On tonight’s episode of The Vampire Diaries, the race is on to save Elena before she completely unravels. The Travellers come to Damon and Elena’s rescue, but Stefan pays the price. Enzo gets a new sidekick. A new threat is revealed.

What Dreams May Come

Katherine may be gone, but Elena is still dealing with the aftermath of Kitty Kat inhabiting her body. She’s harboring some serious resentment towards her friends and exes for not figuring out Katherine’s ruse sooner. She must be seriously repressing some issues because her feelings are manifesting in her dreams.

One minute, Elena’s shaking her groove thing on a bar as her baby bro and friends look on with amusement. Next thing you know, she hops down and announces she’s Katherine. She questions how they couldn’t realize it, as they all sit around looking dumfounded as to what she’s talking about. 

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Reach Out and Touch Someone

Elena isn’t feeling the immediate effects of the virus like Damon did. He was good to go after a quick nap while she’s been back on the grid for at least a few days. Still, better safe than sorry; Elena is trapped in her dorm which is conveniently empty for spring break, a courtesy of a spell cast by the new resident witch Liv.

Stefan tells her not to fret, Caroline is on the hunt for a cure, and she’ll be put on a feeding schedule to keep her from getting too peckish.

The star-crossed lovers are still separated due to their new diets, so Damon is chained back up in the Salvatore basement. Jeremy and Matt are babysitting, and they aren’t exactly treating their charge with kid gloves. Jeremy hasn’t forgotten his umpteenth death–this one courtesy of Enzo.

Matt brings up the sensitive subject of Aaron Whitmore and whether Elena knows that Damon killed him. Truthfully, I don’t recall Aaron and Elena being that tight. A conversation here and there, and then there was a hiccup in the “friendship” once he found out she was a vampire. All of a sudden, the entire future of Delena rests on how well Elena takes the news that Damon killed the bland, blond and boring Whitmore.

No, Elena doesn’t know yet, but Damon is determined to be the one to tell her. He gets his first chance when she calls to speak to him. There’s some flirtatious banter, but Elena’s anxious to fill in the three-week timeline when Katherine was calling all the shots in her life. Damon says he’ll tell her anything she wants to know. Her first question is drudging up the details of how Katherine unceremoniously dumped him.

The phone call takes a 1-800 turn when, per usual, sweet Elena knows just what to say to soothe the savage beast. She recalls her last moments as herself: how she felt so safe in Damon’s arms. Not wanting to ruin a good thing, Damon remains mum about Aaron. He opts for some very yummy, yet appropriate for TV, dirty talk.

A Race for the Cure

Caroline searches Dr. Wes’ lab and runs into Enzo. Caroline gives him the brush-off, but he claims they both want the same thing: the Ripper virus eradicated. Caroline questions his motives, accusing him of just wanting his killing buddy Damon back. She warns him to stay out of it and starts to exit in a huff when Enzo announces he has the antidote.

All About Aaron

Elena gives Damon the perfect opportunity to confess when she brings up Aaron. He’s first on her list when it comes to making amends. It’s almost as if Katherine’s presence can be compared to Elena going on a bender. Now she’s in her own 12-step recovery program. She’s concerned because she hasn’t seen or spoken to Aaron since he found out she was a vampire and thought she wanted to kill him. Damon does tell her that she probably won’t find him. When Elena questions why, he simply says “No reason.”

Stefan shows up with a vamp Happy Meal just as the symptoms are starting to manifest. First it’s a scratchy throat, and before you know it, you want to eat all of your best vampire friends. A few ounces may keep Damon in check, but his virus didn’t have a werewolf kicker.

I’m so glad we get to watch Elena come undone once again. First her transition, then the Hunter’s Curse and then that whole flipping off her humanity switch. The most annoying part is that she blames herself for sitting by Katherine’s bedside as she lay dying.

Look for the Silver Lining

Caroline calls Stefan and gives him the news that Elena’s virus is the upgraded version of Damon’s. Stefan deduces that if Elena has been injected with werewolf venom, it’s fatal. This is a fact that completely passed me by. Caroline tells him there is an antidote, but he has to meet her at a mystery location, no questions asked. Stefan says he’s not going anywhere until Caroline spills. The Travellers are somehow involved. They are a secretive bunch and apparently they’re up to something and are determined to remain shadowy figures. How do these people get their mail?

Sweet Dreams Are Made of This

The hits keep coming for Elena who finds out that not only did Katherine use her body, she helped herself to Elena’s journal as well. Elena has another hallucination/vision/dream. This time instead of re-enacting a scene from Coyote Ugly in front of her friends and underage brother, she’s making better progress than Katherine did in that same dingy hotel room. Just as things are getting started, she has a moment of clarity and tells Stefan that it’s Katherine and not her. Truthfully, these visions are a pain. Damon shows up, and then Elena starts blathering about how Katherine is getting exactly what she wants; she’s ruining their lives even from the great dark beyond. Elena comes out of the trance with a nosebleed wondering what is happening to her.

Can’t Swing a Dead Cat Without Hitting a Doppelganger

Caroline and Stefan meet Enzo, and Sloan appears with a whole bunch of her Traveller buddies. We find out that when the evil Dr. Wes rescued Enzo from the farm house, it was so he could use his blood to make the antidote. When Wes died, the Travellers took it. Sloan says that Elena is valuable to them, so they’re using Wes’ resources to find a cure for her as well. In order to complete it, Sloan says they need another Stefan. Please, not another friggin’ doppelganger!

We knew that blood which the Travellers took from Stefan and Elena was going to prove important sometime, and it appears that “sometime” is now. The last remaining pair of doppelgangers are special. But, until Stefan’s remaining doppelganger (Surprise!) is out of the way, the blood isn’t worth squat. So yes, there is another Stefan floating around somewhere. C’mon VD, that show Supernatural has been on for like a decade, and they manage to come up with new material. What about Buffy, she went seven. I couldn’t be more over these tired, confusing, and at times, downright insulting story lines. How dumb do you think we are? We’ve been poking holes in your plots all season. 

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Help Me Luke, You’re My Only Hope

An acquaintance, Luke (Chris Brochu), of Katherine’s arrives back on campus early. Elena decides to change him, but balks at the last minute when she sees that Katherine was feeding on him. She compels him to forget their conversation and tells him to find Bonnie Bennett and her new protege and have them come to the dorm ASAP. He takes off, and you wonder how much campus he’ll have to cover to before he finds them.

Her Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown

Elena’s in the midst of a downward shame spiral. She’s convinced she killed Aaron, she’s paranoid, and she was seconds from turning a rare species of hottie mortal co-ed into a vampire just to satisfy a craving. Damon’s trying to talk her off the ledge but fails epically. Damon decides to take his chances and goes to see her. It’s not hard to get past his guards.

Bonnie and Liv get to Elena first. They find her burning every item of hers that Katherine touched. She impales Liv and uses the newbie witch’s impending death as leverage to set her free. Liv needs Elena’s blood, or she’ll die.

Elena gets her way because the next time we see her, she’s stumbling around campus. She runs into Damon and prattles on about how Katherine won, how she wants to kill her friends, and how she’s already turned into a monster because she killed Aaron Whitmore. Damon FINALLY tells Elena that he killed Aaron. Enzo arrives with the antidote and comments that “from the looks of it you’d both rather be dead.”

Every Chain Has a Weak Link

The Travellers hand over the antidotes to Enzo, and Sloan goes about the business of linking Stefan to his doppelganger. It’s not a quick or easy process; Tessa was more efficient if you discount the whole memory loss thing. They locate the doppelganger who appears to be a medic. Just as it looks like Stefan will be drinking out of a sippy cup for all eternity, Caroline steps in and makes a deal. Caroline volunteers to accompany Enzo to kill the doppelganger. Enzo really is just the poor man’s Klaus.

This episode was emotionally frenetic to the point of exhaustion. Damon and Elena figure out that they are toxic and co-dependent and decide to break up again. So is the super hot sex that follows their one last fling? Everybody needs closure. Are they going to be friends with benefits? Maybe they’ll consider couples counseling.

The revelation that Liv and Luke are up to no good is promising, and The Vampire Diaries needs a strong finish to an uneven and overall disappointing season. 

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8 pm on the CW.

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(Image courtesy of CW)

Jennifer Lind-Westbrook

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Jennifer has worked as a freelance writer in the entertainment field since 2012. In addition to currently writing feature articles for Screen Rant, Jennifer has contributed content ranging from recaps to listicles to reviews for BuddyTV, PopMatters, TVRage, TVOvermind, and Tell-Tale TV. Links to some of Jennifer’s reviews can be found on Rotten Tomatoes.