'The Vampire Diaries' recap: Stefan's amnesia allows for a nostalgic hour while Bonnie finally gets a proper send off

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A fun day of drinking with friends in the woods turned into an emotionally devastating, real funeral as Bonnie finally got the proper closure about dying in Thursday's all-new "The Vampire Diaries." Plus, Stefan's amnesia gave us a nostalgic hour as we revisited important "TVD" milestones and memories, a fan-favorite character returned, and a new favorite character died ... but he'll be coming back to life confused, afraid, and probably more than a little pissed off at one Dr. Wes "Dickfield" Maxfield. Yeah, "For Whom the Bell Tolls" was a busy, shocking, heartbreaking hour, to say the least. Grab your tissues, and let's dive right in.

Thanks to Tessa's brain-melting spell last week, Stefan is officially a blank slate. That means not only does he not recognize his brother or his ex-girlfriend, he doesn't even recognize himself. A.k.a., he doesn't know he's a vampire. Time to enroll him in Vampire Amnesia 101, led by Professor Damon Salvatore. But before he can explain Stefan's history, he first has to prove they're vampires to a skeptical Stefan ... so, he flips a car, and when they both come out unscathed (And laughing! Love these bro-ments), Stefan finally accepts his reality and they can move on to the more important things.

Damon is Stefan's trusty vampire spirit guide, telling him all the ins and outs of being a bloodsucker, and how Stefan is just a little bit ... well, special when it comes to human blood. Damon tells him that he feeds from blood bags only, since taking blood straight from a human will bring out his inner Ripper.

However, new, happy, carefree, memory-less Stefan poses a good point: Without all of his previous 200 years of trauma and guilt and bad memories, will his Ripper ways still be present, or can he feed on humans without the risk of killing them? Since Damon and Elena believe the Ripper addiction might be hardwired into his brain, they won't let him take the chance to find out.

During all his explanations and story tellings, Damon hasn't had the chance to cover Elena/Stefan's love story yet, so Stefan hardly even knows Elena's name -- which is just weird after watching their saga unfold for over four seasons. You know what that means? Elena and Stefan are officially reset.

Sure, Elena's still happily in love with Damon, but watching these two going around town, seeing all their old haunts reliving all their old pivotal relationship memories (Elena was trying to distract Stefan from his hunger for human blood), it's hard to even remember that it's the season of Delena. Stefan, without all his baggage, and Elena, glad to see Stefan so free, are just plain happy together, like we've never seen before. Even in Season 1 when Stefan and Elena were first getting together, Stefan was harboring so many secrets about his past that he wasn't this free. It's heartbreaking to see them finally get to this point, knowing they can't act on it. Elena even tells Stefan the Stelena mantra: "You were the perfect boyfriend. You valued what I wanted even if it wasn't what you agreed with." You know, that philosophy that resulted in Elena becoming a vampire? Yup, that's the one.

Clearly, Stefan was falling for Elena all over again, and she was caught up in the nostalgia so much that they almost kiss, but then Elena pulls back and tells him she's with Damon. The hurt and betrayal on Stefan's face as he processes the news that his ex-girlfriend is with his brother is like reliving the story all over again, all the painful heartaches in rapid succession. And just like that, his hunger returns, and he disappears.

Stefan encounters Caroline in the woods, and he recognizes her from pictures he's been studying. He knows she's his best friend, but without his platonic memories of her, he fans the flames of Steroline shippers every by telling her that she's "even hotter in person." Anyone else start to the get the feeling that if Stefan's amnesia is permanent, we might finally have an in to a legit Steroline hookup? If it could ever possibly happen, these would certainly be the right circumstances.

But wait, what was Caroline doing back in Mystic Falls? It turns out, Caroline's been studying with hot upperclassman Jesse, both as a way to get closer to shady Prof. Dickfield since Jesse's his TA, and because he's cute (Tyler apparently stopped answering her calls/calling her at all, so can you blame her for wanting to move on to someone who's actually there? No, we don't either. Get it, girl!). She brings Jesse to Mystic Falls' Rememberance Day, which is basically just day drinking in the graveyard, and ringing a bell for all those who have died. Damon's hilarious quip about the Salvatore family history to Stefan was perfect: "We have our father, who art in hell. Our uncle Zach ... my bad. At least our mother died of consumption."

After studying all day (Seriously, who studies when there is ample day-drinking opportunities around? You guys are doing college wrong), Jesse abruptly leans in and kisses her! "I've been wanting to do that since move-in day," he tells her cutely. She's so shocked, but a good kind of shocked, right? These two are adorable.

Their study date doesn't end so well, though, since after Stefan runs into Caroline and Jesse in the woods, he threatens to rip Jesse's arm off -- apparently he has a paper cut that Stefan can smell. Caroline compels him to hide while she helps Stefan. But Stefan goes after Jesse and attacks him. Caroline stops Stefan from killing Jesse, and Stefan pretty much breaks down, venting about how even though he's the good, moral, safe vampire, his brother stole his girlfriend, and his girlfriend let it happen. "What's the point in being good?" he asks Caroline desperately, and she (nor we) can come up with a suitable answer. He's got a point: Despite battling his demons and being a good person, the world dealt him such crappy cards. Stefan runs off, and Caroline saves Jesse with her blood and apologizes for everything -- bringing him into this, Stefan's attack, and even letting him kiss her. That's gotta be the worst first date ever ... though this is Mystic Falls, so there are probably some stories that are way worse.

Another messed-up romantic tale? The ongoing tragic saga of Beremy, since Bonnie still won't let Jeremy tell anyone that she's dead, and not traipsing around the world on a vacation. One upside to being a ghost? Since there's no Netflix on the Other Side, Jeremy working out is Bonnie's entertainment (Ours too, and we have Netflix!). But Jeremy is once again getting fed up with keeping Bonnie's secret, especially after Matt calls him freaking out about his newly-discovered blackouts. Matt knows something supernatural is going on inside his noggin, and he needs Bonnie's help. He begs Jeremy to get her to come back home, and Jeremy panics, suddenly realizing that everyone is literally waiting for Bonnie to swoop in and save the day.

Since Jeremy knows that physically can't happen, he cracks and tells Damon, who in turn freaks out because knowing this means everything in Elena's life -- and his -- will change. But instead of rashly acting out and hurting Jeremy like he used to, he sweetly hugs him like a big brother should. This hug is everything, and probably almost broke the internet. So how will they break the news to Elena that her best friend died saving her brother? Damon, to his credit, tries to do it right away but Stefan missing takes priority, due to his amnesia and Ripper capabilities.

After feeling betrayed by both Damon and Elena, Stefan resurfaces at the Salvatore mansion, burns his diaries, packs up and moves out, essentially "dumping" Damon and Elena. The one person he does trust to help him through his amnesia and blood addiction? His best friend Caroline (Seriously, are we heading towards Steroline?). Elena is still holding on to the hope that Bonnie can swoop in and help save the day and make everything okay, so Damon finally breaks the news to her: Bonnie's dead.

Elena's breakdown is kind of reminiscent of Willow on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" during Buffy's mother's funeral episode, "The Body," as she freaks out over not having the right clothes to wear. You see, now that Jeremy finally clued everyone in to Bonnie's death, they decide to have a proper funeral for their best friend. How did everyone else find out?

After Jeremy left him high and dry with his blackout problem, Matt decides to record himself all night to see if he does anything strange. And the recording definitely clues Matt in to something strange. Matt sees himself wake up, answer a call on his phone, and his eyes flash black ... obviously, it's Nadia on the other line bringing Gregor out. Matt hears himself speak in a foreign language, and then as he sees he is being recorded, Gregor walks up to the camera to deliver a message for Matt. He introduces himself as the passenger inside of him and tells him to protect a mysterious blade at all costs because his "friends" will come looking for it. He threatens to cut Matt's throat if he doesn't, and cuts his palm, proving he holds Matt's life in his hands. Freaking out, Matt calls Jeremy over again, and Jeremy comes over but before Matt can say anything, he breaks the news about Bonnie.

We don't get to see how Jeremy tells Caroline about Bonnie, but when she meets up with Stefan after he moved out of the Salvatore mansion, Stefan promises to help her through her grief over her friend's death.

Finally, Bonnie gets her funeral. The affair was as emotional as Alaric's send off back before he was forcefully turned into an Original vampire/vampire hunter. Everyone brings something meaningful from their relationship with Bonnie to the woods: Caroline brings a pom pom from the time they spent together on the squad in Season 1, Matt brings a whistle from when Bonnie brought him back to life after drowning in a pool in order to see Vicki's ghost, Elena brings feathers from when Bonnie revealed she was a witch and made feathers float in the air, and Damon brings her grimoire. 

And what really brought the tears? Tyler shows up, in a suit, bringing a flower to lay on the pile of memories. While it was beautiful seeing him surprise everyone by showing up to support his fallen friend, and his grieving friends, it raises so many questions: Is he back for good? What does this mean for Caroline and Tyler? What was he doing with the wolf pack in the Appalachian Mountains, and is it finished? Is he going to enroll in Whitmore College? What about Jesse?

Ah but for poor Jesse, girl problems will be the least of his problems now. Back at Whitmore, Dr. Maxfield examines Jesse after he comes back from Rememberance Day with a huge chunk of his memories missing. During his medical tests, he discovers there is vampire blood in Jesse's system, and all of a sudden, without warning, injects Jesse with poison, killing him to create a new vampire. What the what?!

"For Whom the Bell Tolls" was a nostalgic, heartbreaking, emotional, shocking, devastating hour that reset a lot of pivotal relationships, raised some interesting questions, and gave some real closure for Bonnie's death. During her funeral, she was right there alongside all her friends, and even gave her own eulogy. She promised all her friends that even though they can't see her, she'll always be there, with them every step of the way.

What did you think of Thursday's episode? Did you notice some familiar tunes in the background of some major nostalgic moments? That's because the song playing during Bonnie's funeral was by the same artist, Birdy, that performed the song that played during Season 2's Aunt Jenna funeral. Heartstrings, you have been tugged. 

"The Vampire Diaries" airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

Photo/Video credit: The CW
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