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The Vampire Diaries “Before Sunset” 

Photo credit: Annette Brown/The CW

Last year’s next-to-laster was a jaw dropper because we lost Jenna and Uncle Daddy, but this year, the 21st episode treaded water a little bit with one jaw dropper and then a whole lot of filler. I spent most of it waiting for the other shoe to drop, and in the last few seconds of the episode, it finally did. We’ll get to that. Get comfy. This is going to be wordy.

So, Alaric is undead and well and ready to wreak all sorts of havoc on everybody and he starts with Caroline, who he kidnaps into his classroom while she and Rebekah are at the school bright and early on a Sunday morning doing cleanup from the dance. Rebekah, mindful of her own safety, hauls ass home and gives Klaus a heads up.

Over at the Gilberts, Elena and Jeremy are already repainting Alaric’s room when Stefan arrives and Jeremy very matter-of-factly asks him to leave so they can have one vampire-free day. They put a pin in that discussion when Stefan goes to answer the door and finds Damon propping up a bleeding Bonnie out on the landing. Stefan gets caught up pretty quick that Alaric is alive while the Gilberts have a blissful moment where they don’t know that yet.

That ends when Alaric calls Elena to tell her he has Caroline and she races to the school in a hot hurry and so she can be taunted, too. The scene at the school is super torture porny as Alaric has Caroline gagged with vervain and pencil stakes in her hands. He brutalizes Elena about all of it and tells her to go ahead and kill Caroline to ease her suffering. Then he taunts her some more by raging at her about what a disappointment she is to her parents and her name.

At Casa Mikaelson, Klaus hears out Rebekah’s news and decision to get the hell out of Mystic Falls, yet when she asks him to leave with her right now, he tells her no. In a really irrational turns of events, he decides instead to stop off at the Gilberts in an attempt to retrieve Elena as his carry-on baggage. The upside: the house is full of Salvatores, Jeremy, and Bonnie. The downside: Elena’s already snuck out.

The team at the Gilberts plays dodge ball with Klaus through broken windows for a while (in a scene that I watched twice and still didn’t quite get the point of, because the odds were four to one against Klaus but he was still hell bent on throwing a tantrum for maximum damage) before they finally get a call from Alaric demanding Klaus’s appearance in exchange for not killing Elena and Caroline.

Stefan steps out onto the porch to deliver this nugget to Klaus and he drops the torch and gas canister that where his next tools of destruction (yes, really) and they all head to the school. The plan? To desiccate Alaric, with Abby’s help and a blood bind from Bonnie. Which is all groovy except that the point/counterpoint to the spell is that Bonnie also has to stop a human heart. Awesome. Two guesses as to the volunteer. If you said Jeremy, you get a cookie.

While that’s brewing, Elena soaks Alaric with vervain, tries to stab him with the stake, and frees Caroline. She tells her to go to help and then runs out into the hall, but she’s nowhere near fast enough.  Before we pick up with them again, though, there is a super hot moment of Klaus catching a fleeing Caroline in the hall, spinning her around to face him, and pretty much begging her to go home and be safe. (Damn.)

Back in the hallway, Alaric starts smacking the sh-t out of Elena and comes close to killing her, which she essentially begs for. He stops short and she thinks it’s his humanity creeping back in until she snaps to that she’s his kill switch, courtesy of Esther. Sneaky.

Alaric turns his attention to Klaus and the Salvatores when they arrive and lays an ass-kicking on all three of them. They get enough licks in to drop Alaric for a moment and Klaus gets away with Elena. We pick up back at his house with Elena AGAIN being drained. Tyler walks in and Elena begs him to intervene but he doesn’t, except to tip the Scoobies that Klaus has her.

Meanwhile, Klaus tells Elena he’s doing her a favor because she’ll never have to choose a Salvatore, although he asks her to tell him who she would choose. She responds with “go to hell,” and then they get into it about Klaus creating a backup family because he betrayed his blood family and they don’t want him.

At the school, Damon and Stefan revive and Alaric tells them to go get Elena, since his only limitation is the daylight thing (even though that doesn’t stop him from dragging Caroline inside while his skin burns). He’s stuck at the school until sundown (hence the title), and then he decides the best use of his time is to call a council meeting and out Tyler and Caroline in front of God and everybody, leaving Liz and Carol speechless to explain.

The Salvatores get to Klaus’s just as Tyler, who finally steps up, reveals he is no longer sired. Tyler’s getting his licks in when Stefan swoops in to help and in the twist I didn’t see coming (bravo, show), Stefan clutches Klaus’s chest and starts the desiccation spell on him. It’s a supremely emotional, intimate scene as Tyler hold Klaus up and Stefan doesn’t break his grip as he stands face to face with Klaus and watches him fade away. Out in the woods, Jeremy flatlines but Bonnie is able to bring him back.

Afterward, they box him up and plan to drive him to the ocean and drop him off. (Which seems capital dumb idea to put him somewhere you can’t keep an eye on him. Who’s to say somebody won’t pull him onto a boat and start everything all over again?) Elena follows Stefan and Damon out to the porch and apologizes for being a teenager who can’t choose a boyfriend. She lays it out for them that if she chooses one as her boyfriend, she loses the other as her friend, and she just can’t lose anybody else. They agree to table it but in the car later, each of the brothers agrees to leave if the other is selected by Elena (which makes her worry true). So there’s that.

Back home, Elena’s tribe has gathered in the kitchen to do post-Klaus shooters and the setup is eerie to me because it looks like if you took a still image of all of them– Elena, Jeremy, Caroline, Tyler, Matt (!), and Bonnie–you could start marking them out in a Ten Little Indians (or Revenge) scenario. In other words, it’s way too early to be that smug that they’re out of the woods.

Then that last shoe I mentioned at the beginning drops—after everybody liquors up and leaves, Elena is back at the painting and Jeremy comes in to tell her goodnight but his death and undeath aren’t mentioned. He leaves her to go on to bed and she gets back to painting until she clutches her head in pain and collapses to the floor, unconscious and bleeding from the nose.

So there’s A LOT that could unravel in the 44-minute finale. I smell a cliffhanger (or four).

As for “Before Sunset,” taking out Klaus is a big deal that’s been two seasons in coming, but I’m not 100% that it’s a done deal just yet. The overall pacing was a little weird for me because it seemed odd that they would stop and party in the kitchen or stop and paint a room or stop and chat about a love triangle when there are bigger questions in play. But maybe that was intentional because this week there won’t be time for anybody to stop and do anything.

Takeaways:

  • Alaric really is the super soldier badass that Esther wanted. After human Alaric had to use weapons, it was quite a switch to watch him be the weapon.
  • I was surprised that Caroline was so light about Klaus’s death after their encounter in the hall. I think there will be more from her about that later. I’m glad she has Tyler back and that he’s free, but, and I hate to even say this, it came too easy because Tyler just left for a while.
  • I still love that Joseph Morgan can tear up so easily. He and Paul Wesley and Michael Trevino did awesome work in the scene where Klaus goes down.
  • While I’m sorry to see Joseph Morgan go, I think it was (past) time for Klaus to move on because they were running out of things to do with him. Elijah is infinitely interesting because he pops up when we least expect him and disappears the same way. The only drawback is that with Klaus tabled, logic holds that we have to have another Big Bad. I’d guess we’re due for Katherine any minute now, or Alaric will be the Big Bad.
  • I’m amazed we’re already at the end of the third season. I wonder where we’re supposed to be in Mystic Falls time. Mid-way through senior year?

The season finale airs this Thursday at 8pm/7c on The CW. And the show got an early renewal last week for its 4th season return (no brainer but it’s finally official).

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