Now we know what Stefan looks like when he's not in love with Elena.
We've seen Stefan as the good guy, the noble brother, the best boyfriend.
But this is Dark Stefan, the one who doesn't care anymore. The one who's willing to partner up with Rebekah (in more ways than one). The one who tells Elena that she and Damon can do whatever they want.
Dark Stefan is scary. Scary and hella sexy.
The hunter becomes the hunted
Klaus urges Jeremy to start killing all the vampires he just turned, but the hunter isn't willing to bow down to the Original. So, Klaus ups the ante by sending the vampires after Matt. (Poor Matt, always the bait.)
Jeremy manages to save him and escape back to the lake house, where Elena is waiting for them. Damon assures her that everything will be OK. "Trust me. I'll keep him safe," he promises as she takes Matt home.
Jeremy and Damon go back to the bar to find the vamps -- except they're all dead thanks to the littlest Original, Kol! Turns out he doesn't want the cure found, because that would mean digging up Silas. And Kol really doesn't want Silas to rise again, trigger the end of all time, etc.
Back at the Salvatore mansion, Rebekah pays Stefan a visit. Since Jeremy's on Team Klaus, they need their own secret weapon -- Professor Shane. And to get his cooperation, they should steal Silas's headstone from him.
Speaking of the shady prof, Shane is trying to help Bonnie meditate. She's still worried about almost killing April, but he assures her that she's in control. Then their session is interrupted by Sheriff Forbes -- they want to question Shane about the gas leak explosion that took out everyone at Pastor Young's house.
With Shane out of the way, Rebekah and Stefan search his office without much luck. She reminisces about the good times they had back in the '20s. (You know, when he wasn't Rippering.)
He admits they did have fun. Maybe it's time they started having some again, she suggests, moving closer and closer to him … when someone suddenly is at the door.
They disappear as an unknown man enters the office and starts searching. It seems he knows where to look as he successfully locates the headstone. Rebekah grabs him: "Who are you?" she wonders. They never find out: He's been compelled to kill himself. Stefan realizes another team is in the race for the cure.
Meanwhile, Elena gets a call from a panicking Jeremy -- he managed to get away from Kol, but now Damon's in trouble. Elena sighs, knowing there's only one person who can help: Klaus. He finds it all very ironic, but she reminds him they're after the same goal. So Klaus rings up his baby brother and tells him not to lay a finger on Jeremy.
Kol agrees, with a suspect smirk on his face. Yeah, he won't touch Jeremy … because he can compel Damon to kill him instead!
Out of control
At the Mystic Falls jailhouse, Bonnie gets her "Law & Order" on and interrogates Shane herself. Is he responsible for the explosion at Pastor Young's house? Yep!
Then he starts talking about her Grams and her spirit-world pain, and Bonnie erupts in anger. She crushes his hand with magic, as her dad Rudy tries to stop her. But a wall of fire keeps him away.
"You like the power," Shane whispers to her. He urges her to believe she's in control. The fire dies down, his hand is fine … Bonnie flees in tears.
With his guidance, Shane tells Rudy, Bonnie will be one of the world's most powerful witches, but "without it, she's a time bomb."
A compelled Damon returns to town, looking for Jeremy. As soon as he spots him, Damon's face changes and Jeremy knows something bad's up. He flees into the subterranean tunnels.
Elena's wondering what the heck is going on, and Damon realizes he must've been compelled. But he can't do anything about it. A helpless Elena calls Stefan -- he might not care about her or Damon anymore, but Jeremy must survive if they want to find the cure.
Jeremy manages to shoot Damon in the head, but he's bleeding and struggling to escape. Elena catches up to Damon and begs him to fight the compulsion. For a moment, it seems Damon just might be able to do it. But then some of Jeremy's blood drops and the chase is back on!
Damon finds a wounded Jeremy, who points a gun with wooden bullets at him. Shoot me, Damon says, in the heart. But just as Jeremy pulls the trigger, Stefan races in, pushes Damon away, then breaks his neck. Day, saved.
Help not wanted
Damon wakes up, groggy and drained of blood. It's the only way to keep him weakened. He wants to see Elena, but Stefan refuses -- she'll just let him go because of the sire bond. Once they find the cure and the sire bond is broken, Stefan says they can do whatever they want.
After leaving Damon, Stefan runs into Elena. She wonders why he's hanging around Rebekah, who has tried to kill Elena before. He reminds her this is the second time Damon's tried to kill Jeremy, so … shrug. He reiterates his new "I don't care" motto.
Elena says this isn't like Stefan. He shrugs. "You've just never seen me like this," he says. "You don't know what I look like when I'm not in love with you." Oh, snap!
Later, Stefan drops by Rebekah's bedroom for a late-night "chat" aka a booty call. "No feelings, no attachments," she warns. "None whatsoever," he replies as they tear off each other's clothes.
Over at Elena's house, Klaus invites Jeremy to stay with him so he'll be safe from Kol. Jeremy refuses, but Klaus warns him that he'll keep creating new vampires and Jeremy will have to keep killing them.
After he leaves, Jeremy hates that this will never end. Either Kol will kill him, or he'll have to continue endangering himself to stake vampires.
Elena considers. If you kill an original, she muses, you kill their entire line. They could take care of two problems at once.
New plan: Kill Kol.
Check out what fans on Twitter said about this week's "The Vampire Diaries," and then sound off with your thoughts in the comments below!
nervous watching #thevampirediaries i dont expect stefan & elena back together,after everything that happened. Stefan is better off w/o her.— Poppy manurung (@POKSTAR02) January 25, 2013
Bonnie goes through so much. I feel bad for her. #thevampirediaries— Neelam Narayan (@neelamn16) January 25, 2013
"The Vampire Diaries" airs Thursdays at 8 PM on The CW.