S3E14: The The Vampire Diaries is somehow occupying a space of predictability without losing a few essential elements of surprise. This episode is the perfect example. Esther, the original witch, bound her children with a spell last week so she could rid the world of the original vampires. But, considering how much we all love our originals, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that her plan would somehow be stopped. How are we supposed to go on without Elijah’s perfect jawline? Or Rebekah’s withering quips? Or (especially) Klaus’ school boy crush on Caroline? We won’t, and the writers get us to that place, giving us a little shock to the system along the way.
But what about the Elena/Stefan/Damon love triangle? We’ve been building up this “which brother will she choose?” question, without really knowing if we were actually heading for an answer. We sort of get one, and it would seem that the latest developments may cut off one Salvatore from Elena forever (but only TVD’s definition of “forever” which is just enough time to give us significant pain, but not truly until the end of all time).
“I can hear your heart beat. It jumps when you’re dishonest.” –Elijah
This week’s episode feels a bit like some sort of Vampire Heist, so in the interest of that theme, let’s set the scene. Damon slept with Rebekah – or ravished her, by the looks of last week’s episode-ender – and Elena is jealous but also hurt since Rebekah, oh I don’t know, tried to kill her. Stefan is sticking to his guns about keeping his emotions in check, claiming that Elena is better off without him. (But he’s staring awfully lustfully at that glass of blood – is he back on the bunny diet?) Elena’s big concern this week is finding a way to save Elijah as her guilt over signing his death warrant in order to kill Klaus is consuming her. Everyone, including Bonnie and Caroline, try to convince her that she should leave it alone and that the originals’ collective death is a good thing. Elena feels that Elijah helped save her life during the Sun and The Moon ritual, so she owes him her life – then again, it was his fault that Klaus was set free.
But Elena doesn’t really have to worry, because Elijah already figured it all out. He takes Elena out to the woods under the guise of one of his famous history lessons, but we soon learn how hurt he is that Elena lied to him about Esther’s plan. Elena tries to apologize, proclaiming that she only thought Esther would kill Klaus. But Elijah’s only concern is saving his family, so he throws her into a hole in the ground. His plan? Get the Salvatore brothers to cut off the Bennett line (a.k.a. kill Bonnie and Abby) to curtail his mother’s power source, or he’ll let Rebekah kill Elena. Now these are some high stakes – someone actually has to die, and as usual, it won’t be Elena.
“Somehow everyone always bends over backwards to save your life which makes you the perfect hostage.” –Rebekah
Rebekah has already tried to kill Elena once, so the Salvatores know the originals mean business, but they aren’t about to mow down her best friend and her best friend’s formerly long-lost mother. They find another way, and here’s where it gets really heisty. Alaric is with his “sexy psycho doctor” at the Grill, where Kol and Klaus happen to be getting drunk. Instead of taking out the witches, all they have to do is take out one original, and because of the spell, they’ll all fall down.
Caroline comes in to help out by distracting Klaus, drawing him outside where he actually says all the right things – “I want to get to know you,” “What are your hopes and dreams?” etc. As much as she resists, it’s clear she’s drawn in a bit by Klaus’ cultured, old world approach – that is until he feels the pang of his siblings being collectively stabbed. (For the record, he doesn’t go down, so it seems even Esther’s spell wouldn’t have worked to kill him.) He grabs Caroline and blames her for whatever happened; he knows she was involved in at least distracting him. We know this is for sure when he later burns his drawings of her. For now, he finds Alaric, Stefan and Damon and undaggers his brother, waking the others as well, but his heart is broken yet again when Damon and Elijah reveal his mother’s sinister plan.
As the plan is going through, and falling apart, Elena takes the opportunity to run when Rebekah is taken out by the dagger. Eventually, Rebekah catches up, but Elena has reached the ancient cave with the anti-vampire spell. Rebekah may be rash and immature, but she’s no dummy. She finds a tank of gasoline and throws it through the enchanted doorway, telling Elena that she can burn alive in the cave or come out. But Elena’s not one to do just do what she’s told – she gives speeches first. She tells Rebekah that she gets it: Rebekah wants to torture her because Elena pretended to be her friend and then literally stabbed her in the back. At heart, she’s still a teenage girl – that’s why she slept with Damon (or because he’s a hot vampire and Rebekah’s got needs, but we’ll let that go) and that’s why killing Elena is a bad move. If Elena dies, and Esther is stopped, Rebekah will have lost the ability to torture her on the daily, which is more fun for viewers anyway. This speech works, and Elena will live to see more torture from the lovely Original.
“She only has to hate one of us.” –Damon
“This is an awful lot of effort for someone who pretends not to care about her.” –Stefan
“Pot, kettle, brother.” –Damon
And now comes the hard part. The Salvatores know Elena would rather die than let Bonnie and Abby die to save her, but they love her, so they make the tough decision. Of course, only one of them has to be the bad guy, and they both love her so they flip a coin. As they make this awful, heart-wrenching decision, Elijah, Klaus and Kol try to stop their mother from reversing the vampire spell and killing them all. Unfortunately, she’s on the warpath and cannot be swayed by compassion. She calls them monsters, but it’s becoming very apparent that they get it honestly.
Inside the witches’ cottage, Bonnie and Abby are hiding from the Originals so Esther can harness their power without interruption. Stefan grabs Bonnie and says if she can’t stop her, he has to find another way. We assume he lost the coin toss and that he’s the one about to lose Elena forever – for a minute we think he might actually kill Bonnie to save the one he loves. But those clever writers were faking us out, as they cut to Damon snapping Abby’s neck which immediately breaks Esther’s connection. The circle goes up in flames and Esther is disappears – apparently they only needed to kill one witch. Luckily, Damon fed Abby his blood before he killed her, so she’s sticking around as a vampire but her magic is completely gone. Though Elena would never have let it happen if she could have prevented it, Bonnie can’t bring herself to see Elena. Bonnie obviously loves her friend and knows that, but as Caroline points out, Bonnie always gets hurt in order to save her doppelganger bestie. It seems Elena is finally seeing what we have all along – her presence hurts those around her. But how do you fix something like that? She’s a magnet for violence because of her supernatural qualities, but she can’t make everyone stop caring about her. She’s completely stuck in the situation, and it’s obvious that it kills her.
After the dust settles, we find that Stefan actually lost the coin toss. Damon took the fall because Elena wants Stefan, and he knows Stefan has secretly been abstaining from human blood, working to rid himself of the ripper. It’s true, the night he almost turned Elena into a vamp at Elena at Wickery Bridge, he stopped drinking human blood. So there we have it, TVD fans. Stelena still has hope, but Delena is off the table for a long while. I’m going to miss the incredible, visceral back and forth we’ve enjoyed this year, but part of producing a great show is allowing for some dynamics. Sometimes the love triangle is on fire, and sometimes, one of the legs needs to take a back seat. And Damon is certainly taking a back seat.
“Our mother made us vampires. She didn’t make us monsters. We did that to ourselves.” –Elijah
Elena finds a note on her bed from Elijah, apologizing for threatening her in order to protect his family. He says of all people, she can understand his reasoning because of her incredible compassion and her constant fight to protect her own family and friends. Elijah, being the true gentleman, is overcome with guilt over the unsavory measures he took to save his family. And just then, Rebekah shows Klaus the video of Elena in the cave, in which the drawing behind her reveals a white oak sapling drawn by the natives. There is still a tree that can kill them – and Elijah is convinced they’re monsters. Might he soon try to finish what Esther started?
In the final, tiny scene, we find Alaric waking up at his apartment, where Doctor Meredith has been tending to his broken rib, courtesy of Klaus. She’s sleeping in his apartment, and looks through her files where he finds the knife he was stabbed with. Earlier, she said because he healed so quickly the x-rays were inconclusive, but really she meant “I did it, so I’m covering it up.” She also tried to convince Alaric that the killer must be a vampire, so it could be that she’s got some sort of vendetta against blood-suckers. After all, every one she killed is known to help protect them: her ex signed death certificates with “animal attack,” Bill Forbes has a vampire daughter and was helping Tyler the hybrid, and Alaric is teamed up with the Salvatores. Poor Alaric really does have a tragic love life. First Elena’s vampire birth mother, then Aunt Jenna’s conversion to a sacrifice, and now his new girlfriend is trying to kill him. She wakes up and shoots him. Lights out, the end. Having Meredith be the killer after all is just a little too predictable, but it lets Damon’s instincts be ultimately right and the poor guy at least deserves that much.
Do you think Alaric is really dead? Were you disappointed that Meredith turned out to be the killer? Will Elijah kill his siblings? And when are Stefan and Elena going to kiss and make up already? Let me know in the comments or get at me on Twitter @KelseaStahler