The morning after Dorian got a surprise visitor at his cottage in the middle of nowhere, vines begin crawling the walls. One opens the front door and lets in a dryad. Dorian traps her in a magical circle and she complains about being deceived. He calls Alaric to report that he “got one who talks.”
Alaric holds an assembly to address the students’ concerns over not having a say in decisions that affect their futures. He agrees that if they’re expected to follow the school’s policies, they should have a part in making those policies. He’s forming an Honor Council consisting of one witch, one vampire, and one werewolf. They’ll be elected and Emma will represent the younger kids. Alaric is heading off campus and hopes the students will make good decisions in his absence.
Rafael follows him out and asks if he’s decided whether Landon can stay at the school. Alaric’s putting Landon through some testing to find out if he’s supernatural. Rafael asks if the Honor Council can decide whether he stays or goes. Alaric thinks that’s fair. M.G. stops Alaric next, uneasy because he ratted out Kaleb for feeding on humans, which got him sent to “vampire prison.” Alaric says that’s on Kaleb, not M.G. Young vampires can’t control themselves. M.G. thinks Kaleb deserves some leniency, but it’s mostly because the other vampires are mad at M.G. Alaric says his punishment is fair, but if M.G. disagrees, he can present that to the Honor Council.
Alaric gets delayed a third time when Hope complains that she has to skip out on talking to a dryad so she can “run Landon’s 23andMe.” Heh. Alaric needs a witch to do Landon’s tests, and Emma’s busy. Plus, if Landon can convince Hope that he should be at the school, he can convince anyone. Hope thinks Alaric is enjoying this a little too much. “Try not to kill him,” he advises.
Lizzie wants to be on the Honor Council, and she’s so sure she’ll make it that she’s already picking out an outfit for her victory rally. Josie thinks she should focus more on, you know, the work she’ll be doing. Lizzie says she’s a “taste-maker,” and people don’t know what they want until she tells them they want it. They need her.
Landon meets Hope for his testing, objecting when he learns she’s conducting it. He’s not putting his future in biased hands. She says she’s not biased, and they don’t have a choice anyway. He starts to leave but she reminds him that he wants to know who or what he is. She wants answers, too.
Josie catches Penelope talking to some witches about why it would be a bad idea to vote for Lizzie for the Honor Council. They should back a different candidate. Josie thinks Penelope’s opposing Lizzie just to spite her ex. That’s a low move even for her. “You used to like it when I went low,” Penelope replies. Ma’am! Josie knows Penelope doesn’t like extracurricular activities, especially ones involving moral decisions.
Penelope calls her out for “double plagiarism” on Lizzie’s campaign posters, which copy the famous Obama “hope” design but use Hillary Clinton’s tagline, “I’m with her.” Josie notes that they couldn’t use the word “hope.” She threatens to crush Penelope if she doesn’t drop out of the campaign. “Oh, honey, you crush on me,” Penelope replies. She knows Josie knows that Lizzie would be a horrible choice for the council.
Dorian tells the dryad that they figured out that monsters come after the knife one at a time. His visitor the night before was a wraith, and since she didn’t talk, Dorian killed her. He’s pleased to have a monster who can communicate (not that she actually wants to). Alaric arrives and consults his research, which says that dryads, who are living spirits of trees, are gentle and used to live side by side with humans. He assures the dryad that they don’t want to hurt her; they just want answers.
The dryad notes that humans are known to lie. Dorian replies that monsters are, too. The dryad asks them to find a man named Oliver and bring him to the cottage. Then she’ll know they’re trustworthy and will answer their questions. Dorian is reluctant to negotiate but Alaric is on board. The dryad gives him a ring to show Oliver, sure that it’ll make him want to come.
Jed apparently uses his alpha status to get his fellow wolves to do his schoolwork for him. Rafael offers to write a paper for him if he gets something in exchange. Jed will clearly be the wolves’ choice for the Honor Council, and Rafael would like him to advocate for Landon to stay at the school. Jed’s opposed to that, and he sees this as a way to punish Rafael for not submitting when he first arrived. In case it wasn’t already clear, whatever the alpha wants, the alpha gets. Landon’s out.
The dryad asks Alaric what magic he’s using to find Oliver. “It’s a new spell called Google,” he replies. Heh. She asks him to open the window so she can feel the fresh air. Alaric declines, since he doesn’t know what powers she has. She tells him that dryads don’t lie; they choose not to do harm. He notes that, at least for humans, sometimes telling the truth can be harmful. He asks about Oliver, whom the dryad says wasn’t like the men who came to her forest to cut down trees. They fell in love.
Alaric warns that he might not still be alive, since it’s been a long time, but the dryad says that he became a vampire so they could be together. They were supposed to run away together, but something ruined that plan. The dryad can feel Alaric’s pain and knows he’s also lost someone he loved. He says she must be psychic, like, dude, you’ve been moping for 16 years. It doesn’t take a mind-reader to figure it out. The dryad knows that he’s suffered more than one loss. He confirms this, saying one was his children’s mother. But his life isn’t completely sad, and sometimes he can still see Jo in their daughters. Dorian returns with the news that Bonnie (yay, Bonnie!) did her thing and found Oliver. Unfortunately, he has no idea who the dryad is.
Landon starts his tests, which involve seeing how high he can jump, how long he can do a handstand, and whether he can pick up a heavy log. He gets negative marks for all those, and he refuses to swim across the lake, since he never learned to swim. He won’t give up, though, since he knows he just needs to pass one test to stay.
Emma checks in and Hope says that Landon was just about to run sprints to the lake and back. Emma asks what that test is for. “His ability to get away from me as quickly as possible,” Hope replies. It’ll be necessary if he stays. She already ran a lineage spell and couldn’t detect any magic in Landon’s bloodline. Emma finds that interesting, since most humans have at least a little from a distant magical relative. They need to learn more about Landon’s past.
Hope attempts this with a truth sphere that glows blue when someone’s telling the truth and red when they’re lying. Landon calls it a supernatural lie detector. It confirms that he doesn’t know where he was born, and all he knows about his mother is that her name was Seylah and she gave him for adoption when he was young. He’s never met his father. Hope asks why Landon can’t be compelled. He doesn’t know – he’d never even heard of it before a few days ago. He also doesn’t know why he took the knife. He remembers doing it but not why. The sphere confirms that all of this is true, but Hope tells him that’s not enough to justify letting him stay at the school.
Lizzie practices her acceptance speech in Twin Turret, leaving Josie to do the work of getting her votes. Rafael comes by to get help from Lizzie, which disappoints Josie. He asks if Lizzie has a sec and she replies, “I have a lot of secs.” Oh, Lizzie. M.G.’s the only vampire running for the Honor Council and has agreed to let Landon stay, so Rafael needs a second supporter to override Jed’s nay vote. Lizzie says she’d be happy to help. She’d also be happy to have Rafael as her date to her birthday party that Friday. Josie’s so surprised that she drops some books, then tries to hide behind a clipboard. Rafael thinks Lizzie’s blackmailing him, but she says she’s “black tie-ing” him. He glances at Josie, then says yes. Josie has a hard time being excited for her sister.
M.G. visits Kaleb in his cell, trying to smooth things over with a bag of blood and the promise that he’ll get Kaleb released if he’s elected to the Honor Council. Kaleb says he’ll rally the other vampires’ support if M.G. sends them down to him. Rafael tells Jed that the vampires and witches have agreed to let Landon stay, and he’d like his own faction to have his back. Jed says the pack is his, not Rafael’s. Rafael expected that, so he uses some things he’s learned from recent werewolf research to challenge Jed as alpha. This apparently involves them hitting each other.
As M.G. passes out buttons with his face on them, Josie discovers that someone has defaced Lizzie’s posters with red dots and changed “I’m with her” to “I’m with herpes.” Again I ask, where are all the adults in this school? M.G. hangs up posters that say, “Free Kaleb.” A girl agrees to vote for Lizzie if she can borrow one of her sweaters…forever. Josie must have anticipated that because she pulls it out of her backpack. She tries to avoid Penelope as she walks by her. Jed and Rafael’s fight ends with Rafael body-slamming Jed into a wall and punching him so hard he dazes him. “The polls are now open,” Rafael tells the pack.
Penelope is the last student to cast a vote before Emma announces the results. The werewolves will be represented by Rafael. Josie’s surprised that he suddenly want to be part of the pack. “I’ve always wanted to be part of a power couple,” Lizzie says happily. The vampires will be represented by Kaleb. So apparently when Kaleb told M.G. that he’d rally the vampires’ support, he mean their support for him. Finally, the witches will be represented by a Saltzman twin, but not Lizzie. Penelope was never running – she was campaigning for Josie the whole time.
Oliver’s confused about why he’s at the cottage, talking to a dryad he doesn’t remember. Alaric points out that she knows who he is, so she’s not making stuff up. Oliver’s sure they’ve never met before, and though he’s familiar with the forest clearing where they met and fell in love, he just knows it as the place where he proposed to his wife. The dryad realizes she’s really lost him and says she mistook him for someone else.
Landon doesn’t want to call off the testing just because he and Hope haven’t learned anything. “Don’t blame me because you’re not special,” she tells him. He doesn’t get why she’s so mad at him when he apologized and explained why he took the knife. She says she’s not mad. In fact, she doesn’t care. The truth sphere says otherwise. Hope admits that it’s easier to be mad, but Landon thinks she doesn’t want to let her guard down. She tells him that when she does, people disappoint her. (The sphere confirms this.)
Landon says that whenever he was sent to a new foster placement growing up, he hoped it would become his home, a place he belonged. It would be like Dorothy’s return home from Oz, just requiring three heel clicks to access. After hoping and getting hurt over and over, it started to seem impossible to trust anyone. He’s sorry for breaking Hope’s trust and doesn’t want to do it again. The sphere backs this up. Landon adds that if he doesn’t get to stay, Hope needs to make sure Rafael does. He found a home he deserves and Landon doesn’t want to take that from him.
After leaving Hope, Landon runs into Jed, who angrily says that Landon doesn’t belong there. Landon’s tired of hearing that. Jed’s problem is more with Rafael, but since Landon came there with him and can’t defend himself like Rafael can, why not pick on him instead? Jed grabs Landon’s arm, but Landon uses some kind of self-defense move on him and flips him onto his back. Jed kicks Landon off and he rolls down a hill into a clearing, the perfect place for Jed to beat him up without any witnesses. He leaves Landon bleeding on the ground.
Once Landon’s safe in Rafael’s room, Rafael vows to make Jed pay. Hope sends him to get something from the herb garden, admitting to Landon that she just made up a plant he’ll never find, hoping he’ll cool off while he’s looking for it. She feels bad for Landon’s beating, which, in another blow, let them see that he doesn’t have supernatural healing powers. Landon’s used to being bullied but Hope says Jed and jerks like him are different at the Salvatore School. Even the nice students are capable of hurting innocent people. Does he really feel safe there? He says he does.
Lizzie tries to meditate so she won’t have a meltdown over losing the election. Josie offers to step down so the runner-up gets her seat instead. Lizzie already asked Emma, who said it was fine, but Lizzie wasn’t the runner-up. M.G. returns to Kaleb’s cell, where Kaleb’s waiting with a smirk: “Let me guess, there’s been a mistake – I won the popular vote but not the electoral college.” M.G. isn’t happy about being stabbed in the back, but that’s what Kaleb feels M.G. did to him. M.G. says he only wanted to win so he could fix things between them. Kaleb says he did, and they’re even now.
Hope checks in with Alaric, who has a theory that whatever happened to make dryads, dragons, and gargoyles nonexistent erased all memories of them. That’s why they only exist in myths. Hope tells him she wants a seat on the council; as the only tribrid, she’s the only person who can represent her own interests. Alaric thinks she’s let things with Landon get personal. “The political is personal,” she reminds him, something she learned in his civics class. Aww, Alaric went back to his teaching roots!
The dryad hasn’t told Dorian and Alaric anything, and Dorian’s tired of sitting around. Alaric opens a window, feeling bad that the dryad suffered a loss like ones he’s experienced. The dryad decides this is enough for her to honor their deal and answer questions.
The Honor Council convenes for the first time, with Hope explaining her presence by saying she ran unopposed. Emma levitates a scale so the council can place tiles on it as they vote for or against Landon staying. She wants to honor the school’s dedication to inclusion, so she’s voting yes. She heads out to join a search party looking for Jed, warning that violence leads to more violence. Well, then I guess he should keep his hands to himself.
As the students prepare to make their own votes, Hope announces that Landon has to go. Kaleb agrees – humans won’t make a place for supernaturals in their world, so they shouldn’t let one in and run the risk of humans taking over. Rafael wants Landon to stay, of course, and he feels like they took his life from him and need to give him something to replace it.
Hope points out that it’s not about wanting Landon to stay – it’s not safe. She reveals that after she asked him if he felt safe there, she checked the truth sphere. It was red. Rafael vows to protect Landon, but Hope notes that he’s already failed there. If Landon stays, all of them will be responsible for his safety, and she doesn’t think they can all handle it. She officially votes nay, tying things up. Josie gets to make the final decision.
The dryad tells Alaric and Dorian that the night she was supposed to run away with Oliver, something attacked her. She woke up in an “endless darkness.” She could feel the presence of others but couldn’t see or hear them. Then all of a sudden she was out, somewhere near the cottage, with an urge to get the knife, even though she doesn’t know anything about it. Something is pressing her to take it to a dark pit under the earth. If she does, she’ll find peace. As she talks, she traces a symbol containing three overlapping triangles in some dust. She says she’s not strong enough to fight the urge.
A gust of wind comes through the window and blows through the magical circle, breaking the barrier spell keeping the dryad there. Vines shoot out of her hands and restrain Dorian and Alaric. She starts to go for the knife but Dorian shoots her with a crossbow. “Take me to the daffodils,” she begs Alaric as she starts to die. “Take me home.”
Josie considers her options, then says that since Landon got to the school, she, her sister, and her father have almost died. They don’t know what Landon is, so they can’t know whether or not he’s dangerous. They can’t make a decision based on friendships or who they like. The school is family and Josie won’t put her family in danger again. She votes nay, so Landon’s out. Rafael’s furious and wants nothing to do with his new classmates.
Dorian takes the dryad to a field so she can die in nature. She admires Dorian for keeping his word and showing her that not all humans lie. He wishes that more monsters were like her. She tells him she remembered something else about the darkness and the black pit: It’s called Malivore. Dorian thanks her for the information and says he’s sorry this happened. After the dryad dies peacefully, he covers her body and starts digging a grave. But her vines burrow under the ground, and right in front of Dorian’s eyes, a weeping willow grows in her place.
Landon looks at a picture he carries in his wallet of him as a baby, being held by his mother. On the back someone has written, “Seylah and Landon.” Rafael comes to break the news that he has to leave the school. Penelope finds Lizzie working out in the gym and mocks her for not getting any support from the witches. Lizzie asks what she ever did to make Penelope hate her so much. Penelope says it’s not about her – it’s about how she treats Josie.
Lizzie didn’t even think to ask Josie if she might want a seat on the council. Josie spends all her energy taking care of Lizzie; she doesn’t have time for a relationship because her sister is “a black hole of time and energy and love.” Lizzie sucks it all up and never gives anything back. Since Josie won’t burn Lizzie’s world down, Penelope will do it for her. After she leaves, Lizzie starts melting down. She uses magic to destroy the punching bag she was using for her workout.
Hope walks Landon to a bus stop, admitting that she voted for him to leave. She compares it to Landon not wanting Rafael to leave with him because it’s better for him to stay at the school, even if it’s hard. Landon asks if this is her way of admitting that she cares about him. Hope admits that she might be a little biased.
She gives him a ticket to New Orleans so he can meet Vincent, who can help him find his mother. She also gives him money, a sandwich, and a bracelet that will stand in for three heel clicks. If he ever needs her, he can press a button and she’ll be able to find him. He tests it out as she’s walking away and a magical compass points her in his direction. They go back to each other and kiss. Sure, okay.
Rafael goes to the gym to work out his aggression and finds Lizzie still there. She feels bad about Landon having to leave; she thought Josie would vote for him to stay. She tells Rafael he doesn’t have to be her date. Rafael says he’ll keep his word, since he didn’t break their deal. She pulls him back before he can go and kisses him, then starts taking off both their clothes. They go at it on a gym mat, on top of the sand from the bag she destroyed. That can’t be comfortable.
Landon heads to New Orleans, looking at the picture of himself and Seylah again. Around Seylah’s neck is a pendant matching the symbol the dryad drew at the cottage.
Etc.: Lizzie calls herself an influencer, so it’s actually a good thing that she doesn’t have a cell phone, because just imagine the content she would put out.
The werewolf alpha challenge sounds suspiciously like the Strix’s practice of ludum regale.
It would have been funny if Hope had run for all the seats on the Honor Council, since as a tribrid, she could technically represent all three factions.