When this week’s episode of the greatest television program ever made begins, we know almost immediately that what we are witnessing it is a dream. Not because Elena’s (Nina Dobrev) peers, greeting her as she approaches school, are oblivious to her humanity switch still being placed firmly in the ‘off’ position, but because only in the hallucinatory ravings of a vampire deprived of blood could Caroline (Candice Accola) be preparing to be rewarded for academic excellence. Party planning and most popular, we’ll concede, but the notion that Caroline has time for all things scholastic in addition to her supernatural extracurriculars? We’ve got to draw the line.

n The Vampire Diaries Season 4, Episode 21, “She’s Come Undone,” the Salvatores are doing everything in their power to awaken Elena’s emotions. Damon’s (Ian Somerhalder) sudden appearance in Elena’s reverie puts a fine point on the matter. He and Stefan (Paul Wesley) have kept Elena drained and depleted in the hopes that these nostalgic-yet-still-in-the-future moments with her friends will force her humanity back on. Don’t worry, the guys aren’t being too gentle on her. While Elena is left to dream these not-so-sweet dreams, the guys are making sure she has none of the comforts of home by keeping her locked in a safe like the precious jewel she is. But, as the song says (and also Shakespeare), one must cruel to be kind.

Caroline arrives at Castle Salvatore to check up on her friend. She and Elena have had a, uh, bumpy go of it lately. That should make Caroline’s appearance important and special to Elena, especially when Caroline tells her friend that she’ll be with her until the end, and that she doesn’t agree with Damon and Stefan’s methods. But Elena, being her still-riotously evil self, only uses the opportunity to mess with Caroline’s head, mocking her about the men in her life. When this fails to get the rise she’s looking for, she tries to kill Caroline — who is left with no option other than that of snapping her pretty friend’s neck.

At the Mystic Grill, Rebekah (Claire Holt) is trying out her softer side. Her softer side apparently involves a severe ponytail which we won’t go so far as to say is misguided, but isn’t doing her significant favors in the “I’m sweet and cuddly” department, either.

Rebekah’s been waiting, trying to get Matt’s (Zach Roerig) attention. The grill is the only thing going right for Matt, so he ignored her to, you know, do his job. Having lost out on the cure and cut ties with her brothers, Rebekah is feeling a little blue. Down on allies, she’s glommed on to Matt, who is the only remaining citizen in town who admits to having seen good in her. More importantly, he’s the only person who’s inspired her towards decency. Presumably April (Grace Phipps) could too, but she is probably too busy being hospitalized for chronic blood loss to be of any use to anyone. Too bad, so sad.

Matt doesn’t have time for any disciples even of the Original variety and advises Rebekah to skip town now that her ties are gone. He makes it clear that he envies her. He can’t leave; he’s broke and failing all of his classes. With that, he swans off to meet up with Caroline. Rebekah sits benevolently scheming.

Caroline’s got a lot on her plate, socially speaking, this week. Stepping outside of Count Chocula’s Manse (which is what we are calling the Salvatores’ house now, FYI) to wait for Matt, she quickly checks in with Bonnie (Kat Graham) who was been mysteriously MIA. Can’t we just assume that when Bonnie is not on screen, she either near-comatose and weeping at the various traumas enacted upon her or doing evil things with magic she cannot control? Can’t we? Apparently we can’t, because this time Bonnie pleads finals, and that’s enough to get school-obsessed Caroline off of the phone.

Ah, but Bonnie isn’t studying at all! “School?” she asks, “What’s that?” as she ponders the ramifications of dropping the veil between this world and the next at Silas’s behest. “Is there recess there? Do I play sports? Has anyone told my after-school helper Mrs. Johnson I won’t be available for extra help with reading? She gives me stickers sometimes, ” she intones, a vacant look in her eye. Because she has not been to school for a hundred years.

The reason Bonnie lied to Caroline is because she’s having a covert in-diner meeting with Katherine (Nina Dobrev)! GASP. She’s summoned Katherine because she needs Silas’s headstone before the full moon so that she can kill him per his wishes. “Don’t we all,” says Katherine with a wink, thinking this is all innuendo. Bonnie rolls her eyes — Katherine is useless as usual, but her hair looked great and the new lipstick shade really suits her. Maybe they could be friends after all, and does this diner serve cobb salads, she wondered.

The Princess Bride taught us all that life is pain, and because that is Damon’s and Stefan’s favorite movie (though Damon always resented how Stefan always gets to play Wesley and he has to be Humperdinck whenever they act it out) it is also the tactic they are adhering to in their bid to bring back the Elena they know and love.

Next up on the torture agenda? They have taken away her daylight ring and are quietly roasting her pretty skin. Elena takes some time to taunt them, but clearly she is a little nervous. Does anxiety count as a human emotion? This is not discussed, and more’s the pity.

Matt finally shows up outside the house. Caroline is glad to see him. He has apparently been summoned to talk to Caroline so that she doesn’t hear Elena’s blood-curdling screams. Matt says, “It’s good to be needed,” only not out loud. He just wrote that in his diary later. Caroline chatters to distract herself and mentions having ordered his cap and gown, and it becomes plain that he has not confessed his academic failings to Caroline.

Unfortunately, when Rebekah arrives with a burger for Matt (yeah, a burger for the guy who just got off a shift at the grill, nice one, Bex), she lets it slip that Matt’s failing his classes. This sends Caroline into a tizzy. She quickly bails, because being there for Elena until the end is less important than getting a chance to employ her various flashcards and study aids. Rebekah sneers as Caroline leaves, “You dated that?” Matt smiles fondly, “She likes projects.” We honestly hope everything works out for Matt and are very concerned that it won’t.

Before she can get into her car, Caroline is stopped by Klaus (Joseph Morgan). While it is not entirely outside the realm of possibility that Klaus would appear and say, “Caroline, may I smolder upon you?” he has a lot of his own stuff going on at the moment (exhibit Hayley-Baby-Gate ‘13). Since most watchers of the show know that there’s a certain immortal witch keen on wearing the appearances of all the other castmates on the loose, you might have immediately called ‘Silas’ on this one. Caroline, however, didn’t. The two went for a walk in the woods. This is why we do not think she would ever be Valedictorian. Just saying.

Elena is still being tortured and without a decent SPF, the sun is sure to leave outrageous scars upon her pale skin. After verbally tormenting Damon for a bit, going on about how she never loved him and it was just the sire bond, Elena sets herself on fire with the sun. Yeah, go back and read that phrase again, we know we had to. The guys literally used a fire extinguisher on her... which means they knew this possibility. We love them now more than ever.

Elena chortles. They both love her too much to ever really harm her — something they both just proved. The guys adjourn to the front yard, where they vent about how stressful it is to torture the humanity back into their ex-girlfriend. They conclude by realizing that they need someone who has no real issue with causing Elena actual harm . Time to bring in Katherine.

In the forest, Caroline quickly realizes that Klaus isn’t Klaus. It’s Silas, that rascal. She calls him out after he quotes something Elena said to Caroline in private. Silas does not give Caroline a prize for identifying him; instead he commands her to make Bonnie come out of hiding. Then, as incentive, he chest-stabs her and toddles off into the night.

Back in the house, Matt is still failing Italian, a language he probably signed up for because he loves pizza. There is a brief phone commercial, where Matt uses his phone to translate something about a train into Italian. Rebekah, still not quite picking up how this human-decency thing works, offers to compel Matt good grades and a great scholarship. “Everyone needs an advantage in life,” she says, “I could be yours.” But Matt is noble to the end, and refuses her offer, choosing instead to sulk on the sofa.

His sulk is disturbed when the brothers Salvatore show up with Katherine. Rebekah LOLz at their plan to have Katherine torture Elena, and Matt is so furious that he storms out. His plan? To tell on them to Caroline. Never let it be said the tattle-tale had not his pride.

Matt’s having a hard time getting a hold of Caroline though because she just woke up from being mostly dead in the forest. Her cell phone secured (priorities), she begins to trek back to her car. Matt finds her basically says, “Surprise! Fooled you again! It’s me, Silas! Bring me Bonnie!!!” Caroline keeps running, and then Silas shows up again as Klaus. “Just in case I wasn’t clear before, I really need you to find Bonnie for me,” he says. Then Caroline almost kills him with her car. She calls her mom and tells her to get home and lock the door, letting no one — not even Caroline — in. At no point does Caroline turn to Silas and yell, “Yeah, I know! You want Bonnie! How can I get her if you keep playing switchy-faces all night?!” This is a testimony to her good heart.

Katherine’s torture session with Elena does not go well. “Oh, honey. You look awful,” she says, letting the girl out of the safe and checking to make sure her heart still beats in her chest. Then, instead of trying to get her to feel, she plies her for information about Elijah. When she doesn’t hear what she wants, she “forgets” to lock the safe, because Katherine drinks chaos like a recapper drinks coffee: that’s a lot, you guys.

Katherine barely has time to drink her scotch and taunt Damon when Stefan strolls in to announce that Elena has escaped. Katherine twirls her hair as the brothers shake their fist at her and her wily ways. “And now, to the hunt!” proclaims Damon, and they all get on horses and release hounds in the hopes of finding Elena. No they didn’t. But they did leave to go find her, bringing Matt along as chum. You know, chum, like for sharks. Elena is a great white in this scenario. Moving on.

At Caroline’s house, she is thoroughly brain-teased after Silas’s tricks. Her mom is at home, but she isn’t sure her mom’s her mom. Being a modern teen in modern times, she calls her mom’s cell. Liz, standing in front of her, hilariously answers the call and all is briefly well. Sheriff Forbes, girl, you rock the short hair and you are the best. Make us cookies.

In the woods, Elena has escaped but not gone far when an SUV pulls over to help her. You immediately fear for the person going to her aid — and then you see it’s Matt and become more afraid. He tries to talk her down from the edge, but Elena has her mind on her feeding and her feeding on her mind (with apologies to Snoop Lion). She bites Matt and begins to drink!

Bonnie is finally out of hiding. She shows up at Caroline’s house and Caroline explains, “I totally can’t let you in, girl! I’m freaking here!” When Bonnie spots Silas standing right behind Caroline, she uses her evil-magic to blast the door off. Caroline demands to know where her mom is. Silas answers, “Right where you left her.” We smashed an empty glass bottle in half in readiness to do battle with Silas should anything have befallen Sheriff Forbes.

Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW

Bonnie satisfies Silas’s concerns, assuring him that she’s saving her strength for the new moon and the time to drop the veil (which sounds dirty no matter how many times it is written out). Silas insists that Bonnie leave the house now as her friends are a distraction, and Bonnie goes with him. Caroline is left to frantically try and revive her possibly dead mom?! No!

As delicious as Matt is, the Salvatores step in and stop Elena from draining him. Then the plan goes into overdrive. Damon grabs Matt by the neck. He is going to kill Matt, because then, maybe, just maybe, Elena will be rocked with feeling for the loss of the first boy she ever loved. Remember, it was to save Matt that Elena became a vampire, basically! Elena calls his bluff and Damon shrugs, snapping Matt’s neck and killing him. Elena loses her mind! It’s like Jeremy all over again. Elena is feeling the full force of the grief. Then, when Damon reveals Matt was wearing the Gilbert ring, she feels joy.  

Elena is back! But isn’t all sunshine and roses; she also has to face all of the heinous things she’s done and the loss of Jeremy. She smashes the windshield in rage and howls. It’s only when Stefan tells her to focus on one thing that makes her strong, one thing worth living for, that she begins to settle. The question now is, what will that one thing be?

Then, for several paralyzing seconds, we are led to believe Sheriff Forbes is dead. Some of us maybe questioned the existence of God or the likelihood of a letter full of our tears reaching Julie Plec. Luckily, Sheriff Forbes is such a hopeless romantic that as soon as Caroline whispers that she’ll find her a new man (and as soon as she injects her blood into her mom’s heart), Liz wakes up. Get this woman an romcom!  

Rebekah has had the whole episode to quietly figure out what she is doing wrong with Matt. When he wakes up from being dead, she makes a go of it again and quickly redeems herself. She knows she was wrong to offer to help him cheat, but she lets him know that she’ll help him in whatever he needs, whenever he needs it. Please let this mean they go to an Italian restaurant and shenanigans ensue.

Katherine, having seen the end result of her mayhem, meets up with Bonnie again. She calls Bonnie out. As a direct descendant of Qetsiyah, Bonnie doesn’t have to wait for an astral event to drop the veil if she has Silas’s tombstone. Bonnie smiles. “Guilty as charged,” she did not say, but should have. Aware that they are the two smartest people currently on the show, Katherine agrees to turn over the stone, and Bonnie agrees to give Katherine the freedom and power she craves by making her as immortal as Silas. Sadly, no cobb salad is shared in celebration of their new pact.

Across town, Elena is back and the guys beseech her to rest. Elena shrugs off the plaid blanket on her shoulders, scoffs at the scotch offered, and sets her sights on her next mission. She wants to destroy the person she holds responsible for every terrible thing that’s happened: KATHERINE.