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The Vampire Diaries Review: A Case of Klaustrophobia

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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.

Staring at Klaus

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.

Klaus at the Door

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?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
  • 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (527 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Kitanishi-h-mcdonald

(cont'd)
I do not deny that BTVS was inspired by original tvd books, since the basic character roles - a bit bitchy blond girl lead heroine, a redheaded witch, an average-joe guy, an older teacher with a secret and two badass vampires. However as I said before there's a BIG difference between "being inspired" and copy-pasting stuff. Whedon took the basic premise of the original tv book trilogy and made it his own, developing and changing the characters. TVD tv show so far tries to attract Twilight audience, at the same time trying(and failing to) rip off some of more prominent BTVS plots, while having none of personality and charm of those characters, nor the group dynamics and realism.

Kitanishi-h-mcdonald

And, keep in mind, SOME of the story lines on TVD are from the original Vampire Diaries books that had nothing to do with Buffy. In fact, now that I mention it, the books came out before the Twilight books did. So, you are always saying "Elena is Bella" but maybe it's the other way around?
This argument just does not work. TVD show has almost NOTHING to do with the characterization in the books.
Book Elena was....different. It was like watching a female S1 Damon. She was original Blair Waldorf, original Caroline, Original Buffy, Original Cordelia.

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Oh, and btw, where's Katherine?

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Through this season I have been making a conection to Klaus and that look in his eyes while they were making his heart stop (vampires have beating hearts? Weren't they already dead?) was just... heartbreaking. Hope he comes back and have a thing with Caroline Team Klaroline!

Kitanishi-h-mcdonald

Last, Evilaric is shaping up to be a good villain, but I fear that they are going to do what they did with Klaus and keep him around too long, considering that they only wa
then again, SO WAS KLAUS for his first few appearances. So was Katherine. Compare Klaus in S2 and Klaus in S3.
Compare Katherine in S1 and KAtherine in S2 and then to Katherine in S3... Next season they were turned into generic boredom, and I doubt it will be any different with Alaric.

Kitanishi-h-mcdonald

LOL, Price Peterson said it best!
Actually I'd go as far as to say that Elena IS insane. These all "vampires" are just in her head and this whole show has been her being crazy and murdering people with 99% of the cast being in her head. Thats the only explanation I can make sense of Elena's "character".

Amie

You know watching how Klaus was busy destroying Elena's and Jeremy's house I couldn't help but notice that...WHY THE HELL IS THIS HAPPENING IN BROAD DAY LIGHT? Where are the other people living on that street? Why did no one notice him doing all those things? LOL TVD and reality are not friends..

Amie

But can we stop pretending this is a show about a teenager caught between two dashing vampires and admit it's actually an exploration of a damaged girl on the brink of insanity? LOL, Price Peterson said it best!

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I really like this show but have to admit I don't have the attention to detail that some of you do. I don't know the mythos by heart and such so I have a couple questions. First off I thought the only thing that could kill an original was the ash (or wood) from the white oak tree? So why is Klaus dead? Second, "Stefan, Damon, & Tyler are all tied to Klaus" So then why didn't they die when he did? If you kill an original the whole bloodline dies right? Only thing I can figure is this spell isn't really death? Just some kind of suspended animation or something? But wouldn't they all realize that and if so why are they all partying and saying Klaus is dead? Thanks for any answers

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Ok, so just as a random thought here... If Elena were to be turned into a vampire, she would technically die, correct? So if Elena were to turn, Dark-laric would die?
Ok, now that the hair-brained idea is out of the way, this was actually the first TVD episode in a long while that has kept my attention the whole way through. I was literally on the edge of my seat the whole way through. For once, the characters were all used in relevant ways, and the way they were tied together was a cohesiveness I miss in this show. Here's hoping next week keeps it up!