The Vampire Diaries: Bonfire of Insanities (PHOTO RECAP)

Dang, what a bad, boring episode haha just kidding, this was another great episode! Have any of you noticed how GOOD Season 3 has been so far? Take my word for it, ALL of my words for it, The Vampire Diaries is on fire right now. Someday in the near future we will be able to brag to our children (including clones and baby robots and Tamagotchis) that we were alive during the golden age of The Vampire Diaries. I mean, Seasons 1 and 2 were fine, but those seasons only had ONE kind of vampire. Now we have FOUR kinds. Do you see what I'm saying? That's just math. Season 3 is richer with vampire species. But also, WOW WOW WOW. None of the characters are boring anymore? Matt is both informed and pro-active? Jeremy is straight-up sympathetic? Even Sheriff Forbes makes good decisions now? Man, Sam Cooke was right, a change WAS gonna come and it especially came to this show. Congratulations to the makers of this show, but really, congratulations to US the viewers.

Anyway, as you know because you read the internet, Thursday's episode "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (get it? Because spirits!) marked the first day back at school for the high school seniors in the cast. And boy what a day! It started bright and early for Elena:

Elena had been through a lot lately and she looked seriously spent. It made me laugh when she got out her concealer and went to work on those fang marks. Do you think she buys concealer in bulk?

One noticeable change that happened in this episode was that Elena is slightly awesome now! True, she'd spent the summer pining away for an absolutely reprehensible murderer like some kind of sad, despicable maniac, but now that he's actually back in her midst she's taken a turn for the Buffy Summers! Theoretically Stefan's job was to protect her, so that makes it all the more awesome that Elena would take the initiative to protect herself rather than become a damsel in distress.

Okay, so she had some work to do. Still though, this version of Elena was a big upgrade. You know what wasn't an upgrade though? Alaric's hair! Was it 1995 again? Bring back that emo haircut from a few episodes back! But yeah, it was also nice to see Alaric back in vampire hunter mode. I'd kind of forgotten that that was his thing. I still think his recent conversion to vampire hater was a whiplash-inducing personality shift, but fine, whatever. At least he has something to do now.

Mystic Falls looked positively CROWDED, so I guess they're busing in kids now? Feel kinda bad for those kids. In other news, nobody seemed to notice or care about the murders the night before, although Caroline DID call the prank night "sort of a bust." Very sensitive, lady!

Anyway, our three lady seniors marked the occasion of their first day back by complaining about their man problems.

Elena reminisced about how she'd first met Stefan one year ago that day. Except, correct me if I'm wrong, didn't they kinda sorta meet the day he allowed her parents to drown? Whatever, I'm not here to nitpick (I get everything wrong anyway).

Damon was NOT thrilled about his new roommate's sloppy housekeeping, nor did he approve of the party games going on in the game room.

Damon pointed out that Klaus instructed Stefan to watch over Elena, not throw debaucherous games of bloody Twister (cool product placement, Hasbro!). Stefan pointed out that he needs to eat tons of female victims in order to be a good bodyguard. Impeccable logic. However, I do have to say that although Jerky Stefan is kind of reprehensible, he is also kind of an improvement over Classic Stefan. HEAR ME OUT. I get that he's not a romantic hero anymore, but he still has arguably more personality (and emotions!) than the previous Stefan had, plus he has more potential to change. Basically he's Damon. What I'm saying is, Stefan's kind of a blast now. Sorry, don't shoot the messen-- HEY! Who shot me?

Oh, but look who got left behind by Klaus and had spent the entire evening shopping? Rebekah!

So now Damon had TWO annoying roommates. Rebekah's great, so this was gonna be a hoot. (A "hoot" is basically an owl version of a fist-pump.)

If new Elena and new Stefan were the winners of this episode, the loser by a landslide was Bonnie. She was kind of the worst! First off, she was MAD at Jeremy for being plagued by spectral visitations that SHE had caused. Kid had been SHOT IN THE CHEST at point-blank range, had literally died, and now can't get any privacy when he wants to shower or pee. But Bonnie made it all about her, how she's the victim here. Please, Bonnie. YOU are going to dump JEREMY? He's no brainiac but he's definitely out of her league. Appreciate what you've got, lady!

Meanwhile in the parking lot, the saddest blue pickup in town pulled in.

After some quick reminiscing, Vicki had a proposal for Matt: She knew how to be brought back from The Other Side. We already knew this spelled trouble because that's some Pet Sematary type stuff, but also Anna already told us that Vicki is shady, like literally shady. Anyway, Matt didn't even have a chance to think about it because LOOK who was bangin' on his hood.

Ugh, Tyler. This episode marked the return of douchey Tyler, newly en-douchened by his vampire status. He'd been palling around with Rebekah and committing rookie mistakes like getting blood on his shirt and not brushing his teeth. Oh, Tyler!

Then Elena had a surprising RUN-IN in the hallway.

Somehow Stefan had put aside his game of Twister and decided to come "protect" Elena by following her all over campus. Cool plan! By the way, I need to officially rescind my theory from last week that Stefan's faking his compulsion. For starters, I was wrong about the the compellee's pupil needing to dilate. Also, if Stefan WAS just pretending, then this charade was nothing short of villainy. So yeah, thanks, commenters. I agree with you now! However, it still strikes me as insane that Stefan wasn't drinking vervain in order to avoid compulsion. Also, Klaus didn't "remove" Stefan's emotions, as it requires emotions to behave with haughty snark. If anything Klaus merely took away Stefan's tolerance for Elena, which I think may have happened to me a few years back as well.

Stefan even followed Elena into her AP U.S. History class! But he wasn't the only one who wanted to hang out with teenagers:

I wonder what it feels like to be a vampire hating history teacher who suddenly finds himself in a classroom JAM-PACKED with vampire students?

We also got to revisit the stoner grotto out back where we first met Tyler, Jeremy and Vicki. She finally explained her plan to Matt. But rather than being brought back as a flesh-and-blood human again, basically all that would happen would be she would remain a ghost but could touch things. So, a poltergeist in other words.

It was GAME ON for the ghost-to-poltergeist conversion ceremony!

Things took a bad turn for Caroline who realized she suddenly had a rival on the cheer squad (and in Tyler's heart!).

For his part, Tyler was looking like a goon in his doo-rag and decided to test out his compulsion gift on the football coach.

Caroline was NOT amused by his carelessness. But she was even LESS amused by Rebekah's shenanigans:

Little known fact about the 1920s: Cheerleading and gymnastics were HUGE then.

Elsewhere, Katherine was STILL in that vampire hunter's tomb trying to wake him up. Please note that she'd been at it for TWO DAYS. It turned out he'd been refusing to eat the mice she was trying to put in his mouth. I don't blame him! He was getting some super restful Z's and now some brassy vixen was trying to stuff a rodent down his throat? Total bummer. Anyway, Katherine then hatched a Plan B, which was to cut a passerby's throat and spill blood into the hunter's mouth.

It worked, but he was NOT happy to have been woken up and he seemed downright angry about having been fed human blood. We already knew this was a complicated dude since he hunts his own kind, but still. Where was this going??

Somewhere else (Alaric's apartment maybe? Who can tell) Elena was struggling to bench press about ten pounds worth of fake weights. Then Damon interrupted her for a scene diabolically intended to make the Damon-Elena shippers squee. Ostensibly to give her a anatomy lesson on vampires' weak spots, it was clear there was way more going on between these two:

Like, who ever has their faces THAT close together without getting married afterward? Haha just kidding, sorry Delena fans, I still don't think this is gonna happen.

That night at the big bonfire rally, Elena, Alaric and Damon hatched a plan to capture Stefan. THIS time they even included Caroline and Tyler in their plan! Might as well get all the superhuman heroes in your circle of friends to help you, you know? Notable exception: Bonnie, who Elena deemed too vulnerable to participate. Haha OBVIOUSLY.

But WHOOPS! It turned out Tyler <3s Klaus so much! He refused to do anything that would go against Klaus' wishes. As Damon explained, there's a phenomenon in the vampire world called "siring" in which the baby vampire only wishes to serve his maker. Tyler's been sired, I guess! Tough break, Caroline! Luckily Damon was on it:

Then everyone relocated to the bonfire party outside and Elena was REALLY into it.

It was pretty funny how Jerk Stefan became Concerned Stefan almost immediately.

I know I've mentioned this before but I HATE when people draw blood this way. The palm of your hand is basically the last place on your body you'll want wounded. But whatever, that's Matt for you. So here he was doing some kind of spell to help Vicki "cross back over."

It worked! And she immediately proceeded to whack him in the head with a wrench!

It turned out the Original Witch who'd helped Vicki on the other side made her promise to murder Elena in return for her services (Elena's murder would mean Klaus could no longer create hybrids), so Vicki was SERIOUS about carrying out this task. However, way to go, Vicki, immediately telling your brother about it and then attacking him with a wrench? Way to play it cool!

Also Bonnie was STILL mad at Jeremy. Madder even. This time it was because Vicki had talked to a dead witch? I'm not even sure!

Bonnie was losing it, you guys. Kinda worried about her.

This was the best: Damon and Rebekah having a campfire moment!

Damon was just pretending to flirt with Rebekah as distraction, but I couldn't help but think Rebekah might actually have genuine emotions in her still. Also, Elena was DEFINITELY jealous of this interaction and it was hilarious how Stefan tried to rub it in.

Back at Lockwood Mansion, Tyler woke up on his couch feeling very groggy and uncomfortable under the disapproving glare of his girlfriend.

Caroline really laid into him about his behavior that day and pointed out that he'd basically been acting like he had during Season 1,when he was just a jerk-bro-jock with a Mayor for a dad. Then Tyler immediately turned on a dime and apologized for everything, and in a touching display assured Caroline that he's nothing without her and he'll keep his ego in check from now on.

Good save?

This was a good scene:

First of all, Drunk Elena is FUN Elena! She was mostly pretending to be drunk, sure, but I appreciated what a weirdo she was. But that little quiet moment after Stefan caught her revealed that his emotions are definitely not gone, and he's probably just one or two heartfelt speeches away from regaining his classic nice guy persona. So yeah, great compulsion, Klaus! Way to go.

Then Alaric and Elena dragged Stefan's unconscious body back to Alaric's car where they encountered a poltergeist with bad decisionmaking skills.

Luckily Matt had gotten in touch with Bonnie and she was doing her best to reverse Vicki's poltergeist status.

Matt was NOT ready to forgive Vicki and in a tear-filled scene he finally banished her from this realm.

Back in the parking lot, Elena finally escaped from the flaming car and she helped Stefan to safety.

Back at the Salvatore Mansion, Tender Damon dressed Elena's wounds and stared at her soulfully.

Elena's eyes seriously lit up when Damon confirmed he didn't like Rebekah LIKE THAT. Still so rude of this show to imply these people will ever hook up, but it's always nice to see Damon act like a decent person for a change.

After some vampire-vampire-werewolf sexin' (does that count as a three-way?) Caroline made her exit only to have capital-T TROUBLE swoop in on Tyler.

Oh no! Tyler's onto murderin' folks now! Also it's looking like Rebekah may get her wish to jump Tyler's bones. I have a feeling Caroline's gonna be having a rough senior year.

Back at the tomb, Katherine got the vampire hunter to promise he'd kill Klaus. But she was baffled by the fact that he wouldn't drink human blood.

POOR KATHERINE! We saw her body go limp, so it's not certain she survived this interaction. But first of all: WHAT? A vampire vampire? That is crazy! Are there no rules anymore?? I just hope Katherine will be all right because she is awesome. Get well soon, babygirl!

Meanwhile Stefan was SORT OF grateful that Elena had saved his life. Except then he was a dick about it.

It was a nice payoff from earlier that morning when Elena couldn't get the stake-shooting bracelet thingy to work. I guess she finally became strong enough!

Speaking of strong enough, Jeremy you gotta even things out:

We've established that ghosts can only be seen when a person WANTS to see them? Or at least it USED to be that way before the spells that Matt & Bonnie recited. So this was how Anna and Jeremy realized that they think about each other tons and they <3 each other so much. Also they can touch each other.

Uh-oh. Now Bonnie's REALLY going to regret being mean to him. But she wasn't the only one with ghost issues:

Oh hey, Tyler's uncle! You guys, trust me, this person was on the show last season. Damon had killed him. Now he can break vases and punch Damon across the room. And he possibly one time rolled around with Lady Gaga dressed like a mermaid. I'm not sure. Either way, this is exciting!



... What is Bonnie's PROBLEM?

... How soon can we expect to see Jasmine Guy?

... Are we headed for a blonde-on-blonde catfight of the century?

... Can ghosts get pregnant?

... Admit it: Don't you kind of like how Stefan is now?


LAST THING: I am going to be talking about this episode on a podcast! Tune in live to the I Heart Vampire Diaries Radio Show on Saturday October 21st at 7pm PST over at this location. Be sure to CALL IN and chat with me, I'm very, VERY lonely.