At this point, we expect The Vampire Diaries to go out with a bang. And the Vampire Diaries season 3 finale didn’t disappoint. Check out our full recap — with all of the twists and heartbreak — right here!
Happy Times/Not-So-Happy Times
Elena — last seen unconscious and bleeding — wakes up healthy and happy in her sunny bedroom. Wait, what?
Before we have time to figure out how such joy could occur on The Vampire Diaries, the presence of pom-poms and Aunt Jenna let us know that this is a flashback. Yes, we’re looking at happier times for the Gilberts! Aunt Jenna is alive, Elena is a cheerleader, Miranda Gilbert is present for morning greetings, and Jeremy has locked himself in the bathroom to…
Well, he’s 14. Use your imagination.
But enough of that. Present-day Elena wakes up alone in a dark hospital bed. Jeremy seems to have found his big sister fairly quickly and rushed her to the hospital. It’s just a mild concussion, but Dr. Fell wants to keep her for observation.
The Salvatores respectfully disagree with this diagnosis. When Jeremy calls, the brothers immediately demand Elena’s return to the relative safety of the Gilbert house. Stefan and Damon then share significant looks as they discuss who will return to woo Elena and who will spend his time dumping Klaus’ body.
Home Is Where the Heart Is — Ponder the Physiological Implications of This in Elena’s Case
Did you ever notice that we rarely see Dr. Meredith Fell performing medical duties? She mostly just wanders the hallways and has tense conversations. This is exactly what happens now, because Meredith enters her office to find Alaric waiting.
In his creepiest voice, Alaric demands the release of Elena into his custody, seeing as he’s her guardian and all. When Meredith doesn’t immediately comply with this insane request, Alaric dumps out all of the doctor’s vampire blood and informs her that the Council will be suspending her medical license. Because the Founders’ Council can do that, apparently.
Not that any of this matters. Jeremy may be stupid, but he’s also fast. Elena has already gone home.
Installed on the couch to convalesce, Elena begins to dream about the past again. This time, she’s with Bonnie (also a cheerleader) and Matt. Bonnie psychically predicts some fashion trends and danger at the school bonfire. Elena protests that she won’t be attending, as it’s Family Night. Matt insists that she blow off her family, and we learn that Elena wasn’t all that into the boy, even then.
Elena awakens again at this point. Matt is staring at her, which is kind of creepy. He then demands to know what she was dreaming about. Also creepy. But Elena doesn’t even notice “creepy” anymore and spills about how sorry she is to have strung Matt along. Just like she’s stringing along the Salvatores.
But she still can’t choose.
That’s when Stefan walks in to make her choice easier. Whether he’s the pick or not, the boy at least gets a hug.
Trust No One
Jeremy has gone to the Grille for food and beer (seriously, does no one card minors in this town?), but he also finds Alaric. The Evil Vampire Killer makes an actually compelling argument for delivering Klaus to his death, pointing out that vampires are hazardous to Elena’s continued health. Alaric even promises to not kill Elena if he gets all of the Originals. He’ll just let her die of old age.
Alaric obviously lets Jeremy go without an answer, because we next see the boy back home, where Elijah has shown up to ask for Klaus’ body. His plan is to destroy the Super Stake and then go on the run. Despite Damon’s cell-phone protests and Stefan’s do-whatever-you-want attitude, Elena decides to go with this plan.
Meanwhile, Jeremy calls Alaric with the news that Damon is burying Klaus’ body in the woods off route 12. Is this the truth?
Of course not. As we learn seconds later, Damon has actually stashed Klaus in a storage locker with his back-issues of Playboy. Bonnie joins Damon there for the purpose of doing some vague, witchy thing. Whatever Bonnie is planning, we don’t get to see it because a) desiccated Klaus opens his eyes and freaks everybody out, and b) Bonnie kicks Damon out of the room for some pre-spell alone time. We only get to hear her anger toward the Original before The Vampire Diaries kicks us out too.
Smooches and Surprises
Stefan finds Elena and assures her that they won’t all be dying. Elena comes so close to sharing some actual feelings with Stefan after this, but she stops herself.
But fortunately for us romance-lovers in the audience, Stefan decides to forgo self-control and “wait until later” decisions. In one swift move, he locks Elena in what seems to be a very satisfying kiss.
It’s a short-lived kiss though. Everything is over quickly enough that we next see Stefan on the phone with Damon. Although the elder Salvatore mostly wants to complain about Elena’s choice to work with Elijah, we also learn that he’s waiting for Rebekah to show up and claim Klaus’ body.
Unfortunately for Damon, Alaric shows up first.
Saving the Damsels in Distress, But at What Expense?
Since Stefan is now off making phone calls and disappearing and such, Elena is again left alone with Matt. He brings her some over-sweetened tea and endures more talk about how Stefan saved Elena — both physically and emotionally — but how Damon makes her feel all-consuming passion. She just wishes her mother was there (instead of Matt, who’s really no help) to give advice.
This brings us to another flashback. Cheerleader Elena did indeed skip out on Family Night to attend the bonfire with Matt. Alas, the perfect couple had a fight, and Elena is calling for a ride home. Aunt Jenna, who sucks at Pictionary, is very cool with this…
…And Elena wakes up again. But where is she? Matt, not as sweet as you’d think, drugged the tea and is now in the process of kidnapping Elena for her own good. Somehow the boy thinks that he is a better guide to life than a bunch of vampires. Whatever Matt…
Meanwhile back at the storage facility, Rebekah has arrived. Alaric hears her and begins to stalk his prey. We have an extended sequence of horror-movie terror as Rebekah walks through the darkened storage facility, unaware of the doom that awaits. She rounds a corner and is captured by… Damon!
Damon and Rebekah run away, as Alaric is distracted by a recently opened unit. But nothing is inside. Instead, Klaus’ coffin is now part of Damon and Rebekah’s desperate escape attempt. But coffins slow you down. Alaric takes full advantage of this fact and overtakes the vampires.
Because Alaric prefers easy pickings, he turns the Super Stake on desiccated Klaus first. AND STAKES THE ORIGINAL! Seriously, that happens. Wow.
Klaus bursts into flames. Rebekah screams in horror but wisely decides to make her escape before Alaric moves on to the next Original in the vicinity. Alaric swiftly pursues the girl, leaving a shocked Damon in his wake.
Bad News for Everyone
Stefan, waiting with Jeremy in the location they had tried to use to fool Alaric, gets a phone call from Damon. Klaus is dead, and they all might be next.
This is when Caroline shows up with Elijah. Oh crap, Tyler…
Jeremy continues the phone-tree-of-doom and passes the Klaus news on to Matt. When Elena insists on going home, Matt points out that they could either return or else carry on to be with Damon.
So Elena phones Damon. And tells him that she’s returning to Mystic Falls and to Stefan. While Elena tries to hide the reason for her decision in her concern for Caroline and Tyler, Damon calls her on it: Which Salvatore would she pick if nothing else mattered?
Alas for Damon, Elena picks Stefan.
Her reasoning actually makes sense. Stefan was her first real love, the guy that found her and loved her when life had shattered. Elena just can’t get over him, no matter how strong her feelings are for Damon. The only consolation Elena can offer is that things might have been different, if she had only met Damon before Stefan. Damon, in turn, is actually quite understanding and pretends to be brave. Both insist that he will survive potential death and certain heartbreak.
I wouldn’t bet on it.
Damon’s chances then decrease. Because Rebekah has escaped, Alaric has returned.
Rebekah uses her survival to inform Stefan that all deals are off. The remaining Originals will kill Elena to remove the Alaric threat once and for all. As Elena and Matt approach in the truck, Rebekah stands in the road. Matt swerves to miss her and goes straight off the bridge.
Survival… But Only for Some
Below the bridge, Matt’s truck quickly fills with water. Elena, constantly flashing back to the night her parents drowned below Wickery Bridge, actually stays conscious for once and tries to escape a watery grave. Nothing much works.
In both the flashback and the present, Stefan suddenly arrives to save Elena. But Elena won’t accept salvation this time. Instead, she insists that Stefan take Matt to the surface, leaving her in the truck.
Things aren’t going much better over at the storage facility. Damon barely tries to defend himself from Alaric’s savage beating. Instead, he has a flashback of his own…
..Waiting for her parents to come pick her up from the bonfire, Elena meets a dark stranger on the road who calls her Katherine. This would be Damon. The two have an intense moment of flirtation until sounds of a car interrupt. Damon compels Elena to forget the meeting (he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s back in town) and departs.
So Elena did meet Damon first. That’s a complication.
This memory seems to rouse a bit of the fighting spirit in Damon, but he’s no match for Alaric. The Super Stake descends… Then Alaric suddenly crumples to the ground.
And Elena drowns.
I Said, Trust No One
Throughout all of this, Caroline and Tyler have been having their own problems. They learn from their mothers that the Council will be after them soon — both kids have to leave town. Because Caroline insists on helping their friends survive first, the two agree to meet for their departure in two hours.
Caroline learns the awful truth about Klaus before the two hours are up. Reuniting with Tyler, a hysterical Caroline lets the boy know that death is coming. Tyler, remarkably, stays strong and says she should just tell his mother that he left town. Then Tyler begins to cough and collapse.
Tyler sends Caroline away from him. Refusing to leave, Caroline only abandons her love when the boy gets ready to turn into a deadly werewolf.
Thus, we learn that Klaus was not the originator of the Salvatores’ bloodline.
Or was he? Rebekah and Elijah know they didn’t start that line. Apparently Kol didn’t either. So what’s going on?
The answer is in Tyler’s tomb. Bonnie enters and calls to someone. Tyler, very much alive, emerges. But wait, it gets weirder. Bonnie calls him “Klaus” and says she doesn’t care what anyone thinks about her actions in saving him.
Klaus may not be so dead after all.
A Final Goodbye and an Unexpected Hello
Jeremy has gone back to the Gilbert house alone and is getting a bit frantic that he hasn’t heard from anyone. The boy’s fear only increases when he sees Alaric in the house. But it’s good Alaric! Who is a ghost. It takes Jeremy awhile to figure this out and even longer to figure out the implications with regard to Elena.
He doesn’t get time for many questions. Alaric smiles sadly and says he’ll never leave Jeremy alone.
Damon arrives at the hospital, almost hysterical as he asks about Elena. Dr. Meredith Fell calms him with the news that Elena’s earlier head injury was not just a concussion — she instead had major bleeding in the brain and probably would have died, even with medical treatment.
And then drowned-and-dead Elena wakes up.
How did Bonnie save Klaus? What happened to Tyler? Is Elena a vampire? Could anything have been more shocking? Leave your theories and comments below!
(Image courtesy of The CW)