By Mandi Bierly
Updated October 17, 2011 at 08:55 PM EDT
Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW

It’s the first day of school on Thursday’s episode of The Vampire Diaries, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” We can tell from the promo that one of Elena’s extracurricular activities in her senior year will be taking self-defense lessons. But will she need them against Stefan (Paul Wesley)? Not if this photo of Elena (Nina Dobrev) in his arms is any indication:

Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW

Knowing that Stefan is now full-on Ripper and can happily feed on any human he wants minus Elena — who Klaus has compelled him to protect while he and Rebekah are on the run from the vampire who hunts vampires, Michael (Sebastian Roche) — odds are that this is not the romantic reunion we long to see. This show moves fast but not that fast. But we’re guessing this is Stefan doing what he’s been told and saving Elena from something. (That fall in the promo, perhaps?) That’s an even better scenario, really. Being held by Stefan again — even if he’s Bad Stefan — is bound to stir up feelings for Elena, however fleeting. No matter what Bad Stefan does, or how badly she wants to lock him in the Salvatore basement, there’s got to be a part of her that still pines for him when he rescues her. That’s how you reset the sexual tension for a couple whose love had been as steady as theirs.

And speaking of tension, we assume we’ll be seeing the bad kind between Caroline (Candice Accola) and Tyler (Michael Trevino) as he continues to embrace his new hybrid status. Werewolf agility and vampire speed can make him one to watch on the football field, but they can’t help him pull off that do-rag.

Credit: Lewis Jacobs/NBC

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Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley star in the CW’s romance-infused vampire soap opera.

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