Esther (in Rebekah’s body) returns from the No Vamps Allowed Cave with the last white oak stake and hands it over to Klaus for it to be burned. He tells her they’re leaving town ASAP, since there’s no reason to stay. Esther objects, reminding Klaus that the 1920s dance is that night. Klaus doesn’t care, even when she points out that Caroline will be there. She asks him to go for her sake – she has big plans for tonight.
Alaric calls Damon and says he’s going to stay away for a little while. He woke up alone in the cave and the stake was gone, so he must have given it to Rebekah. Alaric plans to leave town and isolate himself while he’s still having blackouts. Damon doesn’t think that’s a good idea, but Alaric hangs up without listening to him. Esther arrives and compliments him on his lies. They’re at the Haus of Klaus, plotting something together; Alaric is still his evil self. The stake Esther gave Klaus wasn’t the real one. She’s keeping that one hidden until it can’t be used against her while she’s in Rebekah’s body. Now she needs Alaric to help her undo the body swap with Rebekah, which starts with daggering Rebekah.
Elena and Caroline are at the school to decorate for the dance, but Elena’s mind is on Alaric. Caroline’s mind is on the fact that Rebekah hasn’t shown up to help. They’ve put Matt and Jeremy to work instead, and the two are now closer (and will be working at the Grill together again). Elena says Jeremy’s dealing with a lot, and Caroline asks if part of that is seeing Damon and Elena’s makeout session.
She asks who Elena’s bringing to the dance. Elena thought she, Caroline, and Bonnie were all going together, but after Jamie called Bonnie recently, she invited him. Caroline suggests that Elena ask Stefan to go with her. If she wants to figure out what (well, who) she wants, she needs to give both brothers equal time. Caroline is decidedly Team Stefan, and she’s not giving up on them without a fight.
Once Elena gets home, she calls Stefan and awkwardly extends an invitation. Stefan happily accepts, sounding more like himself than he has all season. Damon has been eavesdropping, so he makes a quip about a corsage, but he doesn’t address the fact that Elena asked Stefan on a date. Instead, Damon goes to the hospital to let Meredith know that Alaric hasn’t been taking the herbs Bonnie gave him to suppress his dark side.
Esther takes Alaric to the Salvatore crypt, which happens to be the place where Klaus killed her 1,000 years ago. It’s now marked with power, making it a magical hotspot. She asks for Alaric’s Gilbert ring, promising that he’ll soon have another form of protection. Since white oak stakes usually burn up once they’ve been used, Esther needs to make one that’s indestructible, bound with the magic from his ring. Then Alaric can use it over and over to kill all the remaining Originals. He gives her the ring and she does a spell to melt it and coat the last stake with the remains. Esther declares it “the ultimate weapon for the ultimate hunter.”
Stefan shows up at Gilbert Gables in a nice suit. Elena looks cute as a flapper. Their old spark is still there, but is it enough? He asks if she’s sure she wants to go to the dance, considering the disasters of the ’50s and ’60s versions. Elena says everything’s dangerous, but someone used to tell her that they have to live their lives anyway. Stefan asks who that someone was, and she teases that it was some guy she used to go out with.
The 1920s theme is a hit, and everyone at the dance is in period costume and even trying some old-fashioned dance moves. Caroline wants to make sure Matt gets that Elena is going to pick either Stefan or Damon, which means Matt has lost his shot at being with her. She also doesn’t want him to get caught in the crossfire. Matt seems to accept that he’s out of the running. He spots Tyler, and Caroline worries about how Klaus will react if he finds out Tyler’s back in town. Tyler doesn’t want to stay away if Klaus is going to make a move on Caroline. She assures him that there’s no reason to be jealous. Tyler admits that he is jealous, but he’s also competitive, which is why he’s not going to keep his distance.
Elena asks Stefan to teach her some ’20s moves, but he reminds her that he didn’t spend a lot of that decade dancing. Just as they’re getting comfortable being together again, a slow song comes on. They dance while talking about Bonnie, who also looks great as a flapper. Stefan wants to apologize to her about what happened to Abby, though Elena warns that she probably won’t forgive him or Damon.
Now that the D word has been spoken, Elena says they should talk about the Denver trip. Stefan says he doesn’t need to know what happened. If she ends up choosing Stefan, she can tell him then, if she wants. If not, he doesn’t need or want to know. Elena asks how he’s able to be fair about this. He says that after everything he’s put her through, he’s just happy to be at the dance with her.
Damon shows up and announces that they need to talk. They head out of the gym, and Jeremy starts to follow but bumps into Bonnie and Jamie. Bonnie sees that Jeremy’s still wearing his Gilbert ring, and he says he’d rather take the risk of wearing it than be around vampires without it. Jamie guesses that he’s Bonnie’s ex.
Once Damon has told Elena and Stefan what’s going on with Alaric, Stefan suggests that they get Alaric off vervain and compel him. Damon doesn’t know what they would compel him to do. Their Alaric is gone. The new one hates vampires and vampire symphathizers, which means Elena’s in danger. They need to kill him. Jeremy arrives just then and protests, but Damon argues that it would be a mercy killing. Jeremy walks off and Elena follows him outside. He reminds her that Alaric looked out for them, so they need to do the same for him. She promises that no one will hurt Alaric.
Esther finds them and tells them that if Elena wants to help Alaric, she needs to come with her. Elena sends Jeremy to get Stefan and Damon, and Esther tells Elena that leaving with her isn’t optional. As they head off, Jeremy returns with Stefan and Damon. But they can’t follow the women because Esther has put down a huge line of salt for a spell. They’re trapped at the school.
Bonnie and Jamie take a break in Alaric’s classroom and chat about her friends. Jamie notes that he’s just a normal guy, unlike the gang. Bonnie says a normal guy wouldn’t have agreed to come to the dance with her. She kisses him, and after a pause, they start making out. Damon ends the fun by telling Bonnie they have a problem.
Esther takes Elena to the cemetery so she can use her blood for a spell. Elena seems willing to cooperate as long as Esther doesn’t hurt Alaric. Alaric says she won’t. Esther announces that she’s going to remake him. He’ll be strong and fast and indestructible, like the Originals. For one last time, Esther will tap into the same dark magic she used on them. She’ll make Alaric a true hunter, like she did Mikael – “the vampire to end all vampires.”
Elena protests, noting that Alaric could turn out to be an even bigger monster than the Originals. Esther says he won’t, since he’s embraced his darkness. His hatred for vampires will become more pure, and it will be magnified in death. Elena protests again, since Esther doesn’t know the real Alaric. Esther says she does. Every time he died wearing the Gilbert ring, she met him on the Other Side and nurtured his dark self. Vampires took everything from Alaric, and now he’ll get to take his revenge.
Klaus shows up at the dance and complains that Tyler left town without permission. He wants to cut in on Tyler and Caroline, and though Caroline objects, Tyler says it’s fine. Caroline blasts Klaus for always having to prove that he’s the alpha male. He replies that he doesn’t have to prove anything – he is the alpha male. He just wants once dance with her, and he promises not to bite. Uh, not funny. Caroline reluctantly agrees.
Klaus tells her that she would have loved the ’20s. He’s leaving town tomorrow, and he would invite her to come along but he knows she won’t. Still, he thinks eventually she’ll show up at his door ready for him to show her what the world has to offer. Caroline seems to be falling for his charms until she scoffs. He tells her that this small-town life with her small-town boyfriend won’t be enough for her.
As he leaves, he calls Rebekah to complain that she’s not at the dance. He comes across the salt line, and Stefan tells him it’s Esther’s doing. They head to the cafeteria, where Bonnie’s trying to find a loophole to the spell. Matt tells the group that humans are able to leave, so Jeremy suggests that the two of them go find Esther and stop whatever she’s up to. Stefan says that’s a horrible idea. Klaus grabs Jamie by the throat and threatens to kill him if Bonnie doesn’t find a way out. Stefan casually says that Bonnie doesn’t care about them. She’s only helping because she wants to free Caroline and Tyler. If Klaus kills anyone she cares about, he’ll lose any leverage he has. Klaus lets Jamie go.
In the cemetery, Elena tries to convince Alaric that this isn’t what he wants or who he is. He says she doesn’t know who he is, just the weakest parts of him. He lost his way and befriended vampires instead of killing them. Their victims’ blood is on his hands. That includes Jenna’s blood.
Esther’s ready for the next step. Elena begs Alaric not to participate, then tell Esther she won’t give her any blood. Esther will have to kill her if she wants it. But Esther has enough power to magically make Elena’s hand start bleeding. She drips some of Elena’s blood into a bowl and tells Alaric to drink it. Then she stabs him with the white oak stake.
Bonnie goes back to Alaric’s classroom so she can find a map and use Jeremy’s blood for a spell to locate Elena. Klaus and Damon are hovering, which annoys her. Damon gives her a sorry-not-sorry apology for turning Abby to save Elena. He didn’t have a choice. “There’s always a choice,” she replies. “Whenever you make one, someone else suffers.” Klaus tells them to knock it off and Bonnie does the spell, but she says Esther’s fighting her. Klaus says she would have to be channeling a hotspot to have that much power. He easily guesses where she is.
In the now-empty gym, Stefan tells Caroline that Matt and Jeremy have gone looking for Elena. He’s frustrated that he can’t do anything to help. She assures him that Elena will be fine – she always makes it through dangerous situations. Stefan’s also worried that Esther will kill Klaus, which could mean death for him, Damon, and Caroline. Tyler knows the risk, too, and he’s not happy. Caroline reminds him that this could end happily: Bonnie breaks the boundary spell, Klaus leaves town, and they’re home free. Tyler’s just cranky because Klaus spent time with Caroline, so blah blah, let’s get back to the action.
Alaric is dead, and Esther tells Elena that he might be his old self when he wakes up. She’ll give Elena the chance to say goodbye before he completes his transition. Elena slams her for saying she wants to undo the evil she created, then turning around and doing something just as evil. Esther says Alaric won’t become what her children became. He has just enough power to kill the Originals. Then he’ll die. Elena should be glad that all vampires will be gone from the world.
Elena points out that some of them are good, and Esther is no better than Klaus. Esther disagrees – she wants a world where innocent people won’t be killed by vampires, like Jenna was. Elena objects to Esther using her aunt to manipulate her. Esther says that Jenna isn’t on the Other Side, since she wasn’t a vampire long enough to hurt anyone. She found peace, the only thing supernatural beings can hope for.
There’s a noise outside, and when Esther leaves the crypt to investigate, she finds Jeremy and Matt pointing weapons at her. They order her to release Elena. Esther says they’re ridiculous to fight on the same side as vampires, then magically makes them turn their weapons on each other. Before they can fire, Alaric comes up behind Esther and stabs her with the white oak stake. He’s his normal self again, and he doesn’t remember what happened.
Back at the school, Klaus blames Stefan for what’s going on, since Stefan released Esther. He wonders if revenge will be worth it. Stefan says he’s done with revenge, and they’ve stopped Esther before, so he’s not worried about her.
Klaus tries to reminisce about his and Stefan’s time together in the 1920s, when they had moments where they were actually friends, even brothers. Damon joins them, reminding Klaus that Stefan already has a brother. Klaus mocks their “unshakable bond” and wonders what will happen when Elena finally chooses between them. Bonnie comes outside and tells the guys that Esther stopped fighting her, and the boundary spell has been broken. Klaus takes off while Stefan stays back to thank Bonnie. She tells him she didn’t do this for him.
Jeremy reports to Elena and Alaric that Klaus took Esther’s body away. Klaus doesn’t know about the indestructible stake. Alaric reveals that he’s decided not to complete his transition. He can’t trust himself as a vampire, since his human dark side is dangerous enough. Jeremy objects to just letting him stay there and die, but Alaric says it’s the right thing to do. He feels like he deserve it after all he’s done. Elena tries to make peace between them, but Alaric tells her and Jeremy to go. Damon will make sure everything happens the right way.
Jeremy starts to leave without a goodbye, not wanting a speech about how he’s the man of the house now. (Music: “Be Still,” the Fray) Alaric says he won’t give it, then hugs him goodbye. After Jeremy leaves, Elena emotionally says that this is her fault. She pulled Alaric back into her and Jeremy’s lives after he tried to get out. Alaric tells her that taking care of her and her brother is the closest he’s ever come to the life he always wanted. After they hug, he sends her away.
He walks her out of the crypt to find the whole gang (plus Meredith) in the cemetery, holding a silent candlelight vigil for their friend. Alaric looks at all of them but doesn’t speak. He nods a little in thanks, then goes back into the crypt.
Klaus undaggers Rebekah, then tells Esther’s body that her trap failed. He dares her to try to come after him again if the spirits decide to let her be resurrected again. He’ll build an army so big that no one will touch him. She’ll spend eternity haunted that Klaus is still alive. She’ll never destroy him.
Jamie takes Bonnie home, trying to reassure her that there’s nothing she could have done for Alaric. She knows, but that doesn’t make anything better. He thanks her for protecting him. She says that’s what she does, apparently. Jamie tells her she’s amazing, though sometimes she would prefer to be ordinary. Since Bonnie’s father is out of town, Jamie’s worried about her being alone. She admits that she doesn’t want to be.
Jeremy and Matt go to the Grill to drink a toast to Alaric. Elena cleans out all the weapons in Alaric’s classroom, not wanting someone unfamiliar with him to find them. Stefan tells her to stop, but Elena has to keep going so she won’t think about how she and Jeremy are really alone now. They’re losing yet another loved one. Stefan asks her to come somewhere with him instead.
He takes her to the gym and reminds her that that’s where Klaus compelled him to turn off his humanity. After Stefan bit Elena, he didn’t want to feel anything again. But someone once told him it was okay to feel, even if it hurt. Emotions make us human, both the good and bad ones, and he should never lose hope. Elena jokingly asks who told him that, and he says it was some girl he used to date. She tearfully says that she doesn’t have anyone anymore. He reminds her that she has him.
Back at the cemetery, Meredith tells Damon she gave Alaric a sedative so he’ll fall asleep before he dies. Damon says he offered to break Alaric’s neck so he could die quickly, but Alaric turned him down. Damon’s surprised that someone who’s died so many times is okay dragging this out. Meredith appreciates that Damon let him decide. Damon says his choices have been “controversial” recently.
Meredith doesn’t want Alaric to be alone in the crypt, even though that’s what he requested. She doesn’t think that’s really what he wants. She leaves and Damon joins Alaric in the crypt. Alaric asks if Damon’s going to give him a nice dream like he did for Rose. (Damon told him about that once when he was drunk, and Alaric’s been waiting to tease him about it ever since.) Damon offers him bourbon instead and apologizes for killing him. Alaric jokes that he has to die to get a real apology. He turns down the alcohol, saying he’s been thinking about cutting back. He cries a little and accepts the bottle.
Bonnie’s asleep in her bed with Jamie (both still wearing their ’20s clothes) when Esther appears in the room. She tells Bonnie that her “sisters” need her to finish what Esther started. Jamie wakes her up, saying she was having a bad dream.
In the crypt, the alcohol and sedative finally render Alaric unconscious. Damon finishes the bottle, then leaves the crypt. Bonnie is approaching, and from the way she’s moving, Damon thinks she’s sleepwalking. She gives him a psychic migraine, then enters the crypt. She stabs her hand with the indestructible stake and feeds Alaric her blood. Once he’s completed his transition, he drinks from her neck, tosses her aside, and picks up his ultimate weapon.
Etc.: This episode gets me every time, specifically the vigil and Alaric and Damon in the crypt. It doesn’t matter that I know the ending, or that this isn’t even close to the end of Alaric’s story. It’s just a heartbreaker.
It’s weird that the running joke for Rebekah is that she keeps missing school dances.
Pretty much everyone in the cast looks really good in 1920s-style clothes. Rebekah was right, it’s a much better theme than the ’70s.
I wonder if they planned to have something develop between Jamie and Bonnie, then changed their minds. They set the stage for a relationship, but this is the last time we ever see him.
Damon is probably at his most selfless this episode. He could have easily made Alaric feed on Meredith or snuck human blood into the bourbon and forced him to turn so he didn’t lose his drinking buddy. But he pulls a Stefan and lets Alaric make his own decision. Someone’s growing!
Obviously the answer to this question is “because otherwise the next two episodes couldn’t happen,” but why didn’t someone grab the indestructible stake from the crypt to make sure Klaus never found it?