Review of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES – Before Sunset (2012)

So who is the big, bad villain now?

In a very twisty and somewhat twisted episode, it was a game of cat-and-mouse as Alaric tried to set a trap for Klaus while Klaus tried to turn the tables on him. As it stands now, Klaus lost, but Alaric did not necessarily win. Instead of Alaric vanquishing Klaus with the white oak stake, fulfilling his destiny under Esther’s plan, Stefan and Damon pulled a fast bait-and-switch and captured Klaus with the desiccation spell meant for Alaric. This proved the better option after everyone figured out that Elena and Alaric’s lives were blood-linked through Esther’s spell — which meant if Elena died, then Alaric died — and no one is quite sure if killing Alaric means it could kill Elena too.

With the octane cranked up and two evil foes circling each other, it is a wonder that everyone else did not simply get out of their way. But in a war between Alaric and Klaus, everyone is caught the crossfire. Alaric’s first move was to corner whoever showed up at the school and then use that person as bait and leverage to lure Klaus into his trap. Alaric’s plan was simple but effective. Yet, with Klaus aligned with our heroes, there were too many people to keep track of and even Alaric could not plan for every contingency. That same could be said for Klaus as the elaborate counter-plan to combat Alaric ended up working just as effectively against Klaus. The art of distraction and strike while your enemy is not looking has been used before, but it does work. Even the invincible Klaus was felled by a simple desiccation spell just because he was not paying attention. Gotta love it when a plan comes together like that!
So with Klaus claiming he sired the bloodline that created Stefan, Damon and Caroline, no one wanted to use the white oak stake on Klaus just in case he is their “grandfather” through the vampire bloodline. But stopping Klaus’ heart, putting him into a state of catatonic hibernation and dumping his body in the Atlantic, could conceivably keep him neutralized for a time. However, with one more episode left in this season, it is hard to imagine that Klaus has been completely sidelined; and with Alaric still on the loose, our heroes may need a trump-card to take down that incarnation of evil.

It just remains to be seen who will be the big, bad villain in the end. Will it be Klaus escaping the desiccation spell, or will it be Alaric who is amassing his own army by outing Carol Lockwood and Sheriff Forbes as vampire-sympathizers?

Points of Interest

1. The image of Klaus rotting away eternity “swimming with the fishes” is kind of poetic justice.

2. It was really fun to see how everyone decided to celebrate after Klaus was finally taken down. How great was it when Elena returned home to fine Bonnie, Caroline, Tyler, Jeremy and Matt awaiting her with the greeting, “Welcome to our victory party!” Even with Elena’s cautious observation, “What victory? We failed. Alaric’s still out there,” it was still a significant achievement. So as they cheered to “A Klaus-free life,” we cheered along with them.

3. Another cheer-worthy moment was when Tyler came to save Elena, against Klaus’ explicit instructions and Klaus said, “So much for that sire bond” and Tyler announced, “I’m not your little bitch anymore.” Finally!

What Worked

Kudos to Matt Davis for another fine performance as he embraced Alaric’s evil side and seemed to enjoy every minute of it. When Alaric accosted Rebekah in the school hallway, she said with surprise, “You’re supposed to be dead.” To which he replied, “I am.” It sent chills down our spines as we knew what she did not, that Alaric could actually kill her.

Thus, it was super cool to see Caroline rush to save Rebekah, heedless of the risk to her own life. But moments later when Alaric caught up with Caroline in the parking lot, it was sad to see that Rebekah only stood there watching. Caroline had not hesitated to help Rebekah, yet Rebekah did nothing to help Caroline. It is our actions in the face of mortal danger that define us. Caroline knew what she was facing when she rushed to Rebekah’s aid, yet Rebekah could only watch and run away? It is any wonder that Klaus has fallen for Caroline and could care less when Rebekah told him to choose between his hybrids and her.

There was also a lovely moment embedded in the chaos after Elena helped Caroline escape and Caroline found herself in Klaus’ arms. As Klaus softly whispered, “It’s me. You’re safe now. We’ll save Elena. You go straight home and you stay inside. Do you understand?” It felt kind of breath-taking. It was no wonder that Caroline seemed dazed and disoriented at his heroic side of Klaus and could only breathlessly say, “Thank you.” Not only was Caroline rather surprised at this protective side of Klaus, so were we.

Returning to the diabolical Alaric, it was chilling and awesome simultaneously how much he scared the beegeebizes out of us. He not only walked right out in broad daylight without a protection ring, sizzling his face off, to snap Caroline’s neck and drag her back inside the school, when Elena finally came to offer herself in exchange for Caroline, he nearly laughed in her face. As Elena protested his failure to honor their deal, “You said you’d let her go,” Alaric snarled, “How many times do I have tell you, Elena? Stop trusting vampires!” Watching how cruelly and callously Alaric tortured Caroline with a vervain-drenched gag and pencils staked through her hands, we began to wonder if Klaus was actually the lesser of the two evils.

But Klaus and Alaric are vacillating between their hero/villain roles so rapidly, we are not sure who to trust anymore. For example, when Damon revived after having his neck snapped by Alaric, he curiously asked, “Why am I still alive?” To which Alaric retorted, “Get up! Klaus is going to kill Elena . . . Now do what you two do best, save Elena’s life.” Just moments before, Alaric was the prime target in their deadly take-down plan, but once they found out that Klaus had snatched Elena and was siphoning out all her blood in order to kill Alaric, the game changed in an instant and Alaric was suddenly aligned on the “hero” side because he wanted to save Elena’s life.

Everybody wants Elena: Klaus wants her blood to create his hybrid family/army; Alaric wants Elena because his life is now tied to hers; Damon and Stefan are in love with her; Matt will rush to her aid at the drop of a hat; Jeremy is her brother and will do anything to protect her; and even Tyler was willing to risk his life by trying to rescue her and defy Klaus. We understand the lure of being chivalrous and honorable as demonstrated by Matt, Jeremy and Tyler, as well as the more self-serving motivations of Alaric and Klaus, but the most fascinating motivation is love. Stefan and Damon are not seeking to protect and save Elena out of duty, honor, fear or a desire for power – they simply love her. Love is the most powerful emotion of all. It conquers fear and subdues anger. It is persuasive and intoxicating. We have seen how much it rules the hearts of those under its spell.

So with the biggest question of this season being: who Elena will choose to give her heart to — we remain riveted by the power of love. It even prompted Stefan to volunteer to accompany Klaus when he left town, assuming he was taking Elena with him. Yet even as Stefan proclaimed, “I’d turn my back on everything here to make sure Elena is safe,” Klaus tried to manipulate Stefan through his love for Elena by saying, “And that is what makes you her better option. It’s a shame that it’s not easier for Elena to see that. Personally, I think she’s wasting her time with Damon.” Seeing right through such an obvious ploy to drive a wedge between he and Damon, Stefan informed Klaus, “All this time you’ve spent trying to get my brother and I to hate each other, it’s actually had the opposite effect. . . . Damon and I have been through a hell of a lot worse than you.”

After failing to manipulate Stefan through his love for Elena, Klaus tried another tactic when he softly told Elena, “Stefan blames me for trying to tear him from his brother. But I think we both know who really came between them. You. That’s why you won’t choose. You know once you pick a Salvatore, you’ll destroy that bond. Consider this me doing you a favor. Once you’re dead, you won’t have to choose. No broken hearts. Their family stays intact. But between us girls, who would you have picked?” As Elena snapped, “Rot in hell,” Klaus smiled knowing his work was done. He then airily replied, “You’re welcome. Sweet dreams, Elena. It’s been fun.”

With one seed of doubt planted in Elena’s mind that she could be the source of further discord and the cause of irreparable damage to the bond between the brothers, Elena sadly explained to Damon and Stefan, “I know it’s selfish. I know it seems like I’m stringing you both along, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I mean, if I choose one of you, then I lose the other. But I’ve lost so many people, I just can’t bear the thought of losing one of you.” Even with Caroline reminding her, “You know that sooner or later you’re going to have to choose, right?” Elena hesitates. Love is both a blessing and curse. She is all too aware of the power of love and how it can be wielded for good and for evil. She does not want her love to be used as a weapon by Klaus to destroy the relationship between Stefan and Damon.

Whether Elena will have the strength and courage to make a choice remains to be seen. But whoever she choses, one thing is certain, Stefan and Damon’s bond as brothers will be as strong as ever. For, in the end, as Damon told Stefan, “All this over one girl,” and Stefan admitted, “She’s a pretty special girl.” To which Damon replied, “Yes, she is.” Elena may not be confident that her choice won’t destroy the brothers’ relationship, but they are. It was interesting to see that they recognized that a mortal girl will only live but a small amount of their lifetime and that the only relationship that will probably sustain the test of time will be their own.

What Didn’t Work

What was the point of summoning Abby to appear in person at the Salvatore mansion when all she had to offer was information about the desiccation spell that could have been obtained through a phone call? Phones are a much faster way of communicating, after all when they are racing against the clock.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

“Before Sunset” story by Charlie Charbonneau and Daphne Miles with teleplay by Caroline Dries and directed by Chris Grismer.‘The Vampire Diaries’ stars Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev, Ian Somerhalder, Joseph Morgan, Steven R. McQueen, Candice Accola, Katerina Graham, Michael Trevino, Zach Roerig, Matt Davis, Torrey Devitto, Claire Holt. ‘The Vampire Diaries’ airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.

One thought on “Review of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES – Before Sunset (2012)

  1. I loved that little moment between Klaus and Caroline. It was one the best episodes of the third series. Looking forward to the finale.

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