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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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This episode was fantastic! I've never been a big Bonnie fan but the girl definitely rocked in this episode. I did not see that coming with Jenna and then Damon getting bitten by Tyler. I was sobbing from then on. They definitely have to save Damon - he is the hotness of the show. How Elena can resist him is beyond me. Can't wait for next week!

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OMFG best episode yet and thats really saying something because they always have great episodes. Ok so lets get this started the whole jenna dying thing sucked but still had relative reasons. Greta the witch im so confused as to y she did what she did but really happy damon snapped her freaking neck. Stefan offering himself was nice but so stefan, is anyone else besides me gettn tired of his whole sweet act? The whole caroline and matt breakup fantastic now she gets to make tv history and hit it off with a wolf which breaks all the rules perfect. Bonnie was great!! And as much as I hate elaina she was really honorable takin what she took da way she did!! Now Elijah I hope his brother ends up trickn him and rips his neck off: the joy of irony. Elijah was so bogus and yet he claims to be honorable if that was honor kill me now. OMG please dont kill my damon I love him I mean everything hes done was to protect elaina. Does anyone else see that him turnin her was love. Excited 2 c how their goin 2 top dis 1!!!!

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Katherine isn't stuck in Alaric's apartment because Damon gave her vervain. She's not longer being compelled by him so she can leave if she wants to.

Fortyseven

Good. It could have been better. Klaus not dying is better plotwise but seriously degrades Elijah's intelligence. John, Elena having vamp blood and needing the tethering was too complicated. Elijah's potion will figure in at some point. Caroline and Tyler need to be good friends and/or a couple. I'm not sure Kat is stuck in Alaric's appt.

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I agree with your wife. BEST EPIOSDE EVER
& also the most heartbreaking one
still havent stopped crying really
john completely redeemed huimself
but the fact Elean was wearing Jeannas earrings at her funeral and when Alaric threw the rose on her grave tahtw as when it hit home. not only is jeanna dead, but alaric is alone again :(
also the end damon scene, portraying him as a sort of martyr (&when he carried elena over to stefan) jsut amde em fall more in love w/ ian somerhalde
AMAZING

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Loved this episode, so many excellent scenes and story line. Bonnie was amazing, awesome and looked so beautiful and powerful fighting Klaus. Everyone's acting was spot on! OK, so, now we can get rid of Matt and let the shipping between Caroline and Tyler begin! A few things that did not make sense to me
1. Have to re-watch but it did not seem like Klaus had totally drained and killed Elena... well, he is an original so I guess he was that fast. 2. Why would any witch- Greta I am talking to you. Witches are the most powerful supernatural beings on this show. They keep the balance, they can bind people, curse people, so, why would they want to be a mere worker to a vampire and help him change the balance of power. Was Greta a rogue witch? Looking forward to next week and they cannot kill Damon they will lose more then half their audience!

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AMAZING! I will truly miss John, he found his way to my heart!
That scene when Damon told Stefan he was bitten was so gracefuly played. COngrats for both actors! Waiting anxiously for next week's episode!!!!!!!!1
Hope Damon turns out fine, as wonderful as he always is :D

Luckybastarda

As I said before, I LOVED THE EPISODE and each week I end up saying that it was THE BEST done so far. I as live in Argentina, I had to watch it online and I remember moving the mouse over the time line just to check the time. Everything happened so fast that I couldn't believe only 20 minutes had past and the ritual was over. I did not know what to expect next. It was awesome. As I said before, too, I "liked" that Jenna and Jhon died (maybe liked it's not the most accurate word, but I can't find another). As sad as I was, I also believe that these deaths are the ones that make the show as popular as it is. Unpredictable show. So, I believe, we have the 3 DEATHS OF MAJOR CHARACTERS RIGHT HERE: Jenna, John and Elena. Damon may come too, I don't know what will happen to him. It would have been great if the episode was called "THE SACRIFICE" (dunno if there's another one named like that on TVD). Everyone acted out so flawlessly and they made the episode (that could have been hyper-eventfull) into a comprehensible lines of stories. From the sacrifice, to Katerina, crossing trough Caroline and Damon's bite, ending on Elijah's "betrayal". It was awesome, I can only wait until next week to see the finale. I'm so exited, and I JUST CAN'T HIDE IT!!! Too bad I can't say the same thing for GG... they are, most definetly, doomed. More than Damon and his mortal bite.

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but I still have a question which seems important to me for the "normal" facts (againts all the surnatural events of Mystic Falls). What will happen with Elena and Jeremy now that Jenna died and was buried anonymously? Even John is dead so they have no one to be their legal gardian(almost Jeremy since Elena must approach her 18th birthday). It maybe a very practical question but they can't go live with the Salvatore or stay at their house pretending Jenna is out of town or somethin, could they?

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oh the look on Elijah's face when Klaus told him their family were not burried at sea...I am sorry I can't help it, Elijah is so great and that scene proves he loves his family more than his honor (which I never doubt he has), isn't it sweet? What a man...
As always, a fantastic VD episode! I admit that the way to save Elena was founded quick but as you said in the review, the way it ended was beautiful (if I can use this word when people have died^^)
I admit I cried at the cimetary scene, I actually began when Elena started reading John's letter. I actually like John character and I agree, his last act will be remember. It was so sad when he died alone...

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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