This is poetic: Elena always loved Stefan because he respected her choice. It's why we thought they were great together. Now, in order to do what's "right" -- and break the rare vampire sire bond Elena feels for Damon -- Damon has to go against her wishes and set her free by telling her not to care about him. Judging from the promo for next week's midseason finale, he won't be able to do it -- yet. So the question is: Does that mean he loves her as much as Stefan does, or did he just accidentally abuse the sire bond again to get her to beg him not to let her go? Let's dig in.
Damon woke up happy in his bed shirtless, and Elena quickly joined him wearing his shirt. Just like last week's hot sex scene was cooled by cuts to Caroline and Stefan discussing the sire bond, so was this morning delight. Caroline told Stefan, who'd slept on her couch, that Elena's one desire now is to make Damon happy. Maybe it wouldn't affect her the same way the hybrid sire bond affects Tyler. Well, I don't recall seeing Tyler and Klaus kiss each other's torso as foreplay. Though, Tyler probably would like to make Klaus bleed -- just not by scratching his back during sex. (For the record, I'd watch that show, too.)
Damon wanted to wait a day to tell Stefan about them being a couple, and Elena, of course, eventually agreed. Stefan showed up as she was leaving Salvatore Mansion, and she and Damon looked pretty guilty, but Stefan ever brought it up. Once alone with Damon, Stefan told him about the sire bond theory, and though Damon said it was ridiculous, he agreed to tell Elena it was okay to drink from a blood bag and see if she was able to stomach it. Damon later showed up at school -- because Mystic Falls High still has the worst security ever -- and told her he thought a blood bag might work this time, and it did. She hugged and kissed him; he went home to prep for a flashback.
It turns out this one in a million thing has happened to Damon twice. Back in 1942, he turned a girl named Charlotte who adored him. When he went to arrange for a musician to be her next victim, he told her to not show mercy if anyone tried to touch his drink. A poor sailor spilled his drink, and she snapped his neck. He had to break the bond, so he found a witch named Valerie La Marche, who said she could do it. It was convenient that the boys headed to New Orleans to find her (or an ancestor) since Elena had organized a girls night so Caroline could try and fail to not be judgmental, Bonnie could introduce us to Shane's "spirit tea" that allegedly allows her to do natural magic without accessing the spirits, and Elena could drink from a blood bag before moving on to the brothers' Dom Perignon.
In New Orleans, we learned that Stefan had served in WWII but Damon hadn't, supposedly because he preferred to tend to the lady folk who'd been left behind. After Stefan argued that the sire bond may not alter Elena's feelings for Damon but it does hinder her ability to acknowledge how wrong Damon is for her, he apologized. Cut back to 1942, when Lexi had Stefan practicing apologizing to Damon for blaming him for his blood lust and becoming a ripper.
This is the best flashback hair we've ever seen, right? Right. Stefan, who'd spent 20 years turning his life around, told Damon he wanted to bury the hatchet, and Damon, god bless him, immediately shook Stefan's hand. Turns out Damon did want to go to Egypt and drive an ambulance with Stefan on the front line if it meant spending time with his brother, but Lexi told Damon not to go. After Charlotte arrived to bring Damon human take out and shaky Stefan got the victim's blood on his hands, the duos parted ways. Back to present day: Maybe the guys should've called ahead before making the trip to New Orleans. Not knowing where to find the witch, Stefan suggested they look for Charlotte. The last time Damon saw her, he'd told her to count every brick in every building in New Orleans and he'd meet her in the morning on this one corner -- then he left town. Stefan wanted to see if she was still on that corner.
She wasn't, so the brothers had time to fight over whether or not to tell Elena about the sire bond. Damon didn't want to, obviously. He thinks Stefan just wants to break it so Elena will be Team Stefan again. "Hunt me down if you stop being a d---," Damon said, as he walked off for a drink. Stefan heard him attacked... by Charlotte... with kisses. She said she knew he'd return, and she must have counted literally every brick on every building in New Orleans. That was my first clue that the witch hadn't broken the bond.
Charlotte insisted she'd lived a full life. But maybe not. Just like you listen to a song that reminds you of someone when it's been long enough that it brings back good memories not bad, she's been counting bricks to remember the good times with Damon for decades, she said. "That's a really long time. Stop listening to the same song," Stefan deadpanned. At least that means she knows New Orleans better than anyone.
NEXT: Damon killed 12 people, then made us cry