Relationships are all about compromise, but for couples, it's always a question of how much.
And in the dark, intense, and thrilling winter finale of "The Vampire Diaries," Damon's answer to that is: Too much.
Damon has been on his best boyfriend behavior since he and Elena got together, but the revelations about the Augustine project and his past with Enzo and the Whitmores has re-opened an old wound that never really healed properly.
It's also reminded him of who he's been — and that's someone Damon refuses to let Elena be with. "I'm choosing to relieve you from having to defend me from every awful thing I've ever done," he explains, then leaves her to dissolve into tears.
Is this a breakup? Maybe, maybe not. But something's definitely broken.
Here's this week's status update on all the various relationships:
Elena and Damon
Status: On a break, maybe?
The past is very much presents for these two, as Damon quickly figures out that Elena is being held captive for the same experiment that tortured him for so many years. Not only that, but the "friend" he left behind for dead, Enzo, is actually very much alive — and wants to kill him. Damon doesn't want to fight Enzo; he just wants to find Elena. Meanwhile, Elena is learning all sorts of fascinating tidbits about her dad, Grayson, from Dr. Maxfield. Turns out that Grayson Gilbert was Maxfield's predecessor and that he did these experiments to help sick little girls like Megan (Elena's roommate).
She manages to escape, thanks to Stefan. But Damon gets a stark reality check while tussling with Enzo. "You're the most important person in my life and you ruined me," Enzo snarls. "That's just who you are and who you will always be — a monster."
His words haunt Damon so much that he decides to end things with Elena. "I won't change who I am. I can't," Damon says before leaving. Elena crumples with heartbreak.
Elena and Stefan
Status: Not much going on
Doppelganger destiny aside, these two aren't really sparking much lately. But Stefan is clearly still in love with her. When Damon wants to kill Aaron, Stefan gives the poor guy a shot. That's a good thing since Elena has bonded with Aaron and wouldn't want him dead.
Even when Aaron tries to pull one over on Stefan, he doesn't eat him alive. "Not everyone is like my brother," Stefan says. If only Elena were privy to this!
Meanwhile, Aaron finally wakes up and sees what an awful guy his guardian is. When he finds Wes just waking up after being knocked out by Stefan in his lab, Aaron declares that they're through.
Katherine and Stefan
Status: Friends with benefits
Oh, morning afters … so awkward, amirite? It's worse for Katherine, because the last time she did the deed with Stefan, she was young and beautiful. Now she's old and wrinkly. But Nadia gives her a way out: Have a Traveler do the passenger spell on her so that Kat can take over somebody else's body. As vain as always, Katherine refuses to take second best — after all, Stefan really likes the body she's in.
Later, she has a conversation with Stefan, who is understandably reluctant to forgive her. "147 years is a long time to forgive in one night," he says. Kat realizes that he'll never look at her like he looks at Elena, and that propels her to accept Nadia's proposal.
Matt and Nadia
They've been part of a threesome, but Matt and Nadia really don't know each other well. For the first time, they have a real conversation — about their no-good parents of all things. Nadia is frustrated by Katherine's initial refusal to do the passenger spell, and Matt consoles her with tales of his own deadbeat mom. Maybe Nadia was just using Matt in the beginning, and maybe these two are just too far apart to get together, but their moment was sweet.
Unfortunately, just when Kat calls Nadia to accept the plan, she collapses clutching at her left arm. Heart attack?!
Check out Twitter reactions to the winter finale, and then sound off in the comments below.
This episode brought me a million feelings. Can't deal with the fact that Kat is dying and Damon broke up with Elena #TVD— Andreia (@andreiaribeir6) December 13, 2013
So Grayson Gilbert did the wrong things for the right reasons. Just like Damon. #tvd— ECHO (@RevenantDragon) December 13, 2013