Norway, 972 A.D.: Esther walks through a snowstorm to see her sister, Dahlia. Esther has been trying to have a child with Mikael for almost a year with no success. She wants Dahlia to use magic to help her. Dahlia notes that Esther could help herself if she hadn’t abandoned witchcraft. Esther says she was never as good as Dahlia. Even though they don’t get along anymore, they’re still family, so Esther begs Dahlia for help. Dahlia agrees, but she warns that this will require a sacrifice.
Present: Some of Esther and Finn’s minions have brought Oliver to them in the City of the Dead. Esther and Finn plan to kill him at midnight to punish him for helping the teen werewolves escape. He’ll be kept in the Lycée until then so other wolves can come by and see what happens to traitors. Esther praises Finn for his…leadership skills, I guess, then reminds him that he has a meeting. She’ll stay back with Elijah, who’s still catatonic.
She remembers how kind Elijah was as a child and thinks that if that boy had known what he would grow up to be, he would have begged his mother to save him. Never mind that Esther is the reason he is the way he is, because she turned him into a vampire, and he wouldn’t have become violent otherwise! Esther would have done anything for Elijah when he was a child, and she still will. For some reason, she decides to demonstrate this by slitting his throat.
At the Compound, Hayley hears a man yelling, but it’s not Elijah – it’s some witch Klaus tortured for information. He told Klaus that Esther is holding Elijah captive. Hayley wants to head right out and save him, but Klaus knows that Esther will have hidden him well. They need to draw her out instead. He tells Hayley she can’t tag along because Esther will target her to distract him from saving Elijah.
Gia has been looking for Elijah, too, but she tells Marcel she hasn’t had any luck. Hayley arrives to tel them that Klaus hasn’t, either. Since he’s handling Elijah, Hayley wants to turn her focus to Oliver. She knows he’s been captured as well and is going to be killed. Saving him might get them information on where Elijah is. Hayley asks Marcel and Gia to distract Finn so Hayley can find Oliver. Marcel doesn’t want Hayley to go on a solo rescue mission, but she doesn’t plan to. She just needs to find the werewolves’ alpha first.
Finn goes to Rousseau’s to pretend to randomly run into Cami, who still thinks he’s just her adviser, Vincent. She tells him she got roped into Klaus’ chaos and feels obligated to help him. He cautions her not to put herself in a position where she could get hurt. She asks to table the discussion, so he orders a drink for himself, then one for her (without asking what she wants). That freaks her out and she comes up with an excuse to leave.
Klaus digs up Esther’s coffin, noticing a starling watching him as he prepares to set it on fire. He’s like, “Hey, Mom, are you enjoying this?” Elijah calls to him from nearby, and Klaus follows him into the remains of Mikaelson Mansion. Elijah says that Esther wants to talk, and maybe they should listen. Klaus throws something at him, having realized that this is just an illusion sent by Esther.
Esther appears and tells him that Elijah’s busy right now (she’s “helping him find his way”) but will be released eventually. She just wants Klaus to hear her out. He has no interest in that, since Esther just lies, but she tells him that she’s making Elijah the man he should be, and she plans to do the same for Klaus. She looks around the ruins, saying they’re symbolic. Klaus never intended to turn the mansion into his permanent home. It was just a pit stop while he worked on regaining control of the Quarter.
He’s suffered for centuries, as well as made others suffer. He’s “trapped in a perpetual state of despair.” Esther wants to give him a way out. Klaus calls her a hypocrite and demands that she release Elijah. She tells him how sad it is to see him like this. She truly loved him when he was a child. “Your love was a curse,” he snarls. She was no better than Mikael. Now they’re both back just to ruin their children. From the look on Esther’s face, Klaus realizes that she didn’t know that Mikael was also back from the dead. He taunts that Kol must not be as loyal as she thought, since he didn’t tell her.
Cami looks through a book in Kieran’s secret apartment and finds Vincent’s name in it. Marcel joins her and she tells him that she looked into Vincent but couldn’t find anything about his credentials. The book says he comes from a family of witches. Marcel informs here that Vincent is currently being possessed by Klaus’ brother Finn. Cami became suspicious when he asked her about Klaus and ordered her favorite drink, as if he’s been watching her. Marcel guesses he was using her for dirt and/or planning to use her as bait. Either way, that connection needs to be severed. Cami disagrees.
Esther tells Klaus that they need to figure out how to deal with Mikael. He laughs at the idea of working with her to defeat the same monster she let raise him. Esther says she’s Klaus’ salvation, and Mikael wasn’t always a monster. He was a wonderful father to their first two children, Freya and Finn. Klaus doesn’t care. Esther says he’s driven himself crazy hating his parents all these centuries, but if he works with her, she can give him peace. Then if Mikael comes after him, she’ll stop him herself. Klaus doesn’t see a team-up happening: “I’ve never needed any help when it comes to killing parents.” Esther says she has something that will overcome Klaus’ hatred: the truth about his father. His real father.
Hayley goes to some outer corner of the bayou, where a guy named Ansel tries to shoot her with arrows. Since she’s a hybrid now, those won’t do anything to her. Jackson appears and tells Ansel to stand down. Back at the mansion, Esther remembers how Klaus killed her 1,000 years ago. She wonders if he remembers why he did it. Yeah, Klaus is pretty clear about the fact that you turned your kids into vampires, made him suppress his werewolf side, and lied about his father. That third one is what Esther thinks was the real trigger. Klaus hated her because she kept him from knowing his real father.
Klaus slut-shames her and she slaps him. He taunts that she may think he’s evil, but she made him that way. Esther says she’s never regretted falling in love with his biological father. She wants Klaus to know how that came about. She also wants him to remember how horrible it is to lose a child, since Freya died of the plague.
Jackson tells Hayley that Francesca offered him a moonlight ring, but he turned it down because he would have had to bow to her as alpha. A couple of her brothers dragged him out to the bayou and left him for dead. By the time he’d recovered, he knew that Hayley had become a hybrid and Hope had died. He decided to stay gone. He met Ansel, who’s been teaching him werewolf traditions. Hayley jokingly asks if one of those traditions is living in the middle of nowhere. Jackson warns that Ansel isn’t a fan of her “kind.” Hayley replies that her “kind” is werewolves.
She continues that the wolves who pledged allegiance to Esther need an alpha. Hayley needs one, too. Jackson is upset with Oliver, though, and he has no interest in saving him from Esther and Finn. Hayley says she’ll just save Oliver herself. As she starts to leave, Ansel stops her. She thinks he has a problem with her plan but he actually wants to come along. He doesn’t care about vampires but he’s not going to let any werewolves be killed by them.
Esther tells Klaus that she, Mikael, and Finn came to the U.S. after Freya died. Mikael’s sadness over losing his daughter drove them apart. Klaus’ father was pretty much the opposite of him, and Esther was drawn to him. Klaus wants to skip this episode of How I Met Your Father and fast-forward to the end: Why did his father abandon him and let him be raised by someone who hated him? Was he ashamed like Esther was? Esther promises that Klaus’ father loved him. She was the one who kept them apart. She knew Mikael would be furious about the affair and would destroy them.
Marcel asks if Cami is seriously considering spying on Finn. He won’t let her get near Finn or get even. Cami admits that she feels bad for not embracing her family’s legacy earlier. She could have discovered that Francesca was a Guerrera werewolf, which would have prevented the werewolves from taking over the Quarter. Plus, Hope would still be alive. Hayley calls Marcel to tell him that while she didn’t get Jackson, she got someone who’s just as good. He confirms that he has an idea of how to keep Finn occupied.
Esther continues her story to Klaus: When she found out she was pregnant with him, she told Mikael that Klaus was his. He wasn’t happy, but he also wasn’t suspicious. When Klaus was born, Mikael went back to the person he used to be. They had Kol, Rebekah, and Henrik after that, and they were a family again. Esther credits Klaus with that. “A family built with secrets and lies,” he points out.
Esther knows she deprived him of knowing his real father in order to protect her secret, but now she can cure him of the sickness that deprivation has brought him. She put Kol and Finn into witches’ bodies, but she wants to put Klaus into a werewolf’s body so he can be what he was always meant to be. He could have a family, as well as the happiness and peace he’s never been able to achieve. Klaus is done with this and demands to know where Elijah is. Esther blasts him with magic and says that if he’s going to continue being violent, she’ll have to change her plans. She uses magic to break his neck.
Sometime in the 900s: Klaus remembers/dreams of coming across a dead body. It’s Ansel.
Present: Klaus wakes up and tells Esther he was dreaming about the day he found out who his real father was – hours after Mikael killed him. Esther says that if Klaus hadn’t killed her, she probably never would have recovered from the loss. She’s ready to let him go get Elijah, and she’s lifted the spell to hide him. When he wakes up, he’ll get to decide if he wants to accept her offer to be put into a mortal body. She promises Klaus that everything she’s said is the truth. It’s his choice whether or not to believe her.
While Klaus speeds off to rescue Elijah, Cami goes back to Rousseau’s. Marcel and Gia wait outside and keep an eye out for werewolves. Marcel eavesdrops as Cami meets with Finn, serving as the distraction Hayley requested. Hayley and Ansel find Oliver in the Lycée but only have seconds to free him before werewolves swarm them.
Cami asks Finn to diagnose Klaus, just for the heck of it. Finn says he has problems with impulse control, low self-esteem, paranoia, and depression. She claims she can’t get a good read on Klaus because she doesn’t know enough about his past, like his history with his siblings. She remembers that Finn mentioned having brothers and asks how his relationship is with them. He says they’re not very close. When Cami asks about his parents, he notes that she wanted to keep boundaries with him, so this is a surprise. She says she’s interested in learning about coping methods.
Marcel gets uneasy and starts to go inside, but a werewolf spots him. Esther’s wolves are under orders to kill any vampires they spot in the Quarter. Marcel tells Gia to run. In the Lycée, Oliver tells Hayley the same thing, but she wants to fight Esther’s wolves. Ansel won’t allow that, since wolves with an allegiance to a witch are still wolves. He tells Hayley to get Oliver out of there while he holds off the werewolves.
Cami tries to play it cool with Finn while Marcel fights the werewolf outside. Cami reaches into her purse to pull out a knife she took from Kieran’s apartment. She guesses that Finn is going to tell her to stop spending time with Klaus. He won’t, though, since he thinks she’s smart enough to make that decision on her own. Cami says she has a destructive pattern and is often drawn to bad guys. Maybe she feels deep down like that’s what she deserves. Finn takes her hand and says he’s good at breaking unhealthy patterns. He can help her break this one with Klaus. She puts the knife away without him seeing it.
Gia saves Marcel from his attacker but gets bitten in the process. Marcel saves her right back by pulling out the werewolf’s heart. Meanwhile, Aiden leads a group of wolves to the City of the Dead, looking for Oliver. Hayley emerges and she and Aiden silently communicate that they need to put on a show so the wolves won’t suspect that Aiden has turned on Esther. But Oliver reveals himself and blasts the wolves for being willing to kill Hayley. Oliver has never lost sight of what they were fighting for. They were going to be a pack, but now they’re turning on each other. His little speech works, and the wolves step back to let him and Hayley go.
Klaus arrives as Ansel is taking on the wolves. He recognizes him from all those centuries ago but thinks he’s another of Esther’s illusions. Ansel promises that he’s real. He spent 1,000 years on the Other Side, then suddenly found himself alive again. Klaus accuses him of being aligned with Esther; Ansel must be part of her attempts to get Klaus to take her deal. Ansel says he doesn’t know anything about what Esther’s up to. He just wants to get to know his son. Klaus recognizes a tattoo on his arm, confirming that this is Ansel, but he doesn’t care anything about his biological father.
Marcel takes Gia to his loft and gives her blood from the stash he got Klaus to give him. (He’s already running low.) He says that he didn’t expect her to come back after he told her to run. She admits that she would have done that before, since she never fit in anywhere, but she feels like she fits in the community Marcel is building. Cami calls to tell Marcel that her plan went exactly as she’d hoped. She thinks Finn likes her and that she’s his blind spot. That means she can help the others take him down. One guess how Marcel feels about that.
Hayley takes Oliver to Jackson’s hiding spot, though Jackson isn’t happy to have him there. Oliver regrets selling Jackson out to Francesca, and he wants Jackson to play Moses and free the wolves from Esther the Pharaoh. He starts coughing up blood, and Hayley remembers that the witches only gave him until midnight to live. Jackson lets go of his animosity long enough to hold Oliver while he dies.
Klaus finally gets to Elijah, who’s still unconscious, and frees him from his chains. Esther arrives and Klaus asks her about Ansel. She says she pulled him from the Other Side before it collapsed and left him in the bayou so he could be with other werewolves. Then she used Oliver’s doom to draw him to the City of the Dead so he could reunite with Klaus. She wants her son to have his father and learn how to be the man he’s always wanted to be. Then when Klaus accepts her offer and is put in a werewolf body, he and Ansel can be wolves together.
Klaus says that Ansel’s return doesn’t change anything. Esther tells him it’s a gift. It’s his last chance at salvation. If Klaus turns it down, he’ll never know love. He’ll spend eternity alone. Klaus still hates his mother, though, and not just because of what she did to him – she came after Hope. Esther says she had to. He chokes her and she uses magic to try to get him to stop. He tells her that when she came after his family, she declared war. He’s going to make her suffer for that: “After all, I am my mother’s son.” He throws her on the ground and helps Elijah out of the crypt.
977 A.D.: Dahlia is ready to collect the sacrifice she told Esther she would one day have to give. She’s taking Freya. Mikael is away, and Dahlia tells Esther to lie that Freya got sick and died while he was gone. Esther begs Dahlia not to take her daughter, but their bargain promised Dahlia every firstborn of every generation of the Mikaelson family.
Esther vows to return to dark magic so she can find a way to make Dahlia pay. Dahlia isn’t worried, since she was always more powerful than Esther. Esther is fully aware of the deal she made, so she can’t protest. Dahlia warns that if Esther tries to defy her, she’ll take Finn and the baby Esther’s pregnant with (Elijah), too. She leaves with Freya, who screams desperately for her mother.
Present: Finn finds Esther in the crypt and she tells him Klaus turned down her offer because of what happened to Hope. Klaus takes Elijah home, and Hayley joins him as he puts Elijah in his bed. Finn says Klaus is an idiot because what happened to Hope was actually for the best. If she had lived, Dahlia would return to collect her.
Etc.: The Ansel stuff is dumb. I wish I could just skip over all of it.
Now I want Finn to analyze and diagnose all the other characters. Eh, he can skip Elijah; we all know what’s going on there.
A small but significant detail that adds to the piles of differences between Mikael and Ansel: Mikael only feeds on other vampires, with no regrets about hurting his own kind, while Ansel won’t let Hayley hurt any werewolves, no matter who they’re loyal to.
There’s no denying that Elijah and Gia have chemistry, but doesn’t a Marcel/Gia pairing make more sense? That said, I also have a small place in my heart that supports a Marcel/Hayley pairing.