“When we’re young, we’re taught the distinction between a hero and a villain, good and evil, a savior and a lost cause,” Hope voices over. “But what if the only real difference is just who’s telling the story?”
She reminds us that she comes from “a long line of villains” in stories people have heard about werewolves, witches, vampires, and the like. The Salvatore School protects people like her, and tonight – a full moon night – they’ll open their doors to someone new.
In Atlanta, Landon and his foster brother Rafael Waithe are on their way to a church. (I’m not sure it’s ever actually stated, but canonically, it’s supposed to be about two years since the events of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”) Landon doesn’t think that Rafael should have to go to confession since he’s not Catholic. But Rafael acknowledges that he went a little too far when he was recently angry; some things were thrown that shouldn’t have been thrown. He’s willing to go through the motions if it gets their foster parents, the Gonzaleses, off his back.
At the church, the priest asks Rafael to pray with him. The Gonzaleses tell Landon to leave, since this is between Rafael and God. Rafael assures Landon that he’ll be fine there alone. Landon goes to sit on the front steps of the church and listen to music. He doesn’t notice the Gonzaleses chaining the doors shut. Rafael prays and gets what first seems like a blessing from the priest, but it turns into something else. The Gonzaleses and the priest think Rafael is possessed – this is an exorcism. The Gonzaleses hold him down as he starts to wolf out.
Outside, Hope and Alaric screech up in his SUV. She’s surprised to see Landon there, and Landon’s even more surprised to see Alaric trying to enter the church with a crossbow. Hope uses magic to unlock and fling open the doors, then advises Landon to stay outside. Alaric tells Hope to stop the exorcism, which she does by muting the priest (by which I mean she seals over his mouth), then using a sleep spell on him. Landon comes in and is stunned to see Rafael turning into a werewolf. Hope and Alaric chain him up so he won’t be able to run off and hurt anyone.
The four drive back to Mystic Falls together the next morning. Landon has a few questions about what he witnessed, and Alaric says that Hope will explain when they get to their destination. He tells Landon it’s “somewhere safe.” At the Salvatore School, Josie and Lizzie greet Rafael and Landon, having volunteered to be tour guides. They go off with Rafael, but not before exchanging cold greetings with Hope. Alaric tells them all to behave, and the twins toss off an innocent “love you, Dad!” as they leave.
Alaric asks Landon if he was aware of the school when he lived in Mystic Falls. Landon just thought it was a school for troubled rich kids. Alaric says that no one in town knows much about what the school is really about. They blend in and contribute just enough to keep people from asking questions. Alaric used to have a speech prepared for new students about magic, but most people are familiar with Harry Potter and can get to the point on their own: The school is for supernatural students. Everyone there is special in ways that the outside world wouldn’t understand.
Landon asks Hope what she is. She tries to dismiss herself to go to class, but he doesn’t want to be there without a familiar face. He’s not sure if he’s going crazy or if werewolves are real. Alaric and Hope’s facial expressions alone answer that question for him. Alaric tells Landon that there’s a class on origins of the species that covers how that’s possible. (It’s for sixth-graders.) He has questions for Landon about Rafael, starting with who he killed recently.
Josie and Lizzie tell Rafael that everyone at the school gets along, for the most part. The wolves are cliquey, but the school tries to emphasize inclusiveness. That’s why witches are giving a tour to a werewolf. They peek in on a chemistry of magic class, which Dorian (yay, Dorian!), the school’s librarian, is substitute teaching, since the regular teacher accidentally incinerated himself in hellfire. Dorian asks a student named Penelope to demonstrate a love charm. Josie and Lizzie grumble about Penelope, who’s Josie’s ex. She notices them watching her and smirks. The twins tell Rafael they’ll next visit a turret where the seniors smoke. Rafael jokingly asks if they smoke eye of newt. Nope, just good, old-fashioned weed.
Alaric explains to Landon that Rafael could have only triggered his werewolf gene by killing someone. He needs to know the details because the school doesn’t accept students who kill in cold blood. Landon firmly says that Rafael isn’t a killer. All Alaric knows about him is that his birth parents abandoned him and he’s lived in six foster homes in the past seven years. He’s also prone to anger. Landon says his history is pretty similar; that’s just what foster kids are like.
Hope tells Landon that they’re just trying to help. She’s been at the school since she was seven. It’s a safe place for people like Rafael – a home. Alaric gives the disclaimer that they need to make sure he’s not a threat before they agree to take him in. Landon finally reveals that Rafael accidentally killed his girlfriend Cassie in a car accident last month. Landon thought he was acting out because of grief or possibly drugs. When he threw a 200-pound lawn mower across the yard, their foster parents assumed the devil was involved. Alaric tells Landon that Rafael’s behavior is normal for a newly triggered werewolf.
He signals Hope, who assures Landon that everything’s going to be okay. She announces to someone outside the room that they’re ready. Milton Greasley, AKA M.G., enters, and Alaric and Hope introduce him to Landon as Alaric’s student aide. He’s also a vampire. (He’s also awesome.) Landon notes that for a school that’s keeping a bunch of secrets, they’re giving out a lot of information. That’s because Landon isn’t going to remember any of it. M.G.’s there to compel him to forget everything he’s witnessed. All he’ll know is that Rafael is enrolling at the school to have a better life.
But the compulsion doesn’t stick, and Landon just thinks he’s dealing with people even crazier than he already thought. He starts to leave but M.G. zooms ahead of him and strangles him into unconsciousness. Alaric panics a little and tells M.G. to take Landon to the basement.
Landon regains consciousness in one of the cells previously used by the gang to keep vampires from going on rampages. He’s anxious about being in there, thanks to claustrophobia, and has a flashback to his childhood, when a foster father would lock him in a closet. Hope comes down and promises that he’s not a prisoner. They just put him in a “werewolf transition space” until they figure out why M.G.’s compulsion didn’t work on him. Landon wants to know where Rafael is, and Hope calmly assures him that Rafael is fine.
She explains that compulsion can be blocked by vervain, so Landon might have consumed some in the coffee they got when they stopped at a gas station that morning. (The mayor sometimes has it added in. Some things never change.) They’ll try again to compel him once it’s out of his system. Hope feels bad that he has to sit in a confined space all day, waiting, but when he asks her to wait with him, she turns him down. She tells him she’s sorry about all of this, but it was nice to see him again.
Josie and Lizzie take Rafael to a school field where students are playing a version of football that involves giant magic rings. Lizzie says that they tried to play real-life Quidditch – they got close when a girl named Alyssa Chang made a broom fly – but someone got hurt, so they had to move on. Now they play a game Alaric and Caroline invented called Wickery. (One guess where they got the name.)
Josie joins M.G. in the stands, and he asks if she’s going to let Lizzie pursue Rafael. Josie implies that she is, since she’s still recovering from her breakup with Penelope. M.G. wonders if Rafael will develop feelings for Lizzie. Josie says yes, since guys usually do. M.G.’s clearly disappointed. Lizzie has somehow heard about Cassie (she has spies everywhere), and she tells Rafael she’s sorry about his loss. “On the plus side, we’re all happy to know that you’re single,” she says brightly. She realizes what she just blurted out and adds, “That was my inside voice.” She gets nervous around hot, angry, damaged guys. He decides he’s done hanging out with her.
Hope and Alaric are on a dock overlooking the lake, having a sparring match. Aww, he picked up a new training partner after he stopped training Elena. This one uses magic to win their matches, though. Hope’s upset that he locked Landon up in a cell. She thinks Alaric should have a vampire train her, since he’s getting too old for it. He asks if she and Landon have “a thing.” Hope replies that she doesn’t “have things.” Alaric’s aware of her determination to avoid intimacy, but he thinks there must have been something between him.
She admits that she liked Landon back when he lived in Mystic Falls. He was normal. “Let’s keep him that way,” Alaric replies. The students survive because they follow the rules. They can’t get sloppy with Landon there. Hope reminds Alaric that he keeps telling her to get out more. He meant to stop hanging out in her room, watching Cutthroat Kitchen, not mingle with humans. She tells him he can just be her headmaster and not give her advice about her personal life. He agrees to tweak their dynamic if she’ll agree to try to make a friend.
Josie interrupts to let Alaric know that Lizzie is having a meltdown. She’s currently screaming and smashing dishes in the kitchen. Alaric arrives just as she’s starting to throw knives around via telekinesis. One of them gets dangerously close to his face, but he gets over it pretty quickly, just concerned with Lizzie’s state.
That night, Hope and Landon both have trouble sleeping. She goes to visit him, and he reminisces about the night they danced in the town square. “Just like me to crush on the girl with the most baggage,” he says. She doesn’t want to stay long, and he notes that she leaves a lot. She tells him she’s dangerous to people, so it’s better if she keeps her distance. “Better for who?” he asks. She goes back upstairs, but moments later, Landon’s cell door opens. Something unseen drags him out of the cell and down the hallway.
Landon ends up in the woods right by the old mill. Rafael and Josie are there, and they explain that she used a summoning spell to get him out there. There’s a party going on, and even though some of the attendees are using magic and showing off their werewolf perks, it’s otherwise just like any normal high school party. Landon’s relieved to see that Rafael is doing well. Rafael has talked to some werewolves and knows now that what he’s been feeling recently is normal.
Landon thinks he should disappear before he can be locked back up, and Rafael says he’ll come along. They always do everything together. But Landon wants him to stay in this place where he’s comfortable and already fitting in, so he sneaks away when Rafael isn’t looking.
Alaric leads Lizzie in a meditation session in her and Josie’s room (which I’ll call Twin Turret). He doesn’t want her to use magic to fix herself, since that’s what leads to her meltdowns in the first place. She sadly asks if he thinks she’s broken. He doesn’t – the Parker legacy gave her darkness that she needs to work through. Lizzie notes that Josie doesn’t have any problems like hers. Alaric notes that Josie has her own problems, like co-dependency; she spends too much time worrying about other people’s happiness. That’s probably a Saltzman legacy.
Lizzie’s worried that she’ll wind up hurting someone. Alaric reminds her that that’s why they opened the school. She’ll learn to control her powers. Lizzie snarks that she’s surprised he has time to help her, considering all the training he does with Hope. He replies that if Lizzie and Hope became friends, they could all train together. Lizzie insists that she’s tried to befriend Hope many times over the years. Hope never makes an effort. Alaric defends her, saying she’s lost a lot and won’t let herself care about other people. Lizzie isn’t sympathetic, since everyone there has lost something. Oh, really, Lizzie? Did you lost both of your parents just months apart?
“Speak of the actual devil,” as Lizzie says, Hope comes by to tell Alaric that she’s feeling restless and needs a release. He tells her to go to the back acres of the property and stay away from the old mill, because there’s a party there that he’s going to break up in ten minutes. Heh. Lizzie’s unhappy to find out that she’s missing a party.
Josie spots Penelope there and glares at her for a few moments. Penelope looks unbothered. In fact, she might actually like that her presence alone is enough to make Josie mad. M.G. talks to some classmates about fictional vampires, complaining that Twilight ruined them. For him, the best and most realistic one is Blade. He killed his mom! Not that any vampires at the school should kill their moms. That would be messed up.
Rafael thanks Josie for helping him get Landon out of the basement. Josie tries to make up for Lizzie’s conversational screw-ups earlier, telling Rafael that they really are sorry about Cassie. He tells her that he got a track scholarship and Cassie was going to come with him after they finished high school. He loved her in a way that most people say only exists in movies. Josie empathizes, knowing that people who say that have never been hurt by it. She admits that she gets her heart crushed a lot because she cares too much. Rafael doesn’t think caring too much is the problem she believes it is. They give each other a long, meaningful look, but Josie ends it by saying that Rafael should give Lizzie a second chance.
Landon encounters a wolf in the woods and runs from it. It jumps on him, turning into Hope in mid-air. She grabs his jacket and puts it on, since transforming into a wolf left her naked. She blasts him for being out and about by himself. They go back to the school, where Landon looks at some of the supernatural artifacts in the library. He’s interested in the story behind a knife, but Hope doesn’t know anything about it, other than that he probably shouldn’t touch him.
She apologizes for yelling at him earlier, but he really shouldn’t have been out in the woods. “So I guess this means you’re a werewolf, he said casually,” Landon quips. Hope tells him she’s “a lot of things.” She doesn’t see the point in telling him, since he’ll be compelled to forget tomorrow, but he wants to know anyway.
M.G. and Penelope raid the kitchen for after-party snacks but he doesn’t find anything good. She seductively offers to let him drink her blood, which is a no-no in the school rules. Also, he thought she was more into girls. “For one, rules are meant to be broken,” she tells him. “For two, I am an equal-opportunity evil temptress, and your binary assumptions about sexuality…they’re dated.” She kisses him, then invites him again to bite her. He vamps out and kisses her more, then starts to bite her neck. Josie comes in just then, leaving immediately after realizing what she’s seeing. Penelope isn’t the least bit unhappy that they were interrupted.
Back in the library, Hope tells Landon that she’s not human. Yeah, I think he got that. She brings him a book that includes a section on Klaus and says that her father was one of the world’s original vampires. The chapter about him calls him “the great evil,” and Hope says he wasn’t very popular in Mystic Falls. And yes, she uses the past tense on purpose, because even immortal beings sometimes find a way to die. Landon can relate a little to having a violent parent, since he had a foster father who burned him with cigarettes. “I guess evil is relative,” he says. And sometimes, evil is your relatives! Nyuk nyuk nyuk.
Hope continues that her mother was a werewolf alpha. Yes, past tense again. People she cares about tend to die. Now she tries not to get too close to people. Her grandmother was a witch, and Hope wound up with magic, a werewolf gene, and a vampire legacy. Landon jokes that she’s a unicorn. She says she’s a hybrid, or, as will be said a thousand times over the course of the series, a tribrid. She’s the only one of her kind. Landon stands by his “unicorn” label.
She puts her hands on his head to show him her memories from the day he served her and Elijah at the Grill. This lets him see that she was responsible for the damage to Connor’s car. Landon’s touched that she did that for him. She says Connor had it coming. She calls an end to their evening, wanting to get him back to his cell before anyone notices that he’s not there.
Josie gets in Lizzie’s bed in Twin Turret and tells her that she saw M.G. making out with Penelope. “Bad friend move,” Lizzie declares. She urges Josie to focus on someone new. Josie’s clearly thinking about Rafael, but Lizzie has dibs, assuming he can get past their mess of a conversation.
Hope takes Landon to his cell and does a spell to make the ceiling look like the night sky. She hopes it’ll help him sleep. He tells her she’s really nice, then title-drops, “This is the part where you run.” She knows, but she doesn’t go. They both lament that he won’t remember this night later. In that case, he figures he might as well take a chance and kiss her.
In the morning, Alaric tells Landon it’s time to try compelling him again. Landon asks if he can stay at the school instead. He doesn’t have a home anymore. If he can’t be a student there, he can work. Alaric apologetically tells him that he doesn’t belong there. “Then were do I belong?” Landon asks. “Tell me where I should go.” He doesn’t want to cause trouble; he just wants a way out of his life.
Alaric tells him that the school was created for supernatural beings. It protects their secrets, then sends them into the human world with the ability to handle it. The school’s purpose is to keep the kids from giving in to their darkest impulses. “Make no mistake, these are predatory creatures,” Alaric says. Vampires are driven by the need to feed and kill, werewolves can’t control themselves when they’ve transformed, and witches have committed some of the worst atrocities in history. It’s not safe for Landon to stay there. Landon’s disappointed but understands.
M.G. comes in for the compulsion and assures Landon that Rafael will be okay there. He gives Landon the same instructions he did the day before. Landon then says goodbye to Rafael, promising that he’ll be fine on his own. Hope watches as Landon leaves, sad to see him go but happy to have made a connection with him.
Dorian summons Alaric to the library to let him know that the knife Landon was looking at the night before was stolen from its case. (It was rigged with an alarm but the alarm didn’t go off.) It’s from the 12th century and its origins are unknown. Alaric goes straight to Hope, thinking that Landon took it. Hope says that would make him a liar, and she didn’t get that vibe from him. She refuses to believe that the one time she let herself get close to someone, that person turned out to be a liar. She’s not that stupid.
Alaric continues that M.G. compelled Landon to go home but he never got there. That means his memory wasn’t erased – he just pretended it was. And if he couldn’t be compelled, that means he’s something supernatural. On a bus, Landon takes a peek at the knife he snuck out of the school.
Alaric gathers the students to remind them that the school’s mission since its opening has been to protect them. He needs their help to find Landon before he exposes them to the world. After the assembly, M.G. tries to apologize to Josie for hooking up with Penelope. Apparently she puts “sex herbs” in her pot. Josie asks why everyone thinks Penelope is so special. M.G. says she’s not, she’s just available. He hugs her, and Josie must siphon from him while he does, because after he leaves, she does a spell to make Penelope’s hair catch on fire.
Hope spots her and follows her to her room, but not to confront her – she needs help with a spell to track Landon. It’s dark magic, which the students aren’t supposed to use. Josie thinks Hope is blackmailing her into helping, but Hope just thought she’d want to take part in some revenge. She’s right, and the girls apologetically sacrifice a rat so they can use its blood. The resulting spell lets them see Landon on the bus, as well as its location. They see him pull out the knife, which is glowing. It explodes in a bright flash of light.
The next day, Matt (hi, Matt! You’re still the sheriff? Good for you!) calls Alaric and Hope to the spot where the bus stopped. The local police believe there was a chemical spill, but that’s obviously not true. As Hope and Alaric board the bus, she voices over that she opened her heart to a human who was in the wrong place at the right time and just wanted a place to belong. “Turns out, Landon isn’t the hero of my story after all,” she says. All of the bus passengers are dead, looking as if they were burned in a fire, even though the bus shows no signs of one.
“When I hunt him down, I’m gonna be the villain of his,” Hope vows.
Etc.: If you want some emotional whiplash, I really recommend watching this right after “When the Saints Go Marching In.” It’s like watching two completely unrelated shows. The distinction gets even clearer a little later in the series, when things start getting wacky.
Landon is played by the same actor who played him in “The Tale of Two Wolves” but Josie and Lizzie have both been recast (for the better, I’d say).
In case it’s not clear, Josie is the nice twin (well, mostly) and Lizzie is the mean one. In Sweet Valley Twins/High/University terms, Josie is the Elizabeth and Lizzie is the Jessica.
The school looks totally different from the way Vamp Villa has always looked, and from how it was in “The Tale of Two Wolves.” It’s necessary, really, because it wouldn’t have been able to hold all the students at the school, but also, the original building was no longer available for exterior shots.
I wish we’d gotten Rafael’s reaction to learning that he’s a werewolf, instead of just Landon’s. Instead, Rafael just seems to go along with it. It would have been nice to have a scene where Hope empathizes with him and tells him things will get better.
It wouldn’t be a Vampire Diaries universe show without a set of brothers, but Rafael and Landon are much different from the Salvatores and the Mikaelsons. They have a strong bond despite not being related biologically, and I really love how they always look out for each other.
I really like how they establish Josie’s sexuality (although it’s never clarified, it looks like she’s bisexual): They mention that she has an ex-girlfriend, and there’s no indication that she’s not completely out or that anyone has a problem with her not being straight. I guess the school’s inclusivity emphasis covers all sorts of things. In addition, Kai’s whole deal was that people looked down on him for only being able to do magic when he siphoned it, but Josie and Lizzie are fully accepted as witches despite having that same issue. And there’s never any indication that Caroline and Alaric have any issues with her sexuality (makes sense for Caroline, since her father was gay).