Gimme Some VD: “Before Sunset”


We open the penultimate episode of this season on an artsy montage of the various historical pictures and replicas in Alaric’s classroom. I thought the first time I watched that these shots would have some deeper meaning later on, but… they kind of don’t? I guess the point is: that version of Alaric doesn’t live here anymore. (SOB!)

But evil vampire Alaric sure does! He’s hanging out in his classroom, twirling his magic stake and generally looking sinister. Apparently, it’s the very next day after the last episode’s shenanigans. Caroline is at school too — chatting on the phone with Tyler, who’s still pretending to be under the thrall of Klaus’ sire bond and is therefore reporting to Chez Original as ordered to help him pack.

Finally a reason to make hybrid slaves I can understand! Packing is the worst.

Meanwhile, Caroline is on her way to help with the dance clean up, along with none other than Rebekah, and — OH, COME ON NOW. I think the writers are just trolling me at this point. (Of course Rebekah has nothing better to do than get up at the crack of dawn to collect trash at a high school gym. OF COURSE.) Anyway, she and Caroline actually have a nice little moment where each expresses condolences over the loss of Esther and Alaric, respectively.

Then Rebekah heads out to the hall and runs smack dab into newly invincible Alaric! He nearly stakes her right then and there, but with Caroline’s last minute intervention, they manage to overpower and stake him instead. It doesn’t work–because hello, invincible–and they’re forced to flee while he’s momentarily distracted.

Alas, Caroline stupidly stops to unlock her car rather than just vamp speeding away as far as her super legs could take her. Bad ass evil!Alaric quickly catches up, despite his lack of a daylight ring. He snaps her neck and drags her back inside, straight up not giving a crap that his face is burning off in the sun. Whoah. Rebekah watches in shock.

Over at the Gilbert house, Stefan shows up to find Elena and Jeremy already in the middle of re-painting Alaric’s former room. See, this is one of many key differences between Elena and me: when I’m sad, I grab a tub of ice cream and sit on the couch in my pajamas, watching marathons of silly tv shows like this. But Elena? Embarks on massive, impulse interior decorating projects in the middle of the night. Girl, I am shaking my head at you right now.

Jeremy’s adorably bitchy to Stefan, earning him my love for this episode. Elena tries to play it off like he doesn’t mean it, but Stefan’s not even a little bit fooled. Their awkward conversation is interrupted by the doorbell, which Stefan answers to find Damon and Bonnie, still in her 20s finery and bleeding from Alaric’s bite. DUN!

She and Damon give Stefan the lowdown on the latest disaster. Damon’s being an asshole about Bonnie’s role in Alaric’s resurrection, even though — as she points out — she had no control over her actions. She finally snaps and asks why he bothered healing her at all if he’s so pissed.

Um, to spawn a million, super hot fanfic stories about that scene, which the writers cheated us out of seeing? (Just kidding! I know Vampire Diaries fandom would never be that nice to me.) The good news is that Bonnie thinks that there must be a way to undo Esther’s spell. The bad news is she doesn’t know what it is.

Across town, Rebekah’s run home to give a similar report about super vamp Alaric to Klaus. Rebekah still being Rebekah, she doesn’t tell Klaus anything about his crush’s current predicament, despite the nice moment they shared and also the fact that Caroline just saved her life.

No, she’s freaked and wants to make a run for it ASAP. But Klaus is still fixated on grabbing Elena first. Rebekah makes an impassioned plea for him to trust in his family instead of creating more hybrids; when he refuses, she abandons him there. Ballsy of her, considering the last time she disagreed with him on the way out of town, he locked her in a coffin for 80 years. But this time, he just lets her go.

Back at the Gilberts’, Elena’s still upstairs, completely unaware of all this latest drama going down in her kitchen. The phone rings and it’s Alaric! Who’s got Caroline gagged with a vervain soaked rag and impaled to a desk with pencils through both hands. Gross, evil!Alaric. Not cool. He tells Elena to come meet him at the school or he’ll kill her friend.

Meanwhile, Klaus is at the door! Jeremy answers, but Stefan and Damon quickly banish him to his room so the grown ups can talk. His bitchy teenage eye-roll as he leaves is so beautiful to me. Oh, Little J. Never change. Klaus flat out admits he’s there to take Elena, which is either bold or stupid. (Or both. Let’s go with both.)

When the Salvatores understandably slam the door in his face, he starts throwing random crap through the windows. Wow. I can see why Elijah was the one in charge of making plans for so many years. This goes on for some time and is kind of hilarious? But just as he’s finally moved from kick balls and pieces of fence onto what would have been my first option (flaming gasoline!) Stefan gets a call from Alaric that breaks the party up.

Because, yes! Elena isn’t even there anymore… having somehow managed to sneak out and drive to the high school without any of the mighty vampires noticing. Hah!

So the instantly formed yet uneasy alliance of Team Rescue Elena stands around on the porch, uselessly snarking and brainstorming for a bit. Luckily for them, Bonnie comes outside with with an actual idea. I’m distracted by the fact that she’s somehow managed to change into regular clothes (Elena’s, I’m guessing?) and completely straighten her hair in the last two minutes. Anyway, her clever plan is thus: perform the same spell on Alaric that her mother used to immobilize Mikael fifteen years before. Okay, honestly? That is a great idea and I really don’t know why none of them thought to try it on Klaus all this time.

When Elena gets to the school, she’s horrified to see Caroline’s condition. Alaric pretends that he’ll just let Elena release her, but of course he’s lying. Poor Elena looks so sad and hurt — especially because evil!Alaric is still acting weirdly paternal, in his own creepy way.

(I mean sure, he lied to her about letting Caroline go, but only to teach her a valuable lesson about not trusting vampires! And sure, he’s torturing one of her best friends, but only because he wants to make it easier for Elena to put a stake through her heart!)

At the Salvatores’, Damon’s watching Bonnie pace in front of another effing roaring fire. Okay, really? Now I know the writers are just trolling me. Do none of these houses have heat? Is this some alternate Virginia where it’s not lovely in the spring?

ANYWAY. They’re apparently waiting for Abby, who I guess Jaime knew how to contact? Damon’s snarking (I know, I know: might as well say “Damon’s breathing” except how, you know… he’s not) about Abby’s general history of unreliability. But she does finally show up for a  semi-awkward reunion with her daughter and SUPER AWKWARD one with Damon. Bonnie explains what they need and Abby is horrified, explaining that the spell calls on some pretty dark stuff and requires that Bonnie stop a human heart.

Klaus and Stefan are waiting at the school for the rest of the team to arrive. Klaus makes it clear that he’s going to take Elena with him when he leaves, no matter what. Stefan doesn’t miss a beat, offering to come along to make sure she’s safe. Never one to stop beating a horse even after it’s long dead, Klaus makes some more digs about Elena’s feeeelings for Damon, but Stefan isn’t biting: all of Klaus’ interference has only brought him and Damon closer together than ever, and nothing will change that. Klaus looks perplexed by the concept of family loyalty.

Damon, Bonnie, and Jeremy show up. It seems Jeremy will be this episode’s sacrificial lamb so that Bonnie can perform the spell. Damon wants him to give up his ring first, since Jeremy’s already died a couple of times while wearing it (conveniently leaving out the part where he was the one who killed him at least one of those times) but Little J refuses.

Bonnie explains the mechanics of the spell to everyone, which involves some communal blood drinking. One of the vamps will need to make a connection to Alaric’s heart through his bloodstream while Bonnie stops Jeremy’s heart. (Given how difficult this turns out to be later on, I wonder how Abby pulled it off all by herself with Mikael?) Klaus takes the opportunity to claim that he’s the sire of their vampire line, in case they were getting any funny ideas about letting Alaric off him. I’ll just… take that with a grain of salt.

Inside, bad daddy Alaric is giving Elena a super mean pep talk about how she needs guidance and how disappointed her parents would be to see her vampire-enabling choices. Harsh, Alaric! Probably true… but still harsh!

After basically calling her a race traitor, he forces a stake into her hand so she can take poor Caroline out of her misery. And that misery is very gross and effective, thanks to the sores on her face from the vervain gag, so… good job, make up team?

Elena, of course, tries to stake him instead, which he was anticipating. But he forgot that Elena’s not actually an idiot… and is therefore unprepared when she uses the distraction to smash the jar of vervain against his face. Go Elena! She gets Caroline free while Alaric howls in agony. They both make a run for it, but he recovers enough to grab Elena at the door. D’oh!

Caroline stops in the hall, looking like she’s thinking about going back for Elena, but Klaus swoops up, grabbing her from behind and–wow, seriously? Why do I STILL find these two kind of hot? WHY? It’s so shameful — I’m Team Tyler all the way! And if Caroline actually got together with Klaus after all the crap he’s pulled, I would be super angry! But when he’s being sweet with her like this… I still kind of get stomach flutters?

Ugh. I blame actor chemistry.

Anyway! Klaus whisper orders her to go straight home and stay there, safe, while he rescues Elena. She thanks him and takes off. I continue cursing my traitorous stomach butterflies.

Alaric has Elena slammed up against a locker by the throat. He tells her that siding with the vampires over her own kind makes her just as bad as they are. Elena, no stranger to death threats by this point, basically dares him to do it. But after briefly vamping out… he doesn’t. HMMMM. I wanted to think this might be a sign there’s something of good!Alaric still left in there, but events in the next scene would point to another reason.

To wit: Stefan and Damon show up and grab Alaric, but he breaks free, easily snapping both the Salvatores’ necks. Oops! Klaus goes for his heart anyway, while Bonnie chants over Jeremy somewhere in the woods. But it takes too long to take effect and Alaric breaks free again. He’s about to stake Klaus when Elena stops him by holding a knife to her own throat.

She’s figured out, you see, that since her blood anchored the spell that made him a super vamp, killing her will kill him too. That was Esther’s way of ensuring Alaric wouldn’t turn out like her rotten kids (and my sweet Elijah) (kisses, baby, wherever you are). Alaric tries to call her bluff, but when she actually begins to cut herself, he totally freaks out and gives the game away. Klaus takes advantage of Alaric’s distraction to break free of his hold, grab Elena, and flee into the daylight.

(Also: Elena totally wins the award for Ultimate Bad Ass of this episode for partially slitting her own throat. Daaaaamn, girl.)

Chez Original: Tyler’s shocked to find Elena tied to a chair, getting slowly drained of all her blood by a cheerfully compelled nurse. It seems Klaus has decided to cut his losses, get as much blood as he can, and then kill her to remove the threat of Alaric forever. Charming! Tyler makes to help her, but Klaus orders him to go get more blood bags instead, and he has no choice but pretend to comply.

In the meantime, Klaus, proving he really is evil, decides to talk as well as bleed her to death with a big speech about how he’s doing her a favor by killing her before she has to make a choice between Stefan and Damon. Oh, brother. He spins some bullshit about how she’s the home wrecker who drove a wedge between them, and I’m sorry, but what? I hope the show isn’t planning on rewriting history, because I remember very clearly that Stefan and Damon were at odds long before either of them met Elena, and in fact managed to repair their relationship in spite of the fact that she was in a relationship with Stefan for most of the time since.

Ugh, whatever.

Back at the school, Damon wakes up to his phone ringing — presumably Tyler? — and Alaric standing over him and Stefan. Alaric tells them that Klaus is going to kill Elena, and they need to go rescue her because Alaric is stuck at the school until sundown. Are the daylight rings attuned to work for just one vampire? I don’t understand why Alaric doesn’t just take one of theirs otherwise, but I don’t remember if that’s ever been spelled out before? (Also, I love the way the sides and alliances shift multiple times during this episode — this show is so good at that.)

After gloating a bit more (and unsuccessfully trying to get Elena to tell him who her choice would have been, “just between us girls” — hah!) Klaus finally leaves, allowing Tyler to comes sneaking in to free Elena. Yay, Tyler! Unfortunately, Klaus comes back before they can escape.

This grants Tyler the chance to finally tell his sire to go fuck himself, which is immensely satisfying for all concerned. Well, except for Klaus. When the latter expresses disbelief that the bond could be broken, Tyler tells him he did it for Caroline and “real love is stronger than fake loyalty.” Aww! Klaus takes this all about as well as you might expect. After knocking Elena out, he’s about to rip Tyler’s heart out when the Salvatores show up. Damon and Tyler grab Klaus while Stefan holds a hand to his heart so Bonnie can perform the desiccation spell. So I guess that whole thing with Tyler was meant to be a distraction? Finally, a plan that actually works!

This time the spell takes hold — there’s a lot of intense eye contact between Klaus  and Stefan, with Klaus really giving the mournful puppy dog eyes his all, but to no avail! And just like that… no more Klaus. Finally.

Meanwhile, out in the woods, Bonnie snaps out of her spell trance to find Jeremy’s heart stopped. She starts another spell to revive him, panicking a little when it doesn’t work right away, but he eventually wakes up. Hopefully not evil. They share a tender moment of relief. I… really hope we’re not gearing up for Bonnie/Jeremy 2.0.

Stefan and Damon walk Elena to her door. She claims to be fine, other than a little headache. The boys warn that Alaric will be out and about as soon as the sun goes down, but Elena’s not worried about that, since he can’t kill her. With Klaus’ taunts apparently weighing on her mind, however, she confesses that she knows it’s selfish to keep them both on the hook like this. But she honestly can’t stand the thought of losing either one of them from her life, and knows that that will happen when she finally makes a choice.

(I really appreciate the writers keep emphasizing fear of loss in Elena’s characterization. Go emotional continuity!)

To their credit, both Stefan and Damon respond to this refreshingly honest but still awkward confession very gracefully before heading off to dump Klaus’ comatose body into the Atlantic.

Inside, Elena finds the whole high school gang — even cute!Matt, yay! — waiting in her kitchen for an impromptu “We effing finally got rid of Klaus after two seasons!” party. Despite my earlier butterflies, I like that Caroline exhibits zero guilt or hesitation over Klaus’ fate. Good choice, writers — chemistry doesn’t mean your characters should ignore things like repeated sadism and murder!

There are shots and smiles all around, and even Jeremy looks like he’s enjoying himself. It’s nice to see everyone so happy, although the first time I watched this, I was too busy anticipating the inevitable cliffhanger twist to really share their joy.

Across town, Liz (LIZ!) shows up at the Mayor’s house for a last minute council meeting… convened by evil!Alaric. Ruh-roh. He wastes no time spilling the beans to the rest of the council about the compromises both woman have been making to their sacred duties lately. Seems like someone’s staging a coup!

Road trip! Stefan and Damon are feeling pretty giddy about their victory. They’re also bro-chatting about Elena. Stefan nobly promises that if she ever chooses Damon, he’ll leave town to make things less awkward. Ugh, way to totally validate her fear of inevitably losing one of you, Stefan. How about promising to stay in town and not be an asshole about things?

Damon snarks that in 60 years, they’ll just meet up again like nothing happened, and now I’m stuck on this image of young Ian Somerhalder with an 80 year old Elena, which would be weird and also kind of awesome? He finally also promises to leave town if she chooses Stefan, and… I really don’t get this. She already did “choose” Stefan for like TWO WHOLE SEASONS and somehow they all managed to co-exist in the same town. Whatever, drama llamas.

Later, after everyone else has cleared out, Elena finds Jeremy in the half-painted Room of Lost Parental Figures. They have a really nice moment where Elena lays out all the people who would lose someone if Alaric succeeds in his plan to kill all vampires and volunteers to be the bad guy for not wanting that to happen. Jeremy sweetly points out that if Alaric succeeds, he might decide he no longer needs Elena alive, and Jeremy couldn’t handle that loss. Elena and I are both touched. Hugs, Little J!

And finally, we get to the cliffhanger twist: Jeremy leaves Elena alone, and she starts painting again. (Seriously, Elena? After the day you just had, I would DEFINITELY be bra-less in my comfy yoga pants with some chocolate and the latest episode of Community by now! But I digress.)

Suddenly, she makes a face like she’s in pain and then collapses to the floor, blood streaming from her nose. Uh-oh. Guess that little headache was kind of a big deal after all?

Next week: season finale! I… have no idea what’s going to happen because TiVo cut off most of the preview. I assume big drama? And probably Damon will be attractive?


4 thoughts on “Gimme Some VD: “Before Sunset”

  1. Love your recap as always, and I thought it was a good episode overall. I was annoyed by the writing for the triangle though, because after Elena’s confession about the number of loved ones she’s already lost in her young life, Damon & Stefan should have had a COMPLETELY different conversation than the one they actually had. What they SHOULD have decided was to be men and suck it up and deal no matter who she ultimately choses, because neither can bear to hurt Elena by being another one of her losses.

    • Yeah, that was such a weirdly tone deaf response to what she told them. It’s like neither of them was even listening. I mean, it would be one thing to say “you know, if she chooses you, then I know the selfless thing would be to stick around because that’s what she wants, but I don’t think I could do it.” That’s totally fair! But both of them were acting like they’d be making some big sacrifice to leave, and just… whaaaaa?

      • If Elena chooses a brother I’d hope the other one can have time to process it though. Helena’s feelings shouldn’t be the most important part since the show likes to tell us vampires have humanity in them. Stefan is still physically 17/18? (Yeah right, Paul Wesleyover looks topretty old tonow be playingthe a teenager.) Wouldn’t Elena have to respect their decision that the rejected brother needs space? And say she chooses Damon doesn’t Stefan has a right to try anything to move on? Him watching Elena every day isn’t going to help. And say he does try to move on with say Bonnie, would Elena try to stop it? This also goes to Damon as well. Its not fair for her to guilt trip them into staying because she’s afraid of losing either brothers. They have feelings too.

        I can’t believe I just defended Damon but their it is. Lol

        • Well, as I said in the comment above, had either of them expressed it as something that would be too painful for them to stay and witness, that would be one thing, but 1) it was phrased with both as if they’d be leaving to spare the happy couple the awkwardness of their presence, and 2) neither even acknowledged that leaving would be the opposite of what she’d want. It was just a weird response to Elena’s confession.

          (And no, I doubt Elena would try to stop either of them from leaving if they told her they needed space; nor could I imagine her trying to stop them from moving on with someone else, though it might be awkward for everyone if it was one of her best friends.)

          But forgive me if I’m not terribly concerned with the humanity of vampires when they can and do flick a switch to turn it off and go on killing rampages for decades on end. ;) Elena’s feelings get privileged with me both because she’s a better person AND because she’s a teenager in a relationship with a couple of adults — skeevy, but true! And as not only the adults, but as IMMORTAL adults, it doesn’t seem like too much to ask that they spend a few years of their eternity sucking it up and being there for this girl they claim to love so much, even if it is a bit painful for them.

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