A lot of people confront obstacles in their relationships, but most pale in comparison to what Elena is facing with Stefan. Instead of the usual "my parents don't approve" or "his ex-girlfriend keeps hanging around," Elena has to get past the fact that her boyfriend has run off with a hybrid werewolf/vampire on a killing spree that involves ripping people into bits and pieces. I guess this is what they call true love -- accepting someone else's flaws, even when they're felonies. 

Of course, Elena's dedication to Stefan isn't easy for Damon to handle. Now that Stefan's killed his fake girlfriend Andie, Damon's pretty comfortable with washing his hands of the guy -- and of course we know that at least some part of him is hoping that eventually Elena will find it in her heart to give up on Stefan and move on to him. So when Elena confronts Damon about Stefan, he's a little cranky. He wishes she would just accept that Stefan is gone, and he doesn't mean "geographically." Elena isn't buying it. If Stefan were truly gone, would he have called her? Touche! 

Elena isn't content with simply flailing against Damon's resistance to finding Stefan, so she runs over to Alaric's place to demand, I mean ask for, help. Stefan can still be saved! And she is the one to save him because SHE doesn't check out. He would never give up on her, so she'll never give up on him. Elena's commitment is very, very noble, but I do have to say, she is missing out on a very excellent substitute in Damon. But I much prefer to see Elena in action like this rather than moping around in the depths of despair, so this is still an improvement. 

We cut to the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee to check in on Klaus, Stefan and the limp, bloody form of Ray. Klaus tells Stefan that he can take a little sit down if carrying Ray on his back is getting too heavy for him. Stefan doesn't need Klaus' nice guy chit-chat. He's tired of hunting werewolves, and what he doesn't say is he'd like to go home to his girlfriend whom Klaus thinks is dead. But at least Stefan can be happy knowing he won't have to work very hard to hunt those werewolves anymore, as they've found Ray's pack hanging out in the woods. 

Stefan tosses Ray's bloody body into the middle of camp, and the werewolves are bright enough to cower. They know Klaus is the hybrid before he has to tell them. Not that cowering will help them, mind you. 

Mrs. Lockwood slips something into the coffee for Tyler. Tyler thinks his coffee tastes odd, but just shrugs it off. Maybe the creamer's gone bad. Hey, it's possible.

Meanwhile, we have the whole Vicki issue to deal with. Jeremy tries to talk to Matt about his visions of Vicki. He wants Matt to help him do a spell to contact Vicki. Matt, not being a fan of all this witchy stuff, would rather not. But once Jeremy reveals that Vicki was asking for help, well, Matt can't say no. I mean, it is his sister, after all.

Elena is still hard at work trying to find Stefan. I suggest that, once she does, she ask the guy to get one of those chips they put in your dog at the vet's. She approaches Tyler, who tells Elena about werewolves in Tennessee. He helpfully gives her directions to a wolfpack hangout. Then, it's time to ask Alaric to help her find them before the full moon. No, no, it's too dangerous! But if he doesn't help her, she'll go herself. Alaric is such a nice guy I don't know why he even bothers to resist -- everyone knows he'll do anything that's asked of him and he'll probably pick up an ice cream cake on the way.

Meanwhile, back in Tennessee Ray is sputtering back to life and Klaus gets the hybridizing started. Don't get too attached to anyone in this wolf pack, as I don't think this is going to go so well. 

At the Mystic Grill, Tyler is waiting for Caroline. Why did she sneak out? Where is she? And hello, it's almost the full moon. Matt offers to help him out with his conversion, but Tyler turns him down. Then, Matt does something unexpectedly helpful and explains to Tyler that there's vervain in the coffee -- occasionally the joint doses the coffee, just to be on the safe side. Tyler realizes that the coffee at the Mystic Grill tastes exactly like what his his mother gave him that morning, and we can assume it's the same stuff that Mrs. Lockwood pumped into Caroline's back. Mothers drugging your coffee, what's next?

Well, Bill is what's next. Mrs. Lockwood had called him to help with The Problem of Caroline, and he's ready to deal with her. As this is said in the way that mafioso talk about putting a hit on someone, this does not sound like good news for Caroline. 

In the Smoky Mountains, Elena and Alaric prepare themselves to do some hybrid hunting, which sounds a bit like they're out to round up a fleet of Priuses. Elena tries to give Alaric John Gilbert's ring, but he won't take it and suggests she save it for her future children. Somehow she convinces him to put it on. Don't be a hero, Alaric. 

But just as they're about to head out to find Klaus, Damon shows up. Alaric let him know they were off on this insane errand and Damon figured, huh, a school teacher and the hot chick I don't want to die, maybe I should help out and try to get Elena out of there. But Elena won't go. She won't go! She and Damon bicker suggestively, but Damon, because he can't deny Elena anything because he loves her love her loves her, gives in. 

Meanwhile, Klaus has started the conversion on the werewolf pack. But something's wrong. Ray is bleeding from the eyes and he's shaking. Apropos of nothing, Ray flips out, bites Stefan and makes a run for it. As Stefan is standing there bleeding, he hears Damon and Elena walking nearby. Stefan decides he'd better get back to talk to Klaus, if for no other reason than he needs some of his blood to cure his bite. But Klaus, who's already feeling a bit cranky, won't heal Stefan until he finds Ray. Klaus is such a bitch sometimes. 

The hybrids are all waking up -- and bleeding from the eyes. 

Tyler storms home and confronts his mom about the vervain in the morning coffee. She tries to play dumb, but he's not falling for it. Then, he tries to pretend he doesn't know Caroline is a vampire. She's not falling for that, so they're even. She tells him she can't be with Caroline, as she's a monster. Tyler asks her if she knows what he is. Is he going to tell her? Do it, Tyler!

Tromping through the woods like bickering hikers, Elena, Alaric and Damon bump into Ray. Damon can't subdue him, Alaric's arrow in the back has no impact, and finally Damon has to mash wolfsbane grenade in his face. It's all too clear what Ray is -- a hybrid. 

Jeremy and Matt are trying to put together all the necessary tools needed to contact Vicki, but Matt gets overwhelmed with memories of his sister and makes Matt leave. I understand that he needs to do this with Matt as Bonnie isn't going to be too excited about making contact with Jeremy's ex, but it seems a shame. We need more witches on this show!

Once they subdue him, Elena, Alaric and Damon tie Ray to a tree. They're ropes and vervain won't hold him long, but they're sure they have time to continue on their quest to find Stefan. Except... Ray starts changing, even though its still daylight. Surprisingly, Elena says it's time to get off the mountain, ASAP. 

Apparently there isn't much daylight left, because the next thing we know Elena and her trusty sidekicks are walking through the woods in the dark -- and Elena finds herself nose to snout with a werewolf. Damon distracts it by dashing into the woods, and he and the werewolf disappear while Elena worries. 

Speaking of time to change (in this case, not a reference to "The Brady Bunch"), Tyler drags his mother into his secret cavern so he can show her who he really is. Not many guys want their moms to see them naked as teenagers, but I guess that's just a cross he'll have to bear. 

In the depths of the woods, Damon finds himself face to face with Ray -- who's no slouch in the fighting department. Things are not looking good for Damon and are, in fact, looking very, very bleak when suddenly Stefan shows up out of nowhere to rip out Ray's heart. With that ugly bit of business out of the way, it's time for Stefan and Damon to talk about Elena. Stefan tells his brother, yet again, that Elena has to give up on him. He's never coming back. Damon tells him Elena isn't listening. How many times are they going to have this conversation? If Stefan really wants Elena to stop following him, he's going to have to talk to Elena. And not the creepy, quiet phone call thing. 

Elena is furious that Alaric is making her sit in his car, where she's safe and unable to do anything to help! But, given that she can't help Damon or Stefan at the moment, she can give Alaric a pep talk. She and Jeremy need him. They're lost, he's lost, they can all be lost together. Seems that Alaric is moving back in. Damon returns to the car and it's time to go. That's what I call one disappointing hike. They didn't even collet leaves or anything. 

Matt visits Jeremy bearing beer and some of Vicki's stuff. Lo and behold, Vicki shows up. She tells Jeremy that she can come back. Oh, my. Is this a good idea?

Apparently not, because just then Anna appears to tell Jeremy not to trust Vicki. Well, this is a lot to absorb. 

Stefan returns from his chat with Damon to find Klaus looking depressed. He says the hybrids went rabid. Some he killed, the others bled out. He doesn't understand why this isn't working! He killed a vampire, he killed a werewolf and he killed the doppleganger. He should be able to turn people! Stefan wisely tries to change the subject. He apologizes for killing Ray. Klaus stares at Stefan for a very long time, and it seems that he's realizing the doppleganger isn't dead. But if he is clued in,  he's not letting on. He just hands Stefan a bit of his blood to heal the wolf bite and on we go. 

Back at home, Damon tells Elena he was wrong. He admits that Stefan isn't gone. He's not okay, he's an insufferable martyr who needs his ass kicked, but he can be saved. Why does he know this? Because even in his darkest place, Stefan can't let him die. So he will return the favor. Damon, for all his posturing, is really just a big marshmallow softie, and this is why we love him. 

But before he does this, he has one question. He asks Elena why she left the mountain. She doesn't want to answer, but finally she admits that she didn't want to see him get hurt. She worries about him. Why does he have to make such a big deal out of it?

Why, Elena? Oh, Damon has a good reason. He just wants her to remember the things she felt while Stefan was gone. He strokes her hair and gazes longingly into her eyes, and if she wants to claim she doesn't feel anything she's just a big old liar. 

Tyler wakes up, naked, with his mom sitting in a cage nearby. I'm sure a lot of guys have had nightmares like this which ended when they woke up screaming. Mrs. Lockwood tells him she'll take care of it and she'll make sure nothing happens to Caroline. Not so easy. She calls Bill and tells him she's had a change of heart. But Bill doesn't care. Caroline is in trouble.

Caroline sits locked up in a cell, chained to a chair. Bill enters. 

And she looks up at him with big, watery eyes and says, "Daddy?"

Well, this episode was already interesting -- but that was one hell of a kicker.

What did you think of Tyler's decision to come out to his mom? Do you think Vicki is untrustworthy? Were you excited to see Anna again?