Landon is now Triad’s prisoner, and Veronica, AKA Clarke’s boss Mrs. G., wants him to find out about Landon’s background and any other phoenixes he’s willing to turn in. Then he needs to ask about the knife. Veronica knows that Landon tried to steal it, so she’d like to know why he wanted one of the locks to Malivore. She thinks he’ll talk without a fight, since he willingly recorded a voicemail when they told him to.
Clarke turns off some surveillance cameras and joins Landon for what he says is a conversation that will give him some answers. First, though, Clarke wants his own answers. When the three locks to Malivore were created, some decoys were also made, and Clarke thinks Landon can pick out the final real lock. He shows Landon some pictures, but Landon has no interest in giving Triad any information. Clarke says this is just for himself – Triad wants to keep the artifacts hidden, but Clarke wants to toss the last one in the pit and unlock Malivore.
Landon’s like, “Cool, now I want to help you even less.” Clarke says he’ll tell Landon a story, and at the end, Landon might change his mind. It’s the story of Landon’s father.
At the Salvatore School, Hope’s trying to paint but is facing some artist’s block. Josie’s keeping her distance from Lizzie, partly because of the whole pageant mess and partly because she’s doing research on the merge. She finds a bunch of books in the library that hold information about it. Hope avoids Roman, and in turn gets avoided by Rafael. His mind is still scrambled from lunar psychosis, and he’s surprised to find himself in the gym without remembering going there. Jed seems to actually be worried about him, which might be a first.
Alaric plays Emma and Hope the voicemail Triad made Landon leave him. In it, he greets Alaric as “Ric,” says he’s going camping for a while, and asks Alaric to say hi to Rafael and Jed for him. Hope gets a bad feeling about the situation, since Landon would never want to have anything to do with Jed. Triad tried to come for him once, so he’s not safe. Alaric notes that they kept a huge secret from him, so they need to give him time to process it.
After Hope leaves, Emma tells Alaric that she’s done all she can for Rafael. The side effects of the Crescent elixir are getting worse – he’s losing time and becoming aggressive. Alaric promises to keep an eye on him, but Emma thinks he needs more help, since he’s already run himself into the ground over the past few weeks. She’s obviously thinking of Dorian, but Alaric knows he’s too proud to come back after quitting. Emma doesn’t think his pride is the problem here.
Hope finds Lizzie in the kitchen, where she’s trying to make a banana cream pie. She’s upset that her twin spent the night somewhere other than their room, and she wants the pie to be a peace offering. Hope thinks she should just apologize, which isn’t in Lizzie’s vocabulary. This is the twins’ typical routine, just with Hope lending a hand. Lizzie asks for an update on Landon, but Hope doesn’t have one. She feels like she could get him to come back if she could figure out the right thing to say. Lizzie suggests that she practice with a prism Emma has that simulates a conversation.
Josie’s research has hit a dead end – mentions of the merge have been removed from all the books she’s found. Lizzie brings her a tray full of her favorite foods, though Josie guesses that Lizzie had to ask someone what they were. Lizzie sees that she was reading up on the merge, but Josie doesn’t tell her anything about it (not that she knows anything).
Clarke gives Landon his picture of himself and Seylah and says it’s part of the story he wants to tell. Landon already knows (or thinks he knows) that he’s the product of Seylah and a Malivore monster. Clarke says his father will be easy to pick out in the story.
A long, long time ago: There are dragons. One attacks a village, burning houses and causing people to flee. No faction on its own could defeat it, so “an unholy alliance was formed.” A witch, a werewolf, and a vampire –
Present: “Walked into a bar,” Landon finishes. Har har.
A long, long time ago: The three combine their blood and make a golem that can consume all the dragons. They spell it to have an “insatiable hunger,” but also make it unable to harm witches, werewolves, and vampires. One of these original Triad members draws the organization’s symbol on the golem’s forehead. They call it Eater of the Dark. When the dragons return in human form to steal from the villages they’d attacked, the golem consumes them. But it’s still hungry, so it keeps eating monsters.
Present: Landon asks if the golem ate his father. Clarke tells him that the golem is his father.
Lizzie gives Hope the conversation prism, and Hope repays her with a book bout the Gemini coven. Alaric keeps it locked up, so Hope figures there’s something useful in it. “For once, your weird relationship with my dad actually comes in handy,” Lizzie says. Hope warns her to be careful, since Alaric must have a good reason for hiding things. Lizzie has a feeling that everything is going to work out great. She feels like the whole school is vibrating. She’s sure that she and Hope will both repair their damaged relationships.
Hope takes the prism out by the lake, and it shows her a hologram of Landon. He teases her by pretending to freak out about not being real. She regrets not telling him about Seylah, and she’s sorry if she hurt him. Holo-Landon thinks that’s a weak apology. He knows that’s not what she really wants to say. Hope snaps that he should just tell her what to say, then. He replies that that’s not how this works – she has to listen. “Even fake you is infuriating!” she exclaims.
The real Landon asks Clarke how a “mud robot” can be his father. Dude, your girlfriend is part werewolf, part vampire, and part witch – how do you not get that anything in this universe is possible? Clarke tells him that the Eater of the Dark didn’t stay a golem. As it absorbed monsters’ DNA, it evolved and eventually became sentient. Once it had consumed all the monsters, the Triad wanted to turn him back into mud. They were the only ones who could destroy him, since they’d created him.
A long, long time ago: One of the Triad members tries to wipe away the symbol on the golem’s forehead, but he stops her. He’s made a deal with the humans he saved, and they all show up with torches and weapons to keep him from being destroyed. They set him free and he wanders the world, consuming more monsters and erasing all memories of them. After some time, the golem gets lonely, so he used some of the mud he was made of to make children.
Present: Landon objects here – he can’t buy that he’s “a magical mud man with implanted memories.” Clarke says that’s not the case at all. The golem’s children were flawed, had no powers, had weaknesses, and were sterile, so they can’t continue their father’s legacy. The golem was created to be the only one of his kind, not a species or the head of a bloodline. He found another way to reproduce biologically and have a son who was part human. That son will live forever and continue the species. Landon is what the golem has spent his life trying to create.
Lizzie tries to get Josie’s attention by showing off the book she’s reading about the Gemini coven, but Josie ignores her. Lizzie offers the book to her and asks for credit for helping. Josie says she doesn’t want Lizzie’s help – she’d like something that’s completely her own. Lizzie thinks she wants her own room, which is fine with her. Josie says it’s not about needing space, it’s about feeling suffocated by her twin every minute of her life. They need to have their own lives and be their own people.
Landon calls bull on Clarke’s implication that the father he’s been looking for for years has also been searching for him. Clarke says he was there. Their father is a gifted artist and has refined his creations. Landon perks up at Clark’s use of the word “our,” and Clarke confirms that he’s one of the golem’s children, which makes him and Landon brothers.
Lizzie goes to Twin Turret, on the verge of a meltdown, and tries to calm herself before she does anything dangerous with magic. Hope follows her and offers her help. Lizzie is desperate to learn more about the merge, which she thinks is a spell Josie’s going to use to leave or break them up. Hope says she’ll call Freya and find out what she knows.
First she goes to Josie and tells her that Lizzie’s about to lose it. Josie advises her to stay away. Hope urges Josie to help her sister, but Josie says that Lizzie did this to herself by not taking her medication. She doesn’t like the way it makes her feel, so she hasn’t taken it since they visited Caroline. Her attempts to keep herself calm – her zapping bracelet, organizing the pageant, etc. – just delayed the inevitable. They have to let her crash or nothing will change.
Rafael accidentally bumps into a vampire classmate, who takes it as badly as that guy Elena once bumped into who acted like she’d spit on him. He vamps out, Rafael’s eyes glow gold, and some other vampires line up like there’s going to be a rumble. Alaric comes in and tries to defuse the situation, but Rafael just tosses him aside. Jed orders the werewolves to stand down, but it’s Roman who keeps the peace, zooming in between Rafael and the vampire. Rafael realizes he shoved Alaric away and goes to help him up. Alaric flinches like he’s scared, which is the last thing Rafael needs right now.
Hope goes for another round with the conversation prism, and Holo-Landon asks if she’s figured out what she wants to say yet. She tells him she’s been protecting him and prioritizing his safety since he got there. She wasn’t going to stop when she learned everything Seylah told them. She knows what it’s like to be an orphan, and she wanted to save Landon from that.
Holo-Landon argues that she kept everything quiet because she was afraid. She has a fear of abandonment because her parents are both gone. It’s why she runs. Hope denies that this has anything to do with her parents, so Holo-Landon asks why she started crying when she found out Klaus’ connection to her Miss Mystic Falls dress. Hope announces that the conversation is over.
Clarke tells Landon that the golem saw himself in Clarke and hated him for being clay that was pretending to be something it wasn’t. He threw Clarke away like all his previous failures. Landon says he knows what that’s like. Clarke replies that the golem didn’t know why Clarke betrayed him.
A long, long time ago: After running out of monsters to consume, the golem becomes weak and vulnerable. The descendants of his original worshipers have formed a secret society, whom Clarke has told about the golem’s attempts to create a lineage. They’re upset that he’s “violating nature” to create a new species. They rebel by paying witches to trap him with black magic and dissolve him back into his original state.
Present: The Malivore pit is both the darkness that holds the consumed monsters and the remains of Landon and Clarke’s father. In case it wasn’t already clear, Clarke confirms that the Eater of the Dark was Malivore.
Clarke guesses that Landon doesn’t believe him. “Would you believe you?” Landon replies. Clarke says no, but he’s never stolen an artifact without knowing why. The knife and the urn were part of the spell that dissolved Malivore. He was immortal, but Landon knows from his time at the Salvatore School that “there’s always a loophole – nature creates a balance.” Clarke says the locks were used to bind Malivore until that loophole could be found. They artifacts can only be activated with Malivore’s blood. Clarke has tracked down the final real artifact and the three decoys. He asks Landon again which is the real lock so they can free Malivore.
Emma has some criticisms about how Alaric runs the school. Sooner or later, the kids are going to realize that there’s basically nothing stopping them from wreaking havoc. One day there will be a fight that Alaric can’t stop. Emma’s decided that the best way to help is to leave. She’s taking a sabbatical. Hopefully that will be a wake-up call for Alaric. The school’s mission has grown, and she doesn’t want to be there when things get bad enough for him to admit that.
Josie goes to Twin Turret, where Lizzie’s calmed down but isn’t happy to see her. She sarcastically says that Josie can get her things and doesn’t need to worry about her twin. She acknowledges that she’s needy and can be horrible, but she thinks Josie’s happy to stay in her shadow and let Lizzie be the one everyone hates. Josie’s too scared to be herself, and she’s as much a part of their cycle as Lizzie is. Both girls siphon some magic so they can fire spells at each other. Josie’s is stronger, but instead of being happy that she won that little battle, she apologizes and runs off.
Jed approaches Rafael and tells him he needs to get help. The pack follows their alpha, and if that alpha can’t control himself, they’ll get hurt. Jed acknowledges that he was a horrible leader, and now he knows what he lost. If Rafael cares about the other wolves, he won’t let his pride get in the way like Jed did.
Alaric wants to talk to Hope about Rafael, but she has bigger things on her mind. She’s just gotten off the phone with Freya, who told her about the merge. She warns Alaric that Josie’s almost figured it out and Lizzie’s spiraling. If Alaric doesn’t tell them everything, Hope will.
Landon asks why Clarke, who betrayed Malivore, is now trying to free him. Clarke says he chose the wrong side.
A long, long time ago (but not quiet as long): Clarke is at Triad in what looks like the 1940s or ’50s. The pit has the same properties as Malivore – anyone thrown in gets erased from existence. The secret society has turned into Triad Industries, which tries to protect the world from monsters. Over time, they get corrupted by the power and just throw anyone they don’t like into the pit. Clarke doesn’t enjoy revenge against his father as much as he’d hoped, so he goes in the pit.
Present: Clarke expected Malivore to communicate with him, but he just left his son in the darkness and silence. Decades later, he suddenly spit Clarke out. Clarke didn’t know why until he found the picture of Landon and Seylah, and saw a video of the knife. Then he heard about Seylah emerging from the pit, pregnant. Malivore absorbed enough human DNA to be able to reproduce. When Triad betrayed Seylah, Malivore had mercy and sent her back. Then he sent Clarke back to find Landon, the only person who has Malivore’s blood – and the only person who can free him.
As Alaric gathers Josie and Lizzie to finally tell them about the merge, Hope has another prism conversation with Holo-Landon. She admits that she didn’t tell him the truth about Seylah because she didn’t want him to go. She thought she was over losing her parents, but the past few days and the sight of Landon’s body brought everything back. Any time she loses someone, a voice in her head tells her it’s her fault. She shouldn’t actually exist; she’s a “cosmic mistake.” She wanted someone to think she was worth staying for. She wanted Landon to stay because she loves him.
He’s amused that the first time she confessed her love, she wasn’t even talking to the real him. She wonders how the real Landon would react to what she said. Holo-Landon thinks his response was pretty accurate, and would probably be followed by a kiss.
Alaric breaks the news to his daughters that when they turn 22, one of them will absorb the other. Lizzie points out that there’s no one left from the coven, so why should they do a ritual to determine a leader? Josie knows from her research that there’s some kind of curse that makes it mandatory. Alaric regrets not telling them sooner, but he didn’t know how or when to. He couldn’t admit that he doesn’t know if he can protect them. When he looks at them, he sees them how they were as children. He was never ready to tell them – he’s still not.
Holo-Landon thinks Hope has more to say. She’s been unable to listen to herself all day because there’s too much noise in her head. The real Landon is in trouble. He was trying to leave her clues in the voicemail. Hope asks what happened, and Holo-Landon repeats that she needs to listen.
She plays the voicemail again, this time with Roman in the room. He uses his vamp hearing to pick up sounds in the background that help Hope realize that Landon’s at Triad. She declares that she’s “gonna go full Wonder Woman” and save him. Roman’s heading back “into the field” to do whatever it he does for the school, so he won’t be there when Hope gets back. He heard her talking to Holo-Landon and tells her she’s not a mistake. The cosmos is lucky to have her, and so is Landon.
Clarke asks if Landon is going to help him free Malivore. Landon still doesn’t see any good coming from that, since he’ll destroy the world. Clarke notes that Malivore has been alive for centuries and the world is still in one piece. Maybe it was safer without all the monsters running around. “Ask yourself: Who’s the real bad guy here?” Clarke says. Malivore was designed for a purpose, and he can’t control his “programming.” All the monsters inside him are still alive. Landon’s friends didn’t keep any of them alive; they just killed creatures they couldn’t control. Since Malivore can’t hurt werewolves, vampires, or witches, everyone at the Salvatore School will be safe from him. Triad, however, presents a threat to them.
The organization runs experiments on supernaturals and is looking for a way to turn the pit into a weapon. They want to use it against witches, werewolves, and vampires to get rid of supernaturals for good. If Landon wants to save his friends, he needs to stop Triad. Landon studies the pictures of the artifacts as Clarke tells him that no matter what people say at the school, he’s not one of them. Clarke’s offering him a family who wants him. They can raise their father and destroy Triad together. Landon picks out a picture of a chalice and says it’s the real deal.
Veronica returns later and finds the room empty. A guy named Burr shows her the only thing in Clarke’s desk – a picture of him at Triad years ago. He and Landon escaped through a pipe that isn’t on any blueprints of the property. Burr thinks they’re going to get the chalice. Veronica knows where it is and tells Burr to prep a team.
At the Mystic Tap, Alaric talks to someone off-camera about how there was balance when he and Caroline first opened the school. He thought he was strong enough to run things on his own, but he’s made too many mistakes, and they’re catching up to him. He needs help. He’s talking to Dorian, who apparently got a job at the bar, despite having at least one advanced degree. Alaric says the students need leaders who can admit their mistakes, so he’s here to admit his. He’s sorry he kissed Emma and didn’t talk to Dorian sooner.
Dorian confides that for a long time, he thought he was only at the school because of his family. He wanted to keep supernaturals from growing up to kill people. He came to love the students, and he believes they deserve the chance at a normal life as much as anyone else. The school is their best shot. Dorian will come back, but he wants another raise. I assume he got dental already, since he doesn’t request it this time.
Rafael invites himself along on Hope’s mission to save Landon. She turns him down and assures him she has a Super Squad coming with her. She doesn’t want Rafael to come while he’s still feeling the side effects of the elixir. He admits that he still can’t control himself, and he didn’t tell her sooner because he doesn’t know how to be around her while he has feelings for her. Pushing them down makes the split in his brain worse. The only person he wants to talk to is the one person he can’t.
Hope tells him he’s a good brother to Landon, but he needs to put himself first right now. She gives him a reverse kyanite ring he can use to turn himself at will. Things are less complicated in his wolf mind, so if he stays in his wolf form for a while, he’ll start healing. The catch is that he won’t be able to turn back; he’ll have to get Hope to do it for him. Rafael’s grateful and tells her not to let anything stop her from saving Landon.
She’s not going to get very far. Triad has arrived at the school, and odds are pretty slim that they’ll let anyone leave.
Etc.: Considering the tiny size of the Gemini coven, there sure have been a lot of books written about them.
Jed’s transition from total jerk to much less of a jerk to actual nice guy starts…now.
Alaric, please pay attention to your children. Just for, like, five minutes a day. Please.
Okay, Emma, there’s tough love and then there’s dropping someone in the middle of the ocean without a life vest and making them survive on their own instead of helping them. Tell me how “you’re shorthanded; I’m outta here” will make things better.
Obviously someone in the writers’ room pointed out what Lizzie does here, about the merge being unnecessary if there’s no more Geminis, so they threw in a curse to explain why it is.
Hope says she got the reverse kyanite ring from a family friend, who I assume is Vincent, but she doesn’t explain why she has one. Since she can turn at will, why does she need a ring that can keep her a wolf? She can just…not turn back until she wants to.