Before I get to the episode I have to ask: these people are 18--why are they still in high school? High school is still only four years long, right? Did they all get held back? And their idea of wacky fun times is setting up pranks throughout the school? Sadly, that's only a taste of this season's lameness. I think TVD has lost the plot. I'm officially depressed.
Anyway, "The Reckoning" starts off with Matt (who looks about as much a teenager as Damon does, which is to say not at all) is working out in the school gym late at night. Sure, why not? Hearing a noise he goes to investigate and discovers his classmates embroiled in setting up pranks (mousetraps all over the floor! Honey on the doorknobs!) for Senior Prank Night. Um, yeah. Well, they have been looking forward to this since they were freshmen. Besides, Caroline insisted they need to get involved and create memories that they'll remember for the rest of their lives. Sure, when Caroline is 200 she'll be looking back fondly on gluing down toilet seats when she was 18. Do any of the writers actually remember that she's a vampire? Hopefully they will soon because she's gotten to be as useless and annoying as she was back in the first season. Hint: it's called character development--look into it.
When Elena takes off on her own to glue Alaric's desk shut she runs into Klaus. He's not too happy to see she's still alive and he takes it out on two random students, compelling one to hold up her leg and the other to beat her to death if she lets it drop.
Elsewhere Stefan wakes up and finds Rebecca guarding him. It turns out Klaus has been breaking his neck all afternoon, which is strange since Klaus claimed he wasn't angry at Stefan. Maybe he changed his mind. Or maybe it's one of those (many) things the writers let slide. Rebecca has also changed, from an apparently sensible woman in the 1920s to a bitchy, jealous brat in 2011. Her jealousy, of course, is aimed at Elena and Stefan's feelings for the doppelganger, which Rebecca expresses by staking Stefan in the gut with a crowbar and repeatedly voicing her desire for Elena's death.
Once Stefan is immobilized Rebecca goes and finds Caroline and Ty. She knocks Caroline out without any problem and drags Ty to Klaus. When Matt and Bonnie arrive ready to TP the place Klaus is elated to see Bonnie. He explains his hybrid problem (they die when he tries to turn them) and orders Bonnie to find a solution. And just to add a little more pressure he feeds Ty his blood before breaking his neck, forcing Bonnie to find a solution before Ty wakes up and dies. By this time Stefan has regained consciousness and makes his way to the gym to join the party. After a scuffle in which Stefan badly tries to pretend he doesn't care about Elena (did he really think telling Klaus he would do whatever he wanted would actually work?) Klaus ends up compelling Stefan to do whatever he says without question, starting with killing the previously mentioned random teenagers. Then, because there wasn't already enough pressure on Bonnie, Klaus decides to start a 20-minute countdown at the end of which--if Bonnie hasn't come up with the solution--Stefan is to kill Elena. Of course the fact that he doesn't bother telling Bonnie this makes it that much more fun or something.
Bonnie and Matt, meanwhile, have taken off to figure out what to do. Bonnie is stressed because the curse is ancient and none of her grimoires go back that far. But then in a flash of inspiration she realizes she can get formerly dead Jeremy to talk to her dead witch contacts (who won't talk to her anymore because she repeatedly used them) and find out from them what to do. The only problem is she can't find Jeremy. Rather than worrying about what might have happened to Jeremy (it's not like no one's seen or heard from him for at least a day or anything) Matt gets the brilliant idea to kill himself by drowning in the pool and have Bonnie bring him back with CPR. That way he can see Vicky again too. Of course it all works out perfectly and Vicky has a message for Bonnie from the Original Witch: Klaus's hybrids are failing because...wait for it...the doppelganger is still alive! Gasp, shock. Pretty sure we already knew that.
Klaus overhears this, however, and seems to think it's valuable information. While this is going on Elena is back in the gym reminding Stefan of their love and urging him to fight the compulsion. Stefan spends the time trying to convince her he's now a psycho killer, telling her that even though she's the only thing that's kept him from shutting off his emotions, if he gets near her blood she's dead. Just what you want to hear from the person you love! By this time Ty has also woken up and is not looking so good.
As the timer runs out Stefan tells Elena to run. He holds himself back as much as he can but he can't entirely stop himself from chasing her, although skewering himself with a broom handle seems to help a lot. As she's making her escape Elena runs into Klaus. He drags her back to Stefan where he pulls the makeshift stake out of him and then compels him to shut off his emotions/humanity. Then he offers Stefan a drink from Elena's neck.
Of course he doesn't let Stefan kill Elena. No, in a fantastic leap of logic that Fox Mulder would be proud of Klaus has decided that the Original Witch hated him so much that he should do the opposite of whatever she says. So if she claims the doppelganger needs to be dead he thinks what he really needs to do is feed Elena's blood to Ty. And success! Ty makes the transition to hybrid. See, Klaus figured out that the witch's failsafe was to require the doppelganger to be killed for the curse to be broken, but that hybrids couldn't be made without the doppelganger's blood. That way she would ensure that even if Klaus ever did break the curse he would always be alone. It turns out that so many people have had to die because all Klaus wants is some company and the Original Witch just wanted him to suffer. Yup. So Klaus takes Elena to the hospital, where he compels a nurse to keep Elena sedated as she takes (and bags) even more blood. His plan is then to take his doppelganger and his hybrid and get the hell out of Mystic Falls.
Side Note: Is it just me or is this the worst curse/failsafe ever? First of all, why keep making doppelgangers if the Original Witch really wanted to curse Klaus? Why keep giving him chances to break it? As for making sure Klaus is alone forever, wouldn't he just have to wait until the next doppelganger comes along? Sure he'll be alone for awhile but what's that to an immortal being? Looks like someone didn't think this one through too well. Back to our regularly scheduled review...
Meanwhile Damon and Katherine's big road trip involves driving aimlessly. According to Katherine it's so they can get far enough away that Damon won't go running back. Even though he insists that won't happen he still pulls over and throws away the keys, refusing to go any farther until Katherine tells him what's going on. The one thing that redeems this scene is the kiss between Damon and Katherine (he just thought he'd give it a try). Very hot although too brief. It would be totally worth risking a car wreck to get to lock lips with Damon (or Ian) for a moment. Hey, I never said I didn't have issues. It's probably good that they didn't wreck the car, though, as it turns out Jeremy is unconscious in the trunk.
It seems Pearl and Anna knew how to kill Klaus but since they were both dead Katherine never mentioned it before (it was Pearl's leverage, yet Katherine still let her get entombed so she could continue running from Klaus. Maybe saving Pearl instead would have been the smart plan...) Now that it turns out Jeremy is a ghost whisperer Katherine wants to use him to talk to Anna to find out what will get rid of Klaus permanently. At first Anna refuses but after Damon smashes Jeremy's head against a rock (really?) she tells them they're looking for Michael, a vampire who hunts vampires (is she sure she didn't mean Angel?) She also lets them know they'd be stupid to wake Michael because he'll kill them all.
After finding the car keys Damon discovers that Bonnie's been texting him about Klaus. He leaves Jeremy with Katherine (really??) to find Michael while he returns to Mystic Falls--despite insisting he wouldn't go back--to help Elena et al. This is where we get the only other decent moment in the episode. Katherine can't believe Damon is going to risk his life for Elena and she shouts after him that the Damon she knew would never be so stupid. Damon pauses and replies that he wouldn't have done this for her. The line and the delivery are pretty devastating and it's a rather satisfying moment (although he did do it for her when he tried to free her from the tomb and ended up getting shot and killed, but we'll overlook that oversight this time).
When Damon gets back to Mystic Falls he finds Klaus just in time. As Klaus is about to kill him Damon mentions Michael, telling Klaus that he and Katherine found him and that Michael knows where Klaus is. That shuts Klaus up. He ends up taking off without Elena or Ty. That leaves Damon free to rescue Elena from the hospital, carrying her out all heroic-like.
As for the rest of the gang, Matt is happy to finally get a chance to talk to Vicky and (theoretically) say goodbye. Ty insists he feels phenomenal, although Caroline looks worried. And no one seems to remember that Jeremy is missing.
Back at his place Damon gives Elena bourbon (although I really think she could use some plasma after all that blood loss) to help her forget. He also offers to compel her but she refuses, claiming she needs to remember everything. He then tries to give her back her necklace, which he re-stole from Katherine, only Elena doesn't take it. Instead she laments that Stefan is really gone this time and then whines that Damon wasn't there (sure, complain when he acts like a vampire but when she needs his help suddenly he's obligated to be her vampire saviour). Still he's her bitch so he promises that he'll never leave her again (it's actually a rather romantic moment but I'm too irritated with Elena to care). Just then Stefan saunters in and gets himself a drink. Apparently Klaus has compelled him to watch over and protect Elena until he comes back for her. So basically this is season 1 all over again with Salvatore role reversal. This should be dull.
The episode ends with Jeremy and Katherine finding the crypt in which Michael has been entombed (a witch did it in the 90s). He's chained and looks dead but as soon as Katherine pushes the cover aside he opens his eyes.
After all the drama of Klaus finding Elena and taking over the school the whole thing ended with a whimper. The episode felt anticlimactic and uninspired. Events were resolved way too easily, there was no sense of tension, and definitely no real surprises. The writers almost seem to have given up (or maybe they're just really lazy). All I know is we're five episodes in and I've been consistently bored and annoyed. Come on Vampire Diaries--it's not too late to turn it around (you've done it before).
Appearance: Pale human until the vampire emerges, then dark/red eyes, dark facial veins and sharp fangs.
Strengths: Ability to compel humans (Originals can also compel other vampires). Super strength (the older the vampire the stronger they are) and speed. Fast healing.
Weaknesses: Stakes. Compulsion by Originals. Vampire hunters.
Mythology: Vampires can turn off their emotions if they choose to. In order to turn into a vampire a person must first die with vampire blood in their system; to complete the transition they need to feed on human blood (in the case of Klaus's hybrids they need to feed on the doppelganger's blood). Originals can only be temporarily "killed" by a certain type of dagger plunged into their hearts; when the dagger is removed the Original returns to life (only now it turns out there is some way to kill them permanently).
Klaus: [to Elena] You are supposed to be dead. What are we going to do about that?
Elena: Don't, Klaus--you don't have to hurt anybody.
Klaus: Come on, love, of course I do.
Rebecca: So this is the latest doppelganger? The original one was much prettier.
Katherine: What if I told you there was a way to kill Klaus? And not dagger dead. Dead dead.
Damon: I'd say you were desperate and lying. Or drunk. Or desperate lying drunk.
Elena: [after Klaus compels Stefan to shut off his emotions] What did you do?
Klaus: I fixed him.
The Vampire Diaries, Season 3 Episode 5 "The Reckoning." Written by Michael Narducci. Directed by John Behring. From The CW.