Stefan was left lying dead in the middle of the road after getting his heart ripped out in The Vampire Diaries' finale-worthy penultimate season 5 episode "Promised Land."

Markos And The Travelers Cast Their Spell

But first, let's go back. After Elena (Nina Dobrev) and Stefan (Paul Wesley) are kidnaped by the Travelers, Damon (Ian Sommerhalder) has resorted to the one thing he does best: torture. Caroline (Candice Accola) walks in on him questioning a passenger living inside the body of a friendly banker. They want to know where the Travelers took Stefan and Elena. The banker tells him that it doesn’t matter if he ever finds Markos (Raffi Barsoumian), what they started can’t be stopped.

Indeed, we cut to Elena and Stefan lying weak and being slowly drained of blood. Apparently Markos needed more blood than they could give, as he force-fed Elena and Stefan just enough blood to keep draining them without killing them. A woman unlocks Stefan’s chains and tells him to go, but doesn’t reveal herself to him, and he goes to get Elena. Once out of there, Stefan calls Damon collect to harass him about not finding them. While Stefan and Elena struggle to replenish – the unhappy duo have to resort to hunting squirrels and hitch hiking their way home.

On their long walk home, Stefan and Elena discuss Elena’s failed relationship with Damon and their love for shared bestie Caroline Forbes. Finally, they’re picked up by the Traveler who freed them: Maria (Tamara Austin), Julian’s wife.

Meanwhile, Damon is slowly loosing it trying to fix everything, and Enzo keeps hounding him to make good on his promise to bring him back from the dead before the Other Side collapses. Damon calls in Bonnie (Kat Graham) to help, instructing her to get Liv to include Enzo (Michael Malarkey) in the spell that would supposedly keep Bonnie from disappearing with the Other Side. The only problem, of course, is that Bonnie was fibbing about the spell in an effort to shield her friends from her imminent death, but she can’t say that to Damon because Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) walks in, interrupting their little chat.

“I’ve got two missing doppelgangers, I’ve got a traveler that wants to rid our town of magic, and I’ve got our friendly banker, Mr. Sykes, in the coat closet! So, escape from the netherworld is going to have to wait ‘til tomorrow,” Damon told Enzo.

Damon, Stefan And Elena Race To Stop Markos

In Maria’s truck, Elena and Stefan learn that all she cares about is getting her husband back. Julian, of course, has now permanently taken up residence in Tyler’s body, and Maria doesn’t hide the fact that she plans on taking him with her. Over at the Salvatore house, Caroline is still holding on to hope that Tyler (Michael Trevino) can be brought back and she questions Julian about the Travelers’ intentions. Julian reveals that the Travelers want to break the curse and take roots in Mystic Falls to get revenge on the witches and restore the supernatural balance to the world. Maria understands what this means: once Markos enacts the spell with the doppelganger blood, magic will be stripped away from the world, and eventually Tyler/Julian and all vampires will die.

Desperate to figure out a way to bring Tyler back, Caroline goes to Bonnie and suggests a hail mary: they kill Tyler/Julian and bring back Tyler, and only Tyler, with Bonnie and Enzo. Bonnie is forced to finally tell Caroline the truth: there is no spell.

Damon recruits Matt (Zach Roerig) and Jeremy to collect all the unconscious Traveler bodies from the creepy cave and bring them to the Salvatore house. When Markos inspects the cave, Damon has left his calling card: “Found Cave Of Wannabe Witches. For More Information Call Damon Salvatore.”

Markos shows up at the Salvatore mansion and announces that Damon’s collection of empty Traveler bodies doesn’t mean anything. The bodies are not essential to his plan, and every one of the Travelers has already proven themselves willing to die for the cause. Damon heard enough and ran straight to attack Markos, who flipped him like it was nothing. He has completely transfused himself with doppelganger blood – Damon can’t kill him.

A Dead Doppelgänger

Elena, Stefan and Maria are two blocks away from home when Liv (Penelope Mitchell) and Luke (Chris Brochu) attack and kill Maria. Now that the Travelers have doppelganger blood, killing one of them is the only thing that will stop the Travelers from casting their spell. Only one of them has to die, and they don’t have a preference either way. Their magic stops suddenly – the Travelers have begun, and witch magic has started to disappear. That, of course, means that the daylight rings are not working, and Stefan and Elena start burning up. They run to the Grill and get Matt to help them run around the town using the tunnels.

The spell is rippling from the town square, and during their trip through the tunnels, the witches magic that kept Elena and Stefan alive is unraveling, and the fatal wounds they endured are returning – Stefan’s gunshot wound manifests, as does the water that drowned Elena.

Bonnie is working on a last ditch plan with Enzo, but it requires Maria, who gets sucked away from the Other Side before she can tell Enzo the spell Markos used to return from the dead. Meanwhile, at the Salvatore mansion, Tyler/Julian helps Damon, telling him that Markos doesn’t know he’s here and they could use the element of surprise. The plan works for a second, until the spell hits them. Damon, Elena, Stefan, Caroline and Bonnie make a plan: outrun the spell. Elena and Damon share a passionate kiss, so Stefan tells them to get out of town using Jeremy’s car, and he’ll wait for Caroline and Bonnie.

Stefan Dies

Tyler/Julian approaches Stefan and Caroline while they wait for Bonnie and asks him where Maria is. Stefan is forced to tell him that Maria is dead, but promises him that they are doing whatever they can to stop the curse and save him from his own people. Julian is not pleased with his answer, and rips out Stefan’s heart. Dead doppelganger means no spell, and magic will live on for another day.

Caroline rushes to Stefan’s side, but there’s nothing to be done. Stefan’s spirit appears to Bonnie and he passes through her to the Other Side, where he will stay…for now.

The Vampire Diaries season finale will air Thursday at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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