M.G. is running through the woods, being chased by something unseen that roars at him. “Come on, man, I’m the lovable virgin – it’s not my time,” he says. He hopes that closing his eyes and then reopening them will get him out of there. Instead, he opens his eyes to a King Kong-sized gorilla.
Fortunately, it’s just a dream, one probably brought on by reading a Flash comic book featuring Grodd before bed. But he still hears growling when he wakes up. This time the growler is a knife-wielding human wearing the mask from Scream. But again, it’s just a dream. Dang, rough night for M.G. He goes to the kitchen for a midnight snack from the school’s supply of blood bags. Kaleb sneaks up on him after returning from his own snack run. His wasn’t from a bag, though.
The next morning, Matt comes to the school to address the disappearances of Dana and Sasha the night before. He circulates their pictures so the students can keep an eye out for them. Alaric thinks they should assume the worst. M.G. suspects that Kaleb was involved, since he fed on Dana, but Kaleb swears he’s innocent. Alaric asks a few students to volunteer for a fake exchange program at Mystic Falls High so they can gather clues. They’re allowed to use compulsion and grab materials for locator spells.
Lizzie is the first to “volunteer as tribute,” magnanimously saying she’ll put aside her differences with Dana since that’s what heroes do. Hope snarks to another classmate that after one run-in with a gargoyle, Lizzie thinks she’s Mother Teresa. Kaleb volunteers next, determined to prove that M.G.’s suspicions about him are wrong. M.G. and Hope also step up.
Alaric’s surprised by Hope’s offer to help out. While they’re doing a training session in the gym, she explains that she wants to know what it’s like to go to a normal school. She’d like to spend the day not being a “tribrid loner.” He notes that she brought the loner part on herself. She asks if Landon goes to the Salvatore School now. “Why? You still thinking about murdering him?” Alaric asks. He wants to find out why the knife he stole, which was dormant for centuries, started attracting monsters as soon as Landon arrived. There must be some things to learn about him. Hope expects Alaric to kick him out after that. He says they’ll do what’s best for the school. She asks what Landon will be doing while the others look for Sasha and Dana.
Landon’s been allowed to sleep in an actual room and wear Salvatore School clothes instead of being sent back to the basement, which Rafael thinks is a sign that he’ll be allowed to stay. It’s especially nice because they’ve had experiences living places where no one wanted them. Landon knows the rules: keep his head down, make himself useful, and stay out of trouble. Alaric already has an idea of how he can do that second thing.
He sends Landon to Mystic Falls High with Hope, Lizzie, M.G., and Kaleb. The students eye them like zoo exhibits. Landon bumps into Lizzie and accidentally ruins the grand entrance she thought she was making. He was caught up in flashbacks to the time he spent there, but she doesn’t care, since their job is to find out what happened to Dana and Sasha. She elects herself leader of the group and hands out assignments: Landon will talk to his former classmates, Hope will “try to not deliberately alienate the entire student body,” and the others will try to be heroes. Kaleb leaves, saying he works alone. Lizzie needs M.G.’s compulsion skills and invites him to be the Robin to her Batwoman. (It’s a metaphor, since Batwoman doesn’t have a Robin.)
Without Landon, Rafael has no one to sit with at lunch back at the Salvatore School. He joins Josie, preferring her company to the other werewolves. He asks why she didn’t volunteer to investigate at Mystic Falls High. She’s working on offensive spells, since the school only teaches defensive ones. She’d like the curriculum to change. Rafael smiles because this is considered a normal conversation there. Josie asks if that means he’s happy to be back. He says he will be if Landon’s allowed to stay.
Jed Thien approaches and tells Josie to leave so he can talk to Rafael. When Rafael protests, Jed says he’s the werewolves’ alpha, so he calls the shots. Rafael isn’t intimidated, and he smirks as he stands up, showing that he has an inch or two on Jed. Josie decides to flee the “hurricane of toxic masculinity,” and Rafael offers to walk her to class.
Landon shows Hope around Mystic Falls High, pointing out the senior hallway, where he was stuffed into every locker except one, since it doesn’t open, and the bathroom that may or may not be the site of Stefan and Elena’s first meeting. Hope asks if her lack of open hostility toward him makes him think they’re friends. He says he was just trying to be “effortlessly natural.” He’s nervous about being back there and seeing Connor and being around Hope. He doubts Dana’s friends will talk to him, and he doesn’t think they’ll be friendly to Hope, either. They’ll want to keep their distance from the new girl. Just then some cheerleaders approach Hope and offer to get her away from Landon. “He keeps trying to get me to buy his mixtape!” Hope exclaims.
Someone found Dana’s car in the woods, upside-down with blood smeared on the side. Matt and Alaric follow a trail of blood to Dana’s body, which is bleeding from the neck. It looks like after a gargoyle and a dragon, the latest monster Alaric will have to face is a good, old-fashioned vampire.
M.G. chats with one of Dana’s friends in gym class. He tries to compel information out of her but it doesn’t work. Also, now she’s curious about why he and Lizzie are asking questions about Dana and Sasha. Lizzie figures Hope has already bested them in finding out something useful. M.G. thinks he was unable to compel the friend because he was distracted by the sight of Lizzie in gym shorts. She tells him to get his head in the game.
Alaric gave M.G. the school cell phone, and he calls to share the news about Dana’s car. He’s not happy to hear that the kids split up. Wouldn’t it raise red flags if all five of them went everywhere together? Lizzie says it was the better strategy, and for once he’ll have to trust her instead of Hope. Alaric has three horrifying things to tell them, and he needs them to keep their cool. 1) Dana’s dead. 2) A vampire killed her. 3) Alaric just told Matt that his students weren’t involved, so he’d like confirmation that he’s right. Lizzie and M.G. both say they haven’t heard anything about vampires at the school feeding on humans. Alaric believes them but Lizzie knows M.G.’s lying.
Landon runs into Hope, who’s already so close with her new cheerleader friends that they invited her to try out for the squad. They also gave her a headband with sparkly cat ears on it. Landon thinks she’s letting her sudden popularity get to her, but Hope (who calls him Eeyore) says the ears were originally a gift from Dana, so they can use them for a locator spell. She also found out that Connor was cheating on Sasha with Dana. “It’s like every TV show that old people watch,” she says. This must have been a “crime of passion.”
Landon knows from personal experience that Connor’s a bully, but he’s not a killer. Hope notes that trusting Landon got them into this mess in the first place. She spots Connor down the hall and asks if Landon wants to play good cop or bad cop, since emo cop isn’t a thing. He’s following a different thread, though – a girl is wearing a scarf around her neck, which Landon finds out of place in Virginia heat.
Alaric tells Matt that since his students have claimed they didn’t kill Dana, they need to take vampires off the table. Matt’s not looking forward to lying to a teenager’s parents about what killed her, which has become so common in Mystic Falls that they should probably come up with a name for it. He wonders if Alaric’s forgotten what it’s like to be on the law-and-order side of this kind of situation. Alaric says it’s not about sides. They return to the spot where they found Dana’s body, but all that’s there now is her jacket.
Landon was right about the girl with the scarf hiding something, because Kaleb has taken her outside to feed on her again. Hope and Landon interrupt, so Kaleb sends the girl away. Lizzie and M.G. arrive next and she accuses Kaleb of killing Dana. Kaleb claims innocence and starts to zoom off, but Lizzie stops him in his tracks with a magic migraine. “It’s hero time,” she tells the others, leading them over to him. “To the Blondmobile,” Hope quips.
Kaleb swears that he only fed on Dana – he didn’t kill her. Landon backs him up, not because he knows something or trusts that Kaleb’s telling the truth, but because Dana has just emerged from the woods behind them. She tells the group that she was grabbed when she and Sasha were on the Salvatore School’s campus to graffiti the old mill. She woke up in a ditch and doesn’t know what happened.
Dana panics when she feels the fang marks on her neck, so Lizzie tells her it’s just a bad hickey. Dana doesn’t know why she’s talking to this group of people she doesn’t like instead of the cops. Hope hits her with a sleep spell to keep her from leaving. Lizzie blasts Kaleb for turning Dana, which he also denies: “You think I want to sit and listen to that for all eternity?” Regardless, the group now has a transitioning vampire to deal with.
Jed and a couple other werewolves track down Rafael and tell him they need to initiate him into the pack. All he has to do is tell the story about how he triggered his curse. Rafael doesn’t want to be part of the pack but Jed says he doesn’t have a choice. He can either submit or get beaten up and then submit anyway. Rafael tries to take option 3, run away, but the wolves grab him and start pounding on him. Josie catches them and does a spell to make their ears ring so they all back off. Jed lets Rafael know that they’ll just pick this back up later. When Josie tries to check on Rafael, his eyes flash yellow and he tells her to stay away from him.
While stashing Dana on the Salvatore School’s bus, Landon sums up that she died with vampire blood in her system, came back to life, and now needs to feed or she’ll die. M.G notices that he has some sort of white webbing on his hand. Kaleb thinks it’s an easy decision for Dana to make, but Hope notes that not everyone wants to be supernatural. Some want to be normal. Lizzie thinks they should give Dana time to decide, fully knowing that taking too long to feed would kill her.
Landon says they should tell Dana the truth. She could be excited to go to the Salvatore School. Kaleb notices that M.G. hasn’t weighed in. M.G.’s a feminist, so he’s not about to tell Dana what to do with her body. That said, he agrees with Landon. Lizzie gives in and agrees as well, with the caveat that she won’t let Dana join the drill team. That won’t be a problem because when Hope wakes Dana, she starts throwing up something dark. Hope realizes she’s literally puking her guts out. The result is a Dana-shaped puddle on the ground.
It’s pretty clear that whatever killed Dana wasn’t a vampire, and Hope guesses it was another monster looking for the knife. Kaleb wonders if that monster is actually Landon. After all, his arrival is when this all started, and he stole the thing the other monsters have been coming after. Landon insists that it’s a coincidence, but no one sides with him.
Rafael goes to the old mill to break some stuff and try to work out his aggression. Josie follows him and gets him to breathe with her until he calms down. He thinks she used magic, but it’s just a technique she’s used on Lizzie during her meltdowns. He apologizes for scaring her, but she says he didn’t. She’s only scared about what the wolves will do to him if he doesn’t submit to Jed. Rafael reminds her that she wants the curriculum to change. Yeah, that was more about offering different classes, not starting a revolution. Jed’s an alpha, Rafael’s a wolf, and that’s just how it is.
The conversation stops when Rafael notices white webbing all over the top floor of the mill. They go up to check it out and find Sasha wrapped up in it. When she opens her eyes, Josie gets startled and steps back, getting herself stuck in the webbing. Rafael gets stuck, too, when he tries to free her.
Landon runs into Connor in the restroom and is creeped out when Connor just stares at him. He follows Landon into the hallway, still saying nothing. Landon starts to walk away, then comes back, not wanting to let his former bully pretend he doesn’t exist. He punches Connor in the face, and his hand comes away with a patch of skin. Underneath it, poking through Connor’s cheek, is a big fang. When some pincers start to work their way out of Connor’s mouth, Landon wisely decides to run.
M.G. tears up pages from a comic book – this one featuring a spider – and cleans Dana guts off his shoes while Lizzie hoses away the mess. Kaleb announces that he’s leaving, since Landon could be eating more people right now. Hope wants to brainstorm what else they could be dealing with. Noticing the page he’s using from his comic book, M.G. suggests a giant spider. The comic writer bases her stories off of Greek mythology. This one is about Arachne, a woman cursed by a jealous god to become a spider. She only wanted to be human, so she disguised herself as her prey to pass as one. This kind of spider has huge fangs, like a vampire’s, and their bite liquefies their victims. Plus, it explains the web that transferred from Dana’s hair onto M.G.’s hand.
Hope’s on board with the theory, guessing that the spider couldn’t leave town with the knife because it didn’t have a human host. Lizzie still thinks Landon’s involved. They could do a tracking spell if they had something from the spider. “Would its face work?” Landon asks as he joins the group with…well, Connor’s face.
Josie’s a little anxious to get out of the web before whatever spun it comes back to eat her and Rafael. He suggests using magic to escape, but she explains that she and Lizzie can only use magic when they siphon it from someone or something else. Earlier she siphoned from a wall, since there’s magic running through the school, but it only works on small spells. Rafael asks if she can siphon from him. Yep, but her hands are stuck. She decides her lips can do the trick, so she siphons by kissing him. She’s not sure if it worked, though, since the action makes her head spin.
Connor enters and Rafael calls to him for help. With his face half gone now and his spider form starting to break through, it’s pretty clear that he’s the last person who will help them. As he scales the wall to join them on the top floor, Rafael advises Josie to use one of the offensive magic spells she’s been working on. She throws a fireball at the spider and knocks him to the ground, but it doesn’t kill him. It makes him mad instead, and now that he’s fully in his gigantic spider form, Josie and Rafael are really in a tight spot.
As Hope, Lizzie, Landon, and M.G. run through the woods to track the spider, Alaric calls. M.G. passes the phone to Lizzie, not wanting to tell Alaric what they’re planning. Lizzie knows she can’t pull off lying to her father, so she gives it to Landon, who’s good at it. “You’re his favorite,” Landon tells Hope, who just hands the phone back to Lizzie, since she wanted to be the hero. Lizzie lies that everything’s great, but Alaric knows it’s not, because he’s found Dana’s liquefied remains in the van’s glove compartment. EW.
Lizzie tells him that they figured out that they’re dealing with a huge spider and know how to kill it from M.G.’s comics. For some reason, that doesn’t make Alaric feel better. He wants to come to the kids’ rescue, but Lizzie won’t tell him where they are.
The spider snarls and tries to reach for Josie and Rafael as their rescuers arrive. Josie kisses Rafael again so she can power up for a spell to get through the webs. Then she, Lizzie, and Hope team up for a spell to overpower the spider and make it explode. The guys get Sasha out of the webbing and take her outside. The girls come out in a power walk, covered in spider goop like they’re from some alternate version of Carrie where that was spilled on them instead of pig blood.
After confirming that Sasha wasn’t bitten, M.G. compels her to think that she and Dana were attacked by a mountain lion on their way home from a party, and Dana was killed. Lizzie thinks he should make her forget everything so she doesn’t have to feel sadness. Hope tells M.G. to say that Sasha will always feel the pain of losing her best friend, but eventually she’ll be able to remember the good times, too. She should hold on to those to get through the hard parts.
Josie goes with Rafael to the gym, where the werewolves are throwing around a medicine ball. He doesn’t think he has a choice other than submitting and joining the pack. After Cassie died, he thought Landon was the only pack he would ever need. He asks if the school and people are worth it to keep Landon there. Josie admits that there are flaws and everyone there is cursed in one way or another and has issues they’re dealing with. But they’re all in it together and looking out for each other. It’s worth it.
The medicine ball rolls their way and Rafael takes it to the wolves. He announces that he killed his girlfriend in a car accident. Jed tells him to take a knee and submit to his alpha. Okay, Tyler. Fortunately, Jed’s just joking around. He invites Rafael to join the next round of whatever game they’re playing. (Wolfball? I don’t know.) (Screw it, I’m calling it wolfball.)
Hope finds Landon on the dock where she sometimes trains with Alaric. She laments that she didn’t get her wish to spend the day as a normal teen girl. She praises him for his help and he says it was nice to be part of a team. Well, at least until everyone thought he was a monster. Hope apologizes and says it’ll take some time before they can trust him.
Landon admits that he can’t explain why he took the knife any more than he can explain Connor being taken over by a giant spider. He doesn’t know why supposedly fictional creatures are suddenly showing up. But no one else can explain it, either, and he’s pretty sure they’re supposed to be in this together. All he wanted today was to be a part of this and spend time with Hope, but she spent the day ridiculing him, then turned on him. “You wanted to know what it’s like to be normal?” he says. “Congrats, Hope. You’re officially normal.”
Alaric chastises Lizzie for trying to be a hero instead of listening to him and playing it safe. She tells him she’s not a hero, but she wanted to try because he treats Hope like one. She’s jealous that Hope’s better at heroics. “Hope is not the goal,” Alaric title-drops. She’s a cautionary tale, and Alaric trusts her for reasons he doesn’t want the twins to experience. He founded the school and made a bunch of rules to protect them.
Josie speaks up that they only survived today because they broke the rules, like when they did an offensive-magic spell Hope learned on her own. Plus, the gargoyle almost killed Lizzie because no one told them to be on the lookout for monsters. If they’ve learned anything over the past couple of days, it’s that Alaric can’t protect them from everything. They need to start learning how to protect themselves.
Alaric realizes he’s reached the moment in parenting when you lose all control. He promises to take what the twins have said into consideration. “I love you. Sort of,” he says as he leaves. Lizzie’s impressed with Josie’s boldness and asks where it came from. “I guess I felt like launching a revolution,” Josie replies.
In the kitchen, Kaleb blasts M.G. for ratting him out for feeding on humans. He can’t be siding with Lizzie if he wants to be Kaleb’s friend. M.G. doesn’t like Kaleb’s concept of “vamps before tramps” because it disrespects Lizzie. They already have enough monsters to deal with and can’t become ones themselves. Kaleb scoffs that M.G. is Alaric and the twins’ puppet. Lizzie bosses him around and Alaric sends him on errands, and he just takes it.
He thinks Hope and Lizzie tagged along to Mystic Falls High to keep an eye on the vampires because Alaric didn’t trust them. (Never mind that Lizzie volunteered first.) The school makes rules about what they can eat but doesn’t tell them what they’re actually eating. M.G. says there are blood bags in the fridge, and Kaleb tells him they’re not human blood. They’re on the Stefan Salvatore bunny diet.
On his way back to his room, Kaleb runs into Matt, who has some questions about all the cheerleaders at Mystic Falls High who are wearing scarves around their necks. Uh, it’s called fashion. Look it up. Alaric sends Matt away, saying he’ll handle this. Kaleb doesn’t appreciate the fake loyalty since he’s sure Alaric told Matt he was feeding on humans in the first place. He just doesn’t know who told Alaric. “Actually, you just did,” Alaric says. He had his suspicions and now they’ve been confirmed.
Kaleb turns on Matt and asks what he’s going to do, since there’s no way Kaleb will let himself be locked up. Well, not at the sheriff’s department, at least. Alaric injects him with vervain so he can be sent to timeout in the basement. Matt tells Alaric that he’s been doing this for too long. If the students are a threat, he’ll come for them. “If you threaten my kids, sheriff, I’ll be the one coming for you,” Alaric replies. And then we never see Matt again, so I guess he got the message. ‘Bye, Matt!
After locking Kaleb up, Alaric calls Dorian, who’s in a cottage in the middle of nowhere, to tell him about the day’s monster. He thinks Dorian might as well come home – nothing’s coming for him. Well, except the slimy monster that’s just showed up at the cottage.
Etc.: This episode is when the show’s brand of humor starts to peek through. Most of the credit goes to Kaleb.
Oh, Jed. The future winner of the Caroline Forbes Award for the Biggest Transformation Over the Course of a Series.
Here’s Hope in the cat ears, just for fun.
The walls of the Salvatore School containing magic is pretty handy for Josie and Lizzie, but wouldn’t it make more sense for them to, say, wear pendants they could siphon from, like the one Valerie gave Caroline?
It becomes very clear in this episode that none of the kids are allowed to have cell phones. This will become extremely inconvenient in situations where using a phone would save someone in a dangerous situation. Bad school policy, Alaric and Caroline! Bad!
Also bad: There are apparently no adults around when Alaric and Dorian are off campus.
Rafael would make a good match for either Hope or Josie. And they’d be lucky to be with him – he’s a catch.
Lizzie’s obviously mad that Alaric jumped in front of the gargoyle to save Hope, and I know it’s her jealousy talking but did she think he would just let Hope die? This is the guy who risked his life saving Jeremy from being hit by a car. He’s been putting other people’s kids’ lives ahead of his own for 20 years at this point. Also, if he hadn’t saved Hope, Rebekah would be at the school within 30 seconds and that would be the end of Alaric.