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3 YEARS

'The Vampire Diaries' Returns: 8 Explosive Highlights From 'A New Deal'

The tides are turning for Elena, Damon and Stefan as the CW supernatural drama revs up for the rest of its third season.

The Vampire Diaries New Deal Nina Dobrev Ian Somerhalder - H 2012
Bob Mahoney/The CW
"The Vampire Diaries"

Never one to temper the drama, The Vampire Diaries' first episode back featured some jaw-dropping developments that will greatly affect the next few weeks for Elena and Co.

The Hollywood Reporter highlights eight of the episode's biggest revelations:

[Warning: If you have not watched Thursday's episode, do not proceed. Major spoilers ahead.]

1. Long-Awaited Kiss: It was the kiss seen around the world. Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Elena (Nina Dobrev) finally locked lips on the porch of the Gilbert house, this time both were well aware of what they were doing (and no one was on the verge of dying). The moment was a crucial one for the pair, who have been spending more time by default, as Stefan (Paul Wesley) tries to plan his revenge on Klaus (Joseph Morgan). Even since the first season, it's been obvious that Damon harbors feelings for Elena, but knowing what he knows now about why Stefan let Klaus go, the repercussions may be more significant than ever.

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2. Stefan vs. Klaus: In the ongoing battle between Stefan and Klaus, who wants the coffins of the Originals found and returned, Stefan is well aware of Klaus' only weakness: his family. And Klaus will do anything to make sure everyone knows the lengths he'll go. Stefan and Bonnie (Kat Graham) team up to hide Klaus' family, which the spirits have made disappear in the old, rundown house. The only way to gain an upper hand is to see what's in the caskets, which have been pried shut. Next step: Whatever is inside is probably the answer to bringing down Klaus, Bonnie alludes.

3. One of Three "Deaths" Sticks: So maybe it was more like one of two. Klaus issues a warning when one of his hybrid slaves Tony plows through the street with Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) -- fired from the Mystic Grill after failing to go to work for a week -- compelled by Klaus to stand in the middle of the road. A second before he would've been hit (and dead since he wasn't wearing his ring), Alaric pushes him out of the way and is hit by the SUV. Thankfully, he's wearing his ring and isn't fully dead. Later on when Alaric comes to, he begins coughing up blood and there Tony is again, all the doing of Klaus. Jeremy makes sure Tony's 100 percent dead by wielding a chopping knife right in front of Elena. Should she be worried of Jeremy's sudden mindset?

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4. The Truth Comes Out: During a heated, fast-paced vampire showdown between estranged brothers, Stefan finally reveals the real reason why he spared Klaus. "I did it to save you!," Stefan exclaims while he and Damon duke it out outside the haunted house. Maybe it's pride because Damon isn't buying it, but the truth hurts: Damon would've been dead if Stefan killed Klaus because the hybrids would be after him. The fight isn't all for naught: Damon and Stefan decide to team up without Elena. How will she feel about that? Not so good, one can assume.

5. Meet Dr. Fell: After Alaric heads to the hospital to be looked at after coughing up blood, he bumps into the beautiful Dr. Fell (Torrey DeVitto), who obviously takes a liking to him. And her first name is also revealed: Meredith.

6. Slap-Happy Elena: During a heated exchange between one-time loves Elena and Stefan in the old rundown house in the woods when she pleads for him to do what Klaus wants to save her brother, Stefan nonchalantly tells her that he isn't going to give Klaus anything. Elena goes ahead and slaps him: "Go to hell."

7. Mystic Falls Departure: There hasn't been much compelling done by Damon as of late, but after all the hoopla, he uses his vampire powers to persuade Jeremy to leave town -- because it's the only way to keep him safe and for him to have a better life. The question becomes: Will Jeremy actually leave town?

8. Tyler in Over His Head: Tyler (now a hybrid), sired by Klaus in an episode last year, may not know exactly how bad the situation is. (Being sired, it's explained in more detail, is like having faith in something; you do it because you believe in it.) It's come to a point where it's revealed that Klaus really does have Tyler by the balls: He'd rip his out heart out if Klaus tells him to. "I can still make my own decisions," Tyler tells Elena, Jeremy and Alaric -- but of course, none of them buy it.

In pure Vampire Diaries fashion, the episode ends on a cliffhanger -- but not one typical of the show's shock-and-awe style, but one nonetheless. During the airing, Twitter trending topics ranging from "Alaric," "#TVD" and "Watching Vampire Diaries" were in the top 10.

How will the liplock affect Elena moving forward, now that she knows the truth about why Stefan let things be with Klaus?

The Vampire Diaries airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.