The cure was digested, but all the twists in this episode will take a while

By Mandi Bierly
May 17, 2013 at 04:55 AM EDT
Curtis Baker/The CW
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Exec producer Julie Plec has said that she viewed this season finale as a series finale, because there’d be so many changes come fall. And she wasn’t kidding. Jeremy’s alive, Bonnie’s dead and gone, Klaus has agreed to let Tyler come back to town, Matt’s having a summer fling with Rebekah, Elena and Damon are legitimately a couple, and Stefan is Silas’ doppelgänger and buried alive when no one knows he’s missing. To quote Crash Davis, “We’re dealing with a lot of s—.” Let’s dig in.

We started with Kol motivating those who’d died in the massacres to make Graduation Day memorable, while Lexi and Stefan pre-partied at Salvatore Mansion to Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” — appropriate considering her history with Damon. It was a dual celebration, really: Stefan’s graduation (yet again) and the impending apocalypse. Stefan didn’t feel like grooming his hero hair, so we cut to Bonnie phoning Caroline to tell her that she needed to wait until that night to have enough power to raise the veil again. Bonnie suggested they cancel graduation, but Caroline was having none of that. Bonnie wasn’t ready to tell anyone that she was dead — they’d been through so much, she said. Grams just told her to make sure she said her goodbyes before it was too late.

Jeremy and Alaric were spending quality time with a smiling Elena over greasy burgers and fries in that Salvatore Mansion courtyard none of us knew existed until this season. Jeremy enforced a no-crying rule, even though Elena’s current tears were tears of joy because she was so happy to have those two back. Her mood changed when she got a call — from Connor. Alexander had Matt standing on a bomb, and Rebekah refused to leave him. Vaughn showed up at the house (having starved to death in the well on the island) and shot Damon before delivering a message straight from Qetsiyah: The Hunters wanted the cure and they wanted Silas. Connor threatened to hurt all the loved ones in town for graduation dining at the Mystic Grill (well, it really is the only place to eat there), but before Vaughn could deliver another threat, Stefan ripped his heart out from behind.

Alaric made his way to the Grill and found Connor strapped with explosives. “This is my bar, pal. Nobody’s gonna blow it up,” Alaric said. Connor detonated the bomb, but Alaric had vamp-sped him away enough that the Grill was still standing. I guess we’re happy about that?

Back to Matt and Rebekah we went: Alexander warned her that she couldn’t pull that move with Matt. Matt tried to distract worried Rebekah by having her talk about her post-graduation plans. They’re going to travel together, she decided. It’s a date, he said. We all heard it Rebekah. We’ll hold him to it! Katherine popped up at the school demanding the immortality that Bonnie promised her, and threatened Elena’s life. Bonnie was about to crush her skull with that magical headache when other students dared to walk in the hallway and Katherine bolted.

NEXT: No one wants the cure now

At the Salvatore house, Damon gave Elena the cure as her graduation present. When Elena wouldn’t take it — because then the Hunters would kill people — Damon knew the sire bond hadn’t resurfaced when she got her humanity back. Damon thought Jeremy would help him convince her, but Jeremy said it was her choice. He accepts Elena as a vampire now. That’s nice. Elena then noticed Damon wincing in pain and told him to take off his shirt. “Elena, there are children present,” he cracked. She saw the wound from Vaughn’s wooden-bullet gun hadn’t healed. Why? The bullet was laced with werewolf venom — and the Hunters were dicks.

With Klaus in New Orleans, the only hope was for Damon to take the cure and become human so he didn’t die. That’s what Elena wanted. But Damon said he was so motivated by Elena’s save-the-world speech, he wouldn’t do it. He gave the cure to Vaughn and told him they were off to dig up Silas. I was confused, but it later made sense: Damon didn’t want to become human, so if he was going to die, he’d at least distract Vaughn.

Stefan had heard Elena and Damon fighting over the cure and thought it was strange they weren’t discussing the bigger issue: Without the sire bond and with her humanity, Elena now knows her true feelings. If Elena loved Damon, Stefan said he’d leave town and finally live his life. And if she said she loved him, well, he’d take her back in a heartbeat because she’s the love of his life. (That was that “Welcome back” last week.)

Matt reminded Rebekah that he was wearing the Gilbert ring, so he thought if she detonated the bomb, maybe he wouldn’t die. Rebekah thought he’d still be blown to pieces. But she made him think she was going along with it. “The first rule of truly living: Do the thing you’re most afraid of,” she said. And she kissed him. She did that so she could move onto the block and move him off of it. She can’t be killed; Matt can’t miss graduation. Off he went. She told Alexander she’d finally chosen one of the good ones, and then she moved and boom.

Back at the Salvatores, Elena was freaking out about Damon leaving until Stefan told her it was a stall tactic. He said the bullet was only laced with werewolf venom, so Damon had time. Jeremy made Elena go to graduation, because somehow, she was still in the mood. Bonnie and Caroline were already there when Matt showed up. Then Elena and Stefan followed. Caroline couldn’t believe they’d all made it — group hug! Bonnie teared up but still said nothing. She didn’t even tell her father, who presented them with their diplomas, the truth. She just thanked him — for everything. Eh, they were never that close.

NEXT: Klaus!

When Bonnie sat down, Kol appeared in the seat behind her. This was more unfortunate than a tall football player walking in front of me across the football field at graduation and turning around to say, “I’m gonna walk really fast so you can’t keep up.” Lovely. Kol told Bonnie about his army of pissed off ghosts and no one noticed her sneaking off with him. Kol didn’t want the veil to come back up — he wanted it down so he could live on this side. She took him down to her body, and said that’s what she wanted, too — but you can’t always get what you want. She trapped him in that room.

Back to Damon… Vaughn shot him a few more times when he realized that Damon had played him. One more bullet and Damon would have died in seconds, but Alaric showed up and snapped Vaughn’s neck and tossed him down into the quarry. Alaric also managed to grab the cure back from Vaughn in the process. Fantastic. Alaric phoned the others ask Stefan whether he should watch Damon die or force-feed him the cure. The witches interrupted the call to give Caroline, their killer, and everyone else the headache from hell. The lead witch whose name I’m not even going to bother to look up suddenly got decapitated by a graduation cap thrown at her. KLAUS! Impressive. Caroline smiled. Probably because she, too, thought it was so cute that Klaus had put on a suit for the occasion. He threatened to speed-toss more caps, and the ghosts retreated.

We found out Klaus had given Damon his blood when we saw Damon’s chest perfectly healed. Elena slapped Damon — which made Alaric proud and Lexi laugh. Suddenly I’m shipping Lexi and Alaric. They really would be great together in supernatural purgatory. They’re both so nurturing. I’m pretty sure he was turned on when she was talking about peace being out there if it’s what Silas was looking for. Once they serve their time for whatever bad things they’ve done, they can move on, she imagines. Purgatory: Date Night — another spinoff, please.

Elena asked for a moment with Stefan, and don’t get your hopes up, Stelena fans: She just wanted to thank him for not giving up on her. He said he’d owed her one. He gave her his heart, and she gave him a pen the cure. “The only person worse at being a vampire than me is you,” she said. She said he’d taught them how to live as vampires, and now he deserves whatever he wants out of life. I totally thought Stefan would end up taking it.

Caroline, we learned, had sent Klaus a graduation announcement — hoping for cash, he joked. Or a mini fridge, she admitted. He’d thought about offering her a first-class ticket to New Orleans, but then he opted for something she’d use: He was letting Tyler come back to town. That was sweet, but also sexy as hell: “He’s your first love. I intend to be your last. However long it takes,” he said. He kissed her on the cheek and escorted her off-screen. What a loving way to send Klaus off to The Originals.

NEXT: Elena’s choice

Back at Salvatore Mansion, Elena stormed into a room for a change. Damon said he wanted to apologize, but then realized he wasn’t sorry. Yes, he’d rather die than be human, both because he didn’t want to age and because he didn’t want to age while she remained the same. He’s selfish, and no apology would encompass all the reasons he’s wrong for her, he said. Elena said she wasn’t going to apologize either then. She’s not sorry she met him. Not sorry that in death, he’s the one who made her feel more alive. Not sorry that even though she knows it’ll be the worst decision she’s made, she’s in love with him. “I love you, Damon,”  she said. And he kissed her. This time it was real. We could enjoy it. I mean, until we cut to Stefan sitting alone in the house with tears in his eyes. Having busted Lexi earlier for eavesdropping, it was her turn to walk up behind him and say, “Now, who’s eavesdropping?” She put her hand on his shoulder and he held it. HEARTBREAKING.

Stefan decided he was really going to bury Silas in the quarry and Damon offered to go along with him. Stefan said he had Lexi coming. Being the great guy that he is, Stefan told Damon he’s not happy about Elena, but he’s not NOT happy for him. The best you could hope for in that situation.

It was time for the veil to go up, so Jeremy wimped out and wrote Elena a letter before coming to look for Bonnie. He wanted to be with her when she sealed it. He eventually told her there was so much he wanted to say to her but nothing seemed right. She told him not to speak. Instead, they kissed. When the veil was up, Jeremy gasped for air. That’s when Bonnie knew: The spell that had killed her had worked. He was alive. He was so happy, until he realized he couldn’t feel her hands on his face. She’s the ghost now. She made him promise to tell Caroline and Elena that she was staying with her mother for summer — which I suppose would be believable since she’s always unseen for random periods of time. She told him she’d be okay — she had Grams, who was there to walk off with her hand-in-hand, and the other witches. (But don’t the other witches kind of hate you, Bonnie? But enjoy that!)

Since Elena was off looking for Bonnie and Jeremy, Alaric was with Damon. “You got the girl, man,” Alaric said. “I got the girl,” Damon said. “Now don’t screw it up,” Alaric said. “Well, with you lookin’ over my shoulder, how can I?” Damon said. And Alaric was gone.

Stefan and Lexi were in his car, and she was trying to get him to go to New York or Las Vegas — anywhere to start living his life. What if Elena was the one, Stefan asked. She was, Lexi said. She’ll always be an epic love, but there can be multiple of those. Especially for a vampire. The only way to find another one was to let go and move on. He said he’d never been to Portland, and she was gone. “See you, Lexi,” he said. For the record: I agree with Lexi. My sister has always said she believes we have like five people we could be perfectly happy with. It’s just a matter of when you decide to stop looking and commit to one of them. That’s really comforting until you realize all five of your guys have apparently chosen to be with one of their other four women before meeting you.

NEXT: The ultimate survivor is going to have to work harder now

Elena’s search for Bonnie ended with her finding Kol, who luckily disappeared right before he could kill her. But Katherine was there to wish her a happy graduation — and death. While those two fought off-camera, we watched Rebekah go see Matt. She figured he’d only said it was a travel-the-world date because they were under extreme duress. He told her he couldn’t invite her in because he promised Tyler he’d keep the house a low-vampire zone, which is exactly how he needed to keep his love life. She turned to walk away, and he essentially said, that’s why they could never have a real relationship but they could have a great summer. He has no college plans, no future. Since she almost killed him a year ago, he thinks it’s her obligation to show him how to live. Part of me has resisted this pairing because of the way the Rebekah-Stefan reunion abruptly ended, but good for Matt. He deserves to be a kept man for a while.

We joined the Katherine-Elena brawl in progress. They blame each other for their unhappiness. There might have been a little too much trash-talking for my taste. I like the all ass-kicking Arrow-style fight sequence. Katherine eventually stabbed Elena in the neck. She shouldn’t have played with her. She should have gone straight for the heart. We flashed back to Stefan giving Elena back the cure because, he said, everything he’d done this entire season was to get it for her. Elena shoved it in Katherine’s mouth. When Katherine passed out beside her, Elena told her to enjoy her human life. That felt like a bit of a disappointment to me, because while I’m sure we’ll see Katherine next season, it’s not like we’ll see her EVERY episode (or Nina Dobrev would die!). So the impact, while interesting since the outcome is the polar opposite of what Katherine wanted, isn’t as high as it would’ve been if it had been Stefan. (And also: Have we established that Katherine can’t just become a vampire again? I assume that would be too easy.)

Speaking of Stefan, he was ready to toss Silas into the quarry when he realized there was no stone Silas. Silas appeared to him as Elena and explained that the spell that turned him to stone was broken when the living witch who bound it (Bonnie) died. He also explained that he created the immortality spell 2,00 years ago, and the witches, needing to find a balance, created a version of him that could be killed. A shadow self. A doppelgänger. Stefan thought he was looking at Silas’ real face, and that explained the Petrova doppelgänger. “Not exactly,” Silas said. The reflection in the car window: STEFAN. “Hello, my shadow self,” he said to Stefan. Then he staked him in the stomach, asked him if he knew what it was like to starve for 2,000 years, put him in the large safe, and pushed it into the quarry. So not only was Stefan buried alive, the safe filled up with water as it sank. BRUTAL. Everyone will just think Stefan has left town. So will Silas pose as Stefan now in Mystic Falls, or will he go off to do whatever in another city? Does this mean everything Silas said about wanting to die and be with his one true love was a lie? Is this the Curse of the Sun and the Moon all over again? Everything we thought we knew was wrong — only this time, we didn’t get our beloved Elijah taking an hour to explain it to us?

Well, we have all summer to ponder it. Start in the comments, friends. Regardless, I’m happy Paul Wesley will get to play a bad guy for at least a portion of next season, it seems. Your turn.

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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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