The 'Vampire Diaries' recap: End of the affair

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"The Vampire Diaries" -- "We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes"
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Spoilers that require tissues ahead!

The best part of being a "Vampire Diaries" fan? You never know what's coming.

The worst part of being a "Vampire Diaries" fan? You never know what's coming.

And in the case of tonight's episode, "We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes," we got the most brutal, gut-punching, emotionally intense blindside so far this season.

Elena and Stefan break up.

(Sob.)

OK, it's not like it came out of nowhere. Elena's been struggling with her self-identity ever since waking up as a vampire at the beginning of the season. She is still wrestling with who she is now and what that means for her relationship with Stefan.

And what it means for her relationship with Damon.

Since turning, Elena's been drawn even more to Damon, finding him a more kindred vampire spirit than Stefan.

If Stefan was always "the one" for Elena the human, might Damon be "the one" for Elena the vampire?

Mad World

Elena's hallucinations from last week continue. She sees a bloody Connor, who guilts her about taking a human life. When ghost Connor tries to attack her, she stabs him with a knife. Only, it's not Connor ... it's Jeremy! Luckily, he has his ring on, so Jeremy lives another day.

Elena calls Damon to help her, because she no longer trusts Stefan for lying to her. Of course, Stefan's doing so to find the cure to turn Elena back into a human, but this once-unshakeable couple can't seem to sit down and have a (vampire) heart-to-heart these days.

[Related: See our picks for TV's best vampires and werewolves]

As Klaus later explains, Elena's having hallucinations because she killed a hunter. Apparently the hunter can target her after death -- by tormenting Elena until she kills herself!

The Hunt Is On

Meanwhile, at Tyler's house, Hayley is being all sexy-wolfy toward Tyler. Caroline drops by to return some of Tyler's stuff, because they've broken up. Sob!

Psych! Not sob! It's all an act to make Klaus think that Tyler and Caroline are over and to get his hybrids out of the house. Still, Hayley doesn't look like she minds being close to Tyler.

Over at school, Jeremy confides in Matt that he's starting to get a tattoo like the one Connor had.

"Does that make you, like, the next Chosen One or something?" Matt asks. (Does Matt watch "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"? Because swoon.)

That mysterious occult professor, Atticus Shane, is also at the school, and April recognizes him as someone her dad worked with at the college. Hmm, for once, April contributes something interesting.

Bonnie asks Atticus for help in solving Elena's problem, and the professor reveals that she'll continue to be haunted until a new hunter shows up.

Good (or bad?) thing there's a potential hunter right in Elena's very own home.

Vision Quest

Klaus is keeping Elena locked up so that she won't kill herself, and the poor girl is starting to see her worst nightmare -- Katherine, who taunts her by saying Elena is becoming as bad as she is.

The Scooby gang hatches a plan to break Elena out, which involves Caroline being all sexy-vampirey with Klaus to distract him. Then, of course, he has to be all sweet and romantic, promising her that even if Tyler was still sired to him, Klaus would've never let him hurt Caroline. (Swoon 2.0.)

Stefan goes to free Elena, but she stabs him and runs away to Wickery Bridge. There, she sees a vision of her mother, who urges her to commit suicide.

Elena takes off her daytime ring, ready to burn to death as the sun rises. Damon shows up, but she sees Connor's ghost in his place and might stab him.

Stefan and Klaus have a solution to the problem: They need Jeremy to kill a vampire and become a hunter.

[Related: Check out all things 'Breaking Dawn, Part 2' over at Yahoo! Movies]

Klaus offers up his hybrid, Chris, as a sacrifice. Jeremy cuts off his head, the tattoo grows, and Jeremy becomes a Chosen One.

Back on the bridge, Ghost Connor disappears, but the sun is coming up and Elena's about to be toast, so Damon pushes her into the water below the bridge.

This is really starting to become a thing with her.

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts

Later, Elena wakes up in her bedroom, ring safely on her finger and Damon tenderly watching over her. She is very, very grateful (remember: heightened emotions), and Damon could totally take advantage of her.

Instead, he spills everything about the cure and how Stefan's been keeping secrets to help her.

Damn it, Damon. Why grow a conscience now?!

Damon heads to the Grill and buys himself and the memory of Alaric two drinks (aww). Matt comes over and reveals April's father's connection to Atticus, the professor. After doing some digging, Damon learns Pastor Young called Atticus every day and multiple times the day of the explosion.

Unfortunately, the professor might be useful as he is "the only one who can help" Jeremy once his tattoo is fully revealed. Scratch him off the kill list, guys.

Meanwhile, Tyler is despondent about Chris's death. Caroline tries to comfort him, but then reveals that she got Klaus to give up one of his precious hybrids by agreeing to go on a date with him! Tyler is not happy about that. At all.

Stefan visits Elena on her porch for a talk. It turns out to be "The Talk."

Elena asks him why he sent Damon to the bridge instead of coming himself. Stefan replies that it seems like Damon is the only one she trusts lately.

Elena hopes he finds the cure so she can return to being the girl Stefan was in love with. But for now, she is a vampire and what she wants is different, darker.

Stefan wonders if who she wants is different, and she admits her feelings for Damon are magnified.

"I can't do this Elena. Not anymore," a heartbroken Stefan tells her.

"I know," an equally heartbroken Elena replies.

And heartbroken Stelena fans everywhere know it's over, too.

(Double sob.)

Watch the full episode:

"The Vampire Diaries" airs Thursdays at 8 PM on The CW.

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