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!


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (413 Votes)

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


btw, this episode was good enough to have been the season finale. so OMFG! we can only imagine wat the finale will be like! :O


Maybe instead of Damon dying, hell become a vamp-were hybrid! You never know really! Theres really no proof that a werewolf bite kills the vampire. Rose was bitten, and she became demented, and it hurt, but she didnt actally die. Damon staked her. Besides, its all based on some legend, and look what happened to the legend of the sun and moon curse- it was fake!!


IM WITH YOU! forwood ftw! and i cried. the most? when john's letter to elena was being read. that scene was beatifully shot. the song was perfect. damn! this show is soo good! i dont want the season to end. and damon and elena! aaah! dont want damon to die(as if he will):p


maybe Damon will become a were-vamp hybrid instead of dying. you never know. theres no real proof that vampires die from a werewolf bite. damon staked rose, and the other legend was proved fake!


yes she's really dead now answer my question


Perhaps Damon will end up a "were-vamp" if they save him, that would give them someone to fight Klaus, though Klaus is also a "original," making him harder to kill. I see things going back and forth between Caroline and Matt, with poor Tyler-wolf in the middle.


Can someone tell me if Jenna is REALLY dead, because two people died but there was only one grave and there was no head stone and they did not show one either. They did not even seem to be that upset about whoever was in the grave. I thought if it was Jenna that both of them would be more upset than what they were? Any thoughts???


I'm so on the Caroline-Tyler boat. THEY LOOK SO CUTE TOGETHER OMG! And is it just me or did Tyler looked better in this episode than all the others? Maybe it's the shirtless body but I'm not sure. Him pulling Caroline to a hug made the butterflies in my stomach flutter. Such a cute future couple! Thanks for dumping Caroline, Matt! We owe it to you! LOL. OMG THIS EPISODE IS SO AMAZING.
I CRIED WHEN JENNA DIED! AND OMG SKINNY LOVE WAS SO PERFECT FOR THAT FUNERAL SCENE, I CANNOT STOP CRYING! WHAT IS MY LIFE. Anyway, I kinda expected that Elijah wouldn't kill Klaus after I read that the third season will be about the Originals. I'm kinda happy cos Klaus is such a looker. LOL. I love the way he speaks. He has this class~ of an original vampire, same with Elijah. I was wondering what would the elixir can do to Damon. I'm so excited for the season finale like yeah! I cannot believe that the writers were able to make season 2 even better than the first season! Talents! OMG!!! AGAIN, I'm on TEAM CAROLINE-TYLER. Don't stop looking so adorable, you two!


If Klaus is now this all-powerful hybrid, doesn't that mean that whomever he bites will also become a hybrid? If so, maybe he starts his army by feeding his blood to his family members who are desiccated somewhere. Damon having his soul restored and being human, yet like a vampire, too (Angel, anyone?) would be interesting. Implications to his relationships with various people would be major... Elijah--blood is thicker than water, or so many people believe. That would explain him going back on his word to Stefan..


If someone didn't tell me what's going on I'm gonna kill myself .i can't believe that my cute Damon is in danger,

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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.