Elena's fate is decided, while Bonnie angers the spirits again and Klaus and Rebekah have a serious falling out
Let’s go ahead and add this to the list of Vampire Diaries episodes that made us misty. And gave us chills. As I said in my instant react, we all knew Elena would complete her transition and become a vampire, so this episode had to deliver in emotion what it couldn’t offer in suspense. And for me, the goodbye scene between Stefan and Elena did. It’s funny, I’ve already read comments from some people saying they felt too much was crammed into the hour and others saying it felt too repetitive. I think four things happened here:
1. They really wanted to make this episode accessible for new fans. By doing so, they had to keep rehashing themes diehards are very familiar with in dialogue, like Stefan will always respect Elena’s choice and Damon won’t if he thinks it’s one that will cause him to lose her. The goal, I assume, was to do it in a clever way that felt like a payoff for longtime viewers and not a rerun. It may not have always worked.
2. We’ve been so Original and love-triangle focused that seeing all those different faces on the Council members may have felt… off. We had this intense little world last season, and opening it up left some air out of it. For now. After we meet this new vampire hunter arriving in next week’s episode and begin to learn his story — which will add to the mythology of the show and give us a direction for the season — I think we’ll feel more at home.
3. They knew they couldn’t drag out Elena’s decision on transitioning for more than one episode, so a lot did have to go on at the same time in this hour — which meant a lot of cutting back and forth between story lines.
Let’s dig in.
Diehards will have already seen the opening scene, which was released online. It played out as you’d expect: Damon wanted Elena to feed immediately; Stefan didn’t. He wanted to give Bonnie time to ask the witch spirits, who’d helped her bring Jeremy back to life at the end of season 2, if they could make Elena human again. Elena never wanted to become a vampire, so that was her preferred plan, too. “You’re choice, Elena. As always,” Damon said. He was pissed at Stefan for saving Matt first, as Elena had requested. “And now the world has one more quarterback. Bravo, brother,” Damon told Stefan. “I made a choice that I will regret for the rest of my life. Now let me try to fix it,” Stefan said.
Even though we know Jeremy’s history with vampires, and that Elena is the only family he has left, I still found the words he used when he told her he couldn’t lose her — “I need my sister, not another one of them” — jarring. That worries me. Jeremy’s in need of a new story line. He wouldn’t turn on Elena, right? But what about the other vampires?
Over to Bonnie, the deal Bonnie made with Klaus in the season 3 finale was that he’d leave Tyler’s body and jump into someone else’s. But that was when he thought he’d be a pile of ash. Fate, oxygen, and viewers’ love of Joseph Morgan’s devilish smile, accent, and soft eyes when Klaus feels alone and cries, intervened. Now Klaus wanted back in his own body, especially because Tyler and Caroline had been outed to the Council. Bonnie told him she couldn’t do it right now — she had to focus on Elena’s problem first. Bonnie’s excellent at talking when someone is strangling her: She convinced Klaus to move to the back of the line by reminding him that if she keeps Elena human, he still has his blood supply to make hybrids. In exchange, Klaus told her no one could know it was him in Tyler’s body.
Speaking of the Council, Pastor Young showed up at the hospital to let Meredith know that the Council was cracking down on vampires and those who are friendly toward them. He told Meredith she should look for a new job and sent men to secure the blood bank and check the rooms. Caroline was in a room with Matt, who sadly had already put his T-shirt back on after presumably changing out of a hospital gown. Damn his layering. He felt guilty for Elena being a vampire, and Caroline felt lost because her plan to run away with Tyler had died with him. They heard a Council member coming, and Caroline was nowhere to be seen when he burst into the room. We never found out where she’d gone. The guy did a piss poor job searching the place, so she could have just hid under the bed or behind the curtain. As Sheriff Forbes and Mayor Lockwood were taken into custody for questioning and shut out of their offices, Caroline was at home packing her bags. Liz called her to make sure she’d left town and overheard her getting vervained.
NEXT: Laugh, Stefan!
Back at Elena’s, Elena tried to eat a sandwich in the kitchen and failed. It tasted disgusting. All she could think about was blood. That made Stefan feel great. She told him he’d done the right thing, respecting her choice as he’d always done. But if Bonnie can’t save her, then he’ll have to let her make another choice: become a vampire or die. “Well then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” she said. “Ohmygod, did I just say cross that bridge?” Elena laughed. Then giggled. Come on, Stefan. It deserved more than a raised eyebrow. Laughter through tears is Elena’s favorite new heightened emotion. Stefan comforted her and sent her upstairs when her sensitivity to sunlight kicked in. That’s when Elena saw Damon in her room. Only he was talking to another Elena. She was remembering that moment in the season 2 episode “Rose” that Damon had compelled her then to forget: He told her that he loved her — and that he doesn’t deserve her, but Stefan does. That’s the moment we believed Damon’s love for her was true. He could have compelled her in that moment to want him, but he didn’t. He’d seen Elena run to Stefan and not him after they’d rescued her from Elijah when Rose presented her to him. Stefan had reminded Damon that they’d never keep Elena safe if they let her come between them like Katherine had. So he had to let her go. And then, he did.
Returning to present day, Damon went to Klaus’ mansion to try to stake Rebekah, who was mourning her brother. She might have killed Damon if she hadn’t gotten shot by the Council. Damon escaped, but Stefan wasn’t as lucky when they showed up at Elena’s for him. Tyler’s mom phoned “Tyler” to make sure he wasn’t with Caroline, who was now in a van with Rebekah and bound by vervain ropes. The van was wrecked — very nice effects! — and “Tyler” rescued Caroline. But he left Rebekah. “Keep ’em busy, little sister,” he told her. Ouch!
With Stefan and Elena missing, Damon took out his frustration on Matt, who showed up at Elena’s house to check on her. Elena was safe, for the moment, with Pastor Young at his cattle ranch. He didn’t know that she was in transition until she had to run out of the house because she couldn’t stomach the large slab of meat he served her or the sounds of the clock and tea kettle. His plan had been to use Stefan and Elena to lure in Damon, and Rebekah to bring back the Originals. Once Elena gave him the white oak stake, he’d exterminate the entire vampire race for good. But when Elena bolted, the pastor gave the order to capture her and she was knocked out. She’s not a vampire yet, people. Gentle!
“Tyler” and Caroline staged a sexy reunion in the woods. Klaus should have kept Tyler’s mouth shut, which Caroline would have been fine with since she wouldn’t stop kissing him. She helped him take off his jacket and shirt. Now it feels like TVD‘s back! “Easy, love. Wrong time, wrong place, wrong equipment,” Klaus said. But being fugitives on the run, the time was right for hot hybrid-vampire sex, Caroline said. She took off her shirt. Truthfully, I would have been fine if this scene had gone on a little longer, but Caroline realized he’d called her love. She knew from the way he looked at her (Michael Trevino does the Morgan head tilts so well) that it was Klaus. “You’re disgusting,” she told him. “And you’re a glorious kisser,” he said. SMACK. Klaus wanted credit for saving her, but Caroline told him to just put Tyler back. “Gladly,” he said. “Then maybe I’ll take you up on your offer of hot hybrid sex.”
NEXT: Jasmine Guy!
At Witch Central, the spirits were ignoring Bonnie’s request for help in bringing Elena back. She told Jeremy there was one more thing she could try: She could go to the other side to bring Elena back herself. If Elena’s spirit still exists on both sides, since she’s in transition, it might work. Bonnie said she found a new source of power that would allow her to stop her own heart, as she’d done Jeremy’s. Jeremy knew that kind of power could not be good, but he wants his sister back so badly he didn’t stop her.
It was Matt who figured out that the pastor could easily convert his cattle ranch into a vampire slaughter house with a built-in vervain mister. While Damon set off for it with Matt, we saw Elena, Rebekah, and Stefan caged like animals. Elena told Stefan she hadn’t fed, and Rebekah — conveniently being held across from Stefan and Elena so she could see each of them and they could only see her — figured out that Elena was in transition. “I’d say you’ve got less than three hours to feed before I get to watch you die all over again,” Rebekah said. “My day just got a whole lot better.” Rebekah makes it so hard to like her sometimes.
Okay, Jeremy did try to stop Bonnie after she started bleeding from her nose and something visibly coursed through her veins. But she kept going until she was gone. She was in Elena’s cage. Elena couldn’t see her but she felt someone lifting her up by her hands and wanting to lead her somewhere. Grams appeared and told Bonnie to stay away from this sort of darkness before “they” try to keep her there on that side. Was the “they” the good, judgmental spirits or the still unexplained source of this dark magic? Either way, Grams told Bonnie if she used this magic again the spirits would unleash their anger in ways that would make her suffer. Grams scared Bonnie enough that she left. She woke up and told Jeremy she failed. Her day got worse when Klaus insisted she put him back in Tyler immediately. Bonnie tried to explain that it would have bad consequences for her, but Klaus started to rip Tyler’s heart out and said he’d just jump into someone else. Jeremy said Klaus was bluffing, he needed a witch to jump bodies; Klaus said maybe he had one. “Pick, Bonnie. You or Tyler,” he yelled. She chose Tyler. This was the right decision. Bonnie needs her own story line, and the spirits punishing her will get her there.
Elena told Stefan she was out of time. She needed blood. So now she wanted to be a vampire. Stefan asked a guard to let her out, and the guard’s answer was to shoot Stefan twice. Dick. Rebekah seemed to be moved by Stefan’s willingness to take a wooden bullet for Elena. No matter what you felt about the rest of the episode, you have to concede the scene that followed was perfection.
Stefan: Damon was right. You should have fed this morning. I’m so sorry.
Elena: Don’t be. You had hope. That’s all I ever wanted you to have. And you had it.
Stefan: I love you so much.
Elena: Do you know why I was even on that bridge? [Camera pans to Rebekah, who ran Elena off of it.] I was coming back for you, Stefan. I had to choose, and I picked you. [A single tear falls down Stefan’s face.] Because I love you. No matter what happens, it’s the best choice I ever made… Oh god, it sucks that I can’t see you right now.
Stefan: I’m smiling. [He’s not.]
Elena: Me, too. [She’s not.]
If you read that exchange quickly, you realize how big of a role Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev’s timing played in making that scene just gut you. As I wrote in my instant react: It was Stefan’s tear that got me. And then I got chills when they lied and told each other they were smiling. Damon and Matt arrived at the ranch at that moment. To draw the Pastor out, Damon bit Matt. He wanted to trade Matt’s life for Elena and Stefan’s. Instead, Damon got shot.
NEXT: Tyler’s back!
Over to Bonnie, she succeeded in putting Tyler back in his body. But then Tyler collapsed. Grams was there, holding Bonnie’s hands now. She said Bonnie had been warned. “You made your choice, now they’re takin’ it out on me.” We saw the dark magic coursing through her veins. Bonnie cried and begged for it stop. Grams disappeared and Bonnie just kept asking what she’d done. Hell if we know, Bonnie!
It turns out Rebekah really had been touched by Stefan and Elena’s heart-to-heart. She gave Stefan a nod that said she’d help him. When the guard we already hated came in to prep a stall for Damon, she pretended to want to bribe him. When the guard said he’d rather watch her die, she lunged toward him from behind the bars. He backpeddled toward Stefan, who went Ripper on him and killed him so he bled — a lot. Elena had to reach through the bars, waiting for the red pool to reach her fingertips. For someone who never wanted to become a vampire, she had to work hard for it. I got chills again when she finally put her finger to her lips.
When guards came to stir Damon, he popped up and killed them both. Then he turned on Matt. “Go ahead and kill me. You can’t possibly hate me more than I hate myself,” Matt said. “Oh yes I can,” Damon said. “It should have been you.” Cue our first look at Elena in full vampire mode, knocking Damon off Matt and telling him to leave Matt alone. How did she get out of the cell? Maybe the guard’s keys floated to her on a wave of blood and she let herself out, the vervain mist not having enough time to make her weak yet. More likely, the guards believed she was still human (which would explain why Stefan had thought they’d actually let her out when he asked earlier), and they didn’t bother reinforcing her cell with the same strength as Stefan’s and Rebekah’s. So when she transitioned, she was strong enough to break herself out. If we would have seen it, it would have ruined her grand entrance. Matt went into the barn, and Stefan fed him his blood to save him from the Damon-inflicted neck wound. Matt told him to stop saving him. He wished Stefan had let him drown. Stefan told him he’d better earn the life he gets to live because of Elena’s sacrifice every day.
Elena and Damon engaged in a verbal fight of their own. She didn’t understand why he couldn’t grasp that it was her choice for Matt to be saved — not Matt’s, not Stefan’s. Well, that wasn’t the choice he was really upset about. He’s still hurt that she chose Stefan over him. Elena told him she remembered everything he compelled her to forget — like how she’d actually met him before Stefan, on the night of her parents’ death when he told her he wanted her to get everything she wanted out of life. Would it have a made a difference, he wondered. Her silence said no. She asked him if it had been him who found her and Matt drowning in the truck the previous night what he would have done if she begged him to rescue Matt. We all knew the answer, but let’s hear it again: He would have saved her. Not what Elena wanted to hear. She said Matt would be dead because Damon couldn’t let go. And Damon said the point was Elena would be alive to grow up. He didn’t used to get it, but he does now. He wanted that life for her, and he would have let Matt die to give it to her because he is that selfish. “But you knew that already,” he said. “The first night we met’s not all you remember.” He told her he loved her. That he wasn’t worthy of her. But he also proved he could let her go.
Back at Klaus’ mansion, he was packing his bags of Elena’s blood to hit the road when Rebekah came in and yelled at him for choosing to save Caroline and not her in the van. He figured she couldn’t be killed and she’d get over it. He said it was time to go find more werewolves and make hybrids. Why can no one say anything right this episode? That set Rebekah off. It’s always been her who’s stood beside him, she said, and yet, he cares more about his hybrids than her. Holding the last two bags of Elena’s blood in each of her hands, she told him, “You want your family? Here’s your family.” And she squeezed. Blood gone. Klaus told her she was right, she was nothing to him. He snapped her neck and walked out. Neither Klaus nor Rebekah handles loneliness well. I’m afraid.
Cut to Stefan and Elena, very much together, sitting on a rooftop and recapping where we stand. This scene felt more Twilight-simple than TVD to me the first time I watched it. But the second time, I realized that having them sitting on that roof enjoying the view as the sun rose on her first day as a vampire was a nice callback to the season 2 episode “The Last Day,” when they spent what could have been Elena’s final hours as a human on a mountaintop enjoying the view as the sun set. Then, Elena had told Stefan she never wanted to become a vampire. Now, she was telling him that even if, as he said, becoming a vampire was the worst thing you could live through, she still considered her new life living. She could be with him forever — if she wanted. Ha. She told him she’d get through it like they do everything — one day at a time. She wanted to get inside before sunrise, and that’s when Stefan slipped on the day ring Bonnie had made for her. It felt like he’d proposed. Her answer, I think, would have been yes. For today.
Happy? You can’t be. Back at the ranch, the pastor let the house fill with gas, locked the door, and pulled out a lighter. Kaboom. He’d decided they were the beginning of some movement. Now I’m kinda glad we didn’t know any of those Council members. What’s that about? We’ll see.