After being awoken from her death sleep, Rebekah is driven by only one thing: revenge.
In the days following his Mayor Carol Lockwood's death, the town of Mystic Falls is in mourning and Tyler is beginning to feel the loss. While sitting in the school gymnasium attending the service, Elena hears something stir in the hallway where she finds April in tears. April confronts her with the knowledge that she's a vampire and that Rebekah told her everything. Before Elena can explain, Rebekah snaps her neck. Elsewhere at the Gilbert cabin, Damon is training Jeremy to defend himself in order to eventually hunt vampires and expand his mark when Klaus makes an appearance. Unsatisfied with the progress of zero vampire kills, Klaus decides to use the nearby townsfolk to get the party started. Back at the school, Rebekah has lured Caroline and Stefan into her game of truth or dare with Elena's true feelings for Damon while she gets the information she wants about the cure. After telling Rebekah that Professor Shane has the answers, Shane is brought in by Kol but Bonnie follows along to help her friend. Just when it can't get any worse, Tyler is lured to the school to save Caroline but when he gets there, Rebekah compels him to transform into a werewolf. Now that Tyler has been let off the leash, the three of them will have to shelf their feelings if they want to live to see morning.
After the mid season break, The Vampire Diaries wasted no time diving back into the thick of it. In a number of ways this was After School Special's strength but also its detriment. The episode began with the service for Mayor Carol Lockwood and quickly moved to the situation with Rebekah in the library. Only at the end of the episode did Tyler get the chance to grieve for his mother, one of two people that truly connect him to Mystic Falls. Conversely, the scenes with Elena, Rebekah and Stefan were strong enough that Caroline's presence wasn't needed. It didn't serve any purpose for Caroline to buzz in whenever she objected to a question. Sure, you can argue that Caroline needed to be there so she and Elena could stare awkwardly when Stefan learned that Elena slept with Damon but that would have been better served in another episode when less was going on. In all of this, Jeremy's story was an afterthought and his training could have simply been the final scene where a bar filled with dead people in transition to becoming vampires. A trial by fire approach would have flowed more naturally into that plot and emphasized that he was in over his head in next week's episode. What's even worse is that Tyler was barely featured and his transformation scene was a bit too brief for my liking. Tyler's first transition was one of the most memorable things I have ever seen in the entire series and it would have been great to see how it affects him now that he has more control.
Surprisingly, Damon and Klaus took a backseat to the action while they were at the Gilbert cabin. Damon is still torn between his love for his Elena and his brother Stefan but only one of those came through this week. Though he released Elena from his sire bond in the previous episode for the sake of his brother and his own true feelings for her, all it took was a voicemail and a phone call to change his mind. Granted, Elena did tell Damon that she loved him but it felt like an unnatural character regression. We'll see how Stefan feels about that next week. Personally, I like Stefan a lot more when he is without her. He becomes stronger, more intelligent and gets just as annoyed as I do whenever he sees Elena.
Klaus on the other hand has become a relative joke compared to when he first appeared on the series. The chemistry between he and Damon is undeniable but Damon would have never dreamed of shooting him twice in the chest a few years ago. During his speech to Damon about his slaughter of the hybrids, Klaus is supposed to come across as menacing and terrifying but I can't take him seriously when he only killed his forced friends. Unlike most villains, Klaus has no end game; no plot to destroy the world or start a war against humanity. Klaus is lonely. His mission to create more hybrids to have more forced friends and more than anything, I feel sad for Klaus. I can't take a villain seriously if I pity them more than anything. Joseph Morgan does play the character well but he has definitely overstayed his welcome.
Lastly, Kol's fear of Silas brings some excitement into The Vampire Diaries. Without a credible villain in the series this season feels like it has been lacking direction. Beyond the race for the cure there has not been anything pushing the momentum forward. My only hope is that Silas is a less human character and doesn't fall into the same stride as Klaus and overstay his welcome or become too weak of a character (like Klaus).
Overall, After School Special was a good episode to get the back end of the season going. It set up a few new alliances while pulling some characters further apart. While other stories like Jeremy were almost swept under the rug, we'll see what happens next week when Klaus runs him through the gauntlet in Catch Me if You Can.