750 B.C.: A girl asks her sister to tell her a story. The story is about a man named Arcadius, AKA Cade. He was loved and respected in his village. He was also the very first psychic. His power gave him empathy toward others, but it also led to his death.
In a flashback (really, a flashback within a flashback?), Cade reads the mind of a man who’s thinking dirty thoughts about a girl. Cade offers to go further into the man’s mind and help him overcome his urges. Instead, the man hands him over to villagers who stone him and burn him alive for having psychic powers. The storyteller tells the other girl that from this, Cade learned for the first time that people have true evil inside them.
The girl wanted a happy story, but the storyteller says it was happy. From that moment on, evil men were punished for their sins. Cade got his revenge, and some day, the sisters will, too. They’ll probably have to get off the island they’re on first, though.
Present: Stefan spent the night at the Armory, since Caroline was with Bonnie, who’s trying to get through to a now humanity-less Enzo. She’s going to starve him for a couple of days until she can work on getting him to flip his switch. Stefan is going to spend the day working with Alaric to deal with Sybil. Now that they have the tuning fork that incapacitates her, they can talk to her without becoming victims of her mind control. Georgie wants to tag along with the guys, who chase her off. “I can only deal with one temptress at a time,” Alaric tells Stefan. They’re worried since they haven’t herd from Damon.
He’s at a garage, looking for a guy named Peter Maxwell. (Sybil sent Damon there, but he doesn’t know why.) He chats with a mechanic named Lou, thinking Lou will understand his hardships since he’s been married multiple times. Damon is frustrated that he can’t break free from Sybil’s control. He’d probably kill for her if it came down to it. Lou decides to bow out of the conversation, but first Damon compels him to spill the worst thing he’s ever done. Lou admits that he killed one of his ex-wives. Damon makes him stand still, then douses him with gas and tells him to get back to work. Since Lou’s doing something with a tool that makes sparks, things don’t end well for him.
Sybil hums in her cell as Stefan and Alaric come to pay her a visit. Stefan loves that she’s supposedly all-powerful but can be bested by a fork. She notes that he can be killed by a stick. Okay, I’ll give her that. Alaric asks why the tuning fork hurts her so much, and why Josie and Lizzie are affected by it. Stefan wants to know how Sybil still has control over Damon even when the tuning fork neutralizes her psychic ability. She explains that she messed with Damon’s subconscious. If he’s still her puppet, it’s because he wants to be.
Stefan asks why Sybil is using Damon. She’s tired of talking about him and wonders why Stefan doesn’t want to know more about her. He tells her he only cares about Damon and finding out how to save him. Sybil says the answer is a story…about her.
750-ish B.C.: The girl who asked for a story is removed from her home village after she starts manifesting psychic abilities. Sybil voices over that after those abilities were banned by the village, anyone who showed them was exiled. The village girl (hereafter known as V.G.) is set adrift on a raft, which eventually takes her to the island. There, she meets the storyteller (hereafter known as S.T.), who’s also psychic.
Present: Sybil says that the girls became sisters and, eventually, sirens. She gets why Stefan would do anything for Damon, because her sister will do anything for her. Stefan notices that she’s speaking in the present tense. “Oh, did I forget to mention there are two of us?” she says. And only one of them is locked up in a cell. Of course, Sybil isn’t going to come right out and tell the guys who her sister is. But she promises that they’ll find out soon enough.
Georgie breaks into Fort Forbes, realizing too late that there’s an alarm system. She ignores it and snags the journal where Alaric saw the symbol that matches her tattoo. Seline catches her, and Georgie lies that Alaric sent her to get the journal but didn’t give her a key to the house. So…she broke in…instead of knocking to see if anyone was home. Like any reasonable person would. Seline starts to call Alaric, but Georgie stops her.
Peter finds Lou’s ashy remains at the garage, then meets Damon. Peter starts to call the police, but Damon points out that since he’s already killed one person, he has no problem killing another. Once he’s taken Peter’s phone from him, Damon admits that he’s not allowed to kill him yet. He asks if Peter has ever met Sybil. Peter hasn’t, but Damon can’t be sure that he’s not lying. He compels Peter to tell the truth, and Peter replies that everything Damon has said so far sounds crazy.
That means Peter won’t be able to help much with Damon’s mission, which is finding a Maxwell family heirloom that Sybil wants. Damon doesn’t know what it is but he thinks he’ll know it when he sees it. Peter knows nothing about heirlooms, and his only remaining family is his son. His grandmother left him some stuff when she died a few years ago, but he never opened it, since he’s not close to his family. Peter’s son came to look through the stuff recently and could have found what Damon’s looking for. Damon orders Peter to call his son and tell him to come over.
Alaric leaves Stefan with Sybil while he takes a call from Seline. Sybil teases that Seline is a “siren-y” name. Stefan asks for her sister’s name, but instead he gets more of Sybil’s story.
750-ish B.C.: S.T. suggests that she and V.G. call out to a passing ship to get the sailors to steer toward the island. V.G. says the sailors will never hear them, but S.T. tells her that if she raises her voice, her mind will go out to meet it. They yell to the sailors together and the ship turns toward them. V.G. is thrilled that they’re about to be rescued.
Present: Sybil says that S.T. had done this many times and knew no crew could survive the rocks surrounding the island. On the plus side, their supplies washed up on shore for the girls to use.
750-ish B.C.: S.T. tells V.G. that there’s nothing to eat on the island except wild boars and berries. This is a much easier way to get food. V.G. shouldn’t be sad for the sailors – they were from the sisters’ village and banished them to the island to die. V.G. doesn’t want to kill anyone else, though. If they can’t live off of what God has provided for them, they don’t deserve to live at all.
Present: Sybil thinks Stefan can relate to her story of one good sibling who was willing to sacrifice to remain good and one bad sibling who was willing to murder so she wouldn’t go hungry. The question is, which sister is Stefan?
Damon entertains himself by playing pinball while Peter searches his family’s heirlooms for whatever it is Sybil wants. Damon doesn’t think Peter’s working hard enough to find it, or to ensure that Damon doesn’t kill him. He notices that Peter is wearing a nice watch, which he says his son gave him. Damon thinks it counts as a family heirloom, so he asks to see it. It burns him, and Damon realizes that Peter’s been wearing vervain this whole time. He stabs Peter, then suddenly takes a bullet through the back. Matt has just arrived – he’s Peter’s son.
Matt grabs something sharp and cuts Damon’s wrist so Peter can drink his blood. Peter’s shocked to be instantly healed. He’s also surprised that Matt knows Damon. Matt tracked Peter down months ago but never told him anything about his life among supernaturals. He promises to fill him in, but he wants Peter to go to his truck so he won’t see what happens next.
Seline tells Alaric about Georgie’s break-in, hoping they’re just dealing with a weird person and not someone dangerous. Alaric sees someone lurking in the Armory and grabs a knife from the artifact collection to use as a weapon. He goes to the tunnel, thinking Georgie’s in there, but she’s tricked him so she can lock him in.
Stefan tries to play good cop with Sybil, telling her they don’t have to be enemies. Sybil says he sounds like V.G. The island didn’t provide for the sisters after all, so V.G. had to rely on S.T. to get what they needed. S.T. went to the other side of the island, where the wild boars lived, and came back to V.G. with meat.
Stefan guesses that Sybil just killed more sailors and took their provisions. Sybil admits that she didn’t even go that far – there were no provisions on the ships. S.T. turned V.G. into a monster by making her eat humans instead of boars. There’s another parallel with the Salvatores, since Stefan turned Damon into a monster and got him to eat humans. Sybil asks again which sister Stefan is.
He tells her that everything he and Damon did to each other in the past has been forgiven. They’re brothers, and nothing Sybil does can change that. She says he’s overestimated his sibling, and she’s underestimated hers. Someone suddenly comes up behind Stefan and vervains him. It’s Georgie.
Stefan wakes up on the island from Sybil’s story. She explains that she’s in his head to show him her memories. He thinks she’s going to attack his psyche and try to break him down. Sybil says she’d normally do that, but her boss has other plans for him. That boss wants Stefan to hear the whole story.
Sybil takes Stefan to a cave where, after years on the island, she discovered the bones of the sailors her sister had murdered. Stefan’s confused, since he thought Sybil was S.T., not V.G. Sybil emotionally says she tried to be good, but her sister forced her existence on her. Stefan doesn’t have any sympathy for her. Sybil asks once again which sister he is.
Damon wakes up chained to a chair, but he’s not worried that Matt will kill him – he’s just desperate. Matt says that for once, he doesn’t care about Damon’s drama or why he turned off his humanity. He just wants to know why Damon tried to kill Peter. Damon says he didn’t know that Peter was Matt’s father, as if that matters. Matt’s not in the mood for Damon’s…Damon-ness, and he says he’s done playing games. Damon replies that Tyler will be sorry to hear that. If Matt doesn’t play, Tyler will die.
Matt doesn’t believe that Damon would be dumb enough to target Tyler, humanity or no humanity. Damon tells him that he’s moved on from Elena. Also, he bit Tyler and left him in the trunk of a Mustang in a parking lot right across the border (the Canadian border, I assume, since Tyler was last in New York). Matt should move fast if he wants to save him. Matt swears to God that he’ll kill Damon if anything happens to Tyler. “You can swear to God all you want. He’s not the one listening,” Damon replies.
Alaric tries to find the spot in the tunnel that will let him pass through the wall, but he doesn’t have noise-canceling headphones, so the best he can do is blindfold himself. He records a message on his phone letting whoever finds it know that he thinks Georgie is the second siren. In order to deprive himself of sound, he’s going to do something a little crazy, though at least it’s fixable with vampire blood when this is over. He then uses the knife to puncture his eardrums and temporarily (he hopes) deafen himself.
Sybil tells Stefan that she confronted her sister over turning her into a cannibal. Speaking of her sister, she’s here now, in Sybil’s memory. And she’s not George – she’s Seline.
That same Seline is putting the twins to bed when Georgie calls to report that she trapped Alaric, on Seline’s orders. Seline tells her to pull over wherever she is, and Seline will find her and tell her what’s going on. First, though, Seline needs to tell the girls a bedtime story. It’s about Cade.
Matt and Peter ditched Damon at the garage, so he’s still chained up with no one to free him. He tips over a big shelving unit so he can reach tools that will let him break the chains. In the process, he finds what Sybil sent him to retrieve: a bell striker.
Stefan orders Sybil to get out of his head so he can warn Caroline and Alaric about Seline. Sybil laughs at him, saying she’s not going to let him remember this. She’s just following “orders from above – well, below.” Indeed, when Stefan wakes up outside Sybil’s cell, he remembers her story but not the identity of her sister. He’s surprised that Sybil didn’t escape while he was unconscious. She tells him she didn’t want to leave before they finished their conversation. She also wants him to know how to save Damon. But first, she really wants an answer to her question: Which sister is he?
Stefan starts to leave, but Sybil insists that he answer. Is he the victim who tried to abstain from human blood for years before his brother ruined everything, or the monster who sealed his brother’s fate by forcing him to turn and “doomed his brother to an eternity of misery” so he wouldn’t be alone? Stefan says that’s history he and Damon have let go, but Sybil tells him it’s still fresh for Damon. She wants an answer. He finally says he’s both sisters. Sybil replies that she was wrong about him – he’s worthy and ready for the truth.
After learning what Seline did to her, Sybil threw herself off a cliff. While she was dying, she prayed for mercy and forgiveness. God didn’t answer…but Cade did.
750-ish B.C.: Cade appears to the sirens and agrees to help Sybil, for a price. Selina agrees to whatever he wants.
Present: In exchange for youth, beauty, and immortality, the sirens have to serve Cade. Eating humans keeps them beautiful, and their victims’ souls go to Hell for Cade to feast on. Stefan doesn’t buy this, but Sybil says that Cade is the answer to all his problems. If Stefan wants to save Damon, he just has to kill the devil. Oh, that’s all?
Stefan doesn’t think Hell or the devil exist. Sybil notes that he probably didn’t think vampires existed before he met Katherine and became one himself. Facts are true whether or not you think they are. Cade was real, and he was damned by people who loved him. He only gave up on them when they killed him and he saw them for the monsters they really were. With his dying breath, he let loose a psychic blast that created its own world, Hell. Whether or not Stefan believes in it, it’s where Cade feasts, and where he’s waiting for Stefan.
Stefan angrily tells Sybil to stop making this about him when he’s just trying to help Damon. She replies that he couldn’t really believe that his attempts at redemption would save him from a fate he knows he deserves. He was the Ripper of Monterey – he’s destined for Hell. Stefan says he’s not the person he was 100 years ago. Sybil tells him it doesn’t matter. He’ll always have that stain on his soul. He should stop fighting. It’s easier.
He accepts that he might deserve Hell, but Damon doesn’t, since Stefan made him the way he is. Stefan’s the only one who should be punished. Sybil tells him that Damon’s fate is sealed, too. Seeing a glimpse of Hell made him flip his switch. He’d rather serve Cade for eternity than spend it in Hell. “Damon believes in Hell, and soon you will, too, because you’re just as doomed as he is,” Sybil says.
Alaric makes it out of the tunnel and finds himself in a familiar place: downtown Mystic Falls. Strange, since the Armory is in Grove Hill. Matt tells Peter about the supernatural as they head to the parking lot where Damon left Tyler. When Matt explains that he protected Peter from compulsion by giving him a vervain watch, Peter remembers something his grandmother used to say: “A glass of vervain every day keeps the vampires at bay.” The hardest part of leaving Mystic Falls was leaving her, he says to the son he abandoned. Read the room (er, truck), Peter! He claims he had reasons for leaving his family, but he admits that they don’t seem good enough now. Matt says everyone should have left when they had the chance.
They get to the parking lot, and Peter suggests that he open the trunk so Matt doesn’t have to see whatever there is to see. Matt ignores him and opens it, finding Tyler inside. They’re too late, and Tyler is dead. Matt breaks down and Peter comforts him.
Seline tracks down Georgie, who says she tried to free Sybil but Sybil sent her away. She doesn’t want Seline’s help. Seline says she’s sorry to involve Georgie in all this, and also, it’s time to literally kill the messenger. P.S. By killing her friend in that car accident years ago, Georgie sealed her fate and will be going to Hell. “Send Cade my regards,” Seline tells her before snapping her neck. Georgie has a kind of out-of-body experience that lets her see Seline eating her body. Then she gets dragged up into the sky, just like Katherine was.
Significant item update: Damon has the bell striker.
Etc.: Joel Gretsch as Peter is A+ casting. He and Zach Roerig (Matt) look like the same person 25 years apart.
I’m trying not to think about how painful it would be to puncture both eardrums. I’m trying even harder not to think about doing it to myself.
The twist where Seline is the second siren is only clever as long as you don’t think about how she serves no purpose in the series otherwise. If she’d been floated as a possible love interest for someone, it would have been less obvious that she had no reason for all the screen time she’d gotten, other than to set the stage for her being a villain.
I’ve never made it a secret that I don’t like Tyler and haven’t missed him at all, but what a crappy way to kill off a character who’s been on the show from the start. At the very least, Michael Trevino deserved better.