Ah, high school. A place of power dynamics between cruel teachers and unruly students, where tensions over alliances and over lost loves run high. And, of course, at Mystic Falls High, it’s an even more heightened reality than a regular high school — one where the stand-in teacher Rebekah can compel her would-be pupils into revealing whatever she wants them to. After School Special lived up to its name, but instead of dealing with teen pregnancy or the dangers of drugs (you’ll jump off the school roof!), it was a lesson in truth, lies, and the power of both to hurt.
Not to say that the episode was without the fun stuff. Whittling joke? Check. Matt and Jer wrestling, Damon as their bossy coach, Klaus’s little counting game, and Rebekah’s mean streak shining all brought a level of levity to the otherwise heavy revelations, particularly those between Stefan and Elena. April Young seems almost obsessed with the fact that those she thought were her friends were actually lying to her, more disturbed by that than the supernatural truths Rebekah revealed to her. But as Rebekah’s compulsion-fueled game of truth or
dare more truth played out, it was clear that sometimes not telling the truth is the humane thing to do. In the intensely awkward library scene, Caroline acts as the audience stand-in begging Rebekah to stop making Elena and Stefan reveal more than they should and cause even greater misery and pain. But, as the saying goes, the truth will out.
Rebekah wants revenge: on Stefan for his part in her latest daggering and on her brother Klaus for his millennium of betrayal. (And maybe Kol is in her bad books too, now? He’s not much of an ally, is he?) As much as Rebekah hates Klaus, she’s adopted the same strategy as him. When Tyler betrayed Klaus and led the hybrids to rise against him, Klaus decided to not physically punish Tyler but to drive him mad with pain by killing his mother. Similarly Rebekah doesn’t go for the physical torture to get information or to get even, she goes for the emotional torture. Both want to hurt others they way they’ve been hurt — they know how truly miserable an eternity alone is and do their best to inflict that pain on others. Well-adjusted lot, those Mikaelsons. Rebekah’s attempt to have Tyler kill Stefan and Elena (and Caroline) is half-hearted; she could have easily killed them herself, but she’d rather witness their suffering, know that they have a lifetime of pain ahead of them — and then in a twisted way she will not be alone with hers.
In a funny way, Rebekah does Tyler a favor in luring him to the school and forcing him to lose control. Instead of continuing to bottle his anger and grief as we see him doing at the memorial (or by taking it out on his poor cell phone), Rebekah forces him to give the beast inside him the reins. Happily he doesn’t kill his girlfriend or friends in the process, but the end result is a Tyler properly grieving — accepting comfort from Caroline and expressing his guilt and sense of responsibility for his mother’s death. A heartbreaking moment.
Also in the running for the greatest pain, misery, and suffering in After School Special is Mr. Stefan Salvatore — forced to hear his epic love Elena say she’s in love with his brother. Not only did she sleep with him, she’s in love with him and not with him anymore. The poor guy has been fearing this exact thing for ages, and there it is: his fear realized. Though he still tries to protect her from Rebekah, his manner has markedly changed toward her — never more apparent than in the heartbreaking walk away from her, not stopping, not turning back, not indulging her need to talk it out. And of course there’s the big moment: when Stefan says that he wants to forget, to lose all the good memories to erase the current suffering. It’s the opposite of what Elena once said to Stefan on the Gilbert Porch of Epic Moments. Back in season 1’s Haunted, when Damon first compelled Jeremy, to forget about Vicki’s vamp turn and death, Elena said she wouldn’t want to be compelled to forget the pain she felt and the horror she witnessed because it would mean losing the feeling she had for Stefan. But here Stefan asks for the opposite, and is denied the easy way out.
And so to avoid a lifetime of wondering how much influence that pesky sire bond has over Elena’s heart, the race for the cure is on. Rebekah wants to force her brother to take it and lose his immortality, his power; Stefan wants Elena to take it so she can re-evaluate her Salvatore preferences; Klaus wants to breed some more hybrids with human-again doppelganger blood; and Shane wants it to raise Silas — and all those who died in his name. What does Elena want? Not entirely clear. In the opening recap narration, she says there’s “hope now” in the form of the cure, but does she want to give up vampirism? Would she take it? Or is she happy, sire bond be damned?
Certainly, in After School Special, what brings Stefan pain brings Damon joy. After Elena tells him she loves him, that expression on his face was such a nice moment for a guy who’s been waiting to hear that (from one doppelganger or another) for 150 years. It was a solid Damon episode, I gotta say, between that long-coming moment of happiness to his sassy repartee with Klaus and his bossing around of Jer and Matt. Damon is not scared of Klaus (and shooting him for Carol Lockwood was perfect) but Klaus sees through Damon and to his motivations, and recognizes the darker side that’s being denied there. And Klaus’s presence and desire to cut to the chase (or massacre, as it were) brings out that violent logic in Damon. How will Elena react to his participation in the turn-innocents-and-slaughter-them plan? Or does the sire bond prevent her from being overly moralistic about anything Damon does? It’s hard to get a handle on the new Ms. Gilbert, I must say.
Though Carol Lockwood is no longer with us, enter Bonnie’s dad, about whom we’ve heard very little over the last three and a half seasons. Rudy Jenkins proves to be making up for lost time, trying to impose a little law and order in Mystic Falls by becoming interim mayor after six other people said no thanks to the position. (Hilarious, by the way.) Bonnie’s pretty much had free reign since her Grams died; will Rudy’s presence keep her out of Shane-related accidental hell-raising? Or is there just one more person she cares about around to be threatened by the supernaturally inclined in need a little witchy juju?
The episode ends with alliances forming and strengthening — Stefan pairing up with Rebekah, Elena coming to Damon, Jeremy working under the guidance of Klaus (and Damon), and Shane keeping Bonnie under his thumb. And then there’s Miss Mystic Falls, the young April turning to the mayor and sheriff asking for the liars and killers in town to be brought to justice. Will Bonnie’s dad prove up to the task? At least Klaus’s soon-to-be vampires waking up in that bar are far outside his jurisdiction. Would’ve been a tough first week.
Compelling moment: Stefan and Elena closing the door together. I know, I know, let me explain. It was a rare moment between Elena and a Salvatore that was not about romance, but about survival and equality. He puts the axe through the doors, they hold them shut together; she thinks of using the locker door as well, and finally with one unified push they repel Tyler’s attack. Together. Teamwork. No questioning of choices, no talking about feelings, no damsel-in-distress. Just two kickass vampires, intent on seeing it through the day, working as partners. That’s a Stelena I can get behind.
The Rules: Bonnie’s protection spell accidentally links Shane to April, and April experiences his injuries (and presumably he is saved when she is healed by Stefan’s blood?). The magic Bonnie used is expression, which is separate from the nature and spirit world and is neither good or bad — it’s neutral and limitless, defined only by its user. (Or so says massacres-are-no-biggie Shane.) Bonnie now has the talisman of the 2,000 year old witch Qetsiyah, which is made of human bones. Shane learned a trick in Tibet that prevents him from being compelled.
Foggy Moments: It looked really pretty and all, but who left all those candles burning unattended on the wooden gym bleachers in the deserted school?
Other thoughts & questions before Catch Me If You Can (EP411):
- What did you think of Rudy Hopkins? I, for one, am just glad the last name situation is sorted, and the Bennett women keep their Bennett name, patriarchal traditions be damned.
- What are they going to do with (Un)Dead Pizza Girl’s truck?
- How do Kol and Rebekah know about Silas? Is Silas going to raise all the dead or just those who died for him? How does Shane know what Silas will do once freed? Why does Shane want to free Silas?
- Did the power of Bonnie’s protection spell have to do with the lovely human-bone pendant she was using to connect to Shane? How did Shane get that pendant if it once belonged to the 2000-yr-old witch Qetsiyah? How old is Shane, anyway?
- Is Jeremy ready to kill a dozen vamps at once? Let’s hope so!
What do you think of TVD’s winter premiere?
Everyone is subject to these rules and guidelines, whether they read them or not.
If you have problems with any of the comments posted, flag them to bring them to our attention. You can do this by hovering your mouse over the comment so the 'flag' link appears. You're also welcome to contact us to let us know about any problems.
Do not flag comments you just disagree with - it wastes moderator time. The flagging system is not there to give a post a thumbs down, it's there for genuine problems.
Be excellent to each other.