Vampire Diaries Season 4, Episode 3, “The Rager” opens the day after last week’s ep left off. Tyler (Michael Trevino) is in Mystic Falls’l hospital getting a little R&R. Being a hybrid, he doesn’t actually need to be there. It’s all for show because, well, your neighbors expect you to head to the ER after some nutjob shoots you during the pastor’s funeral.

But Tyler’s show of humanity causes a problem. It makes it too easy for new-slayer-in-town, Connor Jordan (Todd Williams) to track him down — which is exactly what happens. Connor easily overpowers Tyler’s security guard, then stealths into the hybrid’s room. Tyler senses Connor coming, so he hides then pounces. But the hunter is ready for him. Connor tranquilizes Ty and pushes him down on the bed. Just when it looks like Connor might try to stick it to the former super jock, the slayer takes out a syringe, stabs Tyler in the gums, and extracts an ounce of yellow hybrid venom. Then he leaves and calmly heads back to his trailer. And we hate to say it, but, that new vampire hunter dude is good!

Meanwhile, Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) bicker over — who else? — Elena (Nina Dobrev). The new vamp heads out to meet Matt (Zach Roerig) at their old makeout spot at Mystic Falls High. (Yes, we typed Mystic Falls High.) After dying and coming back, Elena decided she might as well finish her senior year in the school we’ve so rarely seen her attend. “I’ve survived this long,” she says. “There’s no way I’m bailing before graduation.” But first she has to eat. And this is where the rendezvous with Matt comes in. Ever guilty that he survived the car crash, Elena’s ex-boo extends his wrist to her for a mid-morning snack. She feeds politely, careful not to kill him. But you can tell she wants to gorge.

Credit: Annette Brown/ The CW ©2012 The CW Network Photo: April and Rebekah in The Vampire Diaries Season 4, Episode 3: “The Rager”

Let Bygones be bygones

Klaus (Joseph Morgan) is not happy to be back in Mystic Falls. But he is. He has to be. After he learned about the attempt on Tyler’s life, the Original hybrid rushed back to town to protect his firstborn investment. After all, without Elena’s human blood, he can’t make new children. Klaus being Klaus, he doesn’t just drop off a hybrid security detail and bark a few orders at Tyler. No, he has to reprimand the teen for helping to stake him and stick his body in a coffin. But Tyler is ready with a witty reply. “You used my body as an escape hatch and kissed my girlfriend,” he says. “So maybe we’re even.” Yeah. Or maybe not.

Klaus isn’t the only visitor Tyler gets today. Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin), the shewolf who helped him break his sire bond, drops by. Tyler is happy to see her but fears what Klaus will do to his pal. 

Mayor Lockwood has put a curfew on Mystic Falls — for the safety of the, ahem, general populace. Rebekah (Claire Holt) sees this as the perfect excuse to throw a housewarming/curfew-ditch party. She invites the entire student body of Mystic Falls High — including Elena and Stefan. But the sight of Beks walking into Alaric’s (Matt Davis) old history classroom gives Elena the full-on rage. The two vamps exchange words. Then Elena throws a pencil at Rebekah. The Original sister catches it and tosses it back, staking Elena in the shoulder. “I hate her,” Elena growls as she storms out of the room, with Stefan by her side.  “I didn’t think I was capable of hate. But. I. Hate. Her. ... And I hate that I hate her.”

Hate is the dark side of love

Elena may hate Bekah, but the Original sister loves taunting her. When Elena goes to the bathroom to clean up, Beks sends a bleeding classmate into the ladies’ room after her. Elena doesn’t take the bait; Beks struts in and raises the stakes, smearing the girl’s blood all over Elena’s face. She knows this will make Elena vamp out. And, even more importantly, Beks knows that Connor Jordan is just down the hall.

“What are you, a social worker?” Jeremy asks Connor when the hunter approaches him. Slayer Jordan remains calm. He tells Jeremy that he has researched the Gilbert family and sought him out because Jer can see his “hunter’s mark” — a tattoo that is invisible to all but a chosen vampire-slaying few. He then makes Jer an offer: Find a vampire and I’ll teach you how to be a hunter. Jeremy agrees to think on it and walks away.

Next, Connor moves on to Matt. He finds the Grill’s best busboy in a school hallway, still traumatized by the fact that Rebekah had the gall to invite him to her party—as if she hadn’t tried to kill him the week before. Connor grabs Matt, removes the band-aid from his wrist, and demands that Matt identify the vampire who left the fang marks. Matt refuses at first. Then he names Rebekah. Payback. 

While Slayer Jordan recruits Jer and accosts Matt, he unknowingly snares his own bloodsucker — Damon. The elder Salvatore takes it upon himself to snoop around Connor’s RV. The vamp gets caught — literally —  in one of the hunter’s exploding booby traps. If Damon moves an inch, pieces of him will be blown into the next zip code. So what does he do? He speed dials Doc Meredith Fell (Torrey DeVitto). “Tell me that’s not a bomb,” she says when she arrives. Ever snarky, Damon responds: “OK. It’s a kitten. It’s an adorable, exploding kitten.”

As Meredith removes the arrow, she and Damon bond a bit. She compliments him on being “a good brother” who takes the dangerous jobs so Stefan can mentor Elena.

Speaking of Stefan, not only does he decide to accompany Elena to Bekah’s party, he gives her a little bourbon to take the edge off. Neither of these things is a good idea. Minutes after she arrives at Bekah’s bastion of under-aged drinking, Elena again gets the rage and obsesses over Klaus’s sister. The Original vamp knows this and plays it for laughs. At one point, she smoothly lifts Elena’s daywalker ring off her finger and throws it into the garbage disposal, leaving our new vampire girl awkwardly exposed.

Credit: Annette Brown/ The CW ©2012 The CW Network Photo: Klaus and Damon in The Vampire Diaries Season 4, Episode 3: “The Rager”

Murder, she wrote
Elena’s rage sharpens into a murderous point. Armed with the white oak dagger, she tells Stefan that she plans to kill Rebekah. Stefan responds by reminding her that taking out an Original isn’t just murdering one vampire. It is killing every bloodsucker that she sired. Thousands. The guilt trip works.  Rather than attack her host, Elena does a keg stand on the way out and chugs a gut-load of beer. Bekah watches but is distracted but the pain pulsing through her body, caused by the werewolf venom that Connor slipped into the keg.

After they leave the party, Stefan and Elena go on a motorcycle ride. Elena pulls a daredevil Twilight move and stands up on the back of Stef’s bike as he speeds down the road. She raises her hands and closes her eyes, enjoying the fact that a fall will not kill her. Little does she know, the venom in the beer will.

Elena realizes something is wrong a few minutes later when she’s home, making out with Stefan. They are just about to take things to the next level when, instead of seeing her beloved, she sees her be-lusted — Damon.

Speaking of the devil, while Elena partied, Damon worked with Jeremy and Klaus to cook up a Connor Jordan-catching plan. Jeremy told Connor that Meredith secretly uses vampire blood to heal patients. In exchange, she hooks up the local bloodsucking population. While it’s not a full lie, it’s not a total truth either. Connor accompanies Jer to the hospital, and they follow the doc into a storage room. Once inside, however, Connor somehow senses Damon’s presence. “Is a hospital really the best place for a germaphobe,” he asks. The sexy Salvatore steps out of the shadows. “Did I say germaphobe?” Damon asks. “I meant vampire.”

Just what the doctor ordered
Before Connor can draw his gun, Damon stakes the hunter using the same explosive trap that captured him earlier. Even though he has a stake in each arm, Connor still reaches for his gun. Just as he’s about to pick it up, Klaus kicks it out of the way. The OV joins his new frenemy Damon in interrogating the hunter. But Connor doesn’t spill. Whatsmore, after Damon mentions Connor’s invisible tattoo, Slayer Jordan removes the stake from his own arm and tries to stick it into Klaus. “Nice try. But I’m faster than your average vampire,” The hybrid says. “You’re one of the five.” 

Before Damon can figure out WTH that means, Connor mumbles something about being “faster than your average hunter,” and, a beat later, the room explodes. Damon is tossed out into the hallway.

After Stefan realizes that Elena has been poisoned with the venom Connor stole from Tyler, he asks Klaus to save her. The OV does, saying cryptic things about Elena being worth something to him. Meanwhile, back at Bek’s place, the Original sister cold-sweats and hallucinates a heartbreaking encounter with her crush Matt before passing out. Then she wakes she finds April cleaning her house. “Picking up trash is a hell of a lot better than sitting at home thinking about the family I no longer have,” April says. Rebekah clearly thinks that’s pathetic. But then she’s also in a pathetic way herself. So she offers to help April investigate Pastor Young’s exploding house.

With Elena’s recovery assured, Stefan goes to seek out Caroline. Turns out that while Stefan wants Elena’s transition to bring out the best in her (the way it did with Caroline), he’s afraid that if he allows himself to share her newfound joys, he will become the Ripper. Damon promised to reel him in, but Stefan no longer trusts his brother. Caroline tells Stefan that he helped her become a great, balanced vampire and that, in return, she will help him not be a homicidal maniac. It’s a true friendship moment.

Careful, you mustn’t eat too much
Back at Casa Gilbert, Elena’s having a friendship moment of her own. Matt shows up for dinner. Elena tells him about the rage she felt towards Rebekah, then she starts to feed from his wrist. Only this time she doesn’t stop.  She starts hurting him. He tries to pull away; she pushes him back into the cabinet and digs in deeper. Then, just as she’s about to overeat in a way that she will forever regret, Damon vamps in and pushes her off Matt. 

“Stop it. Stop it,” he commands, using a “Bad Dog!” tone. Before the truth can set in, Damon compels Matt to forget that Elena almost drank him to death. Then he turns to his little brother’s girlfriend and says, “You are a vampire now. You just have to learn the right way to be one. And I’m going to teach you.”

Across town, the slayer who wanted to “teach” Jeremy wakes up. Klaus is sitting by Connor Jordan’s side. Apparently, the Original saved his archenemy. Connor, who doesn’t even know what it means to be “one of the five,” looks at him, incredulous. “You don’t know your history, do you?” Klaus asks. “Let’s just say it’s made you the most well-protected vampire hunter in town.”

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