Okay, so I say that, but we do start with Mr Damon Salvatore in the shower. He's feeling pretty pleased with himself after the whole Elena kiss, but of course he's not going to tell Stefan about that. Elena, on the other hand, is getting busy with a punch bag. She might not be quite so happy...
Anyway, Bonnie's at the witch house desperately trying to open the coffin when suddenly they all disappear - she's not alone. Luckily, at that moment Stefan and Damon turn up to meet her - and Damon knows something's not right. The hybrid - because that's who's there - arrives in front of Stefan... but Damon promptly turns up behind him and rips out his heart. Close shave!
At school, it's Caroline's birthday so Elena and Bonnie begin decorating her locker. But Bonnie's not impressed when Elena tells her that Jeremy's been compelled to leave town. She goes to see him, admitting that she doesn't want him to leave. Jeremy explains that he can have a better life there, and Bonnie mutters that that's what Elena said, causing Jeremy to do a little 'huh?'. Is Bonnie going to spill the beans?
Speaking of Caroline, she arrives at school, only to run into Tyler. She doesn't want to talk to him, but Tyler just wants to apologise and say that though he wants to put her first, he can't - and he knows why he can't be with her. And then he hands her a charm bracelet as a birthday present, causing Caroline to get a bit teary.
She decides to ditch school and heads home - only for Bonnie, Matt and Elena to jump out and surprise her. They've arranged a party at the Falls, but Caroline's not in the mood - her birthday's just reminding her she's dead. She's stuck at 17 forever now ("a filler year"). So Elena comes up with a new plan...
Meanwhile, Damon's desperate to find out what's in the locked coffin, but Stefan's got something else on his mind - getting rid of the hybrids. Damon warns him not to draw attention to what they're trying to hide, but Stefan's adamant - he has Klaus's relatives so he has the upper hand.
In fact, he's going to call Klaus's bluff (despite Damon's worries that this means everyone might end up dead). Damon warns that he has to be willing to lose everything if he's going to play that game... but Stefan just walks off.
He heads straight over to Klaus's house and says he wants the hybrids gone. But for his part, Klaus wants his family back. And if Stefan keeps threatening to kill them, well, he might get a little violent himself. But Stefan's not backing down, even claiming he doesn't care if Damon is killed.
When a hybrid shows up to check if everything's OK, Klaus says Stefan's leaving and adds that he's failed to make his point. Don't speak too soon, Klaus - Stefan grabs a knife and chops poor hybrid Mindy's head clean off. Warning Klaus to get rid of the others, he stalks off (and I'm not going to lie, I laughed with the wonderful malevolence of it all. Bad Stefan is incredible.)
But of course this does make Klaus angry, so he summons Tyler - he wants him to help him. Naturally, Tyler's feeling a bit anti-Klaus at the moment since he's lost all his friends and his girlfriend. Speaking of Caroline, well, Klaus wants Tyler to bite her - even though that would kill her. Tyler downright refuses, and eventually Klaus lets him go (though he does the disappointed dad act rather well). That'll be the end of it, right? Right?! Um...
Let's head back to Caroline and the gang. Elena's brought them all to a creepy tomb, but why? Well, Caroline's right - she is dead. So instead of a birthday, she needs a funeral, to say goodbye to her old life and move on with her new one. Caroline's game, and it's all quite nice.
But with tequila comes drunk texting, and Caroline gets in touch with Tyler. Elena's disappointed, but Bonnie shouts that Elena CAN'T CONTROL EVERYONE ALL THE TIME (subtle). Bonnie's still upset about Jeremy, obviously, so she ends up leaving. It's all a bit awkward.
Anyway, Tyler shows up and asks to speak to Caroline in private. When they head out, Matt insists he's OK and wants her to be happy, but suggests that all of his friends are "stuck" in this crazy life. And Elena's worried that Bonnie was right after all, and she shouldn't have compelled Jeremy.
But more importantly, Tyler takes Caroline to the woods and says he was wrong - he won't let Klaus control him when it comes to Caroline. He tells her he loves her and wants to be with her, then kisses her. It's all getting a bit steamy... but then Tyler bites Caroline. Oh. My. God. He's devastated, but Caroline yells at him to go away.
Meanwhile, Alaric and Damon show up at a restoration fundraiser (seriously, does Mystic Falls ever stop?). While they're there, Alaric runs into Dr Fell - Meredith - again for some heavy duty flirting. She makes it clear pretty early on she knows about all the vampires... then reveals a British guy is at the fundraiser. Well, that can only mean Klaus!
But is Meredith all she seems? Later, Alaric finds her arguing with someone called Brian, who's worried about the mess they're in. Alaric intervenes, though Brian warns that Meredith's a "psycho case" and storms off. Meredith reveals that Brian's the medical examiner who covers up all the vampire deaths. Hmm... we get the sense Alaric shouldn't have jumped to her defence so quickly.
Elsewhere, Klaus is talking to Carol - he's got her in his pocket as he's promised to protect Tyler. But Klaus promises Damon that he'll remain peaceful if his hybrids are left alone. And Liz begs Damon to stop Stefan, too - she doesn't want anyone else to get hurt.
Unfortunately, Stefan's decided it would be a good idea to kill a hybrid at the council meeting. Luckily, Damon turns up just in time to stop him, but Stefan announces that the only way to beat a villain is to be a better villain. (FYI, this is around the time when you should start getting a bit anxious about what he'll do...)
Back in the woods, Elena and Matt are looking for Caroline - but Stefan arrives and basically kidnaps Elena. He puts her in the car and starts driving, picking up a call from Damon and telling him that he's going to make sure Klaus can't make any more hybrids. That doesn't sound good for Elena...
Elena, clearly terrified, yells at Stefan to let her out of the car, but he keeps driving determinedly. It's honestly chilling. Back at the party, Damon pulls Klaus aside and urges him to take Stefan seriously - he has no idea how far he'll go.
In the car, Stefan's threatening to turn Elena into a vampire - a stunning moment, since he's always defended her freedom of choice before. Clearly, this has an effect on Elena, too, who renews her demands to be let out of the car. But Stefan calls Klaus and orders him to get rid of the hybrids.
Klaus is still refusing, so Stefan forces Elena to feed from him and as she splutters, Stefan revs the car and heads for the bridge where Elena's parents were killed. He's getting faster and faster, and eventually Klaus agrees to get rid of the hybrids if Stefan saves Elena.
Stefan screeches to a halt, as Elena screams. I can't overstate just how stunning this entire sequence was. As well as the action, it was the moment where Elena must have felt truly betrayed. While I was watching it, I suddenly realised I was holding my breath. Heart-stopping.
Elena jumps out of the car, furious and tearful - after all, she almost died with her parents on that bridge, and would have done if Stefan hadn't saved her. Stefan says Klaus had to believe he'd go through with it, but Elena's devastated that all Stefan cares about is destroying Klaus. Stefan points out that he has nothing left, and Nina Dobrev is stunning as Elena shouts: "You had me."
Stefan claims that he lost Elena as soon as he went away with Klaus, whether Elena realises it or not. Elena asks if Stefan is trying to make her hate him, but Stefan deadpans: "I don't really care what you think about me anymore, Elena" and drives off, leaving her alone. The highlight of the episode.
Damon picks her up, of course, and leaves her on the porch of her house. He checks she's OK, stroking her face. Elena warns that he can't kiss her again, and he says he knows. She explains that it's not right, but Damon replies: "It's right. Just not right now." Wonderful!
Elsewhere, Matt finds Caroline and carries her home. It's not long before Klaus arrives, and all he asks in exchange for saving Caroline's life is Liz's support. He goes in to see Caroline, telling her she was just collateral damage.
In what was actually quite a touching moment from Klaus, he almost gives Caroline a pep talk - she's free from human conventions like birthdays now. He could let her die, if that's what she wants (and, brilliantly, he reveals that he's considered dying himself), but a whole world of art and beauty and travel awaits her. Caroline begins crying - she doesn't want to die - so Klaus lifts her up and lets her feed from him.
The next morning, Caroline wakes up, healed. She discovers a present from Klaus - a beautiful diamond necklace (sure, but does it mean as much as Tyler's charm bracelet?). I can't figure out what Klaus is up to yet, but I'm betting he has ulterior motives.
Meanwhile, Elena says goodbye to Jeremy, and Bonnie shows up. There's an awkward moment as Elena worries if Bonnie's about to let slip about Jeremy's compulsion, but after a pause Bonnie explains that she came to say goodbye and hugs him.
Later, Elena returns to the bridge and meets Matt. She admits that she feels stuck - she's been holding on to the girl who almost died there, who had a normal life and didn't fall in love with a vampire.
Matt reminds her that she isn't that person now and it's OK to let her go, but Elena tearfully confesses that she feels like she's disappointed her, and her parents. Matt reassures her that she's doing better than she thinks, and they hold their own little old-Elena funeral. It's so beautifully done.
But of course, this is The Vampire Diaries, so we have to end on a cliffhanger. While Meredith and Alaric flirt together in the Mystic Grill, Liz meets Damon in the woods. There's been a murder... and it's Brian the medical examiner. Alaric - run!
- It wasn't really explored in this episode, but following Alaric's accident, Elena's worried that the rings have a shelf life (another reason for Jeremy to go away). This would be interesting if it were true, but does witchy-magic run out?
- "These hybrids - really bringing the neighbourhood down."
- I like the fact that Bonnie is still furious with Jeremy but still cares about him majorly.
- Superficial corner: Candice Accola looked stunning this week.
- I love the fact that The Vampire Diaries always takes the time to explore what being a vampire really means - the devastating idea of never having a full life but being constantly stuck; the confusion of identity. Candice Accola dealt with what was essentially an existential crisis beautifully. I've said it before and I'll say it again - this show is constantly surprising me with just how good it is.
- We know now that the locked coffin probably doesn't contain one of Klaus's family members - it's an extra coffin. Do we think it does contain a Klaus-killing weapon? It certainly makes sense that he'd keep that secure...
- I might be reading too much into it, but I loved the motif of the bridge throughout the episode - it seemed to perfectly symbolise the way in which the characters are being forced to move from one life to another. Elena making the choice to move on while standing in the middle of the bridge was the cherry on top (without even needing the fact that it's where her parents died).
- "I get a little moody." Klaus does understatement.
- I really like the fact that the writers have committed to Stefan feeling he has nothing to lose. It makes everything much more interesting when you genuinely don't know how far he'll go. It would have been so easy to have him drop everything for Elena.
- Tyler's devastation after he realises he's bitten Caroline. Wonderful.
- "Caroline's right. Technically, she's dead. Sorry."
- If there's one thing The Vampire Diaries could have more of, it's the straight-up friend scenes between Elena, Caroline and Bonnie. They don't get much time to just hang out, and when they do - ie with Caroline's birthday this week (along with Matt) - it's always a treat.
- Speaking of which, Bonnie's snap and Elena's hurt: "Wow" was perfectly done. Felt real.
- I know she was drunk, but Elena was flirting with Matt when they were looking for Caroline, right? And then he was the one she invited to the bridge. Can we see some kind of reunion there, or is it just the whole first-love-nostalgia thing? Either way, it was nice to remember their history.
- "Suddenly you care who lives or dies?" "I have a small list."
- "You're that guy, aren't you? Begging to have his teeth kicked in." Alaric does mean.
- Damon can't help but have admiration for Stefan's victory over Klaus. Amazing.
- "If he says blink, I suggest you blink." It was so odd seeing Damon and Klaus almost working together, but I liked it.
- Klaus agrees to have the hybrids leave town... does that include Tyler?
- Caroline and Klaus. Discuss!