Well, that certainly got real, didn't it?

I'll admit I came into the episode a little late because I was talking to Daniel Gillies about "The Originals" season finale, so anything that happened in the first 13 minutes I'll have to revisit later. But I'm pretty convinced that the most shocking thing that could have happened was saved for the last two minutes of the show -- Stefan's death at Julian's hands. Yeah, death. As in he ripped out his damn heart. Looks like Enzo has a new buddy in the rapidly shrinking Other Side!

* Okay, in those thirteen minutes I did miss a lot. Damon strapped on his hero hair, Liv and Luke discussed the folly of becoming friends with the doppelgangers they need to kill, and Stefan pushes Elena toward Damon. Again. The scenes between the two exes are easy and comfortable -- two old friends. I know, I know, not what Stelena shippers like to see, but it speaks to both of these characters being in a good place. Goodish, given their lack of blood and impending doom. 

I don't mean to be flippant, but I have to believe Stefan can be retrieved from the Other Side despite Bonnie and Enzo's foiled (but pretty genius) plan to have the Traveler Maria act as the spell caster once she crossed over. From a purely practical perspective, "The Vampire Diaries" can't exist without Stefan, can it? Can it? Alright, fine. Now I'm worried, Julie Plec. Are you happy?

It had seemed that Bonnie had completely given up on saving her own life, so I'm glad to see she finally started seriously considering about the issue, even if she waited until shortly before all of her friends started exhibiting death-like symptoms to do it. 

As Markos explained to Damon in the episode, now that he's infused with doppelganger blood he's putting his Travelers to work. With their spell unravelling spirit magic, it seemed everyone we know on the show faced a gruesome death -- in whatever manner they died before they became supernatural. Elena starts drowning, Stefan and Damon have gunshot wounds -- and their only hope (well, until Julian kills Stefan) was to stay ahead of the curse. Not much of a long term solution. 

Earlier in the episode, Damon thought he had a way to get under Markos' skin by gathering up Traveler husks and soaking them in gasoline (loved the note he left in the cave, by the way -- best handwriting ever!). What followed is what makes Damon such a fun character (and Ian Somerhalder a delight to watch, especially when the dialogue is snappy). Even though Julian swore Markos had no sense of humor, he easily banters back and forth with Damon. If he can't have Enzo, at least he can have a frenemy in Markos. Sort of. 

Damon teases Markos about his lack of manners (and diet, suggesting Travelers eat lots of "trail mix and gruel") and Markos starts making grand plans for the Salvatore residence, declaring which walls he wants to rip out now that he's living there. Of course, Markos gets the last word when all of those husks start waking up, no longer tied to their passengers. Damon's expression when he walks out the door isn't defeated, but it's definitely not happy. Which, really, is Damon's usual expression these days. 

He did cheer up when Elena pulled him in for a passionate kiss and a reminder that she's never getting him out of her system. No, when she thought she was going to die while held captive by the Travelers (I think -- again, missed the beginning), she couldn't bear the thought of not seeing him one last time. I'm assuming season six will put Damon and Elena back together for a little while before ripping them apart, don't you?

It's still a little unnerving to see Caroline talking to Julian when he's inhabiting Tyler's body. Kudos to Michael Trevino for making Julian distinct as a character, and making his reaction to Maria's death -- yanking out Stefan's heart -- both wrenching and utterly believable. Speaking of the dearly departed Maria, I really liked Tamara Austin. Hopefully she'll show up in another CW property. 

Given that Liv and Luke were thwarted in their attempt to kill a doppelganger (Liv politely apologizes before she and Luke start smashing up the car holding Maria, Elena and Stefan, so I guess that counts for something in Crazy World), I'm wondering what their next move might be. One doppelganger is dead now, even if they didn't do the honors, but whether that means they're packing up and moving on isn't clear.

What is clear is that Damon, Elena and the rest of the Scooby gang are willing to blow up Mystic Falls if that's what it takes to drum the Travelers out of town. With a doppelganger dead (at least for a while) the game may have gotten a little more even, though I'm sure Markos has more tricks up his sleeve. In any case, it's going to be an explosive season finale. Sorry, but that had to be done. Cue the waah-waah trumpet. 

Do you think Stefan will be revived in the season finale? How many times do you think Bonnie can die on this show, anyway? What do you think will happen to Markos?