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The Vampire Diaries Review: A Case of Klaustrophobia

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Before delving into one of the greatest Vampire Diaries episodes in history - The action! The emotion! The ethical dilemmas! - I must start by correcting Damon:

We did make Elena a pros/cons list. But it's gonna take more than that, man. She didn't seem closer to a decision after reading through the comparisons. Sorry.

Staring at Klaus

Okay, now I can truly start reviewing "Before Sunset," and I'll do so by asking: Are we sure this wasn't the season finale?!? My. Goodness.

The episode wasted no time getting into the action - okay, it wasted a tiny bit of time, giving us a blonde-off between Rebekah and Caroline, but no warm-blooded male in his right mind would consider this a waste - as Dark-laric was instantly on the attack.

He grabbed Rebekah. He was staked by Caroline. He responded by breaking her neck and, a short time later, proving there actually is something worse that can be done with pencils in a classroom other than fill out those tiny little holes on a Scantron. Ouch.

This sequence led to Ethical Dilemma #1 of the evening: to kill Caroline or not to kill Caroline? Granted, it wasn't actually a choice Elena entertained, but it did pose an interesting debate. I mean... is Dark-laric totally wrong here? If we can somehow remove ourselves from the affection we feel for the vampires of Mystic Falls, can we really argue that the town as a whole would be safer without them around?

Major kudos to Julie Plec and company for creating a legitimate villain - in the eyes of any true TVD fan, there's no question that Dark-laric must be stopped - and yet still painting him with a morally grey brush. Let's face it, the guy has a point.

All of this led to the return of... Abby!!! Okay, that may be three exclamation points too many. But she was needed on the scene because Elena somehow figured out that Dark-laric was tied to her (who else figured Damon would be the first to tie up Elena?!?) and the team couldn't actually kill him. They needed to desicate him, like Abby did with Mikael. This was actually an effective, necessary use of the witch-turned-vampire and a nice callback to an early plot point.

It's here we can stop again and focus on Ethical Dilemma #2: Elena could have killed herself and put an end to Dark-laric. That's a mighty major step, no doubt. I'm not saying I could do it. But the show did a masterful job this week of depicting situations that actually did have alternate ways out, albeit ways that would lead to the deaths of major characters.

It's one thing to make viewers' heads spin via non-stop action. It's another to make the brains inside those heads consider what they would do if faced with similar circumstances. Great work throughout when it came to the latter.

So... Elena is tied to Alaric. And Stefan, Damon and Tyler are all tied to Klaus. (It was pretty clear he was telling the truth about their bloodline based on Stefan's reaction when he actually reached inside Klaus' chest). But Tyler is no longer tied to his maker, as Ethical Dilemma #3 involved the decision this hybrid arrived at in grand fashion:

I'm not your little bitch anymore. And why isn't Tyler Klaus' little bitch anymore? How did he break the sire bond?

By breaking every bone in my body a hundred times for the girl I love. | permalink

Once more, with feeling: Forwood. Forever.

Klaus at the Door

I've been delaying it for as long as possible, but now it's time to say goodbye.

Bonnie did succeed at the spell, but she did so with Klaus, who was trying desperately to flee town with both his real family and the ability to make a new one - and we all know why, right? At heart, this is simply one lonely hybrid. He yearns for attention. Why do you think he throws so many hissy fits? Why he continued to have faith that his old friend, Stefan the Ripper (sorry, Stefan the Rippah) would return to him?

Klaus just wants to be loved. And while that will never happen in Mystic Falls, it happened in living rooms around the country. Joseph Morgan brought this character to life in every conceivable way: he was scary, he was funny, he was sympathetic, he was vulnerable and, in what I have to imagine will be his final scene for a long time, he was in a state of shock.

Klaus didn't utter any final words. But his eyes - and the perfect, heartbeat-based score - said it all. A perfect exit for a perfect villain.

I raise my own shot to you, Niklaus Mikaelson, but I do it out of sadness and respect, secure in the knowledge that we have to see you again at some point... right?

Finally, we arrive at Elena. I've been as frustrated as anyone over the last few weeks - railing against her in my previous TVD review - regarding this dragged-out love triangle. She was just going back and forth on a seeming whim, teasing both the brothers and Vampire Diaries fans on a weekly basis.

But it was saved for me here when Elena just came right out and acknowledged her hedging. If I choose one of you, I lose the other. And I've lost so many people, I can't bear the thought of losing you. That's it. Two sentences, one salient point and I understand. This is Ethical Dilemma #4 from the episode, but it's the only one without a resolution at the moment.

It seemed a bit random and far-fetched for Damon and Stefan to simply agree that the loser would leave town, like the two were simply raising the stakes for the season finale just because. But whatever. That's a miniscule complaint in what was a whirlwind of an enthralling episode.

Where do we stand heading into that finale? Dark-laric has outed himself, Tyler and Caroline to the town council. He wants all vampires dead, and he has to somehow neutralize Elena in the process so she doesn't become collateral damage or sacrifice herself for her loved ones (hence whatever the heck happened at the end... I assume?).

Tyler loves Caroline. Caroline loves Tyler. Rebekah has supposedly fled. Jeremy is painting and having his heart stopped on occasion. Bonnie is spell casting. And Damon and Stefan are actually together and happy. Why do I have the feeling that won't be the case a week from now?

What an hour of television. What did everyone else think?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (527 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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    Loved the Klaus scene where he was throwing stuff in the house, and then the 3 of them had it out on the porch when they realized they needed to work together. Loved the scene w/ Klaus and Caroline. Sexy. I'm with everybody else laughing at the fact that Elena was drained of half her blood and Jer died, but they both took shots. The scene though, with all the friends in the kitchen was so cute and happy, so I didn't care. I thought the ending with Elena passing out from the head injury was actually kind of cool.

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    @Allison Berry Barbieri : This is getting weird, everytime I feel like posting a comment I read yours and feel like you're reading my mind girl lol i.e, I totally agree with you, all the time...

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    I wonder what would happen if Elena was turned...she has to die in order to do that...so would Alaric die as well or would he live long enough for her to transition and be tied to her new vampire life? As for the triangle...it's gotten boring...certainly not the best part of the show by a long shot. After seeing Klaus and Damon's fence post throwing and dodging scene I started wishing for more scenes that were similar...and when the three(Stefan/Damon/Klaus) were working together I loved it...kinda wish all three would ditch Elena and go on the road together but alas Klaus is gone and we are back to Elena...eternal damsel in distress.

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    This episode was great. It's about time they figured out a way to get rid of Klaus and that was awesome! I loved the fact that Klaus was a Stelena fan, that was great!
    I understand Elena's hesitation about not choosing someone on this episode with everything going on but like Caroliine said, at some point she needs to either choose one or move on with her life and let the brothers move on too because it's not fair at all she gets to toy with their emotions and string them along.

    Allison-berry-barbieri

    @Borednow...As someone that hasn't watched Buffy, I don't care about the comparisons. Anyway, isn't a lot of TV derivative? I mean, I'm sure Grey's has characteristics of ER, or The Secret Circle might take cues from Charmed...One Tree Hill from Dawson's...I mean, that is why there are "tropes" in TV...things get repeated at times..

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    Such a great episode! Klaus was fantastic and I love love his character. His ending was so awesome and so well acted on all of their parts I was awe struck. Def one of the best eps all season!

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    Plec might WANT to rip off that stuff, but no one in the writing staff has any writing chops to execute that. Guess that's the general problem this season. Plec wants a lot of things, only they don't get to work any of it :-( All those possibilities... wasted. Sad. Still hoping it's getting better again though :-) (Just don't kill off Klaus forever, don't make a Salvator brother leave - best case: Elena leaves town, haha - and hire some good writers)

    Kitanishi-h-mcdonald

    And they already tried way too hard making Stefan look like the new Angel. I am however, aware that not everyone grew up on Buffy, so plots like this could be interesting for some viewers. Just not for me. I just feel the show should be more original. Judging from Julie Plec's tweets, it's obvious she takes a lot of inspiration from Buffy. Thats exactly the problem. PLEC wants to copy-paste it yet fails to make it work. Angel came off as threatening and his darkside justified his overall passiveness in his first appearances and set off a huge character arc for him. Steffie just came out as a wimp. Plec might WANT to rip off that stuff, but no one in the writing staff has any writing chops to execute that.

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    who has shots of tequila with only 3 pints of blood left? a vampire's babe thats who. of course paint fumes are gonna do the trick

    Floralovesgurlplz

    That's exactly why it would be similar to Willow. the smile on her face from the dark magic and the fact that she has lost people for really pointless reasons. I always thought it would be interesting to see Bonnie go on a revenge phase, and at certain times she actually did that (setting damon on fire) but with Alaric as the new once-good-guy now villain right now, it's not really necessary to make her a villain ATM. I don't oppose to seeing her get into dark magic so much that it changes her, but that really would be a parallel to Willow. And they already tried way too hard making Stefan look like the new Angel. I am however, aware that not everyone grew up on Buffy, so plots like this could be interesting for some viewers. Just not for me. I just feel the show should be more original. Judging from Julie Plec's tweets, it's obvious she takes a lot of inspiration from Buffy.