It's been a common complaint among The Vampire Diaries fans that when it came to most of the central characters, they've long seemed pretty unkillable. There was always this spell or that cure or such and such loophole or the other side that could save our heroes from saying a true forever-style good-bye. But with just a handful of episodes to go, things are starting to get serious and the stakes (pardon the pun) are higher than ever for everyone.

There've been a lot of immortal baddies to come and go with their supposed invincibility -- lookin' at you, Klaus -- but Cade (Wolé Parks), who is by and large the Devil himself, is the real deal. Not only can he not be harmed through traditional fighting means, but he's a mind-reader and telekinetic flame-thrower -- a "pyromaniac" to borrow Damon's phrase, at that. Plus, you know, he's pure evil incarnate. He's the perfect villain to close things out, really, because he tests not only the strengths and fortitude of those left piecing together the mess that is Mystic Falls, but he's about as bad as it can possibly get for these "people." If they can conquer this nemesis, there's nothing they can't do. The question is: Can they? Or will their strength of mind and soul be compromised forevermore by what he requires of them?

<em>The Vampire Diaries</em>, The CWThe Vampire Diaries, The CW

We had to know coming into tonight that Stefan (Paul Wesley) was not long for the caged world with Cade on the loose. But Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Caroline (Candice King) clearly thought they'd have more time to caress his humanity back into existence by way of pancakes and long heart-to-heart chats and whatnot. Unfortunately, that's not the case at all because Cade has sprung him from his trappings before breakfast can even begin. Bummer.

Cade also has a mission for Damon, should he choose to accept. And it's an offer he really can't afford to refuse. He's charged with either killing 100 people whose souls were scarred enough to earn placement in his underlair, or take out Caroline Forbes. Damon's trying to be a better person now that his own humanity is back in play, so he puts on his best steely-eyed thinker face and gets to work coming up with a Plan B. Problem is, there is no good backup option, so he ends up spending most of his time waiting out his deadline and pontificating with Caroline as the Mystic Grill, where they've advised the few remaining humans in town to duck out until the coast is clear.

Meanwhile, Matt's (Zach Roerig) courted Dorian to do a little digging into a family artifact that's been discovered at the Time Capsule Day the town's celebrating for convenience's sake. Caroline's found her own little time capsule that she, Bonnie and Elena made when they were 11, and it's filled with tear-jerking pictures of her mom and the girls together and all of their hopes for the future -- among their innocent wishes, meeting Justin Timberlake and winning Tony Awards, as children do. But Matt's thing might have something useful to it, if Dorian's keen eye (and future degree in Cult Studies) can be of any use.

It's a good thing Dorian is so good with weird, because things don't quite go as peacefully as our friends might've planned at the Mystic Grill. Knowing what they're facing, Caroline tries to offer Matt a blood margarita -- emphasis on the blood -- but he impolitely declines, citing the monstrous things he knows she's done in the name of vampirism. Old Caroline would've been broken by such an affront, but New Caroline shrugs off the insult and says that she doesn't regret becoming a vampire, so there. Dorian asks her for more details about her second life, and after filling him in, she hands him his own little cocktail with that special ingredient in it so that he can choose whether to imbibe in the afterlife if and when things go south with Damon's non-plan for saving the town.

He ultimately chooses not to take the drink, though, because once Cade shows up and starts killing people in the bar to nudge Damon along in his duty of the day, he sees exactly what it looks like when a vampire -- even a good one, as Damon's trying to be -- puts fangs to a person's neck. It ain't pretty, and he wants no part of it. Matt approves of his decision not to get into "that life."

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The other big revelation that comes with Cade's unwelcome visit is that Damon isn't the only one who had the same deal -- killing 100 civilians or the brother's lady love. He presented the same A or B option to Stefan, and guess which one he chose? Noooooo. Yes. Now it's really real, guys. Damon tries to offer to off Caroline or anyone else Cade wants if it means keeping Elena safe -- sorry, Carebear, but there are just limits to how much this friendship matters to him -- but it's for naught. This wasn't some either-or scenario. Damon had his own task, and Stefan had his. And according to Cade, Stefan was all too happy to choose Elena's death over 100 people he wouldn't blink twice about killing (remember, he's in Ripper mode right now) anyway. It's personal this time.

<em>The Vampire Diaries</em>, The CWThe Vampire Diaries, The CW

All the while this has been happening, Bonnie (Kat Graham) and Enzo (Michael Malarkey) have been enjoying a day of raucous good fun. See, he's agreed to take the cure for her and live out his days as a human by her side, but she wants to make it up to him that he's choosing love over immortality by showing him a good time and crossing a few items off his non-existent bucket list. Speed-racing and sky-diving might be perilous activities for the living, but for vampires, there's nothing to fear. She takes him to a deserted bed and breakfast she bought in upstate New York when her dad passed away, and there's a catch.

This isn't just the place she can foresee them spending a life together; it's also the hideaway she's taken Elena's body to from her Brooklyn storage and thus the location of the cure. They're sooo close to taking that big step together to unite in humanity, but then Damon calls. They need the cure for Cade now, since he can't be killed any other way, and they're not even sure the cure will work on him, but they've gotta try.

Bonnie laments her obligation to save everyone else before fulfilling her now-paramount desires to humanize Enzo, but she agrees to it anyway. If the cure works on Cade, then Enzo can take it from his body, and besides. She doesn't have much room to gnash at Damon about all of this, since she was planning to steal the cure without telling him -- who openly wants to use it once Elena wakes up -- anyway. She's bummed, but Enzo consoles her by saying that they can still definitely have a future together, even if only one of them ages in the process.

Little do they know, Stefan's compelled a real estate agent Cade led him to who helps him sign the deed of Bonnie's B&B over to herself, thus eliminating Enzo's welcome invitation into the house and leaving him stranded while Bonnie goes in to get a blood vial from Elena.

The reason for Enzo's forcible expulsion from the house doesn't dawn on either of them, as Stefan's pulling ever nearer to the property. Damon calls to beg Stefan to stop himself in his tracks and offers to leave him alone and stop trying to change him back into good Stefan, but the cruelty of this man in Ripper form knows no bounds. He wants to kill Elena. He needs to kill Elena just to rid himself of Damon once and for all. Elena is the tie that binds them together in his mind. "She's really not that special," he says to add insult to the injury of his plans. "She's just a stupid girl. She's just a stupid human girl who will be so easy to kill." Damon's devastated, especially knowing that no matter how much he punches the gas pedal to try and get to Bonnie's -- which he didn't even know Elena was at until Stefan informed him of her recent move -- he can't stop Stefan.

Bonnie's successful at retrieving some blood but isn't sure how much is needed to fully effectuate the cure. Once she hears Enzo stop talking, though, she stops drawing the blood and walks out to find, much to her horror, Enzo dropping dead at her front door as Stefan shows up behind him with Enzo's actual heart in his hand.

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She first goes for a makeshift stake by ripping a piece of wood off a coat rack, but Stefan gleefully overpowers her in an instant with every intention of killing her and Elena. But Bonnie's got one trick up her sleeve, literally, and that's the cure blood-filled needle she was saving for Cade. She injects Stefan with it, and he crumbles to the ground. She quickly follows suit once she sees Enzo desiccating outside from the true death Stefan's just inflicted upon him.

Will she ever be able to forgive Stefan for what he's done tonight, humanity or not? If she's anything like Matt, that's a no. Will the Latin-slash-maybe-Prussian lingo Dorian's discovered in the new Maxwell family documents prove to be something worth reading? Oh, you betcha. Will Stefan possibly being turned into a human now force his humanity to return to him? From the looks of the preview for next week's edition of this Vampire Diaries send-off season, it just might.

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