Esther's plan for Alaric produces a new villain

Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW

As I wrote in my instant react to this episode — which includes a poll to see if everybody sobbed like I did — that scene of everyone gathered in the cemetery to show Alaric he would be missed was staged even more beautifully than Anna’s reunion with Pearl (which also made we weep). Did they steal Esther’s candles, do they keep their own stash in the woods, or did Bonnie bring the ones that magically appeared in the high school when she needed to do a spell at the Roaring ’20s Decade Dance? I don’t even care! It was an unforgettable moment. But let’s back up…

Rebesther fooled Klaus, who’d upped his tortured artist routine from sketches to paintings, into thinking he burned the last remaining stake. She also convinced him to put off leaving town for one more day so she could supposedly attend the dance. Alaric told Damon — over the phone, so Damon couldn’t see his Evilaric eyes — that he was heading out-of-town for a few days because he was still a danger to everyone. That last half was true. Rebesther showed up and had Alaric stab her with an ash-brushed dagger so Esther could return to her own body and Rebekah could go into a coffin.

Before we went further into Esther’s plan, we got to see Caroline in full preparation mode for the dance, yelling at Matt and Jeremy for their hanging of decorations and insisting to Elena that she ask Stefan to the dance because she has to explore her feelings for him as well as for Damon. Elena phoned Stefan and awkwardly invited him to the dance, and it made me flashback to the time I phoned this one guy in high school and my two best guy friends wrote me cue cards. I can’t believe I even allowed them to stay in the room. Stefan accepted, and Damon, of course, overheard the call with his vamp hearing. Damon handled it well enough… because he was off to go surprise Meredith, popping up on her at the hospital like one would expect a vampire to do before attacking you. That was funny. He was really there because he’d gone to see Alaric and found his herb stash, so he knew he was Evilaric. I’m not sure why exactly Damon went to see Meredith. We never saw what she helped him do. Maybe he just wanted to warn her that she could be in danger.

Alaric, meanwhile, went to the Salvatore tomb with Esther, because she needed to channel the energy there. It’s where Klaus ripped her heart out, so her violent death made it a magic hot spot. She explained that the stake, as is, would burn up after killing one Original — unless Alaric allowed her to bind the protective spell on his ring to the stake, thus rendering it indestructible. Convenient, but continue. Alaric gave her the ring, she melted it with magic, and it slithered onto the stake covering it like a web. The ultimate weapon for the ultimate hunter, Esther said. We had no idea…

NEXT: Reason No. 456 that this school needs a security guard

Stefan picked Elena up for the dance, and I loved seeing them behave like two people on a first date — and not a forgone epic love conclusion. We kinda missed this basic courtship the first time around. If the decade dance showed us anything, it’s that America’s youth still knows how to do the Charleston (they must be Dancing With the Stars fans as well as Bachelor fanatics), and Mystic Falls has multiple vintage stores and costume shops. Were this a ’70s dance, I’d buy that the kids have relatives who loaned them clothes or they picked up something at the mall. You don’t just have these kind of dresses and suits handy when Rebekah changed the decade so last minute. Then again, perhaps Caroline served as a personal stylist for everyone. I wouldn’t put it past her.

Caroline’s speech to Matt warning him that Elena was spoken for — one Salvatore way or another — and reminding him that those who love her tend to get caught in the crossfire seemed random at first. But then I realized that’s what Caroline’s look meant when Elena told her that Matt had gotten Jeremy his old job back at the Grill — Caroline was thinking Matt did that for Elena. Matt assured her he’s just looking out for Elena as a friend, and Caroline had to go worry about her own love life because Tyler showed up. She was concerned Klaus would see him, but Tyler said he could act sired if he needed to, and he couldn’t stay away while Klaus was macking on her. He’s jealous and competitive. Not attractive, really. He was there to sweep her off her feet, literally… so they could cut a rug. Okay, back to being attractive again.

Stefan and Elena arrived, and she wanted him to teach her some dance moves. He tried to tell her he blacked out for most of this decade — ha! — but they got in a few quick steps before the music slowed. Dancing to “You Do Something to Me,” Elena decided she wanted to tell him about the motel kiss with Damon. But Stefan stopped her: If they found their way back to each other, she could tell him if she wanted to, he said. Otherwise, he didn’t want to know about it. How could he be so fair about it? After all he’d put her through, he was just honored to be her date, he said. Then he dipped her. That’s always been one of Stefan’s best qualities, how levelheaded he is (when he’s not the Ripper). Last week, Rose said Damon challenges Elena, makes her question things, which is good for her. But having someone who allows you to be you, and who you know you can have a disagreement with without one of you storming off, is also good for you. The sweet moment didn’t last long. Damon showed up to tell them about Alaric.

As Damon led Stefan and Elena into the hallway to talk, Jeremy followed and literally ran into Bonnie and Jamie. Bonnie asked why he was still wearing his ring if he knew what happened to Alaric. He said he’d take it off when his sister stopped hanging with vampires. Jamie asked Bonnie if that was her ex. You know, Jamie, that wasn’t nearly as awkward as it could’ve been if this show wasn’t moving at lightning speed.

Damon thought it was time to kill Alaric. Alaric now hates vampires and vampire sympathizers — which means he could come after Elena. It’s what Alaric would want, Damon said. That’s probably true, actually. But Jeremy and Elena (and most likely Good Stefan) weren’t having it. Elena followed an appalled Jeremy outside and ran into Esther, who told her if she wanted to help Alaric, she should come with her. “I mean you no harm, but willingly or not, you will come,” Esther said. Yeah, that sounds oh so non-threatening. Elena told Jeremy to go get Damon and Stefan, and instead of even trying to stall until they arrived, she walked off with Esther. It turns out when the Salvatores did come outside, they couldn’t move past a line of salt. Esther had done a boundary spell to keep them at the school. Again, all I’m saying is that if Mystic Falls High had a real security guard, maybe someone would have stopped the crazy woman from pouring salt on the ground in a circle around the school? Then again, a security guard probably would’ve also stopped Bonnie from kissing, then kissing, Jamie in a classroom. Do you think Bonnie saying, “A normal guy wouldn’t have said yes to a date with me” is foreshadowing, and there’s something more to Jamie than we see? Me neither. It’d be too much to deal with now. Damon apologized for interrupting their seven minutes in heaven.

NEXT: The man Caroline loves

Back in the woods, Esther was leading Elena to the Salvatore tomb. She reminded us that the doppelgänger’s blood is a potent binding agent for a witch’s spell. Elena asked her not to hurt Alaric. Esther said she wanted to remake him — strong and fast, like her children. Indestructible. Only he would be Mikael 2.0, a vampire to end all vampires. In death, his hatred would be magnified. It turns out Esther was there on the other side, speaking to Alaric and nurturing him every time he died wearing the ring. Wow. So that’s why it took him longer and longer to come back from the dead. Maybe it wasn’t the ring itself making him loony. It was Esther’s lectures. Perhaps there’s hope for Jeremy, if they can keep him from being brainwashed by anyone when he’s out cold.

Back in the gym, Caroline and Tyler were dancing to “The Man I Love.” Klaus showed up, annoyed with Tyler for leaving town without permission, and asked to cut in. Tyler didn’t object, so Klaus wouldn’t know he’d broken the sire bond, but Caroline did. “One dance, I won’t bite,” Klaus said. Caroline reluctantly took his hand. Klaus told her she should be nice to him, he’s leaving tomorrow. He’d invite her to go with him, he said, but he knows she’s not ready to see all that the world has to offer. Maybe in a year or a century she’ll show up at his door. He tried to create a moment of sexual tension for a possible kiss, and she laughed at him. That was pretty great. We have to stop calling this a love triangle, I suppose. “You mark my words: small town boy, small town life. It won’t be enough for you,” Klaus said. Then he walked away. He went outside leaving Rebekah a message saying he wanted to head out. He saw the salt. “What is this?” he asked. “Your mother’s back,” Stefan answered.

Next scene: Bonnie was inside a classroom chanting as everyone in the know watched. Matt rushed in to say the humans were able to leave. Jeremy said maybe the two of them could go stop Esther. Stefan said it’d be suicide. Klaus grabbed Jamie and said disappointing him would be suicide. If Bonnie didn’t hurry it up and find the loophole in the boundary spell — maybe, like, have a school janitor sweep away the salt? — he’d start killing the people she loves. Stefan stepped in and told Klaus he’s forgetting that Bonnie cares only about Tyler and Caroline now. If he kills anyone, she’ll let the rest of them die.

Esther was busy lighting her own candles in the tomb as Elena pleaded with Evilaric. He told Elena she only knows the weakest part of him. Esther magically cut Elena’s hand. This show’s effects department does such good ripping out of hearts, but sucks at the small stuff like a little cut. Alaric drank Elena’s blood, and then Esther staked him. Jeremy had donated his blood for a locator spell that Bonnie could use to find Elena. Esther was fighting her, which meant she was channeling something — the energy at the old cemetery. They had to let Jeremy and Matt go after her since Bonnie hadn’t been able to lift the boundary spell. Was anyone else concerned that Klaus could maybe overhear Tyler and Caroline when they were talking about whether they should let Esther kill Klaus? Tyler almost wanted to, his own life be damned, because he couldn’t stop Klaus from dancing with Caroline. Caroline told him it didn’t matter how many times she danced with Klaus, Tyler was the man she loves.

NEXT: We cry

Back at the tomb, Elena took the stake out of Alaric, and Esther told her that he may awake as Good Alaric, so she’d have time to say goodbye. Esther said he’d kill the Originals and then somehow die himself. (Self staking?) All the vampires would be gone. Elena should be happy she and her friends won’t have to live in fear, Esther argued. But the good vampires would be gone as well as the bad, Elena said. Therefore, she countered, Esther is a killer, just like Klaus. Agree to disagree, ladies. Esther chose that moment to tell us all that Aunt Jenna wasn’t on the other side where Esther was. She remained pure in her short life as a vampire, so she found peace. Was that just to explain why Jeremy couldn’t summon ghost Jenna?

Esther heard a noise and went outside to find Jeremy pointing a crossbow at her and Matt aiming a shotgun. Esther made them turn the weapons on each other. Would Jeremy’s ring have saved him if Matt shot? Matt’s human, but the gun was under a witch’s spell. Suddenly, Esther got stabbed from behind. It was Alaric with the Mega Stake. I got chills. Such a heroic moment for a man we knew was doomed. He didn’t know where his ring was. He saw Elena’s bloody hand and his own wound. He asked her what happened. I started to tear up.

Back at the school, Klaus and Stefan used their together time to play the blame game. Klaus said this was all Stefan’s fault because he’d let Esther out of her coffin. Still, lonely Klaus wanted to reminisce about their “brotherhood” in the 1920s. Damon said Stefan already had a brother, not to be territorial. Klaus said he wondered how brotherly they’d feel when Elena finally made her choice between them. That was a bit heavyhanded. DO YOU THINK THAT’S SOMETHING THE BROTHERS WILL DISCUSS NEXT WEEK?

With Esther no longer fighting Bonnie, the invisible force field was down, so to the cemetery we all went. Klaus took Esther’s body and hadn’t heard about the stake. He just knew Esther had tried to turn Alaric into a weapon and failed. Alaric broke the news to Jeremy that he wasn’t going to complete the transition. His dark side would be too dangerous. (See? Damon was right.) Maybe after all he’s done, he deserved this, Alaric said. Jeremy said he didn’t want a crap speech about how he’d need to be the man of the house now. Alaric didn’t give him one. He just hugged him goodbye, and I cried. Elena said it was all her fault, she’d forced him to take his ring back and take care of them after Jenna’s death. He said taking care of her and Jeremy was the closest he’d ever come to the life he’d wanted. Ah.

When Alaric walked Elena out of the tomb and they saw everyone standing in the cemetery, I bawled. Like, I was heaving. It made me think of those gathered in my parents’ house the night my father passed away. It was such a moving tribute to show Alaric that he mattered and was respected, no matter what he’d done as Evilaric. We panned to everyone, some fighting back tears and some losing the battle. Alaric just nodded and went back inside, tears in his own eyes.

NEXT: Bonnie finally gets something to do, and it’s awful

Klaus returned his mother to her coffin and took out the dagger from Rebekah. Sounds like Esther’s attempt to end Klaus has renewed his desire to create his hybrid army that will ensure his survival, which he hopes will haunt Esther on the other side. (Do we think the witches will try to preserve her body again? She still looked pretty good in that coffin.)

Jamie took Bonnie home, and it should have been the end of the world’s worst first date. But no, this didn’t scare Jamie off. He thinks Bonnie’s amazing. She’d settle for being ordinary right about now. Her dad’s out-of-town, so Jamie stayed with her. Elena and Jeremy, meanwhile, were grieving Alaric in different ways. Jeremy went back to the Grill with Matt and toasted Alaric with shots. I’ll let the underage drinking go this time, I guess. I do feel guilty for noticing how great Matt’s blue eyes looked in the blue light of the Grill at night. We got a closeup of Steven R. McQueen producing a single tear. It was a little awkwardly filmed. I wish they’d pulled back a bit so it didn’t feel staged like William Hurt’s character’s tears in Broadcast News. (I’m not saying it was staged, I’m just saying the tight framing of the shot raised the question of whether it happened in the same moment as the rest of the scene.) Elena needed to keep busy clearing out Alaric’s vampire hunter weapons from the school — as if security would actually find them?! — so she wouldn’t think about how she and Jeremy have no one to take care of them now and have lost another friend.

Stefan took her back to the gym, where they’d been on the night that Klaus forced him to turn off his emotions and he bit her, and he reminded her how she’d told him never to lose hope, that it’s our emotions — good and bad — that make us human. “I don’t have anyone anymore,” she sobbed. “You have me,” he said, and they hugged. Truthfully, I think Stefan being there for her — whether they’re lovers or not — levels the playing field again after last week’s motel makeout session with Damon. You?

At the cemetery, Meredith told Damon she gave Alaric a sedative. He’d fall asleep, then go peacefully. Alaric had said he wanted to be alone, which is why Damon was waiting outside, but Meredith told Damon that Alaric was lying. Damon said he’d offered to snap Alaric’s neck so it’d be quick, but Alaric didn’t want that. He went inside and sat down beside him. Alaric asked if this was the part where Damon gives him a dream (like he’d done for Rose). I love that Damon had told him about that, when we know he didn’t tell Elena. It shows how close Alaric and Damon were, even if Damon was drunk at the time. Damon apologized for killing Alaric, twice. “So I have to actually die to get a real apology out of you?” Alaric joked. Damon offered him a drink and Alaric said he was thinking about cutting back, as a few tears began rolling down his cheeks. That shot was wide enough to include Damon, so you felt like you were really inside the moment. Well done, Matt Davis. Alaric took the bottle of bourbon and drank.

Over at Bonnie’s, she and Jamie had gone to bed with their ’20s garb on. Esther came to Bonnie in a dream and said her witch sisters needed her to finish the work Esther started. Alaric, meanwhile, finally fell asleep, the sound of his labored breathing silenced. Damon looked at him with tears in his eyes, took another drink of bourbon, and hesitated before putting the cap back on the bottle. This would be the last bottle they shared. Outside the tomb, Damon ran into Bonnie, who he thought was sleepwalking. She looked spelled. She gave him a headache, and he collapsed. She went inside, cut her hand with the Mega Stake, and made Alaric drink. Out came his fangs and he bit her neck. Blood just poured out of his mouth. Bonnie should be dead, you’d think, so either her witch sisters are protecting her body or Damon regains use of his body in time to feed her some of his blood. It was so weird to see Alaric with the vamp eye veins. He picked up the Mega Stake. Game on!

Your turn. What did you think of the episode? Are you excited to see Alaric as the Super Vampire Hunter? How fun will it be to watch Damon and Stefan try to partner with Klaus to stop Alaric from killing them all?

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