Before delving into one of the greatest Vampire Diaries episodes in history - The action! The emotion! The ethical dilemmas! - I must start by correcting Damon:
We did make Elena a pros/cons list. But it's gonna take more than that, man. She didn't seem closer to a decision after reading through the comparisons. Sorry.
Okay, now I can truly start reviewing "Before Sunset," and I'll do so by asking: Are we sure this wasn't the season finale?!? My. Goodness.
The episode wasted no time getting into the action - okay, it wasted a tiny bit of time, giving us a blonde-off between Rebekah and Caroline, but no warm-blooded male in his right mind would consider this a waste - as Dark-laric was instantly on the attack.
He grabbed Rebekah. He was staked by Caroline. He responded by breaking her neck and, a short time later, proving there actually is something worse that can be done with pencils in a classroom other than fill out those tiny little holes on a Scantron. Ouch.
This sequence led to Ethical Dilemma #1 of the evening: to kill Caroline or not to kill Caroline? Granted, it wasn't actually a choice Elena entertained, but it did pose an interesting debate. I mean... is Dark-laric totally wrong here? If we can somehow remove ourselves from the affection we feel for the vampires of Mystic Falls, can we really argue that the town as a whole would be safer without them around?
Major kudos to Julie Plec and company for creating a legitimate villain - in the eyes of any true TVD fan, there's no question that Dark-laric must be stopped - and yet still painting him with a morally grey brush. Let's face it, the guy has a point.
All of this led to the return of... Abby!!! Okay, that may be three exclamation points too many. But she was needed on the scene because Elena somehow figured out that Dark-laric was tied to her (who else figured Damon would be the first to tie up Elena?!?) and the team couldn't actually kill him. They needed to desicate him, like Abby did with Mikael. This was actually an effective, necessary use of the witch-turned-vampire and a nice callback to an early plot point.
It's here we can stop again and focus on Ethical Dilemma #2: Elena could have killed herself and put an end to Dark-laric. That's a mighty major step, no doubt. I'm not saying I could do it. But the show did a masterful job this week of depicting situations that actually did have alternate ways out, albeit ways that would lead to the deaths of major characters.
It's one thing to make viewers' heads spin via non-stop action. It's another to make the brains inside those heads consider what they would do if faced with similar circumstances. Great work throughout when it came to the latter.
So... Elena is tied to Alaric. And Stefan, Damon and Tyler are all tied to Klaus. (It was pretty clear he was telling the truth about their bloodline based on Stefan's reaction when he actually reached inside Klaus' chest). But Tyler is no longer tied to his maker, as Ethical Dilemma #3 involved the decision this hybrid arrived at in grand fashion:
I'm not your little bitch anymore. And why isn't Tyler Klaus' little bitch anymore? How did he break the sire bond?
By breaking every bone in my body a hundred times for the girl I love. | permalink
Once more, with feeling: Forwood. Forever.
I've been delaying it for as long as possible, but now it's time to say goodbye.
Bonnie did succeed at the spell, but she did so with Klaus, who was trying desperately to flee town with both his real family and the ability to make a new one - and we all know why, right? At heart, this is simply one lonely hybrid. He yearns for attention. Why do you think he throws so many hissy fits? Why he continued to have faith that his old friend, Stefan the Ripper (sorry, Stefan the Rippah) would return to him?
Klaus just wants to be loved. And while that will never happen in Mystic Falls, it happened in living rooms around the country. Joseph Morgan brought this character to life in every conceivable way: he was scary, he was funny, he was sympathetic, he was vulnerable and, in what I have to imagine will be his final scene for a long time, he was in a state of shock.
Klaus didn't utter any final words. But his eyes - and the perfect, heartbeat-based score - said it all. A perfect exit for a perfect villain.
I raise my own shot to you, Niklaus Mikaelson, but I do it out of sadness and respect, secure in the knowledge that we have to see you again at some point... right?
Finally, we arrive at Elena. I've been as frustrated as anyone over the last few weeks - railing against her in my previous TVD review - regarding this dragged-out love triangle. She was just going back and forth on a seeming whim, teasing both the brothers and Vampire Diaries fans on a weekly basis.
But it was saved for me here when Elena just came right out and acknowledged her hedging. If I choose one of you, I lose the other. And I've lost so many people, I can't bear the thought of losing you. That's it. Two sentences, one salient point and I understand. This is Ethical Dilemma #4 from the episode, but it's the only one without a resolution at the moment.
It seemed a bit random and far-fetched for Damon and Stefan to simply agree that the loser would leave town, like the two were simply raising the stakes for the season finale just because. But whatever. That's a miniscule complaint in what was a whirlwind of an enthralling episode.
Where do we stand heading into that finale? Dark-laric has outed himself, Tyler and Caroline to the town council. He wants all vampires dead, and he has to somehow neutralize Elena in the process so she doesn't become collateral damage or sacrifice herself for her loved ones (hence whatever the heck happened at the end... I assume?).
Tyler loves Caroline. Caroline loves Tyler. Rebekah has supposedly fled. Jeremy is painting and having his heart stopped on occasion. Bonnie is spell casting. And Damon and Stefan are actually together and happy. Why do I have the feeling that won't be the case a week from now?
What an hour of television. What did everyone else think?