'The Vampire Diaries' recap: 'Dead Man on Campus' finally made us care about Augustine vampires

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What seemed like a random new piece of mythology on "The Vampire Diaries" is actually much more relevant than we ever thought. Thursday (Nov. 21) night's episode, "Dead Man on Campus," gave us a major reason to care about the whole Augustine vampire mystery ... Damon was one of the secret society's test subjects back in 1953!

Turns out, Dr. Maxfield is not the first shady guy to run experiments on vampires. He comes from a long line of over 60 years of scientists trying to create a new version of a vampire: one that doesn't feed on human blood. These new, stronger vampires crave vampire blood. The way we know that this isn't just some myth? We saw it firsthand on Jesse.

RIP Jesse, we hardly knew ye. After Maxfield successfully turned Jesse into an Augustine vampire, he attacked Maxfield and escaped, calling on Caroline for help. Another huge reveal: Jesse is Aaron's roommate! While waiting for Caroline to show up, he attacks Aaron, but Caroline steps in before Jesse can do too much harm to him. Side note: how amazing is it that her first reaction to seeing Jesse as a vampire is just annoyance? Nothing shocks this girl anymore.

Caroline and Elena teach Jesse how to be a vampire, including healing Aaron with his blood, and compulsion. Another side note: we are loving this version of vampire Elena! She outright says that being a vampire is awesome. This is like night and day from early Season 4 Elena.

Another upside to Jesse escaping, besides him getting to spend some time with Caroline? He spills the beans about Maxfield to Elena and Caroline. While Elena, Bonnie, and Caroline throw an awesome dorm party (that would have gotten any other college student expelled ... can we enroll in Whitmore College?) and keep an eye on Jesse, Elena calls on Damon to question Maxfield. Of course, he "questions" by injecting the professor with a flesh eating bacteria and rabies. Gross, but effective. Caroline may have a bug up her butt about Damon being Elena, but she can't deny that his way works. Maxfield told Damon all about his experiments to create a new kind of vampire.

Back at the party, Aaron arrives (Elena did compel him to come, after all) and opens up to Elena about his tragic past. His parents were killed while camping due to a "bear" attacking them. Since we have extensive experience with mysterious "animal attacks" in Mystic Falls, it's safe to say that Aaron's parents weren't killed by a bear. Elena then tells Aaron about her dead parents -- both sets -- and they bond over their dead families. Dark, but we're kind of liking this friendship. It works, but only as long as it stays a friendship.

Jesse and Caroline were dirty dancing and making out in the middle of the party (heyo!), and Jesse, overcome with his new Augustine-ness, bites Caroline's lip. The taste of vampire blood triggers his craving, and he rushes off to confront Maxfield about why he's different. Since Damon is already there (and was about to feed Maxfield his own blood to heal him), Jesse attacks him and is about to kill him before Elena stakes him. Like we said earlier, RIP Jesse.

Caroline's (understandably) upset, and pissed at Elena. She thinks that Damon is rubbing off on her and that the old Elena never would have staked Jesse so fast, but we're on Elena's side on this one. Jesse would have killed Damon, and due to his super strength, they wouldn't have been able to stop him. Caroline just can't catch a break in the love department.

While going through Maxfield's stuff after Elena took care of the Jesse issue, Damon comes across a blood bag taken from an Augustine subject. He recognizes the code name on the bag, and the biggest reveal of the night finally gives us a reason to care about all this Augustine business: Damon was an Augustine vampire subject in 1953! He was locked up, experimented on, and escaped, and for 60 years believed the Augustine society was extinct. Maxfield breaks out of his restraints, douses the room in atomized vervain, and knocks Damon unconscious. He locks up Damon back in the same cell he was in 60 years ago. What?!?

What does this mean? Was Damon a failed Augustine subject? Or did he crave vampire blood at one point? What we do know for sure: Damon can teach Stefan a thing or two about how to handle PTSD, if his flashbacks are any sort of indication of the trauma he went through back in the 50s.

Speaking of Stefan's PTSD, he was not doing so hot with his flashbacks to his summer in the safe. Surprisingly, the person who helped him through his panic attacks was Katherine. She made Stefan list all his victims (beginning with his father), and that was able to pierce through the fog and bring Stefan back to the present. Having him name his murder list is kind of dark, but it shows that Katherine truly knows Stefan. She knows his guilt and remorse are his strongest feelings. This whole scene is just foreshadowing to Stefan and Katherine getting back together, right?

Yeah, Stefan and Katherine are totally getting back together. He saved her from committing suicide, for crying out loud! Turns out, the whole aging thing scared Katherine more than dying, and she jumped off the clock tower to her death, but Stefan caught her. He even gave her her old spark back, by telling her, "You're Katherine Pierce. Suck it up." With that, our girl is back, and so is the relationship between Stefan and Katherine that hasn't been present since before Stefan was a vampire.

Before Katherine tried to jump to her death, she had a little mother/daughter bonding with Nadia, though it didn't end up so well. After Matt asked for Katherine's help translating his selfie video (since it was in Czech), Katherine knew exactly what was going on with Gregor. She tells him that travelers are a faction of witches obsessed with human possession, and that he had been "activated" by Nadia's guy. She has Nadia and Stefan watch as she brings Gregor forth, and after Gregor admits that after Silas died, the travelers' new agenda was to find and kill Katherine, she stabs him with his precious blade. She assures Stefan that it won't kill Matt, but it will kill Gregor, as the blade is the only way to truly kill a passenger (she knows this because her father was a passenger).

Nadia is pissed that Katherine killed her boyfriend (even after he admitted he was supposed to kill her, but whatever), and Katherine pulled her mother trump card. She was only looking out for Nadia, but Nadia storms off.

As for Bonnie, she's suffering when each supernatural being goes through her to die, but we agree with her: it's totally worth it if she gets to hook up with Jeremy. Those arms! Little Gilbert can't be called little anymore.

So what did you think of "Dead Man on Campus?" Are you excited to finally delve into the Augustine vampire mystery now that we have a legitimate reason to care about it? Are you worried for Damon? Because we are.

"The Vampire Diaries" airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

Photo/Video credit: The CW