[Spoilers from episode 1 below]

“I have to let you go.” — Elena

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After five full seasons of “The Vampire Diaries” we can only cross our fingers, perform some witchy magic, and hope that Elena and Jeremy begin a new season without grieving (their hearts deserve a rest!) — but alas, that is not so. With last season’s finale, both of them lost another significant loved one.

I mean, Jeremy. Poor, Jeremy. I will go down saying that he’s the most tortured character in the show. He lost three girlfriends, his parents, and his big brother figure. It’s no wonder he’s chosen to cope in a new way this time. There’s only so many tears he can shed.

We have a lot to sink our teeth into — like herb-addicted Elena, who acted flat-out crazy and I kinda loved it. So let’s get to it. Here are the good, the great and the brilliant moments from the season six premiere.

The Good: Catching up with the Mystic Falls Gang! Only not all of them can reside in the town. With the travelers’ magic, no vampires are allowed within the borders. Which actually gives Caroline the perfect outlet during her grieving stage. She is determined to figure out how to break the spell — and also convince Stefan to return home.

But he’s not interested in taking her calls. He’s too busy spending time with another girl. Caroline is not-so-secretly my favorite character in the show, and I have this intense mother-hen need to protect her from all bad guys. While I love Stefan, my girl Caroline deserves to be treated like a princess. Not ditched or forgotten or used and abused. It’s time she had someone who actually cares for her.

And that person is most likely residing in New Orleans. Yeah, Klaus is all kinds of bad and evil, but he’s the kind of guy who matched Caroline perfectly. She made him a better person, and he also buried a body for her. In “The Vampire Diaries” world, that’s true love.

Klaroline digression aside, the Mystic Falls Gang is still dealing with the Bonnie-Damon deaths. Jeremy has retreated to his house with booze, girls and video games. Matt has busied himself with the Mystic Falls protection force.

And Tyler is taking college seriously — which is pretty surprising. I give him less than a semester before he stops going to class…unless Liv is still there. She may be good enough incentive.

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The Great: Alaric is a professor! This is almost the best thing ever. Alaric has been a missing link, and with him back, it feels like the Gang is grounded in a way. They have much-needed stability. He’s trying to cope with being a vampire for really the first time, so it’s cute to see him learning the ropes. Even Elena has helped him out some.

Alaric may even have a love interest with the brainy medical professor. Their encounter was both awkward and adorable, and I’m happy that Alaric won’t be too lonely on Earth. Though it’s a bit sad that his best friend (Damon) died right when he returned. I like some irony here and there, but that’s just mean.

The Brilliant: Elena tweaks out, hallucinates Damon, and becomes the vampire lurker. I had a minor panic attack when we realized that Elena was catching up Damon on everything that’s been happening. And it made learning that she hallucinated his existence all the more painful. Every Delena shipper was hoping he was a ghost, admit it.

I wasn’t surprised that Elena asked Alaric to make her forget she loved Damon. If I remember correctly, Elena and Damon did a similar compulsion to Jeremy at one point.

Honorable Mentions: Matt’s speech to the bitten-girl. This deserved a standing ovation and applause. As the lone human, he’s been abused, tortured, and killed many more times than the actual vampires. And he’s never been in a real power position, so it’s nice for him to express all of this outright.

Damon and Bonnie sharing breakfast in heaven? Let me rephrase that: Damon makes vampire-smiley-faced pancakes in heaven for Bonnie. Every. Day. I love this friendship, and if one of the lead characters had to pass, at least they passed with a friend this time. As grim as that may seem, we don’t have a lot of silver linings left in Mystic Falls. We must take what we can get.

What’d you think of the premiere? Are you hoping Caroline breaks the spell soon? Do you want Elena and Damon to reunite in some fashion? How about Alaric’s new love interest — is there romantic hope for this fledgling vampire? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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— Becca Ritchie