Season finale time! Spoilers ahead… finale-sized spoilers!

Last week’s episode ended with Elena passing out on the floor, and this episode starts with her in a hospital bed, fantasizing about her life before her parents died and she got mixed up with supernaturals. We see a lovely and lively Jenna in the Gilbert kitchen, and then we see Elena’s mother. Most striking, though, is a peppy and cheerful Elena, dressed in her cheerleader uniform and looking absolutely carefree. She’s beautiful, of course, but there’s also something hard to define – a normal teenaged attitude that makes me wistful for those days in my own life, but also incredibly sad for Elena. It’s a bad omen for what’s to come.

Carefree Elena

Alaric shows up at the hospital, dumping Meredith’s stash of vampire blood and demanding that Elena be released in his custody. When he finds her bed, though, it is empty. Caroline, Jeremy and Tyler have taken her home, where Caroline tends to her.

Back in the past, Bonnie mentions that she might be able to see the future. Elena and Matt are dating, but when Matt says he loves Elena, she can’t return the sentiment. Bonnie tells her not to string Matt along. Back in the present day, Elena worries that she is making the same mistake again with Stefan and Damon. As if summoned, Stefan appears to play nursemaid. Matt wants to take her out of town to keep her safe, but Stefan thinks they must allow her to make her own decisions. Elena finds Elijah waiting on the doorstep. Oh, that wacky Elijah, always turning up and demanding his brother’s body when you least expect him!

Alaric appears to Jeremy and asks for his help in killing off the vampires, starting with the location of Klaus’ body. Elijah is simultaneously telling Stefan and Elena to give him Klaus so his family can be together on the run from Alaric. In exchange he promises to keep Elena safe.  Elena agrees to the deal.

Caroline and Tyler come home to find their mothers preparing to send them off.  Alaric has the town looking for Klaus, and afterwards they will hunt down the rest of the supernaturals. Jeremy calls Alaric with Klaus’ location, but it’s a trap.

Tyler convinces Caroline to leave town, but she wants to help the others first. Damon takes Bonnie to Klaus’ coffin and Bonnie asks for a moment alone. ALARM BELLS! BONNIE IS UP TO SOMETHING! Damon has a hard time coming to terms with Elena’s choice to trust Elijah. Bonnie leaves and Damon waits for Rebekah to pick up the body, but instead Alaric shows up.

Back in the past, Elena calls home from a bonfire, upset over a fight with Matt. Her mom tells her she should break up with him in order to set him free. In the present, Matt has drugged Elena to get her out of town. Rebekah shows up at the storage lockers looking for Damon, unaware that Alaric hunts her. Damon and Rebekah try to sneak Klaus out, but Alaric finds them, staking Klaus. Klaus goes up in flames and Rebekah flips out. Who will this kill? We know of Tyler for sure, but it could be any of the vampires we know and love. You realize how hard it is to keep records of who you’ve sired through the years. Oh, never sired anyone? Well, it’s very tedious paperwork.

Stefan and Elena

Damon calls Stefan to tell him about Klaus. They aren’t suffering yet, but if Klaus really was their sire, they have about an hour before anything will happen. Damon won’t make it back to town in time to say goodbye to anyone. When Matt gets the news, he tells Elena they are between Stefan and Damon on the road. He can drive either way, but she must choose. She chooses home, and Stefan. She calls Damon to tell him how much she cares about him, which is why she has to let him go. Matt is sitting next to her the whole time she is pouring her heart out, which makes things super awkward.

Caroline finds Tyler to tell him the news. She is sobbing and upset, but Tyler tells her he was always a lost cause, and to pretend that he just left town. Almost immediately, he is struck, changing into a werewolf and yelling at Caroline to run. She does so, reluctantly. It’s a wrenching scene, and very similar to Alaric’s (almost) death a few episodes ago. Curiously, Damon and Stefan are suffering no ill effects, yet everyone thinks Klaus is their sire. That’s strange. But then… Bonnie walks into Tyler’s cave after Caroline leaves, and he’s perfectly fine – only it’s not Tyler, it’s Klaus.  TWIST! Bonnie performed some crazy witchy spell to save everyone when Damon left her alone with Klaus. Now Klaus is in Tyler’s body. But where does that leave Tyler?!

Distraught over Klaus, Rebekah pops up in the middle of the Wickery Bridge road and Matt swerves to avoid her, sending himself and Elena off the bridge. The next bits are all jumbled together so the audience keeps getting flashes of the past bridge accident with the current one, mixed with scenes just before Elena’s parents picked her up on that fateful night.

In the past, Elena meets Damon before her parents pick her up from the bonfire. At first he thinks she is Katherine, but as they talk he starts to fall just a teeny bit for Elena. You can see it in his smirk, and the twinkle in his eye. He compels her not to remember him. As present day Elena struggles to free Matt from the submerged truck, she remembers being in the car with her parents as they drowned. Her father struggled to save them, but her mother died, and when Stefan came to his window, her father waved him on to save Elena. This time, Elena waves Stefan on to save Matt first. Self-sacrifice must run in the Gilbert family.

Elena's family

Damon is fighting Alaric when suddenly Alaric dies, and Damon knows Elena is dead. His grief is immediate. At the same time, Jeremy sees Alaric’s ghost in the house. Like Elena in her cheerleader outfit, it’s heartbreaking to see the kind and loving history teacher as he was before the world flip flopped and made him insane. Alaric is happy and finally at rest. As everyone converges at the hospital around Elena’s dead body, Meredith admits to Damon that she “helped” Elena earlier with her head injury. By now we know that means that Meredith used vampire blood to heal her. And once you die with vampire blood in your system…

On the morgue slab, Elena comes back to life.

WOWZA! That was an action packed season finale with plenty of twists and turns. I knew we weren’t going to be rid of Klaus that easily! Though if he’s now in Tyler’s body and still has a crush on Caroline, it probably won’t be long before the two (three?) reunite so he can spend time with her. Leave it to Vampire Diaries to make me cry over the same character dying twice. I really loved Alaric. And as for Elena, who saw that coming?! I can’t wait for the fall season when we see how Elena adapts to vampire life. I have to say, it’ll be nice when she’s not in danger all the time.

So what did you think? Were you shocked and saddened? What do you think this means for Tyler?

Did you miss an episode? Check out our recap of last week’s episode: ‘Before Sunset‘.