If there is one thing that The Vampire Diaries has taught me, it's that the really good stuff is worth waiting for. It took a few weeks for the season to hit it's stride (in my opinion) but once it did, it never missed a beat. It took 2 seasons for someone to let Matt in on the monsterific truths of Mystic Falls, and then another hundred years (or 4 episodes, whatever) for Matt to come to terms with it but now that he has, he's more awesome than ever before.
So it's about time for school to start and the kids are celebrating with a Senior Prank Night. That means that Elena, Caroline, Bonnie, Tyler, Matt, Not Now Dana and a couple random kids are at school in the middle of the night setting mouse traps and saran wrapping toilet bowls. Do you know what happens when all or most of our principles plus an expendable tertiary character or two are in the same place at the same time? If you guessed mayhem and death, congrats! You've been paying attention.
We begin with Matt lifting weights in a tee shirt and hoodie because apparently we can only have one glorious scene of partial Zach Roerig nudity per season and the rest of the time he's gotta be bundled up like a Winchester in a rain storm. He runs into everyone else where they have an awkwardly written conversation as they all pretend to be teenagers and friends. Then they split up into smaller groups to prank every classroom in the school and Elena runs into Klaus who's all "oh hello person I killed. You're looking mighty alive this evening."
Turns out Klaus and Rebekah have brought their little slave boy Stefan to Mystic Falls High to teach him a lesson about what happens to bad minions when they try to double cross the crazy boss man.
Tyler macks on Caroline, Caroline worries about Matt, Tyler gets jealous, Caroline is awesome (duh) and Rebekah shows up to menace them.
Matt and Bonnie hang and Bonnie tells Matt that Jeremy finally came clean about the ghost sitch. Matt's glad and is reminiscing about when he was a lifeguard. This show flashes back for all kinds of stuff and when there's a story about the time Matt was SAVING LIVES WITHOUT A SHIRT ON, we get nothing? Formal protest. Vicki follows her brother around the school trying to get him to see her but he can't.
Special K and Beks round up our principles in the gym where Klaus lays it out for them. He is miffed because his hybrid army plan has been a spectacular failure and he suspects it's because Elena is still alive and that Bonnie's witchy mojo ruined everything. So he feeds Tyler some of his blood and then snaps his neck and gives Bonnie the order to figure out some magical way of fixing the problem before Tyler wakes up and dies of the dreaded bloody tears.
Bonnie and Matt are off to figure out a way to complete hybridization and Rebekah drags Tyler's corpse off to wait in a safe place.
While all this goes down in Mystic Falls, Katherine has Damon off on a road trip with an unconscious Jeremy in the trunk. She tells Damon about Elena's necklace, which she now has, and about Jeremy's fun new pastime of chatting with the dead and Damon's like "Dammit, woman! I will NEVER get Elena to make out with me if she finds out I had her brother in the trunk!" Katherine wants Damon to talk less and listen more. She tells Damon about how Pearl once blabbed that there was a vampire who knew how to kill Klaus but then went mum because Pearl was way too smart to trust Katherine with useful information. Aw! How much do we miss Pearl, you guys?
So Damon doesn't know what good this is since Pearl's dead and the one person she told (Anna) is, you know, also dead. That's when Jeremy wakes up and is like "finally! I'm useful!"
Stefan arrives at the gym for no good reason and Klaus has him kill the nameless and tertiary. No, not Not Now Dana! Aw, RIP Dana. No one ruined a moment quite like you. Sniff. Special K then leaves Stefan in the gym with Elena and 20 minutes on the clock. He compels Stefan to eat his girlfriend when the clock runs out. Romantic little scamp, isn't he?
Bonnie and Matt frantically text Jeremy but Katherine is holding his phone hostage until he can whip up an Anna encounter. Damon looks bored. Anna pops up and doesn't want to help because she's not a huge fan of Katherine and Damon. Damon starts beating up on Jeremy to incentivize Anna to help. Out of this we get the name Mikael. He's a vampire-hunting vampire who will kill them all. Anna's like "don't wake him!" and Jeremy's like "uh...what do you mean 'wake him'?"
Rebekah keeps busy during her tedious babysitting gig by creeping through the pics on Caroline's phone. That's when she finds a pic of Stefan and Elena and notices Elena is wearing her necklace. No girl likes to find out her ex-boyfriend has given his new girlfriend her shit. She tries to find out where the necklace is and Elena says Katherine stole it but Rebekah's all pissed so she takes a quick nibble out of Elena's neck.
Matt follows a trail of his clothes to the pool where his keys are resting at the bottom of the shallow end. He begins to undress in preparation for retrieving them when Vickie texts him that she'll totes help if he'll just SEE her already. He puts his thinking cap on and realizes that he'll need to die and then come back for that so he calls Bonnie and is like "Bon, I'm going to help by killing myself. Come to the pool and save me. Thanks." Then he jumps in the pool chained to a heavy weight. With his clothes on. Formal protest.
At Vampire Rest Stop, Damon finds all the texts from Bonnie. He puts Jeremy in charge of watching Katherine and getting to the bottom of the Mikael thing while he heads back home to help the masses deal with Klaus's latest shenanigans. Katherine's like "this plan is stupid. The Damon I knew wouldn't have been so dumb." To which he replies "I wouldn't have done it for you." I love how the only thing that ever really cuts Katherine to the quick is a Salvatore loving Elena more than her. Poor Katherine, always a doppelganger, never a soul mate.
Bonnie races into the pool, pulls Matt out of the water and gives him mouth to mouth. Vicki comes to Matt in his current non-aliveness. She tells him to give Bonnie a message and then he gasps back to life.
In the gym Elena's like "Caroline's dad can resist compulsion, maybe you can too." Yeah, because I'm sure that didn't take any kind of practice or mental training at all. Mind over matter, Stef. Stefan yells at her because sometimes she says really dumb stuff. He reverses his "ew, Elena cooties" position from a couple of episodes ago and is like, "I love you more than anything except blood. It might be a tie."
Science lab. Tyler wakes up and Caroline gives him the skinny.
The clock in the gym winds down. Stefan begs her to run away from him. She does and he fights with himself to resist killing her. She is so slow on the uptake and tries to hang around having a moment before she actually runs for her life. He struggles against his nature and appears to be in excruciating physical pain. Paul Wesley is KILLING IT. He stakes himself in the gut with a mop handle and Klaus comes in with Elena. He's touched that Stefan's love for Elena is somehow helping Stefan fight his craving for blood and the compulsion. I mean, he's not so touched that he's going to let it continue. He whips up a super sized does of compulsion and declares that he fixed Stefan but I'm looking at Stefan's face and I assure you, he is not fixed. He's really super broken. Klaus broke Stefan.
Klaus strolls into the science lab with news that the original witch told Vicki to tell Matt to tell Bonnie to tell Klaus (go ahead, take a minute to diagram that gossip chain) that the problem is the doppelganger should be dead. Rebekah is thrilled that they can kill Elena but this isn't Klaus's first time at the rodeo. He's like "if the witches want me to think that Elena has to be dead for hybrids to survive, then surely the truth is that Elena's blood is the key to the whole thing." So he feeds Tyler a vial of doppelblood and the hybrid transformation is finally successful. This is not going to end well.
Elena's at the hospital where a compelled nurse is taking out a bunch of her blood for Klaus. Outside, Rebekah realizes that Klaus's main problem is he needs extensive therapy. That's when Damon arrives and keeps Klaus from killing him or taking Elena by throwing a little news about Mikael in his face. Then Klaus vanishes and Damon goes to rescue Elena and make tortured "I love you" eyes at her.
Caroline is worried about Tyler but he's like "no need, this is awesome!" Oh no, this is going to be SUCH a problem. Caroline's face tells me she knows it too.
Bonnie gives Matt a talking to about how he was reckless and stupid. She wants him to be a "normal person" unlike the rest of them. Bonnie goes to wait for him outside and he sees Vicki and smiles. Ok, it's time for everyone to let Matt be part of the plans from now on because he's awesome and he's ready.
Damon gives Elena back her necklace and she tells him about how Klaus totally broke her boyfriend. Then her boyfriend comes in and acts like a crazy-haired douche. Douchey Stefan is fun. He can stay a while.
At a cemetery somewhere, Katherine and Jeremy break into a crypt where they open a stone coffin containing one chained, very grey Mikael. Here we go, folks!