Tonight’s episode is about homecoming – not just the high school dance, but also Klaus’ return to where his father and sister are – for all intents and purposes, home.

Matt and Elena...or is it Katherine?
Matt and Elena...or is it Katherine?

Stefan tells Klaus Mikael is dead to lure him back to town.  Because Stefan is compelled and can’t lie to Klaus, Elena stakes a willing Mikael in front of him.  Rebekah is also in on the plot – it’s her assurance that Mikael has been killed that brings Klaus back.

It’s Homecoming week and Elena has nothing to wear.  Bonnie is in no mood for a dance –  she is still upset over her breakup and knows that Elena can never be angry at Jeremy the way she is.  While Damon works on a secret plan to kill Klaus, Stefan plans on escorting Elena to the dance – he is still compelled to protect her.

Caroline is upset that Tyler is still hanging out with Rebekah, and also that he set her up to go to the dance with Matt.  Elena bonds with Rebekah when she talks about her love for Klaus and her reluctance to help in the plot to kill him.  Elena returns the vervain necklace to Rebekah to wear with her Homecoming dress.  In a surprise move, she then stakes her, wanting to leave nothing to chance.

[SPOILERS AHEAD!]

The gym mysteriously floods and the dance moves to Tyler’s house.  When Matt comes to pick up Rebekah, Elena suggests herself instead.  Tyler tells Stefan that he’s doing what Klaus commanded and that “it’s not a party – it’s a wake.”  Klaus wants to reunite his family now that he thinks Mikael is gone.  He tells Stefan to bring Mikael to the wake and promises that once Mikael is destroyed, he will free Stefan.

Mikael explains to Damon that he feeds from vampires so that he doesn’t drink from the innocent.  When Stefan arrives, Mikael attacks him and feeds from him.  He and Damon leave Stefan behind.  Klaus has invited many of his own “friends” to the party – hybrids that he’s created along the way.  They are his insurance that any attack on him will be retaliated to disastrous results.

Caroline

Tyler warns Caroline that she’s in danger at the party, then knocks her out with vervain.  He tells Matt to get Caroline and the others out of the house, because Tyler will be forced to protect Klaus at all costs.  Bonnie and Damon take out Tyler.  Damon is carrying the only dagger that will kill an Original – he had to carry it as he’s the only vampire who has been invited into the house.

Klaus and Mikael square off.  Though the hybrids have been sired by Klaus, they are still part vampire and can be compelled by Mikael.  SUPERNATURAL SHOWDOWN!  Mikael threatens to kill Elena so Klaus will come out of the Lockwood house, but Klaus says he doesn’t care if Mikael kills her – in fact, he dares him to do it.  Mikael tells Klaus that his impulse is what will keep him from ever being truly great.  In an insane volley of scenes, Mikael stabs Elena.  While Klaus is distracted, Damon attacks him from behind and stabs him with the Original dagger.  Elena pops back up – it’s actually Katherine with wolfsbane bombs, which she uses to explode the hybrids.  Stefan attacks Damon and knocks him off Klaus, who stabs Mikael with the Original weapon.  Mikael goes up in flames and Stefan has earned his freedom.

Caroline wakes up and Tyler explains to her that he doesn’t mind being sired to Klaus because now he doesn’t have to go through the painful werewolf transformations.  Caroline can’t be with “one of the bad guys” and breaks up with Tyler.  Color me bummed – I actually really liked the two of them together.

Elena, who wasn’t at the party at all, can’t believe that Stefan helped Klaus instead of killing him.  Was he just trying to free himself all along?  Damon tells her that they’re never going to get Stefan back, and she responds with, “Then we’ll let him go.”  Damon gets a call from Katherine, who is driving away as fast as she can.  Stefan is beside her in the car.  Cue the flashbacks, where Klaus had told Katherine (thinking she was Elena) that if he died, his hybrids would kill Damon.  Katherine and Stefan teamed up to save Damon.  In the end, Katherine is the one who gets Stefan to care again and return to his humanity.  She tells him that she needs him to feel emotion again, because she needs him to get mad for the next part of her plan.

Stefan calls Klaus just as Klaus is opening the van where he houses the corpses of his family, who are all missing.  Stefan has taken the bodies and is holding them ransom to ensure the safety of everyone he left behind in Mystic Falls.

Tonight’s episode is the last before their fall season hiatus, so I was expecting lots of high stakes and insane drama.  It certainly didn’t disappoint, but I also appreciated the familial bonds that the show explores.  Elena’s angry with Jeremy for cheating on Bonnie, but as Bonnie points out, it’s never going to be the same anger that Bonnie feels.  Rebekah is angry with Klaus for killing their mother and lying about it, but ultimately everyone knows that she won’t be able to betray him for long.  And when Katherine needed Stefan’s help, she knew that the idea of Damon in danger was the key to his humanity, not Elena.  This really struck a chord with me.  I appreciate romantic love, but I’ve always thought the love of your family is a stronger, much more intense bond.  I enjoy that ‘Vampire Diaries’ has proved itself once again to be more than just a silly teen romance, and I can’t wait for the show’s return!

If you missed the last episode you can read our ‘The Vampire Diaries: Ordinary People’ recap to catch up.