The Vampire Diaries: My Mourning Racket

Most fans of The Vampire Diaries are well-aware of the passionate, frequently unsettling divisions within the fan base that have to do with which particular romantic relationship you're most into. These fans are called 'shippers (duh no doy), and the fact that this particular show is essentially based around a love triangle just encourages a nonstop civil war between the die-hards. A lot of these very intense fans frequently ask ME where I stand in this imaginary competition consisting of imaginary characters, and I always answer that I want everyone to do everyone and call it a day. I really don't care who hooks up! But if I HAD to 'ship one relationship on this show, it would be for a couple I'd refer to as Katheredemption. Katherine plus Redemption! Haha, fooled you, only one of those is a character. But still, I love me a villain redemption and seeing as Katherine is the best, I've been pulling for her to go full-hero for a while now. And guess what? It finally happened! Sort of. But still!

Come to think of it, at least FIVE characters of varying degrees of villainy all had their positive turns in "Homecoming." Damon continued his steady ascent into good-guy territory, and Rebekah, Klaus, and Mikael all showed surprisingly sensitive sides. But most of all, Katherine really wowed us with her good intentions tonight, and that led me to find this episode one of my favorites of the season. Which is saying something, seeing as I was confused by its plot most of the time. But still. Team Katheredemption!

We left off last week with Stefan promising Mikael he'd summon Klaus to Mystic Falls, and I don't know about you, but my imagination ran wild with just how he'd accomplish that. Telepathy? Witchcraft? Free mobile-to-mobile minutes? Yes, it was the third thing. Stefan just sort of called Klaus:

Was it just me or was this cold open sort of complicated? It included flashbacks to earlier in the day! Apparently Stefan's compulsion prevented him from being able to lie to Klaus, so in order for him to convincingly claim that Mikael had been murdered, someone would have to murder Mikael. Temporarily. Luckily Mikael was cool with this and just happened to have a spare dagger (Elena did the honors). Even more luckily, Rebekah's anger toward Klaus was still strong enough that she agreed to lie to him also, and convinced him it was due time to return to Mystic Falls. It was a pretty good scene overall, but complicated!

Anyway, later on Elena was chillin' with Bonnie, trying to figure out what to wear to that night's Homecoming dance.

They shared a pretty decent scene in which Elena attempted to comfort Bonnie over having her heart broken by Jeremy, but then in a surprise turn of events, Bonnie acted relatively cool and reasonable about the whole thing? She pointed out that Elena can't really help her, seeing as Jeremy's her brother and no matter what happens, Elena will always love him. Bonnie probably could have extended that sort of mature, rational thinking to the fact that Jeremy's original girlfriend had been murdered about a month before Bonnie and Jeremy had gotten together, and so he naturally still had feelings for her, and life is messy like that. But one step at a time, you know? Bonnie's still hurting, but she handled it like a champ, for the most part.

Later, at a very brown, underlit mansion, Elena and Damon spent some quality time together making Wolfsbane grenades.

Stefan was hanging around trying to be in on the plan, but it was awkward because nobody trusted him. Fair enough! The best part of this current version of Stefan is that he's totally been giving voice to things viewers have been laughing at for a while now. Like last week when he made fun of Elena's planning skills, and then this week he joked about being a 168-year-old man who hangs out with teenagers. Also, when Elena tried to convince him to skip Homecoming, he brought up one very good point about Elena's track record at school dances.

So, maybe now's a good time to address Mystic Falls' Homecoming traditions. First of all, there was not one single detail about this thing that made sense to me AT ALL. No football game? Just a dance? But with formal attire? And why does every theme dance involve vandalizing this poor VW Bus?

Anyway, who knows. All we knew was, Caroline was VERY involved with planning the dance, so that was reason enough to support it. It was also looking like Hybrid Tyler was starting to get on her nerves a bit.

Tyler was antsy to feed, and he claimed to even know a group of people who enjoyed being fed upon. That's some kinky True Blood stuff right there! But also Caroline was not thrilled that (A) Tyler had been hanging out with Rebekah, and (B) he'd set Rebekah up with Matt as her Homecoming date.

Caroline didn't approve of anything to do with Rebekah, whom she charmingly referred to as "Blood Slut." Oh come on, Caroline, you're better than that!

But then maybe Caroline wasn't aware that the show's BEST scene was about to happen, and it starred Rebekah Original herself? Somewhere back at the mansion, Elena walked in on Rebekah, who was trying on the $10 frock Elena had picked out last week.

Rebekah's pathos was at an all-time high, and her explanation for why she wanted to do high school stuff like normal people was just straight-up heartbreaking. Earlier in the episode we'd watched as she finally spoke to Mikael, and we discovered that as much as Klaus had lied to her, she remained even more furious with Mikael for having turned them into abominations against their will. Fair enough! I mean, to you or I, Rebekah turned out pretty great, but it was a good reminder that at the root of Rebekah's existence is a victimization she'll never forgive him for.

So yeah, Rebekah was definitely on the borderline between Mikael and Klaus, and it was pretty moving to see her try and rationalize killing Klaus even though she didn't want to. For her part, Elena was pretty awesome in this scene. Many of Elena's best moments happen when she openly empathizes with people who are worse off than her. While I think Elena has a pretty awful martyrdom complex, she does seem like a pretty chill, understanding friend to have, so I totally bought that Rebekah was opening up to her. Giving back Rebekah's necklace was a pretty nice gesture also:

But WHOOPS! Elena was a rascal!

It was such a nasty little twist, but I can't really fault Elena for doing it. Rebekah was a loose cannon in the scheme of things, so this was merely a temporary measure to keep her out of everyone's beez that night. Still though, I can't imagine she'll forgive Elena very easily when she wakes. Poor lady!

As Damon had mentioned earlier, he had a "secret" plan. And while he didn't explicitly say anything about Katherine (and we STILL hadn't learned her fate after her run-in with Mikael), roughly 80 percent of all Damon's plans involve doppelganger switcheroos, so it was a pretty safe bet at this point.

But then wuh-oh! The school gym flooded! And check out all the first-responders!

Seriously, have you ever seen Mystic Falls so organized and hard-working over any other traumatic incident? Nevermind the fact that several teenagers had been brutally murdered in that gym the previous week, LEAKING PIPES were the real emergency. The word of the day was "Priorities." Bing it.

Even Caroline took the dance cancellation hard:

Tyler seemed pretty comfortable with the whole situation. A little TOO comfortable, if you ask me. But fortunately for everyone, one of Tyler's greatest strengths is throwing last-minute, elaborately staged parties complete with professional rock bands and full stage set-ups in his own backyard. Hopefully that strength would be put to use in this episode!

Meanwhile back at the mansion, Matt showed up looking for his 1,000-year-old date.

Using some quick thinking, Elena offered herself as his replacement date. She hadn't gotten ready yet or anything, but...

So yeah, ladies and gentleman, here's your Mystic Falls High Homecoming celebration, set to the soulful, Pitchfork-approved strains of My Morning Jacket!

WHOA! It turned out Tyler had SET THE WHOLE THING UP so that Klaus could celebrate his father's death in style! What a hybrid rascal. (Related: Do you think the neighbors were thrilled to have a full-on music festival happening behind their home?)

At this point "Elena" arrived with Matt, but it was kindasorta obviously not her, right? And not just because of the slightly wavy hair. For me the big giveaway came when she was like, "I need to find Bonnie." No you don't, whoever you are. Elena would never need to find Bonnie. Bonnie's off somewhere lighting candles with her brain and frowning at shadows. You are BUSTED, Katherine! However: YAY! KATHERINE'S ALIVE! Welcome back to the party!

Outside, Stefan and Klaus had a nice little reunion.

In exchange for bringing 'round Mikael's body, Klaus agreed to un-compel Stefan. The slave part, not the emotion-free one.

Then Mikael showed Damon his special White Oak stake (note: NOT a sexual innuendo) which was apparently the one and only weapon in the world that could kill an Original. But there was only ONE? Uh-oh, use it wisely, Mikael!

Mikael also explained why he feeds on vampires, and it was a pretty great explanation. Basically, he felt kinda bad for having caused vampirism and spent a few centuries training himself to feed only on predators and not the innocent. Pretty cool, right? As much as Rebekah warned that Mikael couldn't be trusted, he did seem to have a pretty decent moral code.

Stefan got real bit and passed out. It happens. Deal with it, Stefan.

Meanwhile outside, a new bromance was blossoming.

First of all, it was pretty funny when Klaus told Tyler that he'd compelled Mrs. Lockwood to go to church and pray for Tyler's friends. Because, in what could be considered a pretty serious party foul, Klaus had brought an ARMY of hybrids with him. He told Tyler that if anybody tried to harm Klaus, they'd been programmed to immediately attack and kill Tyler's friends. So then Tyler got a terrible idea in his head and unfortunately saw it to fruition:

Haha this show. Nobody ever wants to peacefully explain why another character should stay away, they just stab first and ask questions later. Anyway, Caroline got knocked out so that Tyler could whisk her away and keep her safe from the hybrids.

Except, answer me this, readers: WHY are the hybrids so feared? Can their bites kill vampires? Has that been established? Because Damon had a seriously easy time simply ripping out a hybrid's heart on his way inside the house. Are we to believe Caroline wouldn't have been able to defend herself? Either way, sort of a jerk move on Tyler's part, especially since he then told MATT to deal with Caroline. Poor Matt!

Also, for some reason Damon and Tyler got in a scuffle. Tyler immediately got very bitey, so Damon got out the White Oak stake.

But then BOTH their brains got fried by some kind of sorcery. WHAT ON EARTH was going on??


Talk about a grand entrance! Anyway, this scene went nowhere except that it showed how out-of-the-loop Bonnie had been kept regarding the entire plan. Quick question: Why would our heroes not want to involve a supposedly powerful witch in their plot to kill Klaus? It's a trick question, there were no powerful witches at this party. No but seriously WHY was Bonnie being kept in the dark?

This was charming:

Man, I just find it so endearing when Klaus and Rebekah have urges to be normal people. It's so heartbreaking! Anyway, in this part his hybrid assistant informed him that his definitely not-dead father was at the front door and wishing to speak with him.

At this point Klaus suddenly knew that everyone had conspired against him. And the ensuing conversation didn't go too well either:

The posse of hybrids standing behind Mikael SEEMED to be the all the backup Klaus needed to destroy Mikael once and for all.

Except, whoops! Mikael simply compelled them to be on Team Mikael instead. Oh, and here was "Elena" as a bargaining chip to be used against Klaus. Even worse, Mikael just unloaded on Klaus with some of the most devastating statements a father could make against a son. It was heart-wrenching when Klaus couldn't hold back his tears.

Mikael assumed Klaus wouldn't want to kill Elena since she was the key to his creation of hybrids. But apparently Klaus was so upset that he didn't care about hybrids anymore and wanted to just kill Mikael instead.

So then Mikael stabbed Elena!

And the whole thing served to distract Klaus because behind him Damon rushed in and stabbed him real good!

Except, that was definitely not Klaus's heart, so there was some floor struggling that went on for a bit. But who cares, because LOOKIT:

At this point I was slightly confused about what was happening because, while I already knew that Katherine was the gal getting stabbed, I thought Mikael knew it too and they'd planned this together. Except apparently he really did believe he was murdering Elena! Boo hiss boo.

But then! Stefan rushed in and tackled Damon, sparing Klaus's life.

And then Klaus drove the stake into Mikael! And Mikael burst into flames!

Apparently because Klaus was so stoked that Mikael was finally dead, he overlooked Stefan's earlier betrayal and granted him freedom from compulsion. Congratulations, Stefan! Don't spend it all in one place.

Elsewhere, Caroline woke up from her forced, drug-induced blackout only to face a super smug, self-congratulatory Tyler.

After a surprisingly thoughtful argument in which Caroline expressed reservations about dating a "sired" hybrid and Tyler explained how being a hybrid is actually more liberating than being a normal werewolf (he can control his transmogrifications now), he laid out an ultimatum for her.

And she didn't even properly answer! I mean, she definitely sounded apprehensive about declaring her love for him, but he definitely stormed off before she had a chance to complete her sentence.

Aw, poor kids. It's okay, Caroline, Tyler's just a low-down dirty dog (kind of literally?)

Back at the mansion, Damon seemed pretty upset that they'd screwed up their plan so badly. Of all the things that could've gone wrong, he did NOT anticipate getting bum-rushed by his own brother.

This led to another pretty touching moment between Damon and Elena. This season <3s touching Damon-Elena moments so much! This one even had the DOUBLE FACE CARESS.

It was just plain nice. Also, Katherine called on her way out of town and even SHE had some nice things to say.

Honestly, Katherine was amazing in this episode and she got even better:

She even defended the merits of being human and had the audacity to tell Stefan she liked him better as a nice guy. I mean, I don't agree with her, but now I kind of do? Katherine is awesome! She reiterated that she genuinely loved both Stefan and Damon (which is the same path Elena is headed down) and that she still has moments of goodness in her. Like THIS scene, for example? I mean, it's a hell of a thing when KATHERINE is pep-talking Stefan about getting his humanity back.

Anyway, this was just a long way of saying that Katherine and Stefan had colluded to make Damon fail at killing Klaus. The reason? Klaus had told her that if he died, his hybrids would murder Damon. So basically Katherine was trying to prevent Damon's death above all else, and in doing so would preserve Stefan's humanity. Interesting! Except, what? Why? Damon had easily dispatched a hybrid like it was no big deal. We're supposed to believe he couldn't have handled himself (with Mikael, Stefan, and Katherine's help) against those newborn vampires? I didn't understand. Still, I guess their hearts were in the right place.

But because she's Katherine, she still had a scheme up her sleeve. And it was an EXCELLENT scheme.

DAMN! Stefan turned the table, he turned all the tables like they were just lazy susans. I mean, the big obstacle is that Klaus is now officially immortal? I don't know, maybe they can figure out a new method of killing him, but right now he's just one pissed-off Original. But there might also be TWO pissed off Originals. Let's check in on Rebekah.

Peaceful as a lamb. Face down in the dirt with a dagger in her back. Poor Rebekah!

I really enjoyed this episode. It was surprising and action-packed, but more than anything I liked the villains' assorted pathos and their various redemptive moments. Katherine for president!

Okay, that's enough. See you in seven weeks!



... Will Rebekah be angry when she wakes up, or will she just be grateful to have gotten some good quality Zs?

... Are Caroline and Tyler officially dunzo?

... Do you kinda-sorta feel bad for Klaus now?

... How long do you think Carol Lockwood will stay at church praying for Tyler's friends?

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