Clarke has been stashed in a basement cell so he won’t cause more trouble before his body (formerly Simulandon’s body) disintegrates. Hope did a spell to make him look like himself instead of Landon, probably so she didn’t have to see Landon’s face, but also because Aria Shahghasemi did double duty in the last episode and shouldn’t have to do it again. Clarke tries to talk Hope out of throwing him into the Malivore portal, but she has no reason not to. “You’re going into a grave you dug for yourself,” she gloats.
Alaric arrives at Mystic Falls High for the day just as snow starts falling. It gives him a bad feeling. It’s a winter wonderland at the Salvatore School, and the students are enjoying the change of weather. Pedro nails Kaleb with some snowballs, then ducks when Kaleb throws one back. It hits Hope instead as she comes outside to take in the scene. Kaleb tells her it’s Christmas. She corrects that it’s October. “Christmas is a state of mind,” he says. “It’s a feeling in the air.” He asks if she’s feeling it. She’s certainly feeling something, but it’s neither holly nor jolly.
Dorian has put on Christmas music in the headmaster’s office, where he’s getting rid of Vardemus’ stuff, starting with his nameplate. Alaric rushes in to discuss the sudden change in weather and adoption of Christmas spirit. Dorian’s fully immersed in it and has put on a festive sweater and made cocoa. Alaric is sure a Malivore monster is to blame. Plus, they still need to figure out the Sphinx’s prophecy. This is no time for Sinatra and snowflakes! Dorian tells Alaric to get himself off the naughty list. Cocoa first, then the latest crisis. The drink calms Alaric, and suddenly he doesn’t know what he was so worried about. Dorian, did you put bourbon in the cocoa?
The rest of the school is filling with presents and decorations. Hope is the only one who isn’t in the spirit. Alaric and Dorian find her, and Hope confirms that she’s the sole sane person there when she sees Alaric’s Santa/reindeer/snowflake-covered sweater. Dorian announces to the happy students that Alaric is going to spend Christmas with them.
Hope heads to Twin Turret, where she’s relieved to see that Lizzie is still her usual horrible self. She fills Lizzie in on the holiday cheer and the snow. Lizzie worries about what to wear, since she doesn’t have her winter clothes ready. Hope tells her to pick out something for a road trip – she has a job for Lizzie. Lizzie guesses that it’s to “quest for Frodo Baggins.” Even though they don’t think the Malivore monsters are after Landon, Hope needs to know that he’s safe. Lizzie agrees to go.
Josie comes in with Christmas cookies, which she hopes will serve as a peace offering after how naughty she’s been recently. She shouldn’t have been jealous when Landon’s subconscious chose Hope. Josie’s as cheerful as a Stepford wife, and Hope advises Lizzie to run.
Landon and Rafael are still on the bus. Landon gives Rafael a birthday present, though Rafael notes that he doesn’t know his actual birthday beyond the month. His gift is the results of a lineage spell Landon had Josie do to see if Rafael has any family nearby (Landon wanted to find someone who might know how to turn Rafael back when he was stuck in wolf form). The spell found Rafael’s parents. Apparently the ones who raised him until he was ten weren’t his birth parents.
Josie’s spell indicates that Rafael’s family is in North Carolina, which is where the guys are currently headed. Landon thinks that meeting them might help Rafael heal. He’s obviously learned his lesson from the mess with M.G.’s father and won’t pressure Rafael into agreeing to meet them.
In the library, Hope makes a list of creatures who might be responsible for the surprise Christmas. Her suspects: Jack Frost, the Heat Miser, a yeti, the Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman. She’s annoyed by some carolers and tells them to “fa-la-la-la-leave.” Kaleb brings in eggnog and encourages her to get into the holiday spirit. Hope would rather kill whatever’s responsible for all the merriment. “That’s naughty as hell, Hope,” Kaleb warns. He’s trying his hardest to get on Santa’s nice list so he can get something he’s been asking for every Christmas for years. He tastes the eggnog and asks if Hope wants a hit. “If I start hitting stuff now, I might never stop,” Hope grumbles.
Desperate to spend time with someone who’s just as miserable as she is, she goes to see Clarke. He thinks his current misery is making him immune to all the Christmas spirit. Hope says she used to love the holidays, but with all her family losses, that’s changed. She can’t relate to everyone upstairs who’s grateful for what they have. Clarke gets that she’s stuck on what she’s missing. He can relate to being alone. He’s never even celebrated Christmas. That gives him an idea: If Hope lets him enjoy this fake Christmas, he’ll help her figure out what’s going on. He wants to go out with a bang.
Rafael and Landon have arrived at the place the spell sent them to, and Rafael’s getting cold feet. He reminds Landon that the last time he tried to reunite a father and son, things went badly. Landon says that when Josie did the spell to restore everyone’s memories of Hope, he also remembered Seylah. His first meeting with his mother didn’t go super-well, but he’s glad it happened. He wants to give Rafael the same chance.
Rafael appreciates that, but Landon is the only family he needs. He wants to get back on the road before a monster finds them. Landon grabs Rafael’s arm to stop him, and Rafael’s eyes glow yellow as he yells at Landon to let go. Now he’s even more sure that this is a bad time to meet his family. But as the guys turn to leave, they’re stopped by a man with a gun. He tells them they need to come with him.
Dorian passes out ribbons so the students can engage in their own version of the Mikaelsons’ bonfire tradition. Kaleb’s happy to address his and Santa’s “unfinished business.” Pedro asks Josie what her wish is, but she doesn’t think it’ll come true if she tells him. We get to see what she’s written, though: “The perfect gift for Dad.” Aww!
Clarke enjoys Christmas dinner, then writes out his Christmas wish. Hope impatiently tells him to get to work helping her figure out what’s going on before she runs out of “good will towards mud men.” He thinks this is all the work of Krampus. He’s the anti-Santa and seeks hatred and anger instead of peace and joy. Clarke tosses his wish in the fireplace and says that won’t last for long. He took a page out of Hope’s playbook and found a loophole.
Hope spells Clarke inside the library and asks what he wished for. He won’t answer, so she chokes him magically. He tells her he wished for a savior. Krampus will come rescue Clarke instead of going after Landon. The downside is that he’ll kill anyone who gets in his way. Hope thinks the school can fight him, but Clarke notes that all the students are “drunk on Christmas cheer,” while Alaric and Dorian are drunk for real and believe in Santa now. Hope’s going to have a hard time bringing everyone down and getting them to listen to her.
Lizzie’s on the road to find Landon, and she has a road-trip buddy with her: Sebastian. He’s not familiar with cars, having been desiccated in a box since the 1500s, so he keeps pushing buttons (which pushes Lizzie’s figurative buttons). Lizzie tells him that the car is super-old and was a gift from one of Alaric’s friends for her and Josie’s 16th birthday. That friend, whom she doesn’t name, is Damon, and the car is his Camaro.
Sebastian wants to stop for a bite to eat, but since he means a literal bite, Lizzie refuses. He reminds her that she made him a daylight ring, which means she must want to spend time with him outside of the school. She says she only brought him along because he keeps her “perpetually unjolly.” He knows it’s really because she likes him. Lizzie slams on the brakes and tells Sebastian to go find a deer to eat. He guesses that she’s testing him. When he gets out, she speeds off.
Hope gets everyone’s attention and announces that Krampus is on the way. No one reacts. She uses magic to short out the victrola (which Kaleb is still using in the late 2020s – sure), turn off the lights on the Christmas tree, and upset the dessert table. She exclaims that Santa isn’t real and everyone’s acting like children: “Let’s just put the partridge back in the pear tree and grow the hell up.” As Alaric starts to realize that he’s been acting a little too merry, Pedro runs off, upset to learn that Santa’s not real. Alaric takes off his Christmas sweater and gives out orders for how to take care of this new threat.
The armed man, Walt, takes Landon and Rafael to his cabin and shows them a cage inside. He saw Rafael’s eyes and knows that he’s a werewolf. Rafael thinks Walt is one, too, and though he’s not, he was in love with one. He shows Rafael a picture of his wife, Lucia, who triggered her curse while serving in Afghanistan. He thought her problems with anger and crowds were symptoms of PTSD until she had her first transformation. She was always brave, and the only time Walt ever saw her scared was when she found out she was pregnant.
During the first full moon after Lucia got pregnant, she took off and Walt never found her. He knows she won’t be found until she wants to be. He’s thought about her and their child every day since then. He’d like to know why Rafael is there, because he has more than just his mother’s eyes.
Clarke puts out the fire in the library fireplace, and Krampus comes down the chimney in a cloud of black smoke. Clarke asks for the present he requested, another trident, but Krampus has brought a scythe instead. He slashes at Clarke, who reminds Krampus of why he’s there. Krampus ignores him and shoots a long tongue out of his mouth, wrapping it around Clarke’s neck.
Of course, Hope saves Clarke. She introduces herself to Krampus and tells him she finds the holidays stressful. Between her magic and Clarke now holding the scythe, Krampus decides not to stick around and see what happens. Just like Santa in “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” he puts his finger on his nose to go back up the chimney.
Clarke thinks Malivore knew that he was planning to jump into another body and screw him over again, so he sent Krampus to kill Clarke instead of save him. He asks Hope to let him go – he’ll jump into the portal before Krampus kills him. Hope knows she can’t trust him, but Clarke offers to find a way to prove that he’s telling the truth.
Rafael confides to Walt that he’s having trouble controlling his anger. Being at school helped because there are other people there like him, but he and Landon couldn’t stay there. Landon has started to understand that sometimes you have to leave to protect people you love. That may be why Seylah gave him up. Walt gets why the boys thought running away was their only option. As Landon steps outside to get some air (and give Rafael and Walt some privacy), Rafael says he was right about them coming there. Outside, Lizzie is just pulling up. “Hop in, Hobbit,” she tells Landon. “One more word and I will feed you to the flames of Mount Doom myself.”
Krampus comes back down the chimney, this time in the main room. Josie and Kaleb are keeping lookout, and she magically turns on music and all the lights. Alaric, Dorian, and the rest of the students surround Krampus so he can’t escape. (Pedro has armed himself with a giant, sharp-ended candy cane, which Josie confiscates.) Kaleb vamp runs around Krampus and ties him up with Christmas lights. Then Alaric takes him down with a crossbow bolt to the heart.
But the Christmas joy hasn’t dissipated, making Hope realize that this isn’t over. Alaric notices that the bag Krampus brought with him is moving. Something inside it is alive. Hope tells everyone to stay back as it works its way out, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s Santa!
Now Hope’s catching the Christmas spirit. She’s excited to know that Santa’s real. He tells her that belief makes things real. Alaric asks how he knew Hope’s name. Um, because he’s Santa, Ric. He knows everyone’s name. That includes Alaric’s, though admittedly, that’s a hard one to forget. Santa thanks everyone for bringing him back. He was trapped in Malivore for a long time and unable to spread joy around the world, thanks to Krampus.
Krampus revives and frees himself from the Christmas lights. Santa tells Alaric that Krampus’ heart is small and heart to pierce. Besides, this is Santa’s fight. Hope wants to jump in with the scythe, but Alaric tells her to let Santa handle it: “This one’s personal.” Santa blasts Krampus for trying to steal Christmas, then punches him with a “ho ho…no.”
Lizzie guesses that Landon is going to ditch Rafael just like he ditched Hope and Josie. Landon argues that he’s just going to make sure the monsters stay away from everyone else. Lizzie suggests that he go back to the school with her and face his two girlfriends so they can help him deal with whatever comes next. Just as Landon’s about to respond, Sebastian zooms up and breaks his neck. He tells Lizzie that she tends to talk too much when action is required.
Santa fights Krampus, showing off some fight moves and speed that would put vampires to shame. (Well, he would have to be fast to make it to houses all over the world in one night.) The students cheer Santa on like they’re watching a wrestling match. Alaric warns him that Krampus isn’t as incapacitated as Santa thinks: “You better watch out!” Krampus sends Santa flying into a Christmas tree. Hope tosses Santa the scythe, which Santa sticks right in Krampus’ heart. And that’s how Santa saved Christmas!
Sebastian changes a tire on the Camaro (because…the guy who’s literally never seen a car before…knows how to do that?), taking off his shirt when it get greasy. He blasts Lizzie for abandoning him, but she doesn’t care. She doesn’t think he should be at the Salvatore School, since no one there likes him. No, not even her. She’s still mad that he made her think she was crazy. Sebastian turns on the charm, sure that Lizzie can’t resist it. She threatens to give him a magic migraine, but he knows she can’t do magic without siphoning, and the only magical thing around is him. To hurt him, she’ll have to touch him.
She tells him to put his shirt back on, because…yeah, his abs are pretty distracting. Then she decides to siphon from Landon, whom they stashed in the trunk. Sebastian puts a hand to her throat, reminding her that he’s dangerous. “Stop talking. Action is required,” she replies. They make out on the hood of the car, and not as an excuse for her to siphon him.
Hope let Clarke go after all, and he calls her from the town square to tell her he doesn’t hate her. Or maybe that’s the truth spell she cast on him talking. The snow’s all gone, so he guesses Krampus is dead. Hope replies that Santa killed him: “This Christmas was surprisingly violent.” Clarke has ten minutes left, and she offers to listen if he wants to spend them talking. He admits that he’s jealous of her. She’s as screwed up as he is, but her friends still love her. He wanted to believe his father could love him, too. “Anything can be real if you believe in it enough,” she tells him. They wish each other Merry Christmas and hang up. The zombie eye watches Hope from atop a giant nutcracker.
Rafael has decided to go back to school and get some help. Walt offers to drive him, but then Rafael decides to spend the night and take a bus the next morning. He thinks he could learn a lot from his father. Walt is thrilled to get to spend more time with him.
Lizzie and Sebastian lounge in the Camaro post-sex, discussing why he wants to stay at the Salvatore School. He says he has nowhere else to go. People still treat each other the same way they did 500 years ago. “This word is cruel to those it considers broken,” he says. The school is the kindest place he’s ever been. Lizzie seems okay with letting him stay now.
Josie and Dorian are packing up all the Christmas decorations, but Alaric thinks Josie should open the present Santa brought her. She tells him it’s actually for him, the fulfillment of her wish for the perfect gift. It’s a nameplate for Dr. Alaric Saltzman, headmaster. Alaric is touched.
Kaleb sees Santa off, complimenting his 1975 red Corvette. His uncle (he of the farm with all the cows) had one, and Kaleb has always wanted one. Santa says we give gifts during the holidays to remind us that it’s important to have dreams. Sometimes, those dreams come true. He tosses the keys to Kaleb and heads off on foot. Hope comes outside and sees a red streak flying across the night sky. Santa calls out to her, wishing her a Merry Christmas.
Landon shows up just then, and she asks if he’s going to talk to her or run again. He plans to talk, but first he has to run and have a conversation with someone else. He goes to Twin Turret, where Josie seems to sense that she’s not going to get good news. He tells her how great she was as a girlfriend and a conscience – she’s the best person he’s ever spent time with. He loves a lot of thing about her, but as she guesses, he’s in love with Hope. He doesn’t regret a second of his relationship with Josie. She’s beautiful and special and perfect, “and doing the right thing should never be this hard.”
Landon leaves Josie crying by herself so he can go back to Hope and tell her he was wrong to run away. He loves her, and it didn’t stop even when he couldn’t remember her. “Hope, I loved you when I was dead,” he says. He doesn’t think he’ll ever stop. She says she loves him, too, and didn’t stop when he’d forgotten her. She even loved him when he looked ridiculous in his football uniform. He tells her to look up, and she sees that they’re standing under mistletoe. It’s the perfect place for their we’re-officially-back-together kiss.
As the clock on the clock tower ticks toward midnight, Clarke approaches the portal. He tells Malivore he’ll be home for Christmas. Behind him, a robed figure takes a swing with an axe and decapitates him. He drops Clarke’s head in the portal, then removes his hood. “Always preferred Halloween meself,” says the Necromancer. He cackles as Clarke’s head sinks into the mud.
Etc.: Dante Ha, who plays Krampus, also played the zombie jogger.
I like when they change the title card for the episode. This one is fun.
Hold up – Rafael’s parents, who both died, were really his adoptive parents, and his biological mother is supernatural? Rafael is the new Elena.
He also gets to have one of the only father/son relationships in this universe that aren’t horrible. Congratulations, Raf!
I’m proud of all the actors in the Krampus/Santa fight scene for committing and not immediately calling their agents to get them off the show. That goes double for Matt Davis (Alaric).
Speaking of pride, I think Damon would be proud if he knew Lizzie and Sebastian had sex on/in his car. I think he would also bring it up to Caroline as much as possible to see her squirm.
Seems like a car trunk would not be the best place to stash a guy who could burst into flame at any time.