Talk about starting the day off right! Vampire Diaries Season 4, Episode 8, “We’ll Always Have Bourbon Street” opens, the proverbial morning after, with Elena (Nina Dobrev) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) creasing the sheets with a heaving, back-clawing quickie. Their sex scene is just shy of TV-MA. (And we thank the producers for it.)

While Delena break a few commandments, Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Caroline (Candice Accola) are across town discussing Elena’s sire bond, which royally skeeves Caroline out. Of course Stefan vows to find a way to break it. Guess that will be the new chant. Instead of “Save Elena!” it will be “Break the Bond!”

Bone-breaking good time
Tyler (Michael Trevino) and Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) are already down with that plan. Today, the hybrid who’s going through their south barn detox is Adrian. Poor Adrian. He doesn’t want to die in service to Klaus (Joseph Morgan), but he does not have the cojones that the last wolf had. He and his friend Kim beg Ty to let him stop. But Klaus’s first born isn’t having it. “The bond isn’t broken until he doesn’t feel the pain of transformation anymore,” Ty tells them. Adrian whimpers again and Kim is like, bump that plan. Kim sees that he can’t handle the pain, so she exercises Adrian’s free will and checks him out of the Hayley-Ty rehab program. Need we mention that all this happens before first period?

Oh, yeah, school. The gang’s sorta back in Mystic Falls High. In fact, Elena runs into Caroline and Bonnie (Kat Graham) in the hallway after she presumably makes a post-sex, second period entrance. She invites them to come hang out at Casa Salvatore for a girls’ night. She’s just done the deed — twice! — with Damon and she wants to share. Caroline is hesitant at first but she’s easily swayed when E mentions breaking into the Salvatore liquor stash.

Back at Casa Salvatore, Stefan tells Damon that Elena’s sired to him. D refuses to believe it. He thinks, as we would, that Stefan is just hurt/jealous/mad that Elena switched Salvatores. But Stefan swears he’s not. What's more, he dares his big bro to test the sire bond theory by telling Elena to drink from a blood bag. Damon’s so sure that Stefan is wrong that he grabs a bag of hemoglobin and takes Elena’s “lunch” to school. “When her body rejects this blood, which it will, your apology had better be epic,” he tells Stefan.

Unfortunately for Damon, Stefan is not wrong. When Damon asks Elena to sip from the blood juice box, she does. And — surprise, surprise! — she likes it. “It tastes like blood,” she says. “Last time it was like hot garbage.” Our girl doesn’t know how much her words scare Damon. The elder Salvatore mans up and goes back to Stefan, “Elena is sired. You were right. I was wrong,” he says as a little piece of Hell freezes over.

Speaking of right and wrong things, while the gang’s at school Hayley goes to meet with Professor Shane (David Alpay). Apparently she’s working so hard on the hybrid thing because Shane needs 12 hybrids for something. He doesn’t really say what. All he does say is that in exchange for a dozen free-from-Klaus folks, he will give Hayley a flash drive bearing her complete family history. Guess she doesn’t have time for Ancestry.com.

Walk down Memory Lane, mon cher

After humbling himself with an apology, Damon decides to come clean. Turns out this isn’t the first time one of his sires has become unduly attached. A Lexi-filled flashback reveals that in the 1940s he turned a woman in New Orleans named Charlotte. She’d had a crush on him before getting her fangs. Afterwards she went, as Damon says, “all Fatal Attraction on me.” One night out, Damon told Charlotte, “If anyone tries to touch my drink, you show them no mercy.” Five minutes later a guy bumped into Damon’s glass and Charlotte violently attacked him for it. “Then I had to make a clean break,” Damon says. No duh.

Seventy years later, it looks like the bond thing is happening again, so after showing Stefan a postcard from 1942 Damon says they need to take a road trip back to New Orleans to find a witch who can help break the bond. And he says it as if that’s normal.

They head to NOLA, where Damon makes a beeline for the witch’s old address. Before they knock on the door, Stefan suggests they look up Charlotte. Damon has a sneaky feeling they might find her near the corner of Bourbon and Dumant, which is where he told her he’d meet her after she counted every brick in New Orleans. Now that he fears the sire bond could be making a puppet out of Elena, Damon feels a little guilty about telling Charlotte to do that. Just a little.

So they head to the intersection and, of course, they find Charlotte there. She has indeed counted every brick in New Orleans. She also may have spent years listening to a song called “Counting Bricks.” But we’re not sure about that. What we are sure about is that she stayed and waited — through Katrina and everything. “Please tell me you have a full life and you’ve done something other than counting bricks,” Damon says to his sire.

Tap the bottle and twist the cap
Meanwhile, back in Mystic Falls, Elena and the girls are hitting the Dom — hard and chasing it with shots of Bonnie’s “spirit tea.” Celebrating the fact that Elena can now drink from a blood bag, they sip-sip and giggle and make silly home videos on Bonnie’s phone. (Hello, product placement!) Eventually they end up lounging in Damon’s bathroom. When Elena wonders why they’ve never hung out in his porcelain throne room before, Caroline forgets her promise to be judgment free for the night and rips into the Delena ‘ship. She calls Damon a man-whore and hints that she respects Elena less for loving him. Elena comes back with a reminder that Caroline slept with Damon for most of Season 1. Granted, she was compelled half the time. Elena says that she wanted to girl-talk with them about her new, ahem, relationship with Damon and she’s upset that Caroline won’t let her.

While the girls bicker in the manse, Hayley talks Tyler into making a move to be the alpha of the hybrid pack. He heads over to Mystic Grill where he tries to boss Kim around, telling her that she and Adrian need to head home and rest up. Kim backs down. But only temporarily. She grabs Adrian and heads for the door. “Where are we going?” Adrian asks. Kim replies, ”To pick a fight.”

Turns out that fight is with Caroline. Blondie cracks on Damon one too many times and Elena decides to throw her and Bonnie out of the house. Before she does, Caroline lets it slip that Elena is sired to Damon. She walks Elena through the theory, pointing out how she has happily done everything Sir Salvatore suggested. Then Caroline pulls Stefan into it, saying that he suspects Elena has been sire-bonded, too. “It’s not your fault, Elena. Damon took advantage of you,” Caroline says.

Elena does not want to hear this. She opens the door to literally throw them out and, just as she does, the hybrid couple Kim and Adrian barge in. They attack Elena and Caroline, and since the vamps are just shy of trashed, the hybrids get the upper hand. Bonnie flairs up some of her new Shane magic to stop them. And Kim and Adrian do pause. But only long enough to threaten to bite Caroline. Before Elena and Bonnie can stop them, the wolves kidnap Car, whisking her out the door.

If Tyler’s the alpha, who’s the omega?
Elena runs to Tyler for help. While they search for Caroline, Tyler explains to Elena that the sire bond “affects how you act, not how you feel,” suggesting that Elena’s emotions for Damon are real even if some of her decisions have been coerced. They find Caroline in the hybrid detox barn, where Kim tortures her by repeatedly breaking her bones. When Elena and Ty barge in to save her, Kim reveals that she’s not cool with Team Hybrid. Then she calls in the rest of the pack to back her up. They surround Ty and Elena menacingly. Kim breaks Caroline’s wrist again then threatens to stake her. 

This is when Elena does what she does best: throws herself onto the fire. To save the friend she was just fighting with, Elena tells Kim that Klaus would be more upset if Kim tortured her rather than Blondie. Kim takes the bait and turns on Elena. The minute she does, Tyler attacks. He shoves his hand into her chest and threatens to rip her heart out if she does not submit. Then, standing there with his hand in Kim’s thoracic cavity, Tyler proceeds to give the you’re-with-me-or-you’re-against-me speech. He tells the hybrids that they all have to band together if they want to defeat Klaus. They listen but don’t act until Kim takes a knee, bowing to the group’s new alpha.

NOLA, No lie

After finding Charlotte, the Salvatores head back to the witch’s house. Unsurprisingly, the witch Damon once knew is dead. A woman named Nandi, claiming to be her granddaughter, lives there now, running a touristy spell house. When Damon tells Nandi what they want, Nandi points out that such a spell, if it did exist, would require 12 human sacrifices. She then basically says she can’t help them because she’s not a practicing witch and she sends them on their way.

They leave. But then Damon goes back to give it a college try. He tells Nandi that he knows that’s she’s really the witch Val’s daughter, not her granddaughter. She must be practicing because she can’t be a day younger than 70 but she looks like she’s 50. He steps closer to threaten her and Nandi cripples him with a witch migraine. While inflicting pain that drops him to his knees, Nandi tells the Salvatores that no spell exists that could break a vampire sire bond. She says that her mother hustled Damon into killing a dozen people so that she could harvest their energy for black magic that’s so dark it goes by a new name, “Expression.” You want her [Elena] free? You have to set her free,” Nandi says. “Tell her to live a life without you. To never think about you again. To stop caring about you. And then, leave her.”

After they leave the shop, Damon takes this advice to heart and sire-breaks up with Charlotte. “You’re never going to have the life that you deserve if I’m in it,” he says. Instead of being impressed by Damon’s unselfish act, Stefan doubts he’ll be able to do it again with Elena, when it matters. “One of these days you’re going to realize you don’t know me as well as you think,” Damon says.

Off this we flash back to New Orleans, circa 1942. After killing 12 people, Damon decides to join the army with Stefan and go off to war. But Lexi stops him. She says that Stefan, who was still weaning off killing people at that point, would not only admire the way Damon moved on guilt-free after the murders, but that he would also try to imitate his big brother, and thus, would fall back into his Ripper habits. Damon listened to her, then decided not to go to war for his little brother’s sake.

Damon kept this conversation with Lexi a secret until now. He tells Stefan. In turn, Stefan says that he will be OK with whatever Elena chooses, even if after the bond is broken, she isn’t in love with him anymore. Damon doubts this is true. We’re not sure. But we’re still glad Stefan said it.

Back in Mystic Falls, besties Elena and Caroline hug and make up. Elena asks Car not to tell Stef that she did the deed with his big brother. Caroline says she won’t. But a few hours later, when Stefan returns home, she hints that Damon has a secret about Elena.

Speaking of secrets, the minute Adrian breaks his sire bond, Hayley sneaks off to Professor Shane’s to give him the good news. Shane pays her by telling her that her birth parents are dead but that she can see them again. He says it all cult-like, using cryptic words like Pastor Young did before he blew up the Town Council. We also learn that Shane has been hooking Bonnie up with Expression spells. The witch of Mystic Falls has no clue that she’s been dabbling in the dark stuff.

Home sweet home?
When he returns to Casa Salvatore, Damon finds Elena cleaning up after the girls’ night in. He tells her about the sire bond. But she already knows. Elena claims to be happy. She repeats what Tyler told her about how a bond affects a person’s actions not their feelings. Instead of being relieved by this, Damon’s angry, hurt, and scared. He feels chumped because he truly fell in love with Elena, but he thinks she may only care for him because of the sire bond. 

“Do you know what would make me happy?” He asks. “To know that what you felt for me was real.” He then starts talking about how he’s the Bad Guy Salvatore. ”I lie to my brother. I fall in love with his girl. I don’t do the right thing,” he says. “But I have to do the right thing by you.” Elena takes his hand and puts it to her chest. “Does this feel wrong?” she asks. She touches his cheek and repeats the question. And, just as it looks like Damon’s going to lean in and give Elena the same goodbye speech that he gave Charlotte, the screen fades to black. Darn TVD Powers that Be! 


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