“Before Sunset” brought about the return of Alaric Saltzman from the dead, so we know that a lot of trouble had to follow. How much trouble and of what sort? Keep reading for the full Vampire Diaries recap!

Welcome Back Saltzman!

Alaric is back from the dead, so of course his first move is to head back to that classroom where Mr. Saltzman theoretically once taught history. This works for Alaric because Caroline and Rebekah have shown up for the post-dance cleanup committee. Of course it’s just them. Really, no one else in the school has much spirit, do they?

That’s probably a good thing for survival, when you think about it. Caroline and Rebekah learn this when Alaric attacks in the hallway. Working together, the vampire girls manage to turn the Super Stake on Alaric, but it doesn’t kill him. This is a problem.

The problem only worsens when Alaric catches Caroline at her car, breaks her neck and drags her back inside caveman-style. There is but one positive here — Alaric’s face starts boiling and burning due to a lack of sunshine ring. He can’t be outside before sunset.

Taking the News Badly

Rebekah runs back to Klaus with the news that Alaric is alive, seriously pissed and trapped in the high school until sunset. They argue a great deal about whether or not Elena would be appropriate baggage for their desperate flight until Rebekah gives up. Irritated that Klaus prefers hybrids to family, she walks out.

The focus of this fight is busy with Jeremy, painting Alaric’s old room in a desperate attempt to cover up memories of the past few days. This is made more difficult by the arrival of Stefan. The difficulty only increases when Damon follows with a bloody Bonnie and the news of Alaric’s survival.

The paint job will have to wait.

Elena misses the news but learns everything soon enough when Alaric calls her cell phone. Using his best psycho-killer-outside-the-house-with-an-ax voice, Alaric informs Elena that she is to come alone to the school if she wants Caroline to live.

Because they’re too busy fighting and trying to figure out a spell that will stop Alaric, no one notices Elena’s departure. Still, it’s probably good that she left, since Klaus soon shows up to demand his hybrid blood bank. He can’t enter the Gilbert house uninvited or anything, but that’s not the kind of thing to stop Klaus. A newspaper, soccer ball and picket-fence paling all come whizzing in through doors and windows instead.

Teachable Moments with Alaric

Elena arrives at the school to find Caroline tied to a desk, her hands impaled by pencils. Alaric makes no move and offers Elena the chance to free her friend. But then he doesn’t let her. This is because, according to Alaric, vampires are evil and untrustworthy.

He actually has a point, but that’s not important right now.

Alaric expands on this thesis by dipping gags in vervain and shoving them into Caroline’s mouth. Elena watches the torture in horror but refuses to jump in. This frustrates Alaric, who points out that Elena is young and lacking in morals, or else killing vampires would be the obvious choice.

Twisting that knife just a little more, Alaric insists that Elena’s parents would hate her pro-vampire stance. Then he stops waiting for Elena to suddenly want to kill one of her best friends and tries to force the issue. Fortunately for Elena and unfortunately for Alaric, the girl had a vampire-hunter guardian to teach a few tricks.

Instead of killing Caroline, Elena manages to smash the vervain beaker in Alaric’s face and free Caroline. It’s too bad Alaric recovers fast enough to catch Elena before she can escape…

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Back at the Gilbert house, Stefan halts Klaus’ garden-implement assault with the news that Elena left ages ago. The vampires make a whole bunch of completely worthless plans before Bonnie shows up with one that might actually work. She wants to desiccate Alaric, just like her mother did to Mikael years ago. This will require the assistance of Abby and all of the vampires.

It seems that, even though she has completely abandoned Bonnie, Abby is just a phone call away from Jamie. This seems wrong somehow. But whatever. Abby does come back to share her desiccation spell info, but she warns Bonnie that performing the spell invites dark powers and other dangerous stuff.

What does the spell do? Well, if worked correctly, it sounds like Bonnie can stop a vampire heart — thereby stopping blood flow and drying out the body — if she a) shares her blood with others so they’ll be linked, b) arranges for the ripping out of a heart, and c) stops a human heart to create balance or something.

Since Matt’s got a shift at the Grille, the only human available is Jeremy, who is totally due for another death. The crew of Bonnie, Jeremy, Stefan, Damon and Klaus meets outside the high school for the final assault. Klaus, naturally, complicates stuff by insisting that he is the source of everyone’s bloodline and by throwing a little Stelena ‘shipping into the picture.

Nothing Is Ever That Easy

The vampire-witch-hybrid siege of the school starts out well enough. Klaus gets Caroline to safety (being very sweet in the process, I might add), but then things start to fall apart.

Alaric pins Elena to the lockers and starts to choke her. But Elena notices that the choking is taking an awfully long time and calls Alaric’s bluff on the whole killing-her thing. Alaric does back off. But we don’t get to process this because Damon and Stefan choose this moment to attack.

The attack doesn’t work well at all. Alaric shakes them off and knocks out both. Klaus arrives a moment later to grab at Alaric’s heart…

…And Bonnie, in the woods, begins her heart-stopping chant over Jeremy. For a few seconds anyway. Then the link is broken because…

Alaric throws Klaus to the floor and tries to Super-Stake him. Klaus briefly holds off the attack, but it’s looking bad for the hybrid.

Then, believe it or not, Elena totally saves the day. It turns out that Alaric will die if Elena dies, seeing as he was made with her blood and all. Elena calls him on this by starting to slit her own throat, which is seriously badass. Alaric tries to stop her, but Klaus uses the opportunity to escape and take Elena with him.

This Is Why You Should Never Tell Klaus Anything

It’s not like Klaus wants to save Elena or anything. On the contrary, Klaus realizes that killing Elena will remove the threat of Alaric. So she has to die. Klaus does still want his doppelganger blood though and thus condemns Elena to death by blood loss.

He also tortures her a bit with words. Pointing out that Elena is the only thing that really comes between the Salvatore brothers, Klaus the ‘Shipper tries to find out which brother the girl would pick.

But she won’t tell. Typical.

A Much Better Save

Tyler walks in on the Klaus-Elena Girl Talk of Death and is appropriately horrified. Klaus sends his hybrid minion away for some blood bags and figures it’s all over.

It’s not. Right as Elena is ready to pass out, Tyler returns and unties her. Guess he did break that sire bond! Unfortunately, Tyler is still kind of dumb and doesn’t notice Klaus’ return. Throwing Elena headfirst into some stairs, Klaus confronts his former henchman.

This would probably be it for our good guys, but then Damon and Stefan arrive to help. Stefan goes for the heart, alerting Bonnie back in the woods. The witch chants with gusto, killing Jeremy quickly and absorbing some icky black stuff from the evil Earth power.

And Klaus’ heart slows to a stop. The hybrid collapses to the floor, already a husk, while the others make their escape.

Not wanting Jeremy to stay dead, Bonnie tries to chant Jeremy back to life. This does not seem to work, so Bonnie resorts to screaming at him. This is much more effective. Jeremy wakes up and the two share a tender moment. Are these crazy kids getting back together?

The Bonds of Family

The Salvatores walk an impressively healthy Elena back to her house. But they don’t come in. With Alaric on the loose, it’s not safe to be a vampire in Mystic Falls. Plus, they want to go dump Klaus in the ocean. Before the boys go, Elena makes one more attempt to explain her feelings. She won’t make the choice of one brother or the other because that choice would mean more loss. Elena can’t deal with more loss.

And she doesn’t have to. Instead, Elena gets a party. Caroline, Tyler, Jeremy, Bonnie and (randomly) Matt are all in the kitchen with tequila shots and happiness. They toast to their odd family and to the end of Klaus. Happy ending! Or is it?

The Salvatores, meanwhile, drive away to distant ocean places. With jokes and declarations of victory, the brothers reaffirm their bond and actually confront the Elena issue. Both agree that, when Elena makes her choice, the rejected brother will leave town. This is a little sobering but still kind of a happy ending. Or is it?

Or Is It?

Sheriff Forbes arrives at the Lockwood mansion, surprised that Carol has called a Council meeting. She didn’t. Alaric did. The vampire-like killer spills to the rest of the Council that both leading women are harboring vampire kids.

The outcome of this is not going to be good.

Unaware of such impending doom, Jeremy and Elena get back to painting that awful room. They bond over the fact that they have to let the vampires live for everyone’s sake, and Jeremy heads off to bed.

Elena continues painting for a moment. Then she clutches her head and collapses. White paint and red blood both spread slowly across the floor…

And we’re ready for the Vampire Diaries season 3 finale!

Is Elena dead? What will Alaric get the Council to do? Will the Salvatores return? Share your theories and comments below!

(Image courtesy of The CW)

Laurel Brown

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

Laurel grew up in Mamaroneck, NY, Grosse Pointe, MI and Bellevue WA. She then went on to live in places like Boston, Tucson, Houston, Wales, Tanzania, Prince Edward Island and New York City before heading back to Seattle. Ever since early childhood, when she became addicted to The Muppet Show, Laurel has watched far too much TV. Current favorites include ChuckModern FamilySupernaturalMad Men and Community. Laurel received a BA in Astrophysics (yes, that is possible) from Colgate University and a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies and History of Science from Columbia University before she realized that television is much better than studying.