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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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Aunt Jenna and Uncle John are not weak at all. They were amazing. I am hoping that Jeremy doesn't get killed off and Alaric becomes a surrogate father to Elena and Jeremy. I love Caroline and Tyler together.

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Am really sorry for Elena due to her losses.Also,pity poor Jenna for her misfortune.As for Damon,i prefer him as a vimpire and wish him goodluck in his quest for Elena's forgiveness.

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It was so sad when Elena placed four flowers for her parents Jenna and John and I can't believe so many died and did anyone laugh and loved the scene with Caroline going under the blanket when Tyler was naked haha lol Can't wait for next week and I seriously now hate Elijah and well Klaus I always hated that fool!! I just hope that Elena kisses Damon once before he dies and I hope he comes back!!

Lawrie

klaus is hot!

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What's really interesting is that Damon had already tried to sacrifice himself to Klaus for Elena...an entire episode before this one -which was amazing for the record,- (while Stefan was on his fun little hike with Elena) only to realize that he faced a practically inevitable death. Damon is getting no love- he essentially reversed everything good he's done to gain Elena's trust again, become more humane and become more than one of Elena's self-help lectures-by being her friend. Overall excellent episode I was almost in tears when Jenna died.

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i cant wait for the episode as i lay dying waw fantasic best ever!!omg!!!and love previous so great !!!caroline and taylor they were sooo cute1!!i liked them a lot and i liked bonnie and jeremy thing too !!! damon!omg!really he s so awesome he s such passionate lover stefan is so cold but i like him he s so perfect and so sweet i think that he and elena make a perfect couple and damon elena thing won t work they dont match!!!

Blaine07oren

I MEAN, I SHOULD LOVE THIS EPISODE!!! RIGHT?? IT WAS PERFECT IN MANY WAYS.... BUT, DEEP INSIDE, IN THE CORE OF MY HEART, I HATED IT, I ALMOST CRIED!!!!! SERIOUSLY!!!! I HATE THE PART THAT KLAUS WON - THAT JENNA DIED!!! WITH NO REVENGE (AT LEAST FOR NOW). UGH!!!!! THIS EPISODE CHANGES EVERYTHING!!!!! I HATE U #KLAUS!!!! ALL IN ALL, THIS EPISODE DESERVES A FIVE STARS!!! - B.

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@vampirelover08 I could be wrong but i thought the vervain didn't erase his previous compulsion, so she is stuck? Hmmm

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This episode was fantastic! I cried a lot...
I am sorry that Jenna died, but I liked that she was brave on the last seconds of her life and that she wanted to fight and tried to kill Greta.
I am so sorry that now Elena and Jeremy are alone, with no relative left alive :( . Bonnie was SO hot during that scene with Klaus! I loved Klaus said "but you were dead". Tremendous scene! Elijah kind of disappointed me. I don't believe Klaus, in spite of his word, he could said everything to make Elijah spare him. But on the other hand, I understand Elijah. He spent so many years thinking that Klaus killed their family and wanting revenge. He tought his family is dead but now, when he found out they're not, he cannot just kill Klaus without finding whether is it true or not.
I just can't wait to see what will Klaus do next. Now that he is in his were-vamp form, I doubt he'll stay out of the picture, without seeking revenge on Elena and her friends. Stefan and John were both very noble this episode. Stefan proved how much he loves Elena and how much he cares about the people around him and John proved that he isn't the bad man we all thought he is and that he loves Elena, even if he doesn't shows it. I wonder what will happen to Damon. I think he'll go trough the same torments as Rose did, but I'm sure they'll find a way to save him. The producers can't kill him, the show wouldn't be the same and they'll lose many viewers. Anyone else thinks Nina Dobrev looks great in black dress?

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It would be better if Damon and Elena had something happen because of their unique situations concerning being resurrected and him bitten. It may not even be permanent. But hey...something added may help them next season.Ya spells for this and that need to not be a go-to. I am sure Bonnie will feel the weight of the spell she did if it is done right. Witches are about balance. Bonnie rocked in her performance as did the cast. Someone said Elena showed no emotion with Jenna's body. I felt it though. She moved go go die next to her and her anger was the same as when he told Klaus to 'go to hell'. Saw that on Elijah. Still wondering about Stefan.

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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