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Posted by | May 7, 2012, 16:02 (MST) | 143 Comments
Category: In Review, The Vampire Diaries TV

Vampire Diaries In Review: Before Sunset (EP321) - Strength In NumbersThe end of Season 3 is nearly upon us! And this penultimate episode kept up last season’s tradition of giving us a heart-stopper before the finale.

I was feeling a wee bit disgruntled after Do Not Go Gentle, so thank the TVD gods for Before Sunset. Right from the Civil War imagery in the opening sequence through the rest of the masterful cold open, it was crystal clear that we were in for some top-notch Vampire Diaries. The way that song (The Gods of Macho’s “Reno”) kicked in as Alaric, smoke billowing from his sizzling body, dragged the limp Caroline across the parking lot? It doesn’t get better than that, my friends!

In the Rebekah-Caroline scene, the opener gave us a nice preview of what was to come: the two girls have been at each other’s throats all season, but here they share a moment of sympathy before becoming allies against Alaric’s attack. And it prepped us for the other enemies-working-together situations the episode held. Before Sunset managed to be horrifying but funny, fast-paced without losing us in the twists and turns, and full of attitude. Jeremy gives Stefan and Klaus lip; Alaric proves he can’t be effed with (remember when he just commanded the Salvatore brothers to get up and go save Elena, then brushed past them?); and Klaus has a temper tantrum on the front lawn. One of the many great moments was the delightfully over-the-top Siege of the Gilbert Homestead, the big bad wolf huffing and puffing and blowing the door down (with a soccer ball). And by the end of Before Sunset, with the gang celebrating their victory and the Salvatore brothers smiling (and giving us a Buffy reference!), it was hard not to find their good moods contagious. We’re all revved up for the finale, and it’s sure to be intense: Elena’s unconscious and Alaric’s on the loose, riling up the Council and determined to eradicate the vampire problem.

And while this episode was a lot of fun (with lines like, “‘If’ and ‘might.’ Your words inspire such confidence.”), Before Sunset was also terrifying. This show excels at displays of cruelty; physical and emotional torment seems to be the specialty of the TVD writers (and I absolutely mean that as a compliment). Alaric knows Elena — her strengths, her weaknesses, who she’d die for, what she values — and he uses that insight to torment her. How difficult a task for Elena to separate one Alaric from the other in her mind, to keep the human Alaric’s memory from being sullied by this maniac? His single-mindedness and strength of conviction make him a compelling villain, one whom Elena can’t trick into tapping into his humanity, showing mercy. He tortures Caroline and believes it’s righteous, because she murdered someone and liked it. His vitriol is fueled by his insider knowledge, and it’s an awful to see him turn the training Elena asked of him into a demand that she kill her best friend. Of course, Elena (warrior princess that she is) can take it: she proves he did teach her well, and frees Caroline. She’ll slice her own neck to find out vital information (how Alaric can die) and to save her other mortal enemy from being killed (to protect the vampires she loves). That so many lives are tied together makes these life-or-death choices even trickier, makes the stakes even higher. And it must mean more mental anguish for Elena, knowing that her very existence is linked to the murderous monster Alaric has become. The reveal that Alaric and Elena’s lives are tied together was my favorite kind of TVD mythology twist: it resonates emotionally and it makes sense from a witchy ju-ju perspective.

Worst Offender: Nothing like a villain who takes the truth and twists it, and that’s something both Alaric and Klaus do in this episode to Elena. Alaric says she’s the worst offender: she’s undone her parents’ life work to rid Mystic Falls of vampires, she fraternizes with murderers, she helps them get away with it. Has Elena lost her sense of right and wrong? In her journey since Season 1, the grey area has certainly grown: she is currently debating which murderous vampire should be her boyfriend, after all. Violence, compulsion, murder, biweekly torture … it’s all become a part of her life, and it’s changed her. But what remains at her core, solid, is her fierce determination to protect the ones she loves, whatever kind of creature they are or become. In her speech to Jeremy at the end of the night, Elena accepts that her actions may make her “the bad guy” now, but she’ll made the same choices to save the people she loves. And Jeremy shares his sister’s determination: he knows the danger the desiccation spell puts him in, but he needs to fight to save Elena no matter the risk. Another side to this Gilbert fearlessness in the face of danger actually comes from a different sort of fear: that of isolation. They’ve lost so many people and can’t bear the thought of losing anyone else.

Real love, not fake loyalty: And in that great twisted, TVD way, our villainous Klaus is no different than any of the other characters. He wants his family surrounding him, but he makes choices that do nothing but drive them away. His need for a “backup” family, as Elena puts it, is his downfall in Before Sunset: if he’d been content to leave town with Rebekah, he’d be alive and well. Though to Elena Klaus parrots what Stefan said to him earlier — that Klaus’s efforts have brought the Salvatore brothers closer together, rather than driven them apart — we all know that he’s full of it: his stubbornness, his need to have his way, his obsessive need to protect himself from threats, has driven away his siblings — and tested those familial bonds. Klaus still hopes that his siblings will let bygones be bygones after a thousand years of him throwing temper tantrums against those who dare to defy him. And it’s that part of Klaus that makes his hurt so palpable when Stefan reaches into his heart and desiccates him. Klaus still held out hope that Stefan would be his true friend again. (As did I, frankly. Klefan forever.)

Are we entering a Klaus-free era? Though I’ll mourn his absence, at least he was taken down in an episode that encapsulated all that made Klaus so glorious a character, so compelling a villain. And (thankfully) Klaus is not dead-dead, and likely never will be as his permanent, fiery demise would take half the characters with him (Damon, Stefan, Katherine, Caroline, Tyler, among countless other vamps, including Abby).

As Tyler says there’s a difference between real love and fake loyalty, and Klaus has tried to force his way into the lives of others — to demand their loyalty, instead of earning it. And that contrast has been a recurring theme of the season, which comes to an emblematic moment in the victory party at the Gilberts. She and Jeremy have lost so many people, they all have, and yet still they have a full “backup” family in each other. That incredible devotion, of course, extends to the Elena-Stefan-Damon triangle: those three would do anything for each other. And while I know that many of you (and Caroline) think Elena needs to make a choice, I’d rather she didn’t! The tragedy for me is that any one of these bonds be shaken, that Stefan or Damon would leave Mystic Falls. That the fraternal bond so agonizingly built up in recent years would be jeopardized. I’d rather the two boys walk her to her front door, and that she carefully address both of them in her goodnights. But I’m guessing that is not what the future holds. And we’ll find out soon enough with The Departed.

Compelling Moment: In a great episode, it’s hard to choose just one moment but the long, wordless goodbye between Klaus and Stefan stands out for me — such an important moment for both of the former friends, in very different ways. (Though Joseph Morgan’s delivery of the “between us girls” line killed me with its utter perfection.)

The Rules: Alaric has the same weaknesses as other vampires — he burns in the sun, he’s vulnerable to vervain — but a stake to the heart can’t kill him (not even a white oak one). Elena figures out that her life is tied to his: Esther bound Elena’s life to Alaric’s, making him temporarily invulnerable but not truly immortal. When Elena dies, Alaric dies.

Bonnie uses the same spell her mother used on Mikael. By drinking Bonnie’s blood, Klaus, Stefan and Damon are bound to her, and she is able to remotely desiccate a vampire when one of them makes contact with his bloodstream, stopping his heart as she stops a human’s. The spell doesn’t require the human to permanently die, which seems fair (in a “balance of nature” way) as the spell doesn’t permanently kill the vampire either. This spell taps into “dark” magic, which carries “temptations” with it, and (in a very cool effect) we see veins crawl up Bonnie’s arms and on to her face, like she’s being affected more directly by the spell she’s performing than with magic that draws power from nature. Klaus is rendered inert by the spell, in a state resembling a daggered Original or the tomb vampires from Season 1.

Foggy moments: Why did Alaric wait until Caroline arrived at the school to begin his anti-vampire crusade by attacking Rebekah? She was alone in the caf, and his super vamp hearing would have alerted him to her presence, as it did when Caroline arrived. I guess from 8:00 to 8:02, Rebekah cleaned up the salt ring around the school? No salt in sight. Caroline, next time just leave your car behind and vamp-speed run all the way home — please? You’ve been tortured enough for an eternity. Who fixed the Gilbert house front door? It was torn off its hinges when Klaus hurled the soccer ball at it, but it’s looking good as new when the boys walk Elena to the door. (My money is on Matt Donovan, handyman. He’s like a ninja!) Double fail for Former Lifeguard Bonnie Bennett: she didn’t go into CPR-mode with Jeremy, and she didn’t blink at Elena — drained of blood and suffering from a head injury — doing a tequila shot instead of seeking medical attention.

Thoughts & questions before the finale, The Departed (EP322):

  • Clunky product placement aside, I loved the Bonnie-Damon scenes. They have such a charged dynamic, perpetually forced to work together and never mincing words.
  • Damon’s explanation of why the Salvatore house is open to vampires raises the question of the Gilbert house. The invitation rule has two parts: a living human owner or a resident means vamps are invite-only. When Elena died in the sacrifice, the living-owner rule was voided for the Salvatore house and it didn’t re-establish itself once she came back to life (even though, in the human world, she’s still the legal owner). With no human actually living there, the place is a vampire free-for-all. The Gilbert house, however, has two living residents. Jer and Elena may have both been briefly dead, but they are currently alive and residing there, meaning the rule is in full effect. (And Elena is, presumably, also the legal owner of the house.) The ownership rule on the Salvatore house is a bit of a grey area, granted, but the spirit of the invite-only rule is to protect humans in their homes, and, in my opinion, that spirit is upheld.
  • Back in the ’90s, who helped Abby take down Mikael with the desiccation spell? Whose heart did she stop? Was she able to re-start it as Bonnie does with Jeremy?
  • What do you think they did with those liters and liters of Elena’s blood? I hope that nurse donated them to the Mystic Falls blood bank, which has to be in constant short supply with all the vampire thievery going on.
  • What does the future hold for Bonnie and dark magic?
  • What the heck’s going to happen with the council? Alaric has outed Liz and Carol (and Caroline and Tyler) but he also displays his own vamp speed, revealing himself to be supernatural.
  • It’s kind of hilarious that no one thought to let Liz or Carol know that the guy who was killing council members is now an unkillable vampire on the loose and on a mission. Let’s hope they at least texted Meredith?
  • The boys should include some kind of water-resistant, GPS ‘digital locator spell’ device when (if?) they dump Klaus’s body in the Atlantic. Seems like a risky move letting your enemy out of sight, even if it is to the bottom of the ocean.


What did you think of Before Sunset? Sound off below with your likes/dislikes, theories, and predictions. Are you ready for the finale?
Crissy Calhoun is the author of Love You to Death: The Unofficial Companion to The Vampire Diaries and Love You to Death — Season 2She’s currently working on her season 3 companion guide. She blogs (rarely) at and tweets @crissycalhoun.

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  • VampireLovingMom

     but there´s another question for me: is this linkt both ways? Is Elena´s life connected to Alarics too …?

  • VampireLovingMom

     Yes and if he turned her, he needn´t to kill her because beeing the V-creator gives kind of protection from beeing killed, yes ? So Mary was his insurance or prove (german: Beweis/Zeuge)

  • Shannon

    Sh’ed have the guts, hell he’s half responsible for making her stronger in the first place(Alaric is the other half)..she better bring that strongness we’ve seen this year to the surface.


    Possibly a little? I don’t think it was the main motivator. At the time Mikael was the threat, it was easier to protect sleeping bodies that people up making their own decisions on an everyday basis.

    When he put the dagger back in Rebekah after he got her body back from the Salvatore cellar, I got the impression he didn’t want to see the hurt & judgment in her eyes. Say what you will, but Rebekah is precious to Klaus….

  • Thirsty Like a Vamp

    To be honest I think the whole MF (Scoobie) gang have each other numbers nowadays. If only for in-case-of-(supernatural)-emergency reason. But maybe Tyler had Stefan’s even before because of being Timberwolves and all the training, games schedules.

    Elena gets the best ideas in life-and-death situations so yes, I do think her “Get Stefan” was partially a rational decision. Besides it’s not a secret that Klaus is Stefan’s #1 fan or more likely #1 stalker, so it’s easy to come to the conclusion to get him to deal with Klaus.

    IMHO Klaus is neither a Stelena, nor a Delena shipper. Klaus is a master manipulator, he preferes torture with words and compulsion, he barely lays a hand on someone to hurt. He said to Stefan what a friend would say in such a situation in the school parking lot. I’m not entirely convinced he truly meant them. Klaus sees Elena as a thing (spare tire), an object (flashlight), a necessity (the doppelganger=bloodbag to create more hybrids). I think actually he despises her. It’s the same for him like with the Salvatores she is a pretty special girl. But for him a girl to hate. And it all goes back to Tatia: Elijah-Tatia-Klaus love triangle, though they claim in the end it was family above all. Then Tatia’s blood was used in the ritual to make them Originals and later to make his werewolf side dormant. Five hundreds later Katherine happened and again the bond between Elijah and Klaus was broken and hasn’t really been restored yet. And here is another doppelganger and she has already destroyed a brotherly bond, the one between Klefan. Elena’s love for Stefan and Stefan’s love for Elena stopped him from giving into full Ripper-mode and be friends with Klaus the way they were in 1920s. He needs Elena to make more hybrids, but she is also the key in destroying him and the whole vampire race for that matter with EvilRic, not to mention The Sun and The Moon Curse version 2.0 is a possibility but would be a total bore on the show. So much to Klaus and the Petrovas, that got longer than I planned :-)

  • Stevie1421

    Hey i wasn’t trying to hate on Caroline but are you forgetting who risked her life to save Caroline? I just thought in that scene that Caroline was very uncaring given the day Elena had just had.
    And yes everyone may have problems but you should still ask your friends if they’re okay if they’ve suffered major blood loss! (at least i would with my friends) especially if she’d saved my ass earlier in the day


    Klaus has been trying to show him “fun” all season…..and he got nowhere;)


  • Thirsty Like a Vamp

    Yes, loved the reference too. I’m obsessed with TVD as much as I used to be with both shows Buffy and Angel. I’m drawing parallels way to much. Like now Dark Willow=Dark Bonnie a possibility; First Evil&sleeper Spike=Esther&Bric

  • Thirsty Like a Vamp

    :-D You’re right they have jinxed it. 

  • Thirsty Like a Vamp

    I really hope not that would be very cruel of Esther.

    It’s funny that we’re already at the end of S3 and we practicaly have nothing on the doppelganger mythology.

  • Suchtie

    LOL it was Scary Mary.. :) But yes, I think so too. He probably only said it because didn’t want the gang to kill him.
    Is it possible that maybe even Klaus doesn’t know who created Katherines bloodline? Who knows how many vampire creators are between one Original and Scary Mary… and as far as I remember, Klaus didn’t know that every vampire of their bloodline dies with the Original too… so why watch out for every single vampire he created and those created by the vampires he created?

  • Thirsty Like a Vamp

    On a lighter note for a show targeted mostly for women the Gilbert House Siege had some nice hidden promotion of upcoming sport events: the soccer ball -the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship hosted by Poland and Ukraine; the torch – 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

  • ihatepeople

    Did you see my other recent post? I’m wondering if her going off the bridge with Matt becomes her defining moment for change where she reemerges stronger and decisive instead of a vampire.

  • ihatepeople

    Absolutely! I doubt we’d get both since Kat plans on staying as far away from Klaus as possible.

  • ihatepeople

    That’s an interesting thought I just keep thinking of the agressive werewolf side. Doesn’t strike me as forgiving.

  • ihatepeople

    Ah gottcha! Yeah as Damon pointed out to Bonnie everytime the originals want something it’s bad so to speak.

  • ihatepeople

    He certainly does.

  • ihatepeople

    Stefan for sure needs to work it out with Kat. Hell she’s been pining for him as long as Damon pined for her. I’m not sure how Elijah is a possibility. Do you think he had a thing for her but nothing happened long ago because she ran after Klaus killed her family?

  • Carrie

    The cliffhanger is definitely going to be a real bi*** to deal with. And I think I might be the one needing vampire and human blood if I decided to hold my breath until she tells him she loves him. I really hope she does in the finale, though. Anyway, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Maybe she’ll decide “Hey, I’m a stronger girl now. I think I’d like me some original”, and take off with Elijah. lol. Who’s to say? But the suspense is killing me!

  • Carrie

    I don’t think it’s Stefan and Damon, cause that was them leaving town in the last ep, right? So, they’ve come back if he’s talking to Elena. And if she chooses, only one was going to leave. And he says “we”, so it includes Stefan, and “all”, which I take as meaning more than two people. What, is everybody skipping town? Flying to outer space? Slipping into another dimension? …! Maybe that was just one of the few things they could put in the preview ’cause the rest is too awesome and spoilery to show, and it’s not that big a deal.

  • Megi :)

    could the truck going off the bridge be part of flashback when Elena’s parents died? 

  • Ayan

    they wanna dump Klaus in the lake(Damon told Elena).

  • ihatepeople

    Sure it could. They like to splice things together weird to throw us off. Bex in the road could just cause Matt to swerve and she has a flashback of her car going over.

  • Shannon

    I didn’t see it.

  • ihatepeople

    I’m wondering if they’re collectively planning something to take down Ric like they had that group attack planned for Klaus. Maybe Elena is worried about Jeremy, Matt, Caroline, etc…

  • ihatepeople

    If Scary Mary was really that scary then Klaus might remember her. Hahaha.

  • ihatepeople

    I actually wondered that myself but then I wasn’t sure how since she took Elena’s blood but didn’t actually do anything else to Elena.

  • ihatepeople

    That was one of the best entrances.

  • ihatepeople

    I know you’re half kidding about her with Elijah but I would be SOOOOOOOO incredibly pissed if they put her with Elijah without ever giving Damon a chance after everything he has gone thru for that chick. He needs to hear her say I love you. ;)

  • ihatepeople

    Look for it. You’d be proud of me ‘cuz it’s positive. LOL

  • anon

    I love the idea of a “dark Bonnie” – it just smacks of Evil Willow!  And I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to get the Buffy reference (okay, it was pretty obvious, but you never know).  

  • Sasha

    Nice recap, thanks :) Agree with the compelling moment so much.  The look on their faces, and the boom boom of the heart, it was such a big moment. But I hope Klaus isn’t desiccated for long. 
    I can’t help but think about the sire bond concept they’ve introduced this season. Damon said it rarely happens among vampire to vampire, but I guess that means it could? I think Elena might drink some of Stefan’s blood to heal her, dies with vampire blood in her system, becomes a vampire, and is sired to Stefan and that’s her “choice.” That is my super wild guess. Definitely not what I want to happen. Either that or she chooses neither and tells the Salvatore brothers to leave MF and hide from Alaric. She ends up dying with vampire blood in her system, and the cliffhanger is Elena sinking her teeth into Matt?   

  • Chelsey

    Love your review Chrissy.  I cannot wait to see how the council will react to Liz and Carol.  I can’t see the council siding with them because the people have made it clean that Vampires are the enemy and should be killed.

  • BeeBlood

    yeah… Because Damon kind of stopped the ripper in him…


    And that didn’t happen until mid-season……the only time I saw Stefan having any “fun” with Klaus was in The End of the Affair, and that was in flashbacks. Stefan was either compelled or on a vengeful vendetta…none of that was “fun” banter:(

  • Tania Rahman

    Just one comment here, instead of my usual spiel. Although this isnt a feminist show (despite the number of female characters), its a little disturbing how much the three main female characters have been bashed around this season, not just Elena, but Caroline and, Bonnie, to a much lesser extent. They definitely need to start toughening up (esp if Elena is to become a vampire) and defending themselves.

  • Tania Rahman

    Forget the whole ‘love triangle’ for a sec. The season finale hasn’t even aired in GB and I’m already reading rumours that there may be a way to turn Elena back into a human. How convenient for our heroine. All vampire mythology states (with the possible exception of Buffy) that once a person turns into a vampire (no matter which method) they are technically dead. On VD a person has to die with vampire blood in them to go into transition, so techncially human Elena is dead by the end of the season. We all know that with the exception of Damon (who got duped by Katherine anyway) , anyone who turns on the show never really did out of choice, not even Katherine, or Stefan, or Vicki, or Caroline, or Jenna or Ric or even any of the Original Family, so why should Elena be the exception, she’s already had one second chance at staying human.Otherwise she should choose to die and maybe Katherine or even Tatia could make an appearance.

  • Tia Serena

    Bonnie: “While Klaus is breaking windows, doors and throwing stuff inside , threatening everybody, I think I will take a shower, straighten my hair and change into more period specific clothes. Meanwhile I will think of a magic plot so solve our problems!”

  • Tia Serena

    Yes, and her mother has super telelocator and teleporter plants (since she has no more magic)

  • Tia Serena

    I would love to see a flashback from the Epic Battle when Abby desiccated Mikael! I am sure Greyson and Miranda were involved. But who else was there? 
    Many of the council members we’ve met were alive in that time: Jon Gilbert, Mayor Lockwood, Bill and Liz Forbes, Logan and Meredith Fell (although these two would be rather young).
    It took two vampires and a werepire to hold Klaus down, and Mikael is supposed to have been even stronger… Who was/were the vampires that held him down and “connected” to his veins?

  • Tia Serena

    Oh, and I forget, another very foggy moment…

    Erratic Vampiric Hearing Powers….
    They were all shouting for Elena, and Elena is not here, and Elena’s car is not here while Klaus is pacing back and forth on the porch – and he did not hear it?
    Also, there were TWO vampires in the house, and none of them heard Elena’s cell phone ring nor her car as she drove away… Sneaky Elena…

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