Elena is a vampire. Finally.
Well technically Elena is not a vampire until she chooses to feed and complete the transition, but we'll have to wait until next season to confirm that's what will happen. Though we all know it will be.
So even though this is the season finale cliffhanger, it's not really a shock. Honestly, you all had to expect Elena would turn one day. I sure did.
So in the final episode we see flashbacks of Elena in sophomore year, when her parents were alive and she was with Matt. She gets in a fight with Matt at a bonfire and her parents come to pick her up. That's the night they get in the car accident. This flashback is important to the end of the episode, but I'll come back to it later.
The episode starts in a flashback, a dream from which Elena wakes up in the hospital. Meredith tells Jeremy it's just a concussion but Jeremy calls Stefan and Damon anyway, who get mad she's in the hospital because they feel the remaining originals (Rebekah, Kol, Elijah) will be trying to kill her to kill Alaric.
Elijah shows up to Elena's house and she makes a deal with him to give him Klaus' body so long as he and his siblings don't harm her.
Jeremy, who was plotting with Matt to get everyone else out of the house so Matt could take Elena out of town, tries to lead Alaric into a trap. But Alaric has other sources, and ends up at the storage facility where Damon had Klaus' body.
Alaric stakes Klaus' body with the magically reinforced white oak stake, leaving everyone to believe Klaus died.
Thus, everyone gets all worried they are going to die too because Klaus told Damon and Stefan he created their bloodline. Matt, who has driven Elena a little bit out of town says he can keep driving her to Damon or turn back and bring her to Stefan.
She calls Damon and tells him she's going back, not just for Stefan but Caroline and Tyler. Damon asks if it was just between him and Stefan, who would get the goodbye.
Elena tells him: "I love him Damon. He came into my life at a time when I needed someone and I fell for him instantly. No matter what I feel for you, I never unfell for him."
In giving Damon the 'I'm sorry I didn't choose you' speech, Elena says maybe if she had met him first ? Turns out Damon (who has his own flashback) actually did meet Elena before Stefan, but he compelled her to forget.
Caroline, meanwhile, rushes to Tyler, whom we know is of Klaus' bloodline. They kiss, embrace, then Tyler tells her to leave; he doesn't want her to watch him die. Caroline resists so Tyler starts to turn in to a werewolf and she runs.
Rebekah and Elijah are talking, amazed that Stefan, Damon and Caroline are alive. They said they weren't the ones, nor was Kol, to create their bloodline; they were sure it was Klaus.
And that's possibly still true. Klaus is still alive. Bonnie did a spell that has him living in Tyler's body. It's unclear what this means for Tyler, but I assume he's still alive somehow too because Bonnie wouldn't knowingly kill him. Bonnie said she saved Klaus to save her friends and her mom.
So finally to the "epic" ending. Since she believes Klaus is dead, Rebekah tells Stefan that the deal is off; she's tired of running. Rebekah wants to kill Elena so Alaric dies, so she stands in front of Matt's car as he's driving Elena back into town. He swerves and the car goes over the bridge into the water, the same accident that played out with Elena's parents.
The show switches back and forth to the flashback of Elena's accident with her parents and her preset accident with Matt. When Stefan comes to the rescue in the flashback, Elena's dad, who is still conscious, motions to the backseat, and Stefan saves Elena. When Stefan comes to the rescue in the present, Elena motions to Matt, Stefan resists, but Elena is insistent and Stefan saves Matt.
What?!?!?! There's no way that Stefan would save Matt over Elena. I don't care how pissed she would be; Stefan would ultimately choose to save her life.
But whatever, it doesn't matter. We all know Elena can't die; she's the main character of this show. So the only option left was for her to become a vampire (turns out Meredith was lying about Elena's condition to save Jeremy the pain; she was actually bleeding from the brain, so Meredith had given her vampire's blood earlier in the episode to save her life). And it's pretty brilliant because since Elena is technically dead as a vampire, Alaric still dies.
Overall, nothing too shocking. But still major game changers in the series. Hopefully it gets better next season because I started to lose interest this season.
Other highlights from tonight's episode:
Best Damon Quote(s): Damon to Alaric: "I see you're still pissed. I take it goldilocks gave you the slip."
Best Words Used to Stick it to Someone: Alaric to Damon: "Our friendship was part of the problem. It's what kept me weak. It's also why it took so long for the real me to break through. And now I'm going to break you."
Best Moment of Insight: Elena says to Matt about Stefan: "That's what love should be. You should love the person that makes you glad that you're alive."
Most Romantic Moment: Caroline tells Tyler: "I will go anywhere with you. If we have to spend the rest of our lives running, I will run with you."
Best Quote to Summarize the Series: Damon says to Stefan: "Our life is one big proverbial coin toss."
'Vampire Diaries' recap: Season 3 finale, 'The Departed'
Sara Canning as Jenna in "The Vampire Diaries." (Blake Tyers/The CW)