The sacrifice ritual claims multiple lives; good thing we love the show's death theme 
Vampire Diaries
Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW
Best Starting Point: ''Growing Pains'' (401) — A lot changed in last season's lead-up. It's probably best not to miss this season opener, which shows…

Thank god for Michael Trevino’s torso. If Tyler hadn’t woken up shirtless, I don’t know that I would’ve been able to snap out of the misery this episode brought me. I feel like I should also apologize to my DVR/life partner Peter, who has the unfortunate luck of being positioned near the TV, which I spent much of the hour shouting at. Also, Peter, sorry about the crying. (And the rewinding and crying again.) Let’s bring the pain!

I’ve been advocating for Aunt Jenna to die for, like, ever because it was just too difficult to fit her into the story when she wasn’t in the know. I’m so glad they waited and gave Sara Canning a beautiful exit in which she went out fighting. Greta tempted Jenna into drinking from her, so the transition to vampire was complete. Honestly, I hated Greta more than Klaus. I feel like whatever Klaus is doing is somehow in his twisted hybrid nature (pushing for Klaus to dub himself a vampolf). What’s Greta’s excuse? Jules joined the party and Greta announced that she was slowing Jules’ transformation for the ritual — so the screams we were hearing were due to Jules’ insides trying to tear themselves free. Lovely.

Greta had the three women separated in rings of fire, and when your fire went out, time was up. Klaus started with Jules, who had enough time to tell Elena that everything she’d ever done in Mystic Falls was for Tyler — she didn’t want him to be alone. Klaus ripped her heart out and dripped the blood into Greta’s fiery makeshift cauldron in which she’d already dropped the moonstone. Was the boiling blood dissolving the moonstone? I don’t know. Doesn’t really matter. I could handle that death. My tissue tally was still at zero. Yours?

Next, it was time for Jenna’s confession: When she first heard she was going to become Elena and Jeremy’s guardian, her first thought was, “Isn’t there someone else who can do this?” She felt like she let Elena down. How? Unless you made her the doppelgänger, not your fault. Jeremy and Bonnie’s romantic candlelight grimoire reading — during which they discovered Emily Bennett was working on resuscitative spells for old John Gilbert — was interrupted by the arrival of Alaric, who broke the news to Jeremy that Jenna was now Klaus’ marked vampire. Stefan, meanwhile, told Bonnie he was going to offer Klaus a vampire he’d want even more — him. Bonnie did a locator spell to find the sacrifice site, and Elijah told Stefan he should head there alone. Elijah would bring Bonnie when the moon hit its final stage because Klaus couldn’t find out she was still alive until then, when his transition would begin. “You’re very honorable,” Elijah told Stefan, and he meant it. It’s funny: I always thought Elijah and Damon were my preferred pair, but that moment made me change my mind. “Are you?” Stefan asked. Stefan knows what it’s like to want to kill your brother, but he’s never been able to bring himself to do it. Could Elijah keep his word?

Elijah made a convincing argument: Klaus had, over centuries, hunted down Elijah’s siblings and parents and one by one took them from him. Klaus scattered them across the seas where their bodies cannot be found. “Sometimes there’s honor in revenge, Stefan,” Elijah said, with just enough of a smile to let you know he was relishing the thought. “I won’t fail you.” I say it every week he’s on, but Daniel Gillies is so good. Gillies, in his own words, plays Elijah with a certain “economy of movement,” but he’s never lazy. He always does just enough to convey what he needs to in the coolest possible way. “Please end this,” Stefan said. I understand why Klaus could’ve turned on the man who raised him and killed his birth father, and even his mother who’d lied to him. But why would he turn on his siblings? Was it just because he wanted to make Elijah suffer for not returning Katerina to him after she escaped, because the siblings didn’t support him becoming a hybrid, or something else?

NEXT: Klaus is sexiest when he’s drinking.

Alaric told Damon about Stefan’s decision to be Klaus’ vampire, and after Damon put his fist through a wall and got a bit wobbly, he said, “That’s my brother for ya. Always cleanin’ up my messes.” Stefan wasn’t the only one about to do that. John had showed up at the safe mansion because Elena hadn’t returned his calls in days. Damon brought him up to speed, and they headed to Witch Central, where the Gilbert journals revealed that Emily had cast a spell to bind a mother’s life force to her dying baby. If Bonnie could do the spell binding John to Elena, Elena’s spirit would stay intact when she died. Therefore, John hoped, when she returned, she’d be human — not a vampire, the very thing from which he’d spent his life protecting Elena. That’s a convenient spell that came out of nowhere, but it’s either that or Elena is drinking blood in season 3, so I’m in. Bonnie performed the spell on John, kissed Jeremy and made him pass out so he wouldn’t tag along (awesome), and trapped Alaric in the house with the Gilbert men. Game on.

Elena couldn’t bear the thought of both she and Jenna dying and deserting Jeremy, and since she hadn’t heard Elijah’s tale of Klaus’ crimes, she thought begging Klaus to release Jenna for that reason might work. Klaus had his stake in hand when Stefan showed up, standing on a hill above. Klaus is definitely the fastest vamp we’ve ever seen on the show. He got up there in a second “to talk.” Jenna’s Vampire 101 crash course continued as Elena told her to concentrate on Stefan and Klaus and she could hear what they were saying. Stefan was asking to take Jenna’s place. As Jenna strained to listen, I found myself admiring her hair. I’ll miss it. Klaus pretended as though he was going to make Elena choose between her aunt and her lover. CRUEL. She refused to, and Klaus said there wasn’t actually a choice. He staked Stefan from behind, not to kill him but to incapacitate him. He said he had other plans for Stefan. What do you think they are? To force him to watch Damon die from the werewolf bite first? To keep him alive so he could tear into him once he became a vampolf?

With Stefan on the ground, Jenna knew it was her turn. She told Elena she knew what she had to do, and Elena probably thought she meant run, which is what Elena had told her to do when she got the chance. It wasn’t. In a brilliant move, Jenna darted to Greta and tried to rip her throat out. Beginners! Klaus put a stake in Jenna’s side before she could do fatal damage. Klaus threw Jenna to the ground, and Jenna looked at Elena with such terror in her eyes. Just thinking about it gives me chills. “Just turn it off. Jenna, turn it off. You won’t be scared anymore,” Elena pleaded through tears. She’d told Jenna about that switch earlier. I burst into tears at that moment. They were both so helpless, that’s all they could do: Elena could tell Jenna it was okay to let go, and Jenna could let go so Elena wouldn’t see her suffer. That was my favorite moment of the episode. Klaus flipped Jenna onto her back and Jenna’s face was calm when he staked her. You heard the breath leave her as she turned gray. That’s when I rewound and cried again.

Stefan came to and saw Elena with tears in her eyes, Jenna with a stake in her chest, and her blood being dripped into the cauldron. Stefan told Elena he was sorry, and Elena mouthed, “Are they gonna kill him?” “Yes,” Stefan answered, and it was as if knowing the quicker she died, the quicker Klaus would die was enough for her. Klaus offered Elena his hand, and she left him hanging. His pride looked hurt, didn’t it? Once in position, he held her face and said, “Thank you, Elena.” Her response: “Go to hell.” And then Klaus moved behind Elena and bit her neck. It was surprisingly gentle, right? She didn’t even scream. The way he held her was…kinda sexy. Or it would’ve been if he wasn’t literally consuming her. Her eyes rolled back and she dropped as we listened to the same epic death theme we heard when Bonnie dropped in the school while facing Klaric. I like that Nina Dobrev did something different from Kat Graham, but I’m gonna have to give the battle of the dead eyes to Kat.

NEXT: Suck it, Klaus.

Klaus’ transition started immediately, and there was that heavy breathing. Maybe he breathed once for the half of his vampire side dying, and once for the werewolf half of him being born. Before long, the sound we heard was bones breaking. His fangs (or canines) descended and his eyes changed, but other than that, he was still pretty Klaus-like when Bonnie made her grand entrance. I yelled, “Suck it, Klaus!” I’ll admit it. She sent Klaus flying and drew Greta’s attention so Damon could sneak up behind her and snap her neck. I chanted “Da-mon! Da-mon! Da-mon!” Bonnie kept Klaus in pain while Damon carried Elena over to Stefan. Damon pulled the stake out of Stefan, thinking Stefan would be the one to get Elena to safety, but Stefan wanted to stay and make sure Klaus died. When Elijah made his entrance, Bonnie dropped the hand she’d been using to wield her power against Klaus like she was a rapper dropping the mic at the end of a battle he’d just won. Badass. “Elijah,” Klaus said. “Hello, brother,” Elijah answered. Elijah punched his hand into Klaus’ chest and kept it there. “In the name of our family…” Elijah said, preparing to rip out his brother’s heart. NEVER STOP TO TALK, PEOPLE! “I didn’t bury them at sea,” Klaus said. “Their bodies are safe. If you kill me, you’ll never find them.”

Oh, hell no, Stefan said. Paraphrasing. “I can take you to them. I give you my word, brother,” Klaus said. And apparently, Klaus’ word still means something to Elijah. Despite Bonnie vowing to kill Klaus, Elijah, and herself if necessary, Elijah apologized and supersped off with Klaus in tow. Why am I not angry with Elijah? I mean, yes, big picture, it doesn’t make sense for him to spare Klaus now to save his family knowing that Klaus can produce a hybrid race that can take out all vampires (and wolves and humans). But, at least the reason he betrayed Operation Save Elena was love — and not love for Klaus but love for his family. For all we know, they could be wonderful vampires. Also, we now get to see more Daniel Gillies and more of the vampolf. Where do things go from here? Does Klaus help Elijah find his family and then turn on them again? Why, now that the curse has been broken, will they have to stick around Mystic Falls? I suppose Klaus could want revenge on those who tried to thwart his hybridization. Maybe Elijah, his parents and his sure-to-be-hot siblings will feel an obligation to protect them?

While all that was going down, Jeremy continued to read the Gilbert journals and got to the part about what happened to that mother who’d bound her life force to her child’s. He wanted to know if John had read that far — he had. She saved her daughter and she found peace, John said. I KNEW John wouldn’t make it out of season 2 alive now that we liked him. Damon brought Elena back to Witch Central and told her unconscious body he’d stake her himself if she came back a vampire because he couldn’t have her hating him forever. John had walked out the front door, and I didn’t want him to be alone. Elena finally gasped, and the relief Damon felt when she said she felt fine (read: human) was palpable. After a few seconds, John closed his eyes and dropped dead. Just like that. Dead. He’d told Jeremy and Alaric to take care of each other (or did he mean Jeremy and Elena?) and given Jeremy a letter to give to Elena along with his ring. (Hmm. I’m guessing the writers would say if the ring wouldn’t work on Bonnie, then it wouldn’t work on John if his cause of death was a Bonnie spell?) Before the funeral(s), Elena told Jeremy she was sorry that he’d lost so many people. “I still have you,” he said. What happens to them now? Is there another long-lost relative we’ll meet? They’re both still minors, they’ll need a guardian. Interesting…

At the cemetery, we heard John’s letter in voiceover. “For me it’s the end, for you a chance to grow old and someday do better with your own child than I did with mine,” he’d written. “It’s for that child I give you my ring.” I burst into tears again imagining John thinking about the grandchild he’d never get to meet. “I don’t ask for your forgiveness or for you to forget,” he continued. “I ask only that you believe this: Whether you are now reading this as a human or as a vampire, I love you all the same, as I’ve always loved you and always will. John.” Chills again. That’s what every child wants to hear from a parent — that unconditional love. RIP, John.

NEXT: If Tyler’s house has cable, that’s my ideal Saturday.

Damon walked off by himself in the cemetery. Did you notice the way he was playing with his ring? Was a part of him thinking he should just remove it and let himself burn in the sun now? Damon told Stefan he better think of a plan to kill “an all-powerful wolf vamp and his two-faced older brother” fast. Stefan said he wasn’t going to let Elena lose anyone else, and Damon told him he shouldn’t make that promise — Tyler nipped him. Damon has accepted his fate, but Stefan won’t: They kept Elena human when there was supposedly no way to, they can find a cure for a wolf bite when one is said not to exist. All Damon said he wanted from Stefan was for him to keep it a secret from Elena — the last thing she needs now is another grave to mourn. As Damon walked off, the death theme played again. Nice touch. I’m with Stefan — they will find a way to save Damon. The show doesn’t work without him.

As for the B story line, Matt had to shoot Wolf Tyler, who was getting a little too close for comfort there in the Lockwood cellar. Seeing Tyler in pain, even in wolf form, wasn’t fun. Caroline took Matt’s hand and bolted. They ended up at the Lockwood mansion, where Caroline finally had time to learn that Matt had been on vervain when she compelled him to forget she’s a vampire, and oh yeah, her mother knows, too. “Do you think my mom wants to kill me?” she asked. That is a sentence no child should ever have to speak, unless you just spilled something on a light carpet. Tyler showed up at the front door, naked in human form. They brought him inside, and as he slept, Matt explained that he thought he could handle Caroline being a vampire but he can’t. He wants to live his life — albeit a crappy one — without having to deal with all this (meaning vamps, wolves, and witches). Fair enough, Matt. The question is: What’s his story line now? Does he become another casualty, or does he remain on the show so he can regret leaving Caroline when she and Tyler get together?

As previously stated, after all that carnage, I needed a little eye candy, and Tyler waking up shirtless wrapped in a blanket on the couch was perfect. He told Caroline she was right: He shouldn’t have come home. She said he had it wrong: He never should have left, and he shouldn’t leave now. “You’re kidding me, right? This is the second time I’ve tried to kill you,” he said. “Well, no friendship is perfect,” she countered. She told him Matt had broken up with her, and when Tyler said he was sorry I believed it. “Instead of just bailing on me again, you could just say, ‘Thank you, Caroline, for taking care of me, and I’m sorry that I tried to chow down on you again,'” she told him. He grinned — swoon — and they laughed. Her laugh turned into crying. That happens sometimes. It’s like when that moment of levity ends, you’re acutely aware of how bad you feel. “Hey, hey, come here,” he said, motioning for her to lie down with him as he reclined back on the couch. Was he still naked under that blanket they were sharing? If he was, it’s even cooler then that the moment wasn’t at all sexual. It was just about him comforting her. “Thank you, Caroline, for taking care of me,” he said. “You’re welcome,” she answered, as numbly as she must have felt.

Your turn. How many times did you cry during the episode? How angry are you at Elijah? What’s your theory for what happens next with Klaus?

Episode Recaps

Best Starting Point: ''Growing Pains'' (401) — A lot changed in last season's lead-up. It's probably best not to miss this season opener, which shows…
The Vampire Diaries

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

  • TV Show