Clarke is at Triad, giving instructions to someone with a bag over their head to bring him what he wants, whatever it takes. If the person doesn’t agree, they’ll go in the Malivore pit. Once the person nods, Clarke calls for transportation to the Salvatore School.
Everyone’s returned there from their various spring break activities, whether they be road trips to retrieve urns and take down mummies or visits home that ended with death and the discovery that Landon’s a phoenix. And maybe some people went to the beach. I don’t know. Landon and Hope spent the night in her bed (fully clothed), and he wakes her when she starts showing signs of distress from a nightmare. She releases a blast of magic when she wakes and sends him flying across the room.
Landon goes to see Alaric, who’s doing research on phoenixes. He offers therapy sessions with Emma in case Landon needs help getting past the fact that M.G. killed him. Landon’s just happy to know what he is and that he belongs at the school. He’s there to talk about Hope. Alaric tackles that in his and Hope’s next training session by coming out and asking her, “What’s wrong with you?” Nice. She says there’s nothing to worry about. Yeah, she saw her boyfriend’s dead body, but she’s been through worse. When Alaric presses the issue, she yells that she fine, releasing more magic. Yeah, she’s great.
As Hope heads to the woods to run around as a wolf for a while, Lizzie comes to get Alaric’s signature for a delivery. He forgot that they’re hosting the Miss Mystic Falls pageant. He calls an assembly to remind everyone to maintain their image as “a normal school for the rich and awful.” Everything supernatural or magical must remain hidden while townies are on the property. Everyone gets to work cleaning and relocating stuff.
Landon thinks he and Hope are in the best place they’ve ever been. He’s indestructible, she’s basically also indestructible, and they aren’t facing any obstacles. Enter a possible obstacle: Roman. He’s not the only familiar face showing up as the pageant participants and attendees start arriving – Veronica is there, too. Alaric assures her that M.G.’s in therapy and everything will be fine. Well, as fine as things can be considering he killed one of his classmates.
Alaric tells Veronica that Landon is alive again and doesn’t hold a grudge. Veronica’s upset that her son is going to school with a phoenix and has encountered a bunch of monsters. That certainly wasn’t in the school brochure! Alaric promises that they’re committed to M.G.’s care. Veronica notes that when he left her home, he wasn’t a murderer.
Roman explains to Hope that he’s been helping Alaric with recruitment, and Alaric asked him to lend a hand today, I guess because Dorian’s gone and Emma’s busy holding therapy sessions and there are no other adults around. Hope introduces Roman to Landon, who quickly identifies himself as a) her boyfriend and b) a phoenix, “which is…so cool.” Roman doesn’t give any indication that he wants to steal his ex back, so Landon can chill. Landon guesses that he’s the vampire Hope told him was her first kiss, as well as someone partly responsible for Hayley’s death. She says she doesn’t blame him for that anymore.
Penelope wants to recreate her slug-fueled make-out session with Josie, who’s not interested now that her inhibitions are back to their normal level. Penelope brings up the letter she gave Josie, but Josie never read it. Penelope offers her an excuse to skip the pageant, which is archaic and misogynistic. Josie reveals that she’s competing along with Lizzie. Lizzie’s wanted to win since she was a kid, so she could follow in Caroline’s footsteps. Josie’s going to throw some events to help her win. Penelope’s annoyed that Josie is once again taking a backseat to her sister.
Hope asks Lizzie, who’s organizing the whole pageant and overseeing the prep (like mother, like daughter), for another task to keep her occupied. Lizzie guesses that she’s stressed about Roman being there. Hope says the real problem is that she can’t wolf out to relieve her tension while there are humans around. Lizzie’s happy to load her up with stuff to do.
She goes to greet the judges, proving to be even more on top of things than Caroline ever was. She’s thrown for a loop when she realizes that one of the judges, Vera, is Dana’s mother. Dana told her all sorts of horrible things about Lizzie. Lizzie decides to drop out of the pageant, since there’s no way she can win Vera over. She blames Dana for sabotaging her from beyond the grave. Lizzie’s fine with waiting until next year to compete; she’ll just throw her support behind a different contestant. Josie thinks it’s her, but Lizzie has her eye on Hope.
Hope reluctantly agrees to at least hear Lizzie out. Lizzie thinks she’s the perfect contestant – she’s pretty, she’s fairly well-spoken, and because she’s an orphan, she’s a “classic charity case.” Well, it worked for April, but not for Elena. Lizzie notes that Hope wanted something big to take her mind off of things. She hands over a binder full of Caroline’s research from the year she won, then produces a box full of her own, much more extensive research. She wants the Salvatore School to finally produce a winner.
M.G.’s fears about being ridiculed for killing Landon were reasonable, as someone passes him in a hallway and calls him “killer.” He runs into a girl named Nia and, guessing that she’s a pageant contestant, directs her to the changing rooms. He obviously thinks she’s pretty, and his attraction toward her just grows when he sees a Green Lantern pin on her jacket and pegs her as a fellow comic book fan. He offers to give her a tour of the school.
Lizzie accompanies Hope to a rehearsal, telling her the competition starts right now. Penelope is also there, having talked M.G. out of being Josie’s escort so she could take his place. Josie asks why, and Penelope says she’d know if she’d read her letter. The contestants and their escorts practice the dance they do every year. Josie looks like she’d rather face another mummy, while Penelope’s enjoying the crap out of herself. Hope and Landon accidentally bump into Sasha, whose mean-girl brain tells her to insult Hope’s hair.
Penelope calls the whole thing “the death of feminism.” Josie tells her it’s tradition. I doubt tradition allowed for same-sex partners in the past, so Penelope should consider this a win. Josie announces that she’s going to trip so Hope will look better, but Penelope catches her and dips her. Vera appreciates the flourish but reminds the dancers that they’re not supposed to touch, since it’s “all about the simple intimacy of the near touch.” Ma’am, I watched Carol Lockwood. I knew Carol Lockwood. Carol Lockwood was a friend of mine. Ma’am, you’re no Carol Lockwood.
Josie hisses at Penelope not to ruin this for her. Penelope asks if she means herself or Lizzie. Josie says it’s both. They have a plan, and it now involves helping Hope. Josie claims she doesn’t want to win, but Penelope isn’t sure if she means that. Doesn’t she also want to follow in Caroline’s footsteps? Wouldn’t winning bring her family history full circle in a way Lizzie can’t appreciate? Josie’s upset by that, but Penelope title-drops, “Let’s just finish the dance.”
M.G. and Nia have hit it off right away and are now debating who the best Green Lantern was. She thinks it was John Stewart, no question, but M.G. prefers Hal Jordan, who was able to find redemption after he killed his friends. Speaking of friends, Nia wonders why M.G. hasn’t introduced her to any of his. He says he will, then gets distracted by the sight of his mother. Veronica shoos Nia away (rude!) and tells M.G. they need to talk.
Landon complains that Hope was so nice to Roman after everything he did to her family. She tells him it’s complicated. He spent years desiccated in a cave, then was brainwashed by his Nazi mother. Over the past two years, Roman has been really helpful to the school. Landon doesn’t think that makes up for the fact that he contributed to Hayley’s death. Some glassware across the room starts to shake as Hope gets frustrated, telling Landon to leave the past in the past. He doesn’t think it’s fair that she froze him out after he stole the knife, but Roman gets a pass. Hope angrily tells him to stop. Lizzie, who’s noticed what’s happening, pulls her away.
Veronica no longer thinks that the school is the right place for M.G. He notes that she won’t let him go home, and he refuses to go to another school. Here, everyone sees him for who he is, even the bad parts. He tells Veronica to leave him alone. Nia has been listening from outside the room this whole time.
Lizzie takes Hope to the old mill to help her deal with her feelings before she hurts someone – or worse, costs them the pageant. Hope insists she’s fine, but Lizzie knows from experience that she’s right on the verge of a meltdown. She needs to scream and let go of her emotions. Hope does, releasing magic at the same time. She feels a lot better but doesn’t think she should stay in the pageant. Lizzie says she has an 87 percent chance of winning, so she needs to stick with it.
They run into Landon, and Hope asks Lizzie which of them should apologize. Lizzie says that when jealousy is involved, the guy is always up first. Landon appears to agree, since he starts to apologize but gets distracted by a new statue on school grounds. It looks suspiciously like Veronica.
Alaric and M.G. come to examine it, and Hope and Alaric debate whether they’re dealing with a monster that can turn people to stone. Lizzie notes that “this sentient jar of artisanal mayonnaise” (AKA Landon) could have activated another artifact. Since he helped clean the school, there’s no way of knowing what he might have touched. He suggests that the person responsible showed up today. Maybe they acted friendly and manipulated someone’s romantic feelings so they’d drop their guard.
M.G. thinks he could be the someone here, but Hope knows Landon’s talking about Roman. She thought he was sorry about being jealousy. “I was sorry but now I’m vindicated!” Landon says. Alaric tells Hope and Lizzie to keep an eye on the contestants while he and M.G. search the campus. Landon announces that he’s going to interrogate Roman. Hope points out that he’s a vampire, so he doesn’t have the ability to turn people to stone.
Landon ignores her and accuses Roman of being behind what happened to Veronica. Roman sarcastically says that he’s going to turn the whole school to stone, steal a horse, and ride off into the sunset with Hope. He knows that Landon really wants to know if he still has feelings for Hope. He does, and he always will, but he knows Hope would never get back together with him. Landon doesn’t have to trust Roman on that, but he should trust Hope.
Hope practices for the Q&A portion of the pageant. Lizzie has prepared answers for her, and they’re all connected to grief and death. Lizzie thinks that’s a connection she can make with Vera. Hope denies that she’s struggling with Landon’s recent death; she’s dealt with it and moved on. Lizzie presents her with a dress that belonged to Caroline, which they can alter for Hope to wear. Hope loves it.
Penelope catches up with Josie, who just had her Q&A session and happily blew it. Penelope wants her to talk about how she really feels about the pageant. Josie suggests that she write things down instead. Penelope quoted her exact thoughts on the pageant back to her, and Josie remembered that she’d written them in her diary. The pen she used was one Penelope gave everyone for Christmas. She must have spelled them to spy on people.
Penelope confirms this but swears that she’s only using the information she’s gotten from people’s journals for good. She thinks her attempts to get Josie to win the pageant qualify. Josie says that even if she hadn’t already tanked her chances, she wouldn’t want to win, because it’s not what Lizzie wants. Penelope’s meddling has all been for nothing.
Alaric and M.G. go hunting for what Alaric thinks is a gorgon. They have snakes for hair and can turn men to stone (it’s what Medusa was). Dorian knows more about them, but he’s gone. M.G. thinks the gorgon just acted on instinct and made a mistake: “Gorgons gonna gorgon.” Maybe this gorgon is smart and cool, and she just got confused or scared. Alaric, no dummy, asks what he knows. Before M.G. can answer, Alaric turns to stone.
Nia appears, her hair now snakes, and asks where Landon is. She promises not to hurt M.G. or anyone else if he takes her to Landon. M.G. refuses to give up any of his friends, especially Landon. Nia tries to turn him to stone, but for some reason, her powers don’t work on vampires. She didn’t know that’s what he was, and she thinks it’s awesome. She has two things to tell him: 1) John Stewart is the best Green Lantern, and 2) she’s sorry. One of her hair snakes crawls around M.G.’s neck and snaps it.
Penelope snags the bottle of champagne Landon is using to sooth himself and joins him for a pity party. He notes that she’s never spoken to him before. “You’ve never had free booze before,” she replies. He admits that he wanted to feel special after coming back from the dead, but at this school, “special” is normal. Roman’s arrival made him feel like a loser. Maybe he should just admit to Hope how jealous he is of “vampire Captain America.” He’s learned from her that honesty is the best policy. Penelope laughs at the thought of Hope being honest. The school is full of hypocrisy, and Penelope thinks there are some things Landon should know.
The contestants and their escorts are making their entrances, and Penelope arrives just in time to walk with Josie. “You are like a lingering cough,” Josie tells her. Penelope doesn’t get how her throwing the pageant helps Hope. Josie explains that she’s the fall girl – she had to make it this far so she can take a literal fall and remove Hope’s closest competitor from the running. Penelope tells her she’s a lot better than that. Lizzie might not think Josie can win, but Penelope does. She advises Josie to “go down swinging” because she deserves to make an entrance with her head held high, like Caroline did.
Josie makes a graceful entrance, but at the last minute, she chooses to honor Lizzie’s wishes. She fake-trips and slams into Sasha. Penelope asks what Josie’s going to do when Penelope isn’t there to fight for her anymore. Josie doesn’t know what she means. Again, it’s in the letter Penelope gave her.
Landon joins Hope at the last minute and reveals that Penelope told him she’s keeping a secret about Seylah – that they met, and that Landon doesn’t remember but Hope does. He asks Hope to tell him that Penelope’s lying, but she can’t. He acknowledges that he hasn’t always been completely honest, but she taught him the value in being truthful. He’s too upset to stay. Hope starts getting emotional as she faces entering by herself. Roman pops up to take Landon’s place and tells her to hold it together for five more minutes.
Landon goes outside for some air and encounters Nia. She apologetically says she’s just doing what she has to do. But when she starts to turn him to stone, a bell rings and disrupts her powers. M.G. zooms over to her and injects her with something to knock her out. He did some research on gorgons and learned that they can be neutralized by three rings of a bronze bell. He figured he’d try it, even though it was a myth, since the only other suggestion was decapitation and he didn’t want to commit another murder. He asks Landon if they’re cool, and Landon says they’re even.
Hope tries to hold it together while she dances with Roman. Sasha’s still there, so Josie’s fall didn’t help. She’s finally read Penelope’s letter, and she tells Lizzie that Penelope’s leaving the school. Lizzie already knew; she overheard Alaric talking to Penelope’s parents. She’s happy about it, since “the devil’s exorcising herself” from their lives.
Josie realizes what Penelope’s trying to tell her all along: Lizzie never considers anyone’s feelings other than her own. Not only did Lizzie not think Josie would want to enter the pageant, but she never thought that Josie could win. Josie wanted to, but Lizzie put her support behind Hope instead. Lizzie says she made the decision based on science. Josie thinks her feelings are more important than that.
Hope sees the twins fighting and asks Roman to use his vamp hearing to eavesdrop. Josie complains that Lizzie gave Caroline’s dress to Hope, then asks if Lizzie thought about how Hope would feel wearing it. Lizzie doesn’t think it’s a big deal since Hope looks great and loves the dress. Josie wonders if Hope would be as happy if she knew where it came from. Roman tells Hope that the twins are having a sibling-rivalry fight about her dress.
Lizzie doesn’t know the story behind it, beyond it being a gift from a guy who used to have a crush on Caroline. Josie tells her that guy was Klaus. Yep, Hope is wearing the dress that Caroline wore to Esther’s ball. Roman relays this to Hope, who starts to cry. That’s when Vera announces that Hope is this year’s Miss Mystic Falls.
Lizzie notices the chandelier shaking as Hope’s emotions start to overwhelm her. Just when it looks like Hope’s going to melt down or release her biggest burst of magic yet, Lizzie runs over and hugs her. She tells Hope to let out her feelings “the real way,” the way she’s needed to this whole time. Hope sobs, dealing with her very human emotions in a very human way.
Once Nia’s locked up in the basement, she tells M.G. her story: She and her family lived off the grid until Triad showed up and captured her. They threatened to kill her and erase her from everyone’s memory if she didn’t come to the school and follow their orders. M.G. asks how Veronica fit into her plans. That was just Nia enacting a little revenge for the way Veronica talked to her son. She thinks she’s in trouble, but M.G. tells her that at the Salvatore School, your mistakes aren’t what’s important – it’s about how you make up for them. Nia can start by undoing what she’s done.
Hope changes out of her dress, eager to go find Landon, but Lizzie advises her to give him some space and wait for him to come crawling back. Hope thought she could keep it together tonight. She’s worked really hard to move on from all the losses she’s suffered, but everyone was right. She needed to let it out. She asks how Lizzie knew what to do. Lizzie says she just did what Josie always does for her. She’s worried about how angry Josie is, and Hope says Landon’s mad at her, too. They make a deal to help each other repair those relationships.
Landon goes to a fully recovered Alaric’s office to ask if he knew that Hope remembered their encounter with Seylah. Alaric admits that he did. Landon angrily says he’s a liar, too, and Alaric offers to accept all the blame as long as Landon cuts Hope some slack. She just wanted to protect him. Landon gets upset about that and leaves.
Veronica’s also recovered, and M.G. apologizes for they way he talked to her earlier, since she didn’t raise him to speak like that. But she did raise him to be his own man and make his own decisions, which is why he’s choosing to stay at the Salvatore School. He has friends there, and Alaric has his back, and it’s the only place that will give him a second chance after what he did. The only way he’s leaving is dead or on his graduation day.
Josie catches Penelope as she’s leaving the school and busts her for not saying goodbye. Penelope tells her that she said it in her letter. Her mother got a job in Belgium, and Penelope will be attending a witch-only school there, which she’s looking forward to. Josie doesn’t want her to go, but Penelope says that Josie hasn’t given her a single reason to stay. Instead, she gave a thousand reasons Penelope should go. Throwing the pageant was the last straw. Penelope can’t stay and watch Josie continue to put herself second, especially considering what will happen next. Josie doesn’t know what that means.
Penelope gives her the book where everything written with her spelled pens is recorded. Josie needs to read what Alaric wrote about something called the merge. “One day, you will understand why I did everything I did,” Penelope says tearfully. They kiss goodbye and Penelope tells Josie she loves her with all her “obnoxious, selfish, evil heart.”
Landon’s heading off-campus for a walk as Veronica is leaving. She feels horrible for what M.G. did to him and offers to give him a ride. He says he’s getting some air, and she replies that it wasn’t a request. She zaps him with a stun gun and he collapses. Sometime later, Clarke finds him tied to a chair next to the Malivore pit. He’s been delivered by Clarke’s boss, whom he always calls Mrs. G. Veronica tells him that his asset failed her mission, so Veronica cleaned up her mess.
Keep in mind: Penelope gave a bunch of people pens that allow her to read whatever’s written with them.
Etc.: The school has more assemblies than the town had social events in The Vampire Diaries.
Alaric has to know about Roman’s involvement in Hayley’s death, right? So how could he not warn Hope that Roman would be around? Really, he should have asked her how she would feel if he worked with Roman before he ever made those arrangements.
When Penelope’s talking to Josie about her plan to throw the pageant, Penelope says she wishes she had a drink with her so she could do a spit take. Later, when Landon considers admitting to Hope that he’s jealous of Roman, she gets to do that spit take. Good for her!
Lizzie’s insults toward Landon are too good to be off the top of her head. I bet she keeps a notebook full of them.
The special effect that makes Nia’s hair look like snakes is pretty cool.
I love how Hope and Lizzie have been rivals for ten years because of a rumor Josie started, but M.G. and Landon make up 24 hours after one of them killed the other.
Lizzie’s maturity in this episode should make Josie very happy. She definitely screwed up by backing Hope instead of Josie, but the way she treats Hope at the end of the pageant shows that she can be a better person.
Veronica turning out to be with Triad is an excellent twist. I never saw it coming.
Farewell, Penelope. I miss you already. I enjoy your habit of seeing a puddle of gasoline and going, “What would happen if I threw a match on that?”