The Vampire Diaries explores the age-old question: Why can't you be in love and a badass?

There are like two identical scenes, almost back to back, in last night's Vampire Diaries, where one of the "bad boy" vamps tries to prove that he just doesn't give a crap, in front of the woman he loves. First Elena catches Damon trying to kill Professor Shane, leading to a huge argument in which Damon plays the "I'm a selfish jerk" card and says the cure for vampirism is lame-ass. And then, Klaus tries to play the "I'm a selfish jerk" card with Caroline, only to have her appeal to his love and humanity. Unlike Damon, Klaus folds like origami. (But Damon will probably fold in the first five minutes of next week's episode, too.)

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Meanwhile, of course, the other big interpersonal drama of last night's TVD involves Rebekah fighting with Elena — ending in a sweet moment between Stefan and Rebekah where he says she's like the perfect vampire, and she confesses what everybody already knows — that she's actually an insecure mess and she just wants to be human, and she acts fierce to cover up. Which everybody knew already.

So let's review: everybody on this show is (not so) secretly insecure and wears their heart on their sleeve, but covers it up by trying to act like a swagger-master. Damon, Klaus, Stefan. Oh, and this week we also learned more about how Professor Shane is really a big gooey pudding as well, and he just wants his wifey back, hence him overcoming his reluctance to hurt a fly and orchestrating two massacres, with one more to come.

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Everyone... except Stefan. My new theory about Stefan goes like this: Unlike Damon, Klaus and the rest, Stefan wears his gooey sentimental love puppy side right there on the surface — to conceal the fact that he's actually more of a psycho jerk than the rest of them combined, deep down. The Ripper/Muppet Angel dichotomy is fake, too — he's just always kind of mean. I have no evidence for this, but it's a fun theory. Stefan's self-loathing is real, though. The look he gets when he talks about hating his vampire self is pretty convincing.

In any case, the big surprise in this episode is that there's only one shocking betrayal: Shane, who makes his move and leaves the Chuckle Gang in the dust, on the mystical Canadian island that hides the well of ghosty visions and the deep-buried tomb of Silas, the Original Immortal.

Oh, and there's another vampire hunter on the island, who gets the drop on Damon but unaccountably doesn't just kill him there and then.

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DISCUSSION

I think Ripper Stefan is the person Stefan is and Muppet Angel Stefan is the person he thinks he should be. In fact, I think he thinks if he takes that cure, that's the person he will be. I think otherwise. Vampirism only heightens what's already there, right?

For all the proof you need that Stefan is mean, see his treatment of Uncle John in the hospital after Katherine attacks him. That was when I definitively stopped thinking of him as The Insipid Good Brother. Also, I stopped thinking of Elena as prettier-Bella; she knew exactly what Stefan did and just gave him sort of a wry acceptance of it.

Damon has poor impulse control and works desperately hard to rein it in because of Elena. Stefan's a jerk who pretends he's otherwise - unless he decides not to for awhile. They're even more broken than Sam and Dean, which is glorious.