'The Vampire Diaries' recap: The heart is a lonely hunter

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"The Vampire Diaries" -- "O Come, All Ye Faithful"

Nina Dobrev as Elena, Steven R. McQueen as Jeremy and Ian Somerhalder as Damon in "O Come, All Ye Faithful," the ninth episode of "The Vampire Diaries" Season 4.

Warning: Major spoilers ahead!

Just when it seems like Klaus might have a heart -- and even Stefan feels pity for him -- he does something to remind us how despicable, how brutal, how ... well, Klaus he is.

What separates Stefan, Caroline, and the "good vampires" from Klaus is that they have love and family connections. Klaus doesn't care about anyone but himself, and he has ended up alone.

Loved ones can be your weakness -- which is why he kills Carol Lockwood. It's the ultimate revenge on Tyler for leading the plan to kill Klaus.

It's going to be a not-merry-at-all Klausmas.

Back to regularly scheduled programming

Elena and Damon wake up in bed, this time fully clothed. He feels guilty for not keeping his word to Stefan to break her sire bond. But they put the issue on ice so that he can accompany her to the lake house, where Bonnie is trying to teach Jeremy not to kill his sister.

When they get to the house, Jeremy again tries to stake Elena. This deprogramming thing might take a while. Professor Shane is there to help and says they need to condition Jeremy's subconscious. They hypnotize him, and Elena says their parents "would've wanted us to stick together, to fight for each other." But it doesn't work; Jeremy still wants to kill her.

[Related: 'Vampire Diaries' boss on the big death, Elena and Damon's struggles, more]

Damon notes that using Elena to appeal to Jeremy's warm and fuzzy feelings is like "dangling a cheeseburger to someone on a master cleanse." He suggests that they use Bonnie to deprogram Jeremy. The two exchange googly eyes.

Beremy fans, there might be hope!

Alpha and omega

At his house, Klaus shows Stefan his secret weapon: a sword that will decode Jeremy's mark!

Meanwhile, Tyler and his hybrids are planning to kill Klaus that night. They found a witch and plan to use the body-switching spell. Then they'll bury the body containing Klaus in cement. So whose body are they going to use? Tyler's!

Caroline is not happy about that idea, but he's determined. "This started with me. This has to end with me," he tells her.

She calls Stefan right away: If the hybrids kill Klaus, they need to get that sword first. Unfortunately, when Stefan breaks open the safe it was in, it's not there. He zooms around Klaus's mansion, looking for it, but stumbles across a trunk of old love letters instead.

At the charity auction, Stefan pleads with Tyler to hold off on killing Klaus, but Tyler and his pack of hybrids don't want to wait and hold him and Caroline hostage.

Tyler runs into his mom and lets her in on the plan. Carol is sad to lose him but proud that he's taking on a leadership role -- just like his dad once did.

Fix you

Back at the lake house, Damon wonders again why he shouldn't just kill Shane. The professor reveals a very good reason: He knows where the cure is ... he's been there!

He tells them the story of a witch named Silas, who loved a girl so much he wanted to spend eternity with her. Silas's best friend cast an immortality spell but then got jealous and killed the girl. Silas, no longer wanting to be immortal, created a cure to overturn the spell -- but his friend buried him and the cure before he could use it.

Shane explains that Jeremy's hunter's mark holds the spell they need to dig up Silas. But he won't tell them where the tomb is just yet.

Meanwhile, Jeremy's session with Bonnie is over. He approaches his sister, stake in hand ... but after looking at Bonnie, turns it over to Damon. It worked! He hugs a relieved Elena.

Damon calls Stefan to fill him in -- lying about Elena's whereabouts and the fact that he didn't debond her yet -- and informs him that Shane can help them find the tomb. They don't need the sword -- or Klaus.

Winter is coming

Caroline goes to Tyler with the news and an idea: Instead of using his body to house Klaus, why not use Rebekah's? She's still daggered in a coffin.

He agrees, but Hayley's got her own agenda. After Tyler leaves, she breaks Caroline's neck and takes off. Poor, clueless April stumbles upon "dead" Caroline and starts to scream for help, when Caroline recovers. She calls Stefan to make sure Hayley doesn't steal Rebekah's body, then compels April to forget.

Except April can't be compelled; she's wearing Jeremy's vervain bracelet! Ruh-roh.

Meanwhile, Klaus finds Stefan; he knows something's up, Caroline's been too nice to him. They chat about the love letters, which Klaus uses to remind himself of his loneliness.

Tyler runs into Hayley and asks why she isn't with the others, waiting to kill Klaus in the cellar. She admits that there's no witch and she had her own plan -- that she needed 12 for "the sacrifice" (that whole "expression" magic that Professor Shane is teaching Bonnie).

"What sacrifice?" a horrified Tyler asks. Hayley urges him to run for it.

At that very moment, Klaus finds the other hybrids and murders them one by one. And he's looking for the last person -- Tyler.

Love hurts

Back at the lake house, Damon wistfully watches as a happy Elena spends time with Jeremy. When she comes out to talk to him, he sadly notes that Christmas was his and Stefan's favorite holiday when they were kids.

He has to do the right thing by her and by Stefan -- he has to free her from the bond. He tells her he'll stay to help Jeremy complete the mark, and that Elena should go home. And she does (but not without a last kiss).

Over at the Salvatore mansion, Caroline is upset that she can't find April or Tyler. She ends up spilling to Stefan that Elena and Damon were together at the lake house. He's shocked, and asks, "How together are they?" The look on her face says it all. Stefan proceeds to tear apart the house.

A heartsick Tyler goes to the scene of the hybrid-killing crime and sees all the dead bodies. He visits Rebekah's coffin, then takes off without seeing April. She somehow found her way there, and opens the coffin of her missing BFF. Oh, April ... you're going to do something you will probably really, really regret.

Meanwhile, back at the auction, a tipsy Carol Lockwood leaves a message for Tyler needing a ride home. Klaus -- bloody from all his killing -- shows up, says they're both looking for Tyler. She pleads with him not to hurt her son, he's all she has. She's all he has, too, Klaus notes before drowning her.

RIP Mayor Lockwood.

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