No. We are not losing Stefan for good. I'm not allowing myself to cry because there's no way they won't figure out a way to bring him back from The Other Side. Bonnie? Fine. Let her go. Enzo and his chest hair? I'd miss them both, but I'm not that attached. But Stefan? If this was really the beginning of his permanent end, it would be Will Gardner-level of shock. (Throwing-a-bottle-of-wine-at-the-wall shock, for those who don't watch The Good Wife.) It'd certainly be poetic: He got to see Damon and Elena together again, die defending his best friend Caroline, and have his heart ripped out while by a car (Enzo would appreciate that symmetry). But again, no.
When I spoke to Paul Wesley last month about next week's season finale, he said, "Without revealing too much, it actually is much worse for another character.... The cliffhanger in season 5 is that one of the leads ends up in a place that is quite dismal-looking for future hope.” He confirmed again it wasn't Stefan when I started guessing: "Correct.... That leaves 12 others. Good luck!” Is he talking about Tyler? About Bonnie? Or is he just a fantastic liar? Let's dig in.
We opened with Damon torturing a local Passenger-carrying banker. He was trying to find out where Markos had taken Elena and Stefan. I loved how Damon made himself comfortable on the couch -- that's some long exposition, get comfortable Ian Somerhalder. Caroline showed up in time to hear the guy say there's no way to stop Markos now.
Markos was somewhere draining Elena and Stefan of their blood. Clearly, he was feeding them just enough to keep them from desiccating -- replenish and drain some more. Good plan. "You have enough," Elena said, after she spit some of her ration out into his face. He cut her arm again and said he wouldn’t have enough until she couldn't speak. Someone came into Stefan's cell and released him. He healed pretty damn quickly. He looked normal when he walked into Elena's cell. They escaped, and Stefan was able to call Damon collect to find out they'd been gone for four days. Elena, meanwhile, was sucking at "squirrel slaughter" (cue Damon's A Christmas Story joke and imagining him watching that by the fireplace -- is there a TV in that room?). Stefan said he and Elena would find their way back, and Damon vowed to find and kill Markos before he could do whatever he wanted to do with all that blood. "Time to strap on the hero hair," Damon quipped. Ha! We could barely enjoy that line before Enzo made his presence known.
At least Bonnie was there to translate. Enzo wanted to be brought back to the living asap. Damon said he was delegating and Bonnie should do it: Just have Liv include Enzo in her plan to save Bonnie. Bonnie was about to tell him why that wasn't an option -- there is no such plan -- when Jeremy arrived. Damon left with him.
We got to watch Elena and Stefan try to amuse themselves walking on a road very much less traveled. It's a credit to the writers and the actors that I totally believed Stefan when he said Elena and Damon are miserable without each other, so she should be with him if she wants to be. All vampires are toxic on some level, he said. There was no guilt, no agenda. He meant it. Which is why Stefan is the best.
NEXT: Think happy thoughts of unicorns, rainbows, and Caroline