Okay, so in the middle of Hey Did We Kill Any Originals/Elena's a Vampire/Evil Alaric/Witches Be Crazy shenanigans, we all sort of forgot: Alaric fucking died. He didn't even get a good death; he chose not to transition, but a billion dead witches disregarded that in the middle of their eternal hate-on for vampires and had Bonnie go out in the middle of the night to make him do it. He didn't want to. This isn't like Stefan, talking Damon into it; this isn't like Vicki or Caroline accidentally choosing, or Elena needing an assist but making up her own mind. He said "no thank you" and Esther and her pals said "Not your call."

( fucking horrifying, and a lot of the reason I am not on Team Witch this year: they're all about making your own choices and balance and whatever unless they need you for something, in which case any and all humans nearby are as disposable as--well, as they would be to vampires.)

Even worse, Damon had to watch him die twice. Remember, he was there (along with a temporarily dead Klaus) when Elena died and the codicil on Evil Alaric turned over, killing him with her. And no, that's not as bad--Evil Alaric was a fucking serial killer, remember--but he still had to watch it. Damon hasn't had a shitload of friends over the last 160+ years; he's had Stefan, and people he's met along the way (Evil Lexi, Lexi, Jack the Ripper--no, really: read the Stefan's Diaries books, they are fucking delightful), but he hasn't had friends. He's not good with 'em.

Hell, even Elena--who loves him as a friend, and maybe something more; emotions are complicated--wanted something from him: she wants him to change, to be a better man. He's called her out on it before. No one else in town, save maybe Liz, is like Alaric: Caroline and Bonnie hate him (for TOTALLY VALID REASONS, I hasten to add), he cares about Jeremy mostly for Elena's sake (and the part of him that likes the kid, I think, is canceled out by Jeremy not being even remotely thrilled about having vampires in his life), he has no real opinion about Tyler or Meredith, and right now he hates Matt. He loves Stefan; he loves Elena.

And he loved Alaric. The first friend he'd had in a very long time. The only one who never asked him to change. Even when he was horrified by what Damon was doing--which was kind of frequently, if you go back and listen--he didn't try to make him change. No one knew better than Ric that change prompted for anyone's sake other than your own won't last. He came to town a new man, bent on revenge against the monster that killed his wife; he left town with people who loved him, with a new family to replace the old, with the one person he could always trust as the thing he'd come to destroy.

2) THAT SAID, if Cult doesn't work out--

and, okay, I AM NOT SAYING I DON'T WANT IT TO SUCCEED. It's an interesting premise loaded with people I like (Matt Davis, Alona Tal, Robert freaking Knepper), and the show's created in part by Rockne S. O'Bannon, who should be familiar to Farscape fans. I AM ALL FOR IT DOING WELL.

--THAT SAID, IF IT DOES NOT WORK OUT, I am just saying: you could do worse as far as season finales go than for there to be a rainstorm with lightning and BAM! naked Alaric Saltzman coming back from the dead. There's precedent! (No, seriously: go read Dark Reunion, the fourth TVD novel and possibly my favorite YA novel ever. It is batshit crazy. ...aww man, now I miss batshit crazy Klaus. DAMMIT.)

3) I don't know that I'm going to love the multi-narrator opening every week. We'll see.

4) Stefan plans to get Elena on animal blood before she tries human; Damon thinks that is a terrible idea. Oh, hey! Did we know that basically everyone who tries animal blood goes BATSHIT CRAZY? It's like vampire bath salts.

5) "Vampires eat people." It's not like you can't do it safely! You don't have to commit murder! It's like no one remembers Lexi, I swear to God.

6) I really like that Elena needs to be coached through vampire stuff, unlike some people (coughBellaSwancough). It's a new skill set! Those take time.

7) Also unsurprising: Elena's libido increasing. Stefan's diet of barmaids makes a lot more sense, now. (Well, also the relatively conservative upbringing of the era.)

8) "I was a cheerleader! I sucked at track." That is one of the most endearing things I've heard about Elena Gilbert in four years, and I like Elena.

9) Soooooo now we can add "gas explosion" to the Official List of Lies We Tell the Drunken Populace, Alongside "mountain lion" and "heart attack".

10) Connor Jordan! You are hot as shit, sir, and I appreciate anyone who is good at their jobs--yay competence porn!--but you are trying to kill my people, so we cannot be bros. Maybe in the future. (That said, vervain on the fingerless gloves? GENIUS.)

11) April Young = Pastor Young's (not Jonestown!) daughter, and Jeremy's friend/Elena's babysitting charge. I like her. I know nothing about her, except that she had an emo pixie cut phase that screams "I shop at Hot Topic", but I like her.

12) Stefan's little "you fed, here's champagne" speech, just blithely blowing off Elena's concerns, finally drove it home: he's the guy who takes antidepressants and, when he feels good, quits taking them. STEFAN NO. YOU KEEP TAKING THEM. He really--he is never gonna be entirely okay. Man.

13) I love that everyone keeps asking if Damon caused the gas explosion. Bitches, please: if Damon had caused a gas explosion, he would--I don't know, arrange for it to be tied into celebratory fireworks for the town or something. Because he has a strong streak of the dramatic. The guy's signature move is ripping out hearts, okay? Come on.


15) Come on: who doesn't love that Damon tricked Elena into giving him a vampire blowjob? I cannot hate him! He is shameless! The field where most of us grow our fucks? Damon's is next to his shame field, and both of them are barren.

16) "People are dead! We can't have sex!"
"Grief sex! It's healthy!"

Valid. And also: BOTH OF YOU GET ON THAT. I don't know which one of you I would bang fir--Accola. I would bang Accola first.

17) "If we stopped having sex every time someone in this town died, we'd explode." The fact that this is not on the "Welcome to Mystic Falls" sign at the city limits baffles me.

18) How much do I love that the boardinghouse is now basically base? SO MUCH.

19) So for those of you not paying attention: there's a memorial for 12 dead Council members who died in a "gas explosion", and I am pretty sure no one knows Alaric is dead. (None of the normals, I mean.) That is just--Jesus Christ, you guys. That's like when Jenna died. At least she got a funeral. Just--tell me you buried him, okay? Tell me he's at rest. He deserves at least that.

20) Yeah, I would call "Elena rejecting any and all forms of blood like she's eating salmonella-flavored ice cream" a bad thing.

21) Also, if we're making a list of depressing things--and I guess I am, tonight--you guys, no one ever visits Bonnie just to hang out. It's always "Bonnie, I need a daylight ring!" "Bonnie, we need to stop Klaus!" "Bonnie, please use magic to help us!" She's seventeen! Maybe we need to have another Girls' Night now that Elena's a vampire and black magic ATE GRANDMA SHEILA, JESUS CHRIST.

22) Oh, man, a Jamie mention! I hope he's gone, because I really like him, and if he shows up again he will probably die horribly.

23) "Connor. Jordan."
"Damon. Germaphobe."

I LOVE HIM SO MUCH. "Yeah, no, a stranger arrives in town and gets nosy for no good goddamn reason, and he's wearing fingerless gloves indoors at a church? Uh uh."

24) Aaaaaaand then Connor STABS APRIL IN THE STOMACH and ties her up like a goat to lure in vampires. Because he is an asshole. An asshole who is really good at his job, but dude: ASSHOLE. This is like how witches turned into dicks last year, isn't it?

25) "Also, if he shows his face, I'm gonna kick his ass." CAROLINE FORBES YOU ARE THE BEST.

26) I also love that all the vampires are having conversations over distance in measured tones, because they all have, you know, vampire hearing. LOVE IT.

27) Damon crossing himself with holy water. "Don't know why that always makes me smile." That. You. JESUS CHRIST. One of the hottest things I've seen you do in four years, sir, and some weeks you seem to be allergic to shirts.

28) Just...I cannot say this enough: Connor using April as a goat to catch vampires and lurking in the rafters of a church memorial WITH A SNIPER RIFLE is shit super villains do. I tend not to root for super villains.

29) If not for the Caroline thing later, Matt Donovan standing, poker-faced, while Elena feeds on him so as not to give her away might be the bravest thing all week. HOW ARE YOU SO AMAZING, LAST HUMAN STANDING? (Jeremy sees ghosts; doesn't count.)

30) And then! Tyler gets up to talk so Connor will shoot him! IN FRONT OF THE ENTIRE TOWN! You are goddamn near a different person to the dude I met four years ago, Lockwood. I like this one a lot more.

31) Extra great: Carol being like, "Uh, now more than ever we need to keep up appearances, fuck this I am calling an ambulance, THE ENTIRE TOWN JUST SAW YOU GET SHOT." You might not be terrible at being Mayor, Carol. Took three years, but better late than never.

32) Ahahahahahahahaha Stefan helping Damon up only to punch him. "What the hell was that for?" "You know what." And Damon's little "eh, fair enough" head thing. SALVATORES.

33) Hey, question: why are we arguing about whether Stefan or Damon should be Elena's vampire Yoda, when the real answer is Caroline? Caroline, who ate one person once and felt horrible about it; Caroline, who's basically now a superhero *and* Miss Mystic Falls. (I am telling you, Lexi would have fucking adored Caroline. I'm sorry they never met.)

34) Connor has a shitload of ink on his right arm that only Jeremy can see. That's right: GHOST TATTOOS. I love this show so fucking much.

35) CALLBACKS! Booze helps with cravings! (Also, coffee is a warming agent, but the science on that is still iffy to me, re: vampires.)

36) "You fed on him, Elena. You fed on him." Ease up there, Littlest Salvatore. She didn't know about vampire BJs. She doesn't really know about them *now*, since none of you will even go into euphemistic detail with her, AND PERHAPS YOU SHOULD.

37) And then, in a move that is both kind of dumb and heartbreakingly lovely, Stefan gathers everyone together to light Japanese lanterns for everyone they've lost. Stefan names Uncle Zach, Lexi, and Alaric. Matt names Vicki; Jeremy: his parents, Vicki, Jenna, Anna, and Alaric; Caroline: her dad and Tyler's. Bonnie names Sheila; Elena names her parents--specifically, "Mom" and "Dad", so if you want to take it to also mean Isobel and John, I don't think they'd mind--Jenna, and herself. Damon, thinking the whole thing is bullshit, stalks off...

...only to end up drinking and bitching at Alaric's grave. Which is when I teared up, because A) they got him a headstone and B) just the whole "all we are is a stone with a name and a date on it, and the date's probably wrong anyway". I don't know, it's the little things that kill me. That, and vampires being eternal, exhausting little children? UGH DAMON SALVATORE YOU ALWAYS BURY THE LEAD WITH YOURSELF.

38) AND THEN, YOU ABSOLUTE BEAUTIFUL FUCKERS: Guess who's sitting a few feet away, unseen by vampire eyes, smiling sadly? ALARIC MOTHERFUCKING SALTZMAN. Which is when I burst into ugly tears, because I MISS YOU SO MUCH WHY DID YOU GO.

Just--he said he wouldn't leave, and he didn't. He's still with them; he maybe could have moved on, but he didn't, because these are his people and they are all delightful morons with more passion than sense and he will always, always worry about them and love them, even now. And because this is his best friend. He left him alone, in the dark, to drink at his grave, ranting about how Alaric "left him behind to babysit the kids".

"You owe me. Big."

Just sitting on a gravestone, glaring at Alaric's for having the nerve to leave. Missing him so much he can't stand to be with his family in their grief, because his own is too big.

And Alaric just watches him--still smiling, sadly; he'll never leave--and says, very quietly, "I miss you too, buddy."


Next week: Connor wants to kill a vampire! Damon wants to kill Connor! Somebody blows up some shit in the school, probably at night, because no one ever learns! "The Rager", next Thursday, 8 PM EST.
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