Welcome back from the hiatus. I hope your holidays were good and that you're skating right through this winter -- unless of course you're south of the equator, in which case I have no seasonal sentiment prepared for you because I'm too busy seething with jealousy. I'll forego further antipodean awkwardness and get right to the story. The Mystic Falls Event O' the Week is a mandatory school memorial for the late Mayor Carol Lockwood, which fails to touch her own son, never mind the other teenagers who are forced to attend. Tyler ends up at home, alone, mourning Carol in a much more fitting manner -- by drinking all her booze.
If you'll recall, before the break, April un-daggered Rebekah. The Beckster is always a little crabby when she wakes up, so she forces Elena, Caroline and Stefan to join April and her in the school library for a very special detention episode involving copious notes and promised flow charts which, sadly, never materialize.
April is angry that Stefan, Caroline, Elena -- and heck, half the townies -- are vampires, and that they have compelled her in the past. She knows all this thanks to her new BFF Rebekah, and yes, April is well aware that Becky is a thousand year old Original vampire, but has probably been compelled by Rebekah to disregard how often she's been compelled by Rebekah.
Rebekah wants two things -- control of the vampirism cure and some juicy gossip, so she compels her charges to spill their guts, but surprisingly not in the gory way which has become characteristic of season 4. Just because Rebekah slept through the '70s doesn't mean she remained blissfully unaware of the insidious rap sessions which dominated the decade (and no, children, this rap has nothing to do with music). She compels Caroline to blurt out that Elena and Stefan broke up. She compels Stefan to admit he knows Elena slept with Damon. She also compels Elena to confess that while she loves Stefan, she is no longer in love with him (and that he makes her feel like a "project"); Elena says she is in love with Damon.
Rebekah learns Professor Shane is hip to the cure, so she enlists Kol to bring him to the high school. Bonnie visits Shane to complain about the fact that her dad is back in town, has been named Acting Mayor and is hell-bent on protecting her, despite the fact that he's an African American in Mystic Falls. She's looking for a little magical tutoring, but Shane explains she has already graduated (sine laude, but she doesn't know about that yet). He gives her a human bone pendant, which she accepts without question (!) and sends her on her way because he has papers to grade and needs to be kidnapped by Kol five seconds after she walks out of his office.
Bonnie actually passes Kol in the hallway but she's too busy returning his eye flirts to let his identity sink into her brain until it's too late. Last season, there were fans who 'shipped Bonnie and Kol (some rather rabidly, considering there was no story to support it). I can't help but feel the eye flirting is pandering to these fans at the expense of Bonnie's characterization.
Needing an athlete to flesh out her Breakfast Club, Rebekah calls Tyler and tells him she's holding Caroline at the school. When Tyler arrives on the scene, Rebekah compels him to turn into a werewolf so that he can kill off the rest of her no longer useful hostages. Even though Rebekah orders the vampires not to run, they do, which I don't really like because she's been compelling them all episode. Please don't write to me with any of that business about her failing to turn on the compulsion eyes because she only used them sparingly throughout her forced rap session. I know the loophole is there; I just don't care for it. It would have been more sensible to just have Rebekah fail to order them not to run.
When Tyler starts to wolf out, Caroline takes off in one direction (perhaps she sees Harry Styles somewhere). Stefan and Elena go in the other, and neither of them breathes a word of concern for their shared Bestie because it's not in the script. They manage to barricade themselves behind some double doors while exchanging pained looks. Meanwhile, Tyler is human again and sleeping off his wolfing, naked on the gym floor (in front of a memorial table dedicated to his mom). Caroline finds him, covers him up with a table cloth and holds him.
Meanwhile, Rebekah tries to compel Shane to tell her how to find the cure but he's trained himself to be uncompellable (a word my spell-check rejects until I compel it to learn otherwise). She tells Kol to beat the truth out of him. Somewhere in there, Shane talks about Silas. This chills Kol to his ancient, room-temperature bones but Rebekah laughs it off at first, as if Silas is nothing more than a bogeyman story. Shane gets all crazy eyed as he babbles about resurrecting Silas who will then resurrect all the dead (including Shane's wife and child, I presume). At some point, Kol waterboards Shane and eventually impales him. Bonnie is with April in another classroom and when she casts a spell to protect Shane, April suffers all the consequences of Kol's abuse.
Stefan and Elena find Bonnie and the dying (yet again) April. Stefan gives her his blood to heal her and then orders Bonnie to get the child out of there. Once the girls are gone, Rebekah arrives and after she complains about how her least favorites are always the most durable, she offers Stefan some sweet release. She will compel him to forget his love for Elena and his every memory of their time together. While Elena is horrified, Stefan is all in. Too bad Rebekah is just toying with him. After pretty much saying "Psyche," she leaves him to wallow in his misery. Elena wants to keep rapping with Stefan about their feelings, but since he'd like to retain his last tattered shred of dignity, he shuts that right down and walks away.
Later, Stefan invites Rebekah to Mossy Manse. He informs her that Shane survived the impalement, then proposes teaming up to find the vampirism cure. He needs to know Elena's true feelings (once she's free of the sire bond). Rebekah is skeptical but seems willing to play ball (but not in a Twilight way) because, as always, she is desperate and alone.
After all the excitement, Elena calls Damon. He's still at the Lake House (with Matt) training Jeremy to be his very best Buffy. Damon has been trying to do everything by the book but things aren't proceeding quickly enough for Klaus, so he shows up to tempt our Evil Pixie Monster (back) to the dark side and "helps" out by turning a pub full of locals into transitioning vampires, so that Jeremy can slay them and grow his mark. When Elena tells Damon that, today, she realized she truly loves him (and doesn't care if the sire bond is messing with her mind), he tells her that he's going to find the cure for her and in doing so, he will need to do things she doesn't like, then tells her to get in her car and come to him. Isn't this mystical roofie romantic? Ugh.
The episode ends with April approaching the Sheriff and the Mayor, speaking truth to power, and Bonnie giving Shane hell for teaching her dark magic. He gives his (undoubtedly skewed) view of Expression magic, so at least Bonnie finally knows the name of her new dark art. "After School Special" moves at the series' trademark breakneck pace, which both helps and hurts the episode. Watching it, the hour flies by, but afterwards, I'm left with some emotional dissatisfaction, which as usual, has been sacrificed at the altar of speed. I would have rather seen Bonnie argue with her father than complain about him to Shane. I wish there had been a painful friendship moment between Elena and Caroline that rose above betrayed looks, and it seems like either Stefan or Elena should have wondered, even for a moment, about Caroline's whereabouts and safety. Still, there were heartbreaks and intrigue all around, so "After School Special" is more than a fine way to spend an hour.
I will be back with the full recap, ASAP. In the meantime, please grade the episode at the top of the page and then come on over to the forum, where we are so not spending Saturday in detention.
Housekeeping Item #1: As everyone on the entire Internet has pointed out, I made a stupid mistake in the recaplet. Rebekah didn't just order her captives not to run in the hallways -- she ordered them not to "vamp run." Now honestly, I heard her say "vamp run." The meaning of the words just didn't sink in. I thought it was an awkwardly cutesy way of telling the vampires present that they couldn't run, while still allowing Tyler to do so. I was already picking on the show (mistakenly it seems, and I'm so sorry about that, Writers) for what I thought was shoddy compulsion scripting, so I decided not to pick on what I thought was awkward phrasing. It never dawned on me (and I watched the episode twice before I wrote the recaplet) that she meant no high-speed running (i.e. Stealth Salvatoring). Thank you for all the heads up. I'm sorry for the stupid error. I can't even blame it on carelessness, just density. And to the one person who wrote to say she was disappointed, may I add this: be glad you don't have to deal with me in person, where I am far more disappointing on a regular basis. Speaking of how disappointing I can be, let's move on to...
Housekeeping Item #2: I could have sworn this is the first time that Bonnie has heard the name of her new dark art and said so in the recaplet. But other fans disagreed with me and pointed me to the Girls' Night scenes in "We'll Always Have Bourbon Street." I went looking. Lo and behold, the fans are right. I am sorry for yet another stupid error. Before the hiatus, I was frustrated that Damon and Stefan know how dark Expression is, while Bonnie, Elena and Caroline do not. I misremembered my frustration and started thinking Bonnie didn't know what it's called. She does. She just doesn't know what it is. Thanks, readers!
Housekeeping Item #3: Deadline is reporting that the April 25 episode of The Vampire Diaries will be a backdoor pilot for an Originals series, involving (at least) Joseph Morgan and Phoebe Tonkin. Yes, I'm the last person to know, but I avoid a lot of media for the shows I cover because spoilers slip in here and there and I'm always afraid I'll spoil something in a recap, so I read selectively. Anyhow, I am thrilled with this news for three reasons: I love the Originals, I think the Originals have overwhelmed The Vampire Diaries to the point where their presence is hurting the show and I'm also pretty sure I'm due some royalties for floating this idea forever ago. Come on, Alloy Entertainment, mama needs a new pair of shoes... or just the opportunity to pay off her credit card. Okay, now let's get on with the show.