'The Vampire Diaries' Season Finale: Does Elena Choose Stefan or Damon?

Graduation looms as Bonnie works to restore the veil.

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When a door closes, a window opens.

It's the end of an era on "The Vampire Diaries" as the Mystic Falls gang finally graduates from high school. But their adventures are just beginning, as they go off to college, hit the road, and embark on new relationships.

Season 4 has thrown a lot of changes at these characters. Elena now loves Damon, not Stefan. Bonnie is dead. Jeremy was dead and is alive again. Matt is road-tripping with Rebekah. Caroline ... well, Caroline is still the same girl who's in love with Tyler. (Then again, there seemed to be more than gratitude in her eyes when Klaus told her that Tyler was free.)

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Katherine is human (!); Stefan is locked in a safe at the bottom of a lake (!!) while his doppelganger, Silas (!!!), is roaming around with a vengeance.

A supernatural apocalypse

With their dead friends back, everyone's having a grand old time. Lexi and Stefan are getting drunk, while Elena is chowing down with Alaric and Jeremy. Damon is skeptical about all this — wasn't Bonnie supposed to put the veil back up? Did something go wrong?

Caroline calls Bonnie, who says she hit a "snag" (aka death) and has to wait for the full moon that night to cast the spell. Maybe they should cancel graduation? As if! "It's the most important event of our lives. The last ceremony of our youth. It is a rite of freaking passage," Caroline huffs. Caroline Forbes graduates!

Well, not if some of the supernatural beings have anything to do with. More spirits have shown up in Mystic Falls, and led by Kol, they are not happy. The hunters have banded together to finish their job: hunt down Silas and make him take the cure. Rebekah's ex, Alexander, has forced Matt to stand on a bomb; one move and he's toast. Connor threatens to blow up all the nice human relatives in town for the ceremony. And Vaughn shows up at the Salvatore mansion and shoots Damon in the shoulder.

Alaric goes to deal with Connor, while Stefan rips out Vaughn's heart. Rebekah comforts Matt with visions of an epic road trip; she wants to show him Italy, the Northern Lights, the Great Wall of China. "It's a date," Matt says. If he doesn't get blown into a million pieces, of course.

At school, Katherine tracks down Bonnie -- she wants the immortality she was promised. When Bonnie admits that she can't do it, Katherine is pissed. She vows to take out the person whose life she should have: Elena!

Pomp and circumstance

Speaking of Elena, she wants to have a Talk with Damon. Of course, he brushes it off by giving her a graduation present — the cure. But as much as Elena wants it, the hunters are threatening the whole town to get it. So, she can't accept, but then she notices something ... Damon's wound isn't healed. Vaughn's bullet was laced with werewolf blood! Somebody call Klaus!! Then Elena has another idea: What if Damon took the cure? The werewolf blood wouldn't kill him.

Meanwhile, Lexi has a BFF heart-to-heart with Stefan: Does he still have feelings for Elena? "She's the love of my life. I'd go back to her in a heartbeat," Stefan admits. But only if she wants him. If she chooses Damon, he'll leave town and start over.

Spirit Vaughn reanimates, and Damon, who's SO not taking the cure, drags him off to find Silas and give it to him. At the lake, Vaughn figures out that Damon has been lying and starts shooting him. Luckily, Alaric shows up to break his neck. Phew! But seriously, where's Klaus?

Elsewhere, Matt's still balancing on that bomb, but he has a thought: He's wearing the ring. If Rebekah detonates the bomb, he won't die. (How would all those little bits come back together, though? Eww.) She agrees and kisses him, but JK — she took his place on the bomb. Go to graduation, Rebekah says. After Matt runs, she zips away and the bomb explodes, (relatively) harmlessly.

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Everyone meets up at graduation. "I can't believe it. We're actually all here. We're all here together," Caroline cries. Group-hug time (even Stefan reluctantly joins in)! Bonnie is all teary and nostalgic, though none of the others realize that she's saying goodbye. They march across the stage to receive their diplomas from Bonnie's dad.

But in the audience, Kol shows up behind Bonnie's seat. He wants her to lower the veil completely, but she lures him to the school's boiler room and traps him there.

Meanwhile, the others are still trying to reach Klaus on the phone when an angry witch ghost overcomes them with the shrieking sound. Suddenly, she's decapitated — yay!!! Klaus is here to save the day! Caroline gives him a huge grin. Admit it, girl. You like him.

Moving on

After graduation, Caroline is still at the football field cleaning up when Klaus comes up with a present of his own — he's freed Tyler to return to Mystic Falls. "He's your first love," Klaus tells her. "I intend to be your last ... however long it takes." He kisses her cheek and she looks tempted. Somehow, we have a feeling she might one day visit him in New Orleans.

At the mansion, Elena seeks out Stefan. But she doesn't tell him what he hopes to hear. Instead, she wants to give him the cure. "You deserve it," she says.

Then, she goes to resume The Talk with Damon. He's not sorry for refusing the cure; he'd rather die than grow old as she stays the same. She's not sorry, either — "not sorry that I met you. I'm not sorry that knowing has made me question everything."

"I'm not sorry that I'm in love with you," she says. They fall into each other's arms.

Stefan's heard everything. Lexi tries to comfort him, but his face says it all: He's heartbroken. And it breaks our hearts, too.

He goes to load Silas's body into the car. Damon comes out to help, but Stefan turns him down. It's a totally awkward moment for the brothers. But Stefan is too stand-up to rain on Damon's love parade. "I'm not happy about Elena," he says. "But I'm not not happy for you, either." Awww. These brothers.

At school, Bonnie is casting the spell to restore the veil, with Jeremy alongside her. First, Alaric disappears after congratulating Damon on getting the girl. Then Lexi does, after she tells Stefan that there will be other epic loves in his life. Then Kol departs after he tries to attack Elena.

But where he left off, Katherine steps in! She and Elena engage in a knockdown, drag-out fight, and Kat gets the upper hand. She's just about to skewer her doppelganger when Elena stuffs the cure in her mouth. Yup, seems that Stefan didn't accept the gift and left it to her. Katherine chokes it down -- after centuries, she's human again!

Down in the cave, the fires flicker out. The spell is complete. But Jeremy is still there! WTF? Bonnie smiles; it worked. She was able to bring him back. But he realizes that he can't feel her in his arms ... because she's dead. Bonnie says it'll be OK, since he can see ghosts, and then asks him to tell Elena and Caroline that she's spending the summer with her mom. She walks off with Grams into the darkness.

At the quarry, sad Stefan is preparing to dump Silas's stone body into the lake, when he realizes ... uh, those rocks aren't Silas! Elena comes up behind him, but it's not Elena — it's Silas!

S/he says that every spell has a loophole, and since the witch who cast it (Bonnie) is dead, Silas could get around it. And, what's more, he was the one who created the immortality spell, and he can't die, so it has no loophole. But nature found a way to balance that out by creating his doppelganger. What? Another Katherine/Elena look-alike? How many of them are out there?

Nope. Silas's doppelganger is Stefan! He locks Stefan into a safe and pushes it into the lake.

Inside, Stefan gasps for air as the water sweeps over him...

So where are all the couples at the end of Season 4? Our 'shipper-cap:

  • Elena and Damon: In love and together.
  • Elena and Stefan: Dunzo.
  • Caroline and Tyler: Soon to be together again.
  • Caroline and Klaus: On hold, but there's still a spark.
  • Caroline and Stefan: We still dream.
  • Bonnie and Jeremy: In love but she's a ghost.
  • Matt and Rebekah: Heading on a road trip together, but he doesn't want a relationship.
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