“Vampire Diaries” fans are reeling from the shocking carnage on the season’s penultimate episode. After months of build up, the omnipotent vampire Klaus finally performed the sacrifice ritual that would enable him to turn into a vampire/wolf hyrbid. Executive Producer Julie Plec promised, “There will be a lot of loss of life. We had to pay off what we set up.” She kept her word. Though there were plenty of twists and turns, there was no last minute reprieve. At the end of the episode, the body count was four: Klaus’s sidekick witch Greta, werewolf Jules, and two members of the Gilbert family: Jenna and John. The deaths of the last remaining adult Gilberts made this the first three hanky episode of TVD.
The sacrifice ritual turned out to be a literal three ring circus, as Elena, Jenna and Jules each found themselves trapped in a ring of fire. When the fire burned out, Klaus would kill them. Sacrifice was more than just Klaus’s plan. It was the theme of the episode. Elena was willing to sacrifice herself to save her family, even though she knew that, thanks to Damon’s bite in the previous episode, if she let Klaus kill her she would become a vampire. Moments before Klaus killed her, Jenna confessed to Elena that she initially felt that she was sacrificing her life to become her guardian. Stefan was willing to sacrifice himself to take Jenna’s place, though he thought Elijah would keep his word and kill his brother Klaus. He backed out when Klaus told him that he had not actually killed the rest of their family, and could lead Elijah to them. So Klaus did, in fact, kill Elena and turn into a werevamp. In the end, it was John who made the biggest sacrifice of all, using a spell to save Elena in exchange for his own life. In his death, he became the father he never was to her in life.
The episode ended with a double funeral for Jenna and John, as the voiceover of a letter John left for Elena: “”I ask only that you believe this: Whether you are now reading this as a human or as a vampire, I love you all the same, as I’ve always loved you and always will.” That was when my tears started flowing. This episode was as moving as the best episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
The death and destruction is not over yet. Next week’s season finale is all about the quest to save Damon from a fatal werewolf bite. It’s extremely improbable that the show would kill off its most popular character. However, it’s a good bet that someone’s going to go. Matt, Liz and the mayor all seem expendable.