To the dude’s credit, he manages to also acknowledge that him uttering these words is the very definition of irony. Alanis Morissette could write a song about it. Oh wait. She did.
Elena’s peevish response and continued feeding prove troubling and foreshadow not-great things to come re: Damon’s ability to reason with Elena by way of the sire bond.
Back at Casa de Salvatore, the bros are trying to figure out the best way to distract their now-borderline psychotic charge. The best place to send a person who will snap for no reason other than their own amusement? HIGH SCHOOL. Caroline (Candice Accola) appears in a robe to agree. No, no, nothing funny here, Caroline is just nearly nude and showering at the boys’ place because the mayor dumped vervain in the town’s water supply. Thanks for nothing, Bonnie’s (Kat Graham) dad. The gang doesn’t even have to worry about talking Elena into the day’s agenda. The girl could not give less of a damn if she tried.
And try she does — displaying her lady-business to all and sundry. If the best part of this scene was her total Mae West moment with her exes — “What? It’s nothing you haven’t seen before?” — then the second-best moment was the look of amusement on little Miss Forbes’s face. Heart you, C-dawg. Can we call you C-dawg? No? Okay then. Damon makes Elena promise not to feed at school; she agrees, but like a sulky 13-year-old. Classic.
Damon and Stefan decide to divide duties. With Stefan being the vamp brother most-seen at the high school, he decides to go along and help Caroline supervise their deviant charge. Damon is tasked with more relevant-to-the-over-arching-plot like duties, such as finding out where exactly Katherine (everyone’s favorite doppelganger) has gotten off to with the cure. (The cure for vampirism. Katherine has not become a Robert Smith groupie. Though, we wish.)
The gang aren’t the only ones after Kat. Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) is back and saved from certain death by an unlikely white knight: Klaus (Joseph Morgan)! Trying to stay under the radar after the stunt she pulled aiding and abetting Professor Shane (David Alpay) and Katherine, Hayley is nearly killed by a vampire. Cue Klaus and his deadly bite. Of course his motives aren’t pure — but are they ever? The hunt for the cure is still very much on, and Klaus knows well enough that Hayley just might be able to point him in the right direction in his hunt for the meddling, curly-haired Katarina.
Back at Mystic Falls High, Elena is doing fine. In fact, she’s doing so well that she breezes past a flier posted for a memorial being planned for her dead brother and goes right for another: an announcement about joining the cheerleading squad. That people don’t cross themselves when she walks past her in the halls is notable — this girl is a veritable harbinger of death, right? That said, her hair is very, very shiny.
Elena wants to get back on the cheerleading squad, and she’s already got an inside connection in Caroline, squad captain. Caroline is wary, because she has a brain in her head. She cautiously offers Elena a shot, which she’ll soon come to regret. Throughout all of this, Stefan is presumably working on his motorcycle in the parking lot. Because that’s how he rolls. Both literally and figuratively.
Klaus’s plan to get any and all intel he can glean from Hayley is moving along as well. We know Klaus has ways making people talk — they just usually involving impalement or, uh, threats of impalement. With Hayley he’s taking a different tact: wining and dining her. In the process, they are both beginning to see things in the other that they hadn’t noticed before. Namely, that they find each other to be smoking hot — and fair enough.
Elena’s foray into cheerleading is not going well. The only thing that seems to be keeping her entertained is killing and eating people. Ddoing cartwheels and waving pom poms? Not so much. When she eyes a pretty blue ribbon on a competitor’s ponytail she’s got to have it — and she won’t take no for an answer. Elena feeds on the girl and takes her hair ribbon.
Caroline is furious! Partially because feasting on the competition is a no-no, but mainly because the ribbon Elena is wild for doesn’t go with their maroon uniforms. Elena, not at all cool with being sassed by the perpetually Sassy Caroline, decides she has had enough. During a particularly dramatic throw into the air, she takes a critical step back, leaving Caroline flat on her back and spectators gasping.
Stefan decides that Elena needs to take the rest of the day off. Good call, Stef. He lures her out to his bike with promises of a place where she can “really let go and have fun.” Because “fun” is no-humanity Elena’s new and only bag, she falls for it — and right into Stefan’s waiting vervain needle. Stefan makes a call to Damon. It turns out his brother’s sire bond over Elena, which they had all been counting on, doesn’t work now that she feels nothing. We smell trouble. And scotch.
When she wakes up back at the Salvatore house, Elena pouts and strips. (Side note: who does any sort of athletic event in a bra like that?) Stefan isn’t going to let himself be riled that easily. He points out that using her sexuality as a weapon is exactly like something Katherine would do. This would have wounded the Elena we all know and love. But not new Elena, who retaliates by texting her entire school (as one does) and throwing a massive party at the house.
Caroline shows up and points out that while Elena being this way isn’t ideal, there isn’t anything wrong with having a little fun. She tells Stefan that as his sober coach, she commands him to toss a girl over his shoulder and take to the dance floor. He follows her advice — and whisks the bubbly blond herself out to dance. It’s cute, like watching chaperones at middle school dance try to do the Dougie.
Damon’s hunt for Katherine leads him straight to another woman who’s given him nothing but trouble: Rebekah (Claire Holt). She’s still hunting for the cure, too, and, has a vial of Klaus’s blood. (You know, because of how we all carry around vials of our siblings’ blood with us.) She thinks it could be the perfect incentive to make the vampire Klaus left dying to tell them what he knows. Damon grudgingly agrees to work with her. With the help of a little live bait, they find the vamp in question. One kink: He’s someone Damon knows! And weirder still, someone Damon likes too much to torture for information. With no explanation, he rips out Will-the-vamps heart and heads back to Mystic Falls, Rebekah in tow.
Klaus is having only slightly better luck back at his home. While Hayley hasn’t given up any names, she’s revealed a soft-spot not just for Tyler (Michael Trevino) — but for Klaus himself, particularly as revealed through his artwork and his murdering of vampires who were trying to murder her. She mentions that Tyler will be able to outrun Klaus for all the reasons Katherine could: a network of allies. She has a couple of names for Klaus. When it becomes clear that Hayley is going to give up some information, in spite of Klaus’s refusal to call off the hunt for Tyler, the tension between them cannot be denied and they give in to it right there in the study.
Meanwhile the party at the Salvatores’ is reaching a crescendo; everyone is having a good time until Elena spots Stefan and Caroline. Though she swears her feelings are gone for good, the sight of them dancing makes her toss insults at both of them. Then Elena roughs up poor Sheriff Forbes, who was just trying to do normal police work, for once by dealing with a noise complaint.
If there’s one sure fire way to piss off Caroline, it’s hurting her mama! Or by trying to keep your business private. Caroline and Stefan — and eventually Damon, late to the party but not the main event — chase Elena to the woods. She’d been using the party as a distraction to escape her caretakers. Caroline and Elena fight but are separated by Damon and Stefan and dragged off in different directions.
Stefan soothes Caroline by the massive fireplace, reminding her that the real Elena is still in there. Caroline knows this is true... but can we just call it like it is? Caroline is having one of the worst week’s on record. On top of this fight with her dead-inside bestie, she discovers that the boyfriend she’s been leaving messages for all week is really and truly gone. Tyler had mailed the deed to his house for Matt (Zach Roerig), as well as a letter for Caroline saying he wasn’t coming back. It was more than any one lady — even an awesome one — could bear. Caroline’s episode ended in tears, and poor human Matt didn’t know how to adequately console her.
Elena however, is one step away from yelling “Spring Break!” Damon is driving her to New York. He’s says it’s for fun, but it’s clear it’s got something to do with his recently killed friend Will. This leaves Stefan all on his own with the news that there have been a rash of blood bag thefts from local hospitals. Stefan thinks that Silas is behind it, and he’s probably right.
He’s not the only one left with a mystery. Klaus, noticing a birthmark on Hayley’s back, reveals that he might have information about the family she has been so desperately seeking. Is he telling the truth or is it just another one of his games?
Next time: Vampires in New York?!