As someone in a Salvatore Stallions shirt repaints lines on a field and some jocks from Mystic Falls High vandalize the Salvatore School’s vans, Hope voices over, “‘No legacy is so rich as honesty,'” a quote from Shakespeare. She knows there must be some teen boys with integrity, but she hasn’t met any yet. She’s in a session with the school’s counselor, Emma Tig, who would like to know why Hope performed black magic on school grounds the night before. Hope thinks it’s more important to find Landon before he can tell anyone about the school being supernatural.
Emma ignores her and says that there’s a beacon that alerts her when students use black magic. Hope had to have known that she would be caught. Yeah, but she just figured it wouldn’t happen until after she’d tracked down Landon. She’s not happy to be interrogated. Emma asks if she had help with the spell, and Hope lies that she did it alone.
Emma advises her to stay out of the Landon situation. Hope won’t, since she’s the reason Landon was there in the first place. Um…how? He was there because of Rafael. Anyway, Hope admits that she could have some kind of survivor’s remorse, but she’s still going to help Alaric find Landon. Emma asks what will happen if she does. Hope doesn’t answer.
She voices over that Shakespeare at least had some good advice about how to handle betrayal. Her favorite: “Think, therefore, on revenge and cease to weep.” She takes a book out of a box under her bed; though its cover says it’s Shakespeare’s greatest works, it actually contains spells. She tears out a page with one that features a drawing of a skull and says “mortem.”
The rest of the students are getting ready for a big day, which Lizzie’s very excited about. Not so excited that she can’t confront Josie for her use of dark magic, though. Apparently their weird twin connection allows one of them to know when the other has used it. In this case, Lizzie threw up black goo in a “twin sympathy hurl.” Penelope overhears and suggests that Lizzie’s pregnant. Or maybe her jersey just makes her look fat. Penelope calls Josie out for setting her hair on fire, though she’s not too upset about it since her new haircut looks great.
M.G. greets the twins, but Lizzie doesn’t want to make friendly small talk with the guy who tried to hook up with her sister’s ex. Alaric approaches the twins next with the news that he has to miss their big day. They’re supposed to play flag football against Mystic Falls High, and Lizzie’s the starting quarterback. Alaric’s the coach, so he doesn’t want to miss the game, but he needs to find Landon.
Josie suggests delaying the game, which is never fun anyway, since they’re not allowed to use any magic or supernatural perks. That’s actually the point of the game – they play like they’re normal every year so the locals don’t get suspicious. Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of mocking from the townies. Alaric tells the twins that with Landon on the loose, it’s more important than ever that they keep a low profile.
Hope finds Rafael under Alaric’s SUV, removing something so Alaric can’t leave without him. He demands to tag along on the search for Landon. Hope advises him to stay out of it, since Landon’s a liar and a thief. But he’s also Rafael’s best friend, and Rafael wants to protect him from Hope’s obvious desire to get revenge.
Hope puts her hands on his face to show him what she and Josie saw during their spell, and what the people on the bus looked like when she and Alaric got to them. Landon is responsible and Hope is the only one who can find him. Rafael refuses again to step aside, so she reminds him that she can use magic on him. He replies that he has a history of anger issues. Alaric joins them and announces that Rafael can come, since he knows Landon.
Lizzie’s upset that Hope is going on the trip with Alaric – she thinks Alaric loves Hope more than he loves his own daughters. Yeah, he’s only missing one football game, but in a few years, he could miss their weddings! They should show him how seriously they take the rules by making extra-sure that no one uses any supernatural abilities. “Today we will lose even more epically than we normally do,” Lizzie declares. She thinks they should get Rafael to join their “Island of Misfit Toys.” Eavesdropping again, Penelope tells the twins that he “hopped the Hope train out of town” along with Alaric.
The searchers head into the woods, knowing that Landon has a huge head start and will be hard to find. Alaric hears a noise and comes across a woman whose clothes and face are stained with ashes. They think she was on the bus and needs medical attention. Alaric sends Hope and Rafael to continue the search while he takes the woman to get help. He orders the teens not to engage Landon if they find him.
Dorian fills in for Alaric as the Salvatore Stallions’ coach, encouraging the teams to play a clean game. Connor is there, and he’s eager to beat the Stallions like always. He’s flanked by his equally loathsome girlfriend, Dana. The Mystic Falls Timberwolves win the coin toss, and though the Stallions (represented at the toss by Josie, Lizzie, and the awesome Kaleb Hawkins) try to part with them kindly, the Timberwolves blow them off.
Josie reminds Kaleb that they need to suck it up and…well, suck. Kaleb played football in high school and was being scouted for great teams before he came there, though, so throwing a game isn’t in his vocabulary. Lizzie wishes Dana luck, and Dana replies something about luck, preparation, and opportunity. Lizzie thinks she read it on a poster in a dentist’s office. Dana says her father is a dentist, and unlike Lizzie’s father, he’s at the game.
Rafael is sure that there’s a good explanation for whatever Landon did to the people on the bus. He’s the most loyal friend Rafael has ever had. He was there for Rafael on the worst day of his life, and was the only thing that kept him going after Cassie died. Rafael wants Hope to hear Landon out when they find him instead of jumping to revenge. She suggests that Rafael make new friends instead. “So I can be as popular and well-liked as you?” he shoots back. Nice. He’s only been at the school for two days but he already knows that Hope is just a big rain cloud for everyone.
He promises to get the knife from Landon, as well as the answers Hope wants. Hope doesn’t have any reason to believe or trust him, but she tells him that she’s pinpointed Landon’s location to a nearby root cellar. She’ll give Rafael three minutes to talk to him and get the knife back before she gets to jump in. Alaric’s instructions not to engage go out the window and Rafael goes down the stairs.
He warns Landon that a lot of people are looking for him because of what happened on the bus. Landon says that wasn’t him. Hope joins them in the cellar, having skipped over about two-and-a-half of Rafael’s three minutes. She magically throws Landon up against a wall and demands to know where the knife is. He says he must have lost it while he was escaping from the bus, which he barely did. He says again that it wasn’t his doing. There was a girl there.
Alaric starts to make a phone call, but the woman with him grabs his phone and pockets it. She also snags his watch. When she starts to walk away and he grabs her arm to stop her, her eyes glow red. She breathes a big stream of fire at him, then disappears as he’s trying to get away from her.
Lizzie reminds Kaleb of their game plan, but he’s not someone who needs reminding. He’s beaten tons of “townie scrubs” over the years, and that was even before he became a vampire. He kicks off for his team, and Connor catches the ball and throws it to Dana. M.G. lets her fake him out, enjoying being so close to her. He grins at Lizzie like, “I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do!” Connor shoves Kaleb from behind for no reason, and apparently no adults notice. After getting a touchdown, Dana spikes the ball at Lizzie’s feet. Lizzie would love to do something magically horrible to Dana, but Josie reminds her that they’re supposed to behave themselves.
Penelope advises M.G. not to play up his nerdiness with Dana. He’s mad at Penelope for making a move on him when she obviously just wanted to get under Josie’s skin. Anyone who takes a shot at Josie (other than Lizzie) tends to get punished, usually with scabies. But this is all good, as far as Penelope is concerned: Lizzie may be mad at M.G., but that just means she’s noticing him for once. M.G. confirms that Penelope did all this on purpose. “I do everything on purpose,” she replies. If he wants to be with Lizzie, Penelope can help, but he’ll have to do everything she says. M.G. knows she must have an ulterior motive, but she won’t spill it. She just tells him to make his next play impressive.
Alaric calls Dorian (on a borrowed phone, since his was stolen) to tell him that he encountered a pyromancer. Dorian heads back to the Salvatore School to look them up, though he notes that they’re really rare and mostly live in Asia. Alaric asks how the twins are doing at the game. “They’re killing it…by not killing it,” Dorian replies.
Lizzie praises the Stallions for playing badly. Their next play: run around, making it look like they know what they’re doing, and fail. I would be awesome at that. Dana tackles Lizzie (what happened to flag football??) as she throws the ball to M.G., who catches it and gleefully makes a touchdown. He, Kaleb, and Penelope are the only people happy about the play. Dana compliments him, though.
Landon swears that his story about what happened on the bus is true: A fire-breathing woman burned everyone alive. Hope finds it pretty convenient that Landon escaped unharmed and happened to lose the knife. He says the woman was burning everything around them and kept coming at him like she was going to take the knife. Hope asks why he had the knife in the first place. He says he doesn’t remember stealing it. And he only pretended to be compelled so he wouldn’t be thrown back in a cell. Landon knew there was no good ending for him other than to leave. He didn’t want to steal and he didn’t want a fire-breathing woman chasing him.
Rafael knows Landon well enough to know that he’s telling the truth, no matter how crazy it might be. Alaric comes down into the cellar and confirms that there really is a fire-breathing woman out there. Then he blasts Hope and Rafael for engaging Landon when he told them not to. Hope says Landon’s not dangerous, but Alaric notes that they don’t know him well enough to judge that.
He tells the group that the woman they came across is a pyromancer, a fire-breathing witch. She wants the knife, so they need to find it before she does. But as they emerge from the cellar, the woman approaches, looking like she’s in the mood to breathe some more fire. She holds out her hand for the knife, which Hope guesses Landon actually does still have. Alaric tells everyone to get back in the cellar, and they jump in right before the woman breathes fire again.
Landon gives Hope the knife, saying he panicked earlier. She does a spell to keep the fire from burning through the wooden cellar doors. Alaric doesn’t have a way to call for help, but Landon directs him to a barrel full of phones and other things stolen from people on the bus. He starts to insist that he didn’t bring them there. Hope tells Rafael that if he tries to defend himself one more time, she’s going to melt him.
Dana starts to tackle Lizzie again on the next play, but she throws the ball before Dana can. Josie purposely fumbles it, shrugging innocently. Dana insults her to Lizzie, who asks if Dana’s always mean at these games because Lizzie’s prettier than she is. Dana says she just likes tormenting “the crazies.” She knows from having a pharmacist for a mother that Lizzie takes some sort of medication, and since she hasn’t been to the pharmacy for a while, she must not be on it.
That’s all it takes for Lizzie to decide that the Stallions should stop losing on purpose and give the Timberwolves an idea of what they can really do. “You can count on my steel,” M.G. says, but Lizzie doesn’t get the Army of Darkness reference. Kaleb and the rest of the team are on board, except for Josie. Lizzie talks her into it, and the twins siphon some magic from their teammates so they can play some tricks. M.G. compels a Timberwolf to trip on the next play, allowing M.G. to get out ahead of him and catch the ball. Lizzie makes Dana fumble the ball, and Kaleb picks it up, jumps over Connor, and makes a touchdown to tie the score.
Alaric calls Dorian, who thinks the pyromancer is actually a dragon. Alaric reminds him that dragons don’t exist (or look like humans), but Dorian points out that he once believed that about vampires. Touché. Willing to act like they’re really dealing with a dragon, Alaric asks what they need to defeat one. Well, a lot of courage. Also a sword. The group doesn’t have one of those, but they do have a knife.
Hope emerges from the cellar and uses magic to fling the dragon back. “Did anyone ever tell you smoking’s bad for you?” she quips like she’s Buffy. When the dragon breathes fire at her, Hope does a spell to put up an invisible barrier and keep the flames from touching her. Then Rafael throws a rock at the dragon’s head and knocks her down. He and Hope do an alley-oop move where she tosses him the knife as he jumps in the air, then comes down on the dragon with it. He plunges it into her heart and that’s that.
Josie takes over for Lizzie as the Stallions’ ad hoc coach and tells them to lose. Alaric told them to for a reason. Kaleb notes that he’s not there, but Josie says none of them would be there if it weren’t for him. If they use their abilities to show off what makes them different, they’ll lose more than a game – they’ll lose everything. She tells Lizzie that if she’s really worried that Alaric will stop loving them, this is a good way to get there.
M.G. thinks Josie’s right, but Penelope has another idea. Josie’s like, “Why do you keep appearing out of nowhere when I’m having a conversation with someone else?” It’s either magic or she’s stalking you. Maybe both. Penelope thinks the Stallions should win without using their supernatural abilities. They used to be bad at football, but with Kaleb on the team for the first time, they have a good chance. M.G. insists that one of his catches was legit (“I’m scrappy like that”), so he’s a benefit to the team, too. “Good idea, Satan,” Lizzie tells Penelope. “But to be clear, you can’t have my immortal soul.” Penelope taunts her with an air kiss. The Stallions agree to her game plan and head back to the field.
Rafael pulls the knife out of the dragon and hands it to Hope, fulfilling his promise to get it back to her. Landon and Alaric join them, and the teens go to look for a shovel so they can bury the dragon’s body. Dorian calls to tell Alaric that a dragon has to be stabbed in their “soft spot.” Alaric says the heart worked just fine and asks if Dorian read Game of Thrones for research. Dorian jokes that he consulted “Puff the Magic Dragon.”
Alaric doesn’t think they could actually be dealing with a dragon. But behind him, the dragon has transformed from a human into a…well, a freaking big dragon, with wings and everything. He turns around to see it and finally believes that that’s what they’re facing. The dragon takes off into the sky, now able to breathe fire on everyone from above. Hope tells the others to go hide in the car. She has an idea to take out the dragon. Alaric sends Landon and Rafael off and stays behind with Hope.
The Stallions huddle to discuss their last play of the game. Josie doesn’t get any instructions since Lizzie isn’t going to give her the ball. M.G. promises he can catch it, and Lizzie snarks that he probably already caught something from Penelope. Kaleb gets everyone to focus with the motivation that if they win, the Timberwolves won’t be able to mock them for the next year. Well, not for their football skills. I’m sure they’ll come up with something else.
Lizzie and Dana face off, and Lizzie doesn’t get the chance to throw to any of her teammates before Dana starts to tackle her. Josie notices and tackles Dana first. Lizzie throws to Kaleb, who’s in perfect position to catch the ball. Josie throws a little magic his way and makes him drop it. The Stallions lose.
Landon and Rafael run for the car with the dragon overhead. Hope plays the “dad card” to get Alaric to hide, not wanting to have to tell Josie and Lizzie that he’s dead. He ducks into the cellar as she pulls out the spell she tore out of her book. She stares down the dragon (well, stares up, since it’s above her), and…who knows? There’s a bright flash of light, and all of a sudden they’re both on the ground.
The dragon is back in human form, and when Hope raises the knife to kill her, she just reaches for it. Hope asks where the dragon came from and why she wants the knife so badly. Alaric comes up behind Hope and starts to take the knife as the dragon turns on her, ready to release another burst of fire. Alaric stabs her in the throat, finishing her off for real.
Dorian finally returns to the game as the players are reluctantly giving each other low fives for playing a good game. Josie even goes out of her way to say, “Good game” to Dana, who replies, “Suck it, loser.” That earns her a punch in the face from Lizzie. That leads to a brawl between both players and spectators.
Alaric picks up the spell page Hope dropped and blasts her for using dark magic. It’s banned from the school because it can poison the user’s heart and mind. He looked the other way on the spell she did yesterday because he knew she was upset, but this spell is for killing. She couldn’t have known she would need it for a dragon, which means she was going to use it on someone else. He acknowledges that Landon did something stupid – maybe even evil – but he’s still a kid, as is Hope. “This hatred, this vengeance…this is your father,” he says. “It can’t be you. I won’t allow it.” He tells her to bury the dragon and meet him at the car.
The Stallions return to school defeated in more than one way. Penelope lurks around M.G., making him drop his towel as he’s getting out of the shower. “Vampire or not, the last thing I want to see is your lost boy,” she says. She wants to strategize, but M.G.’s done listening to her – all she did today was get the wrong girl to look his way. Penelope tells him this is a long con, and Dana liking him is just what he needs to “crack Lizzie’s candy shell and get to her gooey center.” Despite the game loss, today was a win for him. He asks why Penelope cares, since she hates Lizzie. “Some people just want to watch the world burn,” she title-drops.
Josie tries to smooth things over with Lizzie by bringing her some frozen peas for the bruises she got from the on-field brawl. Lizzie isn’t mad at her, but Josie thinks she will be when she admits that she made Kaleb drop the ball on the last play. She also confesses to doing dark magic with Hope. Lizzie accuses her of betrayal. Josie says she was worried about disappointing Alaric, so she disappointed her sister instead.
Lizzie accepts her peace offering (heh. Her peas offering) and promises to forgive Josie as long as she stops keeping secrets and doing dark magic with Hope. Hope has spent the past ten years making them feel like they don’t matter, and Lizzie doesn’t like anyone doing that to her, especially Josie. But betrayal aside, Lizzie appreciates that Josie had her back today. They lie on Lizzie’s bed together and wonder what to do about Alaric. Lizzie thinks the more important question is what he’ll do to them.
Hope finishes burying the dragon and joins Alaric at the car. Landon and Rafael have taken off, leaving behind a note from Landon saying that he’s never been welcomed anywhere. He’s always been “the extra,” and if he caused trouble, he was kicked out. When you grow up like that, you learn to do whatever’s necessary to survive.
Alaric checks on Josie and Lizzie when he gets back to the school. Landon, who’s trying to hitchhike with Rafael, voices over that he’s never had a real family. He lied to protect himself, and he’s sorry he hurt Hope in the process. Josie wants to explain to Alaric what happened, but Alaric just wants to hug his girls and be glad that he made it home to them. Landon continues that the night he spent with Hope recently was one of the best of his life. He hates that he ruined it. He promises that the school’s secrets are safe with him. Hope looks at a couple of pictures of her family and cries.
Alaric goes out to check the gates that keep the school locked away from the outside world. Dorian asks if he’s worried about a student leaving. Alaric replies that he’s more worried about what might want to come in. They’ve gotten comfortable and careless there. The dragon reminded him that the world still contains “nasty surprises.” He doesn’t know the story behind the knife, but he saw something today that he never thought he would, and it scared him. He opened the school to protect supernatural kids, and he doesn’t know how to protect them from things that aren’t supposed to exist.
As the two of them head back inside, a gargoyle by the gates starts moving, its eyes glowing red.
Etc.: The CGI in this series isn’t always spectacular, but the practical effects are really impressive. When a creature’s supposed to look scary, it legitimately does.
I really enjoy Penelope as a character, but if she were a real person, she’d be a nightmare. There’s no way Josie would ever go for someone like her. That’s obvious even knowing as little as we do about Josie this early in the series.
Who is letting these children tackle each other in a flag football game, when they’re not wearing any productive equipment??
I love a good Island of Misfit Toys joke.
Yes, Alaric, a wooden root cellar is a great place to hide from a woman who breathes fire.