Episode 3.21 TVD – “Before Sunset”

Wow, wow, wow and wow.  As opening scenes of “The Vampire Diaries” go, this one was the best I’ve seen in the series to date.

The “historical tableaux” ending with a long shot of our favorite history teacher, the now vampire-hunting vampire, Alaric Saltzman, stretched out at his desk in Mystic Falls High School.   Stake in hand, contemplating who knows what until he hears the voice of …..no, it’s Caroline.

She’s talking to Tyler about cleaning up after the decade dance, but Tyler tells her Klaus has summoned him to help pack.  Klaus and Kompany are leaving Mystic Falls.  Tyler is bound to behave as if he is still sired.

In the gym, Caroline encounters Rebekah, who tells her that Matt was called to work at the last minute, so she’s there alone, cleaning up  – and she’s got major attitude.  She chastises Caroline for being two minutes late.  Clearly what she’s upset about is that, as she says herself, she didn’t get to attend the dance that she organized.

And then Caroline does what we all love her for.  She shows Rebekah compassion, telling her she’s sorry about her Mom.  Remarkably, Bex responds by telling Caroline she’s sorry about Ric.

As Rebekah leaves for cleanup in the gym, she encounters Ric in the hall, and clearly, she did NOT expect to see him. When he attacks Bex and is about to stake her, it’s Caroline to the rescue!  Grabbing the stake, she shoves it into Ric’s chest. But when he simply pulls it out, the two blondes take off at vamp speed.

Caroline reaches her car just in time to see Ric behind her in the window.  He breaks her neck, she falls to the ground, we see  a sizzling Ric (no ring to protect him from the sunlight, after all), dragging “Vampire Barbie” back into the school, with Bex watching from the sidelines.

Yep – best opening scene of the series!

Meanwhile, back at Casa de Gilbert, apparently Elena and Jeremy can’t wait to redecorate Ric’s old room.  Elena spreads drop cloths as Jeremy pours more paint.  Stefan shows up to comment on how weird this is, but Elena tells him they’ve got to keep moving.  Someone should tell Elena activity does not mask thoughts and feelings – and burying them is worse than dealing with them.

Not that she’d listen.

Jeremy is confused about Stefan and Elena’s “relationship status” but who isn’t?  Getting no clarity from either of them, he unleashes his frustration with a request – can we please have one day – just one – without any vampires in it?

The doorbell rings, and Stefan finds Damon and Bonnie.  She is bleeding from the neck.  Damon says “We have a problem.”

Back at the Mikaelson manse, Rebekah is telling her brother that Ric just tried to kill her, and thanks to their mother, he’s got a white oak stake that can’t kill him.  And he’s strong – they can’t defeat him.  For now he’s stuck in the school without a daylight ring, but when it’s dark, he will come after them.  She wants to leave – NOW.

Klaus says – sure, I’ll collect Elena and we’ll leave.  But Bex argues he doesn’t need Elena, or any more hybrids.  Klaus counters he needs protection – from their mother. But Rebekah says they can protect each other just like they always have – always and forever. But Klaus won’t leave without Elena.  So Bex tells him he either leaves with her now, or he is on his own.  When he makes no move to go, she stabs him one more time.

“Fine.  Choose your hybrids over your family.”

She storms out, crashing into Tyler on her way.

Back at the Gilberts, Bonnie is explaining that the witches took control of her while she was sleeping because they wanted Ric to turn.  Damon is annoyed with himself for alloying his friend Ric to “die with dignity” instead of just killing him.

So what are they going to do now?

Bonnie explains that a witch can’t really make an immortal creature – there is always a loophole.  Problem is, she doesn’t know what that workaround is in this particular case.

Upstairs, Elena’s phone rings.  She sees it is an incoming call from Ric – and when she answers it, she’s angry, thinking it is a prankster.  But Ric is on the other end.  He tells her he’s got Caroline at the school and if Elena wants to keep her alive, she needs to get to the school right away.  And don’t tell anyone, or Ric will kill Caroline.

Caroline is looking really bad – tied to a chair, with a rope in her mouth, face bleeding, and palms down on the desk with pencils driven through them – right, just like a crucifixion!

Back downstairs, the doorbell rings and Jeremy answers the door.  It’s Klaus on the other side – and Jeremy is not happy to see him (“What the hell are you doing here?”  GO JEREMY!) Stefan shows up at his side.  Klaus has never been invited into Casa Gilbert.  Stefan tells Jeremy to go to his room (and again, the look Jeremy gives him is priceless – like “Screw you, what am I – 5?”) and Damon comes up from behind and says “Now”.  Jeremy, recognizing he’s dealing with 3 vampires, reluctantly leaves.

When Klaus announces he’s leaving town, just needs to pick up the doppelganger, Damon shuts the door in his face!

The brothers are off looking for Elena, while Klaus paces outside, anxiously trying to find a way in, or get the occupants out! Taking a page out of Brother Elijah’s book, his weapon of choice is not a handful of coins, but a rolled newspaper.  He hurls it through the window – breaking the glass and the plantation shutters!

At the school, Caroline can hear Elena approaching.  And Elena can hear Caroline.  When she arrives at Ric’s classroom, Ric tells her to free Caroline herself.  (Matt Davis looks deliciously blasé and malevolent.) As Elena attempts to remove one of the pencils, Alaric grabs it from behind.

Klaus spies his next weapon – a child’s rubber ball, abandoned in a neighbor’s yard.  As Stefan, Damon, Bonnie and Jeremy discover that Elena’s car is gone, the ball breaks through the front door – and right behind it is Klaus with a supply of – I don’t know – pickets?  From the picket fence of the same neighbor’s yard.  He starts hurling them like darts!

Damon ducks – then springs back up shouting “missed me” and grabbing the weapon out of the wall to hurl right back at Klaus.  GO DAMON!  Next one is over his head – and he shouts “Missed me again”!  Gotta’ love Damon! In the midst of all this, Stefan gets a call – from Alaric.

As Klaus approaches with a propane tank and a lit newspaper, Stefan comes outside and tells him to put it out.

And Klaus counters with “Come outside and make me.”

That may have been the best line of the show.  It demonstrates so clearly that no matter how big or bad a villain Klaus may appear, inside he’s just a frightened and angry kid who didn’t get enough love and wants to appear invulnerable to pain so no one will hurt him.

Stefan informs Klaus that Ric has Elena and Caroline and unless Klaus turns himself over, Ric will kill them both.

Klaus wants to make sure he’s not being set up – but Stefan reminds him that if he dies, they all may die – and certainly Tyler will die, while Damon is willing to gamble with those odds (as always).

As “the boys” negotiate, Bonnie joins them – with an idea. She suggests a desiccation spell (like her Mom used on Mikael) but they still need vampire power to take Ric down, including Klaus. He reminds them that if they can’t pull it off before sunset (8 hours from now), he’ll be gone, Elena will be dead, and they will be stuck with Ric.

Back at the school, turns out the ropes around Caroline’s mouth are vervain-soaked.  Ouch. Alaric explains that the torture is designed as incentive for Elena to put Caroline out of her misery.  Ric taught her how to hunt vampires but she’s never actually staked one.

Back at Casa Salvatore, Bonnie and Damon wait for Abby to arrive.  As Abby shows up, Stefan and Klaus are at the school.  Stefan says he’d leave with Klaus if it meant protecting Elena – and Klaus appears to be a Stelena shipper, saying Stefan is her better option. But Stefan makes it clear all the trouble Klaus has gone to – trying to put a wedge between them – has only made them closer.  They have survived worse – they will survive him.

Abby has no trouble walking through the Salvatore threshold, and Damon explains that sure enough, when Elena died, the seal broke.  Abby refuses the blood Damon offers, and then tells her mother that she wants to desiccate Ric the way Abby did Mikael.  Abby warns her that the spell is dangerous.  Bonnie’s magic comes from the earth, and is pure.  The desiccation spell uses Dark Magic.  Abby doesn’t think Bonnie can handle it.

But Bonnie tells Abby she doesn’t know her – or what she can handle.  And Damon backs Bonnie up! (Remember, Damon has personal experience with Bonnie and exactly how far she is willing – and able – to go in the magic department.  This is really nice to see.)  Abby informs them that the spell involved stopping the vampire’s heart – but to do that, you need to find a balance among the living.

In order to do the spell, Bonnie will have to stop a human heart. (Which begs the question, who’s heart did Abby stop to desiccate Mikael?)

But in this case, the sacrificial human is….Jeremy.  He is convinced he’s the perfect choice because Elena’s his sister.  He will fight for her.  Damon wants Jeremy’s lifesaving ring – Jeremy has already used up to of his lives, and if Bonnie can’t restart his heart, Damon fears they will have a Ric Jr. to deal with.

Stefan and Klaus arrive.  Bonnie tells them to drink her blood (which she is conveniently carrying in a little bottle) so they will all be linked. Then one of them will have to make a physical connection to his bloodstream – a vein or an artery. Two of them hold Ric down, the other takes his best shot at the “contact point”.

Before they execute their plan, Klaus reveals that he’s responsible for their bloodline – and Tyler’s.  No way to know if he’s telling the truth or buying insurance. But why didn’t Rose know this? Damon points out the fact that Klaus may be lying – and he dares them to call his bluff.

Inside the school, Ric and Elena are locked in a debate over right and wrong.  He tells her if she doesn’t side with the humans, she’s as bad as the vampires – and she needs to kill Caroline, or Ric will and he will make it hurt.

When Elena takes a shot at him with the stake, he grabs her arm, and she counters by heaving the beaker of vervain in Ric’s face!  GO ELENA! As he writhes in pain, Elena frees Caroline and tells her to get help.  Elena knows she can’t outrun Ric!  Sure enough, Caroline escapes but Ric blocks Elena.

And Caroline runs straight into Klaus, who tells her to go home and stay there.  That’s twice he’s saved her life!  This is NOT a guy I’d want to be obligated to.

Ric is roughing up Elena, and eventually she asks him why he doesn’t just kill her.

Stefan and Damon grab Ric from behind – but he’s too strong – he knocks Stefan out and breaks Damon’s neck. But Klaus is able to make contact with Ric’s heart – and Bonnie is gibber-gabbering in the woods over Jeremy’s body.  But Klaus can’t hold the connection, and Ric grabs the stake.

But before he can put Klaus away, Elena grabs something sharp and threatens to cut her throat.  She’s figured it out!  If she dies, Ric will die.  That’s why he can’t kill her.  They are linked via her blood – the blood Esther used in the spell to turn him into the invincible vampire hunter.

Ric tells her she’s wrong – and she calls his bluff and starts to cut her own throat.  GO ELENA!

Ric’s concentration is broken, and Klaus is able to get away.  So does Elena.

But apparently Klaus grabbed Elena outside because now she’s at his place, with a needle in her arm, being drained of all her blood.  Now that Klaus knows if she dies, Ric dies, he’s going to take her blood until she’s dead.  Tyler walks in – and now he’s in the throes of a dilemma.  He can’t help Elena without giving himself away.

Meanwhile, the Salvatore brothers awaken to find Alaric standing over them. He tells them Klaus is killing Elena to kill him so they’d better go do what they do best – save Elena’s life.

Klaus lies to Elena – using Stefan’s argument to him earlier.  He tells Elena he doesn’t need his hybrids so much anymore because in trying to kill them, his mother just strengthened the bonds with his siblings. But Elena sees the faulty logic – if that were really true, Klaus wouldn’t need her blood at all.  He wants a back-up family. Klaus fight back – telling Elena that she knows once she picks a brother, the Salvatore bond will be broken.  He’s saving her from having to make the choice – but he wants to know who she would have picked.  She practically spits in his face.  He leaves.

Tyler returns to help her. Tyler informs him he transformed into a werewolf 100 times because of his love for Caroline – which is stronger than any sire bond.  Not that Klaus would understand that. And by the way, Klaus doesn’t give a crap about Tyler or any of his hybrids – he just doesn’t want to be alone.  As Tyler goes to help Elena, Klaus grabs her and shoves her – she falls and hits her head on the sharp end of a table – she’s out!

Tyler and Klaus are locked in a fight – when the Salvatore boys show up.  Stefan establishes contact – and since they are linked, Bonnie gets a signal – not knowing it’s Klaus and not Alaric on the other end.  As she chants, Klaus is looking worse and worse.

And actually, the look on his face as he sinks deeper and deeper into desiccation – it’s heartbreaking.  Especially when he looks at Stefan.  Bonnie revives Jeremy, and Klaus is done.  And it’s brilliant.  If he did create their bloodline, they are rid of him without killing him and hurting themselves.  But Stefan reminds them they still have Ric to deal with.

The brothers take Elena home.  She’s feeling secure – Ric can’t hurt her, day or night.  The brothers are about to go on a road trip to dispose of Klaus’ body – in the Atlantic.  But before they go, Elena explains that she can’t make a choice because she’s afraid of losing the brother she doesn’t choose – and she’s lost too many people already.

As the brothers leave, Elena finds all her friends in her kitchen – celebrating.  As great as the group scene was last week – the Ric “funeral” scene – this scene is totally dumb.  They Caroline, Bonnie, Tyler, Jeremy and Matt all look happy, energetic and giddy – just the way you’d look after a day of torture and spells and fights to the death.  Yeah – right.  Worst scene of the episode.

Liz Forbes shows up at the Lockwood house for an emergency council meeting – called by Ric!  Who “outs” the Forbes and Lockwood children!  And just who the hell are all these people – and where’s Meredith????  Then Ric vamps to the door to block the Sheriff’s exit.  Shock – horror!

Now what?

On their road trip to the Atlantic, Damon’s cracking jokes and celebrating. Stefan admits that 150 years down the road, they make a good team.  But what happens when Elena makes a decision? Stefan says if she chooses Damon, he will leave town.  Damon is philosophical – in 60 years – it will be over and they will go back to being brothers – and he agrees to the same terms on his side.  Although it’s a lot for one girl, they both agree she’s very special.

The special girl, meanwhile, is back to painting – but clearly she is suffering from effects of the blood draw – or the crack on the head – or both.  Elena falls unconscious to the floor and blood drips from her nose.

Did anyone take her to the hospital to have her checked out?

Season 3 finale next week.

Have we seen the last of Klaus?

Will we see Elijah?

Who will Elena chose?

Will Elena chose at all?

And what’s Ric’s next move?

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