Elena wakes up in a good mood and puts on her cheerleading uniform. In case that doesn’t make it clear enough that something’s off here, when she goes downstairs for breakfast, Jenna’s there. Elena wants coffee, but Jenna knows that letting her have some will get her in trouble with Miranda.
Elena wakes up for real in the hospital, where Meredith assures Jeremy that she’ll be okay. She just has a slight concussion from hitting her head. Once he’s convinced, he calls Stefan and Damon, the latter of whom is mad that Jeremy took Elena to the hospital instead of bringing in a vampire to give her blood. Both brothers agree that Elena’s not safe from the Originals in the hospital, so Jeremy needs to take her home instead of letting Meredith keep her for observation. Damon appreciates that Stefan is on his side. They still have the problem of Alaric hanging over their heads, so Stefan says one of them needs to continue taking Klaus’ body out of town so Alaric can’t find him and kill him (and their sireline). “Our life is one big proverbial coin toss,” Damon notes.
Right now Alaric is less focused on Klaus than he is on Elena, whom he’s tracked to the hospital. He starts pouring out Meredith’s stash of vampire blood as he tells her that the council is going to report her to the medical board and have her license suspended. Carol and Liz are being excommunicated, and Alaric is taking over. He tells Meredith to release Elena into his custody, since he’s her guardian (except she’s 18, so she doesn’t have a guardian anymore). But he’s too late, since Elena’s already left.
Caroline, Matt, and Tyler take her home so they can keep her company and serve as her bodyguards. Caroline worries that she’s being too overbearing, but Elena admits that she likes being taken care of. She looks at some photos of the people who used to take care of her but who are now dead.
2009: Matt’s excited for a bonfire that night, but Elena can’t go because Jenna’s in town and her parents want to have a family night. She’s still dating Matt at this point, and he’d like to spend the evening with her. After he leaves, Bonnie tells Elena that if she doesn’t want to date Matt anymore, she needs to tell him and stop stringing him along.
Present: Caroline and Tyler have left Gilbert Gables, but Matt’s still there. Elena tells him she had a dream about their sophomore year. She apologizes for staying with him for so long when she didn’t want to be with him. She should have figured out what she wanted and been honest about it – you know, like she’s not doing with Stefan and Damon. She knows she has to let one of them go. Matt asks which one. Before Elena can answer, Stefan arrives.
Jeremy’s at the Grill, picking up some food, when Alaric approaches and tells him they need to talk. Back at Gilbert Gables, Matt asks if it wouldn’t be smarter to get Elena out of town. She doesn’t like the idea of running from the Originals for the rest of her life. Stefan stays out of the conversation, because, as always, he wants to let Elena make her own decisions. He tells Matt that you only recognize how important free will is when you lose it. But Matt may have the right idea because there’s an Original at the door – Elijah.
Alaric wants Jeremy to tell him where Klaus’ body is. Jeremy says he wouldn’t spill that info even if he had it. Alaric points out that Elena’s association with vampires almost got her killed again. Since she won’t cut them out of her life, Alaric will. He’d like Jeremy to help him. If Jeremy tells him where Klaus is, Alaric can kill him and all the Originals. Then when Alaric dies, all vampires will be gone.
Jeremy notes that Alaric can only die if Elena dies. Alaric is fine with being desiccated like Klaus and then being locked up. Elena will get to live a long human life, and when she dies, Alaric will, too. He shows Jeremy the indestructible stake and says he’s going to kill Klaus one way or another. Jeremy should want to join the right side of the battle.
Elijah also has his mind on the stake – he tells Stefan, Elena, and Matt that they just need to get it from Alaric. The Originals will take off and Alaric will chase them, which will allow Elena to live out the rest of her life in peace. Elena hesitates to let Elijah bring Klaus back after the gang worked so hard to stop him. Elijah promises that he won’t revive Klaus within her lifetime or the next. Matt points out that Elijah has only ever betrayed Elena, so she has no reason to trust him. Elijah acknowledges that, but he notes that he could have killed Elena as soon as he arrived at the house, so obviously they can trust him at least a little.
Damon’s voice objects – he’s been listening in via speakerphone. He doesn’t believe that the other Originals will leave Elena alone. Elijah promises that Kol and Rebekah will obey him. All the gang has to do is hand over Klaus’ body. Damon continues protesting, but Stefan says it’s Elena’s decision. Elena asks why Elijah wants Klaus’ body anyway. Elijah says Klaus is his brother, and they “remain together.” Elena agrees to the deal.
Tyler and Caroline meet up with their mothers at Lockwood Landing and learn that Alaric told the council about them. The council is looking for Klaus and will then go in search of Caroline and Tyler. Liz and Carol want them to leave town.
Back at Gilbert Gables, Jeremy tells Matt that he wants to get Elena out of town, too. They’re just going to have a hard time doing that with Stefan hanging around. Jeremy notes that even if he wanted to help Alaric, he doesn’t know where Klaus’ body is. Matt says he does. Jeremy calls Alaric and tells him that Damon’s going to bury Klaus in the woods off Route 12. But it’s a lie, and Elena, Stefan, Elijah, and Matt are all in on it.
Caroline doesn’t think she and Tyler should leave town, since their friends need them. Tyler says Stefan and Damon will take care of the rest of the gang – they need to protect themselves. Caroline tells him she’ll go anywhere with him, even if they have to spend the rest of their lives on the run. But she needs to check on their friends first. They arrange to meet up at the Lockwood cellar in a couple of hours.
Bonnie has met up with Damon at a storage facility, where he’s complaining about Elena’s deal with Elijah. Bonnie’s okay with letting her make the call, but Damon says other examples of situations that were her call are “everything bad ever.” Bonnie’s going to do a spell to prevent anyone from using a locator spell to find Klaus. She asks for a minute before she does it – Klaus is the reason Jenna’s dead, Alaric’s an Original, Tyler’s a hybrid, and Abby’s a vampire. She wants to revel in the sight of him being helpless. She tells Klaus that he should burn in Hell, but that would mean her friends and mother die, so she’s not sure what to do.
Stefan’s ready to go off and take down Alaric, but Elena is hesitant to let him go. She feels like every time someone leaves her house, it might be for the last time. He promises to do everything possible to bring everyone back. As he goes, she starts to say something, then changes her mind and says they can talk later. But before he leaves, he goes back to her and kisses her, just in case later doesn’t happen.
Bonnie’s done her part, so Damon is alone at the storage facility, waiting for Rebekah to come get Klaus’ body. Caroline and Elijah are in place, and Jeremy will lead Alaric to them and Stefan. Damon’s still upset that Stefan let Elena make a deal with Elijah. If Stefan had forced her to hide instead, she might hate him, but at least she would be alive to hate him.
Stefan tells Damon to give Rebekah the casket and get out as soon as the others get the indestructible stake. The police are looking for Klaus, thanks to Alaric. Damon hears the elevator ding and hangs up, thinking Rebekah’s there. Instead, he runs into Alaric, who tracked him down with help from the police. Damon will only tell him that Klaus’ body is in a storage unit. It’s up to Alaric to search through hundreds of them to find him. Alaric breaks Damon’s neck and gets to work.
Matt brings Elena some tea and tries to go back to their conversation about the Salvatores. She tells him Stefan is the one who saved her life the night her parents died. Not that she feels she should choose him because she owes him. After her parents’ deaths, Elena felt like she didn’t know how to live anymore, or if she even wanted to. Being with Stefan helped her figure it out. She thinks that’s how love should be – you love the person who makes you glad you’re alive. Matt asks what the problem is, then. Elena says it’s Damon. When she’s with him, he consumes her. She knows she can’t love both brothers, but she doesn’t want to lose whichever she doesn’t choose. She wishes her mother were there to give her advice.
2009: Elena has gone to the bonfire after all, but she’s not having a good time. She calls home and asks Jenna if she can get a ride home. Miranda takes the phone and Elena tells her she had a fight with Matt. He was talking about the future, things like college and marriage, and Elena isn’t ready to discuss that stuff. Miranda tells her he doesn’t really care about those things right now; he just wants to know how Elena feels about him. Elena says she isn’t sure, but Miranda disagrees, saying Elena’s just afraid to admit the truth. Elena admits that she doesn’t want to break up with Matt and lose him. Miranda promises that she won’t. She’ll be setting him free.
Present: Elena wakes up in Matt’s truck. He drugged her tea so he could get her out of the house and drive her out of town. He doesn’t want her in the middle of a vampire war, and since she doesn’t have parents to guide her, he’s made a judgment call.
Alaric is searching storage units when Rebekah arrives to meet Damon. Alaric stalks her, but Damon gets to her first and keeps her quiet. Alaric finds the unit where Damon put Klaus’ body, but it’s empty. Damon and Rebekah have already moved his casket and are on their way out. Alaric catches them, shoves them aside, opens the casket, and stakes Klaus. Rebekah screams and cries as her brother goes up in flames. Alaric wants to kill her next, but Damon sends her away and stays behind to fight his friend. Alaric isn’t interested, though, so he zooms off.
Damon calls Stefan to tell him Klaus is dead. Both brothers feel okay, so either Klaus lied about siring their bloodline or it’ll take a while before the connection catches up to them, like with Finn and Sage. They probably have about an hour, which isn’t long enough for Damon to get back to Mystic Falls. Damon thinks his brother wants an in-person goodbye, but Stefan was thinking about Damon saying goodbye to Elena. Damon tells Stefan to say it for both of them.
After Stefan hangs up, Jeremy breaks the news to him that Elena’s on her way out of town with Matt. Stefan tries to convince both of them that Klaus was lying, so it doesn’t matter. But when Caroline and Elijah join them, she can tell something’s wrong.
Jeremy calls Matt and Elena to fill them in, and she demands that Matt take her back to Mystic Falls. He tells her that Damon is 100 miles out of town. They can keep driving to him or they can go home, but either way, Elena can only say goodbye to one brother in person. That’s right, it’s time for her to choose!
Elena calls Damon, who still isn’t feeling any different. Like Stefan, he’s trying to convince himself that Klaus lied. Elena tells him that Matt is taking her home. Damon knows that that means she’s chosen to say goodbye to Stefan. Elena says it’s also to see Caroline and Tyler, but it still means she’s picked Stefan over him. Damon asks who she would have chosen if it were just between the brothers. She tells him that she loves Stefan. He came into her life when she needed someone, and she fell for him instantly. Whatever she feels for Damon doesn’t erase her feelings for Stefan.
Damon isn’t surprised, since for Elena, things have always come back to Stefan. She tells him she has to let him go. Maybe things would have been different if she’d met Damon before Stefan. She assures him that he’ll be okay and they’ll see each other soon. He just says goodbye and hangs up, because now he has something else to deal with: Alaric is back.
Caroline goes to the cellar to meet up with Tyler, who’s a little late getting there because he was with Bonnie. She tells him Klaus is dead, so Tyler’s next. He tells her she’ll be fine. She shouldn’t worry about him, since he’s a lost cause, and she has a great future ahead of her. He wants her to tell Carol that he left town like she wanted. They hug goodbye, and then he starts coughing. Caroline doesn’t feel any effects. Tyler tells her to leave him there, and though she refuses, he wolfs out, so she has to go.
Elena talks to Caroline on the phone and lets Matt know that Tyler’s dying. Matt’s upset that he can’t do anything. He tells Elena their lives weren’t supposed to be like this. Meanwhile, Rebekah finds Elijah and tells him that Klaus is gone. He tells her Tyler’s dead but Stefan, Damon, and Caroline are still alive. They’re confused since they’re pretty sure Klaus headed that sireline.
Bonnie goes to the Salvatore crypt to meet up with Tyler, who’s perfectly fine. He’s also not Tyler – he’s Klaus. Bonnie did a spell to swap their bodies. He says the spirits will be pleased, but Bonnie’s done letting anyone push her around. She did the swap because she wanted to.
Rebekah calls Stefan to let him know that Elena told Elijah that she and Matt are almost back in Mystic Falls. These guys should all have a group text to relay information instead of making a thousand phone calls. Elijah wants to go on the run with Rebekah, but she spent centuries running from Mikael and doesn’t want to live that way anymore. With Klaus dead, Elena and Elijah’s deal is void, so Rebekah wants to get rid of Alaric. And the only way to get rid of Alaric is to get rid of Elena.
Elena’s battery is dying, so as Matt rounds the corner toward Wickery Bridge, he gives her his phone so she can call Stefan. He’s distracted just long enough not to see Rebekah in the middle of the bridge. He swerves to miss her and the truck goes into the water.
2009: The Gilberts’ car is also in the water. Miranda is unconscious (or possibly dead already), but Grayson and Elena are both awake. He tells her things will be okay.
Present: Alaric beats up Damon, not caring that they used to be friends. He thinks that friendship is what took his dark half so long to break through. Damon doesn’t fight back, partly because Alaric is invincible and partly because what does he have to fight for?
2009: Damon is lying in the road so he can perform his play-dead-and-attack-a-Good-Samaritan trick. Elena is nearby, talking to Bonnie on the phone about how she still can’t bring herself to break up with Matt. Damon mistakes her for Katherine, then realizes they just look alike. He introduces himself and she comments that it’s creepy for him to be out in the road by himself. He notes that she is, too. “It’s Mystic Falls,” she replies. “Nothing bad ever happens here.”
She tells him she and her boyfriend got into a fight about how he has his future all planned out and she doesn’t know what she wants. Damon thinks she wants the same things everyone does. He’s been around long enough to have learned a few things about people. Elena wants a love that consumes her. She wants passion and adventure and even danger. She asks what he wants. Before he can answer, her parents arrive to pick her up. Damon says he wants Elena to get everything she wants, but for now she needs to forget that they met, since he needs to keep a low profile for a while. He erases her memories of their first meeting and zooms off.
Present: Alaric prepares to stake Damon, but Damon’s ready to fight back.
Elena wakes up in the truck. Matt’s unconscious.
2009: Grayson and Elena try to open their doors and break their windows, but the water is now over their heads and sealing them inside the car. They take each other’s hands, realizing they don’t have much time left. She mouths to her father that she loves him, then loses consciousness as Stefan swims out to the car.
Present: Stefan is also in the water, just outside Matt’s truck.
2009: Stefan tries to open Grayson’s door, but Grayson shakes his head and points to Elena, wanting him to save her instead.
Present: Stefan starts to save Elena, but she shakes her head and points to Matt. Stefan knows the risk, but as usual, he lets Elena make the decision. He saves Matt, leaving Elena in the truck to drown.
Damon fights Alaric, who feels the effects of what’s happening to Elena. He desiccates in Damon’s arms. “You’re not dead. You’re not dead,” Damon says desperately. He could be talking about Alaric or Elena.
Jeremy calls Matt, who doesn’t answer. Alaric appears in Gilbert Gables, unsure of how he was able to enter the house. He wanted to say goodbye and he was suddenly there. He tells Jeremy that he’ll always be there to look out for him. He’ll never be alone. Jeremy realizes that this isn’t the real Alaric, but his ghost. That means Elena’s dead, too.
Her body’s at the morgue and Stefan is by her side when Damon arrives at the hospital, furious. Meredith stops him before he can reach the morgue and tells him that she wasn’t completely honest with him that morning. Elena’s injuries were more serious than Meredith admitted. She had a cerebral hemorrhage, bleeding in her brain. Meredith helped her. She did what she always does for her most critical patients.
Elena wakes up.
Etc.: I want to have a talk with whoever decided to write Alaric off the show.
Elena’s death is foreshadowed a couple of times in this episode, but not so much that you can guess it right out. I think it’s well done.
I wish the series had shown us more of Miranda and Grayson. It’s hard to get a read on how they would really feel about Elena being involved with vampires. Everyone says they would hate it, since they were on the council, but it’s impossible to tell for sure.
I assume that Damon protected Rebekah from Alaric on the off chance that he’s from her sireline, but I like to think he did it so he can later get a favor out of her or Elijah.
Everything would have been fine if Matt had remembered that hitting Rebekah with his truck wouldn’t have hurt her. Thanks a lot, Matt! (Just kidding. I know Matt feels bad. It’s not his fault.)