Even with two new students, the morning assembly at the Salvatore School is sparsely attended, but Alaric isn’t worried. He sees the recent changes as a sign of growth. Despite the school’s growing pains, they’re more united than ever. “There’s, like, nine of us here,” Hope murmurs to Cleo. “Which means your voice carries, Hope,” Alaric replies. He’s pleased that they have 30 students enrolled (they’re just not all at the assembly). That means they’re an official school and a home.
He calls on Lizzie to talk about the sense of community there. She knows she’s not the only one who misses the way things used to be there. She’s trying to stay optimistic, but there are going to have to be more changes. Less tuition coming in means some perks will have to go away. No more smoothie bar, no more pool, no more field trips, and no more dances. But Lizzie has a plan to turn things around: a month of fundraisers. They’ll have a car wash, a bake sale, and anything else people suggest because Lizzie could only come up with two things. Cleo offers to host an art auction with Hope. Hope protests but Lizzie ignores her.
Josie comes in with a courier who’s delivering a message from Town Hall. There’s a lien on the school’s property tax. They have to pay $91,000 in the next seven days or the bank will take the school. Lizzie decides they’ll hold all their fundraisers today, all at once. Welcome to Fundraiser Day!
Hope and Cleo get right to work on their art, though Hope is still having a little artist’s block. She’s completed a painting of the school as seen through the front gates, and though Cleo calls it “technically proficient,” it’s “soulless.” Hope admits that she hasn’t created anything good since Landon died. Cleo can relate, since she also had a block after a big loss. To break out of it, she did “something drastic.” Cleo remembers that when she and Hope met, Hope said she didn’t know how to move on from Landon’s death. Cleo has an idea to help her. Hope assumes it’s drastic.
Alaric and Kaleb suit up for a meeting at the bank about getting a loan. Kaleb’s invited himself along to compel them into getting a zero percent interest rate for the next thousand years. Alaric tells him that using compulsion to get money would be both illegal and unethical. Compulsion is pretty much always unethical, Ric, but it’s good to see you have a limit. Kaleb thinks it’s fair, since banks aren’t ethical themselves. Why not fight fire with fire? Alaric says that’s a good way to burn everything down.
This is a human problem, so he’ll solve it in a human way. If Kaleb wants to show some responsibility, he can supervise the fundraisers. Alaric doesn’t want anyone using supernatural solutions there, either. In other words, Kaleb has to stop everyone from doing what he wanted to do. It’s hard being the responsible one, isn’t it?
M.G. uses the magic mirror to call Alyssa
on the set of Kung Fu wherever she is now and tell her that the illusion spell she used to hide the ascendant to the new prison world is glitching. He gets an away message telling the caller to leave a message, unless it’s M.G., because she doesn’t want to talk to him.
Lizzie comes in and M.G. jumps in front of the Flash action figure that’s no longer disguising the ascendant’s hiding place. He skipped the assembly because he’s still in his no phase and didn’t feel like going. She wants to give him an assignment for the fundraisers, and she reminds him what he missed out on the last time he said no to her. (He definitely doesn’t need a reminder.) He agrees to whatever she wants just so she’ll leave.
Kaleb offers up his Corvette for the car wash, warning Jed to treat it well. He owes M.G.’s best friend for hooking up with Alyssa. While the students were able to set up for multiple fundraisers in a short amount of time, they don’t have any attendees. Makes sense, since they only threw things together in two hours, which isn’t much time to spread the word. Also, it’s a weekday, so everyone’s at work.
Lizzie decides it’s time for “the big guns”: magic. She’ll try to reverse a spell used to disperse mobs so people will form a mob instead. Kaleb shuts her down, saying that they have to do things Alaric’s way – not because he wants to obey Alaric’s orders but because they’ll fail and Alaric will see that his way doesn’t work. A rainbow suddenly appears in the sky. Kaleb thinks Lizzie used magic, but she denies responsibility.
Cleo wants Hope to use Landon’s remains in her art as a way to give him life again. It’s not like keeping him in a jar on her nightstand is helping. She can’t move on if she’s still holding on to him – literally, in this case. Cleo wants to help. Hope reluctantly hands over the jar of Landon mud, which the girls use like clay for a sculpture.
Outside the window, a creature is watching them. Kaleb grabs it and guesses based on its short stature and clothing that it’s a leprechaun. He and Lizzie lock the little guy up in the basement, where Lizzie reads that the pot of gold in leprechaun myths is, unfortunately, not real. Kaleb guesses that when Hope finds about this latest monster, she’ll want to cut off its “lucky charms.” He realizes that the leprechaun stole his cufflinks, which it swallows gleefully.
Lizzie reads that leprechauns are both attracted to wealth and attract it themselves: “Their mere presence will entice humans into spending indiscriminately, which early supernatural-run casinos used to great effect.” The leprechaun is the perfect loophole to Alaric’s orders not to use supernatural solutions today. Kaleb reminds Lizzie that loopholes don’t usually work out for them. She thinks this is different. Plus, they’ll prove Alaric wrong while following his rules and saving the school all at the same time.
Outside, Jed asks Wade if he hears something. Annoyed, Wade reminds him that he doesn’t have supernatural hearing, something people tend to forget. He apologizes for what he’s now realizing are resentment issues he wasn’t aware of. Jed wasn’t hearing anything out of the ordinary anyway – he heard cars. People are on their way to the school. Fundraiser Day is a go!
All the activities are successful and soon the students are practically swimming in money. The only problem is that M.G., who’s in charge of the bake sale, can’t keep up with the demand for cookies. (Unlike him, the oven doesn’t have vamp speed.) He can’t be there all day; he has…something…to take care of. “Well, that’s unnecessarily mysterious,” says Josie, who’s either stopped by for a visit or just never left for Mystic Falls High in the first place. She offers to help until lunch, when she also has someplace to be.
Cleo compliments Hope’s bust of Landon, which Hope finishes off with the inscription “luctus.” She uses magic to fire it so they don’t have to bother with a kiln. She tells Cleo that it’s time to let him go. A woman bursts into the art room and announces that she wants to buy the bust. Hope won’t sell it, but Cleo asks for $91,000. The woman quickly agrees.
Cleo reminds Hope that they’re helping the school, and this is a good way for her to let go. Hope disagrees. The woman won’t give up the bust, and when Hope tells her to leave, the woman picks up a chisel and raises it to stab her. Hope doesn’t even bother with magic, just punching the woman and knocking her out. Money flies out of the woman’s bag and rains down on the girls.
With all the fundraisers earning so well, Lizzie wants to keep going so they can reopen the smoothie bar and get themselves even more perks than before. She’s always wanted a spa. Kaleb doesn’t want to push things, and he threatens to tell Hope what Lizzie’s up to. Hope and Cleo join them to report that Hope almost got stabbed over a bad art deal. “That sounds like a tough negotiation,” Lizzie says dismissively. She’s impressed that Hope is talented enough to make a sculpture worth $91,000. She’s sure there’s nothing to worry about.
Hope knows that if Lizzie isn’t mad at her for turning down that amount of money, she has to be up to something. A couple of attendees start fighting, and Lizzie has to admit that maybe things aren’t going as perfectly as she’d thought. She takes Hope to the leprechaun, which Lizzie’s sure is harmless. Hope doesn’t care about that or the fact that the leprechaun is making them rich – if it’s in their world, the portal to the prison world must have been opened. “Oh, yeah. That,” Lizzie says.
Hope blasts her for not saying anything about a Malivore monster showing up. Apparently Lizzie didn’t think that’s what they were dealing with. She was too focused on saving the school. As Kaleb and Cleo watch the girls fight, he asks if she regrets enrolling. She wants to know about Malivore, so he gives her a brief recap, promising that he’s trapped in a prison world.
The fighting stops, which Kaleb knows is actually a bad thing – the girls are about to get violent. He zooms in to stop Hope from hitting Lizzie with an axe. Okay, Emma needs to come back because Hope desperately needs therapy. Lizzie suggests that the leprechaun is just a random monster that happened to walk by at the perfect time. Hope asks when they’ve ever been that lucky. Kaleb starts to reply but she cuts him off by telling him that wasn’t a pun.
Kaleb thinks the leprechaun is making everyone act weird, and the girls just need a minute to breathe. They yell at him to butt out. He agrees to leave if Hope tells him her plan for the axe she’s holding. She’s going to use it to get answers out of the leprechaun, then kill it. She advises Kaleb and Lizzie to shut down the fundraisers before they have to come up with a cover story for the leprechaun screams the guests are about to hear.
Josie and M.G. go to the school garden to find an herb. She tells him she has a lunch/study date with Finch. She doesn’t think it’s as big a deal as she’s treating it. She’s looking for a leveaning accelerant that will make M.G.’s dough bake in half the time. He asks if she happens to know of anything that will help with an illusion spell. Josie doesn’t. She finds a couple of possibilities for the accelerant, but when she tastes one to see if it’s right, she realizes she accidentally took truth weed. Too bad she only realizes this after blurting out that M.G.’s a bad baker.
Alaric also has a big realization: The loan officer he’s meeting with at the bank is Vera. Yes, she used to work at a pharmacy. No, she doesn’t go into detail about how she ended up at the bank instead. Back at the school, Wade runs from angry fundraiser attendees, telling Kaleb, “The townies have lost their minds and there’s not enough Wade to go around.” Kaleb declares Fundraiser Day over.
Lizzie stops him from compelling everyone to leave – she wants to try selling some of her stuff. Kaleb tells her they have what they need and it’s time to end the madness. “For the last time: smoothie bar!” Lizzie yells. She doesn’t see the point in saving their home if it won’t feel like their home. She doesn’t think Kaleb understands, since he’s willing to let everything burn. He tells her he didn’t mean that literally. He meant taking this opportunity to start over and make the school better than it was before. Lizzie decides that since this was her idea, she should be responsible for shutting it down.
Cleo finds Hope in the leprechaun’s cell with her axe. Cleo’s annoyed – she thinks humans, supernaturals, and monsters all deserve to be treated with respect. Hope says she wasn’t torturing the leprechaun. She’s letting it go so she can follow it to the portal it came out of. (I think she just used the axe to draw blood for a locator spell.)
The leprechaun runs off and Hope and Cleo go to the woods to track it. Hope says this wouldn’t be necessary if Alyssa hadn’t broken the ascendant to the new prison world. She explains that Malivore monsters always come looking for something; once the leprechaun gets whatever it is, it’ll return to the portal. If it can reach their world, Hope should be able to reach its world. Cleo asks why she would want to do something so drastic. She realizes that Hope plans to go through the portal to find Landon.
Hope isn’t ready to let go of him. She can’t rule out that he’s not in Malivore without going to the prison world. Without the ascendant, the portal is the only way to get there. Cleo asks why Landon would be in Malivore, since he’s not a monster. Hope’s like, “Did I not mention earlier that he used to be a phoenix, and also, Malivore is his father?” She gives Cleo an out if she doesn’t want to help, but Cleo is willing to stick with her new friend. She checks the map they’re using for the locator spell and reminds Hope that leprechauns are attracted to wealth. It makes perfect sense that the leprechaun has gone to the bank.
There, Vera notes that Alaric is trying to take on a lot of personal debt for what’s essentially a failing business. She won’t take the risk, so she denies his application. It has nothing to do with Lizzie and Dana’s former rivalry, and Alaric’s sincerity and desperation are keeping her from being happy about turning him down. As Vera closes the blinds in her office, she says she’d be willing to entertain another form of collateral, if it’s substantial. She’s been lonely since her divorce, and, well, Alaric is hot.
The truth weed has made Josie late for lunch, but she doesn’t care, since she always ends up getting left or hurt by the people she loves. M.G. urges her not to let that stop her. She knows the dangers of repressing things, but she’s scared. He tells her she can’t let fear stop her from being honest with the people she cares about. He decides he needs to take his own advice, though he might also be getting a contact high.
Frozen after receiving Vera’s…proposition, Alaric finally snaps out of it when she starts to loosen his tie. He tells her that her application has also been denied. He got his students into this mess, and he wanted to show them that he could fix it the right way, which is definitely not like this. A security guard bursts in right then to announce that an armored truck was stolen, seemingly by a leprechaun. Alaric watches it speed down the street.
Hope and Cleo follow the locator spell to a parking garage and split up to find the leprechaun. Hope reminds Cleo that they need to capture it alive so it can lead them to the portal. She should scream if she runs into trouble.
Josie finally makes it to Mystic Falls High, where Ethan tells her that Finch stormed out of the cafeteria when Josie didn’t show for lunch. He knows she works at the Grill most nights and offers Josie a ride there. He gives her the same warning he used to give Maya: “Be careful with Finch. There’s something different about that one.” Josie appreciates that but says she doesn’t plan to be careful at all.
M.G. calls Alyssa, who thinks he just wants to get back together. He’s happy to hear that, then remembers that he doesn’t want to date her again. Also, she cheated. Also also, she doesn’t go to the Salvatore School anymore. He called because he can’t find the ascendant and thinks she did something with it. She didn’t, and also, she didn’t actually want to get back together with him. She tells him goodbye forever. Yes, goodbye forever, Alyssa. Enjoy beating up bad guys or whatever it is you do on your new show. (I assume…kung fu?)
Lizzie comes in asking if M.G. has seen the leprechaun. Not only did Hope free it but it ate all the money they made today, along with some expensive artifacts. M.G. responds with a no, a word Lizzie is really tired of him using.
Hope comes across the armored truck, which the leprechaun ditched after crashing into a car. Cleo gets spooked by Alaric and lets out a little scream, which makes Hope come running. Cleo and Alaric hear a coin dropping nearby, and as he bends over to check under a car, she spots the leprechaun leaping down onto him. He tries to fight it off but the leprechaun chokes him with his tie.
Cleo levitates the leprechaun as Hope comes around the corner. She yells out a warning for Cleo not to hurt it. The leprechaun is expanding, and Alaric exclaims that it’s going to explode. It does, covering Alaric in green goo and money. Hope is quietly furious that Cleo didn’t capture the leprechaun alive.
Josie catches up with Finch downtown, trying to explain that her excitement over their connection freaked her out. She has a lot of baggage and doesn’t want to mess things up. Both girls acknowledge that their study date was meant to be more than casual, and Josie asks for a real date instead, if Finch is willing to give her another chance. At first Finch doesn’t seem up for it, but she offers to schedule a makeup date while she gives Josie a ride home.
Once he’s back at the school and has cleaned up, Alaric assures Kaleb that he knows that Kaleb had nothing to do with the messes of the day. Kaleb admits that he went along with Lizzie’s plan and let his ego get in the way of what was best for the school. After everything, they’re still in the red. Alaric tells him that all he learned today was that the human world is as flawed and corrupt as the supernatural world. Oh, wait, he learned something else: “I still got it, whatever ‘it’ is.”
As for the school’s money problems, Alaric is willing to go with a supernatural solution after all. They’ll have plenty of money left from the leprechaun’s large appetite even after they pay back the townies. Plus, Alaric retrieved Kaleb’s cufflinks.
Hope counts the money in her room, still angry with Cleo for killing the leprechaun. Cleo says she panicked because it was going to hurt Alaric. She didn’t think it would explode. Hope gets why she prioritized a human life over a monster, but that doesn’t make her feel better. Cleo tells her that her obsession with Landon is “all-consuming,” so the bust also won’t make her feel better. She doesn’t have room in her life for anything but her obsession. She hasn’t asked Cleo about her life or gotten to know her.
Hope apologizes and asks what happened that caused Cleo’s own artist’s block. Cleo says it was terrible and is the reason she hates violence. Her sisters were murdered, and she was the only one who survived. She had to accept that she couldn’t have saved them and figure out how to live without them. She had to move on.
Hope was going to do the same, but now that she knows there’s a portal, a possible way to reach Landon, she won’t rest until she’s tried every possibility to get to him. The bust doesn’t matter anymore – she’ll find the real him. Disappointed, Cleo takes the bust out of their room. As she goes, Hope looks through a pile of money and other things the leprechaun ate and finds the ascendant.
M.G. finds Lizzie cleaning up the kitchen and asks if Josie gave her something from the garden to make her want to clean. She tells him she doesn’t need drugs (or smoothies). He’d like some advice, but first he wants Lizzie to promise that she won’t think less of him when she finds out what he’s been hiding. She promises she would never be that hypocritical. M.G. has seen her at her worst and has always thought the best of her. She wants to return the favor.
He tells her it’s about the ascendant and the purely hypothetical possibility that he has it. Lizzie’s mad at first, but she smiles sympathetically and says she would have helped him if she’d known sooner. Now, it’s too late. Hope is standing in the doorway, holding the thing he’s been hiding.
Etc.: Say what you want about these series but where else are you going to get a leprechaun as a deus ex machina?
I don’t think they did enough, at least at the beginning, to explain how significant it is that M.G. had the ascendant, and that everyone thought Alyssa had broken it. There’s been too much ascendant talk to keep it all straight.
Shoutout to Ben Levin (Jed) for doing outdoor scenes with water, wearing only a tank top, while everyone else shivers in winter coats.
I wish they’d given Ethan more to do. He’s a great guy and he deserves more than one scene every other episode.