Matt!  My God man, you’ve cracked!  I think I like it. 
It’s so hard not to be fangirly over this show, isn’t it?  Each week I try to give thoughtful, intelligent reviews and then when I go through things, I turn to babbling mush.  This episode is no different.  In fact, it’s ten times worse!  I mean Klaus finds Elena…then Tyler…Bonnie is totally screwed…Katherine needs Jeremy of all people…Stefan can’t man up…WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN THE POOL MATT??…Aww, Damon, you’re killing me…Wait a second, that’s Sebastian Roche!
Yeah, that would be a pretty annoying review, wouldn’t it?  I’ll do better.  
The pace is pretty intense from the word go, that is after we have our breaths taken away by sweaty and pumped up Matt ruining a senior prank.  After the ghost shadows were stalking him late at night in the mostly empty school.  Gotta start with a little suspense too.  Everyone’s so light and relaxed until shadow man turns out to be Klaus.  Man does that guy know how to ruin a party!  He surprises Elena and the cat’s out of the bag.  The doppleganger is alive.  I didn’t expect this to happen so early in the episode when the previews came out.  It looked like a potential episode ending cliffhanger.  So yes, color me surprised.  
The intense pacing and flow between each scene is once again perfect.  Kudos to Michael Narducci for contributing such an amazing script.  Director John Behring delivers again too, doing some extraordinary things inside a pool among other things.  I was engrossed from beginning to end.  

“When I have to choose between doppleganger and hybrid, I go hybrid every time.” 

Klaus, Klaus, Klaus.  You sick and evil bastard.  I love how everything unravels quickly from that stunning opening.  Klaus has been keeping Stefan sidelined by breaking his neck all day, and Rebekah is still really pissed too, adding a crowbar to his chest.  Klaus clears out the school except for two innocent red shirts that were vampire food the second we saw them left behind. Rebekah in the meantime captures Caroline and Tyler and delivers the vulnerable werewolf to Klaus.  
I think I’m going to award Tyler Lockwood my “Sam Winchester Person With The Worst Luck Award.”  This kid hasn’t done anything to earn this, has he?  Unhinged Klaus, not at all happy at Bonnie for keeping Elena alive, feeds Tyler his hybrid blood and then kills him!  This means that Tyler will either become a hybrid like him, or die a horrible death in the process.  What, his werewolf curse wasn’t enough?  
So far, it’s been hinted that Klaus’ diabolical werewolf hybrid plan is that so he wouldn’t be alone in the world.  Even his sister had a hard time believing that was why he wanted to make hybrids, but his look said that was exactly the reason.  His isolation has made him quite batty, something Elijah forewarned about last year.  I sense there is still more to his motivations than that, but for now there is no evidence otherwise.  Still, to see that vulnerability as well, it makes him somewhat sympathetic.  Only somewhat though, because he really does a lot of damage here.    
“The Damon I know wouldn’t be that stupid.”  “I wouldn’t have done it for you.” 
Katherine and Damon in the meantime, supposedly leaving town far enough where Damon can’t turn back, air out the grand scheme at a rest stop.  Seems Katherine has snagged someone else to go with them.  Jeremy.  Remember how Bonnie last week told Katherine (thinking it was Elena) that Jeremy was seeing dead Anna?  What do you know, that turned out to be relevant information to this scheming bitch.  Katherine remembered that Pearl knew how to kill Klaus, by a vampire that hunts other vampires.  She wouldn’t tell her about it though and where he was, because it was her leverage.  She’s sure she told Anna though.  So who can talk to Anna?  Brilliant!  Now Jeremy gets to be a key player in all this. 
Jeremy finds out the info after Anna sees Damon knock him around a bit.  The vampire’s name is Michael and she knows where he is.  Damon’s pleased to hear the interrogation worked, but realizes his phone is gone.  Once he gets it from Katherine and sees Bonnie’s messages about Klaus, he ditches the whole “never turning back” plan of Katherine’s.  He’s off to save Elena.  He parts by giving Katherine the ultimate smack down, especially when it’s true.  “The Damon I know wouldn’t be that stupid,” she says.  “I wouldn’t have done it for you,” Damon answers.  
“You just need to be better at CPR than I was.” 
Score one for the human!  The real hero in this story ends up being of all people Matt, and he does this by doing the stupidest (yet very brilliant) thing ever.  Matt senses Vicki is trying to communicate with him, but no matter what he does he can’t hear her.  She leads him to the pool with a trail of clothes and types a text on his phone she can help.  She can deliver a message from the original witch.  Jeremy is nowhere to be found so Matt decides to take an insane risk.  Jeremy could see dead people after dying and coming back to life, so he’ll do the same.  WHAT????  You can’t be that reckless, can you Matt?
Oh yes, he is.  He takes is a weight from the gym, a belt and a chain.  He calls Bonnie,  remembering from their previous summer as lifeguards she’s better at CPR than he is.  He chains the weight to the belt around his waist and jumps into the pool.  He drowns.  Oh, but this whole visual rocks.  The director films this all in spectacular fashion, showing the camera POV underwater from the bottom of the pool.  At first Matt is obscured by bubbles and as they slowly float upward, his face is visible.  It goes blank.  I’ll admit, I didn’t breathe that entire sequence. 
It all works though.  Bonnie pulls him out, and while she’s using those life saving human skills, Matt sees Vicki.  She tells him what Bonnie needs to know to get everyone out of this mess.  
“You’re strong but you’re not that strong.  Turn it off.”
While all this busy stuff is going on, Elena is stuck in the gym with Klaus and Stefan,  Rebekah is hanging out with dead Tyler and a grieving Caroline (and playing with her phone in the process).  Elena spends to whole time appealing to Stefan’s human side and urges him to fight being compelled by Klaus, all while Klaus has the scoreboard ticking down from 20 minutes.  When the time runs out, Stefan has to kill Elena.  Sick bastard.  This is after Stefan rips into the two doomed classmates.  When time expires he fights it off, and he even tries to stake himself in the process but it doesn’t work.  Klaus takes over and practically rips his soul out of him with his evil compelling stare.  One that digs deeper.  “I fixed him,” he tells Elena.  There’s nothing left now but evil Stefan, who eventually sinks his teeth into Elena.  
Turns out, Klaus made Stefan do that as a test to see if his “fixing” worked, because he didn’t want Elena dead but needed her blood.  Once he got Vicki’s message from the original witch that the doppleganger must die, he didn’t buy it.  He’s got some pretty good hunches.  Instead, he remembered how much the original witch hated him.  He figured out the witch would screw him by making a spell where he had to kill the doppleganger, preventing him from getting her blood, which was needed to make more hybrids.  He has a simple test.  He delivers some of Elena’s blood to Tyler.  What do you know, it works.  He becomes a hybrid and doesn’t have to die in Caroline’s arms.  
Damon shows up to confront Klaus and save Elena.  Klaus goes to kill Damon but all Damon has to do is say “Michael” and he has his leverage.  He and Katherine know where he is.  Klaus tosses him and runs.  This is after he snags some blood with help of a compelled nurse from Elena, who’s in the hospital now because of what Stefan did to her.  Damon tenderly comes in, is very sad to see what they did to her, and then gently carries her out of the hospital.  I’m already a wreck from this rollercoaster episode, so when I saw this, tears for sure.  Beauty and The Beast I tell ya!  
Now The Cliffhangers/Teasers
You knew none of these stories would end happily.
Klaus skips town.  That leaves Tyler and Caroline together again, both kind of happy they dodged that bullet.  Tyler can’t describe it, but he feels great.  He’s definitely getting a high off this new part of him.  He passionately kisses Caroline, gives her a hug, and the shot closes in on Caroline’s face.  She’s not feeling too good about this.  Looks like Tyler is about to go off the rails.  
Matt, after being told by Bonnie that he should feel blessed that he can live his life like a normal human unlike the rest of them, sends Bonnie away for some moping time.  He hears someone, looks up, and Vicki is there next to him.  So I guess he and Jeremy are in the same boat now.  I wonder if the consequences that the witches told Bonnie was that once people die and come back, they can see the dead.  It’s beyond Jeremy now, so what did she do?  I’m not worrying about that though, for Matt’s elated smile is infectious.  This boy so needs to reason to smile.  He has a great one.   
Damon consoles a heartbroken and woozy Elena with booze back at his place.  She’s so crushed that Stefan is really gone now.  Klaus stripped him of everything.  Then she looks up at Damon, who’s reeking with guilt.  He’s definitely letting himself feel right now.  Elena does have this way of bringing out the humanity in these guys.  Elena in a hurt voice asks, “Where were you Damon?”  He promises tenderly he will never leave her again.  Before this can go any further though, evil Stefan arrives.  He’s back.  Klaus may have bailed, but Stefan has to guard his doppleganger property while he’s gone.    
I’m sorry, but Damon and Elena are just far more interesting.  I mean really, if Stefan finds his way back, finds that humanity that lies within, is Elena ever going to be able to forget this?  How can she not feel loyalty toward Damon, who rescued her from all this and pledged never to leave her again?  The fool is clearly in love.  He deserves love, he really does.  Stefan has had plenty to go around through the years.  Will Damon fight for her now or concede?  I’m thinking a good old fashioned Salvatore mash up is coming.  
It all ends with Jeremy, who takes Katherine to the tomb Anna told him about.  A witch sealed Michael there in the 90’s.  Katherine, despite being warned that this guy will end up killing them all, opens the tomb anyway.  There’s a withered grey dude in there wrapped in chains.  It’s Sebastian Roche!  Aka, the same cop that was questioning Stefan in the 1920’s.  His eyes pop open.  Cue shocking tones here.  
One thing that constantly amazes me about this show is how they can seamlessly create unlikely partnerships between this cast of characters.  Jeremy and Katherine, Matt and Bonnie, pairings that we’ve never seen before that went off like they’ve always been there.  I like that.  It helps the story, makes it more enjoyable.  It’s interesting how they’re all sticking together in this strange little world in Mystic Falls.  It’s like a band of brothers.  It’s some of the best cast synergy I’ve ever seen.   
The Vampire Diaries writing wise has really hit it’s stride too.  The details are so clever the way they keep coming around.  For example, I love how Rekebah finds out about her necklace looking at pictures on Caroline’s cell phone.  It’s little details like that which are often glossed over on many shows.  Here, they try to resolve those little bits any way they can.  
So, you can tell I loved “The Reckoning” huh?  As usual we get answers, but in getting those answers they’ve peeled back a ton more layers and a whole new mythology to embrace.  Who is this Michael, and why does he hunt other vampires?  Why does he want Klaus and Rebekah so bad?  What will he do to everyone else?  What does being a hybrid mean for Tyler, plus how does this affect Caroline?  Now that Matt can see dead people too, do he and Jeremy form a club?  So much for being the ordinary human.  Who will Elena give her loyalty to, Damon, Stefan, or both?  
Until next week!     

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