At this point, Vampire Diaries is practically spoofing the "girl caught in the middle" tropeS

Last night's Vampire Diaries was excellent for so many reasons — including Caroline talking about sublimation, Caroline sassing Klaus, and Caroline figuring out what (almost) everyone had missed. And Matt being there for everybody, with his usual suaveness.

But the episode also seemed a little bit disturbing — because both Salvatore Brothers have started thinking of Elena as just a product of her supernatural circumstances, rather than a person with free will. Which takes the "girl caught in the middle of romantic tug of war" thing to a creepy new level.

In a nutshell, Damon believes that Elena is a different person now that she's a vampire — and the "new" Elena is a lot more like Damon, enjoying drinking human blood from the source and being a lot more wild. In this episode's version of The Matrix, Elena has to help April choose between the red dress (dangerous) and the green dress (safe) — and opts for the red dress, because Damon says so. When she was still human, Elena chose Stefan over Damon once and for all — but she's changed her mind, purely because of what she's become — a blood-guzzling monster.

Meanwhile, Stefan also believes that Elena is making choices purely because of having become a vampire, and in fact he believes she isn't "herself." Hence Stefan's desperation to cure Elena of vampirism, pushing Elena's brother Jeremy to become a full-fledged vampire hunter so his tattoo can lead to a vampire cure. (And in a neat bit of irony, Jeremy's ascension to vampire-hunter status means he immediately can't help trying to kill his sister.) Stefan goes a little bit over the edge trying to save Elena from herself — despite Caroline's excellent advice to remember the difference between sublimation and insanity. And then in the end, Caroline figures out that Elena is actually sired to Damon, because his blood made her a vampire — and thus, whatever Damon wants, Elena wants.

So at this point, Elena literally has no free will. Or hardly any. She's just a puppet. It's sort of a sad metaphor for the passivity of heroines in paranormal romance love triangles, but let's hope it doesn't become Elena's new status quo for too long — I actually liked the "defy everybody's wishes and do her own thing" Elena, and the fact that Stefan always supported her, even when she was clearly wrong.

Of course, we spend some of the episode dealing with the question of breaking the Sire Bond, in the case of Klaus' hybrids. Now that Tyler has broken free and become his own person — and now that it's clear that Klaus will happily sacrifice the lives of any hybrids who are no longer useful to him — all the other hybrids are going through the "transform into a wolf over and over" cure. And at the end of the episode, we learn that these hybrids are being freed from Klaus' control so they can be the pawns in some scheme by the ultra-creepy Professor Shane, who has many talents: magical consultant, mass murderer, beauty contest judge, and (I'm guessing) sex guru.

Even with all the other questions in the episode — like, is Matt the best or what? Is the Matt/Jeremy bromance going to get even hotter now that they're living together? What will April do with her newfound stardom as Miss Mystic Falls, and how long before she connects the dot? What will Damon make Elena do next? What can Professor Shane do to become even creepier than randomly judging a teen beauty contest? Can Jeremy still see Alaric's ghost, and will Alaric give Jeremy some advice on avoiding the "evil vampire hunter" curse? And so on — the main thing I was left wondering was: What's going to happen with Klaus and Caroline? I am now officially shipping those two, after Klaus' hilarious "I'll tell you all about being the bad guy" line, and his unexpectedly sweet "I saw a hummingbird and my heart grew three sizes" story.

What will happen when Klaus figures out that Caroline is just distracting him, while Tyler and Hayley free his last hybrids from his control and restore their free will? Will Klaus finally be done with Caroline, or does he just have an unstoppable weakness for her? And can Klaus ever recognize the wrongness of turning people into his slaves, using the "Sire Bond" to take away their right to choose? How do you love someone who exploits that kind of unquestioning obedience? (And what is Damon going to think of these questions, when they're finally posed to him?)