After The Vampire Diaries’ midseason finale shocker when Klaus (Joseph Morgan) drowned Mayor Lockwood (Susan Walters), the show returned last night with enough teenage angst to last an entire season.

“After School Special” begins with Carol Lockwood's memorial service held in the school’s gymnasium. Sheriff Forbes (Marguerite MacIntyre) announces the new mayor, who just so happens to be Bonnie’s (Kat Graham) estranged father, played by Rick Worthy. Elena (Nina Dobrev) follows grieving Tyler (Michael Trevino) after he walks out during the memorial and finds newly-resurrected Rebekah waiting (Claire Holt) instead. Rebekah wrings Elena’s neck and holds her hostage by compulsion in the library. She calls Elena’s ex Stefan (Paul Wesley) who, still reeling over the fact that Elena and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) had sex, calls Caroline (Candice Accola) and pulls himself out of his funk to save Elena and stake Rebekah… again. Simple, right?

He and Caroline end up in the same situation as Elena, compelled and stuck in the library. Rebekah grills them on the supposed cure for vampirism, the one everyone wants for Elena. The location of the cure reveals itself as a map tattooed onto a vampire hunter’s body after each kill. Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) is the key to that mystery, but he hasn’t staked any vampires yet. Rebekah, growing frustrated, helps sever any ties Stefan and Elena might have retained when she compels Elena to state her true feelings for Damon. Elena admits she’s in love with Damon, but not with Stefan. Oh, to be a teenage vampire stuck in a love triangle.

Meanwhile, Damon pines for Elena through voicemails she left on his phone, replaying them while he trains Jeremy and Matt (Zach Roerig) to hunt vampires at the Gilberts’ lake house. Klaus makes a surprise visit, impatient to hear about Jeremy’s kills. He needs more vampire-werewolf hybrids, after all, and the only way he can make them is through Elena’s human blood. Disappointed by Jeremy’s lagging progress, Klaus takes matters into his own hands and turns the pizza delivery girl into a vampire. Jeremy stakes her after she attacks Matt, and a piece of the map forms up the side of his arm.

Back at school, Rebekah compels Tyler to turn into a wolf and kill his vampire friends. He fights the change, but ultimately fails, and Stefan and Elena narrowly escape being ripped apart. Caroline finds Tyler in human form back in the gym and lying near a portrait of his mother, and comforts him while he mourns. Rebekah’s brother, Kol (Nathaniel Buzolic), kidnaps Bonnie’s mentor, Professor Shane (David Alpay), and brings him to Rebekah for questioning. During the midseason finale, Shane mentioned something about an ancient and omnipotent witch named Silas. After being tortured, Shane admits he is almost certain Silas holds the cure, and that he must stop him before he raises the dead. Then Kol impales Shane anyway, but Bonnie conjures a quick protection spell in the Chemistry lab, which prevents his death. Unfortunately April (Grace Phipps), a secondary character whose role in the greater scheme of the show is still uncertain, almost dies when Bonnie accidentally connects her to Shane.

In a swoon-worthy ending scene, Elena calls Damon up and finally tells him she loves him. Damon, wide-eyed and stunned into silence for a few brief moments, tells her to come to him. The tone shifts dramatically when, in following scenes, April accuses Professor Shane of brainwashing her father into killing himself, Stefan and Rebekah form an alliance to find the cure, and Klaus turns dozens of barflies into vampires for Jeremy to slay.

However, it doesn’t seem like Jeremy’s too keen on his newfound responsibility. Check out next week’s promo below to see why.– Jill Wronski

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