“The Reckoning” was one of those episodes of “Vampire Diaries” that packed more plot twists into an hour than most shows do in an entire season. This was a game changer for the Stefan (Paul Wesley), Elena (Nina Dobrev) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) triangle. It all started at Mystic Falls High, with Caroline (Candice Accola) persuading everyone to enjoy a rare moment of normal teenage life by participating in senior prank night.
Because school activities never go well in Mystic Falls, Klaus (Joseph Morgan) crashes the party. He’s figured out that Elena is alive. He drags her to the basketball court and compels all of the teen dayplayers except two to leave. After learning that A) Elena is the owner of the necklace and B) that Katherine stole the necklace from Elena, Klaus realizes he is going to have to improvise a plan to create a hybrid. So he makes Tyler (Michael Trevino) drink from him, snaps his neck, puts twenty minutes on the scoreboard timer, and tells Bonnie (Kat Graham) it’s how long she has to figure it out. If she fails, he will compel Stefan to drink from Elena. To prove his control over Stefan, Klaus orders him to kill the two red shirts. Elena, horrified, watches the man she loves murder two of her classmates. For everyone who has complained that Elena seemed way too accepting of Stefan killing people, it turns out she just needed to see him in action.
Watch Executive Producer Julie Plec Describe “The Reckoning”:
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They have a long angsty conversation where she implores him to use his love for her to fight Klaus, and he tells her that his humanity is ebbing away and he can’t. When the clock runs out, he manages to resist long enough to give Elena a running head start. Unfortunately, she runs right into Klaus. Stefan, love’s bitch after all, prepares to stake himself, rather than hurt Elena. When Klaus tells him to turn his humanity off, Stefan fights him. So Klaus compels him to do it. In the episode’s most shocking moment, he ferociously bites her neck. That’s definitely a relationship dealbreaker.
It turns out that Klaus was not just being sadistic. He orders Tyler to drink a vial of Elena’s blood. Tyler convulses in agony, then develops fangs! He’s a hybrid now, and he seems way too happy about it, telling Caroline that it’s going to be a great year.
How the hell did that happen? It turns out that Klaus realized that the Original Witch was lying to him out of spite. The necklace was irrelevant. The Petrova doppleganger’s blood has the power to turn werewolves into hybrids. Had he succeeded at killing Elena last season, he would never have been able to create his hybrid army. As if losing Stefan weren’t bad enough, Elena wakes up in a hospital to find a nurse draining more of her blood for “her friend” Klaus. So, so creepy.
Fortunately, Damon learned info on his road trip with Katherine in time to save the day. Katherine had thoughtfully stashed Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) in the trunk of their car, since vampires have no need for coolers. She remembered that Pearl once told her that she knew a vampire who could kill Klaus, and figures Jeremy can talk to Anna and get the scoop. Anna reveals that the guy who showed up at the end of the 1920s episode is named Michael, and is both a vampire and a vampire hunter, and they would be crazy to wake him. This seems like the supernatural version of that Dave Chapelle sketch about the blind African-American KKK member. When Damon returns to Mystic Falls and tells Klaus that he found Michael, Klaus knocks him out and flees.
Damon wakes up, finds Elena, then scoops her up like a knight in shining armor and brings her back to the Salvatore house. In a major shipper moment, he vows that he will never leave her again and gives her back her necklace. It’s romantic, until Stefan appears and says Klaus asked him to keep watch on her until he returns. So now Damon is officially the good brother and Stefan is the bad brother, and Elena is in hell.
In other news, in order to help Bonnie communicate with the dead witches — and see his dead sister — Matt (Zach Roerig) deliberately drowns in the school pool so Bonnie will have to revive him with CPR. It’s unclear why this would work, given that there are no supernatural elements involved, but apparently Bonnie’s witch powers extend to Red Cross approved lifesaving methods. Matt is able to say goodbye to Vicki. Except, uh oh, she appears to him again at the end of the episode. Was this a one time thing, or can Matt see dead people now, too? Is he going to be Team Vicki, while Jeremy is Team Anna?
Jeremy and Katherine find Michael’s grave in Charlotte. Katherine pries open his casket. His eyes open. He looks scary as hell. Uh, guys, you probably should have taken Anna’s advice.