At its heart, “The Vampire Diaries” is a show about a girl and the two vampire brothers who love her. So it seems right that the fourth season begins with Elena (Nina Dobrev) in bed with Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) watching her. It’s a few hours after the end of the season three finale. When she wakes up, Stefan breaks the news that Meredith treated her with Damon’s blood before the car crash. When Elena thought she was nobly sacrificing herself to save Matt (Zach Roerig), she was actually turning into a vampire. Elena, understandably, panics. Sher has, after all, on numerous occasions made it clear that she is the anti-Bella Swan who would rather die than join the ranks of the undead. Stefan tells her that Bonnie (Kat Graham) is trying to come up with a spell that will reverse the effects of vampirism. Damon, ever the pragmatist, tells Elena she needs to drink some delicious blood before she dies. Elena decides to hold on to the remote possibility that Bonnie will come up with a spell that would undo the entire premise of the show.
Bonnie’s a little distracted, since Klaus-in–Tyler’s-Body (Michael Trevino, for the moment) is demanding she come up with a way to put him back into his own body. She tells him that he needs to focus on th big picture. If she can come up with a way to turn Elena back into a human he will have an endless supply of her blood so he can continue building his hybrid army. H agrees to leave her alone to work provided that she keeps his true identity a secret. Realizing it is her only option, she uses dark powers to stop her own heart so she can go to the other side and retrieve Elena’s spirit.
There’s a new world order at the Council. Pastor Steve, now aware that its ranks were filled with vampires and vampire apologists thanks to Alaric spilling the beans last season, takes over. He seizes Meredith’s vampire blood from the hospital and tells her to find a new job. Then he has Mayor Lockwood arrested and takes Sheriff Forbes’s badge. Caroline is tazed and dragged away. Rebekah is also subdued and grabbed.This seems like a good argument for the separation of church and state, but he does sort of have a point about the council working in opposition to its stated purpose.
Elena regains all the memories of thing she was compelled to forget when she was a human. That means she remembers Damon giving her the necklace and saying he loves her, but Stefan deserves her, as well as the fact that she actually met Damon before she met Stefan. Before she can do anything about these gamechangers, the council grabs her.
Being trapped in Tyler’s body works out well for Klaus when Mayor Lockwood calls him to reveal she was arrested by the Council and he needs to hide. It’s thoughtful (and convenient) of the Council to obey standard legal practices and let her make a phone call. Caroline and Rebekah are chained up in a police car. It flips over, “The Fugitive” style, thanks to Klaus’s interference.He opens up the door to rescue them. Caroline is overjoyed to see”Tyler” who she believed was dead. He takes Caroline and leaves Rebekah chained up, calling her “little sister” out of Caroline’s earshot. Rebekah is yet again left to ponder why nobody really likes her. In the woods Caroline kisses Klaus before he can explain anything, though he actually does try to tell her who he is. She takes his shirt ff and is ready to jump his bones. Then Klaus slips up and calls her “love.”She realizes who he is and decks him.
The Council takes Elena to the Pastor’s cabin. He reveals that no vampires have ever been inside, and that he is implementing her parents plan. (Presumably Elena’s transition state allows her to enter all buildings.) He will hold Stefan hostage until Damon comes looking for him. Then Elena will give him the White Oak Stake and he will kill all of the vampires. Elena runs out of the cabin, only to start to burn in the sun. Someone knocks her out. She wakes up in a cell. Stefan and Rebekah are the ccellblock’s other occupants. Rebekah warns Elena that if she does not feed within three hours sh will die. Bonnie’s spirit visits a weak Elena and tells her to come back. Before she can rehumanize Elena, Gram (Jasmine Guy) appears to order Bonnie away from the darkness. Stefan asks the guard who is holding them to free Elena, knowing that it is her only hope of surviving. In response, the guard shoots him. Stefan tells Elena that Damon was right, She should have fed. Stefan says he loves her. She tells him she was on the bridge because she was going back to him.
Klaus returns to Bonnie. He starts to rip Tyler’s heart out to force he hand about using dark magic to help him. She casts the spell, but has a vision of Gram in agony. She is being punished on the other side because Bonnie is doing the wrong thing. That’s harsh.
Damon heads to the cabin with Matt as his decoy. He bites Matt to lure the pastor outside. He says that he will let him go in exchange for Elana and Stefan. The guards shoot him.
Stefan kills a guard who is about to kill Rebekah by hitting him in the head. Conveniently, a large pol of blood pours out of his body. Elena reaches through the bars and manages to wet her fingers with blood. She licks it, saving herself without being directly responsible for anyone’s death.
Damon is seemingly unconscious. He jumps up and kills the men who shot him. Then he kicks Matt because he’s angry that Elena sacrificed herself for him. Matt says to kill him because he hates himself. Vampire Elena appears and tells Damon to leave him alone. Stefan tells Matt to stop feeling sorry for himself and be grateful Elena put him first.
Elena tells Damon she remembers everything he compelled her to forget. He asks if it would have made a difference if she’d known. She tells him to take out her anger on her, not Matt. Damon tells her that he would have ignored her wishes and let Matt die because he is selfish, and will always put Elena first.
Rebekah confronts Klaus, who is not back in his own body, about leaving her behind. She destroys all of Elena’s human blood in retaliation. He disowns her and breaks her neck.
Stefan tells Elena becoming a vampire will be the worst thing she’s ever been through. Worse than her parents dying? Really? She Bella Swans that now she can be with him forever. He gives her a daylight ring that Bonnie somehow made for her in the middle of everything else she was doing. Maybe she has a kit.
The pastor hands out vervaine plants to his minions, warning that the vampires will retaliate. He says he has been chosen to lead them into a movement and they will be together for eternity. Then he blows up the cabin. Uh, did anybody see that ending coming. Once again, TVD has managed to pack as much as happens in an entire season of “True Blood” into one tight, amazing hour.