Everybody's a murderer on Vampire Diaries. Except maybe Matt and April. Killing is like a badge of pride on that show. At one point in Thursday night's episode, Kol asks Elena if she's killed people, or if she's just a "Mary Sue Vampire." (Heh.) And then there's the clip above, where Klaus asks Damon why Damon gets to be forgiven, when Klaus has been just as ruthless a killer as Damon has.

Damon's answer: Murder is only forgiveable, or acceptable, when it's expedient. If you kill for passion, or just because you feel like it, then you're a dick. But killing someone for convenience? Totally fine. That's our moral lesson for the week.

Spoilers ahead...

This latest TVD episode was Exhibit A for why I love this show. After the weak midseason opener where everybody sits in the library for an hour, this show has returned to form with last week's and this week's installments. Alliances are made and broken, the good guys lie cheat and slaughter — and there are really deep emotional moments, where we get to see the inner workings of these characters, along the way.

And this vaguely 1980s-themed outing was especially cunning at the misdirection. The whole episode, you think you know where the Stefan/Rebekah and Elena/Kol storylines are going, and then something totally different happens. The fact that the big surprise is that Elena's plan actually sorta works is just the cherry on top.

So the discussion of forgiveable murder is relevant here — given that the climax of last night's episode is Jeremy committing mass murder on a scale that's difficult to conceive. (Unless you figure that vampires are fair game, but then why do we care about Damon, Stefan and Caroline?) Thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of vampires, cry out and are suddenly silenced, because Jeremy has killed Kol, and when he dies his entire line dies. And Elena, who orchestrates the whole thing, leapfrogs over Stefan and Damon to become the worst murderer on the show.

Add to that the fact that Kol is apparently sincere about thinking that if they find the cure for vampirism, they'll raise Silas, the Original Original immortal, who will bring about the end of time, or create Hell on Earth, or both. (I guess if Hell on Earth happened, you'd probably be glad if time ended as well.) Elena fully takes this on board, and then shrugs and goes, "oh, whatevs. Hell on Earth, someone else's problem." And then ganks him.

Like I said, the whole Stefan/Rebekah thing was actually kind of sweet, and amazingly Muppet Angel has better chemistry with Rebekah than he often seemed to with Elena. Stefan isn't a good enough grifter to fake his affection for Rebekah entirely, and it does seem like they're the same — they both have psychotic brothers who get all the fun, and they both want to be better people and reenact scenes from John Hughes movies, and they both suffer for love.

I figured there were two ways the Rebekah thing could go: Either Stefan was going to follow through on having Matt dagger her, or he was going to get the dagger and use it on Kol as Klaus wanted. I was actually sort of cringing during the whole "John Hughes tribute/decade dance" sequence, because Rebekah's heart once again is totally open and ready to be crushed. And then — surprise! — Rebekah's heart doesn't get broken. She just finds out that her brother was murdered, which is apparently not that big a deal to her as these things go. He wasn't one of the cute brothers, like Elijah or whatever.

So back to Damon and Klaus — Klaus' look of piteous sadness when he asks Damon what he says to Elena to get forgiven for his latest atrocity is kind of amazing. He really really wants to be forgiven, by Caroline at least, but he can't stop being a dick. Of course, Damon's answer is totally disingenuous, as he proves to Klaus later when he says that Elena knows he has terrible impulse control. "Terrible impulse control" accounts for at least a third of the people Damon has killed, including Jeremy that one time.

And then there's the Bonnie storyline, where her parents reunite to have a family conference about the fact that Bonnie has become an evil blood witch who draws her power from human (and hybrid) sacrifice. You have to love Bonnie's logic: on the one hand, she now believes that Professor Shane is a lying dirtbag who can't be trusted. And on the other hand, she still believes that all the horrid magic that Professor Shane taught her is totally fine and awesome — and he's only wrong about her being a time-bomb, not about all the "human sacrifice gives you totally great power" stuff. This being TVD, nobody ever quite points out to Bonnie how nonsensical her attitude is, but at least her mom and dad try to keep her on lockdown until they can get some help.

Of course, Bonnie's right about one thing: keeping her locked up means dooming Elena and the rest, since Klaus is about to go ballistic and kill everyone in sight over the death of Kol, until she stops him. (Klaus apparently liked his brother a lot more than Rebekah seemed to.) Klaus also lets slip that he wasn't really planning on using the "cure" to turn Elena back into a human so he could make more hybrids — he was just going to destroy the cure and then kill all of his former allies.

Because betrayal is a way of life on this show, and your allies are the first people you try to kill when the music stops. This goes for the "good guys" as well as the "bad guys" — it's just that the good guys have the moral high ground because they only kill their friends when it's really necessary. Or easier than not killing them. I love this show.

Two final thoughts:

1) I look forward to meeting to Silas and witnessing his attempt to end time or bring some Hell. But more than that, I look forward to a year or two from now, when Silas is drinking at the Mystic Grill and palling around with Stefan and Damon and bonding over their lady troubles, and figuring out how they're all going to deal with the NEW big bad, whoever that turns out to be.

2) Nobody acknowledges the unsung hero of this episode: Mayor Hopkins. Not because he tries to save Bonnie from blood witchdom, although that's a valiant effort. But because he saves everybody's bacon by putting vervaine in the town water supply. Without Rudy Hopkins, Damon would still be compelled to stay in the basement until Klaus came to fetch him, and Kol would have sawn Jeremy's arms off. (And we wouldn't have gotten to see Jeremy's shirt fly off his body as he Hulked out with fresh tattoos.) When will people bother to thank Rudy?