This review contains spoilers.
3.21 Before Sunset
We were told a little while ago by the producers on The Vampire Diaries that someone would be signing off for good by the end of this series. Last week, it looked certain to be Alaric (the fire fuelled by news that the actor had signed on for a new CW pilot), but he’s still around, and this week we’re given a huge number of red herrings. Is it a cheap way to build suspense and take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster throughout the hour? Yes, but it really doesn’t matter when an episode is this much fun.
Firstly, Caroline looks to be in trouble when her and Rebekah’s prom clean-up effort is intercepted by a thoroughly evil Alaric. It really seems like Matthew Davis is having an absolute blast with this new storyline, and, as I’ve said before, if this is his last hurrah on the show then it’s a great end for the character. The teaser for the episode is pretty brutal, as Alaric braves the sunlight to run down our favourite blonde, snap her neck, and tie her up with a vervain gag and a couple of well-placed pencils.
His master plan is to draw Elena to the school and enlist her in his new anti-vampire mission. Kudos to the writers with this as Alaric really is the ultimate villain for the show at this juncture. Firstly, it’s arguable that he knows Elena the best out of the all the characters, and she still holds a great deal of affection for her former stepfather. Then there’s the fact that he has a good point. We, like our heroine, might like Caroline, Stefan, Damon and Tyler, but wouldn’t Mystic Falls be a lot safer without them around? Vampires on the show kill people on a regular basis, and the main character simply turns a blind eye a lot of the time.
The Vampire Diaries has a more twisted morality than most shows of its type, but with so many members of the central cast made up of the undead, it’s clear we’re ultimately supposed to root for the destruction of Alaric 2.0. The title refers to the amount of time before this new bad guy can go on a full-scale rampage through the town, and the team have to figure out a way to save Elena and Caroline before the sun goes down. Said team, of course, now includes Klaus, as he’s just as interested in saving the two girls as the Salvatores are.
The plan is to desecrate Alaric through magic, just like Bonnie’s mother did with Mikael before. I’m not a huge fan of magic before used as such a plot device on The Vampire Diaries, but at least the day-saving spell was something we’d heard of before – too often not the case. The ritual involves stopping Alaric’s heart by way of another human’s, making Jeremy (who still has a resurrection ring) the prime candidate. Later, however, Stefan seizes an opportunity and turns the curse onto an unsuspecting Klaus, allowing them to get rid of the thorn in their side without actually wiping out their whole blood line.
So many people are tied to other people at this point that it’s harder to keep track of than the family tree back in seasons one and two. We now know that Alaric’s life is tied to Elena’s, meaning he can’t kill her unless he wants to die too. Klaus also claimed this week that he is, in fact, head of the bloodline that led to Katherine, Stefan, Damon, and Caroline, meaning they can’t kill Klaus (though makes Rebekah and Elijah fair game). Klaus isn’t quite dead, just sleeping, and Alaric’s making headway on his mission to wipe out the entire vampire race. Trouble is, Elena wasn’t looking too healthy when we left her.
Got that? Good, because it looks like next week’s season finale will pose a whole host of new problems for them, and us, to sort through. Before Sunset was a great episode of the show, and gives me hope that the problems of this year’s run are being, and will be, ironed out in the future. This week, The Vampire Diaries was renewed for a fourth season, and we already know that Klaus will be back. The showrunners have also claimed that they hope Alaric will still be around, so who knows what will happen next week. It’s exciting in a way that it hasn’t for a while, and I’m glad to have that sense of adrenaline and purpose back in the show.