1) Dear residents of Mystic Falls: when you go into the woods, people die. When you have parties at night, people die. When you have school events, people die. So what do you do? You host an unofficial school event - at night - where you're expecting to pull pranks on one another. Just--why not roll a keg in there? I'm sure Duke has some more. Hey! Post-Prank Night masquerade in the woods! I swear to God, your graduating class is going to be eleven people.

2) Seriously, just tell everyone to stay inside at night, there are "mountain lions" afoot. (It's better than "heart attacks".)


4) Ahahahahahaahahah Prank Night cold open = awesome. "And *I'm* going to go glue Alaric's desk shut." And of course Caroline's big into Prank Night. Caroline, remember, was all for having a picnic two days after Jenna was killed - and I don't mean that in a bad way, I mean that as a celebration. Caroline Forbes: choosing life since she died.

5) "I'm kind of surprised any of you are doing this." Matt Donovan, voice of the people! Because sometimes, in lieu of witches, vampires, werewolves, and people seeing your dead sister, things like Prank Night come across as sort of small.

6) And then Elena runs smack into Klaus AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH SHITBALLS.

7) "Truth is, you just don't do it for me anymore." As pissed as I currently am with Damon, come on, that was awesome. Katherine Pierce, laid low by the one person who straight-up loved her. That's gonna nag.

8) "My brother's been breaking your neck all afternoon." Claire Holt deserves all the credit for making that line as creepy as it is. (Though honestly, it is creepy as hell. Vampires need better hobbies, is what I'm saying.)

9) Aaaaaaaaaagh and then Klaus whammies Chad and Dana. "It's not your fault. I wasn't in my right head last time we met." "If she drops her foot, Chad, I want you to beat her to death."

10) Aaaaaaaaand then Klaus turns Tyler into a hybrid and gives Bonnie a countdown clock to fix his inability to make children? Yeah, this is gonna be one of those nights where I put too many As in words.

11) The speech between Matt and Bonnie says it all, really: last summer, Matt's biggest problems were failing CPR and Elena breaking up with him. Now his sister's dead, his best friend's a werewolf, half the people he knows (including his ex) are vampires, and his life sort of sucks. Bonnie...Bonnie can't see it that way, because as awful as everything gets, she will never, ever regret being a witch, the same way Caroline will never, ever take her life for granted.

12) Oh my God! This is easy to fix! Caroline/Matt/Tyler threesome relationship! EVERYONE WINS.

13) I know it's a busy night and all, but for real: since when do they have a pool?

14) "I can't contact the dead. But Jeremy can." Yes, Bonnie, that's true! ...which is why Katherine and Damon kidnapped him to the middle of nowhere. Man, the Littlest Gilbert is having a run tonight, isn't he?

15) Klaus whammying Stefan to obey him is...not problematic? But it's kind of a neat little loophole in the "Klaus tempts Stefan to the dark side" thing: he won't want to do things, but he has to obey. I don't know, I feel like this could really easily be used to give Stefan a free pass. And I don't want anyone named Salvatore to get a free pass, right now.

16) Stefan killing Chad and Dana is one of the things this show does best, and has from the beginning: the quiet, everyday horrible things. Sure, Stefan eating a migrant village is awful, but Stefan eating and ripping apart kids he had math with - kids he washed cars with - is so much worse, because they know him and maybe they liked him and they don't understand why he's doing it, or why any of this is happening. It's a terrible end to a pair of short stories. It hurts in a way the big ones don't.

17) It's Mikael, not Michael, and he's a (sleeping?) vampire who hunts other vampires. I'm holding off on the "being the Originals' dad" part for a few weeks til the flashback ep.

18) "If she tries to run, fracture her spine." Goddammit, Joseph Morgan, quit being delightful when you are horrifying me. (Though maybe also work on your American accent, which is better when it's the flat vowels of "no particular region".)

19) And then Matt drowns himself so Bonnie will bring him back and he'll be able to see Vicki, which just - you guys, it's been a long night where a lot of people broke my heart, but Zach Roerig is like Green Lantern or some shit. It's all in his face: he loves being human, he doesn't want to stop being human, but he's willing to take a step away if it'll let him see his sister and save his friends. Heroes are scared and do it anyway, and that's what he did.

20) I still say that that's just some Thing in the dark wearing Vicki's face, but either there's a part of Vicki in there - a very small one - or that really is her, just this once, because the looks on both their faces, when he's having his NDE and at the end, made me start crying. I'm not advocating human sacrifice or whatthefuckever is involved, but can we bring Kayla Ewell back? I am all for people slapping around Damon and being awesome ladies.

21) "Thank you for the concern, dick." And for six seconds, Jeremy Gilbert was my favorite character on this show.

22) "I wouldn't have done it for you."

--which is going to nag Katherine as long as she lives, that her descendant - who literally has her face - has the hearts of two men she loves (or used to love, or...whatever, with Damon). Sorry, K-Dog: you got beat.

23) Aaaaand then Stefan and Elena made me cry again. He doesn't want to kill her, but he's not that strong. He's never been that strong. He's never been the strong one, of him and Damon: Damon is a lot of things - dick, asshole, murderer, batshit crazy - but everything he is, he chose to be. He made himself darker, for Katherine. He's making himself a better man, for Elena. He gets furious when you try and imply you did something to him, that who and what he is isn't totally organic to Damon Salvatore.

Stefan, on the other hand, isn't. Stefan is basically what happens if you have vampires on Intervention. Stefan goes crazy, and feels bad, and goes to rehab - hair shirt, no murder, etc. - and then falls off the wagon and tries to eat Amber Fell in the woods. (You know, as addicts do.)

Elena thinks he's stronger than that. Elena's seen Caroline's dad, who she's known her entire life, fight off Damon's compulsion without vervain. Surely Stefan can do it. Stefan's stronger than Bill. Stefan's stronger than anyone. Her heart tells her that; her heart, that's never, ever doubted him.

("Imagine what her blood tastes like," Damon said once.)

And Elena's wrong.

24) I will say this, though: Stefan wouldn't have held out that long for Katherine, or Rebekah, or anyone else. Maybe not even for Lexi. Possibly for Damon. It's always what we love that kills us; it's always what we love that gets us through.

25) This show is just horrifying things for 42 minutes, tonight, but Stefan trying to stake himself to save Elena from his orders? Right up there.

26) And then Klaus makes Stefan turn off his emotions, which...makes me wonder if maybe Rose knew something Klaus didn't. Stefan has to obey Klaus' order, yeah, but we don't know that Klaus knew. Rose did, and she told Damon, and that's it. ("After the first 150 years, it's more habit than anything else. Gets hard to hold them off." Rose: still the best.)

("Yeah, it's hard. The bad things are worse. But the good things...the good things are even better, Stefan." Lexi would be goddamn crying right now.)

27) "I fixed him." Fuck you forever, Niklaus. (And fuck you too, Joseph Morgan. I've seen Hex, they clearly did not give you enough to do. But then, who did? Seriously, that show.)

28) Net result: the original witch, sensing Klaus was an asshat, totally pulled an Emily Bennett: "You need to kill the doppelganger to break the curse. But the only way you'll make more hybrids is with the doppelganger's blood. I'm not gonna tell you that part, though, because FUCK YOU." Witches, you are MY FAVORITES.

29) Damon getting Elena out of there: necessary, and pretty nice. I'm still mad at him, though. Like, "Pearl, come back as a ghost long enough to make something gouge out his eyes again" mad.

30) Did everyone see that? How Klaus peed just a little when Damon mentioned Mikael?

31) "Everything's just...better." So Tyler's in an excellent mood, and Caroline looks worried. We all know this is gonna end horribly, right? Tyler being a hybrid? Because he lives in Mystic Falls, where everything sucks?

32) "I need to remember. All of it." Always the right impulse, but also: Elena, since when are you not on vervain? What the hell? You should be drinking that shit with your orange juice, possibly in pill form. Maybe do a shot. I'm not picky.

33) Dear New Stefan: wow, do I not like you. I am getting Angelus vibes off you, and we all know how much I hated that guy. (Fun fact: after I saw Innocence for the first time, and heard Angelus' speech to Buffy re: sex, I hated all guys for about week, including my dad.) And your new job is keeping an eye on Elena! And possibly taunting Damon about fucking her! Wow, this...this will end worse than the Tyler thing, wow.

34) My brain had ten seconds of Katherine/Jeremy SHUT UP OKAY IT WAS A LONG NIGHT.

35) So you have Mikael, in what looks like armor, sleeping away in the Pickett family crypt. I would pay real money for that story OH SHIT HIS EYE IS OPEN.

Next week: Stefan goes back to school, in-between threatening Alaric - way to be, asshole - and things blowing up, causing Elena to advocate Damon re-enact the end of "Family Ties" with their places switched, in "Smells Like Teen Spirit".
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