Where to begin? "O Come, All Ye Faithful," is a mess, y'all, but I mean that in the best of ways. After all the sexism of last week, I am so glad to welcome back the gore which is season four (and I hate gore). Let's start at the beginning. Although last week's episode ended with Damon telling Elena he had to free her -- to do right by her -- they wake the next morning, in the same bed. To their credit, they're sleeping on top of the covers -- fully clothed. Neither of them are happy about that, but Damon says he wanted to be a gentleman.
Elena has to meet Bonnie and Jeremy at the Gilbert Family's lake house. They have a plan to help Jeremy work through his activated hunter desire to kill his sister. Elena invites Damon to come along, so of course he does. He lets Stefan know where he's going, but dissembles regarding Elena's whereabouts.
Meanwhile, the Event O' the Week is the Winter Wonderland Something or Other. After making Klaus show him the hunter sword, Stefan has Caroline distract Klaus during the festivities, so Stefan can break into his house and steal the sword. He needs to do this, because Tyler and his hybrids plan to magically overcome Klaus, put his essence into Tyler's body, and bury TylerKlaus in concrete. Of course the sword isn't in the safe where Klaus stored it before, and since his quest to cure Elena is paramount (to him) Stefan wants to stop Tyler's plan.
Honestly, the finer details of Tyler's plan are still a little fuzzy to me, but it doesn't matter -- not only because the plan fails (as we knew it would), but also because the plan is a fake plan. It's a fake plan, because what's really happening is that at Shane's bidding, Hayley is trying to get Klaus enraged at his dozen hybrids, so that he'll kill them. Shane wants the hybrids sacrificed so he can access (or more likely manipulate Bonnie into accessing) the evil Expression magic we learned about from Nandi, in New Orleans.
Shane is at the lake house with Bonnie and Jeremy, when Elena and Damon arrive. Jeremy tries to kill Elena straight away, but thanks to training with Alaric, she is able to subdue him. Shane sets to work on hypnotizing the Germ. The idea is to give him a happy place where he can go when he feels compelled to kill vampires he doesn't actually want to kill. Elena is on the short list. In fact, she might be the entire list.
Even under hypnosis, while listening to Elena recount warm family memories, Jeremy wants to slay her. In a fit of genius, Damon suggests Jeremy make Bonnie his happy place, instead. When he does, it works. Jeremy can be around Elena without trying to kill her. Heck, he can be around Damon without trying to kill him. Bonnie must be some happy place, indeed.
When Stefan can't find the sword, he and Caroline want to keep the hybrids from disabling Klaus, so Tyler has his hybrid pack drag the duo to the Lockwood cellar. After Stefan gets a call from Damon, explaining that (thanks to Shane) they don't even need the sword to serve as a key to the cure map, Caroline convinces the pack to free them.
Back in town, at the Mystic Grill, Caroline calls Bonnie to confirm that they can put Klaus's essence into Rebekah's already en-daggered body. Sadly, Hayley overhears this conversation, so she snaps Caroline's neck, because Hayley doesn't want Klaus disabled at all. She wants him to kill those hybrids, after all.
Before Klaus can get to him, Hayley gives Tyler a heads up by telling him her whole Klaus-switch plan was a fake. April Young finds pulseless Caroline lying on the bathroom floor of the Mystic Grill. The next thing she knows, Caroline is "alive" again. Caroline calls Stefan, tells him that Hayley is a crazy traitor, and orders him to get to the Lockwood ruins and make sure that Rebekah's body is still stashed there. She then compels April to forget everything she just heard and resume her Miss Mystic duties. The only problem is, April is still wearing Jeremy's vervain bracelet -- a fact Caroline learns from Matt, but only after April is out of sight.
Tyler goes out to the woods and finds the remains of 11 of his hybrid buds -- the ones he worked so hard to free from Klaus's sire bond. Poor Pudding Pup. Next, he finds Hybrid Kim's body in the cellar at the Lockwood ruins. When he leaves, April steps out of the shadows, steps around headless Kim's corpse and opens up Rebekah's coffin. She's still in there -- magical disabling dagger, and all.
Meanwhile, Klaus is looking to kill Tyler. Instead, he finds poor, tipsy Carol Lockwood waiting for her sober ride home (even though, God love her, she gave her sober ride, i.e. the underage Tyler, a drink earlier in the night). Since Klaus is covered in the blood of his other hybrids, Carol knows he's up to no good and begs him for Tyler's life. Her son is all she has left. Klaus knows that. He also knows she is all Tyler has left, so he drowns poor Carol in the fountain. Satan Klaus is no respecter of beauty, I tell you what.
Susan Walters, I can't imagine you're reading this, but if you are, thank you so much for all you put into your role on The Vampire Diaries. You, your hard work, your character, and your beautiful face will be missed. I hope you return and pay Jeremy Gilbert a visit, someday.
Back at the lake house, Damon knows he has to do the right thing by Elena. He invokes the sire bond and orders her to leave him, lying that her doing so will make him happy. Although she tries to argue at first, Elena must comply. When she's leaving though, she tells Damon she intended to fight his orders with everything she has, but now she can't get past the feeling that she must get in Bonnie's car and go home. That said, his orders don't change her feelings for him, so she leaves him with a kiss. Damon will remain at the lake house with Jeremy, train him to kill vampires, and help him expand his hunter's mark.
Because Stefan is under the impression that Damon already did right by Elena the night before, he returns to Mossy Manse. Caroline stops by for a post-mortem. During their conversation, she reveals that Elena was at the lake house with Damon, all day. And although she doesn't technically break the promise she made to Elena (i.e. not to tell Stefan about Elena and Damon), her non-answers and the looks she shoots Stefan when he asks how "together" Damon and Elena are, leaves no doubt in Stefan's mind. He abuses a nearby chess set, because that's just how angry he is.
"O Come, All Ye Faithful" is a refreshing, exciting episode, and exactly what the doctor ordered to help cure me of the rage blackouts that struck me after last week's misogyny fest. There's a lot more to cover, not least of all where Shane and his Silas quest are concerned. 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're bending an elbow for Mayor Mama Mulva Lockwood.
Friday afternoon, I sat down to recap "O Come, All Ye Faithful." Since the show is on holiday hiatus, my plan was to burn through this episode earlier than I usually do and enjoy my time off. I turned on the TV -- not as a stall tactic; I need to watch the show as I recap it. The thing is, the set was tuned to MSNBC. I don't think I changed the channel 'til I shut off the TV, late that night. The Sandy Hook Elementary School slayings are still all I can think about. I can't get those poor babies (and their families) and the heroic faculty members (and their families) out of my mind. And I shouldn't be able to. When something like this happens (and God, how sick is it that there have been other somethings "like this") I shouldn't ever be able to forget it. I am sure I wouldn't feel like recapping any episode of any show right now, but just thinking of Klaus ripping out all those hearts is... I can't go there. I can't make myself put in words all of the thoughts that gallop through my mind when I think of this episode and that scene, in particular.
We (TWoP writers) usually assign headlines (the sometimes-snarky faux titles) to our episodes. Thursday night, when I wrote the recaplet, I gave "The Loneliest Snowflake" to "O Come, All Ye Faithful" (OCAYF). The most obvious associations are both Klaus and his painting. The events of OCAYF have left some of our other characters feeling terribly alone, too. The "special snowflake" meme has been around TV fandom for an age. During last week's focus on the sire bond, my daughter rolled her eyes and said something like, "Being such a special snowflake, of course Elena is one of few vampires ever to develop this rare bond." Then, when Damon was digging through his New Orleans mementos and revealed that another vampire he turned also suffered from sire bond, my daughter said, "Oh, so Damon is the special snowflake." We laughed, and it was on my mind when OCAYF began, so the headline came right to me. Now I hate it. I'm changing it. I don't know to what, yet. I might just use the episode title.
I'm getting rid of the blurb, too. I'm getting rid of the blurb, because I wrote: "Is there anything lonelier than Christmas in Mystic Falls?" Well yes, damn it, because there's real loneliness, and pain and loss. Right now, I flat out refuse to feel sorry for a bunch of fictional people and monsters, yet I don't feel like mocking loneliness either. I think of all the survivors, both in Newtown, CT and beyond. How many people have just had their hearts ripped out? How many more do each day, that don't get so much coverage? Do you see what I mean about discussing this episode?