In 990 A.D., a preteen Klaus gathers berries in the woods so he can make paint. He hears yelling and follows it to find a bunch of recently slaughtered men. One more is still alive, and he begs Klaus for help. Mikael arrives and finishes him off, then asks if Klaus was really going to show mercy to someone who was plotting against their family. “Mercy is for the weak, Niklaus,” he says. If Klaus is so determined to prove that he’s weak, Mikael should send him away so his brothers don’t have to see how cowardly he is.
Klaus wakes up from this nightmare/flashback and checks on Hope. He catches a glimpse of blue light out of the corner of his eye and goes to the window to get a better look. Hope wakes up, looking unsettled.
Sofya meets Marcel at St. James Infirmary, where he tells her he spent all night talking with witch doctors and palm readers. They all said he’s fine, but he’s felt like something was off since they rescued the kids in the bayou. He points out the broken mirror, and she sees that it’s cracked in the pattern of the ouroboros that’s been popping up all over town. Marcel thinks the Hollow is anchored to him now. Sofya knows a witch who can help, but Marcel thinks Vincent, being from New Orleans, is his best bet. Sofya declares that she’s not letting Marcel out of her sight until he’s cured.
While looking for Hope at the Compound, Klaus pauses at a mirror and sees that his eyes are glowing blue. He hallucinates Mikael telling him that Marcel will kill him if he doesn’t get rid of his enemies first. He finds Hope, who’s fine and ready for the family to get out of the Quarter. Klaus decides he needs to stay, though, so he tells Elijah to head off with Hayley and Hope. Klaus wants to make sure the threat to Hope is really over. Elijah reminds Klaus that Marcel hates him, but Klaus says he hates Elijah more. He’s enlisted Freya as his wingwoman.
Freya and Keelin spent the night in the bell tower, and Freya’s up early to do magic. Their dynamic has gone from antagonistic to cooperative. In fact, they got drunk together the night before. Freya offers Keelin a 1,000-year-old hangover cure and tells her she’s accomplished their goal: By combining her blood, Esther’s magic, Marcel’s venom, and Lucien’s ashes, she made a knife that can kill Marcel. Keelin’s pleased to get to go back to her life, but Freya’s kind of down about that. After Keelin leaves, Freya gets a text from Klaus saying they need to talk.
In the City of the Dead, Marcel leaves Vincent a message reminding him that they were supposed to meet. Sofya’s impatient and says she’s calling her witch. Elijah arrives, completely unintimidated by Marcel’s threats to put him down again. But that’s just because Elijah isn’t really there, as Marcel learns when he takes a swing at him. “‘The spirit I have seen may be the devil, and the devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape,'” the Elijah hallucination (the Ellucination, if you will) says, quoting Hamlet. “And then, of course, unrelenting tragedy.” Marcel realizes this isn’t Elijah even before the Ellucination’s eyes glow blue.
Klaus meets Freya in the bell tower and tells her how he fought the Hollow and saved the kids. He thinks he deserves a medal instead of the ghost that seems to be haunting him. Freya’s sure she can fix him, but she figures he’s not the only one who’s been infected. Marcel was also there, so if he has a ghost telling him to kill his enemies like Mikael told Klaus, the Mikaelsons are in danger.
Freya wants to purify both Klaus and Marcel, but Klaus would like to put that on hold. If the Hollow can look into him, he should be able to look into it and find out what it wants. She tells him it’s too dangerous, but Klaus reminds her that Hope is involved. Freya agrees to give him an hour. She also gives him the Marcel-killing knife in case he needs protection. She guesses he’s not happy that she made it without his knowledge, but he might be thanking her later.
Hayley, Hope, and Elijah go to the bayou, a place Elijah thinks they could all be happy together. They’re going to visit Mary, who won’t relax her no-vampires-allowed policy for Elijah. After he leaves, Hayley chastises Mary, who thinks she’s justified considering all the trouble that’s popped up recently. She knows Mikaelsons must have been involved in Lara’s death and whatever happened to the fanatics. Hayley says that’s what she’s there to talk about.
The Ellucination looks at Davina’s tombstone and reminds Marcel that she died young while the “immortal tyrants” who caused her death are still alive. Marcel asks why the evil spirit anchored to him is appearing as someone he hates. This is all in his head, so he could just make the Ellucination leave. They’re joined by a Klaus hallucination (a Klaucination? Sure, why not), who says that Marcel’s wishes won’t resurrect the dead or give him peace. He can’t wish away the fact that Elijah killed him.
The Ellucination says he betrayed Marcel without giving it a second thought. He and the Klaucination urge Marcel to give in to his desires for revenge and kill the Mikaelsons. Marcel wonders what the Hollow would get out of that. They tell him the Hollow wants a sacrifice, and it’ll come down to either Klaus or Marcel. They’ll have to fight to the death. Marcel rushes the Ellucination but instead grabs Sofya. She tells him it’s time to see her witch.
In the Quarter, Klaus follows a trail of blood to the man he saw dying in the woods as a child. He hears Mikael’s voice telling him that mercy is for the weak. A Mikael hallucination (a Miklucination) appears and taunts that he expected Klaus to run. Klaus knows he’s dealing with the Hollow, but the Miklucination says he’s not really there. He knows Klaus’ worst fear, the possibility that Hope will one day see him the way he saw Mikael.
Klaus asks if the Hollow is projecting because it came from a broken home. The Hollow seems to think that Marcel will kill Klaus, but he had Klaus in captivity for five years and never did, so why now? Klaus, on the other hand, has had the will to kill Marcel for a long time, and now he has the means to do it. Mikael notes that Klaus has a “talent for brutality,” but will he be able to “summon that same beast” when Marcel comes after him? Will Klaus kill Marcel or die a coward?
Keelin returns to the bell tower, having decided not to bail on Freya before they’ve taken down Marcel. She feels like she owes Freya for giving her a moonlight ring. Freya tells her she’s dealing with a family crisis now, as usual. She’s made an ouroboros totem so she can channel the Hollow’s power and heal Klaus. However, that means the Hollow will get access to her. Keelin thinks she should practice some self-care before she gets into this, but Freya says she can’t wait. Keelin offers to help instead, since that’s what friends do.
Hayley finishes telling Mary about the Hollow and its cult-like following. She asks Mary to look out for ouroboroses around the Crescents. When Mary sees one of Hope’s ouroboros drawings, she tells Hayley there’s something she needs to see.
Marcel and Sofya return to St. James Infirmary to meet with her witch, Dominic. “This spirit – it’s ancient. It ebbs and flows like the tide, feeding and sleeping,” he says. “So it’s awake and I’m lunch,” Marcel clarifies. Dominic tells him it wants power, but it’s stuck between worlds. It must have broken free from its realm when there was a big release of energy. Marcel guesses it was when Vincent and Davina severed the link to the ancestors.
Dominic says purification might work on Marcel but the Hollow could come back. They need to send the Hollow “back to sleep.” Spirits are another form of power and can be channeled or blocked. He has beads that protect him from being infected by evil spirits, and he could make some for Marcel. For them to work, Marcel will have to bury the beads at the seat of the Hollow’s power. He guesses that’s the house where it first manifested. Sofya wants to come along but Marcel convinces her to stay away.
Klaus follows the Miklucination around the Quarter, trying to figure out how the Hollow manifested. The Miklucination accuses him of being too cowardly to kill Marcel. Mikael lost everyone he loved because of Klaus, and now Klaus is going to experience the same thing. Klaus remains unintimidated by a spirit that can’t physically harm him. The Miklucination proves that the Hollow can do just as much psychological damage. He stabs Klaus with the indestructible stake, making him feel the pain like it’s real.
Klaus still isn’t shaken, since he knows Mikael and the indestructible stake are both gone, so none of this is real. The Miklucination threatens to invade Hope’s dreams instead. Klaus kills him, and when he returns twice more, Klaus just continues taking him down. Then he realizes he accidentally killed three real people. “Imagine if I made you kill someone you cared about,” another Miklucination says. “Maybe I already have.” Klaus looks down and sees Freya dead on the ground. It’s just his imagination, but now it’s clear that the Hollow means business.
The Miklucination says that even if Klaus can resist the Hollow’s tricks, he can’t stop Marcel. The Hollow is having more fun with him anyway. It’s going to make Marcel tear through the Mikaelsons like Klaus just tore through these three innocent people. Klaus just has one choice: kill Marcel or let him kill Klaus and everyone he loves.
Hayley looks through a journal Mary gave her that belonged to her husband, Richard. Hayley tells Elijah that it contains a lot of “revolutionist garbage” (he was planning an uprising), but he also wrote about her birth parents. He though they were traitors for working with vampires. Richard’s handwriting gets less and less legible as the months pass, and by the end of his life, it’s barely coherent. But one thing is very clear: a drawing of an ouroboros. Hayley thinks the Hollow made Richard kill her parents.
Freya finds Klaus at St. Anne’s, and he warns her to keep her distance since he can’t trust himself not to hurt her. He underestimated the Hollow’s power. His reflection in the holy water shows his eyes glowing blue. He tells Freya he can feel the Hollow inside his mind. She does a spell to purify him but realizes that the Hollow has “burrowed too deep.” She knows what it wants now, a sacrifice of either Klaus or Marcel. She urges Klaus to kill Marcel and end this. He tells her not to follow him, then leaves. But she can’t follow him – she’s not really there.
The real Freya is still in the bell tower, hard at work. Keelin’s like, “Is this all you do? You don’t ever go to the movies or whatever?” Freya insists that she has hobbies: “For instance, I collect the ashes of my enemies.” Heh. Keelin again advises her to think about self-care, something she learned to make time for as an ER doctor. Freya says she’ll take a break once she’s sure Klaus is safe.
She’s ready for her spell, and she tells Keelin to wake her up if anything strange happens. She chants something that conjures blue light from her ouroboros totem. Keelin’s like, “Does this count as ‘strange’?” She tries to wake Freya, eventually yanking her away from the blue light. Freya tells her that the Hollow wants Klaus and Marcel to kill each other so it can absorb their power. After that, they’ll never be able to stop it.
Klaus and Marcel both go to the house where the blue light first manifested. Klaus is ready for a battle to the death, but Marcel tells him there’s a way to fix them both. Klaus ignores him and shows him the Marcel-killing knife. In the bell tower, Keelin realizes that Freya banged her head and tries to talk her out of going to rescue Klaus. Keelin offers to come along, but Freya says she can handle this herself, head trauma or no head trauma.
Back in the bayou, Hayley tells Elijah that she never felt like she belonged when she was a kid. She always thought that finding her birth parents would help her feel like she did. She did horrible things to find them, and when she finally tracked them down, they were already dead. Now she’s learned that the people responsible for their deaths are the same people hurting Hope. Elijah promises that he won’t let anything happen to Hayley. Uh, what about Hope? Just then, Freya calls to summon him back to the Quarter before Marcel kills Klaus.
Marcel complains that Klaus said their feud was over while he was secretly making a weapon to kill him. Klaus notes that he wouldn’t need it if he knew he could trust Marcel. Marcel says if Klaus trusts him now, they’ll both get to live. Klaus asks how he can trust himself. Marcel tells him about the beads, but over his shoulder, the Miklucination says that he’s just trying to get Klaus to drop his guard so he can grab the knife from him.
Freya arrives at the house but finds that there’s a spell keeping her from entering. As she tries to break it, Klaus and Marcel start fighting. The Ellucination tells Marcel to end this. The real Elijah joins Freya and offers to let her channel him for more power. Klaus goes after Marcel with the knife but Marcel is able to throw him across the room. The knife gets dropped and Marcel reaches for it, but Klaus throws a staircase post into him and weakens him. Marcel wishes he’d killed Klaus when he had the chance.
The two end up in a stranglehold, and the Miklucination orders Klaus to fight. The Ellucination tells Marcel that if he doesn’t kill Klaus now, he’ll always be the Mikaelsons’ servant. Marcel manages to knock Klaus to the ground, then says they’re not the Hollow’s puppets. They can’t give it what it wants. “Someone will,” the Ellucination says.
The door to the house flies open and Elijah zooms in, dragging Marcel into another room. “Kill your son, Klaus,” the Miklucination tells him. “Otherwise, I will find a way to control him, and Hope will never be safe.” But Klaus drops the knife, pulls Marcel off of Elijah, and breaks his neck. “Mercy is for the weak,” the Miklucination repeats. Klaus goes into the hallway, where the blue light is glowing. Something dark with blue eyes takes form in front of it. Freya throws her purifying mixture at it and tells it to leave her family alone. The form shrieks and disappears, taking the blue light with it.
Klaus, Elijah, and Freya take Marcel to the Compound as a hostage. Freya announces that she can’t find any traces of the Hollow in either him or Klaus, but they need to stay vigilant, since it’ll probably just set up shop in someone else. She wants to be proactive by killing Marcel, but Klaus would rather wait.
She won’t give him the Marcel-killing knife, and she doesn’t see the point in having it if they’re not going to use it. Elijah tells Klaus to let Freya take it back. “Having a monopoly of power makes you a target,” Klaus warns his sister. After she leaves, Klaus asks Elijah if he thinks Klaus spared Marcel because of sentimentality. In truth, Klaus just didn’t want to give the Hollow what it wants. “Mercy was necessary. That’s all,” he claims.
In the bayou, Hayley tells Mary not to feel guilty about not being able to stop Richard from killing her parents. Mary says that Hayley didn’t deserve what she wound up going through after that. Hayley replies that what she went through led to her having Hope. They’re both Labonairs, and Jackson once told Hayley that tragedy followed them around. Could the Hollow have been behind all the deaths in the family? Is it back to finish what it started?
Freya returns to the bell tower, where Keelin tends to her wounds. Freya thanks her, and Keelin teases her for showing normal emotions. Freya also apologizes for everything she did to Keelin. Keelin forgives her, since Freya did it all for her family. They sit close together and Keelin puts a hand on Freya’s knee. Their antagonistic-turned-cooperative dynamic is starting to veer toward intimate.
Elijah looks in on Marcel, who’s being kept in the same spot he kept Klaus for five years. Elijah reminds him that five years ago, he had to choose between killing Marcel and losing everything. Klaus had a similar dilemma today, and unlike Elijah, he didn’t kill Marcel. “He’s changing,” Elijah says. Marcel disagrees – Klaus put him in the dungeon for revenge. That’s typical of Klaus. Elijah thinks this is a strategic move.
Klaus has always seen Marcel as a kind of son. Elijah did, too, once. He used to think Marcel was the key to Klaus’ redemption. Marcel doubts that he can be redeemed; he won’t even change for his own daughter. Elijah says he already has. Marcel isn’t “needed, welcome, or wanted,” and Klaus only spared him because he’s Klaus’ biggest weakness. Elijah can’t show mercy to anyone who’s a threat to the Mikaelsons. If Marcel prevents Klaus from being redeemed, Elijah will “deliver another kind of nightmare.”
Dominic goes to the abandoned house where Klaus and Marcel fought and finds a plant starting to grow out of a puddle of Marcel’s blood. Sofya joins him and accuses him of lying to her. She wanted Klaus dead – that was their deal. Marcel wasn’t supposed to be taken. Dominic warns that if she kills him, she’ll never get what she wants. Marcel is the only one who can kill an Original, and the Hollow has accepted the offering of his blood. Thorns appear on the still-growing plant, and Dominic says that the Hollow has given them a gift. Just a scratch from a thorn will kill an Original. Sofya doesn’t care if Dominic wants a blood sacrifice – she just wants revenge.
Etc.: “The devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape.” Oh, so Shakespeare saw Cade, too, then.
I assume the Hollow’s hallucinatory tricks are based on the First Evil from Buffy, an entity that could take on the forms of dead people but couldn’t interact with anyone physically. The Hollow is much more effective than the First Evil – making people relive their worst nightmares or imagine that they’ve done horrible things is a great form of torture.
It says a lot about Keelin that she doesn’t run and keep running when she has the chance, knowing how devoted Freya is to helping her siblings. I’m not sure what it says, exactly, but it certainly says something.