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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 ...

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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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I think Damon will have to drink the blood of Tyler to survive, and this was the plan of klaus and elijah all along

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weell here I am in england uk and an episode behind you lot but wow love TVD am 50 something sad but think Damon is one hot totty Cant wait for series final ( we are two eps behind ) but being a spoil sport had to read your reviews on The Sun Also Rises cant wait to see on tues 10th May ITV 2 thanks guys keep up good work

Sidewinder

Killing Jenna after her being a vampire was right. Too many vampires as regulars to ingest...

Nicky79

Jenna dying= me crying for an hour... So unfair!! Poor Elena and Jeremy and Alaric... What were the writers thinking??
Well although that scene that broke my heart this episode was completely amazing!!
And of course Damon is not going to die!! Maybe he becomes a sexy were-vamp or maybe a human again...
I can't believe how much he has change since season 1, from he saying "let's go drink elena's blood" to "she can't lost anyone more" and leaving her for her own sake... So heartbreaking...
Btw, John I forgive you for being a such a jerk in the first season... XP

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FORTUNATELY is not the last episode because the ITAlian fans have not seen what a real KISS for DELENA,the end must be DAMON ELENA,we are tired.DAMON was wonderful at the end of the episode,saying not to stefan say the bite ELENA.si worried for her,when you love ELENA DAMON we are all hoping for a beautiful love storyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Gaby-ee

Gosh, this was an epic episode! I couldn't stop crying. Definitely TVD is the best show now, and I'm completely more than obsessed.

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great show...when there's this much suspense you know you have some great writers!

Bobbie-whited

I don't understand why the elixir would save Damon, didn't we go over it wouldn't work if vamp blood was in the system. It would just seem like a real macguffin if they used that, wait for Damon to be on the brink of death just to revive him with a potion. Since VD is mostly unpredictable i rather see Damon die then come back human with no explanation then for them to use that.

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Question? Are we talking about Damon taking that restorative elixir that was originally planned for Elena to take before Damon force fed her his blood? I don't remember seeing Elijah ever taking it out of the Boarding house... That would be something else.. Any thoughts?

Heavenscent9222

I'm thinking the blood of the doppelganger can cure a werewolf bite. However, Elena is already on the brink of death from being drained by Klaus and if Damon drank her blood it may kill her. I am really looking forward to some Delena moments in then next episode and I would be soooooooo sad if Damon actually died. Without Damon there is no balance between the brothers and no more love triangle. It'd be a very boring story after that. On another note: Did anyone else feel a little ripped off by the whole Elena sacrifice scene?? I mean there was no flash backs of everything she'd been through, no silent I love you to Stefan, no single tear drop, nothing. I was a lil disappointed. Klaus bites, drinks (10 seconds) and Elena hits the dirt. What up with that?? I did love the don't come back as a vampire cause I will stake you myself and the I couldn't handle you hating me forever lines from Damon. Love this show sooooo much and the entire cast is amazing!!!

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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