Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW Photo: Klaus Stares at Stefan in Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 11, “Our Town”

Are we the only ones a bit overwhelmed by tonight’s episode of The Vampire Diaries and all of its emotional plot twists? So much happens in “Our Town” that we’re spinning. Stefan torments Elena. Klaus takes over Mystic Falls. Tyler bites Caroline. And, through it all, Damon’s the sane and rational one!

After the Kiss

“Our Town” opens with Damon smiling in the shower as he replays the kiss in his mind. Across town, Elena’s trying to kickbox the very same memory away. The mood is light and sunny. We’re cool with this. Maybe for once things can be optimistic in Mystic Falls.

Then again, maybe not. The Klaus hybrids are everywhere. One promptly brings gloom and doom when he stalks Bonnie as she tries to open the mysteriously locked fourth coffin in the basement of the haunted witch house. Fortunately the Salvatores arrive right after the hybrid does and they stealthily corner him. Stefan distracts the dude so that Damon can punch though his back and snatch his heart out. “These hybrids. They’re really bringing the neighborhood down,” D says as he tosses the heart on the ground.

Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW Photo: Tyler and Klaus Face off in Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 11, “Our Town”

Tyler Steps Up

In retaliation for Stef’s head-splitting move, Klaus commands his first-born hybrid Tyler to bite Caroline. Incensed, Ty mans up — he literally gets in the Big Bad’s face — and refuses. “What the hell is wrong with you?” he says. “I’m not hurting Caroline!” We applaud. It looks like Tyler can escape the pull of the sire-bond. Right?

Wrong. When Tyler crashes Car’s birthday-funeral party, he takes Caroline out into the woods, tells her he loves her, and refuses to let her break up with him. It’s a sweet moment. They kiss. And things are going swimmingly until Ty smooches her neck and can’t resist nipping her. “Did you just bite me?” Caroline asks. As blood trickles she puts her hand to her chest and slumps down to the ground. It’s a horrible moment. But we can’t help wondering: If hybrid bites kill vampires, why doesn’t swapping spit maim them?

Hello, Love

While the kids are out in the woods, Alaric is in town charming Meredith. The council is having another one of its meetings. This time the cover function is a renovation project fundraiser for the bridge where Elena’s parents died. Though she never has before, Meredith surprises Alaric by not only attending the meeting but also by revealing that, as someone “from a long line of founders,” she’s in on the town’s vampire secret.

Meredith flirts with Alaric then gets into an argument with town’s medical examiner (who also happens to be the prom date who dumped her on the infamous bridge). Seeing a chance to shine, our favorite history teacher steps in to help. “You might want to get to know her before you become her white knight,” the medical examiner says. “She’s kind of a psycho case.” Foreshadowing? Maybe. The next day Sheriff Forbes finds his body in the woods. He’s been stabbed — by a human.

Stefan vs. Klaus Intensifies

Klaus raises the stakes at the fundraiser when he promises to match every dollar raised. Having outed himself as the Big Bad, he also cuts a deal with Mayor Lockwood. His hybrids will protect Tyler and the town. In exchange, all the council has to do is leave him alone and “get Stefan to stop decapitating my friends.” Damon is not amused by this agreement. Still, when he catches his lil bro in the act of adiosing a Backstreet Boy hybrid, Sir Salvatore puts the kibosh on the killing. “No dead hybrids at the founders’ party!” he says.

“You want to beat the villain, you’ve got to be smarter,” Damon advises. He reminds Stefan of the stakes and the trouble it will cause Elena and every living being in the town. But Stef’s not willing to hear it. “To beat the villain, Damon, you have to be the better villain,” he says.

Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW Photo: Caroline Wears a Tiara in Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 11, “Our Town”

Hey Girl, It’s Your Birthday. Say Ah, Ah-ah, Ah...

Bonnie doesn’t have time to dwell on the death at dawn because she needs to get to school to help Elena decorate Caroline’s locker for her b-day. In an attempt to be normal, Elena, Matt (remember him?), and Bon-bon attempt to throw Blondie a surprise party. “Attempt” is the operative word here. Car’s not big on celebrating because A) she’s mad at Tyler and B) now that she’s a vamp, birthdays remind her that she’s no longer among the living. “You know I didn’t even like 17,” Caroline says. “I mean technically the only point to 17 was to get to 18. It’s a filler year. I’m stuck in a filler year.”

Understandably bummed, Caroline ditches school and the crew follows, trying to cheer her up. They head out to a crypt to throw a boozy birthday funeral instead — you know, for closure. It’s a macabre idea but surprisingly effective. They all drink up and Blondie promptly drunk-texts Tyler.

Bon Voyage, Jer!

Did we forget to mention it’s Jeremy’s last day in Mystic Falls? Because, yeah, it is. While everyone else dodges hybrid bullets and toasts Blondie, Elena’s little bro packs and does a poor job of keeping his exit a secret. When Bonnie hears that Damon compelled him to leave, her witch temper flares. A bit of her rage shows at the birthday funeral after Elena chastises Caroline for contacting Ty. “Give her a break,” she snaps at Elena. “You can’t control what everyone does all the time!” She rails on our girl for “taking Jeremy’s choices away” then leaves the party. And, Bon-bon’s right. But, witch or not, she can’t change the fact that Jer’s mind has been warped — again. She also doesn’t stop Jeremy from leaving town with no fanfare.

Elena, Kidnapped

To prove his point Stefan leaves the founders’ party and heads out into the woods. Just as Elena and Matt start to wonder where Caroline is, Stef vamps in, knocks out Matt, and kidnaps Elena. Driving like a bat out of an Ozzy Osbourne song, he heads for the bridge. As they approach he force-feeds Elena his blood then dials Klaus and threatens to kill her. Elena fights him and screams. Klaus weighs the cost of losing the blood supply he needs to make hybrids against the thought of ruining the town. Then, right as Stefan and Elena drive onto the bridge, the O.V. gives in.

So, yes, Stefan basically threatened to kill Elena by driving her off the bridge that took her parents’ lives — the very same bridge where he once saved her. This just might be the straw that breaks our girl. If it’s not, the fact that Stef abandons Elena on the dark road sure should. “I don’t really care what you think about me anymore, Elena” he says before driving away.

Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW Photo: Klaus Looks at Tyler in Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 11, “Our Town”

Say Uncle

Jer’s departure gets lost in the monster game of chicken that Stefan and Klaus play throughout the ep. After Damon kills the morning hybrid, Stefan marches over to Casa Klaus to demand that the O.V. banish his beasts. If he refuses, Stefan swears he’ll kill them one by one. Klaus counters with a then-I’ll-kill-your-friends move. Stefan comes back with a threat to dump the coffins into the ocean. Next, Klaus threatens to kill Damon. It’s a blood-sucking tit-for-tat that escalates when Stefan snatches a saw off the table and decapitates the hybrid named Mindy. “You may want to send the rest of them away before it gets messy,” he says. But, oh, it already is.

Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW Photo: Sheriff Forbes Looks Concerned in Vampire Diaries Season 3, Episode 11, “Our Town”

Last Call

Back in town, Klaus is already making his next move. He heads over to Caroline’s house and offers to use his blood to save her in exchange for Sheriff Liz Forbe’s cooperation. Desperate, Liz agrees.

Caroline’s bite is already a festering mess. After convincing her that he’s not going to kill her, Klaus asks Caroline if she wants to die. His eyes water as he “confesses” how he himself has wanted to die over the centuries, but he reminds her how much there is to live for — so much beauty in the world. He offers to help Caroline only if she asks for it. Scared, blinded by pain, she begs. “I want to live.” “There you go sweetheart,” he says as she bites him.

The next morning Caroline wakes up refreshed and, possibly, a hybrid. She finds a gift on her bed from Klaus. It’s a diamond bracelet.

Credit: You Tube Photo: Vampire Diaries Promo Video for Season 3, Episode 12, "The Ties That Bind": Shotgun, Bang