The Vampire Diaries
Season 3 Episode 20 recap

Whoo!  I'm just gonna call Rebecca's body walking around with Esther in it “Esther”.  Ya'll down? Or “Resther”?

In comes Resther, overseeing Klaus' angst black painting.  He's irritated because he thinks she's Rebecca and therefore late, and she has the White Oaks stake as a peace offering.  He tosses it in the fire unceremoniously and says they're leaving - they can grab the doppelgänger on their way. But Resther is not having this, for it's the Decades Dance tonight!  Hee, that still makes me laugh.  Anyway, she begs him to go and dangles that Caroline will be there.  He agrees.  One last hurrah.

Damon and Alaric on the phone.   He says he woke up in a stupor with no stake.  But he's being shot really close to the window, so we know there's some subterfuge afoot.  Here's said subterfuge:  Resther comes in all "Damon bought it? So did Klaus".  She and Ric exposit that the “real” White Oaks stake will be given back to him "when it can no longer be used against me in this body". That is a long, complicated sentence, oh, and did I mention they're in the coffin room?  Resther shows us Esther's body lying in wait, but apparently she hopes to get back there soon “with some help from a vampire hunter”.  She hands him a small dagger dipped in something, which he promptly uses to stab her in the stomach.

Then Esther opens her eyes!

Then peppy music!

Mystic Falls High.  I've expressed my irritation at this being a school thing, especially given this isn't even their last year.  Anyway, Caroline is bitching about the decor and Rebecca not showing up and cooing at Jeremy and Matt hanging decor (badly) together.  So I guess he's just...back from Colorado forever, then?  Anyway, as I take a moment to remember how happy I am that Candice Accola is tall, Elena moans that she wishes she could help Alaric, and she asked Matt to help Jeremy readjust.  Caroline's all “adjust to you and Damon macking against a pop machine?” (She did not say pop machine.)   Elena deflects, and further deflects when Caroline asks her to bring Stefan to the dance, and I bristle at "That's what Stefan asked you to do, right?"  What about what ELENA wants to do? Does she have to give them both an equal chance?  Anyway, Caroline is firmly on Team Stefan.

So Elena calls Mr. Broody, who's in his dark, cloistered house, and asks if he'd like to go to the dance with her.   His impenetrable black eyes say he would love that, and we get a smirky smile from him.  Of course, Damon is listening, with the CHOPPIEST BANGS, and smirks about what kind of corsage Stefan should get.

Hospital.  Meredith.  Damon appears (bangs now swept aside).  He tells Meredith Alaric's not taking Bonnie's herbs.  

Salvatore crypt.  Esther - now is Esther's own body - brings Alaric there because the violence of her death marks the ground forever.  So she wants his ring, so she can bind the magic of his ring to the white oak stake.  It seems mighty fishy, but he does it, because what choice does he have? Anyway, she murmurs over the ring, which burns and melts, and then she stirs it with the stake, and now it's metal-encrusted.   Okay then.

20s flapper Elena looks gorgeous.  Stefan shows up, in suit and skinny tie.  She can't help but flirt when he brings her a tiny flower.  Why do girls always act surprised when they get a corsage? It's like Taylor Swift. You know you're getting it; it's a dance.  Anyway, she inhales a bit when he touches her but they're still being formal, all “Let's go to a dance, who does this?"

Okay, the dance. Caroline warns Matt that loving Elena is a fool's errand, and “sometimes the people who love her get caught in the crossfire”.  This is all irrelevant because Tyler has shown up in a zoot suit and tells Caroline he won't hide from Klaus, and picks her up.  Now Elena and Stefan arrive, and Nina and Paul look pretty visibly relieved when the music changes to a slow dance so they don't have to 20s shimmy anymore.  I mean this is all pretty thin, right?  Stefan says Bonnie seems happy as he watches her dance with Jamie, but since we have yet to hear her speak this episode, it's anyone's guess.  Then Elena chooses this moment to want to talk about Denver, but Stefan says "If you and I find our way back to each other" they'll talk.  She wonders “how he's being so fair about this”.  Sorry, but I'm finding this really gross.  It's HER CHOICE.   She doesn't have to apologize for testing things!  It's really icky, and him dipping her doesn't fix it. Also, I'm pretty clearly rooting for Delena here.  And now Damon appears immediately, all “we need to talk”.

Meanwhile, Jeremy bumps directly into Bonnie and Jamie.  She's all "Take off the ring, potential mass murderer!" Jeremy will do that when Elena's done with vampires.  Jamie pretends he has any idea what's up.

Damon spits that the Alaric they knew is gone, and that as a hater of vampire sympathizers, Elena's probably high on his hit list.  So Damon suggests they put him out of his misery.  Then Jeremy appears to say no, and then walk off.  Eyeroll.  Elena follows him.  Jeremy says they have to look out for Alaric, and Elena does her usual thing of being his mother instead of his sister.  And then, on what is apparently a RED CARPET outside the school, Esther says Elena needs to come with her, willingly or not.  

And then Jeremy and Stefan and Damon charge out of the gym only to be stopped by....salt.  A binding agent for a spell.  I know I'm not supposed to laugh here but I mean, given the budget for the actual dance, the line of salt on the ground - not a wall, not a block - looks kind of cheap. You know?

Jamie wants to know if he's making a good impression, and her flapper dress and style are impressed with him. Bonnie, who hasn't said a word in weeks, says her friends are the most important people in the world.  He expresses doubt because "I'm just a normal guy" and then they kiss, and then they really, really kiss, and then the lights go on.   Damon beckons with one finger, all “we have a problem”.  

Esther and Elena.  She's all "We need your blood, sorry about that, doppelgänger".   Elena sees Ric, and is delighted, but his eyes are all cold.  Long story short, Esther wants to make Alaric into another Original.  Elena is like "How about he's going to be a monster like your kids?" but Esther spouts science about how his hatred will make him whole, and that each time he died (which was kind of a lot, recently) she was there, watching him and now he'll have his vengeance.  Okay.

Dance.  Caroline and Tyler turn to see Klaus, whose finger-waved-hair takes away his menace a little, as he says he didn't give Tyler permission to leave town and then cuts in on their dance.   Caroline hysterically asks "why do you always have to be the alpha male?" but dances with him anyway.  He starts telling her lullabies about how she would have loved the 20s, and that he should be nicer to her because he's leaving town tomorrow.  He's waiting for her to turn up on his doorstep in a year or a century, and tells her a small town life and a small town boy won't be enough for her, and I mean, I hear him, but isn't Tyler not exactly a farmhand?

Outside, Klaus phones Rebecca, saying she's nowhere to be found, and then runs into the line of salt.  Uh oh.  He sniffs “what is this?” to nobody in particular, but Stefan is there to answer what's up.

Bonnie does a spell as Klaus and Stefan and Damon and Jeremy watch.  Then Matt, ever slow to the table, is like "Um, the humans are leaving" so Jeremy decides he and Matt can leave and help Elena themselves. Stefan's head falls at the stupidity of this.  So Klaus goes for the “choke her boyfriend to death” method, but Stefan taps into a bit of the dark side as he says Bonnie doesn't care about anyone but Caroline and Tyler, and not to piss her off.  Anyway, Klaus drops Jamie.

Crypt.  Elena says Ric's not this person, but he says he is - that she knows the weakest part of him, that which befriends vampires.  He brings it home all “Jenna's blood is on my hands”.   Elena tries to back out - she won't give them her blood, they'll have to kill her!  But Esther kind of shrugs and closes her fist, and Elena's hand starts spouting blood.  It gets poured into a cauldron, and then, at Esther's behest, Ric drinks.  And then, say it with me if you're with me, she stabs him in the stomach.

School.  Bonnie ...rips down a map?  I'm sure glad that was there. Anyway, Damon comes in, bearing some blood of Jeremy's.  How did he get it, exactly?  Damon and Bonnie have unfinished business, so he snaps that he's sorry they had no choice but to vamp her mother.   Bonnie says there's always a choice, and Klaus is like "Jesus, get ON with it".   Blood is poured, Bonnie's confused, Klaus knows where she is.  

Caroline and Stefan are now fighting over letting Jeremy and Matt go ahead of the supernaturals.  Tyler is all "So, Imma die if Klaus does. Y'all okay with that?" Stefan says nobody will die, but he really means “nobody we care about will die”.  Once he leaves, Caroline tries to be all perky delighted that everything will turn out right, but somehow this is not about bloodlines and life and death, but about who loves each other?  Does that make any sense? Honestly, sometimes these guys need their priorities in order.

Crypt.  Elena yanks the stake out of Ric and Esther says when he comes to that Elena may have a couple of moments to say her goodbyes before he turns full vamp.  Esther is proud of her killing machine, and Elena is all “you're gonna kill the good vamps with the bad” and Esther is all "Do you think Aunt Jenna would say there are good vampires?" Oh, snap. Elena's furious about this, but Esther tells her Jenna exists in peace.  And then there's a click....

And then Jeremy and Matt are outside with guns and crossbows, and it's very, very pathetic.   Esther makes them shake and tremble and positions them to shoot each other, but then she gets stabbed by Alaric.  It's not as twisty as I might have hoped, happens.  Anyway, he's all "where's my ring, and what happened?" So Elena has to look all pained that she's going to have to tell him...

School.  Stefan and Klaus pace outside.  Klaus starts to reminisce about their times in the 20s, and says it was like brotherhood.  Damon appears, all "I'm the bro", but Klaus twists the knife he knows how to do and says it'll be nice to see the brothers when Elena finally makes her choice.   Oh, and Bonnie has broken the spell (or so she thinks) and Stefan thanks her and she snots that it wasn't for him.  Again!

Jeremy fills in a whole lot of info about Klaus taking Esther's body in a way that seems like a scene was cut, and then Alaric and Elena look mournful, at which point Ric tells Jeremy he's not going to complete the transition to vampire, and it's too dangerous, and he's just going to die.   Jeremy hates this idea, understandably.  Elena tries to make peace between them, as always, but Alaric just tells them to go.   He holds Jeremy tight, after promising not to give a “man of the house” lecture, and Jere books. Then he looks to his quasi-daughter with a whiff of an incest twist, Elena, who sobs that it was all her fault.  Ric says taking care of her and Jeremy was the best thing that ever happened to him.

And then they go outside, where everyone is there with candles - a kind of vigil for a good man who has nowhere to go but down.  I am embarrassed to say that the cheese of this episode is redeemed here, as we see all who cared about him - including Meredith, by the way - standing in silent support around his makeshift deathbed.  I misted, a little bit.

Coffin room.   Klaus yanks the dagger out of Rebecca, and then goes to spit on his mother's body.  He swears he'll build an army so big she will never destroy him, and that she will be haunted by his success forevermore.

Bonnie's.  Jamie drove her home and says there's nothing she could have done.  Thanks her for protecting him.   She shrugs that it's what she does, that it's kind of ordinary, and then he wonders if she'll be OK by herself, and then they embrace, and if I'd seen him more than for a collective seven minutes, it might matter.

Jeremy and Matt, in the grill, drink to "Mr. Saltzman" and "Alaric".  Jeremy cries first.   

Elena is cleaning out Alaric's store cupboard at school, all manic panic, and Stefan wants her to slow down, but she's all "I can't stop thinking that Jeremy and I don't have anyone to take care of us" as though the real concern here is whether she's big enough to turn on the stove by herself or paying the electric bill!  Sorry, but that yanked me right out of the show.  Anyway, Stefan intensely asks her to come with him, and pulls her into the empty gym, and her hair's all falling out, and she's just. so. pretty.

Stefan reminds her of when his feelings were turned off, in this very gym, and says that she was the one who kept reminding him that it's okay to feel, that emotions are what make us human, and as he tells her she still has him, she sobs, in a very little girl way, into his shoulder.

Outside the crypt.  Damon broods.  Meredith says she gave him a sedative so he'll sleep first.  Damon boozily says he offered to snap his neck and he's surprised he didn't take him up on it.    Then Meredith creepily says Damon shouldn't leave Alaric alone in there, no matter what he thinks he wants.  She heads off, doctor bag a-bumping her hip.

So Damon goes in and sits beside his buddy who wants to know if he's gonna be given a sweet lovely dream like Rose was.  Damon brats that he was drunk when he said that, and it's all funny.  "Sorry I killed you - twice."  "So I have to actually die to get an apology out of you?" Damon offers him a drink. Alaric says he's been thinking about coming back (DUN DUN DUN) and we can see, but Damon cannot, that Alaric is crying.  He takes a drink of Damon's bourbon.  

Bonnie sleeps, Jamie wrapped around her.  At which point Esther appears in her doorway to say her sisters need Bonnie to finish what she started. Which is, of course, a dream.  He wakes her, all “you were nightmaring”.

Back in the crypt. Alaric falls asleep.  Damon, the bottle empty, allows himself a moment of sadness. When he stumbles out into the full moon, he sees Bonnie, sleepwalking or compelled or just determined to finish what was begun.  She closes her hand and brings Damon to his knees, then stabs her hand to feed Ric some blood, and as he grabs her and drinks from her neck, he wields the stake, forged from his ring.

Fine.  He's a vampire killer and a vampire himself.   I'm sure rehabilitation is in the cards and I'm sure Elena will be sweet about it.  But the dance and the fact that Elena didn't get to see Damon in this episode - Damon, who truly loved Alaric as she did - means it all feels a little bit trite.   Which, in a show about the decades dance, is something you want to avoid.  Two more!