'Vampire Diaries': Death, love and betrayal surface on Founder's Day

tvd-ian-somerhalder-nina-dobrev-paul-wesley-320x180.jpgTo soften the blow of not having new episodes of "Vampire Diaries" on our television sets until the fall, here are 10 highlights and/or observations from the jam-packed season finale (in no particular order).

1. Elena finds out her father's identity. When Stefan implies that John (guest star David Anders) is Elena's father before the parade begins, Elena's reaction is a pretty realistic. How would you act when the guy you tolerated for many years turned out to be your biological father? 

2. Elena and Jeremy's relationship hits a major snag. It's heartbreaking to see brother and sister at an impasse, but Elena had to know that Jeremy would somehow find out the truth about Vicki and Damon's "brainwashing." Damon defends Elena, but it doesn't really do any good. It's the idea that Jeremy had no choice in the matter, that he it was decided how he should be feeling in the aftermath. That's not exactly healthy. 

3. Damon takes the high road. At the Founders Day parade, Damon takes the high road and thanks Bonnie for saving him from the device, which could have killed him. It was a simple gesture on his part, but it was beautifully played and makes the upcoming revelation that much more heartwrenching. It was also one of the rare moments during the series where Damon didn't have any type of agenda. When we see John briefing the mayor on his plan to use the complete device in order to kill off all the tomb vampires (meanwhile we see the vamps concocting their own plan of attack to kill all the founding families), Bonnie's betrayal has devastating consequences.

4. Damon's feelings for Elena heats up. Stefan's jealousy act is understandable, but does Elena really not see what's going on here? She keeps saying that she cares for them both, but loves only Stefan, yet is constantly drawn to Damon. But does she feel the same way?

5. After the fireworks begin ... It's no wonder the vamps chose to attack the founding families when the night sky was being lit up like a Christmas tree, but when John turns on the device, it knocks out all the vampires within its radius. With the vampires (including Damon, Stefan and Anna) feeling the wrath of the device, Tyler is affected by the noise as well, but in a different capacity. His aggressive reaction gets the best of him and Tyler crashes the car (with Matt and Caroline in it). While this is happening, John and his crew round up the vampires and throw them in the basement. Anna grabs hold of John before he douses the room with gasoline, but instead of sparing her life, John stakes her while Damon is forced to watch. Then the room goes up in flames.

6. Stefan, Alaric and Elena figure out Bonnie's betrayal. But she redeems herself when she saves Damon from the flames. Later, she unofficially crowns herself as the keeper of the town, when she warns Stefan (and Damon) that they'll pay if any of them hurts an innocent being.

7. Tyler's identity comes to fruition, sort of. Damon sees Mayor Lockwood locked up in the room with the rest of the vampires, but he's not a vamp so ... what's going on?

8. Blood is thicker than water. It takes Stefan a while to realize that he really can't live without Damon, but when his older brother is caught in a life or death situation, Stefan drops everything to save him.

9. Damon and Jeremy suffer together. It's a great scene between the two in Jeremy's bedroom, after Damon sees Anna die right before his very eyes. He took Jeremy's chance to grieve once before and now Damon's giving him a choice. He's grown the most since the start of the season; when Jeremy asks about whether vampires can truly switch their humanity off and on like a switch, Damon tells him the truth. Life, for him, was easier when he didn't feel bad about the things he did, but unfortunately, he's in too deep in Mystic Falls. After Damon leaves, Jeremy takes it upon himself (and lots of pills) to resolve his depression.

10. Damon and Elena's kiss. It was a long time coming. It was tense and bittersweet, but wait, is it really Elena? (If it ain't, poor Damon. It's a neverending cycle! And it's almost not fair for Team Damon.)

Bonus: Katherine's back. After Jenna abruptly ends Damon and Elena's makeout session, Elena makes her way into the kitchen and sees John. She grabs one of the knives and sees the ring on his finger. Suddenly, she slams the knife down on John's fingers, rendering him useless and her demeanor begins to change. Holy crap, it's NOT Elena! We see further proof of this when the real Elena unlocks the front door and telling Stefan that someone took her stuff (cough) from the parade. Elena hears some noise coming from the kitchen and she makes her way toward it (aka the danger zone).

What the heck just happened?! The kiss between Damon and Elena was really between Damon and Katherine? If that's so, that's going to screw Damon up for another century or so. When did Katherine slip in as Elena? Katherine and Elena presumably come face to face? So many questions to ponder and four months to do it. It's going to be a long summer ...

RIP Anna and Mayor Lockwood.

What are your thoughts on the season finale? Did you see the twist coming? Discuss below!