By Mandi Bierly
October 11, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT
Bob Mahoney/The CW
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SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t watched tonight’s Vampire Diaries stop reading now. We want to give fans a place to talk about the episode — and the scene that had us reaching for the tissues — now. UPDATE: Our full recap is live.  

Because we all knew Elena would complete her transition and become a vampire, this episode had to deliver in emotion what it couldn’t offer in suspense. And it did. Elena hadn’t fed when she first woke up because she and Stefan wanted to give Bonnie a chance to find a way to make her human again. What could go wrong? How about the Council throwing her, Stefan, and Rebekah in separate stalls in Pastor Young’s converted cattle ranch? It was staged beautifully, with Rebekah caged across from Stefan and Elena so she could see both of them but they could only see her. After one attempt to get a guard to let Elena out so she could feed only got Stefan shot twice with wooden bullets, he and Elena began to say their goodbyes.

Stefan: Damon was right. You should have fed this morning. I’m so sorry.

Elena: Don’t be. You had hope. That’s all I ever wanted you to have. And you had it.

Stefan: I love you so much.

Elena: Do you know why I was even on that bridge? [Camera pans to Rebekah, who ran Elena off of it.] I was coming back for you, Stefan. I had to choose, and I picked you. [A single tear falls down Stefan’s face.] Because I love you. No matter what happens, it’s the best choice I ever made… Oh god, it sucks that I can’t see you right now.

Stefan: I’m smiling. [He’s not.]

Elena: Me, too. [She’s not.]

At what point did you tear up? It was Stefan’s tear that got me. And then I got chills when they lied and told each other they were smiling. I’m getting chills again just typing that I got chills. It warmed Rebekah’s cold little heart, too. She gave Stefan a nod that said she’d help. She pretended to want to bribe the guard we’d all grown to hate and when he said he’d rather watch her die, she lunged toward him from behind the bars. He backpeddled toward Stefan, who went Ripper on him and killed him so he bled, a lot. Elena had to reach through the bars, waiting for the red pool to reach her fingertips. For someone who never wanted to become a vampire, she had to work hard for it. And I got chills again when she finally put her finger to her lips.

Our first glimpse of Elena in full vamp mode was her stopping Damon from killing Matt, whose survivor guilt is bad enough that he would have let Damon do it. We’ll get into Damon and Elena’s conversation that followed in the recap. For now, let’s stay with Stefan and Elena. Having them sitting on the roof enjoying the view as the sun rose on her first day as a vampire was a nice callback to the season 2 episode “The Last Day,”  when they spent what could have been Elena’s final hours as a human on a mountaintop enjoying the view as the sun set. Elena’s attitude about being a vampire was definitely different: She sees that she’ll still get to live. Stefan slipping the day ring on Elena’s finger felt like he’d proposed. Her answer, I think, would have been yes. For today.

Your turn.

Read more:

‘Vampire Diaries:’ Nina Dobrev, Candice Accola and more tease tonight’s premiere — VIDEO

‘Vampire Diaries’: See Klaus and Elijah in period costume — EXCLUSIVE

‘Vampire Diaries’ scoop: Ian Somerhalder teases ‘cute’ Damon and Elena moment — VIDEO

‘Vampire Diaries’: Test Your Smarts on Season 3

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