This week's episode of The Vampire Diaries, "The Sun Also Rises", is Klaus' attempt at The Sacrifice Ritual. EP Julie Plec described it as 'high-action', but that's not the end of season 2. The finale, "As I Lay Dying", will focus on the emotional aftermath. Specifically Damon's emotional journey.
"Damon deserves to be loved," Plec says. "Damon deserves a lot of things, but Damon's still got issues. This thing he did to Elena is his biggest lesson to learn, in that you can love someone, with all the power in your soul, but you still have to remember who they are and what they want. we talked about it like turning off the life support on a coma patient, a loved one. What were their instructions? In brain death, do you keep them on life support because you can't say goodbye or do you give them their wish?"
He is seeking forgiveness for forcing Elena to drink his blood and taking her right to choose away. Damon is faced with his own mortality and is forced to recount his many mistakes.
"I can't die with you hating me," Plec says. "That's his point."
For Stefan the finale is about his obligation to save his brother.
"Stefan is determined to do anything possible to save his brother," Plec says. "Stefan's cross to bear is 'Wait a second, my brother's finally showing his humanity, that I took away from him 145 years ago -- I can't let him die now.' But there's no cure. So what the hell's he going to do? That's the finale."