Alaric takes Elena through the tunnels under Mystic Falls, where Damon scares her just because he can. The humans go into the No Vamps Allowed Cave and look at the drawings on the walls, which Alaric thinks tell a story. He’s deciphered a moon cycle, a man, and a wolf. It’s a pretty safe guess that that equals werewolf. Damon says they’re “the Lockwood Diaries, Pictionary-style.” Elena’s confused, since the story is that the Lockwoods came to the town in the 1860s, along with the original founders. The drawings are from centuries before that.
There’s more: Some names have been written on a wall in Runic, a Viking script. One of them translates to Niklaus. Another is Elijah, and another Rebekah. In case it isn’t clear that the Mikaelsons have been there, here’s a flashback to drive the point home.
Circa 1001: Klaus and Rebekah carve their names in the wall, though Klaus is worried that Mikael will find out and get mad. Rebekah reminds him that he scares them all, which is why they stick together, “always and forever.” She has to go help their mother with dinner, and Klaus teases that she needs to stick to women’s work and let the men deal with blades. Rebekah slams the knife they used for the carvings into his hand and tells him to be a man about the blood she’s drawn.
Present: Elena thinks Klaus made the carvings to mess with them. Alaric thought the same until he saw Mikael’s name on the wall. Guess what? He’s Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah’s father! Because the show hasn’t used hey-turns-out-these-people-are-related as a twist enough.
Alaric takes pictures of the drawings so he can keep studying them in his apartment instead of staying in the cave. Elena and Damon do some vampire-fighting training while he reviews them. Damon guesses that the wall will just lead them to Mikael, which isn’t helpful, since they already found him (and lost him). Damon keeps winning in his and Elena’s sparring matches, and I’m sure he’s really disappointed that he gets to keep having excuses to put his arms around her. Alaric thinks the pictures could tell them what kind of weapon Mason was talking about when he said there’s one that will kill an Original. Elena suggests going straight to the source for information on the Originals.
She approaches Rebekah at school and shows her a picture of her carved name. Elena wants to know why Klaus and Rebekah have spent 1,000 years running from their father. Rebekah brushes her off, so Elena says she’ll just ask Mikael when they wake him. Rebekah hides her concern and accuses Elena of bluffing – she can’t know where Mikael is. Elena says he’s in a cemetery in North Carolina. Rebekah warns that if Mikael wakes up, they’re all doomed. Elena asks why, but Rebekah still won’t tell her.
1001: Rebekah and the youngest Mikaelson sibling, Henrik, watch Klaus and Elijah do some swordplay. (Their two other brothers, Finn and Kol, aren’t in this episode.) Mikael approaches with the siblings’ mother, Esther, who tells her husband to keep his cool. Mikael has never kept his cool in his life, and he also hates Klaus, so that’s not going to happen. He challenges Klaus to fight him, lecturing that the guys shouldn’t be goofing off when their people are fighting for survival. The two fight with their swords and Mikael gets Klaus on the ground. He tells Klaus he’s impulsive and foolish. Esther says he’s made his point, but Mikael thrusts his sword into the ground next to Klaus’ head to intimidate him. He says that sometimes it’s a miracle Klaus is still alive.
Present: Alaric starts deciphering symbols from the cave, marking a sun with fangs beneath it as “vampire” and a moon with fangs beneath it as “werewolf.” On the way to Alaric’s, Elena calls Damon to say she’s sure she’ll be able to get information out of Rebekah eventually. It’s just going to be a power struggle. Damon warns Elena not to let things get physical, because Elena will never win. Damon’s at the old jail cell to check on Stefan, whom he says is “pasty and pouty.”
Elena repeats to Alaric what she told Damon, that Rebekah will eventually come around. As Elena gets a text from Rebekah, wanting to meet up, Alaric says he thinks a thousand-year-old vampire will be patient enough to stall Elena indefinitely. Elena replies that the rules are different now.
Stefan would prefer not to have to see Damon if he and Elena are going to keep Stefan locked up for however long they’re planning on it. Damon isn’t completely on board with Lexi and Elena’s plan, but he’s willing to give it a shot. He calls today “family day at vampire rehab” and suggests they do some bonding. Stefan says that just because Klaus wants Elena alive doesn’t mean Rebekah won’t do something to her. But Damon knows that Klaus compelled Stefan to protect Elena, so if Stefan really thought Elena were in danger, he’d work harder to get his freedom. Stefan dismisses him, which makes Damon think he really has given up. He unchains Stefan and suggests that they go get a drink together.
Elena goes to Vamp Villa, where Rebekah’s made herself at home. She’s compelled some girls to put on fancy dresses so Rebekah can pick one out for Homecoming. Elena’s not interested in helping Rebekah shop, but Rebekah threatens to bite one of the girls if Elena doesn’t give her opinion. Rebekah sends the girls away, then tells Elena she’ll get only the information Rebekah wants her to have.
Bonnie goes to Alaric’s to hand over “the necklace that wouldn’t die.” She’s down because she and Jeremy ended things, and Alaric tells her Jeremy’s an idiot but will eventually learn not to be one. He shows her a symbol from the cave that looks just like the necklace. The symbol’s on the wall a bunch, and Alaric thinks it means “witch.”
Rebekah and Elena go to Stefan’s room, though Elena doesn’t think they should be there without his permission. Rebekah just wants to snoop. Elena asks her how the Mikaelsons wound up in Virginia. Rebekah says there was a plague in her parents’ homeland, which killed their first child. (In The Originals, we’ll learn that her name was Freya.) (We’ll, uh, learn a bunch more about that part of the story, too.) Mikael and Esther wanted to save their future children from the same fate. Esther knew a witch named Ayana who told her about a place where everyone was healthy and had the gifts of strength and speed. They were werewolves. The Mikaelsons lived beside them peacefully for 20 years and had six more kids.
1001: One a month, the Mikaelsons go underground so the werewolves won’t hurt them. Ayana has hung up some charms, one of which burns Rebekah when she touches it. Ayana says it’s not for her. Rebekah hears Klaus yelling outside and realizes something’s wrong. Rebekah tells Elena that he and Klaus snuck out to watch the werewolves transform. One of them killed Henrik. Esther begs Ayana for a way to save her son, but Ayana tells her the spirits won’t provide that.
Present: Rebekah says that’s how the peace between the Mikaelsons and the werewolves ended. It was also one of the last minutes the family had together as humans.
Damon briefly checks in with Elena from a bar where he’s taken Stefan for his own brand of vamp therapy. He gives Stefan permission to drink from a bartender, promising there’s no catch. The two hang out for a while, playing a drinking game, which Damon is surprised Stefan is so good at. Stefan says it’s something he practiced while bored and brooding. Damon notes that he spent a lot of time telling Stefan he’s boring, and Stefan finally agrees. Stefan says Damon’s worse than Elena in their attempts to get through to him. Damon tells Stefan he has trouble just existing. He has to be all or nothing.
Rebekah takes a break from her story to look through Stefan’s room. She finds a picture of him with Elena and comments that she can’t see them as a couple. Elena thinks it’s because Rebekah doesn’t know who Stefan really is. Rebekah replies that he’s a vampire, part of a predatory species. They don’t care about humans and their silly lives. Elena asks why, then, she’s looking for the perfect dress for Homecoming.
She decides to put an end to the conversation since she doesn’t think Rebekah will actually tell her anything. Rebekah calls her bluff, announcing that the necklace Stefan gave Elena wasn’t his to give. It belonged to the Original Witch, the one who put the hybrid curse on Klaus and turned the Mikaelsons into vampires.
1001: Mikael and Esther beg Ayana to call upon the spirits before the next full moon and help them protect their children. Rebekah’s eavesdropping on the conversation.
Present: Rebekah takes Elena downstairs as Elena confirms that the Mikaelsons turned to vampirism for protection. Most other people would see it as a curse. Elena asks why they didn’t just move and put distance between them and the werewolves. Rebekah explains that Mikael was too proud and had a superiority complex. He wanted his family to be stronger and faster than their enemies.
1001: Mikael wants his family to be able to live forever. Ayana warns that this kind of act will have consequences. They could wind up with a plague just like the one Mikael and Esther came to the U.S. to escape. She won’t help them. But Ayana’s not the only one with the power to protect the family.
Present: Rebekah tells Elena that Esther was also a witch. She was the witch of the Original family. You could even call her the Original Witch.
Rebekah clarifies that she’s not a witch herself. Witches serve nature, and vampires are abominations of nature, so you can’t be both a witch and a vampire. Esther was the only one in the family who didn’t turn. Elena asks about the details of the turning. Rebekah says Esther called on the sun (for life) and an ancient white oak tree, an object of immortality. Mikael fed his children wine with blood in it, then killed them.
1001: The siblings wake up in transition, unclear on what happened. Mikael brings them a human to drink from. Klaus tries to stop him, but Mikael shoves him away, and Rebekah becomes the first to complete her transition.
Rebekah voices over to Elena that she loved the feeling of becoming a vampire, but Ayana was right about there being consequences. The spirits turned on them. There was a weakness for each of their strengths: no more going out in the sun (until Esther made daylight rings), no more entering homes uninvited, and the vervain that grew at the base of the white oak burned them and prevented compulsion. Plus, the white oak could kill them. That’s why the family burned it down.
The worst consequence was the Mikaelsons’ craving for blood. It had brought them eternal life, but they couldn’t control their hunger for it. That’s what made them predators.
Present: Damon lets Stefan feed on the bartender again but stops him before he can go too far. Stefan asks the point of this field trip. He and Damon both know Elena will be furious that Damon let him out. Damon wants Stefan to remember what it was like to have freedom before he started doing Klaus’ bidding. Doesn’t he want to get mad enough to take back control? Stefan says he can’t, as long as Klaus is alive. “Maybe I can help with that,” says Mikael as he joins the Salvatores.
Elena asks Rebekah why Mikael started hunting Klaus. Rebekah says that when Klaus killed his first human, he triggered his werewolf gene. Mikael was ashamed of the child who was the product of his wife’s affair with a werewolf. Esther tried to suppress Klaus’ werewolf side with the hybrid curse, and she turned her back on him, but Mikael still had a pride problem, which was only heightened when he became a vampire. He killed a bunch of people, including Esther. Klaus watched it happen.
1001: Rebekah’s voiceover tells Elena that the family split up, but Klaus and Rebekah stayed behind to bury Esther. Rebekah tells Klaus that no matter what he thinks, Esther didn’t hate him. She was just scared. Rebekah promises to never turn her back on Klaus like their mother did. Elijah joins his brother and sister and makes the same vow. They promise to stay together “always and forever.”
Present: Elena can’t believe Rebekah is keeping her vow even after Klaus daggered her for 90 years. Rebekah reminds her that vampires’ emotions are heightened. In this case, vampirism magnifies her stubbornness, Elijah’s morality, and Klaus’ anger at people who disappoint him. Everyone in the family has felt his wrath over the centuries, but Rebekah won’t turn against her brother. She’s immortal – she’s not spending her eternity alone.
Rebekah announces that it’s time for Elena to go, since she’s done playing along with whatever Elena’s doing. Elena asks why they shouldn’t wake Mikael. Rebekah says she’s made her point about why not to, but she knows Elena will just do whatever she wants. If Elena wants to wake Mikael, she knows the risk, but Rebekah will kill anyone who comes for her brother.
At the bar, Mikael asks Stefan where Klaus is and whether Stefan has spoken to him. Stefan says he can’t answer those questions. It’s part of Klaus’ compulsion to keep quiet about Klaus’ activities. Damon taunts Mikael about playing 20 Questions, but Mikael isn’t in a teasing mood. He reminds Damon that he’s been a vampire hunter longer than Damon’s been alive. That’s how he found the Salvatores, and it’s how he’ll find Klaus.
Damon doubts Mikael will be able to find someone who’s been hiding from him for 1,000 years. Mikael thrusts his hand into Damon’s chest and grabs his heart, threatening to pull it out if Stefan tries anything. Mikael asks again where Klaus is, wondering what wording he has to use to get around Klaus’ compulsion. He tries to motivate Stefan by pointing out that his brother’s life is at stake, but Damon knows he doesn’t care, since his humanity’s off. Mikael asks if Stefan’s link to Klaus is really so strong that he would let Damon die.
Stefan clearly wants to resist his compulsion but can’t figure out how. Just as Mikael is about to yank out Damon’s heart, Stefan blurts out that he can lure Klaus back to town. Mikael considers that acceptable and lets Damon go. He tells Stefan that if he can get Klaus back to Mystic Falls, Mikael will kill him. If Stefan fails, Mikael will kill him instead.
Alaric, Elena, and Bonnie return to the No Vamps Allowed Cave with notes marking the various symbols. Thanks to Rebekah’s story, they now know that the tree is the white oak. Elena can’t figure out the symbol drawn near the picture depicting Esther’s death. Once she gets it, she realizes that Rebekah doesn’t know what really happened.
Elena goes back to Vamp Villa and asks Rebekah how she knows that Klaus killed Esther. Rebekah says Klaus told her. Elena breaks the news that that was a lie. She shows Rebekah pictures of the cave drawings, including the one showing Esther’s death. The symbol next to it is a sun and moon with fangs between them. It’s for the hybrid, Klaus. Klaus, not Mikael, killed Esther.
Rebekah denies that Klaus would do that, but Elena points out that Klaus had good reason to want Esther dead. Plus, his werewolf gene causes aggression, which was heightened when he became a vampire. He lied that Mikael killed Esther so Rebekah wouldn’t turn on him. Rebekah continues denying Elena’s claim and asks why Elena would do this to her. Elena says Klaus has had a hold on everyone for 1,000 years. They have to stop him. Rebekah vamps out and yells at Elena to shut up, but she calms herself before she can do anything violent. She realizes Elena’s right and starts crying.
As they’re leaving the bar, Damon expresses his annoyance that Stefan waited so long to come to his rescue. He thinks it was a breakthrough, that Stefan didn’t want his brother to die. Stefan says Damon succeeded in reminding him what freedom is like. Once Klaus is gone and Stefan isn’t his minion anymore, he’ll also be free of Damon. He did this for himself.
Damon scoffs at that, and Stefan angrily asks why everyone wants to save him. Damon says he has to – he owes Stefan for getting involved with Klaus to save Damon. And he couldn’t bear to leave Stefan in that jail cell. “Better be careful, brother,” Stefan warns. “Your humanity’s showing.” Damon punches him, then puts him on the ground a couple more times when Stefan tries to fight back.
Back at Vamp Villa, Rebekah’s still crying. Damon waits for Elena in her bed and tells her that their secret weapon, Mikael, is back on the table as an option. He’s not sure how, though, since he though Katherine lost track of Mikael. He invites Elena to yell at him for letting Stefan out of the cell, but Elena’s too tired for that. Damon tells her that his plan backfired anyway – Stefan’s a bigger jerk now. He’s just a jerk who’s on their side.
Elena tries to yank her sheets out from under Damon as he wonders what Mikael’s going to use to kill Klaus. He guesses it’s a stake, which Elena says would have to be made of white oak. Damon brags that he was right about the cave drawings leading them to Mikael. Elena finally gets in bed, realizing that Damon’s not going to budge. She tells him that the drawings also might have gotten Rebekah on their side.
Damon asks what Elena learned from Rebekah. Elena says that Rebekah is just a girl who lost her mom, and who “loves blindly and recklessly, even if it consumes her.” Hmm, sounds like she and Elena have that in common. Elena says that in the end, nothing’s more important than family. Damon thinks she should tell Stefan that.
Elena assures him again that she’s not mad that Damon tossed out their plan and did things his way. She thinks Damon’s the one who will end up saving Stefan from himself. “It won’t be because he loves me,” she says. “It’ll be because he loves you.” Elena asks if she can tell Damon the rest of the story tomorrow, then falls asleep next to him.
Keep in mind: You can’t be both a witch and a vampire (until season 6, when we learn there are exceptions).
Etc.: Vikings in Virginia in 1001? Sure, why not? English-speaking Vikings in Virginia with British accents centuries before any Brits moved there? SURE, WHY NOT?
Drink every time someone on this show or The Originals says “always and forever” and you’ll end up a functioning alcoholic like Alaric.
How did Rebekah get Elena’s phone number? Yes, these are the things I think about.
Rebekah: “My parents came to America because there was a plague in their home country and people in Virginia were healthy.” Me in Virginia in 2022: “Yeah, we’re doing great over here.”
I wish Elijah had more to do in this episode. Why go through the trouble of bringing Daniel Gillies back and giving him hideous hair if you’re not going to give him more than, like, three lines?
One of the biggest takeaways from this episode is how different human Klaus was from vampire and hybrid Klaus. He was almost meek because of his fear of Mikael. Then he gets some power and suddenly he’s the baddest vampire in existence. Well, okay, there’s more to it than that, but we’re not there yet.
Freaking A, how many episodes end with Damon showing up in Elena’s room as she’s getting for bed? She really shouldn’t be surprised when it happens.