Well, Twin Peaks, you had a great run. For several decades you were television's weirdest town, full of oblivious eccentrics and baffling infrastructure. But you are nothing compared to Mystic Falls. This small Virginian municipality—which I'm increasingly convinced is located on a floating disc in outer space like in Dark City—long ago stopped operating by any plausible or rational rules of any kind. Starting with its confusing geography (how many waterfalls are there, exactly?) and moving on to its possibly unconstitutional local government, its lack of Southern accents or history of slavery, its police force with a membership that fluctuates from anywhere between one single working mom and an entire SWAT team, and its survival rate that rivals Black Death-era Europe, Mystic Falls is the new gold standard for mysterious suburban oblivion. The most disturbing part? The town thinks it's normal.
Aside from its downright macabre hospital and its penchant for made-up holidays—the sheer number of which suggests that the citizens are mentally unsound—the biggest example of Mystic Falls' weirdness is Mystic Falls High School, the ghost town of a building that our heroes occasionally visit in between nightmare catastrophes. Has it been getting even emptier lately? In this episode we saw a dozen students tops in Elena's classroom and in the hallways, and exactly ZERO teachers. Obviously much of the town has been murdered or has committed ritualistic suicide or, hopefully, just packed up their belongings and fled under the cover of darkness (Mystic Falls is the next Roanoke, I'm calling it now), but it's truly hilarious how little the remaining characters notice or care. Public stabbings have become so commonplace that it's like passersby are actively looking away. "Not my business."
Anyway, when I said there were zero teachers, of course I meant zero teachers on the payroll. We all know that Alaric was the school's only real teacher (who nonetheless spent a majority of his time drinking and chillin' in his home gym), so his death left a major vacuum in the Mystic Falls educational system. So who do you think they'll get to replace him? Trick question, he already has been replaced. By whom? BY EVERYONE. EVERYONE is now a teacher in Mystic Falls. Stefan's teaching Elena. Damon's teaching Elena. Caroline's teaching Stefan. Connor is teaching Jeremy. Hayley is teaching Tyler. Hallucination Matt is teaching Rebekah. Everybody's teaching everybody, you guys! So much learning is happening in Mystic Falls now. Too bad it's not the kind of learning that will turn any of these people into functioning members of society.
Okay, enough rambling. Mystic Falls is awesome! It's my worst nightmare! I love Mystic Falls!
We began in the hospital room where Tyler had been pretending to recover from getting SHOT IN THE HEART during a public memorial service. I bet he was thinking, "What's the normal amount of time it takes for a human to recover from a chest wound? A day? A day and a half?" Tyler was antsy to leave, basically. And THAT'S when his werewolf sense kicked in and he knew someone had infiltrated his security detail (one dude, hospital was deserted otherwise, obvs.).
It was Connor! And he immediately proceeded to inject something into Tyler's neck in order to paralyze him! And then it got even worse from there:
OH HOLY NIGHT. NO. NO NO NO. NO. NO.
Connor stole some of Tyler's werewolf venom! Which, WHAT? Werewolf venom? I guess it makes sense that werewolves have venom, but that seems like a hilariously scientific explanation for why werewolf bites kill vampires, right? Are magnetic fields to blame for preventing vampires from entering houses uninvited? I just thought these things were because of supernatural phenomena or magic? Nope. Monster science. Specifically werewolf venom. Which can be extracted. Using 4" needles jabbed all the way into the gums.
So then, back in his awful RV, Connor once again went over his collection of expository newspaper clippings (you gotta scrapbook these, guy). I loved the article he held up that detailed the previous day's attack at the memorial service. IT DIDN'T EVEN MAKE THE FRONT PAGE. Nope, too much news in the Mystic Falls Courier that day. Big news, important news. Stories about townwide assassination attempts of the Mayor's son were going to make Section B at best.
But, you know, obviously I'm going to have to zoom in on this article and get a better look.
So, this was just good journalism. Staff Writer Jennifer Anderson, in describing the church shooting, made the creative decision to start by describing the explosion at Pastor Young's house before dropping that completely and going on to describing some "animal attacks" that killed some campers recently. PERFECT REPORTING, SEND TO PRINTERS.
Haha okay, so. Stefan somehow acquired a motor bicycle. He did NOT specify how. I'm guessing he leased it. But he for some reason decided to park it right outside the front door? Is that even allowed? That isn't a driveway! Anyway, Damon immediately and openly judged him for it.
For the record, Stefan was still behaving all self-righteous about having punched Damon, and Damon was being all, "Fine, I'm leaving town then" and Stefan was all, "Fine, leave." Same old Salvatore stuff. But the explanation for the motor bicycle was Stefan decided he needed to up his wow factor in order to keep Elena titillated? WHO EVEN KNOWS?
Meanwhile at school, Elena was enjoying a pre-bell treat. This was a weirdly poignant moment in that this location was apparently where Elena and Matt used to make out before class back in the days before Elena met the Salvatores and proceeded to experience a domino effect of all her nightmares coming true. Simple times. Just a cheerleader and a quarterback and much, much less murder.
This was charming: Apparently Klaus arranged for some of his last remaining hybrids to band together and protect Tyler from Connor. The reason being that Klaus could no longer make hybrids, so he wanted to protect all his precious babyhunks the best he could. Even though Klaus was still pretty sore at Tyler for trying to murder him, he still wanted to protect him. It was seriously touching!
Meanwhile, this is what Tyler was missing out on at school:
That's right, in Mystic Falls you continue learning about the Civil War right up to and through your senior year of high school. Just the basics though! Every now and again someone will raise their hand and be like, "What about slavery?" And the teacher will be like, "What's that?" Just kidding, there are no teachers, we've been over this.
Anyway, just as Elena was settling in for her first and only school day this semester, Rebekah came in and spoiled everything by going UBER-mean girl on her. No really, Rebekah was in RARE form. She immediately rubbed it in Elena's face that she'd tried to murder her, so Elena came back at her with a low blow about how Rebekah's family abandoned her, at which point Rebekah busted out the big guns (that she'd once been privy to Stefan's big guns (I don't know what that means (Sorry))) and next thing we knew Elena was openly trying to STAB Rebekah with a pencil right there in front of her six classmates!
But HAHA! Rebekah got her back real good!
But their animosity didn't end there. Later, after it became clear that Connor was hanging around the high school (which was allowed because there are no school administrators of any kind, only Fruitopia machines), Rebekah tried to paint Elena as a vampire in front of him using the oldest vampire trick in the vampire book!
Haha you guys I LOLed (laugh-out-louded) SO MUCH when Rebekah did that. She was really pushing Elena's buttons! And I totally got what Rebekah's deal was, why she was being so awful to Elena. It's like when you knowingly do something wrong and you feel guilty, but instead of making it right, you behave even worse about it? Total Rebekah move. We know she's capable of basic empathy, but she was clearly lashing out at everybody and Elena was just the most fun person to f*ck with at the moment, you know?
Okay, what, am I NOT supposed to comment on the Windows 8 commercial starring TVD Headmistress & Hero Julie Plec? Putting aside the fact that it was mostly just a product placement for yet another Microsoft product I will actively avoid (remember that ad last year when Kevin Williamson used Bing to research dark magic? I DO), it was actually really cool to see the behind-the-scenes people who make this show, if only for a few quick, overly staged moments, you know? These people are heroes.
Here's J.Plec running a show:
Here's J.Plec pretending to use Windows 8 while using the appropriate finger:
Here are some total hunks!
Here are some major babes!
But also, um, did you see all that white board action in the writers' room? I wonder if there are any juicy S4 spoilers on there?
OMG SPOILER ALERT. LOOK AWAY IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW!
Anyway, back to the episode. The Art Department was officially f*cking with us at this point. <3 U Art Department.
So Connor tracked down Jeremy to tell him that his tattoo had been invisible, therefore if Jeremy saw it then he's a natural born hunter or whatever.
It made me laugh that Connor was about a season too late on this front. Pretty sure Jeremy's not as eager to destroy vampires as he used to be, just a hunch.
Poor Jeremy. I bet he misses Denver so much right now. Or just getting high. Or both.
Meanwhile Damon broke into Connor's RV to investigate his newspaper clippings collection and accidentally activated a booby trap! Basically it was just arrows tied to strings that would detonate a bomb if Damon tried to walk off. I'm not sure. But in order to get himself out of this pickle, he called the town's only surgeon for help. (Meredith had a lot more time on her hands now that she'd stopped administering medical treatment and just started giving everyone vampire blood.)
I liked this moment because not only were there sorrrrrrta sparks between Meredith and Damon, she was basically pep talking him into sticking around town and patching things up with Elena and Stefan. PLUS, in a move bound to enrage roughly half of this show's fanbase, Meredith basically admitted to being Team Damon. I KNOW RIGHT? (I don't know.) She basically just had the audacity to say that Damon had been a pretty good brother toward Ripper Stefan. I kind of agreed with her!
So at this point my television caught on fire and melted:
What's that one Lion King Broadway song? "He Lives In You"? The Secret Circle lives in you Phoebe Tonkin! Guys, it made me so happy to see this foxy Aussie witchwolf hotness all up on my TV again. It just felt so right, you know? Those of us who got hooked on TSC already know how appealing Tonkin is, but those of you less familiar with her are in for a real treat. Anyway, I'm gonna pause my gushing for a second and explain this: Meet Hayley, the cool brunette werewolf of indeterminate origin with whom Tyler bonded when he was on his vision quest up in the mountains last season.
The only question is, HOW CLOSE did they get up in those woods?
Hayley was not aware that (A) Tyler was from a wealthy family and (B) that he had a serious girlfriend. Which, to my way of thinking, suggests that he was fooling around on Caroline while he was controlling his transmogrification skills. I mean you're telling me he'd put his clothes BACK ON in between transformations? Get real. Hayley and Tyler were doing full contact werewolf cartwheels up there.
Almost immediately, Klaus seized on the nature of Hayley and Tyler's friendship and the gears started turning in his head. This would be his opportunity to break up Tyler and Caroline! He proceeded to slutshame Tyler into coming clean with Caroline and to prove his point he even did a dramatic walk-around. I LOVE dramatic walk-arounds!
Meanwhile, Rebekah took a break from her full-blast bitchery to try and reach an understanding with her star-cross'd plate of creamy goodness.
To be fair, Rebekah did NOT apologize for having attempted to murder Matt. Instead she pulled a Stefan where she just sort of expected people to let her off the hook. So yeah, Matt had every right to ignore her and walk off. It got slightly harsh, though, when he sold her out to Connor. It now appeared that Connor was going to try and kill Rebekah at the keg party she was throwing after school later. I don't care how bitchy someone is, trying to kill them at their own party is just straight-up rude.
Meanwhile Damon came home to find Elena going through all his things and totally lying about why. It turned out she was looking for the White Oak stake so that she could murder Rebekah SO MUCH.
This was the pun of the episode's title: Elena's rage had taken center stage, mostly in how mad she was at Rebekah. The two had been stabbing each other for months at this point, so it's not like that was any different. But now Elena had murder on her mind, and that was not very common when she was human. She's changing already!
So yeah, Rebekah threw a "rager" at her new house (which was much more Nancy Meyers-esque than Klaus's renaissance tomb of a mansion). So yeah, I guess all the students were ditching their everyday lives in order to share a keg in broad daylight. Why not?
Meanwhile Elena and Rebekah had another run-in. This time, Rebekah pulled one of the meanest vampire tricks possible: She stole Elena's sunlight ring and threw it down the garbage disposal!
Haha so mean! This was treated like a big act-break cliffhanger, but when we returned from commercial, Elena just sort of fished the ring out of the disposal and put it back on, NBD. But she was PISSED. As it turned out, she'd brought the White Oak Stake and was more than willing to destroy Rebekah and her entire bloodline.
To his credit, Stefan talked her down from murdering possibly thousands of vampires worldwide. Obviously it was amusing to hear this speech coming from a man who faced no real repercussions for his reign of terror, but still. Stefan was right, and he talked Elena down from her rage in a surprisingly chill manner.
On their way out of the party, noted party animal Elena Gilbert proceeded to do this:
LOL. Do you think any of those teens had any idea who Elena even WAS? Girl hadn't been to school in months.
Anyway, Rebekah was kinda jealous about Elena having a good time at HER party, and that's when something started going wrong:
She needed some vampire Proactiv or something.
Oh man, I don't even know what to tell you about what happened next:
YUPPPPPPPPP. Elena stood up on Stefan's motor bicycle. It was some straight-up Hot Shots! realness:
There was some debate about whether this (instantly notorious) TVD moment had been green-screened, but it wasn't! It was just so well-lit and steadily-filmed that it seemed fake? I have to say, though, I appreciated how silly the moment was. I like when shows take chances on larger-than-life things like this. The helmets were an issue, though I'm guessing they were CW-mandated. But if there weren't helmets (vampires probably aren't as concerned about head injuries as we are), that would've been a pretty cool moment I bet. Or at least cooler.
Oh, and then they jumped on a bed and started rubbing on each other, all set to that one dubstep song from the Internet Explorer commercial. WE GET IT, MICROSOFT.
But then, whoops! Guess who started hallucinating?
Yeah, Elena was ALSO feeling sick in the same way Rebekah had been. As it turned out, the keg at Rebekah's party had been tainted with Tyler's werewolf venom! Yucky!
And both ladies happened to start hallucinating in meaningful, personality-altering ways! For example:
Rebekah hallucinated that she'd ripped Matt's heart out! But she didn't. But I guess the shock of that particular image left her pretty rattled. She obviously didn't know that Matt had sold her out (and had even been the one to poison her keg), but she definitely didn't like the idea that she could be so easily driven to murder. That's growth!
So another highlight in this episode was the impromptu team-up of Damon and Klaus (and Jeremy!) to help bring down Connor. It began when Damon called up Tyler to come help him, but Klaus answered and offered to come instead. Which I guess was weird, but how much weirder was it than Damon inviting Tyler to hang out? How many words have they exchanged total in three seasons?
So yeah, in the bitterest of ironies, Connor's weird arrow-grenade mechanism was used against him!
No seriously, this brief flash of commonality between Klaus and Damon was so excellent it made me wish they could become actual friends. Just kick you feet up for a second and imagine a procedural series with Klaus and Damon traveling around dealing with vampire issues, buddy cop style. Cha-ching, right? Million dollar idea. These two!
So then Connor let slip that he was a special kind of vampire hunter (or Klaus may have sussed this out on his own).
Something about the insignias on Connor's stakes indicating that he's "ONE OF THE FIVE." Ohhhhh, I get it. Connor's a CYLON!
So then the hospital storage room exploded, which was fine because who needs a hospital in a ghost town?
This was pretty touching: While Rebekah passed out and tried to sleep off the werewolf venom, April stuck around to help pick up all the red Solo cups like a lonely bag lady. She reasoned that it would be more fun than hanging around her guardian-free home thinking about how she no longer had a family. Fair enough.
Of course, at this Rebekah lit up and her empathetic side came out again. She even offered to help April investigate her father's death, which was a weird offer. Weird because April's new so she's not yet clued in about everyone's respective monstrosities, so it's weird to think that Rebekah, the town's oldest and most powerful female vampire will be chillin' with an ordinary 16-year-old. Or maybe it's NOT weird since that's what Rebekah wants to be also. So it's either poignant or weird, you decide.
Another episode highlight: The grand rebirth of the Stefan-Caroline friendship!
Yay! This was a great scene. Basically Stefan admitted that he was having a hard time encouraging Elena to embrace her inner vampire because he was concerned it would cause him to accidentally embrace his own inner Ripper. This actually made sense in the real world A.A. sense: Newly sober people aren't really supposed to be sponsoring other newbies lest they both fall off the wagon together. So in this case Stefan was asking Caroline to watch out for him while he watched out for Elena. He'd once held Caroline's hand as she made her change, and now he was asking her to hold his. If anything the scene was a big celebration of just how awesome Caroline is; how well she adjusted to vampirism; how her personality actually improved after the transition; what a good person she was in general. Just a great scene.
At this point Elena's life was saved when Klaus swung by and let her suckle on his wrist for a sec. He had this weird glint in his eye that matched the one he'd given to Connor after making the realization about Connor's ancestry. In the past Klaus has only saved Elena in order to use her blood to make hybrids, so in my opinion the implication here was that Klaus may know a way to return her to human status and therefore wants to keep her alive. Just my opinion!
So then Elena darn near ATE Matt.
Fortunately Damon intervened, compelled Matt to forget, and sent him on his bleeding way. But at this moment both Damon and Elena realized just how much Elena needed Damon's specific tutelage.
And much like how Caroline had offered Stefan her assistance, Damon did the same for Elena. That was basically the episode's main theme: Students teaching teachers teaching students! Circle of life. He lives in you. Hakuna-mawhatever.
Back in Connor's RV, it was clear that Klaus had helped him escape the hospital explosion for some mysterious reason. A reason we wouldn't learn until next week's flashback episode!
Yes! When it comes to this show, "Klaus" and "wig" are two of my favorite words! I can't wait to see what slightly off-colored horse hair will be flopping around Joseph Morgan's face next week! Seriously you guys, it's gonna be great. Wigs!!
Overall this episode was much different in tone from the first two episodes of the season, but in my opinion was just as strong. I generally prefer the high school-centric episodes to the town-wide event ones and the writers really nailed Rebekah's mean girl shenanigans in a way that married teenage girl problems to ancient vampire problems. I still can't believe that bathroom blood-wipe moment. Vampire teens! And while it might be tempting to make fun of the motorcycle sequence, I think it added to the fun and ridiculous spirit that I love so much about this show. For something undeniably hip and knowing, this show can also certainly be cheesy as effff. I like that though! It's unpretentious and relatable. WE ARE CHEESY AS PEOPLE.
So yeah. Really liked this ep. Kudos to all the hot babes and hunks who made it happen.
... What does Klaus have up his sleeve?
... First impressions of Hayley?
... Did Bonnie hit the snooze button too many times and oversleep the entire episode?
... What should Stefan and Elena have ridden instead of motorcycles? Segways? ATVs? Humpback whales?