'The Vampire Diaries' recap: Can Stefan save Damon from himself? Not anymore ...

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Once again, "The Vampire Diaries" just changed the game. The entire game. Those clever, clever writers.

After last week's huge episode (Katherine took over Elena's body permanently -- ousting the main character of the show for good -- and Damon regressed back to his delicious Season 1 villain) and the huge milestone episode before that (ahem, remember the 100th episode?), Thursday (Feb. 6) night's episode, "Total Eclipse of the Heart," didn't slow down the intense momentum that's been picking up steam ever since the series returned from its midseason hiatus. What should have been one of the less-than-memorable episodes that generally happens midseason turned into something so much more when Dr. Wes Maxfield returned to ruin everything for everyone.

But let's back up to the beginning and relish how amazing Katherine is. Well, actually, let's give props to how amazing Nina Dobrev is as playing Katherine pretending to be Elena. There were so many hilarious moments from Katherine writing in Elena's diary, setting her phone background as a photo of her and Stefan, deleting all the photos of her and Damon, and they all solidified the fact that getting rid of Elena and replacing her with Katherine was just genius. It was a risky move, essentially "killing" the main character, but oh man, is it paying off:

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It's also allowing us to get some quality Matt Donovan scenes again, since Katherine is making Nadia stick by his de-vervained side to keep compelling him to be their Elena cheat sheet. But after he, Tyler and Nadia play the greatest new drinking game (Who's Mom is the Worst?), Tyler notices that Nadia's compelled Matt, and that Matt's no longer wearing his vervain bracelet. He quickly makes his BFF drink vervain to find out what Nadia's up to.

While these three are having one of the more normal nights the Mystic Grill has probably ever seen, Damon continued being his gleefully bad self. He and Enzo drank what was probably all of Mystic Falls' alcohol, drove their car into the side of the Salvatore mansion, with Aaron's body still in the trunk. Oof, that's just mean. Sorry, Aaron.

Stefan tries to talk Damon down from his ledge, saying that Damon's better than this, but Damon counters that he's better like this. He and Enzo want to find Wes to kill him, thus completing their revenge -- although Wes is off trying to make more Augustine vampires and gets an offer from Travelers, who will pay for his research if he analyzes blood for them (guessing it's the buckets of doppelgänger blood they stole from Stefan and Elena?).

Stefan knows his best chance at getting through to Damon is with Elena, since her dumping Damon is what sent him on his spiral in the first place. Of course, that gives Katherine the perfect opening to invite Stefan to the Bitter Ball that Caroline's dragging her and Bonnie (who in turn is dragging Jeremy) to. And in a moment that probably tore all the Klaroline fans' hearts to pieces, Caroline ceremoniously shredded a photo of her and Tyler along with the drawing of a horse Klaus gave to her way back when. 

Sorry, Klaroline fans:

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Caroline is ready for a fresh start, and honestly, no matter who you 'ship her with, that's the Caroline we like best.

Of course, no one can go to a dance on "TVD" and have a good time. Enzo kidnaps Jeremy to persuade Bonnie to find a witch to do a locator spell to find Wes. Jeremy and Bonnie seem confident that Damon won't let Enzo hurt Jeremy until he reveals -- without any remorse -- that Elena dumped him and he doesn't care what she thinks. That's when everyone realizes they're in real trouble. Well, Katherine doesn't care about Jeremy, but she fakes her worry to keep up appearances and get Stefan to comfort her. But when she turns around: Cue eye roll. It's so perfect. Have we said how perfect Katherine playing Elena is?

It's a good thing Bonnie noticed a girl in her sociology class working some low level magic earlier that morning, so they find her (catering the Bitter Ball, because of course), and Caroline fangs out to scare her into working with Bonnie. Bonnie promises to walk her through the steps of the locator spell (since Bonnie can't work magic anymore as the anchor), but the newbie witch can't control her powers. Methinks Bonnie just found a new protege in witchcraft.

Enzo got tired of waiting, though, and suffocated Jeremy with a plastic bag (which is one of the most brutal things to watch, by the way). Did he really kill Jer? Nope. Katherine and Stefan got to him in the nick of time, and Katherine hilariously gives CPR while being grossed out by Jeremy and saves his life. Damon got the location of Wes from the newbie witch, and Stefan tells Damon never to come back, because he went too far with Jeremy. Damon says he wasn't planning on it (which we kind of believe, because how awkward would it have been for him and Jer to continue being roommates after that?).

Back at the Mystic Grill, Nadia tries to compel Matt to ask him if Elena was ever jealous of Caroline and Stefan (because Katherine noticed how protective Caroline was acting towards him), and he figures out that Elena is really Katherine and Nadia used her Traveler friends to work the body switching spell. It's too late for him to get help though, because Nadia snaps Tyler's neck and makes Matt lie to Tyler about why Nadia was compelling him by threatening to kill him. Should we be worried about him? Katherine wouldn't let her daughter kill Matty Blue Eyes, would she?

Damon and Enzo ambush Wes in his new makeshift lab, but he was waiting for them with a pack of Travelers. They knock out the vampires with a spell and Wes injects Damon with his Augustine serum, a.k.a. Wes just made Damon an Augustine vampire.

Hold up. This changes everything. Not only is Damon going to start feeding and hunting down his fellow vampires, his hunger is going to be insatiable. Remember Jesse? This isn't going to end well for Damon, especially because most of our favorite characters are vampires. But this is also going to make Stefan's mission to save his brother impossible.

You see, after Damon left to hunt down Wes, Stefan and "Elena" had a heart to heart in her dorm room (and by the way, scoring this Stelena scene to "Say Something" was just cheating because this song never fails to bring on the tears). Stefan admits that in the beginning, he was constantly waiting for Damon to screw up his relationship with Elena, but after a while he stopped waiting for that to happen because he liked the person Damon had become with Elena. Yeah, Stefan admitted that he's a Delena shipper!

Of course, this is the opposite of what Katherine wants to hear, because she wants Stefan to be a Stelena shipper. So she decides to play the long con, and gives Stefan the speech Damon once gave to Elena about Stefan. She tells him that she'll help save Damon from himself ... for Stefan, not for her relationship with Damon. She makes it clear that she's in it for Stefan only, and they hug each other in a very intimate way, but Caroline walks in on them before it could progress.

It's great to see that Stefan's love for his brother is still there after all this time, and he still is pulling for Damon and Elena to get back together. But Damon's new status as an Augustine vampire is pretty much a death sentence, since at this point, we don't know if the process is reversible. That won't stop Stefan and Enzo from trying to save him, though. The question is: Can he even be saved, Augustine vampire or not?

And side note: How incredibly eerie was it seeing this week's episode end with a close-up shot of Damon's bloody face just like last week, yet knowing that it meant something so much darker? Last week, he was reveling in his new role as a villain, but this week, he's truly terrified at his new, new role as a villain. The irony in that is just beautiful. 

"The Vampire Diaries" returns Thursday, February 27 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

Photo/Video credit: The CW