We haven’t had any lush costume-themed episodes in a while, so tonight’s promise of the Decade Dance 20’s-style costumes is quite a feast for the eyes!  Spoilers ahead!

Esther/Rebekah returns to Klaus with the white ash stake, which he throws in the fire.  Klaus wants to skedaddle out of town, but Esther/Rebekah convinces him to stay another night for the Decade Dance.

Esther/Rebekah and Klaus

Alaric calls Damon – he woke up alone and doesn’t know what happened.  Alaric wants to leave town so that he can isolate himself.  As he hangs up, though, we see he’s with Esther/Rebekah and it’s a trick. The white ash stake was fake, of course.  Esther/Rebekah tells Alaric to stake her so that she can return to her (Esther’s) body, which he does.

Caroline eggs Elena to ask Stefan to be her date at the dance, which she does.  Stefan smiles for the first time in a million episodes. Damon overhears and can’t contain his jealousy.  He meets up with Meredith and shares a discovery: Alaric hasn’t been taking the herbs Bonnie made for him to stop him from flip-flopping into Crazy Alaric. Esther melts down Alaric’s ring and binds the magic to the white oak stake, making it indestructible.

Stefan picks up Elena for the dance, and he looks so innocently happy and charming it breaks your heart.  Remember when Stefan and Elena were all sweetness and puppy love?

Bonnie and Jamie breaking it down flapper style

Jamie and Bonnie dance it out (isn’t it convenient that everyone already knows these roaring twenties dances by heart?) while Caroline warns Matt not to get too close to Elena, as she is spoken for. Tyler shows up to sweep Caroline off her feet. Elena and Stefan have a romantic slow dance together.  It’s nice to see everyone so happy and having fun, but really it just makes me nervous for what’s about to happen.  No one can stay happy for very long in Mystic Falls. Like a bad penny, Damon arrives to tell Elena and Stefan that Alaric is off the herb. Damon suggests killing Alaric to eliminate the threat, which Jeremy overhears and doesn’t appreciate.

Esther forces Elena to leave the dance with her.  Jeremy fetches Stefan and Damon to help, but Esther has bound the area with salt and a spell, and they can’t leave. Damon recruits Bonnie to help. Esther brings Elena to Evil Alaric. Esther plans to make him a “true hunter” like her husband in order to kill her children. Each time Alaric died wearing the ring, Esther was waiting for him on the other side to speak to him and turn him against the vampires.

Tyler and Caroline being adorable

Klaus arrives at the dance and cuts in on Caroline and Tyler’s dance.  Tyler is impassive, pretending to still be compelled by the sire bond. Klaus invites Caroline to leave town with him and tries to flee when she refuses, but he’s caught at the salt line with Damon and Stefan. Bonnie works on finding the loophole in the binding spell.

Elena tries to get through to Alaric, but he’s fully immersed himself in CrazyEvilTown. Esther uses her magic to cut Elena and drip her blood into a bowl that Alaric drinks from. When he asks if the conversion is complete, she stakes him.  It’s so fast you barely understand what’s happening – for a second I thought she had ripped his heart out.

Bonnie uses a locator spell and Jeremy’s blood to find Elena. Matt and Jeremy head out to help her. Esther tells Elena that Jenna’s spirit is at peace because she died “pure.”  Alaric will have enough strength to rid the world of vampires and then die when his task has been completed. Jeremy and Matt find the group, but Esther has them raising their weapons – a crossbow and a gun – at each other. As the tension ratchets and it looks like they will kill each other, Alaric stakes Esther from behind.  He wants his ring and he wants to know what’s happening.  Good Alaric is back!

Stefan tells Klaus he is through with revenge. They find that the boundary spell is broken, and Klaus disappears with Esther’s body. Alaric doesn’t want to transition and turn into something worse than he is. Jeremy and Elena are upset, obviously, and Alaric shuts them out so they won’t see him die. Their goodbyes are sad and touching. Alaric finds the whole gang waiting for him in the woods, ready to send him off. There’s candlelight and a sad, haunting song. Alaric says nothing as he looks each character in the face and locks himself in the tomb. It’s incredibly gut wrenching. Alaric’s life has been one hard struggle after another. It’s a relief to see him finally find peace in death.

Klaus unstakes Rebekah and returns his mother to her casket. Jamie comforts Bonnie, who has already grown weary of the supernatural life and bears the weight of it heavy on her shoulders. Matt and Jeremy drink to Alaric while Elena cleans his vampire-hunting paraphernalia out of his classroom. Stefan takes her into the decorated gym where Klaus compelled him not to feel anymore, and he tells her not to give up hope.

Elena and Stefan console each other

Damon waits in the woods for Alaric to pass. Meredith gives Alaric a sedative so that hopefully he’ll die peacefully. Although Alaric said he wanted to die alone, Damon comes in and even sheds a tear or two for his friend.

Oh, but wait a minute! Esther appears to Bonnie in a dream and tells her to complete the work she started. Damon leaves Alaric for a moment and Bonnie is there, seemingly sleepwalking as she fights Damon and forces Alaric to drink her blood. He changes, bearing vampire fangs and black-veined eyes. His transition is now complete, and he is the true hunter.

Whoa! I was all prepared to mourn Alaric and his bittersweet passing, but then this happened! So many of the actors and actresses on this show have been able to play their own evil twins, and it looks like Alaric is going Bad for a while. Will they find a way to change him back before he completes his mission and dies? This was a pretty sad episode, from the memories of Elena and Stefan’s love to the candlelit vigil for Alaric, which made the change-up at the end all the more surprising. Poor Alaric – not even allowed to rest when he’s dead.

What were your thoughts on the episode? What are your predictions for what will happen leading up to the season finale?

If you missed the previous episode be sure to read our ‘The Vampire Diaries: Heart of Darkness’ recap to catch up.