First one of the new year, guys!

Previously on TVD: It turns out that Elena is sired to Damon, which led to weird fan conversations about personal responsibilities, shipping, and agency or lack thereof; meanwhile, on the show, Elena tried to get all up on Damon's dick and Damon - for once - decided to be an actual person, which he is rusty at at best. Stefan didn't realize until Caroline told him, because Caroline's one legit kind-of sucky trait is being the world's biggest Stefan/Elena shipper. Caroline and Tyler pretended to be broken up for Klaus-related reasons, all of which became unnecessary because Hayley, Tyler's werewolf friend, straight-up admitted she'd lured him into a trap with Professor Sketch--I'm sorry, Shane, and Klaus killed all twelve freed hybrids, and then Tyler's mother, because Klaus has severe Mommy Issues. Bonnie seemed to have no problem being hypnotized on the reg by Professor Sketch, because of reasons, and Jeremy's gift of a vervain bracelet to April Young has just directly led to April joining the X-Men. Oh, and Jeremy's a vampire hunter now, so he's living with Damon in a cabin in the woods 'til he learns to get a hold of that and can refrain from murdering literally almost everyone he knows. Hope everyone had a great holiday season!

1) Bonnie's dad, played by Rick Worthy! Dude's totally not gonna stick around - are you kidding me, he's a parent in Mystic Falls; we can start the death clock now - but I like that now I can legit say that Bonnie's dad is a Cylon. Also, does anyone else but me remember in S1 at the Oh Shit Dinner Party, when Bonnie said her dad was always gone on "business"? (That was also where she said her mom died of cancer when she was like ten, so...she lived with Sheila 'til she died? And then...IDK, Bonnie was like Matt but her house had heat.) Good to see that sort of paid off.

2) I remain sad that we are almost certainly never gonna see Stephen, Bill Forbes' jailbait ex-boyfriend. Actual Gay People, Mystic Falls! Please to be having some.

3) I have said it before and I will say it again: When Damon Salvatore - admittedly the worst dude on the side of good long-term (not counting whatever shifting alliances Klaus has at any given moment; dude's still Chaotic Evil on his best day) - thinks a dude is sketchy, you should perhaps listen to him. Seriously! He is actually not talking about Elena for once! Maybe turn up your hearing aids and pay attention, EVERYONE ELSE IN TOWN.

4) "Hey, dad. I know you probably mean well, but given that I'm the Last Living Bennett Witch and possibly the eventual avatar of Qetsiyah, you should maybe ease up on trying to wrap me in packing blankets and Protect Me From Things. Seriously. I give vampires blood clots in their brain on the regular, and that's what I do to the ones I like. So maybe quit trying to parent like seventeen years too late, because better people than you have tried and they're all dead. Oh, and FYI, Mom is now a vampire and probably roaming the earth like David Carradine in Kung Fu. Did you make coffee?"

5) Rebekah's awake! Oh, this won't end poorly at all, considering she's a massive bitch with (completely understandable) trust issues. That girl's been daggered more than the rest of her siblings put together.

6) That said, April, we maybe should not trust the thousand-year-old vampire you found WITH A GODDAMN STAKE IN HER CHEST.

7) Also, I would totally read Rebekah/April, because - IDK, for all that I really don't like Rebekah, I'd like her to eventually be happy. If only so she'd quit trying to kill Elena and/or other people every three episodes or so.

8) Caroline, if you didn't want Stefan to go on a drinking binge, you maybe should have not told him about Damon and Elena having sex. It's like you've never met him! Dude has triggers! Two big ones, labeled "Damon" and "Elena"!

9) I'm not going to lie: I could watch Damon and Matt's half-assed training methods for Jeremy for an entire episode. The pizza interruptus! "Really? *Again*?" Damon not eating the delivery girl! "Now run around the lake twice." "Why should I do it?" "Do you want to eat today?" Damon awkwardly listening to Elena's voicemails like a 15-year-old with a crush! Seriously, everything back in town is goddamn infuriating anymore; let's just stay at the lake house.

10) "Do you want to plunge the white oak stake into Rebekah's heart?" Does anyone else remember when a vampire daggering an Original would KILL THE VAMPIRE? Because that was a whole thing in S2, it's why Alaric had to dagger Elijah and Elena temporarily gutted herself in the living room.

11) "...you asked me to take notes." Okay, fine, April can maybe stay. As can Rebekah, as long as she is with April, which is honest to God the only time I find her even remotely tolerable these days. "Get some push pins! I want flow charts!"

12) Damon shooting Klaus: AWESOME. "That's for Carol Lockwood." Ugh shut up you guys he misses her. (Also, for real: I do not ever want to be the person who kills Liz Forbes, because it's gonna be Damon or Caroline who takes that person out, and they will suffer before they die.)

13) "So, vampire Elena is a trollop." Well, no, but God knows everyone can't stop thinking of her that way.

14) "I slept with Damon because I'm in love with him."

"Do you still love Stefan?"
"Yes."
"Are you still *in* love with Stefan?"
"...no."

THERE. EVERYONE HAS ANSWERS NOW. SO CAN WE PLEASE FOCUS ON THE CURE FOR VAMPIRES AND PROFESSOR SKETCH? JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.

15) Bonnie ranting to Sketch, who promptly gives her...a necklace of Qetsiyah's, made of human bone. This is not at all weird! Bonnie acts like he just gave her his class ring! ALL OF YOU ARE GODDAMNED MORONS.

16) Oh, hey, everyone, Kol's back! Because Rebekah wasn't horrible enough, now she has backup!

17) Aaaaaand then Rebekah invites Tyler to the party, because Rebekah is the worst. And because she whammies him to turn into a werewolf and kill everyone, because: THE WORST.

18) I do love Klaus giving Damon stake-making tips. Leave him alone, Mikaelson. The guy died in 1864, people really knew how to whittle.

19) "And here I was, thinking you were the fun brother." Actually, he and Stefan take turns. You do not want to be around whichever one is currently the fun one.

20) Right around Sketchy dorking out about the Originals kidnapping him is when I realized: he's evil Alaric. Real evil Alaric, not the split-personality-vampire one Esther made.

21) "Clowns make you happy, Elena." Jesus fuck I hope not.

22) I've said it before, I'll say it again: Rebekah is THE WORST because - like Matt called her out on in her hallucination of him - she's been alive for a thousand years, and she's never progressed beyond a spoiled teenage girl. A lot of that is trust issues; a lot of it is Alexander betraying her, and what she's been through. I get that. I feel bad, as far as the trust issues (and constant daggering) go. Where I don't feel bad for her is that she shows moments - literally moments, not scenes or episodes - where she's moving beyond that. She's a thousand years old and almost impossible to kill; she can be and do anything she wants. Literally! Anything! Go hang out with Elijah, I'm sure he'll be more than happy to prove you have a soul and are not, in fact, a soulless harpy who feeds on the suffering of others like some kind of 14th century demon.

"Welcome to the last 900 years of my life."

No one made you do that, Rebekah; everyone has a choice. Fuck you sideways.

(BTW: none of this is a dig at Claire Holt, who is basically the reason I occasionally feel bad for Rebekah. She is amazing. The *character* drives me goddamned crazy.)

23) Ahahahahaha Klaus made vampires and aimed 'em at the lake house like he's tossing little mushroom guys at plumbers in Super Maris Bros.

24) "Rebekah compelled Elena, Caroline, and Stefan to tell the truth. Finally." See, I get that April is a dumbass, being sixteen, but Rebekah is a thousand. No excuse.

25) Aaaaand then Bonnie accidentally links April and Sketch, so when Kol mortally wounds him, April gets it! And Sketch is all for this, because he is ALSO THE WORST and basically using Bonnie to foment an immortal cult. Not that anyone knows, because we need to have 47 talks about WHAT DAMON'S DICK IS DOING THIS WEEK. All of you are morons.

26) When scary things (like the Originals) get scared (of Silas)? Not good.

27) "Those massacres are a pain to engineer." ...it's never the ones you think who say the creepiest shit, is it?

28) "Stefan, we have to talk about this." NO YOU DO NOT ELENA, JESUS CHRIST. Tyler, as a werewolf, is hunting you down to murder you, NOW IS NOT WHEN WE HAVE THE RELATIONSHIP TALK.

29) I will say that Rebekah's plan - cure Klaus and make him mortal, because it'll destroy him - is kind of goddamned brilliant. Still calling that they're gonna accidentally give it to Damon, though.

30) And now Stefan's working with Rebekah, because they're both angry at their brothers! Idiots, the both of them.

31) Elena and Damon blah blah whatever she really loves him this is still gonna end horribly for all involved.

32) "Expression" - the mass blood sacrifices required in dark magic. Like, say, what's necessary to wake up Silas and/or Qetsiyah. THIS WILL NOT END POORLY.

33) I just - if all of this is intentional, it's goddamn genius. Four seasons and about two years in-show time in: nobody trusts each other, everyone's overly emotional because almost everyone's a vampire and (weirdly) never bothers to shut off their emotions, they're lying to all the normals and looking startled when that bites them in the ass. There's a literal stack of dead bodies, most of whom are family members (and, one can assume, emotional anchors); if I had a dollar for every time someone on this show betrayed someone else, I wouldn't have student loans. Two years in, everyone still thinks Damon's the goddamn devil when we are frequently shown people who do waaaaaaaay worse things - not that Damon does not, in fact, do fucking horrible things on the regular, because that's what he does instead of knit like a normal person: commit atrocities - to the point where, when faced with an academic telling a hinky story re: a cure for vampirism and immortality via a secret witch-related blood cult, and said academic hypnotizing one of the world's most powerful witches, no one thinks it's something to be concerned about except Damon, while literally everyone else is having something like six talks at once about how awful Damon is and how his dick does devil magic. HEY ASSHOLES, PROFESSOR SHANE IS GOING TO LITERALLY MAKE BONNIE DARK PHOENIX TO POWER SOME KIND OF RESURRECTION NONSENSE, AND DAMON IS THE ONLY ONE WHO'S EVEN REMOTELY FIGURED THIS SHIT OUT. But hey! At least Rebekah's getting to whine about her sad little life and Stefan's on the edge of a coked-up, Ripper-esque shame spiral!

And all of this could have been averted if people just goddamn talked to one another more than once a fortnight, possibly via - say it with me - A MOTHERFUCKING PHONE TREE.

Seriously, when Bonnie eats a planet and they have to battle the Imperial Guard on the moon, don't come crying to me. I said all this shit at week ten.

34) And then, because this awful, terrible, amazing, wonderful show is like a candy apple with razor blades inside: Jeremy and Matt go to a pool hall that's loaded down with townsfolk in transition, because Klaus is a motivator and Damon's picked a weird moment to back his play. I FUCKING LOVE THIS SHOW SO MUCH.

Next week: Jeremy Gilbert, Littlest Vampire Hunter! ...this is gonna end poorly, isn't it? "Catch Me If You Can," Thursday, Jan. 24, 8 PM EST.
.

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