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The Vampire Diaries Review: The Sacrifice, the Aftermath and the Redemption of John Gilbert

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In the moments following "The Sun Also Rises," my wife called it the greatest episode of any show ever. While she has a penchant for hyberbole, this wasn't too big of a stretch.

The action never ceased, the shockers kept coming and the death toll rose, which was sad to watch in a sense, but befitting of an episode devoted to Klaus and the sacrifice ritual.

Even the non-stop changes to the supernatural rule book are sold by terrific storytelling and complex characters one can really invest one's self in, even when you least expect to.

Without further delay, let's break down the major events of "The Sun Also Rises," analyze the fallout, and talk about why this dark chapter of TVD was one of its (if not the) best ...

Klaus Pic

The demise of Jules. Step one of the ritual goes fairly quickly and painlessly. There can't be much time to feel pain when your BEATING HEART IS RIPPED OUT OF YOUR CHEST.

Klaus' Temple of Doom-esque coup de grace further cements his status as the hardest dude out there, with Joseph Morgan's slow, emphatic delivery enhancing the fear factor.

Before she dies, Jules reveals to Elena, trapped in her own ring of fire, that she was only trying to help Tyler. Speaking of our favorite hunky, shirtless canine, Caroline saves him!

The good news for the ladies? Michael Trevino's sculpted frame was gratuitously displayed. The bad news for one lady? Matt has had his fill of all supernatural beings.

Caroline and Tyler should get together since Matt dumped her. Who's with me?!

Stefan's act of heroism. Desperate to save Elena and the remaining people close to her, Stefan offers up himself as the vampire sacrifice instead of a transitioning Jenna.

Appearing on the cliff above in stoic, swoon-worthy fashion, he offered his life to Klaus.

After appearing to mull it over, Klaus isn't interested, stabbing Stefan in the back and casting him aside, citing "bigger plans" for him. For now, poor Jenna is still doomed.

She tries to fight back and kill Klaus' associate Greta, but the newborn vamp had no shot.

Klaus dispatches her immediately, leaving only the doppelganger's blood between himself and lifting the curse that prevents him from siring a race of were-vamp hybrids.

Perhaps that's what his plans were for Stefan? Making him the were-vamp prototype?

Saving Elena's soul. Here's where the episode became almost unnecessarily complicated, and could've been annoying had the actors and writers not sold it so brilliantly.

Bonnie, Jeremy, John and Alaric research a way to ensure Elena doesn't turn into a vampire if and when Klaus kills her. Lo and behold, Emily's spell book has the answer!

It must be convenient to simply write in a way to tether Elena's soul to John's so that she can't be turned. Almost too far-fetched, even on a CW show about vampires.

Nevertheless, it worked because of a surprise twist we'll discuss in a moment.

Family comes first. Bonnie, Damon and Elijah arrive at the scene of the sacrifice just as Klaus savors Elena's blood and begins an epic transition 1,000 years in the making.

Then OMG, it is ON!

Damon breaks Greta's neck and Bonnie overwhelms Klaus rather easily. Elijah, who promised to finish off Klaus personally once Bonnie subdued him, is poised to, but ...

Klaus talks his way out of it! Elijah's motive for revenge was that Klaus killed their family and scattered their bodies at sea. Or so he thought. Klaus says it's not true!

Elijah will only find the rest of the originals if he saves Klaus. Despite pleas from Stefan and Bonnie to proceed with the plan, Elijah splits with Klaus. Just like that.

As great as it would have been for Elijah to kill Klaus right there, you had a hunch it wouldn't happen. Now they're in the wind, with the plot delightfully open-ended.

The New Plan of Attack

John makes the sacrifice. I love that John Gilbert, a thoroughly disliked character for so long, will be remembered as a man who laid down his life for his daughter.

The tethering spell worked and Elena is brought back to life, and in human form. But the side effect is that the person she's tethered to dies. John knew this all along.

Elena, who'd already lost her parents before the pilot episode aired, now has watched her biological mom, biological dad and aunt pass away in a matter of weeks.

The funeral was poignant and the music was fantastic, a moving conclusion to a night filled with carnage and tragedy, but which left the main cast generally unscathed.

Well, except for the small matter of one werewolf bite ...

The torment of Damon Salvatore. I'm going to guess that since Elijah and Klaus peaced out, next week's conclusion to Season 2 will be primarily Delena-related.

He's slowly dying and being eaten alive with guilt. Can Stefan find a way to save his brother, whose dormant humanity is finally rising from the emotional abyss?

Just as importantly, will Damon earn the forgiveness he seeks from Elena?

Clearly, The Vampire Diaries will invent a way to save Damon. But at what cost? Will the bite kill him, only to have the witch's elixir bring him back as a human?

Just my theory. But in the season finale, everything is on the table. After an episode this outstanding, it's amazing there's still one more to come next week.

Some final questions and thoughts before turning it over to you:

  • So the ritual worked, and Klaus is now a full-fledged were-vamp ... somewhere. That alone is enough to make you excited for the third season, isn't it?
  • Elijah's motive for killing Klaus AND his motive for flaking out at the last second were both somehow believable thanks to their back story. Well done.
  • Since Klaus is still alive, Kat is stuck in Alaric's apartment, right?
  • Caroline now knows her mom is in the loop. What will she do?
  • Jeremy and Bonnie are pretty cute together, no?

What did you think of last night's Vampire Diaries? Dark and depressing as it was, was this the best episode of the show to date? Discuss with us below!

Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (412 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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Yea, I used an entire box of tissues watching this damn episode. My bestie & I have re-named our weekly TVD get together "Therapy Thursdays" & boy did we need it this week. You know a show is powerful when you go home exhausted with a pounding headache, puffy eyes & a broken heart. The death toll:
Jules, I was happy to see go since Tyler was the other choice. Joseph Morgan was chilling as Klaus & his removal of her heart did not disappoint.
Greta: I cheered when Damon snapped her neck! Witchy Karma sums up that moment.
Aunt Jenna: I have been grieving for her all week since I believed her death to be "the big one" we've been waiting for. Nina & Sara delivered powerful performances that left me drained.
John: this was my surprise death! I did not expect Jeremy & Elena to lose ALL their parents, they are truly orphaned now. This definitely changes things in terms of their stories in Season 3. John's exit was touching as I've basically hated him up until now. His letter & ring also provide more questions about the future of Stefan & Elena. How will they continue considering the fact that they don't have much of a future if Elena wants family & such?
The funeral scene broke my heart on all levels, & the actors delivered beautifully. Poor Elena! Poor Jeremy! Poor Ric! The list goes on...
Stefan's face when he was forced to watch Klaus drain the life out of Elena was also heart-wrenching. Do you detect a theme here? It also ended emotionally with Damon's confession to Stefan about his wolf-bite. Paul Wesley's range of emotions in those few moments was palpable. The brothers love/conflict is the heart of the show & I think the writers are genius. I look forward to Damon's journey next week having to face his death, & needing Elena's forgiveness. His walk away scene in the cemetery was gorgeously shot.
Bonnie kicked some major booty & was the episodes hero. Saving Elena from vamp world AND taking down Klaus. Klaus dying "ace in the hole" that prompted Elijah not kill him was stellar. I KNEW something unexpected would happen in terms of Elijah (Damon's instincts people, pay attention)
This was most assuredly a "game-changing" episode for the series & Season 3 looks very promising. I look forward to more Klaus/Elijah & some Original action. What a great wealth of new storytelling to be done! I also look forward to a nice love triangle between Wolfie, Vamp Barbie & Wonder Boy. Trevino has made me Team Tyler! How did that happen? How will Stefan find a way to save his brother & what will be their dynamic going into Season 3? Will Alaric step in, in a more familial way for Elena & Jeremy now? Jeremy definitely seemed like the man of the house rather than the lost little brother at the end of this episode. I can't wait to find out...

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Please can someone tell me what's going on with Damon?What do you mean by Damon becoming human?pleasssssssssssssssse tell me please Now

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Wow is right for this episode, my heart broke for Elena losing most of her family though. I think John did redeem himself in the end, he died for his daughter. I really am likeing Caroline and Tyler together but I feel bad for Matt, I would like to see the writeres let him be happy. He is all alone. I hope next weeks episode is based around Delena. They also better find a way to save Damon, I also want him to admit to Elena that he is in love with her and just could not lose her, I think admission will be all Elena needs to forgive him. She needs to see what is truly in his heart. I can't wait for next week and I am so happy I have all the episodes saved on my DVR so I can rewatch all I want until season two comes out on DVD, which they better do fast.

Westcoastgg

Funeral Scene Song: Skinny Love by Birdy

Eneci

great episode! They mad it truly interesting!
I'm dissapointed by Jenna's death, thought they wrap her storyline up! But she's better gone cause she didn't done anything interesting! This on the other sie gives more space for Alaric and a possible new lovestory!
The Elijah-Klaus twist was a little boring! Come on! We want them to hate each other and start a WAR!
We all knew that Elena will stay human! Would be to ideal livin with Stefan till the end off mystic falls! BUT THE DAMON TURNS HUMAN IDEA I MENTIONED IN MY LAST WEEK COMMENT! SO DON'T TURN IT ON YOU! XD :PPPPPPPPP can't wait to see next weeks episode!

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I thought it was not nearly as good as the build up. Either Elijah or Klause should have died. This show is getting more and more like Buffy. Think about it. You have Willow, Angel, Spike, Darla, and Giles. All you need now is Buffy. I hope they change the direction of this show. It is getting really silly. Wow, I just thought about it. They are gonna bring in Sarah Michelle Gellar to kill Klause and Elijah next season.

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I would love to see Caroline and Tyler together. And Bonnie came hard with the witch act. She was in control and saved the day truly. Was made at the death toll, but what do you expect when your talking about vampires and werewolves. I want to see a long steamy kiss between Elena and Damon, but I know she's better off with the brother. Can't wait til next Thursday.

Rbirdie

Jenna's death devastated me. I cried like a baby and I'm tearing up just thinking about it right now. It was horrible. I can't believe how many people have been killed on this show. Has to be a record in T.V. history.

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Kat in Alaric's apartment will be so weird...maybe she'll console him about Jenna and they'll fall in love but wait, she was the one who caused her to be turned. Maybe he'll torture her instead...lol by shooting her over and over from outside the door and maybe set the house on fire with her in it Caroline now knows her mom is in the loop. What will she do?
I'm thinking she has to move out and move in with Helena or Stefan but it will be interesting to see what is going to happen to their relationships (Mom, Caroline, and Matt) since they all live among each other and knowing what they know. Jeremy and Bonnie are pretty cute together, no?
I never thought so because Bonnie is all powerful and popular but they have her dating a little boy and a loner in her HS. It diminishes her character. She needs a college guy to woe her and take care of her like she takes care of that whole freaking town

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The song was Skinny Love, not sure who was doing the cover but the original is done by Bon Iver. Amazing episode, would have made for a great season finale but I'm sure next week we are going to I hope be blown away.

The Vampire Diaries Season 2 Episode 21 Quotes

Tyler: You were right. I shouldn't have come home.
Caroline: No, you just...should have never left. And you shouldn't leave again.
Tyler: You're kidding, right? This is the second time I've tried to kill you.
Caroline: Well, no friendship is perfect.

(voiceover, in his letter to Elena) Elena, it's no easy task being an ordinary parent to an extraordinary child. I failed in that task. And because of my prejudices, I failed you. I'm haunted by how things might have played out differently if I'd been more willing to hear your side of things. 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. It's for that child that I give you my ring. I don't ask for your forgiveness or for you to forget. 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.

John
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