That marks two spectacular episodes of The Vampire Diaries in a row, as "The Rager" delivered an impressive mix of action, mystery and character development.
Oh, right, and Phoebe frickin Tonkin!
But while my heart may be aflutter over my favorite former witch, Hayley didn't play too significant of a role this week. Instead, we were treated to the next step in Elena's evolutionary process, while delving deeper (and darker) into the new hunter in town.
That guy is a real jerk.
Let's start overall with the revealing character moments, because there were many.
Rebekah was at her bitchiest, lashing out after being disregarded by Klaus on the Vampire Diaries Season 4 premiere. Call me a sucker for this gorgeous blonde and/or her accent, but something about Claire Holt's portrayal keeps Rebekah's vulnerability intact, even as she's temping Elena to commit murder right in the middle of her school day. (QUESTION: Is that why women always go to the bathroom together?)
She's just lonely and now perhaps she's found a similar soul. Can't say I saw an April/Rebekah alliance coming, but at least someone is looking into that sketchy fire.
Then there was Meredith, reading Damon like she were a psychologist as opposed to an ER doctor. He's proud, he's stubborn, he may let his pride ruin his closest relationships. That sounds about right, doesn't it? This also represented the most unrealistic moment of the hour, however. Because, come on, what woman would not want to be Damon Salvatore's partner in vampire crime?!?
While Damon was scheming to take down Connor, Stefan was bonding with Caroline. These two don't share nearly enough moments together. It was like Stefan was reading the mind of every viewer out there when he ran down the changes in Caroline since she transitioned.
Simply put, she's "good at being a vampire" and we all know how true that is. It's hard to think of a character on any show that has come as far as Caroline Forbes. She's funny, she's confident, she thinks Stefan should be a guest on The View.
In short, she's everything Stefan wants Elena to grow into - but he's afraid. He's ashamed of what that hunger did to him way back in the day and he doesn't want to go all Ripper on his loved ones again. It's an understandable concern, but this is the one place where the episode lost me.
Between Stefan asking Caroline to keep him in check... and Elena seeing Damon during her werewolf bite-based hallucinations... and then Elena turning to Damon for blood sucking lessons, it all came across like another forced way to prolong the love triangle. Why wouldn't Elena be asking Stefan to work with her? She must be aware of how he helped Caroline accept her new state. The man has experience as a teacher of new vampires and, oh, right: he's your boyfriend!
Communication, people. It's the key to any healthy relationship.
But "The Rager" was about far more than characters interacting with each other and spilling their guts (or, in Elena's case, trying NOT to spill the guts of others). There was serious action, from the opening WTF moment of Connor taking Tyler's venom to the hospital storage closet blast to Elena almost sucking the life out of Matt.
And there was a major mystery, one that not even Connor himself is familiar with. He's one of The Five?!? Do I smell a flashback episode next Thursday? (NOTE: even if this TVD promo doesn't depict it, SPOILER ALERT, the answer is yes.)
Correction, Rebekah, something wicked this way has already come. A greater evil, some pastors might say. But from where did he come? That's the question we're about to find out.
There were still some holes the show didn't bother filling in. When did Jeremy tell Damon that Connor talked to him at school? When did Damon give Elena the white oak, considering we last saw him deny the request? Why were two vampire wearing helmets while riding a motorcycle?
But those aren't huge complaints.
The installment made solid use of Jeremy for a change (told you I could be a bad ass!), while grounding the action and suspense in the emotions of the characters experiencing those events. Unlike Klaus' face upon witnessing those arrow markings, none of this should come as a surprise to Vampire Diaries fans. It's what the show has excelled in from the outset.
What did everyone else think?