Eight years ago: A girl of about eight is sitting on the front porch of a house while people mill about the yard. Alaric gives her a stuffed elephant he found and introduces himself. He invites the girl, Alyssa, to come check out the Salvatore School, and she agrees, because apparently she was never taught not to go off with strangers. As they get in the car, Dorian asks Alaric what they should do about “this.” Alaric wonders if people will buy their favorite cover story about a gas leak. Probably, since “this” is the total destruction of a house.
Things get off to a rocky start for Alyssa at the Salvatore School. She tries to befriend Josie and Lizzie, but when they won’t give her some flowers Caroline gave them, she turns their skin purple.
Four years ago: Alyssa develops a reputation as a troublemaker, someone people don’t want to have run-ins with. Josie and Lizzie let her hang out with them while they use a paper fortuneteller, only to tell her that her fate is to be a troll who marries Jed and lives in a garbage can. Everyone laughs at Alyssa, who uses magic to cover them in balls of paper.
Present: Some vampires have heard that Alyssa now has a roommate, and they’re concerned for that poor girl’s well-being. Hope walks in on Alyssa while she’s making out with Jed on Hope’s bed. “I thought it’d be nice if it saw some action,” Alyssa snarks. Hope decides to spend the night in Landon’s room. “Have fun holding hands,” Alyssa taunts. On her way to class, Hope is followed by the monster that came out of the new portal in the Salvatore crypt (though she can’t see it). Alyssa helps herself to some of Hope’s clothes as the monster, which we’ll later learn is a qareen, lets itself into the room.
The twins have tried a bunch of spells to keep the mora miserium intact, but nothing’s slowed its cracking, and Alaric thinks it’s a problem that magic won’t fix. Lizzie says magic is a more reasonable solution than Alaric’s suggestion of covering it in concrete and dropping it in the ocean. Well, it could have worked those times the gang wanted to do it to Klaus! Josie thinks she deserves to have the black magic boomerang back to her.
Lizzie has an idea for the “discount lava lamp.” They can put it in a place where magic can’t escape – the prison world. Alaric refuses immediately. Lizzie notes that there’s a meteor shower that night, so the celestial event is taken care of. Alaric refuses again, this time more adamantly. He tells the girls he’ll handle this.
Josie knows he won’t let them anywhere near Kai’s prison world, but Lizzie says they could make a new one. Josie notes that that would take a lot of magic, and even though they pulled it off when they were kids, they had help from Bonnie. Lizzie’s determined to find someone else to work with them.
Hope has swapped out her usual training sessions with Alaric for a lesson with Landon, who wants to develop some fighting skills since he doesn’t have any powers. It’s probably a bad time for it, since Hope’s extra-aggressive, thinking about how much Alyssa annoys her with her lack of boundaries and multiple scented candles. Hope wishes she could toss her into the Malivore pit. Landon suggests that Hope talk to her, since bullies hate being confronted.
Emma’s back, and Alaric is filling her in on the mora miserium. She doesn’t know how to fix it but seems willing to try. They run into Dorian, and it’s clear that the attraction between him and Emma is still there, though they apparently split up after she left for her sabbatical. Alaric leaves them to chat while he goes in search of a “bomb expert.”
Emma’s in town from Japan for Coven Day, a witch pride/history celebration. Alyssa shows up late, freely admitting that it’s because she doesn’t want to be there. Hope takes Landon’s advice and approaches her to talk, but the still-unseen qareen (hey, that rhymes!) is putting ideas in Alyssa’s head. It tells her that they’ll get rid of Alyssa if she doesn’t get rid of Hope.
Wade was supposed to give a presentation about his coven, but he doesn’t have one. He always wondered why he didn’t fit in and struggled to do magic. Alyssa taunts that his admission to the school was “due to a clerical error.” After some research, Wade thinks he was “misdiagnosed.” He’s not a witch – he’s a fairy. That gets a big laugh from the other witches, except for Hope. Wade wonders if his parents, who he never knew, were eaten by Malivore. Alyssa would appreciate if Wade suffered the same fate so they could forget about his presentation.
The qareen takes a swipe at something, but it’s not able to interact with the physical world. Wade sees him but no one else does. Emma gives Alyssa detention, though Alyssa isn’t sure Emma has authority there anymore. She’s fine with detention since it can’t be worse than this. Hope speaks up that being alone in a room with Alyssa is torturous, as she now knows from experience. Emma’s surprised at Hope’s behavior. The qareen urges Hope to keep up the good work so no one makes her look weak.
After the session, Hope swipes someone’s drink, then Hannah’s shoes. Landon asks how her talk with Alyssa went. The qareen tells Hope that she can’t protect him and needs to get rid of him before she loses him. Hope spits out that Landon’s advice was useless, just like he is. Wade sees and hears the whole thing. He goes to Landon’s room with a theory about why Hope is acting like Alyssa. He’s IDed the qareen, an Arabian monster that plays on people’s insecurities and feeds off discord. As it strengthens, it affects more and more people until it can materialize. The guys aren’t sure how the qareen got there, since the Malivore portal is supposed to be closed. Wade reports that he can see the otherwise invisible monster, which apparently can be seen by fairies.
Emma leads a circle of witches in a meditative exercise. The qareen tells Hope that the others are weak, and only she can protect them. Hope complains that people are being too sensitive, and it’s no surprise that she always has to do everything herself. Lizzie interrupts the session to ask Emma for her help with something, but Emma makes her join the circle instead.
Alaric meets with Mac at the Mystic Tap to get her advice on how to defuse a bomb…in the book he’s writing. A totally hypothetical, fictional bomb! (He’s branching out from true crime.) Mac suggests that he have the bomb explode while the main character is at a safe distance. Or Alaric can just make something up, since the situation isn’t real.
She gets a text telling her that Ethan landed in detention for fighting another bully. Alaric is sure that he was sticking up for someone else, since Ethan’s a good kid. In fact, he’s so good that Alaric wishes Lizzie would date someone like him. Mac asks about Sebastian, whom Alaric says wasn’t right for Lizzie (and Alaric made sure he knew it). Mac jokes that she’s sure Sebastian took the news well. Alaric’s reaction makes her ask if he killed Sebastian. Ha ha ha, no, of course not!
Back at the school, Emma conjures a sphere that represents the witches’ thoughts and emotions. Together, they need to keep it green through serenity and peace of mind. The qareen has other ideas. It tells Katie that Hannah is using her, then tells Hannah that the other witches talk about her behind her back. The sphere starts changing colors as the witches’ negative thoughts pollute it. The qareen urges Alyssa to tell the others that they’re not better than her. She goes after Hope and Lizzie, saying that Hope stole Josie’s boyfriend and Lizzie got dumped by a guy who hasn’t had a girlfriend in 500 years.
The qareen tells Lizzie that if she’d been enough, Sebastian wouldn’t have left. She needs to show that she’s enough. “At least I have a family, unlike you, orphan,” she taunts Alyssa. Elizabeth Saltzman! We do not orphan-shame people! Hope, do that spell that makes her mouth disappear. Alyssa shoots a ball of fire at Lizzie, but Hope intercepts it. All the witches start arguing, and Emma sends them out to cool off. Hope realizes that something’s wrong, and Lizzie catches on when she insults Hope’s hair and clothes for no reason.
The discord is spreading and is now infecting the other factions. Jed stands in Kaleb’s path as he’s going somewhere, and Kaleb calls him Snoopy and suggests that he go play fetch. The qareen has now manifested enough to touch physical objects.
Four years ago: Alaric calls Emma to report that Alyssa still hasn’t adjusted to being at the school. If her behavior doesn’t improve, he may need to expel her. Emma reminds him that he said he’d never do that again. He’s starting to think he shouldn’t have made that vow.
Present: Hope and Lizzie run into Landon and Wade, who are trying to track down the qareen. Hope insults Landon’s fashion sense, then apologizes. The guys explain that they’re looking for a monster that makes everyone act like…well, like Lizzie. Landon rallies the girls to help stop the qareen. Lizzie isn’t impressed with his attempt at a heroic speech. And no, she won’t apologize for that – the qareen didn’t make her say it. Hope asks what the guys’ plan is, but they don’t have one.
Mac tells Alaric about a time she caught Maya trying to cover up a small party. Mac wanted to arrest all the kids, but she wound up doing something reasonable, like all parents do. Alaric isn’t sure he can relate, since he lies to his daughters and keeps secrets all the time. Mac could really use his advice, since her good kid is now acting out. Alaric advises her to trust Ethan. She thinks he should let Josie and Lizzie solve their own problems sometimes. Plus, he should let Mac in on the secrets he’s keeping from them. Alaric intends to take those secrets to the grave.
Speaking of secrets, Dorian’s mad at Emma for keeping some from him. She calls him “emotionally unavailable,” which he thinks is pretty rich coming from someone who took a job in Japan and ditched their relationship. Emma’s upset that he never told her how that made him feel. Alyssa alerts them that something is happening – the qareen is now physically manifesting.
Wade reads that fairies are one of qareens’ weaknesses. Hope notes that he doesn’t have any special abilities. Like Landon, he’s trying to fit in, and it just makes him look delusional. (She’s sorry.) Landon tells her he’s training so he can help her in her heroics. She snarks that she knows who to call if she needs someone to die a lot or get picked on. (She’s sorry.) She claims she didn’t mean that, but Landon says the qareen only amplifies insecurities; it doesn’t create them. Alyssa lets them know that the qareen has manifested. Hope wants to get Landon somewhere safe, but he doesn’t think it’s after him. In fact, it seems to be avoiding him on purpose. So what does it want?
Josie’s in Alaric’s office, and when someone comes in, she thinks it’s Lizzie and confides that she’s nervous about using black magic again. It’s actually the qareen, who’s there for the mora miserium. He knocks Josie out and steals it.
Josie finds herself in a larger version of the vision she had when she did the spell with the mora miserium. The school is on fire and there’s a second version of her, this one dressed in black, with black veins on her face. “Don’t let it break,” the dark version of Josie says.
Lizzie wakes Josie, who notices that the qareen took the mora miserium. Lizzie thinks the Super Squad can handle the qareen – she, Josie, and Hope are three powerful witches, and Landon is a “moderately competent bird.” Josie notes that if the mora miserium breaks, something really bad will happen. Hope says they need to exploit a weakness to take down the qareen. Too bad Landon’s research has been as unsuccessful as his training sessions. (She’s sorry.) He shoots back that his research might be fine; Hope’s the problem for wanting to turn to violence instead of thinking things through. (He’s infected now, and he’s sorry. He also might have a plan.)
Landon finds Wade and asks for his help to stop the qareen. Fairies run on belief, so the more people believe in Wade, the stronger his powers will be. Wade doesn’t think anyone believes in him, but Landon says he does. Wade saw the qareen first and wasn’t affected by its powers. Landon thinks he got some of that immunity by being around Wade. He has full faith in Wade, and he’s not the only one.
Wade hears people chanting his name across the school. They’ve gathered in the main hall to express their support and help Wade grow his powers. Well, some of them have. “Wait, why are we doing this again?” Kaleb asks M.G. “I think it’s someone’s birthday,” M.G. tells him. The qareen comes in and Wade tries to activate his powers. Nothing happens. He doesn’t think people actually believe in him. “This is why we don’t entrust plans to Muppet Babies,” Lizzie title-drops. (She’s not sorry.)
Landon declares that he believes, and to prove it, he goes to fight the qareen. He trusts that Wade will save him. Hope wants to jump in, but the qareen is holding the mora miserium, and Josie doesn’t want to risk breaking it. The qareen taunts Landon for being weak and not having the ability to protect himself, let alone anyone else. Landon resists giving in to his insecurities, then gets his neck snapped.
Josie and Lizzie hold Hope back, but Wade announces that he’s got this, thanks to Landon. Wings pop out of his back and everyone cheers for him again. His wings shoot out fairy dust, which makes the qareen disintegrate. Hope snags the mora miserium before it hits the ground. Wade, who’s been so overlooked that people didn’t even know his name, is surrounded by his thrilled classmates, having finally shown that he can be a hero. Unfortunately, the joy doesn’t last – the mora miserium is cracking again.
Two years ago: Alyssa did a linking spell with Lizzie’s diary that left Lizzie with bad burns. This is the last straw for Alaric, who announces that he’s going to send her away. Emma has another idea: She can do a spell that erases Alyssa’s memories of what she did and what happened to her parents. She’ll have a fresh start. “She’s not like the others,” Emma tells Alaric. He asks Alyssa what she’d like to do, and she says she wants to stay at the school.
Present: The twins have presented their plan to Alaric to create a new prison world and send the mora miserium there. It’s not the best idea, but it’s what they have. Alaric recalls the Sphinx’s prophecy and connects the cracking hourglass to the phrase “when time fractures.” That means darkness is coming, and they need to move now. Alaric decides to take Mac’s advice and let the girls handle their own problem.
With Emma overseeing them, the witches gather in the woods to help the twins create a new ascendant. Hope and Alyssa make up, which means the qareen really has been defeated. Once the ascendant has been assembled, Alyssa hands it to Josie and Lizzie, saying they all have to stick together. A few drops from a vial of Bonnie’s blood and some chanting let Josie and Lizzie send the mora miserium to another world. Teamwork made the dream work!
Hope finds Landon in the gym and apologizes for the things she said to him. Qareen or no qareen, though, she believes what she said. She loves Landon and his lack of fighting skills and the fact that he’s smarter than he is strong but that he always wants to get better. However, she doesn’t want him to be the hero: “The hero’s never the one that’s left standing.” She won’t do any more fight training with him, since it looks like the monsters are back. Landon says he’ll find someone else to teach him how to fight so they can both be left standing at the end of this.
Alaric calls Mac to thank her for her parenting advice. He let Josie and Lizzie solve their own problem, and things turned out great. He invites Mac to get dinner with him that weekend. She tells him her answer is in his pocket. He finds a bar coaster with “you’re da bomb” written on it.
As he turns out a lamp in the main room, there’s a flash of light and he disappears.
Lizzie’s not as happy about her plan being a success as Josie thinks she should be. Now that they’ve taken care of the latest crisis, Lizzie doesn’t have anything left to distract her from Sebastian’s departure. Josie tells her it’s okay to miss him. Lizzie knows he wasn’t a great guy and she shouldn’t care, but she still does. Hope comes in and joins the twins in their “cry pile.” She confides that she’s worried that Landon hates her.
With another flash of light, the twins suddenly disappear.
Two years ago: Alyssa’s doing great and is even making friends. Emma’s really proud of her and thinks she’s ready to stop having weekly counseling sessions.
Present: Dorian and Emma make up, and she admits that she didn’t come to town just for Coven Day. Alaric asked her to help handle a student who was giving him trouble. They did the same thing they did before.
Alyssa comes by, and Emma thinks she’s there to discuss her punishment for bullying Wade. She’s willing to write it off as the work of the qareen. Alyssa says she’s actually there to talk about something else – something Emma did. Josie’s spell to return everyone’s memories of Hope also made Alyssa remember the things Emma erased. She knows what Emma did to her, and what Emma and Alaric “did to those other kids.”
Emma wants to get Alaric and explain everything, but Alyssa says that’s not possible. “I sent them away, just like you sent the others,” she says. “I thought it was poetic justice.” Emma doesn’t think Alyssa could have accomplished that, since she’d need an ascendant and Bennett blood. But Alyssa used another linking spell, this one involving the ascendant.
She’s been watching the Saltzmans for weeks and heard them complaining about their lives and only worrying about themselves. She stole the ascendant to Kai’s prison world and linked it to the new one the witches just made. When the twins sent the mora miserium to the prison world, they sent themselves and their father as well, on a time delay. (Clarke clued her in to that.)
Emma orders Alyssa to bring the Saltzmans back, but Alyssa notes that the meteor shower is over. She magically knocks Emma out and says she won’t remember this conversation later. That’s another touch of poetic justice for Alyssa. She’s smug as she goes back to her room, but she didn’t count on Hope busting her. She’s found the ascendant and figured out that Alyssa did something big.
Alaric finds himself in a version of the Salvatore School that doesn’t look the way he’s used to it looking. In fact, it looks the way Vamp Villa used to. He hears a noise and breaks a wooden chair to arm himself with a stake. It’s just the twins, though. He tells them they’re in a prison world. Josie’s confused, since he said the world they made would be identical to their own. Alaric clarifies that they’re not in the new world – they’re in the one they made with Bonnie when they were kids.
He guesses that Alyssa sent him there to teach him a lesson. Lizzie asks what the lesson is for. “The miseducation of young minds,” Sebastian says from the doorway. Yep, instead of killing him, Alaric sent him to a prison world, where he would be completely alone for eternity. Well, almost alone…
Etc.: Everyone always talks about how powerful Hope is, but it look like Alyssa could give her a run for her money if they ever went up against each other. Not to mention that Alyssa wouldn’t let herself be held back by pesky morals or a conscience.
I like how they brought back the girls who played the twins on The Vampire Diaries and in “A Tale of Two Wolves” to play them again in flashbacks here.
The twins say the paper fortuneteller is an artifact that belonged to Caroline, and she and her friends used it to “perfectly predict the future.” So it says that Bonnie will become a powerful witch and Elena will be the victim of a sleep spell?
Hey, Emma, want to step in while Alyssa’s bullying Wade and tell her to knock it off?
Seeing as how you’re the only adult in the room? No? Okay, cool, just keep doing whatever it is you’re doing.
For the record, because we barely see her again after this, Maya likes girls, which makes me think that she was originally intended to be a love interest for Josie. Maybe that changed when they had to shorten the season because of covid?