Seven years ago: Elijah gets off a bus in Sunnyvale, Louisiana, with no idea where he’s going next (or who he is). His first concern is food, and he’s relieved to find a vending machine, but he doesn’t have any money. Frustrated, he bangs on the glass, and though he doesn’t hit it hard, his vampire strength is enough to break it. He helps himself to a bag of fried pork skins and is shocked when the cuts on his hand from the glass start healing.
Someone approaches and Elijah gets distracted by the sound of his heartbeat. He bites the man, then chases him when he runs off. After the man is dead, Elijah steals his clothes and changes into them. He studies one of his cufflinks, which has his initial on it. He gets in the man’s pickup, pokes at his Jesus bobblehead, and drives off listening to “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.”
A week later, Elijah’s in New York City, feeding on a man in an alley. He hears a woman whispering that there’s nothing to be afraid of. He finds her in another alley, compelling her own human victim to stay calm. The woman, Antoinette, approaches Elijah, warning that she’ll attack him, too. She suddenly stops, realizing that she has this wrong. Elijah says that he thought he was the only one. He asks what they are and if there are more of them. Antoinette thinks he’s messing with her, but she realizes he’s distressed even before he asks for her help.
She takes him to a diner and tells him that they both died, but at some point, someone decided that they were both worth saving. She can’t believe he’s never heard of vampires. Elijah thinks they’re just folklore. He asks if there’s a cure. Yes, but it’s currently in use and the person who has it isn’t going to give it to you. Antoinette doesn’t know why anyone would want a cure – vampirism comes with so many gifts that make it better than being human.
Elijah admits that he doesn’t have any memories before six days ago. He woke up on the bus, starving. He was forced to feed and doesn’t feel good about it. He doesn’t get how Antoinette can see vampirism in a positive way. She bangs on the table and says that if Elijah were human, he would just hear a thud. Vampires can hear all sorts of things in one sound. What used to be noise is now music. The part about catching fire in the sun isn’t great, but the rest is worth it.
Elijah notes that he’s been in the sun every day without a problem. Antoinette points out his daylight ring. She doesn’t have one, since she prefers “the purity of night.” She asks if he really doesn’t know what happened to him. He has a shadowy memory of a man saying his name, but he can’t remember his name or the man’s face. All he knows is that his name must start with an E, since there was one on his cufflink. Antoinette decides to just call him E.
When their bill comes, Elijah starts to pay with the little money he has, but Antoinette covers it. She asks if he has anything other than a ring and cufflinks. He takes her to the small, dingy apartment where he’s been living off of his victims’ money. (He’s also brought in the Jesus bobblehead for decoration.) Antoinette tells him about compulsion. He shows her his cufflinks and suit, and she jokes that he could have been a butler. He also has a little note that reads, “Don’t look back.”
Over the next few weeks, Elijah makes his apartment more of a home and gets some better clothes. He invites Antoinette out to thank her for her help. They end up at a rave with other vampires Elijah learned about. Antoinette isn’t interested in feeding with the others, so she goes outside to get a snack from a food truck. The baker got his recipe from his mother, who lives in Manosque, a place Antoinette is familiar with.
Elijah asks if he did something wrong. She tells him she appreciates his attempt to do something nice for her, but she doesn’t feed with other vampires. Plus, vampires like the ones inside resent ones like her for not feeding like them or wearing a daylight ring. She’s been threatened with death by sunlight before. Still, she’s happy with the way she’s chosen to live.
They go for a walk and Antoinette tells Elijah about how the family who turned her had a ton of rules. She felt like she was living in a convent. After she left, she struggled to move on from her family and friends. One day she realized the ring was her real problem. She couldn’t embrace being a vampire when she had a ring that let her live like a human. She took off her ring and returned to the rules – they grounded her.
Elijah worries that he’ll never recover his memories. Antoinette urges him to accept who he is now so he can be at peace. A lot of vampires wear daylight rings and hang out with humans like nothing happened. But they shouldn’t forget that they died. Antoinette’s death was brutal; she was tied to a stake and stoned by her village. Now she’s in control and can choose how to meet her needs. She can be violent or she can be mindful, giving her victims compassion in their last moments.
She thinks everyone benefits from a peaceful death. Blood tastes better when the victim isn’t afraid. Elijah doesn’t think he’s ever tasted fear in blood, but she tells him that’s all he’s ever tasted. They go after a human together and Elijah gets to taste the difference. He seems almost euphoric.
They continue walking, and while they’re joking around about vampire stereotypes, Antoinette says something in French. Elijah responds in French without even thinking about it. There’s a piano nearby and Antoinette sits down to play something. Elijah sits next to her and learns another skill he didn’t know he had. After a few moments, he realizes they’re being watched. Someone zooms over and grabs Elijah for a confrontation. It’s Marcel.
He asks why Elijah is in New York, but of course Elijah doesn’t know who he is or why he’s asking. Marcel says that Rebekah’s coming back to town soon, so Elijah needs to leave. He threatens to kill Elijah and Antoinette if they don’t go. After Marcel leaves, Elijah tells Antoinette that he was the man whose face Elijah couldn’t remember. On the plus side, Marcel used his name, so now Elijah knows what the E stands for.
He wants to go after Marcel, but Antoinette’s like, “Maybe we should stay away from the guy who just threatened to kill us.” Elijah’s desperate for more information from the one person he’s met who knows him. The sun is coming up, so Elijah decides to spend the next day finding out what he can while Antoinette avoids the sun. She doesn’t want to get dragged into whatever drama Elijah left behind, but he knows he can’t do this on his own. She tells him he has to. He’s heading down a dangerous road that could lead him anywhere. She understands, since she’s been there, but she doesn’t live like that anymore. She kisses him goodbye and wishes him luck. She enjoyed sharing New York with him.
Elijah gets to work looking into his past. He ends up violent, murdering people like he used to. Eventually Marcel finds him back at the club where he attended the rave. “Even without memories, you are still a pain in my a%$,” he complains. He’s the one who left Elijah the note telling him not to look back. Elijah asks who Marcel is, and Marcel tells him to let it go. Elijah wants to know why Marcel wrote the note. Marcel replies that Elijah asked him to. He explains that Elijah did this for a girl who means everything to him. If he keeps digging into his past, he’ll end up hurting her. He needs to trust himself and create a life somewhere else.
And that’s how Elijah wound up in Manosque. When he first enters the bar where he’ll later play the piano, Antoinette is already playing there. She asks if he learned anything about who he is. He tells her that he’s only been miserable obsessing about his past. He misses her and wants to make up with her. She’s already past their fight, and she cares about him as much as he cares about her, judging by their kiss.
Present: Elijah and Antoinette play a duet on the piano, delighting their audience. He tells her how wonderful it was to walk into the bar all those years ago and see her again. Whoever he is now, he wants her. He offers her an engagement ring, and instead of accepting or declining, she tells him to pause while she gets some champagne.
Klaus ambushes her in the kitchen and asks if she knows who he is. He kind of wants to thank her for how good she’s been to Elijah, but her “services are no longer required.” He’s there to take his brother home. He compels Antoinette to turn down Elijah’s proposal and walk out of his life forever.
Antoinette returns to Elijah and says she has to tell him something that won’t be easy to hear. She asks him to play another duet with her. She tells him she came to France to forget him and try to convince herself that he would never come after her. The past few years have been the happiest of her life. But now Elijah’s past has caught up with him. She tells him there’s a man in the kitchen who tried to compel her to leave Elijah. He wants to take Elijah home. Their duet has covered up their conversation so Klaus can’t hear.
Elijah tells Antoinette to clear the bar. Klaus comes in and the whispers start up. He tells Elijah who he is and says their family needs his help. Elijah has no desire to go anywhere with this stranger or help people he’s never met. Klaus won’t take him out of there without a fight. He berates Elijah for abandoning his family so he could live some fairy-tale life.
Elijah won’t let Klaus destroy what he’s built there, but Klaus says he doesn’t have a choice. They fight a little, and Klaus says he’s taking a big risk being there. Antoinette hears them from the kitchen, where she grabs a piece of wood. There are little worms or maggots crawling all over the floor, apparently another side effect of the Hollow pieces being near each other.
Klaus brings up Hayley, thinking her name must still mean something to Elijah. Elijah says it doesn’t mean any more to him than the name Mikaelson does. Klaus tells him that they’re his family and he loves them. Antoinette sneaks up behind him and stakes him. She grabs Elijah so they can make an escape through the catacombs. Klaus’ question about whether she knows who he is gets answered when she tells Elijah that Klaus can’t die. Indeed, he’s already recovered from his staking and has followed them.
Elijah still refuses to leave with Klaus, who repeats that his family – everyone he loves – needs him. “Everyone I love is here,” Elijah replies. He continues that he knows exactly who he is. Marcel saying his name was all Elijah needed to know to learn about who he used to be. He doesn’t remember his former life but he knows all about his family. He just doesn’t care about any of them.
Klaus says all that knowledge without the feelings that go with it is pointless. “Elijah Mikaelson spent every day of his wretched life trying to save you from yourself,” Elijah says. “I mean, I can’t even imagine a more miserable existence. From what I understand, that poor bastard was lucky to find any moment of pleasure.” That’s not him anymore.
Elijah turns to Antoinette and says he loves everything about his life. He loves the quiet at night, the taste of his victims, and every day he gets to spend in a place where he’s truly loved. Klaus says that’s all nice, but it doesn’t mean anything without family or purpose. Elijah wasn’t miserable – he was “a king amongst men.” He and Klaus stood by each other’s sides for centuries and had wonderful times together. There will be more ahead if Elijah will come home. As the whispers grow louder, Elijah tells Klaus, “Elijah Mikaelson is dead,” then snaps his neck. The whispers stop. He holds his hand out to Antoinette, the only family he wants now.
They go home to pack so they can flee Klaus, but Elijah has something else on his mind. He notes that Antoinette knew that Klaus was an Original, that a stake wouldn’t kill him, and that he couldn’t compel her. He guesses that she also knew who Elijah was. He asks when she started taking vervain. Antoinette admits that she knew who he was as soon as she saw him. She’d heard all the stories about the Mikaelsons and their enemies. She didn’t want to tell him anything that would put him in danger.
She’s sorry that she lied, but she wasn’t the only one. Elijah never told her that he’d found out who he was. He says that the Mikaelsons are all about violence and chaos, and he didn’t want her to know that part of him. Antoinette says that’s not who he is or who he’s become. “We choose who we are, every day, every moment,” she tells him.
She wants to leave before Klaus can find them, but Elijah is sure that he won’t. He knows he was Klaus’ “north star,” guiding him through the darkest parts of his life. When Elijah renounced his family and his brother, he saw the light leave Klaus’ eyes. He’s broken now. Back at the bar, Klaus calls Freya and lies that he couldn’t find Elijah in France.
Elijah tells Antoinette that Klaus won’t come back. She asks who Hayley is. He says he used to love her in another lifetime. He’ll never love anyone else the way he loves Antoinette. Now how about that champagne? Then, instead of giving her a ring, he takes off his own. He’s ready to live like her. He proposes and she says yes.
To fully commit to his new life and leave the old one “in the ashes,” Elijah opens his curtains. As he says goodbye to the old Elijah, the sun lights him on fire, then burns up the box containing all the possessions connecting him to his past.
Etc.: Joseph Morgan (Klaus) directed this episode.
I can’t decide which is more surreal: Elijah eating junk food from a vending machine, wearing jeans, or wearing a trucker’s hat.
Elijah also smiles more in this episode than in every other episode of the series combined. It’s weird!
I could have bought it if Antoinette hadn’t known who Elijah was, since we know from The Vampire Diaries that not all vampires in the world are familiar with the Mikaelsons, but not one vampire at that rave knew who he was? Not one of them was like, “Hey, that guy looks like the brother of this chick named Rebekah who turned me three years ago”? Or maybe that’s how Marcel found out where he was – someone recognized him and told Marcel he was there.