Esther mixes together some ingredients in the Lycée, kept company by a starling in a birdcage. She uses ink and a fountain pen to write a note. Over at the Compound, Hayley, Klaus, and Elijah discover that someone has set out a breakfast buffet. When Klaus lifts the lid off a covered dish, starlings fly out, leaving behind Esther’s note. It’s a dinner invitation, though I’m not sure it counts as in invitation if Esther’s just inviting herself over.
1,000 years ago: It’s breakfast time for the Mikaelsons, but Klaus hasn’t come to the table. Finn tells Esther that he’s hiding in the woods. She goes to get Klaus, who’s about nine and is worried about a hunting trip Mikael wants to take him on. Finn spies on them as Esther says that when she’s scared, she listens to the starlings. They mimic each other until all the birds in the forest are singing the same thing. When the family moved to the U.S., Esther brought some starlings along. When Klaus hears one sing, he can think of his mother being with him “always and forever.”
Present: Hayley’s kind of happy she never knew her mother. Klaus doesn’t like having to add his own family members to their list of enemies. Hayley’s totally fine killing Esther, since she wanted Hope dead, but Elijah knows Esther will just jump into another body. They need to figure out what she’s planning before she can do that. Klaus notes that since the last time Esther tried to kill all her children the last time she was resurrected, her plan probably isn’t anything good. Elijah casually says that they have all afternoon to prepare for the worst.
He goes to Marcel’s loft, where Marcel’s been waiting for him to come mentor Gia. Elijah has no intention of taking on that responsibility – Marcel turned her, so he can teach Vampire 101. Elijah’s there to get a referral for a witch (Davina will never help him and isn’t in this episode anyway). Marcel pretends he doesn’t know any other witches, but Elijah has spotted a daylight ring on Gia’s finger, and someone had to have made it. Marcel tells Gia to take Elijah to meet a witch named Lenore. He thinks that with everything going on, Elijah could use an extra friend. Or just a friend, since it’s not like Elijah has a big social circle.
Finn finds Oliver at Rousseau’s and takes Esther’s place in a meeting Oliver was supposed to have with her. To prove that Oliver can trust him, Finn gives him a moonlight ring. Oliver isn’t ready to pledge loyalty to him, so Finn tortures him with magic until he agrees to stop acting superior. Finn warns that the ring comes with a price that Oliver still start paying today.
As soon as Finn leaves, Oliver calls Hayley, which means he’s actually sticking to their deal to feed the Mikaelsons information on Esther. She asks why Esther hates Klaus so much. She had six kids, so it’s not like she didn’t know how to be maternal. Klaus corrects that Esther had seven kids; one died before Klaus was born. Klaus thinks she went over the edge after Henrik died. She made the others immortal, but eventually her big secret came out. It turns out that the wolves who killed Henrik were part of Klaus’ biological father’s pack. When Mikael found out, he killed Klaus’ father, so Esther lost another loved one.
Hayley feels a little sympathy for Esther, since she knows the pain of just giving a child to someone else to take care of. Klaus says that his siblings believe Esther didn’t hate them, just herself for making them who they became. Hayley asks what Klaus believes. He’s not sure – he just wanted Esther dead. “Well, every good story needs a wicked witch,” Hayley says. “It’ll be all the more satisfying when we melt her.”
Gia and Elijah’s walk to see Lenore is awkward – first he won’t talk to her, and then he complains that she’s wasting his time by not taking the lead. Lenore runs a convenience store but works on spells when she has some down time. She doesn’t want to help Elijah with anything, but he knows she could use assistance getting some stalled tax incentives, and he’s just the person who can cut through red tape for her.
He asks Lenore how he can find out whose body a body-jumping witch will jump into next. She tells him there’s a sacrificial spell she can do. She’ll need a python and an item the witch has spelled. Elijah says he’ll get the item while Gia gets the snake. She objects, but he reminds her that she can compel people now. Too bad no one’s taught her how to do that. After Elijah and Gia leave, Finn comes in.
Klaus is the next to visit Marcel, looking for a bird necklace he once gave Marcel. Marcel gives it back to him without a struggle, just wondering why he wants it.
1,000 years ago: Esther dips the necklace in blood, telling Klaus that birds are sacred to the Vikings. They find land, and they’re how Esther and Mikael found their new home in America. Whenever Klaus is scared or needs Esther, he can clasp it and she’ll come to him. He asks if his siblings will get necklaces, too. Esther says she loves all her children, but Klaus is the most special, so he’s the only one who gets a necklace. She makes him promise to always wear it. At some village celebration that night, Esther dances with Klaus and realizes that he’s lost his necklace. Finn brings it over, and Esther tells Klaus to thank his brother.
Present: Marcel is pretty sure he doesn’t want to know why Klaus asked for the necklace. “Believe me, Marcel, you want no part in the latest chapter of our sprawling family saga,” Klaus replies.
In the City of the Dead, Finn tells Esther that Kol is still looking for Davina (who I guess ran off after her confrontation with the werewolves). That means he won’t be attending the big Mikaelson family reunion dinner. Esther wants to keep his new identity secret anyway. Finn has brought Lenore to her, but Lenore isn’t being cooperative. Finn offers to fix that, but Esther decides to hand her off to Oliver. She wants Finn to come to dinner with her. Klaus and Elijah haven’t responded to the invitation, but Finn thinks they’re preparing for dinner, since they’ve been busy all day. Esther confirms that he’s ready for whatever they’re planning that evening.
Finn goes to the crypt where he’s chained up Lenore and tells Oliver to get her to spill why Elijah and Gia paid her a visit. He’s provided a variety of tools Oliver can use to “persuade” Lenore to talk. Finn turns over an hourglass, though he doesn’t say what will happen when the sand runs out.
Hayley tells Klaus and Elijah that Lenore is being held captive. Hayley can go to her and get her to do the sacrificial spell if Klaus gives her Esther’s necklace. Elijah doesn’t like that idea, but Hayley doesn’t care – he’s been avoiding her for days, so he doesn’t get a say here. Klaus gives her the necklace and Elijah tells her to find Gia to get the other “ingredient” Lenore needs. Klaus notes that Hayley and Elijah are being weird with each other. Elijah says it’s not important. Hayley’s stronger, and that’s all that matters.
Gia complains to Marcel that Elijah’s only assignment in today’s Vampire 101 course was to get a python. He didn’t teach her compulsion, so Gia had to steal it. She asks why Marcel wants Elijah to mentor her. Clearly Marcel wants something from Elijah, and she can’t figure out why she’s the way to get it. Marcel says he actually wants something for Elijah, the same thing he wants for Gia: community. To make it in New Orleans, you need an Original on your team. To really thrive, you need an Original to see you as family. Gia doesn’t have a clue how to win Elijah over, since she’s not close to her actual family. Marcel says Elijah is fussy and cranky, but he can’t stop himself from trying to fix things that are broken. Gia needs help, so all she needs to do is be herself.
Elijah makes Klaus dress up for dinner, thinking Esther will be more likely to let down her guard if they look nice. Um, okay. Finn arrives alone and says fancy clothes can’t hide the monsters Klaus and Elijah are. After all these centuries, Klaus is still a scared, paranoid little boy. Elijah doesn’t catch on to who Finn is, but Klaus does.
Hayley goes to the crypt to free Lenore, but Oliver worries about what Esther will do to him, since he’s supposed to be keeping an eye on her. Hayley suggests that they say witches came in to rescue Lenore and jumped Oliver. That idea comes with the added bonus of giving Hayley the excuse to beat the crap out of Oliver to really sell the story.
Finn compliments Klaus’ taste in wine, which Klaus appreciates, since it was hard to pick one for this reunion: “What wine goes well with treachery?” Finn wants this to be a celebration. He spent 900 years in a coffin, and now he gets to be out in the world. He asks what his brothers have done to contribute to society over the centuries. They have made contributions, right? They haven’t just spent 1,000 years killing people? Why is he talking like he didn’t just see them two years ago? Klaus notes that the last time they were together, Finn was trying to help Esther kill them all, so he should keep his judgments to himself.
Hired/compelled help put out two additional place settings, so Elijah asks if someone else will be joining them for dinner. One is for Esther, of course, and Finn invites his brothers to guess who the other is for. Hint: It’s another Mikaelson. Klaus doubts it’s Kol, since Esther would never be able to appeal to his ego and get him to come back to life with her and Finn. Wrong! Finn says Kol is thrilled about his new form. “Change, dear brothers, is inevitable,” he tells them. Klaus replies that if Finn plans to face them as a mortal, the only inevitable thing is his death. He flings a knife at Finn, but it hits the back of an empty chair. Finn pulls it out and says that, as the oldest, he should be the one to wield it.
Done with beating up Oliver, Hayley assures Lenore that everything will be okay. Lenore wonders why she’s involved in Mikaelson business when she’s not one of them. Hayley says she is in spirit. Lenore realizes she’s the mother of Klaus’ child. She’s grateful for Hayley’s help and happy to do the sacrificial spell.
Back at the Compound, Finn asks why Klaus kept him daggered for so long. Klaus says that he was annoying because he was always sucking up to Esther. Finn angrily says that she brought him back from the dead because he was treated so unfairly. He got cheated out of all but 100 of the Originals’ 1,000 years. Finn’s especially mad that Elijah never did anything to help him. Did he let Klaus keep Finn daggered because he was scared of Klaus, or because he was jealous of Finn, the eldest brother? Elijah had 1,000 years to fix the family’s problems. Instead, he’s “produced nine centuries of failure.”
Elijah tells Finn that even after 900 years, he hasn’t changed. Like Mikael, Finn has always hated that the Originals are supernatural. While Mikael became violent and killed other vampires, Finn just became “pretentious and dull.” Elijah would like to know where Esther is. Of course, that’s when she shows up.
Hayley and Lenore go to Lenore’s store so she can do the spell. She expresses sympathy over Hope’s “death” before getting started. The spell will brand Esther so that any time she jumps into a body, there will be a distinctive symbol on the back of her hand. Hayley notes that they still don’t know why she came back. Lenore says it’s because of love: “What besides love inspires such pain and cruelty?” She kills the snake and pulls out its innards for the spell, saying that Esther’s love is very strong.
Esther tells Klaus and Elijah that all of her actions have been to protect her children. Klaus thinks she’s deluded enough to believe that. She reminds him that she’s fixed him numerous times. For example, he once challenged Mikael to a duel. When Elijah asked Esther to help Klaus, she said she’d rather die than watch any of her children suffer.
1,000 years ago: Esther finds a teen/young adult Klaus up against a tree, impaled with a sword. He wanted to beat Mikael just once to show that he’s worthy. Esther pulls out the sword and tries to calm her son. He tells her that Mikael was going to take his bird necklace as a prize. When he cut it off, Klaus attacked him. He was proud to surprise Mikael and be able to hurt him. Klaus took the necklace back, so Mikael ran him through with the sword. Esther’s proud of her son and says he did the right thing.
Present: Klaus realizes that the necklace wasn’t spelled to protect him – it was supposed to weaken him. Esther confirms that she was protecting him from himself. She wanted to keep him calm so he wouldn’t kill anyone and trigger his werewolf curse. “You ruined me,” Klaus accuses. She left him at Mikael’s mercy, unable to defend himself. Esther argues that she kept him from becoming a beast. Klaus notes that she just wanted to hide her affair. He spent his life seeking Mikael’s approval, and he could never get it because he was too weak for Mikael to love him. Esther complains that Klaus is a monster, but she’s the reason he is. She starts looking woozy, and Elijah catches her as she slumps over.
In the crypt, Lenore is doing the spell. Elijah tries to attack Finn, who puts him and Klaus down with magic. The hourglass runs out and Lenore suddenly stops the spell. Hayley thinks something’s wrong, but Lenore says she’s getting her bearings. Hayley notices the mark on the back of her hand. Esther has chosen her new body.
Cassie is now in control of her body again, and she’s very confused about where she is and how she got there. Elijah tells Klaus to leave her alone; she doesn’t know anything about Esther’s plans. Klaus wonders why Esther would arrange the evening to torture her sons, then disappear. Elijah realizes that she might have another target in mind.
He calls Hayley, and though Esther lets her answer the phone and tell him where she is, she ends the conversation there. She’s using Hayley as bait for her sons. Klaus and Elijah aren’t sure why Esther would go after her, but Klaus says it won’t matter because he’s just going to send her back to Hell.
Esther asks Hayley if Klaus and Elijah ever acknowledge that she’s been a positive in their lives. She brought possibility to the family. “Children are meant to save us from the worst parts of who we are,” she says. Though that makes Esther’s circumstances more tragic. Hayley says she doesn’t pity Esther. Esther feels horrible for failing her children, and she knows Hayley can relate. Esther wants to offer her freedom from a hybrid body. She can be human again and have more children, a family of her own.
Klaus and Elijah arrive, and Esther does a spell to make them keep their distance. She says she didn’t come to wage war, but Elijah thinks everything she does is an act of aggression. She says Hayley can go. Esther came back to heal the family, not harm anyone. Klaus sends Hayley away as Esther says she’s going to “heal” him and Elijah the way she healed Finn and Kol. Just like she offered Hayley, she can give them new bodies – and, in the process, new life. They’ll be free of the curse she gave them when she made them vampires.
Esther does another spell, making the store shake. Klaus tells her they’ll never accept her offer. The spell makes all the windows in the store shatter. Esther predicts that eventually Klaus will beg for what she’s offered. Dozens of starlings fly through the broken windows and fill the store.
Klaus, Elijah, and Hayley regroup at the Compound, having lost track of Esther after she fled under cover of wings and feathers. Hayley says that Esther blames them for what happened to her and Hope. Klaus worries that Hayley is considering accepting the offer of a new body. Hayley admits that she’s tempted. She snarks at Elijah for only being willing to talk to her because she was in danger tonight.
After she leaves, Klaus complains to Elijah that Esther lied to him and made him weak. Elijah disagrees – Klaus has always been the fiercest Mikaelson. No one has beaten him in 1,000 years. Yeah, because he’s immortal! Come on, Elijah. He knows Klaus will be able to protect their home from Esther because it’s what he does. Klaus appreciates Elijah’s pep talk and thinks the rest of the family could learn from him.
Elijah finds Gia at a bar that’s having an open-mic night. He’s disappointed that she doesn’t plan to play anything, since she’s a good musician. She admits that she hasn’t been able to play since she turned. She’s not sure why. Elijah tells her that rhythm and harmony are different for vampires because their senses have been altered. They hear music differently. Plus, their emotions are heightened and not always easy to express. He tells Gia that she can relearn to play and get back the joy she used to get from music. He’ll help her. She asks why, and Elijah says that if someone had guided him and his siblings after they turned, they might have turned out differently.
Later, Gia goes to Marcel’s, where it looks like he’s assembled a good number of newbie vampires. She tells him he was right – Elijah found something to fix. He’s going to help her. “He’s going to help us all,” Marcel replies.
At the Lycée, Esther tells Finn that tonight was all just to get his brothers thinking. “Only those who know they are lost will ask to be found,” she says. He warns that his brothers are defiant and have just gotten stronger. Esther isn’t intimidated – she’s going to destroy everything they hold dear. She’s already taken the werewolves from them. Now she’s going to turn her focus to “prodigal son” Marcel and his new crew. They’ll take everything from Klaus and Elijah, and when they’re at their lowest, they’ll have no choice but to beg Esther for relief. Because she loves them, she’ll give them what they want.
Etc.: Three actresses playing the same character in the same episode – Alice Evans as Esther 1,000 years ago, Natalie Dreyfuss as Esther in Cassie’s body, and Sonja Sohn as Esther in Lenore’s body – has to be a record.
The combination of the writing and Yusuf Gatewood’s acting make Finn more interesting in this single episode than he was in his multiple episodes of The Vampire Diaries. And thank God, because if they’d kept him boring, he would have been unbearable to watch here.
It probably wouldn’t have fit the episode tonally but I would have loved to see Gia trying to steal a python.