ELENA’S WORST NIGHTMARE — Elena awakens on the morning after the accident to find the thing she dreaded most has come true – she died with Damon's blood in her system and now must drink human blood to become a vampire or face death. Stefan promises Elena that he and Bonnie will exhaust every possible way out of the situation, but Damon is furious with his brother for letting Elena die in the first place. Bonnie pays a terrible price for her attempt to change Elena’s fate, while Damon takes out his frustration and rage on Matt. In a rare moment of empathy, Rebekah is deeply touched by Stefan and Elena’s devotion to one another. Pastor Young and the Town Council members begin rounding up the vampires and their supporters, leading to an unexpected tragedy.
Elena wakes up and finds out that she's in transition. Damon and Stefan take turns explaining to her (and the audience) exactly HOW she is about to turn into a vampire. Damon declares that Elena must drink blood fresh from the vein but Stefan says Bonnie will try to find a way to prevent Elena from becoming a vampire. This is because she has said so many times before that she doesn't want to become a vampire.
Klaus (in Tyler's body) demands that Bonnie restore him to his body. Bonnie convinces him to wait, if she can keep Elena human, Klaus would have his "blood bag" back. Pastor Young is heading the council now, and they are taking some tough measures: they occupy the hospital, put guards around the bloodbank, take the badge out of Sheriff Forbes and arrest Carol Lockwood.
Tyler is having survival guilt. Caroline mourns Tyler, who she believes is dead. She is captured by Pastor Young. Elena is riding an emotional roller coaster. She has vivid flashbacks about what Damon compelled her to forget. Also, she tries to eat a sandwich, but is unable to do so. Damon tries to stake Rebekah, but Pastor Young and his troops arrive just in time and interrupt him. Luckily he managed to hold on to the White Oak Stake as he avoided capture. Stefan is not so lucky and gets captured with Elena. She is served dinner she cannot eat, while Stefan is put in a cattle cell. Pastor Young explains to Elena that they've known each other since she was a little girl.
When Klaus/Tyler learns that Caroline has been captured, he runs to their transport car and rescues her - leaving behind a bewildered Rebekah, revealing himself to her in the process. Damon, Liz and Meredith try to figure out where Stefan and Elena have been taken. After almost being strangled by a very angry Damon, Matt imagines that maybe they have been taken to Pastor Young's cattle ranch. In the woods, Caroline tries to have some "glad you are not dead" "hot vampire-hybrid" sex, but Klaus/Tyler refuses her advances (not too much) and eventually she figures out it's Klaus in Tyler's body by the way he speaks.
Meanwhile, Elena tries to escape and believing she is also a vampire, she is put in a cell where she can hear, but not see Stefan. Rebekah watches everything from her cell, across from them.
Bonnie asks the spirits for help to save Elena, but is denied. She then stops her own heart, to go to the other side and pull Elena back. Her grandmother's spirit appears to tell her she cannot do that, and pushes her away from Elena, warning her that there will be consequences if she uses dark magic. Elena feels a force pulling her but she can't figure out what is pulling her.
Elena is dying because she has not fed. She confesses to Stefan she was on the bridge because she chose him. Rebekah is touched by their devotion to each other, and helps Stefan to kill one of the soldiers so that Elena could feed on his blood and complete the transition.
Damon recruits Matt to show him to where Elena is being held and to act as bait to draw the Pastor out. It works, but Damon is shot. He wakes up just in time to take the two men out. Vamped out, Elena superspeeds just in time to stop Damon from killing Matt for being alive. Again. Pastor Young watches everything from his window without interfering.
Rebekah confronts Klaus for not saving her, and they fight. Rebekah destroys the remaining bags with Elena's blood (that Klaus plans on using to make more hybrids) and Klaus breaks Rebekah's neck out of anger, telling her she is no longer his sister and means nothing to him.
Stefan and Elena have a touching moment on the roof of the Salvatore Boarding house. As the sun rises, he gives Elena her daylight ring. Pastor Young gathers all the council members in his house, with all the town's supply of vervain, pulls the gas line out, makes a speech about a "Greater Evil" and lights a zippo. The council is killed in the ensuing explosion.
Special Guest Star
- Antagonist: Although they treat Pastor Young and Sheriff's Deputies as the antagonists, the true antagonist is Atticus Shane, who makes his first appearance in The Five and is later revealed to have manipulated the Pastor to kill himself and the Council behind the scenes.
- This is the first episode of the first chapter of Season Four, The Transition Chapter.
- It is confirmed that Meredith Fell used Damon's blood to heal Elena between Before Sunset and The Departed.
- The Founder's Council is now called the Town Council after Alaric's revelation.
- The Founder's Council got its name because they were a council made by the first families who founded Mystic Falls. However, after discovering the dark truth of the families: Lockwood, Forbes, Fell, Gilbert, Salvatore, they were expelled, leaving only non-Founding Family residents with knowledge of the supernatural to create their own council.
- Rebekah destroyed the last bags of Elena's doppelgänger blood that Klaus had in his possession from before she turned, ruining any chance Klaus had of making more hybrids.
- However, in The Originals episode Bloodletting, it was revealed that there is one other way to create hybrids—by feeding a werewolf the blood of his daughter Hope Mikaelson before they die and as well as after they awaken in transition. This method has created two hybrids: Dwayne, and Hayley Marshall.
- Stefan made Elena a sandwich after she woke up following the car accident, but because Elena had yet to complete her transition, she said it tasted terrible.
- While Bonnie didn't technically lose her powers, the fact that the Spirits led her to believe that her Grams' spirit is caused pain whenever she uses magic as a punishment for Bonnie using Dark Magic causes her to be too afraid to use it.
- Pastor Young and eleven other Town Council members - suicide, explosion (caused by Pastor Young).
- Deputy Adams - head trauma, killed by Stefan Salvatore.
- Death Becomes Her is a 1992 dark comedy with Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis. It's a play in words and it can mean both "she became death" as well as "death looks good on her," (like clothing).
- Growing Pains is an American television sitcom about an affluent family, residing in Huntington, Long Island, New York, with a working mother and a stay-at-home psychiatrist father raising three children together, which aired on ABC from September 24, 1985 to April 25, 1992.
- The quirky dialogue between Elena, Stefan with Damon's snarky remarks was a very elegant Exposition that recapped the events that led to this all. Could it be that through all his Bitter Sarcasm, Damon is the Only Sane One?
- Well, this whole episode was a great Introdump, but there was lot of information to recap.
- Pastor Young is introduced very much like Remember This New Guy? He remembers Elena wanted to be a writer, knew her parents, and was part of the Council, although we had never seen him before.
- Like many times before, Bonnie suffers from Psychic Nosebleed when she overexerts herself.
- Very creepy when Klaus threatens to Rip The Living Heart out of Tyler.
Behind the Scenes
- This is the first season premiere to feature every main character since Pilot (not counting with Katherine Pierce).
- Following Matt Davis' departure from the cast in Season Three, this is the first season to feature just nine series regulars.
- This is the first season premiere to feature Meredith Fell, Sheila Bennett and Rebekah, the third to feature Carol, the second to feature Klaus and Liz, and the fourth to feature Elena, Stefan, Damon, Jeremy, Bonnie, Matt, Tyler and Caroline.
- This is the first season premiere to not be written by Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec.
- Before the official title was revealed (July 24) it was rumored that it was named "Phases."
- This is the first season premiere to not have a "Previously On..." voice over.
- This episode had about 3.18 million views in the USA.
- Hashtag during the airing is #WelcomeBackTVD
- Meredith, Carol, Elizabeth and Rebekah were last seen in The Departed.
- Many references are made of when Elena told Stefan she did not want to be a vampire in The Last Day.
- Damon saying there is no third door might be a reference to the many times when faced with two terrible choices, Elena chose a third choice.
- Elena has a very cool Pensive Flashback to when Damon made her forget that he loves her in Rose.
- All of the events from The Departed are mentioned in this episode.
- Vicki Donovan was mentioned by Jeremy and Elena. She was turned and destroyed as a vampire in Season One's Lost Girls and Haunted, but she came back as a ghost in Season Two's As I Lay Dying. She was last seen in Smells Like Teen Spirit.
- Jeremy and Elena both mention Bonnie's part in bringing Jeremy back to life, as well as the "consequences." It became an recurring theme from Season Three.
- No one ever mentioned that Bonnie already knew a spell to prevent Elena from turning into a vampire. In The Sun Also Rises, Damon fed Elena his blood so that she would not die in Klaus' sacrifice and John Gilbert gave up his life to keep Elena human.
- However, this is likely because A) the spell had to be done prior to the person's death, and B) they had no one they were willing to sacrifice in Elena's place, and Elena wouldn't have let them do it anyway, as she chose to die so Matt could live.
- Alaric Saltzman was mentioned by Klaus, Pastor Young, Caroline and Elizabeth. He was last seen in The Departed.
- Shelia Bennett was last seen in Ghost World. This is her second appearance as a ghost.
- Finn, Elijah and Kol were mentioned by Rebekah.
- Mystic Falls, Virginia
- Elena: "Am I dead? ... No!"
- Damon: (to Elena) "There is no way out. We all know the drill. You feed or you die. There is no door number three.
- Stefan: "You know what? You weren't there the day Elena looked me in the eye and told me she absolutely never wanted this."
- Damon: "Then you shouldn't have let her die."
- Stefan: "I never meant for her to die. She asked me to help Matt first, and I did."
- Damon: "And now, the world has one more quarterback. Bravo, brother."
- Stefan: "I made a choice that I will regret for the rest of my life. Now, let me try to fix it."
- Jeremy: (to Elena) "Your fangs coming yet?"
- Rebekah: "Tragic about Elena. Not to make the gray cloud grayer, but does Matt even have automobile insurance for the car?"
- Shelia Bennett: "She is not your problem to solve. Now go, before they keep you here."
- Klaus: (to Caroline in Tyler's body) "Easy, love. Wrong time. Wrong place. Wrong equipment."