Vincent does a cloaking spell in the City of the Dead to keep him and Cami hidden from any locator spell Freya might be attempting. Cami’s going to great lengths to stay off Klaus’ radar now that she’s nabbed the knight carving, AKA the only remaining white oak in the world. She plans to have Vincent use a boundary spell to keep Klaus restrained while she swaps the carving for her dark objects.
Vincent reminds her that New Orleans witches made those dark objects, which is why he’s working with her. He doesn’t think she gets what a big mess she’s created. She has the only weapon that can kill the most powerful vampires in the world. Taking the carving put a target on her back. Cami knows Klaus won’t hurt her, but Vincent points out that other people will come looking for the carving. She says that’s all the more reason to get a move on. She’s tired of always being at a disadvantage – that’s what got her killed. She texts Klaus to arrange a meeting, ignoring Vincent’s concerns that this might not be a great idea.
At the Strix’s headquarters, Aya has found Ariane’s body. She tells Davina this is the result of trying to negotiate with Elijah. As the rest of the Sisters come in, Aya tells Davina to work with them to channel Ariane and search her mind for the Original-killing weapon. Davina thinks that would be disrespectful to Ariane, as well as dangerous, since Elijah might find out. Aya’s well aware of that, but she’s not going to pass up this opportunity to find the weapon.
As Aya leaves, Marcel busts her for recruiting Davina. He warns that he won’t let Davina be a Strix puppet. Aya notes that he isn’t in a good position to make demands. If the prophecy comes true, all the vampires will die within the year. She has a plan to keep them alive, so maybe Marcel should be a good soldier and prove that he’s essential to the Strix.
Klaus meets Vincent in the City of the Dead with a small selection of Cami’s dark objects. Just as she planned, Vincent has protected himself with a boundary spell so Klaus can’t get too close to him. Cami joins them and gloats that she got Klaus’ attention. He says she used a tactic his enemies usually employ; he thought they were “intimates.” Cami tells him they are, but you can’t have the trust and equality essential for a meaningful relationship if you’re stealing each other’s stuff. Klaus is like, “You stole my stuff, too.” It’s very, “She hit me first,” a defense Klaus should have ditched 1,000 years ago, when he was, like, eight.
Cami’s ready for the trade, but since Klaus hasn’t brought all the dark objects, she won’t hand over the carving. Vincent decides he doesn’t want to hang around for whatever the “love birds” do next, and he suggests that they wrap this up before someone else finds out what Cami has.
Elijah and Hayley are at the Compound, focusing on the Aya part of the Mikaelsons’ problems. He plans to distract Aya while Klaus gets the carving back. Hayley asks why Elijah doesn’t just kill her. He says they have history. Hayley seems hurt by that, probably not by the relationship itself (which happened hundreds of years earlier) but because Elijah would be with someone so cruel.
He tells her that Aya was intelligent, fearless, passionate, and an outcast. He decided she was deserving of immortality, so he turned her. Hayley guesses that Aya was one of the first Strix. Elijah says they cared for each other (brief flashbacks confirm: There was kissing), and they “created a fellowship unburdened by the limitations of man.”
Everything was great until Mikael found them and destroyed everything Elijah had built. Elijah invited Aya to run away with him, but she declined. Sometime later, Tristan found her and she came to think of him as a savior. They turned the Strix into what they are today: savages. Elijah doesn’t think Aya has ever forgiven him. He’s not sure he’s forgiven himself, either. Hayley asks how he plans to keep Aya distracted. “With a little salt and an old wound,” he replies.
Davina and the Sisters try to channel Ariane, but they’re having trouble. A witch named Madison calls for a break. While the others leave, Davina stays behind to tell Ariane that she’s going to take care of her. Even though Ariane wasn’t a New Orleans witch, she died there, so Davina is going to consecrate her and let her find peace. When she does the consecration ritual, she sees some combination of Elijah and Ariane’s memories, including the significance of the knight carving.
Cami smirks as a little as she reminds Klaus to use the techniques she’s taught him to stay calm. He tells her she knows better than most what he’s capable of, so she shouldn’t push his buttons. She says she’s happy to give him the carving as soon as she gets her dark objects back. Klaus doesn’t want to hand them over since they’ll make her arrogant and give her the false belief that she has power. Eventually, she’ll end up dead.
Cami points out that it’s a little late to worry that something will happen to her – she’s already dead. Aurora needs to pay for what she did, and since Cami can’t fight her alone, she needs the dark objects. Klaus gives her what he’s brought and says he’ll go get the rest. He wants her to keep up the boundary spell while he’s gone.
Elijah watches from a distance as Aya returns to Strix headquarters to meet with the other members. She knows that Ariane knows something that Elijah doesn’t want anyone else to find out. They can’t rest until they get the weapon. Elijah comes in and comments that Aya seems very comfortable taking over Tristan’s leadership role. But as the “founding father” of the Strix, Elijah gets to pick who leads them. He plans to choose himself and take back what’s his. If they follow him, he’ll return them to greatness.
Marcel asks if Elijah is really going to walk in and start making demands. Elijah shushes him: “Marcel, grownups are talking.” He pulls out the Strix’s charter, which states that when there’s no leader, he’s in charge. Aya says that in that case, she invokes the right of ludum regale, “game of kings.” Elijah protests, but she notes that he can’t employ one thing in the charter and ditch the rest. She knows the rules, since she helped write them.
Ludum regale means that when leadership is in question, someone can call for “a contest of strength and cunning” to determine who takes over. In other words, Aya is challenging Elijah to a duel. No, please, don’t make me watch another duel. Aya announces that whoever is holding the charter at midnight will be the new leader. Elijah’s surprised that she’s choosing a battle of strength over intelligence.
Davina astral-projects into the Compound, where Klaus is gathering up all the dark objects. He seems to sense that someone’s there, but he doesn’t see her. Hayley comes in to complain that he’s making noise while Hope is napping. She’s been upset because Jackson’s dead, and the thing that usually calms her, the knight carving, is gone: “If you wake her up with all this slamming around, so help me, Cami will be the least of your problems.” Klaus stage-whispers that he’ll add Hope’s sadness to the long list of problems he’s dealing with.
She tries to argue that Cami isn’t in her right mind, so Klaus should cut her some slack. Klaus is like, “She seems pretty right-minded from her current protected spot in the City of the Dead, holding the one thing that can kill me.” That’s all Davina needs to hear, so she ends her astral projection. Madison catches her and asks if there’s anything she’d like to share with the Sisters.
The Strix head to St. Anne’s while Marcel laughs over the fact that they’re about to decide their next leader through a physical fight. Elijah finds it ridiculous, too, but he’s humoring Aya. She’s considered having a Strix member fight on her behalf – she knows there are plenty who are loyal to her – but she wants to earn her leadership. She vows to get the charter however she can. Elijah leaves it on a chair inside the ring and basically tells her to bring it on.
Cami’s getting impatient in the City of the Dead, since Klaus hasn’t returned yet. Vincent notes that it’ll take him a while to pack up everything (and also swallow his pride). He knows things will be different between Klaus and Cami after this. She says she knows him better than anyone who isn’t a Mikaelson, so she might as well use that knowledge to get what she wants. Vincent reminds her that Klaus opened up to her because he trusted her – the version of her who never would have stolen the one thing that can kill him. “That girl is dead,” Cami replies.
Madison bugs Davina to spill what she knows, but Davina plays innocent. Madison isn’t sure she can trust Davina, since she knows Davina has vampire friends whose lives would be in danger if someone used the weapon they’re looking for. Davina says she agreed to work with the Sisters like Madison did, so she’s trustworthy. Madison tells her she’s naïve to believe that Aya will make good on her promises. Davina says she already has – she gave her a spell to resurrect Kol. Davina just needs power to do the spell, and she’ll do whatever’s necessary to get it.
Madison says that she joined the Sisters for similar reasons. Her family was poor and her mother was sick. Aya offered all the help they needed, but by the time Madison had done everything Aya wanted in return, she’d become someone her mother hated. Madison warns that the magic Davina will get from Aya will change her. It’ll probably happen right after she gets Kol back. Then she’ll lose everything. Davina says Kol means too much to her for that to happen. Madison admits that all she cares about is leaving the coven. She channels Davina to see into her head and find out what she’s hiding.
Elijah and Aya fight, but…come on. Original vs. regular vamp who’s only 600 years old at most. It’s no contest. Elijah tells the Strix that they “swore loyalty to a serpent” who took over the group because he wanted power. Aya blasts him for rewriting history. He ran away and left the Strix behind for Mikael to kill. Elijah says he didn’t have a choice, but Aya disagrees. He points out that he came back as soon as his family was safe. He was horrified by the aftermath and devastated when he thought Aya had died. She credits Tristan with saving her and the other surviving Strix. He earned their loyalty.
Elijah spits out that Tristan is a “vulture” and “usurper” who stole their dream. Aya says that Elijah always chooses his family, which is why he’s as cursed as the rest of them. She slams Elijah up against the fencing around the ring so the Strix can get a good look at the traitor to their cause. She would rather die than accept him as their leader. Elijah flips on her and lifts her off the ground by her neck. “If that’s your ultimatum, then I accept,” he says.
Someone zooms in and knocks Elijah to the ground. He and Aya see that the charter is no longer where he left it. “I thought you two were going to talk each other to death,” Marcel says from the balcony. This is his city, so they’re going to play by his rules. He has the charter, and they can come get it, assuming they’re able to. If he’s still holding it at midnight, he’s taking over.
Klaus finally takes the rest of the dark objects to the City of the Dead, where Madison is lurking. She does a spell to silence him so Cami won’t know he’s back. Quick, Madison, teach me that spell! Elijah hangs out at St. James Infirmary, remembering his past with Aya. She joins him for a drink, noting that he’s not very concerned about Marcel challenging them for leadership. Elijah says he has people out looking for Marcel. He thinks this has improved Aya’s odds for winning. She trusts her people to get the charter from Marcel and give it to her.
Elijah points out that all Marcel – who has friends everywhere in the Quarter – has to do is find someone who will agree to let him hang out in their home until midnight. No vampires will be able to go in and take the charter from him. Aya notes that Elijah had a chance to kill her at St. Anne’s but didn’t take it. Why? He just tells her not to think too much about it. If he gets another chance, he’ll take it.
Wind blows through the City of the Dead, alerting Vincent that something fishy is going on. Klaus yells for Cami, but Madison tells him that she can’t hear him. She hopes the two of them have made up, because Cami’s about to die. Madison disappears as Klaus tries to grab her, then reappears. She tells him she and the other Sisters have come to get the carving. He vows to stop her, but magic gets in his way. First he’s held back by the boundary spell. Then he’s knocked out when Madison levitates him and breaks his neck.
Vincent searches the City of the Dead, returning to Cami as the Sisters approach them. He tells them to leave, but instead they slam him and Cami up against a wall. He urges Cami to run, since either Klaus or the Sisters will kill her. She goes to the tomb where she left the carving, and though Vincent tries to hold off the Sisters, Madison follows her. She demands the carving, magically breaking Cami’s limbs when she doesn’t give it up. Eventually Cami drops the carving and Madison picks it up. But Cami’s able to grab a dark object, and when she smashes it, Madison gets hit with some kind of powerful magical pain. Madison fights back, and by the time things are calm again, she and the carving are both gone.
At three minutes to midnight, Elijah calls Marcel to ask him to stop fooling around and return the charter. Marcel, who’s hiding out in an undisclosed location, just taunts that Elijah won’t be able to find him. Elijah already has, though (thanks, Freya!), and he’s right outside Marcel’s hiding place. Just as Elijah suspected, Marcel took refuge in someone’s home. Elijah threatens to burn down the building, so Marcel has the home’s owner invite him in.
Klaus blasts Cami for playing into his enemies’ hands by messing around with him. She’s sorry, but sorry doesn’t bring back the carving, so Klaus doesn’t want to hear it. Vincent ditches them both so he can do a locator spell in a quiet place. Elijah emerges from Marcel’s hiding place at midnight, having been delayed by Marcel just long enough for midnight to come and go. Marcel knows from reading the charter that ludum regale was supposed to involve cunning, not physical combat. Trying to gain support from the Strix who followed Aya there, Marcel says he won because he knows every corner of the Quarter, including underground tunnels and secret passageways. He’s also charming enough to get invited everywhere.
Elijah attacks him and grabs his heart. Marcel reminds him that killing a Strix member violates the charter. No one will follow Elijah if he doesn’t adhere to his own rules. Aya agrees and Elijah backs off. Marcel acknowledges that he’s not the strongest of the Strix, but he won the game. He’s known the Mikaelsons his whole life and used that knowledge to drive them out of New Orleans, which allowed him to take over. He formed alliances with his friends and got rid of everyone else. New Orleans was his city because he took it – that’s what a leader does.
Marcel gets up on a car so he can better address the Strix. If the prophecy comes true, it’ll be on Marcel’s streets. If they’re going to stop it, why not do it with him in charge? Elijah thinks this is ridiculous but Aya is willing to admit defeat, since Marcel won fair and square. She’d rather stand with him and fight for her life than stand with Elijah “and be little more than an afterthought.” She hails Marcel as the new leader while Elijah walks away.
Klaus continues yelling at Cami in the City of the Dead, pointing out that she could have been killed. She replies that it’s a good thing she had her dark objects to help protect her. The vulnerability he’s feeling right now is what she deals with all the time. That’s why she’s desperate to protect herself. Yes, she took a risk and it failed, and she’s sorry that the Sisters got the carving, but everything would have been fine if Klaus had just listened to her. He’s spent 1,000 years doing everything he needs to do to get his way, and Cami won’t be a part of it anymore.
Davina calls Cami to give her the too-late warning that the Sisters are after the carving. Cami says she knows the Strix have it now, but Davina tells her there’s more. When Madison got into her head, Davina was able to get into Madison’s. She doesn’t work for the Strix. Meanwhile, Madison hands over the carving to the person she does work for – Aurora. In exchange, Aurora agrees to fulfill her promise to free Madison from her perpetual service to the Strix. Unfortunately for Madison, Aurora does that by killing her.
Marcel and Elijah end the night with drinks at Marcel’s place. Their whole rivalry throughout the episode was a scheme to a) distract Aya and b) install Marcel as the new leader of the Strix. Marcel notes that he may be able to keep the Strix under control, but that won’t mean anything if the sireline war gets heated. Elijah replies that they have an army now. With someone from Klaus’ sireline in charge, the Strix will have to protect both Klaus and Elijah. (Sorry, Rebekah, I guess you’re on your own.)
Ariane’s spirit visits Davina as Davina finishes consecrating her. She thanks Davina but warns that things aren’t going well for Kol in purgatory. Davina’s the only one who can help him. She needs to use the power she’s gotten from joining the Sisters, or she’ll lose Kol “to a fate far worse than death.”
Klaus helps Cami get all the dark objects home, then tells her he’s killed people for a lot less than what she pulled today. She asks if she’s supposed to be grateful. He says she can’t grasp the change she’s going through, and it’s obviously affected her judgment. Cami replies that she might not know who or what she is now, but she knows she won’t be afraid of anyone ever again. “You could’ve trusted me,” Klaus chastises her as he leaves.
Aya and Marcel meet up at St. James Infirmary, where he tells her he needs to know who his allies are. She reminds him that the Strix are all connected to Elijah, so as their leader, Marcel needs to figure out how to address the threats against him. He says he knows better than to go into war without guidance, and he likes to have lots of advisers. He invites Aya to tell him what he should know. She reveals that there’s a contingency plan that the Strix can use to sever their sireline link to Elijah. Davina is key to assisting with that severing, and Aya knows she’ll listen to Marcel. So will he lead the Strix to freedom?
Elijah goes home, letting Klaus know that, no, Freya hasn’t tracked down Madison in the seven minutes since he last asked. They know Aurora has the carving now, and they can’t be sure which of them she’ll want to kill first. Klaus broke her heart, Elijah broke her mind, and they both sent Tristan to the bottom of the ocean. Klaus notes that they usually pose a threat to their “intimates,” so it’s weird to have the situation reversed. “I always did loathe irony,” he says.
By the next morning, Aurora has already put the next step of her plan in motion. She’s taken the carving to a woodworker and had him turn it into white oak bullets. He asks what kind of animal she plans to hunt, and she tells him the bullets are for a family of monsters.
Etc.: They filmed a bunch of flashbacks that all got pulled, which is why there are only about ten seconds of historical stuff, including three seconds of Tristan.
When Elijah says he wanted to return the Strix to “greatness,” I was going to make a Make the Strix Great Again joke, but I decided to save that kind of stuff for season 5.
I love a good “grownups are talking” joke.
I also love a good “if you wake the baby, I’ll become your new biggest problem” joke.
God help me, Elijah telling Aya, “Come get it” before their fight is hot.