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'The Vampire Diaries' season 5 finale recap: Life, death and emotional goodbyes

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The Thursday, May 15 season 5 finale of "The Vampire Diaries," "Home," is quite the emotional roller coaster. Familiar faces return (yay!), but not everyone makes it out of the episode alive. Oh, and when we say emotional roller coaster, we mean one filled with never-ending loops and hills from one minute to the next without slowing down or even thinking about stopping.

Let's kick it off with death Remember how Julian ripped out Stefan's heart at the end of the last episode? Well, the finale begins with Elena and Damon finding out he's dead, while Stefan, on the Other Side, almost gets sucked away until Lexi – who else? – saves him. "Looks like I've now saved you from metaphorical darkness and actual darkness," she tells him. "I think you owe me a beer." It is really good to see Lexi again. All the beers for her.

Meanwhile, Damon takes the news of his brother's death about as well as you'd expect and trashes the dorm room they don't really need (or maybe they do since Mystic Falls isn't exactly somewhere they can live?). At this point, Enzo is the last person on his mind (sorry, Enzo, Damon cares more about Alaric right now than you), but Enzo says he has a plan. They just need a witch. That's where Liv and Luke come in, as they try to book it to safety at the speed of a turtle. Elena and Caroline trapped them like the witches had done to the doppelgangers, and in order o provide a little motivation, Caroline kills Luke. Willing to do the spell now, Liv?

Elsewhere, Sheriff Forbes has evacuated Mystic Falls while the Travelers move in and establish the border, where the spell stops, and to prove why none of the vampires can come in and save the day, Markos has Julian/Tyler dragged across the line, and he becomes a boy with a werewolf gene and a broken neck. When he appears to Bonnie, he's Tyler again (Caroline was right!), and he's just another person on the long list of people to bring back with the spell. But where are they going to get all the dead Travelers? Well, Damon has that covered: at 7 p.m., blow up Mystic Grill with them inside.

Back on the Other Side, Stefan and Lexi head to the Grill to find Alaric, because where else would he be? They don't find him, but Lexi does tease Stefan about Caroline, until they watch Sheriff Forbes talking to Markos about an open bar and gathering everyone there and realize there's a plan. So about that plan, who's the Traveler for the spell? That would be – talk about a surprise! – Silas, who thinks that "let bygones be bygones" should be enough to make up for killing Bonnie's father. Oh, and he's coming back to life too.

Stefan and Lexi check the school next to see if Alaric decided he missed teaching (or went looking for the liquor he kept in his desk and the locker?) on the Other Side, but still nothing. Maybe he found peace? Maybe Lexi has unfinished business? Whatever the reason, Stefan proposes a death peace pact.

Back with the others, everyone's moving into place. Matt and Jeremy are, as Matt points out, getting ready to blow up the only place that will hire them, even though it is possible that killing the Travelers might not get rid of the magic, meaning Mystic Falls could be safe again. (Jeremy can just visit his girlfriend at college.) It's 6:42 p.m., and the Travelers are partying in the Grill, so Sheriff Forbes' part is done and she's ready to get out of there, but Markos insists on sitting and chatting.

Elena then finds out about the last piece of Operation Massacre/Project Ka-boom/Operation Save-Everyone-and-Blow-up-the-Bar: Damon is going to trigger the explosion. She asks him not to go on the suicide mission, bringing up their future together, but he assures her that he'll come back with the others. It's his choice, and he needs her to respect that. "Low blow," she tells him. He promises to make it back to her. On the Other Side, the wind begins to blow again, and Enzo and Silas grab onto trees. Bonnie grabs Enzo, but with "bygones," she lets Silas be swept away.

When it's time, Liv begins to chant, Matt and Jeremy do their part and Bonnie impatiently waits for Grams. However, when Grams joins her, she tells her she can't survive all the people coming through her. She's proud of the woman Bonnie has become. Grams isn't going to pass through her; she found peace because she made sure Bonnie will find hers. At 7:05, Sheriff Forbes' phone rings, and Markos notices, wondering why she's there. The captain goes own with the ship, she tells him, and when he questions her, she comments on smelling gas, leading him to the back to check out a leak. She knocks him out and texts Damon to go, but Markos grabs her before she can leave.

At 7:06, Damon gets in his car, and Elena joins him. This is her choice, and she's all in. With that, he speeds off for the Grill, because they have to die as vampires, and after they crash into the bar, it explodes.

Moving onto life As Liv continues to chant with Luke watching her, the Travelers and Markos surround Bonnie and pass through her. When Elena and Damon join her, she warns them that they'll wake up with their bodies and to get back to her ASAP before they pass through. When Elena finds herself with the car at the Grill, that's when Alaric finally shows up and tells her to go. He'll find Damon. She runs off, and he finds Damon in the back. "Friendly advice," he tells his best friend. "When you finally get the girl, don't blow her up." Sheriff Forbes is back there, but fortunately, it looks like she'll be okay.

Liv, however, is not looking good, and Luke tells Bonnie they have to start now. Stefan argues they have to wait for Damon, but Luke doesn’t care and grabs Bonnie, passing through and returning to his sister's side. He wants her to stop, but she refuses because she promised. Enzo cares about Enzo and passes through next. When Tyler goes through, he comes out still Tyler – but he feels different and when he cuts his hand, it doesn't heal. Stefan still refuses to leave without his brother, something Elena echoes when she joins them, but Bonnie grabs her, forcing her through. Bonnie then begins coughing up blood and stumbles back into Stefan on the Other Side, forcing him through as well.

Lexi realizes it's killing her with each person that goes through and refuses to let Bonnie die before Stefan got his brother back, fighting off Markos and sending him off into oblivion to join the others. When Damon and Alaric finally join Bonnie, she grabs Alaric first, but then Luke begins chanting himself, refusing to let Liv die for them.

But wait, back to death Reassured Elena made it through, it's Damon's turn, but it's too late. Nothing happens when Bonnie grabs him, Liv and Luke are gone and it's too late. All that Stefan can do is mourn losing both Damon and Lexi, and all that's left for Elena and Damon is a heartbreaking goodbye, with Elena begging him not to leave her. Even though she can't hear him, Damon tells her, "You are by far the greatest thing that ever happened to me in my 173 years on this Earth. That I get to die knowing I was loved, not just by anyone, by you, Elena Gilbert, is the epitome of a fulfilled life." It's not going to get any better for him than this. "I peaked," he says. "I love you, Elena." After that, Elena can just cry, and all Alaric can do is join her in mourning Damon.

They're not the only couple saying goodbye. Bonnie admits to Jeremy that it was all a lie and that when the Other Side goes, she's going too. She died the day before graduation, she tells him, and the rest of it has been a gift. She says to take care of Elena, tells him she loves him, and hangs up, and when the others hear him running through the woods screaming for Bonnie, they realize what's happening. But it's too late. On the Other Side, Bonnie and Damon stand together, both with other people they'd rather be with at the moment, but facing it together. She asks if he thinks it'll hurt, he says he doesn't… and with a bright light, the finale is over.

"The Vampire Diaries" will return for a sixth season in the fall on the CW. What did you think of the season 5 finale "Home"? Are your emotions all over the place?

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