Well, I've got to hand it to "The Vampire Diaries." Just when you think you know where the show is going, it throws you a bloody, bitten curve ball. Sometimes that's a good thing, and sometimes it's just depressing and sad. I'm not sure exactly how I feel about the latest one, or whether it belongs in the former category or the latter one, but I think we can all agree it's a doozy. 

But before we get to that, let's catch up. Elena is hallucinating. A lot. And hallucinating vampires are dangerous things, because they tend to hurt the people they love, because they think the people they love are vampire hunters and they like to stab them. To wit, Elena stabs Jeremy. This is very upsetting to Elena, but it isn't such a big deal, as Jeremy is able to bounce back thanks to Alaric's ring. This is a huge relief, as I got a little sick of the killing off of major characters last season. Long live Jeremy! At least until next season or so.

Anyway, Elena isn't feeling a lot of love toward Stefan, in large part due to him keeping a secret from her -- one he still hasn't told her about. He's working with Klaus! Of all people! She rails at Stefan, who somehow finds the ability to restrain himself from screaming, "I'm doing it all for YOU, as usual, ingrate!" These are the times when I miss The Ripper a bit. But just a bit. 

Meanwhile, things aren't going terribly well at Tyler's house. Caroline drops by with a box of Tyler's possessions, and Klaus drops by just in time to see the exchange. Klaus is quietly thrilled, but being a gentleman (not really, just kidding), he leaves Tyler, Caroline and Hayley alone to duke it out. That's when we learn that Caroline isn't really breaking up with Tyler -- it was just a ruse to get Klaus and his hybrids out of the house and away from them. Sneaky!

While I'm sure Tyler, Caroline and Hayley think they've been very clever, the truth is that Klaus is focused on bigger issues -- like finding a new vampire hunter to replace Connor (hint: check close to home). He contacts Stefan, his new bestie, and mentions that he's "concerned about your beloved." Yes, Klaus knows exactly what's going on with Elena and her hallucinations -- and if he doesn't want his hybrid-making machine to kill herself, she needs to be locked up. Stefan doesn't agree. Elena is strong! She would never kill herself! At this moment, I wish Stefan would shut up and just get with the program, because for once Klaus' goals and his goals are perfectly in synch. They both want Elena to return to human form, end of story. Yes, Klaus is a vile sociopath, but he isn't stupid -- and if he says Elena is in trouble, in this case, he may know what he's talking about.

Anyway, Stefan may not agree with Klaus, but it doesn't matter. Klaus just snatches Elena away and locks her up in his house, safe and snug. And when Elena balks, he tells her she should listen to him -- because he went through what she's going through for 52 years, four months and nine days. "I was tormented in my dreams, and every waking moment was never-ending torture," he tells her.

Blink, blink go Elena's doe eyes. "How did you make it stop?"

"I didn't," Klaus replies evenly. "Eventually, it just stopped." Oh, and one more thing. "The hallucinations come in strange forms. Don't say I didn't warn you."

Klaus is, of course, right. It isn't just Connor who comes to visit. Catherine joins the fun to tell Elena that she is becoming just like her -- and Stefan fell out of love with Vampire Catherine faster than you can say blood transfusion. 

Meanwhile, Elena's friends are trying to help her, even though Klaus is already helping her and really, they should just go get coffee and relax. Starbucks is calling, Elena's friends!

Damon and Bonnie go to visit Professor Shane and show him the drawing Jeremy made of the hunter's mark. Oh, that, Shane says, asking nervously if they have a hunter dead in the trunk of the car before telling Damon that anyone who kills a vampire hunter is going to be tortured -- until a new hunter is awakened. So, easy peasy, right? They just have to get Jeremy to kill a vampire! I realize this is necessary, but I hate the idea that yet another member of the shrinking Gilbert clan is going to have to cross a line in the sand that will likely leave them forever changed and eternally messed up. Really, there's not enough therapy in the world for Elena and Jeremy, but they might want to start. 

The Scooby gang is cleverly working to spring Elena, which is so, so not clever. Caroline meets Klaus at the grill to entice and distract him, while Tyler and Hayley ask Chris, another unsired hybrid who's watching Elena, to look the other way so she can be freed… to stab someone else, I guess. And that someone else turns out to be Stefan, who, of course, loses Elena. Again. 

Caroline eventually confesses the truth to Klaus -- that she was supposed to distract him, but Stefan lost Elena about two seconds after he found her. I have to feel for Klaus a bit, as he's just confessed to Caroline that, had Tyler still been sired to him, he never would have hurt her -- because he wouldn't have let him. It's a wildly romantic comment, and even Caroline can't help but develop a rapid blinking, hard swallowing problem when he says it. The only upside is that Caroline informs Klaus as to how Elena can be saved.

Freed, Elena runs to Wickery Bridge, you know, the bridge where she almost died a couple times and Matt almost died and her parents died and just a lot of people die. That is one dangerous bridge and someone really needs to put up nets and serious guard rails. Anyway, Elena stares down into the murky depths, and who should she bump into? A hallucination of her mom! Who assures her that dying is really the right thing to do. But Elena doesn't want to leave Jeremy alone! "You’ll be a ghost who helps him, not a monster who hurts him," Mom says sweetly. Gosh, dying just seems like such a good idea! Elena tosses her daytime ring into the water so that she can burn with the first rays of the sun. Well, I guess there are worse ways to go, though sizzling to death doesn't sound so great to me. 

Damon shows up. Stefan, realizing Damon seems to have more pull with Elena that he does these days, has given him the job of search and rescue. But no talk is going to make a difference -- only Jeremy. But who is he going to kill? That question is answered when Tyler and Hayley are trying to bid farewell to Chris, who is worried about what might happen to him if he tries to run. Tyler and Hayley coo that he'll be fine, and free, and they have his back! Right up until Stefan, Klaus and Jeremy rush in, Stefan stabs Chris, and Jeremy cuts off his head (I'm assuming the head was cut off, or the heart cut out, or something final, as that occurred off-screen). So, let's just say things didn't work out so well for Chris. 

Elena stops hallucinating and is freed from the hunter's curse -- just as the sun is coming up over the bridge. Damon, thinking fast, grabs her and tosses her into the water below. She wakes up in her own bed, where Damon tells her he fished her daytime ring out of the water ("Little tip. Vampires hate to swim."). Elena is so, so grateful. She takes Damon's hand and looks deeply into his eyes. She's mad at Stefan, after all, and she is in bed and, well, we can see where this could be going. But no. “I am about to take a very high and annoying road and tell you something," Damon says, annoyingly. He admits that Stefan has been lying to her to save her, to get her the cure for her vampirism. So, Elena and Stefan can finally make up, hold hands and resume their longstanding love affair, right? RIGHT?

Um... not so much. Elena and Stefan agree to forgive and forget. And she's so grateful to Stefan. So, everything's fine, right? Right? Wait... not really. "Damon's able to get through to you in ways I can't," Stefan says. 

Elena admits "something's changed between Damon and me," and that her feelings have been magnified. So yes, she has the hots for Damon. That happened before, so no big deal, right? Right? No. It was okay when Stefan was The Ripper, but not now.

"I can't do this anymore, Elena," Stefan says. Elena nods. They're sad, together but worlds apart. And just like that, the Relationship To End ALL Relationships is OVER. And Elena is free to get it on with Damon, I guess.  

I'll admit, I've always been a Damon fan. Elena could have fun with Damon, and if she doesn't go too far to the Catherine side, it doesn't seem like such a bad thing. But this is just sad and strange and depressing and I'm just not sure why, after all they've been through, that this is Stefan's breaking point and Elena seems pretty fine with it. Are these the same two people who would walk on broken glass and eat spiders for one another?  

I'm not sure the bond between Tyler and Caroline ever seemed as tight as Elena and Stefan's, but that one unravels in this episode, too. When Caroline tries to justify why she told Klaus about how to save Elena, Tyler is incensed -- yes, saving Elena was important, but Chris was a friend! He was a member of his pack! And Caroline betrayed him. Worse, the way she convinced Klaus to kill a hybrid was by offering to go on a date with him. Tyler pours a drink and smashes it against the wall, so I guess he and Caroline are on the outs, too. This episode is not a good one for relationships, is it? 

Meanwhile, Bonnie's busily bonding with Professor Shane. He's her biggest ally! He loves witches! And oh, when the new hunter completes his mark, Bonnie should bring him by. You know, for a little meet and great… and possibly a hypnosis session to turn Jeremy into a killing machine. I'm just assuming, but I do not have a good feeling about Professor Shane. But then, this whole episode was a rather monumental low point for all involved, wasn't it?