05/10/2012 11:32 pm ET Updated Jul 10, 2012

'The Vampire Diaries' Season 3 Finale Recap: Elena Makes Her Choice

The CW

Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 3, Episode 22 (the season finale) of The CW's "The Vampire Diaries," entitled, "The Departed."

I know that I've said this before in relation to "The Vampire Diaries" -- and it's going to sound extremely cliche, but I just need to say it one more time -- OH MY GOD.

I should have known the finale was going to leave me speechless. (I don't even know how I'm writing this recap.) While I was watching, I felt like I was being pulled in so many different emotional directions, until the final 10 minutes, when I was pretty much devastated. There wasn't just a death; there were multiple deaths.

When Matt accidentally drove his truck off Wickery Bridge -- with Elena in his passenger's seat -- I knew that everything was going to change. Trapped under water, Elena sacrifices her life to save Matt's, just as her father had sacrificed his life to save Elena the night Stefan rescued her from her family's submerged car. Elena's "death" brought us full circle from the beginning, the night Stefan saved her and she lost her parents.

The way the writers weaved the two scenes together was both beautifully done and brutally heartbreaking. Jeremy's reaction, upon realizing his sister's fate, is equally as painful.

But did you really think Elena was going to die? At the end of last week's episode, she fell to the ground after suffering a head injury. It turns out that she had internal bleeding in her head, and Dr. Fell needed to use her stash of vampire blood to save her.

When Elena died, she had the vampire blood in her system, meaning that Elena is now a vampire. She opened her eyes just as the screen fades to black, leaving us hanging until Season 4.

To be honest, I'm surprised that Elena is being turned so quickly into the series. I wasn't expecting it. Sure, I thought Tyler could die -- and he did, in a way -- or even Jeremy, but I never thought it would be Elena.

After three seasons of fighting to save her humanity -- and losing countless loved ones because of it -- it's gone. One of those casualties was Alaric.

Ric may have lost his own humanity a few episode back, but tonight, it was time to say a final, bittersweet goodbye to our favorite history teacher. Although, evil Ric was causing too many problems. First, he got Mayor Lockwood and Sheriff Forbes fired, and then he told the Council about Meredith's stash of vampire blood.

But nothing can make me forgive him for killing Klaus. That's right, sweethearts. Klaus -- or more correctly, Joseph Morgan -- is gone for good. I swear, everyone cried in this episode, even Rebekah! Also, that indestructible white oak stake needs to go.

It wasn't long until Ric went after Damon, but unfortunately (or fortunately?!), he collapsed before he got a chance to finish what he started. When Elena died in the lake, Ric died too. At least he got to die in Damon's arms. Can you think of a better way to go?

Unfortunately, Damon realized that he just lost his best friend and the love of his life. Sad Damon makes me very sad.

As for the other major plotline in tonight's finale, Elena does make a choice between the two Salvatore brother -- and she chooses Stefan.

Delena fans, I can here your cries from my apartment, and i just want to tell you that I feel your pain. In a surprising twist, we discover -- via flashback -- that Elena actually met Damon first, not Stefan, on the night her parents died. She met Damon in the middle of the road, and at first, he mistook her for Katherine. They share a sweet moonlit conversation before Damon compels her to forget it ever happened. Had he not done that, perhaps things would have worked out differently between them.

Did anyone else think that underwater scene between Elena and Stefan was a little weird? It felt like Stefan gave in too easily, and there wasn't any real closure between the two. If he knew that she was really going to die, would he have left her like that?

When Elena was in the car with her dad, when she knew they were going to die, she mouthed the words, "I love you." But with Stefan, the man she loves more than anything else, there wasn't any sort final acknowledgement. Now Stefan has to deal with the guilt of letting Elena turn into a vampire, which means that we're all in store for a very angst-ridden Season 4.

But now that Elena is a vampire, things are undoubtedly going to change between her and the Salvatores. After all, Stefan doesn't know Elena picked him. However, Damon does.

Matt, being Elena's true confidant, decides to kidnap her and take her on a road trip, an hour away from Mystic Falls, to see Damon. Upon hearing of Klaus' ultimate demise, Elena, afraid that her friends will all die along with his entire bloodline, is forced to chose which direction to go in -- onward to Damon, or back in the other direction, to Stefan.

She ultimately choses to go back to Mystic Falls, calling Damon to tell him her final decision. She explains that Stefan came into her life at a time when she needed someone most, and she's in love with him. Once again, she has broken Damon's heart.

However, maybe the writers were trying to tell us that Stefan was the wrong choice because when Matt and Elena turn around and head toward home, Rebekah, avenging her brother's death, drives Matt off the bridge.

Meanwhile, fans of Michael Trevino can rejoice. It looks like he'll be staying on for Season 4. However, he won't be playing the Tyler that we all have grown to love.

When Bonnie was alone with Klaus in the storage closet, she did the most useful thing that she's done in the entire series. She managed to switch Klaus and Tyler's bodies, meaning that when Alaric thought he killed Klaus, he actually killed Tyler. Klaus is now in Tyler's body. In other words, Bonnie went rogue.

OK, I know a lot of you love Michael Trevino -- and really, how could you not? -- but I'm going to miss Joseph Morgan. He was so brilliant as Klaus. He had all of the right mannerisms and Britishisms and he was just so ... devilishly perfect. I'm not quite sure Michael Trevino can live up to that, but I hope I'm wrong.

This also means that Klaus' entire bloodline -- Damon, Stefan, Caroline, Abby -- are all safe, since Klaus didn't really die. Of course, this was Bonnie's genius plan all along. Now if I could only figure out what they're going to do with it next season.

Will Klaus pretend to be Tyler? Or will he tell everyone about the switch? Or will he run away with Caroline, as Tyler? Will Caroline catch "Tyler" drawing pretty ponies and figure it all out?! I just have so many questions.

Final Thoughts:

  • Matt is this season's MVP. At this point, he's Elena's best friend, but I'm afraid that Elena's new vampire status might change things. Not to mention that the population of humans in Mystic Falls is dwindling.
  • Elijah is still my favorite Original, and I really hope that he sticks around, but I wonder what kind of role the Originals will play in Season 4.
  • That scene in the lake ... Sigur Ros, you are a life-ruiner.
  • Will Jeremy be able to call on Tyler from beyond the grave? And if he does, will he be in Klaus' body? Because I'm totally down for that.

Notable Quotables:

Damon: "Have I told you how much I appreciate you not being the dumbest brother on Earth?"

Damon: "Our lives are like a proverbial coin toss."

Caroline: "I know. I'm being smothering. It's what I do."

Elena: "Caroline Forbes told me that my ponytail lacked 'juzz.'"

Elijah: "Perhaps it will finally teach him a lesson."

Caroline: "I will run with you."

Damon: "You know what else is her call? Everything bad ever."

Miranda Gilbert, Elena's mom: "You're not going to lose him, honey. You're setting him free."

Elena: "You drugged me?"

Tyler: "I'm a lost cause."

Damon: "You want a love that consumes you. You want passion and adventure, and even a little bit of danger."