Hey, everyone – didja know it was a full moon tonight? Because it’s a full moon. A FULL MOON. Get it in your head already. The moon? It’s full.

The last episode of “The Vampire Diaries” until January 27 served up more of what this show does well: It moved characters closer together while adding to the series mythology, giving fans just the right amounts of emotion, action, intrigue, and surprise to carry us through the winter break.

But the best part was that Elena/Katherine didn’t overshadow the episode. Instead, everyone else got a chance to play in the supernatural sandbox thanks to the full moon and all it brought to Mystic Falls: Bonnie and Luca, Damon and Rose, and Little Red Riding Caroline and her Big, Bad Wolf Tyler all grew closer, though none of those pairings is without its complications. Even relative newcomers got into the mix: Elijah made his face turn and revealed his agenda, while Mystic Falls’s first lady werewolf made a memorable, violent entrance.  

The idea of duality is another scripting trick that’s become a “TVD” signature, here more subtle than usual as Elena/Katherine found themselves in similar predicaments, both pining for Stefan.  (Another no-fail element: The art of the love triangle. Everyone in town’s got one.) The storyline packing the most affecting emotional punch, however, was the budding friendship between Caroline and Tyler, which developed in unexpected ways as he experienced his first full moon. What girl can resist a guy who’ll collapse half-naked in a heap of tears and allow himself to be taken care of at his lowest moment? I see great things ahead for Tyroline. Start counting the days to January 27…

[Full recap of tonight’s (Dec. 9) episode of “The Vampire Diaries,” entitled “By the Light of the Moon,” below…]

Tyler preps for his first full moon, still terrified by the video recording Mason left behind.  He calls Mason’s number and leaves a message pleading for help – a message that Mason will never hear, on account of being dead and all. But someone else does hear Tyler’s plea: Mason’s hot lady friend, Jules.

Over at the Gilbert house Elena and Bonnie talk moonstone de-spelling, but Elena worries that if Klaus finds out, he’ll turn vengeful and start killing. Elena agrees with Bonnie’s plan to prioritize the moonstone but secretly steals it, intending to hand it and herself over to Klaus per last week’s attempted suicide mission. Before Elena can run off in search of Klaus – and straight toward certain death – she’s stopped by Bonnie and Jeremy, who were in cahoots testing Elena to see what she’d do. Because Elena’s dead set on martyring herself to save everyone else, Bonnie’s magically sealed her in her own home.

Mason’s hot lady friend Jules shows up at the Lockwood mansion. She’s trying to find Mason as well, since (shocker!) he never returned to Florida. Tyler fetches Caroline from the Mystic Grill en route to the Lockwood cellar where she’ll help restrain him during his transformation. On her way out, Caroline exchanges a meaningful glance with Alaric, who watches nearby.

After paying Stefan a visit in the tomb, Damon checks in at Elena’s house. He’s become the de facto leader of the Mystic Falls Elena Gilbert Watch, having sent Bonnie to work on the moonstone and Caroline to watch over Tyler, leaving Jeremy to keep an eye on Elena. Alaric calls from the Mystic Grill to report that Mason’s lady friend has gotten the town authorities to file a missing persons report on Mason, throwing a kink in their carefully laid cover-up.

After paying Mayoress Lockwood a visit at her home, Jules makes a phone call to an unknown person. She tells them that Mason’s missing and that they were right – there’s another werewolf in town, and it’s Tyler.

Damon meets Alaric at the Grill just as Jules walks in, asking around for Tyler. From afar they wonder if she too is a werewolf, which would be incredibly unfortunate for the gang. Damon pulls out a dime bag of wolfsbane he intends to use to find out.

Down in the Lockwood cellar, Tyler installs new chains into the floors and walls while Caroline mixes him a wolfsbane cocktail. Tyler strips off his shirt; cue adorable awkward sexual tension-building moment as Caroline shields her eyes in embarrassment.

Elsewhere, Bonnie pays Luca a visit to return his talisman and apologizes for channeling his power last week. He forgives her in a heartbeat and invites her into the warlock pad he and his father share, filled with wonderful magical grimoires! It’s like a magic library! Bonnie asks for help unbinding a spell and a talisman and Luca offers to help figure it out using his wondrous books. Flirty glances ensue. Jerennie fans collectively sigh, “But what about Jeremy??”

At the bar, Alaric and Damon hit Jules with the old “good drunk guy at a bar, bad drunk guy at a bar” routine to charm their way into her company and spike her drink with wolfsbane, but she avoids drinking it. Is she a werewolf, or just a killjoy?

And then there’s poor Stefan, still stuck in the tomb with Katherine. Neither has eaten in days. Katherine strips down to her bra and panties in an effort to seduce Stefan, taunting him with the idea of Elena and Damon betraying him on the outside. They begin to make love inside the tomb – then Stefan wakes up, shaking off the daydream Katherine has molested his brain with.

Aunt Jenna’s got a new job hosting a writer who’s working on a book about small town Virginia, to whom she’s agreed to give access to Elena’s mom’s old files. Of course, said “writer” is actually Elijah, and dumb Aunt Jenna has just allowed him into the Gilbert house. (Side note: Would Jenna be any kind of useful if she weren’t being kept completely in the dark about vampires and werewolves and witches and all the crazy shenanigans going on right under her nose? Nah, probably not.)

Elijah pretends to leave but surprises Elena again upstairs. He wants to talk. Elijah tells Elena that he doesn’t intend to hurt her or her loved ones, explaining that he means to prevent bounty-hunting vampires from bringing her to Klaus because he doesn’t want the curse to be broken. Klaus has become weird and reclusive and paranoid and Elijah is no longer in his circle of trust. But while Elijah doesn’t mean to harm Elena, he is using her as bait to draw Klaus near so he can kill him. He offers Elena a deal: If she stays put, goes on living her life instead of trying to kill herself, and helps Elijah find Klaus, he’ll keep her family safe.

Night has fallen, exposing the full moon. Tyler’s half naked and in chains looking like an extra in a Marilyn Manson video. With transformation now mere hours away, Tyler’s getting a little shaky. He chugs the wolfbane juice and writhes in agony, shouting at Caroline to leave him. She stays by his side, soothing him.

Bonnie and Luca stand on a rooftop in a circle of candles with a clear view of the FULL MOON. Bonnie shows Luca the moonstone she wants unbound, but keeps its nature secret. They join hands and channel their magic together again, levitating the moonstone with the power of their supernatural intercourse. The stone rises higher and higher into the air until it EXPLODES in a shower of fireworks, leaving Bonnie panting with orgasmic joy.

Meanwhile, Tyler’s transformation has begun. Caroline looks on in horror as Tyler screams in pain, his body contorting into grotesque, unnatural positions. He weeps, prostrate, on the ground in chains. Somewhere out there tons of women are digging this scene for all the wrong reasons. When Tyler finally transforms, snapping at Caroline with blind rage, she locks him in and leaves. (Given all the CG in tonight’s episode, Tyler’s actual final lycan transformation is done the old school way: Close-ups on amber wolfy eyes, bared teeth, all shot in the shadows. Necessary tricks, I suppose.)

Over at the Mystic Grill, Damon has now been talking off Jules’s ear for an eternity, but comically, she hasn’t touched her drink. She seems surprised to hear how tender and supportive Mason was with Tyler after the death of his father. Jules finally takes a sip -- and promptly slams her drink down on the bar, and their conversation takes a contentious turn. Damon threatens Jules and warns her to leave town, and she reveals she knew he was a vampire the whole time. She leaves after warning Damon in return that he’s been marked. Outside, Alaric convinces Damon not to chase Jules since her bite tonight could kill him, according to legend. For once, Damon kinda looks worried.

Down in the Lockwood cellar Tyler’s screams suddenly stop and Caroline realizes he’s broken free of the cell. She obstructs the cellar door and runs.

Back at the Salvatore mansion, Damon finds Rose waiting for him. She’s returned after fleeing the scene last week because she has nowhere else to go. The noise of glass breaking interrupts Damon’s kiss-off and they find a pretty wolf in the living room. Okay, a snarling, scary wolf. A snarling, scary wolf that’s pissed off. The wolf lunges at Damon, who thrusts it aside onto poor Rose. The wolf bites her, conveniently giving Damon the chance to stab it with a silver sword. The injured wolf escapes, and Damon tends to Rose, a sure goner with the fatal poisonous werewolf bite of lore. But wait! The wound is healing! Is the legend of the wolf’s bite a lie?

Luca returns home with a smile on his face after helping Bonnie destroy the moonstone. Only he didn’t really do what he said he did; under his father’s orders, he boondoggled Bonnie into thinking the moonstone was de-spelled. Luca hands over the still-intact moonstone with a grudging glance, clearly unhappy to have been ordered to do the deed. But before the FULL MOON is over, there’s one more thing they have to do.

But first, back to Stefan and Katherine. She admits no regret for watching out for number one for 500 years, insisting that everything she’s done to Stefan has been out of love for him. To prove it, Katherine gives him a clue to find Klaus: Start with Isobel and her research, she says. They’re interrupted by a noise – it’s Elijah! He’s come to free Stefan from the tomb, per his bargain with Elena. Katherine tries to escape as well, but she’s still blocked by the curse. Face to face with Elijah, Katherine gets caught in Elijah’s secret vampire brainwashing power and he compels her to stay put so that Klaus can find her.

Caroline stops running, alone in the woods; in an inspired bit of costuming, she’s wearing red. She hesitantly returns to the cellar door, which is still closed. Inside, Tyler’s returned to normal – a sweaty, exhausted, but human mess. She holds the broken Tyler and tells him that he’s okay as he cries in her arms. Aaaaand just like that, Team Matt loses to Team Tyler. Long live Tyroline! Down with Carolatt!

Back at the Gilbert house, we realize Elena’s spent the entire episode trapped in her own home. How refreshing! Meanwhile, Stefan has exited his own prison, locked in the tomb with his past love, to rejoin his present love. Pure poetry, this storytelling! It all comes together so nicely. Then, the makers of “The Vampire Diaries” give us all an early Christmas present. Since they know we’ve got to wait out a terribly harsh winter break without any new “TVD,” we get a little Stefan-Elena make-out session. On her bed! Oh “Vampire Diaries.” You’re so good to us.

Elsewhere another new couple is getting cozy again. Damon apologizes to Rose, kinda, for inadvertently getting her bitten by a werewolf. She’s just happy to have a bed to sleep in now that remorseful Damon’s being nice to her again. Since Rose knows Damon’s really in love with Elena, they agree to be just friends from now on. Friends with benefits, that is. Well played!

… except for one thing: Rose’s “healed” werewolf bite has begun pulsating with magical venom and is now totally gross. What does it mean??

Back on January 27: Rose tells Elena it’s okay to love both Salvatores, Jules plays catch up tallying all of Mystic Falls’s yucky vampires, Caroline gets kissed by Matt AND Tyler, and Rose’s wolf bite gets worse. Way worse.