'The Vampire Diaries' recap: Ordinary parents to an extraordinary child

tvd-sunrise-jenna.jpgThere was only one part of this week's episode of "The Vampire Diaries" that I was looking forward to, and that was the scene where Damon tells Stefan about his werewolf bite. Those two are at their best when they're together.

As for the rest of the episode... I was completely dreading it. First of all, we've been warned left and right about how sad it would be, and sad things generally do not make me happy, for they are sad. Additionally, I figured that the actual sacrifice couldn't possibly live up the the hype.

I'm happy to say that I was wrong on both counts. Let's jump in, shall we?

Previously on "The Vampire Diaries": Elijah talked so much.

8:01 - MATT! In the first scene of the episode! Unfortunately, it's hard to get excited about his presence when he just shot Tyler. Why is Matt so comfortable with a gun? He's totally a secret Republican, isn't he.
 
8:02 - Katherine's concern for Damon now that she knows he's dying betrays the shred of humanity left in her. Is it just me, or has she really been softening up since Isobel died? "One hundred and forty-five years and no last goodbye?" Unfortunately, a goodbye hug from Katherine isn't on Damon's bucket list, but I'm guessing he is concerned about being on good terms with Elena.

8:03 - Poor Jenna. I know that "The Vampire Diaries" likes to pull last-minute switcheroos, but I'm pretty sure that this time, she really is a goner. All of the cast members ( including Nina this morning) have insisted that the sacrifice will happen, and I just can't imagine anyone else stepping in at this point. Plus, we've already seen the transformation saga with Caroline; I can't imagine that we'll see another female character transform for quite a while.

On another note... I hate Greta. The Martins are the most annoying thing about this season and Greta is just the cherry on top of a whole giant family pile of annoying. I can't stand her obnoxious smirk or her outfit or the way that her feeding Jenna is bizarrely sexual.
 
8:05 - That's what Jeremy and Bonnie have been doing while they've been holed up in that haunted mansion for 42 years? Reading? I hope they at the very least found that sex spell that Jeremy was looking for at the Masquerade.

Alaric is supposed to be the vampire hunter, right? That's how he was introduced. That's what Katherine called him. And now, when he's finally getting the chance to actually do something instead of sit back and eat ice cream and get laid... his girlfriend's undeath is going to thwart the whole plan.

Of course Damon made a quick bourbon pit stop before heading into the woods. I mean, he's dying, I can't begrudge him his booze, but... come on. It seems like everyone's doing a lot of sitting and talking and standing and talking while Elena's spellbound in a ring of fire and Jenna's slurping people juice.
 
8:06 - Speaking of Jenna, can we talk about how awesome Sara Canning is right now? She's so subtle, but you can really feel Jenna's fear.

Elena is less panicky than I thought she'd be. I'm surprised that in all the talk-talk-talking that Elijah did, no one brought up the fact that if the sacrifice were to be carried out, as they planned, a vampire and a werewolf would have to die, too. Elena's been all stoic about being okay with herself potentially biting the dust, but we never really saw her consider the two other people that would be sacrificed in order for it all to work out.

8:07 - "Your insides are trying to tear themselves free," Greta says, delighted, because she is repulsive. (That said... hey Jules, it sucks to be trapped and enduring agonizing pain, doesn't it? YEAH.)
 
8:08 - Matt and Caroline go to Tyler's house? Seriously? Of all places in town, you go to the one building that is screaming "here, puppy puppy."

Matt's freaking me out. How did he know where to find Caroline in the woods? Why did he care enough to go after her but now he's all icy. How can he give Caroline this "Your mom hates vampires!" speech without adding in that part where the Sheriff has repeatedly said that she still sees her daughter, her baby, when she looks at Caroline.

"Where does this leave us?"

"Stuck in this house trying not to get mauled to death by our friend."

Their lives are so weird.

8:09 - Damon can use vampire speediness, and yet, he's still hanging around the Salvatore house as the werewolf bite symptoms slowly make him less effective in a fight.

"You were supposed to keep her safe!" John scolds Damon. Um, so were you, Daddy dearest. Good job with that. That's a real pretty ring on your finger that could possibly save Elena. Now we'll never know.
 
8:11 - For a moment there I thought that Greta was going to take the moonstone from Klaus and destroy it. I hope that as she's passing out, Elena fills Greta in on the part where the entire Martin family is dead, too.

Meanwhile: "I was just trying to help Tyler. I didn't want him to be alone," Jules wails. Yeah. I don't care.

8:12 - Sheer perfection. That is what it is when Klaus freaking caresses Jules' cheek before ripping her heart out of her chest with his bare hand.

8:15 - Alaric gets his moment to play dad. I've been hoping to see him establish a more father-figure connection with Jeremy all season. I think they sort of had that when Alaric first arrived in town in Season 1, but it faded. I'm glad he's the one to tell Jeremy that Jenna's in danger and that he takes it seriously enough to ask Bonnie to step outside. tvd-sunrise-greta-klaus.jpg

Why is no one acknowledging how terribly they planned this, and how they've been so blindly obsessed with keeping Elena alive that they completely ignored the fact that two other innocent people/monsters would be part of the slaughter as well? I mean... I love Elena too... but she's not the only life that matters.

8:16 - If I didn't think Jenna was going to die before, I'm sure of it now that we're getting the goodbye speech - and, finally, some actual insight into her character. Here's the thing... Jenna sort of did fail, but she never had a chance in hell to succeed as long as Elena, Jeremy, and Alaric were keeping her in the dark. (For the record, I don't blame Elena and Jeremy. They're kids. Alaric was the man who loved her and he should've believed in her capabilities. I'm mad at him.)
 
8:18 - "Do you think my mom wants to kill me?" My heart breaks for Caroline when she's sad. And how courteous of her to consider Tyler's modesty! He wasn't wolfed out for very long, was he? This makes twice now that he's woken up from hell night to find Caroline there soothing him out of it. These two are epic.
 
8:19 - Honor, honor, honor, honor, honor. I've said this a million times, but they've been drilling Elijah's honor into our head way too much for it not to come back and bite us in the ass. "Sometimes there's honor in revenge, Stefan," Elijah promises after revealing that Klaus killed their parents and other siblings. "I won't fail you."

Okay, so is that really an honor killing, or is that a self-defense killing? If Klaus has gotten to everyone but Elijah, I'm pretty sure Elijah's next, and I'm pretty sure Elijah knows it.

8:25 - "No one has to die." Uh. Why does Damon keep acting like Bonnie is completely disposable in this whole operation?

"Hell, that's my brother for you. Always cleaning up my messes," he says. Of course Damon doesn't want anything bad to happen to Stefan, but I'm sure that part of his concern here has to do with the fact that if the werewolf bite gets him and Stefan dies in the sacrifice, Elena is left alone to transform without anyone around to teach her how to kill bunnies or procure blood bags on the down low.

I wish Damon wouldn't say it was his mess, though. If he hadn't intervened, it would've been Caroline and Tyler, and Stefan probably would have thrown himself on the gauntlet for them, too.

8:26 - "We can't leave Jeremy without a family," Elena cries. Oh, hey, now I'm crying. Thanks.

Have I mentioned how much I adore Joseph Morgan? I adore him. I love the way that Klaus so rarely raises his voice, and the way he seems to be thoroughly enjoying the entire ritual of the sacrifice and relishing it instead of rushing full-throttle for the endgame. "Well, well. I don't recall you being on the guest list." Chills!
 
8:27 - "Skip to the save Elena part," Damon says. This is a shocking new facet of his character. Or, you know... not. Apparently Jonathan Gilbert wrote down one of Emily's spells, which allows a parent to share their life force with a child to keep it alive. They're going to bind Elena and John that way, which will keep her soul intact (huh?) and prevent her from vamping out.

"I refuse to let Elena become the thing I've spent my life protecting her against," John says. Okay, so maybe he hasn't really spent his life doing it, just a couple of weeks here and there, but that's beside the point. "And you can call that God, or mystical energy or whatever you want, but yes, I'm putting my faith in it."

John Gilbert, being a good dad. WTF. (Also, can we talk about the fact that David Anders is only 8 years older than Nina? No, we can't, because we're moving on to another Klaus scene? Okay then.)
 
8:28 - "I rather appreciate the symmetry of three women," Klaus says when Stefan offers himself up. Klaus is so slimy and Slytherin. "Three goddesses sacrificed at Nature's altar." Sucks to be Elena right now.

8:32 - Tyler, Caroline, and Matt have been my favorite part of Season 2, but it's really hard to give a crap about them when there's so much going on outside. Also, not to be a nitpicker, but I've been in that house, and Caroline just put Tyler to sleep in the dining room. Can we get these kids some bedrooms, please.

"So this is your life now, huh?" Matt says. He thought he was cool with the vampire thing until he spent the night killing a witch, getting cold-cocked with his own gun, and cowering in a dank cellar trying not to get eaten by his best friend. Who then showed up naked and shivering on his own porch, and now Matt can never wear his favorite jacket again, because he totally knows where it's been.

In all seriousness though, even though Matt has been kind of a dick (yeah, I said it) this episode, it's hard to see him and Caroline break up after they've only been together for a sum total of five minutes. His life is hard in its own way, and it's about as much as he can take as is. Poor thing.
 
8:34 - Bonnie just saved Elena from becoming a vampire, and all Damon can do is snap his fingers while doing the hurry-up dance? She just saved you from an eternity of the cold Gilbert shoulder, Damon. Pat her on the head or something.

Then Bonnie gives Jeremy the kiss of death (I thought that was his thing?) and he goes night-night so she doesn't have to babysit him at the quarry. Alaric gets trapped in the house, too, because he is the most useless vampire hunter ever. Can we just stop calling him vampire hunter and call him what he is? The guy we keep around because he and Damon look at each other funny and we like it.

8:36 - Time for Sophie's choice -- is it going to be Stefan or Jenna, Elena? Just kidding, they're both doomed.

I'm intrigued by Klaus's plan for Stefan, but there's not much time to dwell on that before tragedy strikes. It's sort of annoying that we're losing Jenna before we've ever gotten the chance to really know her, and I really wish that we'd gotten some kind of goodbye between her and Alaric.

Honestly, I hope Alaric doesn't forgive Damon for this one for a while. It was Bonnie who cast the spell that kept him away, but Bonnie is a kid and Damon is supposed to be Alaric's life partner in crime.

Did they not have time to make Jenna fangs? I want to see her vampire face! I don't understand why she thought killing the witch would be a good idea -- if Klaus couldn't complete the sacrifice, she'd die in vain. Still, her death is easily the saddest scene that this show has ever had. "Just turn it off, Jenna, turn it off. You won't be scared anymore," Elena begs, and I become a mess of drippy mascara and snot. Thanks. What an incredible last shot of her. tvd-sunrise-klaus-bite-elena.jpg

8:42 - Rise and shine, Stefan.

I love Elena in this scene. She steels herself and sets her jaw and refuses to play into Klaus's gentleman murderer act. The bizarre calm on her face as he drinks her blood is, frankly, frightening, and I would be surprised if we don't see a very different Elena emerge once this trauma really sets in for her. Also... Klaus, stop being such a groper. His kills are so bizarrely sexual. There's no doubt that he gets off on this.

I think it's worth noting that after he chows down on Elena, she has two perfect puncture wounds in her neck. Usually when we see vampire kills, they've taken an animalistic bite out of someone. Looks like Klaus has learned some table manners over the years.

He even transforms differently from how we've seen Tyler and Mason wolf out. They sweat and quiver, while he seems to relish in every snap of bone that we hear, staying standing.

Holy moly, Bonnie is incredible in this scene. It looks like something out of a music video as she chants and marches. She doesn't falter once, she looks gorgeous and strong, and now, finally, I believe that she can do this. I mean... she won't, because there's still another episode left in the season, but I believe that she can. I really think they've slipped up with the writing when it comes to Bonnie this year - the writers have pointed out weakness after weakness and then asked us to believe she's strong. Luckily, the flawless directing and acting in this moment make up for it. I still hope to see a lot more consistent character development next year.

Damon snaps Greta's neck! Woohoo! Party at my house! BYOB and some for me!

It's sort of touching that he lays Elena's body down next to Stefan. They're really in sync right now. I love it.

8:45 - Elijah and Klaus meet again! "In the name of our family, Niklaus," he announces -- oh, come on, Elijah, stop dilly dallying with your arm in your brother's ribcage and get that heart out of there, please.

"I didn't bury them at sea," Klaus wheezes, in a powerful moment by Joseph Morgan. You know the acting is good when someone really attractive is happy to make themselves look really ugly and twisted by pain. "Their bodies are safe. You kill me, you'll never find them."

Oh, god. Here we go. When Elijah was out for revenge, he thought he'd be honoring his family by killing Klaus. Now, here's an option with more honor: suffer Klaus's company in order to save his family. Julie Plec told us last week, "The show, at its core, is about family. It's about the love of family." Well, great. Now we're screwed. Elijah remains honorable.

Why is Bonnie waiting around to give Elijah the "Do it or I'll take you out" speech? She's this close to killing Klaus with a flick of her wrist. Why does she want Elijah to do it? Why does she care that it's him? DO IT, Bonnie. Ugh.

8:49 - What is John writing? He's going to die, isn't he? And seriously, how is he still right-handed? It says something that Jeremy doesn't freak out at the idea of John dying. He's just kind of complacent about it. "Take care of each other," John tells him and Alaric. "Please."

I think Alaric just gained himself some vampire-hunters-in-training. Will they call him daddy?
 
8:51 - "If you come back as a vampire, I'll stake you myself, so don't," Damon tells Elena's dead body. "Because I can't stand the idea of you hating me forever." Then he does some creepy Edward Cullen stroking as Jeremy bursts into the room.

"I'm sorry, Jeremy," he says. He looks like he means it, even. I wish we'd gotten a little more emotion out of Steven McQueen in this scene - especially considering that he had little else to do this episode but pace and page-turn - but the look on Alaric's face is wrecked enough for both of them.

And down John goes. And I cry again.
 
8:53 - Now, we break for a Serious Shirtless Conversation with Tyler Lockwood.

"Matt broke up with me." Oh my god, Caroline, so not important right now! Your BFF just got drained and her aunt is dead and Bonnie almost fried her brains and you're just hanging out at Tyler's house.

That said, this scene is excellent, if not well-timed. I am so invested in Caroline and Tyler's relationship and with the complete honesty she's affording him right now. They're totally best friends, which is great, because I'm totally a fan of the whole best-friends-who-secretly-want-to-touch-tongues thing. Bring it, Season 3! Also, isn't he naked under that blanket?

tvd-sunrise-tyler-caroline.jpg8:54 - Elena has lost five parental figures in the last year-ish-indiscriminate-amount-of-time. I really hope that we see a new side of her emerge next season after all of this. Her edges have got to be pretty raw at this point.

Jeremy. In a suit. More funerals please!!! I can't describe how much I love the relationship between Jeremy and Elena. I wish we'd see more scenes with them together. They're always flawless.

John's letter has me absolutely bawling. I'm just going to put the full text of it here, because it's truly excellent. But first, soundtrack junkie moment - this is a cover of Bon Iver's "Skinny Love" by Birdy. You can snag it on iTunes.

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, the 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
.

Read it and weep. Literally.

The funeral scene was so tragic. I'd thought for sure that it was a dream sequence, because nobody can set up a funeral that fast, but I forgot about compulsion and the fact that this is TV, not reality.

As the only grown up in the universe, Alaric better step up and play parental figure for the next few years, because Elena shouldn't have to do it.

The look that passes between Elena and Damon as she places the rose on Jenna's grave is so significant. I know that next week's episode is about Damon seeking her forgiveness, but I can't imagine that she hasn't already forgiven him, considering how much has happened in the last 24 hours that far outweighs his incredibly rash, incredibly selfish move. I mean, she's probably not looking at him as boyfriend material, but she doesn't look like she hates him.

Completely inappropriate, shallow, and badly timed side note: Alaric looks freaking stunning in this scene.

Completely inappropriate, shallow, and badly timed side note #2: Where is Matt? Remember when he brought Jenna home from the hospital after she gutted herself? And remember how he leaned on Elena when he found out Vicki was dead? He totally should have been invited to this funeral, and he should have shown up. And he should have been wearing a suit. Just saying.

8:58 - And now, the scene I have been waiting for all week: brotime.

First of all, I thought Klaus was the oldest vampire in the world, but now we learn that Elijah is in fact older? Interesting.

"I'm not going to let Elena lose anyone else," Stefan says. Damon replies, "I wouldn't make any promises, brother," before revealing that twitchy gangrene wolfrot on his arm.

But in the grand tradition of brothers on The CW (and seriously, if you're not watching "Supernatural," do yourself a favor and get on that), Stefan swears that he will save Damon despite the fact that it's impossible.

I would just like to send one zillion kudos to Paul Sommers, who is the incredible "Vampire Diaries" cinematographer who made his directorial debut in this episode. Way to take on a tough one for your first time, sir.

The shots of Damon walking through the graveyard are basically stunning.

I guess my only real confusion now is -- why wasn't this the season finale? Damon walking away is the perfect beat to end a season on. If next week's episode somehow strikes deeper than this one, I will be shocked and impressed (and exhausted and emotional).

Our main trio was incredible this week, but as that's pretty much par for the course, I'm going to single out Sara Canning and Kat Graham for MVP this week. As I said, I don't think Bonnie's journey was given the attention it deserved this season, but Kat Graham rocked out that spell scene. I half expected her to start busting out "Thriller" dance moves while Klaus writhed underneath her dancing feet.

And Sara Canning -- along with Nina -- gave us a beautiful death scene. In her last moments, Jenna did what she could to protect Elena, and that's a role she hadn't yet been able to fulfill because she'd been left out of the loop.

Please weigh in below in the comments! I read them all and can't wait to hear what you think about this episode. Just try to keep it together - salt water pouring out of your eyeballs is bad for your keyboard.

Photo/Video credit: The CW
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