Credit: Quantrell Colbert/The CW Photo: Klaus Smirks in The Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 9, “Homecoming”

We hate to think about The Vampire Diaries slipping into reruns until January 5, 2012. But if our show has to have a seven-week mid-season hiatus (which it does), we’re glad it took us places we never thought it would go first. Seriously. Klaus hijacking the homecoming dance? Stefan working against his fam? Tonight’s episode was full of surprises. And that whole Klaus vs. Mikael vs. Damon vs. Stefan fight was… Well, wait. We’re getting a head of ourselves.

Think About the Master Plan

To take it from the top, “Homecoming” opens with Elena, Damon, Mikael, and Stefan premeditating a serious murder — the death of Klaus, to be more exact. Their plan is for Stefan to call Klaus to tell him that Original Vamp Daddy Dearest is dead. To make it real, Mikael even agrees to let someone stab him with an ash wood-dipped dagger so that he can play dead to bait Klaus into coming back to Mystic Falls.

But, as always, there’s a catch. “A vampire can’t dagger an original without dying,” Mikael says. So Elena has to do it. Our girl’s a bit freaked. But she rises to the grisly occasion.

Still feeling betrayed by the brother who lied about killing their mother, Rebekah agrees to help, too. In fact, when Klaus doubts that Stefan’s telling the 100 percent truth, K’s little sis is the one who sells the story. “It’s true. He’s finally out of our lives,” Rebekah tells Klaus about their father. “I miss you brother. I’m miserable here.”

A Family Reunion

Bekah’s not lying about that last bit. She does hate being stuck in a town where all the supernaturals want to kill her big bro. But what’s a girl to do? Wait for your undead father to wake is one option. After Elena stabs Mikael she keeps her promise and removes the dagger. But it’s Bekah who sits by Mike’s side, waiting for him to wake. She’s nervous. After all, he did spend a millennium hunting her and her brother. But, apparently, she worried for nothing. “You were never the one I was after,” Mikael tells her when he wakes. (Whew!)

With that fear off her plate, Bekah returns her attentions to the homecoming dance. She’s psyched to be going. It will be her first after all. She puts on strapless red number and, when Elena arrives, she gets all weepy about playing a part in the plan to kill her brother.

Credit: Quantrell Colbert/The CW Photo: Klaus Is Humble in The Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 9, “Homecoming”

Backstabber, Backstabber!

Once again Elena consoles her enemy. E even shocks us when she returns the necklace that once belonged to Bekah’s mother, the original witch. The Original puts the necklace on and chokes up. She barely has time to admire the way it looks against her cold dead skin when Elena daggers her. “I’m sorry. I can’t leave anything to chance,” Elena says as she watches Bekah fall. “In the back. Harsh,” Damon says a few minutes later when he covers Rebekah’s body with a sheet. Harsh indeed.

Meanwhile, over at Mystic Falls High, Caroline’s busy heading dance decorating duty. When Tyler suggests they skip out to grab a few drinks from some vampire-friendly people who “like to be fed on,” Caroline’s not having it. “Quit hanging out with Rebekah the evil blood slut,” she says.

When Ty goes on to tell Car that the blood slut will be Matt’s date to the party, Blondie questions his loyalty. “This is a sire thing, isn’t it?” she asks. “Please tell me this is some weird family extension of your sire bond to Klaus.” Tyler seems amused. “I’m here hanging streamers and I’ve got glitter all over my hands,” he says. “If I’m sired to anybody it’s you.” Awww.

Ty’s words make us sigh. But not for long. A few hours later when Caroline and Co. arrive for the homecoming dance they find MFPD and Fire department, blocking the way. Suspiciously, the gym has flooded. The dance has been cancelled. Well, almost. Tyler agrees to move it to his house.

Flash forward an hour and the Lockwood mansion is jumping in a way that clearly took a team of pros all day to plan, not just 60 minutes. There’s a live band, catering, sophisticated lighting, decorations, and booze galore. And from the looks of the crowd, half the county is on the back lawn. “Who are all these people?” Bonnie asks. Caroline has a better question: “How did he plan a better party to me so fast? This is weird.”

Weird is one way to describe it. Suspicious is another. When Stefan compliments Tyler on the party, the jock turned werewolf turned hybrid spills the beans. “I’m just doing what Klaus wanted,” he says. “It’s not a party, man. It’s a wake.”

On cue, Klaus steps on stage to thank everyone for coming. After his welcoming speech, the O.V. sends Stefan home to fetch Mikael’s body — because you can’t have a wake without a corpse, right? Stefan does as he’s told. But the second after he enters the Salvatore manse, Mikael attacks him, drinking his blood until he passes out. “You couldn’t just break his neck?” Damon asks. Uh, no.

Credit: Quantrell Colbert/The CW Photo: Caroline Is Pensive in The Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 9, “Homecoming”

One Man’s Funeral Is Another Man’s Party

Yes, Klaus hijacked the Timberwolves’ homecoming dance. And all those people Bonnie didn’t recognize? They’re hybrids sired to protect you know who. “So if anyone should so much as make a move against me they might feel obligated to retaliate,” Klaus tells Tyler. “Feel free to warn your friends.”

Tyler runs straight to his girl Caroline and accuses her of plotting against his maker. Seeing how she’s been kept out of the loop, Car denies it. “Even if I did [know something], I wouldn’t tell you about it,” she says, “because you’re sired to Team Klaus now and you can’t be trusted.” Ty doesn’t believe her. But rather than get mad, he darts her with Vervain, then tells Matt to take her (and all their friends from school) somewhere safe.

While Ty is upstairs trying to protect Caroline, Klaus is downstairs making sure Elena knows that not only is he onto them, but he has made plans to have Damon offed after his death. Speaking of Sir Salvatore, while Klaus crushes Elena’s joy, D is outside killing a hybrid who dares to tell him the party is “invite only.” Once he’s inside, Sir Salvatore chastises Ty for letting hybrids onto the property. The two get into a fight that Bonnie squashes by giving them both “witchy migraines.”

Credit: Quantrell Colbert/The CW Photo: Elena Is All ‘OMG’ in The Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 9, “Homecoming”

Daddy Issues

Mikael arrives a few minutes later and, because he can’t enter the house, he sends a hybrid to alert Klaus. After signaling his minions to surround the porch, Klaus meets Mikael at the door. To make a long story short, the two O.V.s exchange harsh words. Klaus tears up. And Mikael threatens to kill Elena to keep the boy he raised from making more hybrids. But, even as he cries, the son of the Original-Original vamp stands firm. “I’m calling your bluff father. Kill her,” Klaus says. Wrong words. Mikael stabs Elena.

As Elena falls, Damon vamps in behind Klaus and stabs him in the back. But he misses the heart. They tussle. Then, suddenly, the woman we thought was Elena stands up. “Katherine,” Mikael says.

Yes, indeed. Elena’s evil double turns to the hybrid army surrounding the porch, pulls two wolf bane grenades from her pocket, and tosses them. “Ba-boom!” she says just as Stefan vamps in and attacks Damon, giving Klaus enough time to grab the ash wood dagger and — watch out now! — stab Mikael with it. Daddy dearest bursts into flames on the Lockwood porch.

“What the hell did you just do?” Damon asks his lil’ bro. “He’s earned his freedom,” Klaus replies. While his father flames out on the porch, Klaus turns to Stef, looks deep into his eyes, and frees him from compulsion. By the time he undoes the spell, Damon is gone.

Credit: Quantrell Colbert/The CW Photo: Klaus and Stefan Share a Moment in The Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 9, “Homecoming”

Whose Plan Was This?

Klaus alive? Mikael dead? And Stefan siding against his brother? This is not how things were supposed to go. Turns out, it’s all Katherine’s fault. When she realized that they’d brought knives to a hybrid gunfight, Kat (who was pretending to be Elena at the time) vamped back over to the Salvatore mansion and recruited Stefan. She told him to betray them to save Damon’s life. And he did.

Meanwhile, back and the Salvatore manse, Damon is livid that the plan didn’t play out the way he intended, smashing a glass into the fireplace. Elena calms him, clutching his face. “We’ll survive this,” she says. “We always survive. Trust me.” Damon asks her what will happen if they don’t get Stefan back, and she responds, “We’ll let him go, okay? We’ll have to let him go.”

Before the smoke from Mikael’s body clears, Stefan and Katherine hit the road. Only, Stefan takes a little something extra along with him — the daggered corpses of Elijah and other members of the family Klaus. When the O.V. discovers them missing, he loses his cool. But Stefan doesn’t. “You took everything from me,” Stefan calmly tells his former master. “I wonder, Klaus, as someone who’s been one step ahead for a thousand years, were you prepared for this?”