Season 3 opens up with Elena’s 18th birthday.  She should be happy that she’s made it to another year, but she’s kinda down because Stefan is off roaming the world with Klaus. Speaking of those two, they are indeed off roaming the world, but are, more specifically, hunting for some werewolves. Klaus, you see, is a family man and he doesn’t want to be the only hybrid, so he’’s looking for more werewolves to turn. And, due to the debt he owes for Damon’s life, Stefan is following.  But not only is Stefan helping Klaus, he’s also gone into “ripper” mode. What’s ripper mode, you ask? Well, since Stefan has no self-control on human blood, he feeds so hard on his victims that he ends up ripping them apart. It gets pretty gruesome. But, Damon has been tracking them, unbeknownst to Elena. Klaus knows this, and Stefan goes home to send a pretty severe message to stop.

Elena eventually finds out that Damon has been tracking Stefan all along, and she’s dramatically upset about it, as usual. When she finds out that Klaus is looking for werewolves, she uses to information from Tyler to locate a possible pack of wolves in the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee, so she and Alaric set out for them.  Turns out, that’s exactly where Klaus and Stefan are headed and, as far as Klaus knows, Elena is supposed to be dead. Uh oh. Luckily, Klaus never crosses paths with Elena, Alaric and Damon (who is at the rescue again). The problem, however, arises when Klaus tries to create his hybrids. They have a severe, negative reaction to the transition and it drives them insane, thus, rendering them useless. One of the hybrids escapes and almost bites Damon, but Stefan comes to his brother’s rescue, saves him and convinces Damon to try and return the favor. Now, let’s be clear, Stefan is vocally adamant about not wanting help, but we can all see right through that, right?

Elena, Damon, and Alaric escape unscathed, but now Klaus is on a mission to figure out why he can’t make any hybrids. He followed all the steps: sacrificed a vampire, sacrificed a werewolf, killed the doppelganger and all of this was over the moonstone. So what’s the problem? That’s what he’s got to find out, so he and Stefan head to Chicago to an old club Klaus (and Stefan too, though he doesn’t know it) used to frequent in the 1920’s – Gloria’s. Gloria’s is run by none other than Gloria – the same one. See, Gloria’s a witch and has slowed her aging process down. Klaus has come to her for answers.

This is not good news for Stefan or Elena, but it just so happens that Gloria needs to contact the witch who cast the spell/curse – the Original Witch – and in order to that, she needs the help of a lovely vampire named Rebekah. While we learn all this, we get flashbacks to the 1920’s, when Stefan and Rebekah were having a fling, and also when Stefan was his old ‘Ripper’ self. Guess who turns up way back then? Klaus! And why is he there? Because Rebekah is his sister! More original vampires! Now, because she is an original vampire, she’s not dead. She’s been rolling around in Klaus’s cascade of coffins for 90 years. But it’s no big deal, all you have to do is unstake her and wait. When she finally wakes up and Klaus explains the situation, we find out that in order to communicate with the OW, you need her talisman, which was a necklace Rebekah had been wearing for the better part of 900 years. That necklace, however, is nowhere to be found. In another flashback, we find Stefan picking up said necklace after Rebekah and Klaus have fled (keyword: fled, as in ran away. What would make indestructible vampires flee? That’s what we want to know).  To wind this story down, that necklace is the same one Stefan gave to Elena. And she’s still wearing it.

So Gloria knows that the doppelganger is still alive, but she’s not thrilled about helping Klaus. But she does want to know where the talisman is, so she wants to torture it out of Stefan. She’s doing a good job at it, until guess who shows up. Nope, not Damon. Katherine. What? Yes, she’s been spying on them in Chicago for quite a while – covering her tracks and all. She’s also instrumental in stealing the talisman from Bonnie. She and Damon (of all people) team up to figure out a way to kill Klaus. Their method, however, is different from Stefan’s. Damon and Katherine kidnap Jeremy for a little tough love. Why Jeremy? Well, ever since Bonnie brought him back to life after the Sheriff accidentally shot him, he’s been seeing ghosts – dead, vampire ghosts to be specific. Anna and Vicki to be even more specific. So Damon and Vicki figure that Anna knows something useful. She actually does know something – a story about a vampire vampire-hunter named Mikael. He’s deadly enough to kill Klaus, but he was imprisoned in a tomb by a witch about 15 years or so ago from this point in time. Good to know, good to know.

Stefan also wants to find out information about why Rebekah and Klaus fled all those years ago. (He remembers their adventures now because Klaus ended his compulsion for Stefan to forget them all that time ago.) Rebekah sees right through Stefan’s innocent question-asking and reports her suspicions to Klaus. To deal with this, Klaus takes them back to Mystic Falls to see exactly what Stefan is hiding. Great, just great.

It doesn’t take much time for Klaus to figure out that Elena is alive. And she’s probably the reason why his hybrids aren’t working. So he does what he does best – threatens her and everyone she loves if he doesn’t get what he wants. To prove that he’s serious, he takes Tyler, feeds him his blood, and then snaps his neck. So if they don’t figure out the problem with the curse then Tyler will meet the fate of the rest of the hybrids. As it turns out, the blood of the doppelganger is the only blood that will work for the transition for the hybrids. This stipulation was supposed to be a way to guard against the creation of more hybrids. If the doppelganger was dead, like she was supposed to be, then there would be no means of creating more. But Klaus always has the upper hand and figures this out. The good thing about this is that now he has a reason for wanting Elena to remain alive.

So remember that Jeremy has been seeing the ghosts of Vicki and Anna, well, they aren’t the only ghosts lurking in Mystic Falls. One particular ghost has a pretty vengeful grudge against Damon. That ghost is Mason Lockwood. In a move to try to get rid of the ghosts, Bonnie casts a spell that actually makes them manifest in the real world. So that includes Mason Lockwood, Anna, Lexie, Stefan’s old vampire friend, and several tomb vampires. Mason doesn’t really want revenge, though. He wants to help Tyler by helping Damon and the gang. He leads Damon to some catacombs beneath the Lockwood property and they discover a cave with some important information on the walls – the story of the Originals.

This is their story: Their father (Mikael) and mother came to the New World after a plague ravished their homeland. They settle in a village next to one filled with werewolves, but they live together peacefully. When Niklaus and their youngest brother Henrik go out to watch the men change into wolves, something goes wrong and Henrik is killed – ending the truce between them. Mikael is furious and wants the witch Ayanna to help his family by giving them power to protect themselves. When she refuses, the task falls to his wife Esther – the Original Witch. Did you get that? The Original Witch is the mother of the Original Vampires. Anyway, she succeeded in turning them into vampires, but nature had ways of ensuring they had weaknesses: the white oak tree used in the spell could also be used as a weapon to kill them (so they burned it down), the flowers that grew at the base of that tree (vervain) became poisonous to them, and of course there was the lust for blood. Later, their mother was killed in a bout of anger. Rebekah had thought it was their father who killed her, but it was actually Klaus who was responsible. When Rebekah learns of this, she loses her faith in her brother and joins Team Everybody Else in trying to stop him.

So they concoct this plan to kill Klaus with Mikael’s, who has been set free by Katherine, help. They almost get away with it. Almost. Stefan comes through and messes everything up at the end, but he really did it to save Damon’s butt once again. All of that really only results in the death of Mikael and the loss of the only weapon they had to kill Klaus. Klaus then releases Stefan from his compulsion. And what does Stefan do? He gets revenge by stealing the coffins of Klaus’s family. So now Klaus has a whole other agenda to attend to.

After a tug-of-war of power between Klaus and Stefan, Klaus gets three of his four coffins back. Apparently, there’s something very special in this fourth coffin. Damon has hidden it in the Lockwood cave where no vampire can enter. Smart move. But they can’t get it open. Meanwhile, Bonnie keeps having these recurring dreams about the coffins, one of which directs her to her estranged mother – Abby. Abby is the key to opening this coffin, which probably yields the key to killing Klaus. Bonnie and Elena track her down and bring her back to help open the coffin. The trick to opening it is related to a bloodknot. Two generations of Bennett are needed to reverse the spell that sealed it. Luckily, we have just that, even though Abby doesn’t have her powers anymore. (Oh yea, by the way, Abby was the witch that desiccated Mikael in his tomb. It took a lot out of her.) Eventually, the coffin opens and guess who was in it? Esther, the Original Witch, herself. Gasp! The first thing she does is find her kids, who have all been unstaked by now, and says that she wants them to be a family again. You gotta be kidding!

Actually, she is kind of kidding. The bwitch has got ulterior motives. See, she knows that turning her children into vampires was a complete abomination of nature. So now she wants to make it right by killing all of them. Nicklaus is the problem – you can’t kill him. Her plan to circumvent this is to link them all as one, and then sacrifice one – Finn, who hates that he is a vampire. For this, she needs Elena’s help. Elena gives it, but then feels bad that Elijah will get caught in the crossfire. (Deal with it, girl). Esther succeeds in linking them together. Now all that needs to happen is the sacrifice, which also requires the two Bennett witches, whom she is channeling power from. Elijah finds out about his mother’s plot and elicits help from Damon and Stefan by threatening to kill Elena. People bend over backwards when Elena’s life is in danger, so Damon and Stefan end up turning Abby into a vampire in order to break the connection the Bennett line of witches, thus ending Esther’s great plot and leaving Klaus and the rest of the Original’s to live to breathe another day. Darnit!

Let’s take a beat to mention that in the background of all this vampire craziness, there have been unsolved murders going on in Mystic Falls. No, we don’t mean “animal attacks.” Actual murders. And they’ve all been members of the Founder’s Council, one including Alaric himself. We, as viewers, suspect that it’s crazy, but cute vampire-blood using Dr. Meredith Fell, but things keep getting curiouser and curiouser. More on this later.

There’s some interesting news Rebekah discovered on the cave walls while holding Elena hostage – there was another white oak tree. Remember, that white oak tree can kill them. She does some snooping and finds that the Salvatores used to own the lumber and salvage yards and that the oak was probably cut down to build something. Turns out, it was used to build the old bridge. Damon also learns of this information thanks to an old vampire friend, Sage. When Sage and Rebekah burn the remaining parts of the old bridge, Damon salvages the sign, which they then whittle down to make some stakes. Oh yeah! Game on.

Now that they have the stakes and they know that the Originals are linked together, the plan is to kill one – any one. They succeed in killing Finn, but not before Klaus can threaten Bonnie to break the link. So, there’s only one Original dead. We still have eleven stakes though, so it’s okay. Sage and her flunkie come barging in the Salvatore place looking for revenge. They don’t get too far though before they collapse, cough up a lung, and die. Yes, just die. What the heck is going on here? Well, Finn was the one that turned Sage, Sage turned her flunkie, of course, and they both died within an hour of when Finn was staked. The conclusion is that, when an Original dies, their whole bloodline dies too. Well, this definitely puts a kink in thier plans to kill Klaus. After all, there’s a 25% chance that he sired the Salvatore line and a 100% chance that he sired Tyler.  Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

While this whole thing with Finn is going down, Rebekah has taken Damon hostage as a plight of revenge. She’s torturing him pretty well until Stefan shows up with eight stakes as a peace offering and bargaining proposition. Klaus isn’t having it and compels Damon to tell him how many stakes there really are – which is eleven. So Stefan’s got to get the rest to him or somebody’s dying. No problem, dude, just let sweet Damon go. They go collect the rest of the stakes, there’s just one problem – Alaric doesn’t know where his is.

So remember, we talked about those murders going on in town, right? The masked murder is none other than Alaric Saltzman. What am I talking about, you ask? Well, the thing is, Alaric’s magic bring-me-back-to-life ring has got some side effects. All those times he’s died and been brought back have resulted in a darker, psychopathic alter-ego, who hates vampires and vampire sympathizers. This alter-ego takes over his body from time to time and he does things like kill people and hide stakes. Other times, he’s just plain old Ric. Alright, hold on to this information.

Now, while they’re trying to get the location out of Possessed Alaric, Esther has possessed Rebekah’s body – unbeknownst to anybody else. When they finally learn of where the stake is (in the vampire barred cave), “Rebekah” takes him to retrieve it. Here, she reveals that she’s actually Esther and she wants him to help her fulfill her plan to kill her children. The witch is back!

Her plan is to turn Possessed Alaric into the ultimate vampire hunter. She basically wants to turn him into another Mikael. This, of course, requires him to become a vampire, but she also binds the magic of his ring onto the white oak stake making it indestructible. Damon and Stefan try to stop the ritual, but Esther holds them back. When Alaric awakens, he’s his regular self and stabs and kills Esther. He decides that he doesn’t want to complete the transition to vampire. They all honor his wishes, and Damon stays with him until his last breath. But that bwitch Esther isn’t having it, and she possesses Bonnie to go give Alaric the blood he needs for the transformation.  Dang it all!

So now Alaric the Vampire Hunter is on the loose, and he doesn’t waste any time, nor does he have any sympathy. His first victim is Caroline. The plan to rescue Caroline, as well as save vampires as they know it, is to place a desiccation spell on Alaric, similar to the one Abby used on Mikael. This requires a connection to a vital organ or something. So Damon, Stefan, and Klaus are all working together to get Alaric down. But, the guy’s virtually indestructible. Virtually. Elena figures out that Esther tied his life to hers, so she threatens to kill herself. Alaric backs down giving Klaus enough time to escape with Elena. For this reason, Alaric spares Damon and Stefan so that they can rescue Elena. Klaus is back at his mansion draining Elena of all her blood. Tyler, who has broken the sire bond between him and Klaus, attempts to rescue her. Coming to his aid are Damon and Stefan who help Bonnie put the desiccation spell on Klaus, finally bringing his badassness’ reign to an end. Finally.

But in her attempt to get away, Elena hits her head. She’s fine for the moment, but eventually collapses and ends up in the hospital. Luckily, Dr. Fell is there to keep things smooth. Elena’s okay and gets out before Alaric the Vampire Hunter can get his hands on her. Damon and Stefan are on the road with Klaus’s body, preparing to drop it in the Atlantic Ocean somewhere, but they have to split up when Elena needs one of them. Damon goes with Klaus, Stefan goes back to Mystic Falls. Alaric the Vampire Hunter shows up at the storage facility where they have Klaus, and, despite Damon and Rebekah’s best efforts, he stakes Klaus. This is an awkwardly bittersweet moment. Do we root because Klaus is finally dead, or should we be sad that all our vampire friends are about to drop dead? But everybody doesn’t drop dead. Tyler is the only one with any kind of symptoms. So Klaus must have been lying. What a big relief.

BUT, Klaus wasn’t lying. Elijah and Rebekah know that it was Klaus who sired that line of vampires, so why are they still standing. Enter Bonnie. The poor thing is always getting the short end of the stick. This time she’s taken matters into her own hands and reincarnated Klaus into Tyler’s body. Damn, we just cannot get rid of this guy.

Elijah and Rebekah don’t know this though, and now their main concern is Alaric the Vampire Hunter. His life is tied to Elena’s, so Rebekah stands directly in front of Matt’s truck, which has Elena in it by the way, causing him to swerve off of the bridge into the river. They’re stuck in the truck, but when Stefan comes to save them, Elena makes him save Matt first. And, then, poor sweet Elena drowns. Moment of silence please.

Meanwhile, back wherever Damon and Alaric are, Damon watches as Alaric weakens and then dies. When he sees this, he knows Elena is dead and he races back to Mystic Falls. When he gets there, Dr. Meredith Fell tells him that Elena’s earlier injuries were much more serious than she’d let on, and that she’d given her vampire blood to help heal her. Cut back to a morgue scene with a very sad Stefan and a very dead Elena. Except, Elena isn’t so dead. Gasp!

And this, my friends, is where Season 3 left off! Don’t forget to check out the Season 4 premiere tonight at 8/7c pm on the CW!


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