Elena and Jeremy go rogue, and Stefan pays the price; Tyler fears his fate
Vampire Diaries Sacrifice
Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW

You’ve got to love an episode that figuratively and literally rips hearts out. Let’s begin with the former: I don’t think any scene on this show has ever made me feel more than Tyler watching Mason’s home movie of his first full moon transformation. It was scripted for maximum impact: They knew we’d be happy to see Taylor Kinney again, shirtless. And then, the screaming started. “I kept thinking I’d black out and not feel it. But I did. I… I felt all of it,” Caroline read aloud from Mason’s accompanying journal, which she and Tyler had found in the Lockwood family cellar. By the time Mason was stomach down on a garage floor, I felt guilty for even noticing he was glistening in sweat.

The single best moment of the werewolf story line so far, for me, was when Mason yelled, “Help! Somebody!” There were no special effects, no amber eyes to distance us. He was a man, and this was really happening. What made it even more brutal, we knew he’d made sure he was in a location where no one would find him. He was so desperate, he couldn’t stop himself from begging. He was feeling the kind of pain so intense you can’t believe anyone, let alone yourself, is allowed to experience it. And Tyler fast-forwarding the video, seeing four hours click by on the time code before he could no longer watch to find out how long the torture would continue — I wanted to go through the TV screen, sit on the floor in the corner of the room, lights out, total silence, and just hold him. That’s what I would’ve needed at that moment, to feel like I could make the world and time stop.

They, however, opted for a stiff drink. (I would’ve offered him one, too, but he’s underage.) Tyler, his eyes now dry again, asked Caroline why she was helping him when they’ve never actually been friends. She told him she was by herself when she changed, and she couldn’t control herself and she killed someone. She didn’t want that to happen to him. She didn’t want him to be alone. Cue Matt, still reeling from the part he unknowingly played in activating Tyler’s curse, ringing Caroline’s doorbell at that moment to tell her that he misses her. The way Tyler walked up behind her and didn’t immediately make Matt feel like he wasn’t interrupting something made me think that triangle has officially begun. It may not be romantic yet, but Caroline’s all Tyler has; he’s going to be protective of his time with her. (You don’t think he’d ever threaten to tell Matt she’s a vampire, do you? It doesn’t seem his style… yet.)

While Tyler wants to run from his curse, Elena wants to face hers. Stefan and Damon told her that Rose’s friend Slater had said there was a way to destroy the spell that Klaus wants to break — release it from the moonstone. The boys had visited Katherine, who was now so bored in the tomb she wanted out. She said if they freed her, she’d give them the moonstone and leave Mystic Falls forever. They didn’t believe her, but it gave them an idea. They’d pretend they were making the deal, but have Bonnie open the seal just long enough for them to grab the moonstone from the weakened Katherine and make their exit.

Elena saw the flaw in this plan: Klaus not getting the stone puts him on a war path. Either way, everyone she cares about is in danger. She went straight to see Rose, who reluctantly agreed to take Elena to Slater because Elena promised her Bonnie would help her walk in daylight again. (Maybe it’s because Rose began that scene in a robe, thinking Elena was Damon coming home — “It’s not nice to leave a girl naked so early in the morning” — but I found myself wondering whether Damon would still be sleeping with Rose if he couldn’t escape her during the day. I think not.)

NEXT: Kristen Stewart gets name-checked, Jeremy gets bitten.

Apparently, Elena and Rose didn’t bother calling Slater to make sure he was at home before they took the road trip because they were surprised when he didn’t answer the door. And then, of course, shocked when they found him on the floor with a stake through his heart. His girlfriend, Alice, was in the apartment, shaken up only because the guy she was hoping would change her into a vampire had bit it. Elena used that info from Rose to cut a deal: If she helped them with Slater’s computer password (Kristen Stewart — ha!), Rose would turn her. I thought it was weird that Rose wasn’t smart enough to figure out Elena was lying to Alice until Elena told her (though I liked Rose’s smile when she heard it). I assumed it was because Rose knew Alice was on vervain, so she couldn’t be compelled to forget the offer. But then Damon later said Alice wouldn’t remember the day’s events, so I guess Rose’s confusion was just meant to show us that she really hadn’t thought Elena capable of lying — so she hadn’t knowingly escorted Elena on her suicide mission. We already knew that was Elena’s plan (the episode is called “The Sacrifice” after all), but it was still a nice reveal. After they got into Slater’s email account — did you freeze frame? My favorite subject line was “Best hardware at best prices” — Elena gave Rose a message to get to Slater’s pal Cody. The doppelgänger is alive and ready to surrender.

Rose called Damon, just as he, Stefan, and Bonnie were entering the tomb. He left, which meant Stefan and Bonnie were left to deal with the mess Jeremy had gotten himself into. During the Scrappy Gang planning session, Jeremy had offered to go into the tomb with his magical no-supernatural-being-can-kill-me ring and fetch the moonstone. Damon laughed him off. Jeremy didn’t want Bonnie attempting to open the tomb because he knew that spell had killed her Grams. She was going to do whatever she needed to help Elena, which included melting Stefan’s photo of Katherine into metal ash that the Salvatores could throw on Katherine to incapacitate her for a minute or two while they retrieved the stone. I assume Jeremy saw that Bonnie’s nose started bleeding while she worked that magic, and that’s why he stole some of the ash after she refused to skip Part 2 of the plan by touching her finger to his lips to shush him.

Jeremy went to Katherine and demanded she give him the moonstone. When he told her she’d have to come and get it, he whipped up a stake gun and nailed her in the stomach. Then he tossed the ash on her and she collapsed. I would’ve thought she’d have done a better job hiding the moonstone, but he found it pretty easily. He ran back to the exit and Katherine was up and ready to feed. Props to Jeremy for having enough sense to throw the moonstone out into the open cave.

Jeremy had his ring on, so Katherine knew she couldn’t kill him. Actually, I don’t get why she couldn’t have snapped his neck, and when he passed out (like he did after Damon did it), remove the ring from his finger. Perhaps you only pass out the first time a supernatural kills you. Or, more likely, Katherine just knew Jeremy was more valuable to her alive. She could feed on him (or play with her new toy — was she purposely wearing his blood as lipstick?) until they agreed to exchange him for her freedom.

NEXT: Damon and Elijah battle for the best entrance.

Back at Slater’s, Damon arrived to Alice’s delight. “Damon Salvatore…. No. Way.” Elena tried to explain to Damon that for once, she was going to make her own decision — not him and Stefan. She doesn’t want Klaus to kill everyone she loves (unspoken: that includes you, Damon!), so she was sacrificing herself. “Get your ass out the door before I throw you over my shoulder and carry you out myself,” he said, unmoved. I love how physical these two were this episode. She tried to punch him, and he grabbed her first, pulling closer to her and looking at the mouth you know he wanted to kiss. “Don’t ever do that again,” he said. After Damon compelled Alice, they were about to leave her when three vampires showed up to facilitate Elena’s transport to Elijah. That got interesting pretty quickly…

Elijah had found Elena through Luka’s dad, Jonas, who’d snuck into Elena’s room during the night and stolen various items that could be used with Elijah’s blood to produce a tracking spell. Note: Were I Elena, I would carry a stake with me if I heard a noise in the hallway and went to investigate. I also would’ve been jealous of Aunt Jenna after catching Alaric returning to her bedroom in his boxers carrying a bowl of Chunky Monkey. If we only get to see him for a minute every episode, this is an acceptable view. It’s nice that he’s been staying over a lot for Jenna, who looked sexy in his shirt when she told Elena how “extremely good” things are going between them (dangerous words leading into a cliffhanger?), and for Elena, who, I imagine, feels a bit safer having him around at night.

Anyway, back to Elijah… That was an awesome shot of Elena looking out the window at Slater’s and seeing his face staring back at her like a reflection, right? Elijah does get some great entrances. One of the transport vamps fell to ground and there Elijah was, standing behind him. He asked one of the two remaining vamps if anyone else knew they were there. He said no, and Elijah told them they’d been very helpful. Then, with each hand, he punched through their backs, ripped out their hearts, and dropped the organs to the floor like it was nothing. That wasn’t quite as shocking as when Russell ripped out a human anchorman’s spinal cord on national TV on True Blood, but it was still cool.

I’m definitely enjoying Elijah now. I did not expect him to just leave Damon alone after that. (Rose bolted as soon as she saw Elijah.) But now he’s got me curious. He told Jonas he left Damon alive because he saw that Damon (and therefore Stefan) would rather die than let anything happen to Elena. The brothers will keep her safe, which is what they need her to be — for now. Is that because he’s waiting to find out Bonnie has the moonstone before he calls in Klaus, so it’s less work for him if he doesn’t take Elena captive until that time? Or does Elijah have a different endgame than Klaus? We know from the synopsis for the Dec. 9 midseason finale that Elijah “makes an unexpected appearance with an offer that could change everything.” What could that be?

NEXT: Jeremy essentially tells Bonnie he loves her and doesn’t even get a pen.

Damon and Elena eventually arrived back at Elena’s and he told her what she’d done that day was incredibly stupid. I was waiting for him to add something like, “but also incredibly brave,” but he didn’t. Elena made another good point: They’re all willing to die to save her, why can’t they understand why she’s willing to die to save them? (I think because in their plan, Elena, there’s at least a .01 percent chance they won’t die.) That front porch is Damon and Elena’s place now, right? That’s where their big moments happen, like finding out that Stefan is now trapped in the tomb…

Time to back up again: So once Bonnie and Stefan saw Katherine had Jeremy, Stefan told Bonnie to open the tomb so he could save him. Earlier in the episode, Bonnie had confessed her nosebleeds and fainting spells to Luka, who then bonded himself to her in the high school parking lot by exchanging his dog tags for her bracelet (which was fine because it did not match her outfit), and channeling their energy to start a near orgasmic wind storm. If she channeled Luka through his dog tags again, she thought she’d have enough juice to do it. (Shouldn’t she have told him she was going to channel him? That seems like poor witch behavior considering he got a nosebleed and seizures while doing homework.) Bonnie failed, and she passed out. Best moment of that sequence: When Katherine elbowed Jeremy and knocked him out when he was telling Bonnie to stop. Bonnie awoke and was pissed that she still wasn’t powerful enough. Katherine wanted to rub it in, so she said she was still hungry and went to have another bite of Jeremy, and Stefan darted into the tomb. He threw Jeremy out of it, now Stefan’s stuck inside. The spell says a vamp can enter but not leave. Katherine’s thrilled.

Bonnie escorted Jeremy home and the boy was not only man enough to use the word “berate” but also to reveal his feelings for Bonnie when she couldn’t understand why he had to get involved — because he wanted to save her as badly as she wants to save Elena. Bonnie was all, “Jeremy, you can’t feel that way about me,” and he was all, “Don’t act like this is one-sided, like I’m some kid that has a crush on his sister’s friend.” He touched her face and I was all, “KISS! KISS!” He went for it, but she shot him down, with a single tear. She stopped at the door and looked back, and I thought she might rush back and lay one on him. He was touching the gauze over Katherine’s bite, which reminded me, at least, of what he’d just gone through for her. But she didn’t. And I get it: She knows he won’t stop putting himself in danger for her, and that he doesn’t need to lose another girl he cares about. (Though do we think he’ll actually stop caring for Bonnie now? No. Do we think Bonnie is leaving the show any time soon? No.)

NEXT: Stefan’s idiot plan could possibly yield the hottest captive sex scene since Lost.

After Jeremy told Elena and Damon about Stefan, they rushed to the tomb, and even though Damon has superspeed, Elena beat him there. Interesting. Stefan and Katherine listened as Damon and Elena fought. They blamed each other for Stefan being in there. Elena wanted to go to him, and thrashed about in Damon’s arms as he tried to stop her. That was nicely played, it should’ve looked like she was no match for him, and it did. She made one final attempt to enter the tomb but Damon’s raised eyebrows stopped her. She left, and Damon assessed the situation: “Of all the idiot plans, Stefan.” Damon said he’d find a way to get Stefan out, and Stefan told him he’d fend for himself. Damon should focus on helping Bonnie de-spell the moonstone. “You martyr yourself into a tomb, and I get partnered with a semi-competent witch. Wonderful,” Damon said. Stefan made him promise to keep Elena away from the tomb and protect her no matter what. Damon said he would and left. Katherine told Stefan that was the biggest mistake he’d ever made.

What do you think? Does Stefan know what he’s doing? Does he have a plan that apparently involves having hot tomb sex with Katherine next episode? And could that scene end up steamier than the Kate/Sawyer cage sex on Lost? How psyched/horrified are you to see Tyler’s transformation next week? Did you appreciate the way he at least pretended to be looking around to see if anyone was listening to his and Caroline’s werewolf conversation at school, as opposed to Bonnie and Luka who were talking about her being a witch when they walked right in front of someone? How did you feel about Damon’s shirt this episode? I know he and Stefan, who dressed sporty for their walk in the woods, couldn’t both be wearing Henleys, but they should have been. I did not love this V-neck on Damon. Something was off. The only consolation is that he can go home and change. I’d hate to have seen Stefan stuck in it for more than one episode. Although it would’ve given me another reason to be happy to see Paul Wesley shirtless next episode. And keeping on the fashion front, what about Bonnie’s plunging neckline? She looked fabulous, but I can’t believe I didn’t notice any of the male characters looking where they shouldn’t. Did you? And finally, how are we liking Tyler’s leather jacket? Michael Trevino was very excited to finally be getting one. Now, he feels badass.

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The Vampire Diaries

Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev, and Paul Wesley star in the CW’s romance-infused vampire soap opera.

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