18 months ago, Clarke greets someone who’s locked up in a Triad detention facility. He’s finally been inspired with a solution to a problem he’s been dealing with. He has the wish artifact, and it seems to be telling him that the person he’s speaking to can help him. He doesn’t feel like anyone should be thrown in a dark hole and forgotten about, like he was. If the detainee helps him, Clarke will let them out.
Most of the faculty has left the Salvatore School, but there’s still a drama teacher around. His students include Josie, Finch, and Wade, who’s supposed to do a scene from Romeo and Juliet with Hope. In the aftermath of her breakup with Landon, she’s not exactly eager to do a scene from a play about teen love. As she rants, her magic starts acting up, and she accidentally lets out a blast. “And scene,” Wade says as she leaves.
Over at Mystic Falls High, Dorian is talking to Ethan about one of his classmates. “We have history together,” Ethan title-drops, though it’s the title of a different episode from a different series. Alaric arrives as Ethan says that he and the classmate they’re talking about aren’t really friends. The classmate is M.G., and Ethan’s memories of their friendship are definitely gone.
Alaric’s there to give Dorian a map with a locator spell that they hope will lead them to M.G. He’s been MIA for three days. Dorian has been tracking reports of animal attacks in the area, in case they’re really Malivore monster attacks, and someone was found dead in Grove Hill, near where the spell says M.G. is now. That can’t be good.
Hope tries to work out her issues on a punching bag at the old mill. Josie comes to check on her, praising her for controlling herself better than she did when she and Lizzie were giving tours. Hope claims she’s handling her problems, but the fact that she punches the bag clean off its chains indicates that she needs to do more work. Josie asks for her help with something – Lizzie’s still at her wellness retreat and Josie hasn’t heard from her in more than a week. She thinks there might be trouble.
The werewolves are playing basketball in the gym, and Jed proves that he hasn’t completely changed when he elbows Finch in the back. The wolves all drop their towels on the floor after the game, and a guy named Brutus tells Finch that the newest member of the pack has to wash them. Finch thinks that’s ridiculous, but he cautions her never to challenge their alpha’s rules. Finch asks how one becomes the alpha. “You wanna be the man, you gotta beat the man,” Jed tells her. Finch replies that he has to beat the woman. Brutus is overly excited for an alpha challenge.
Hope and Josie head to the wellness retreat, where Hope is ready to do some recon to find Lizzie. No need – she’s there to greet them. She’s wearing all white with a flower crown on her head and a blue crystal around her neck. She’s also super-chill, like she’s been at a yoga retreat or spa. It turns out that she and Josie have been in touch the whole time, and Josie just used the possibility of Lizzie being in danger to get Hope to come out there. She clearly needs some of whatever Lizzie’s been doing.
Everyone at the retreat is dressed like Lizzie, and they’re doing things like making flower crowns and twirling around. Hope calls it Witchapalooza. Josie told Lizzie all about Landon and the way he dumped Hope. Lizzie dubs it a “total dick move.” Her crystal starts changing colors, like it’s glitching, before turning blue again. She peacefully says that there are no guys allowed at the retreat, so it won’t be long before Hope forgets all about Landon.
Hope comments that everyone looks like they’re on drugs. Lizzie says it’s a retreat for witches, run by witches. Well, one witch – Andi. She helped Lizzie reframe her mindset to reflect her emotional goals. “Okay, I’ll say it: This feels a little cult-y,” Hope title-drops. Lizzie says they’re just “a collection of like-minded individuals all following the teachings of a brilliant and charismatic leader.” Yeah, that’s basically the dictionary definition of a cult.
Josie asks about the crystals. Lizzie explains that each color represents a step on the path to enlightenment. Her blue crystal indicates that she’s reached the top step, and she gets to participate in a purification ritual next week. Hope sees someone pushing a wheelbarrow full of dirt and asks what landed her that job. Lizzie says that the pusher, Samantha, was Andi’s star until Lizzie got there. Samantha’s anger and jealousy got her knocked all the way back down to red. That’s why they all need to stay focused on their own paths.
Someone rings a triangle to summon everyone to an “afternoon enrichment.” Lizzie’s excited to get to introduce Hope and Josie to Andi. Josie tells Hope she doesn’t have to stay, but Hope won’t go without Lizzie, now that they know what kind of place she’s been hanging out in.
Jed won’t accept Finch’s alpha challenge since it requires a fight, possibly to the death. Finch suggests that they have a different kind of competition. How about pool? Jed quickly agrees, smugly wishing Finch good luck.
Andi greets her followers, telling them that she knows all about facing darkness and has dedicated her life to helping other witches reach the light. She invites Lizzie to help her demonstrate how. She has a big, clear crystal for witches to put their hands on. It’s linked to their crystal pendants, which function like mood rings, and it will determine the color of their current step on their journey. Andi’s ancestors’ coven believed that we’re ruled by our emotions. If we can take control of them, we can take back control of our lives.
Lizzie makes the crystal glow blue, which makes Andi proud. It means she has “complete purity of thought.” She has no negative feelings to prevent her from living a fulfilling, happy life. It’s the ideal everyone should want: enlightenment. Hope and Josie roll their eyes at each other.
Andi asks for a “less accomplished” witch to demonstrate next, choosing Hope. Hope declines, insisting that she doesn’t need help controlling her emotions. Andi acknowledges that it’s hard for people who aren’t in control to trust people who are. “Oh, no, I don’t trust you because you’re a fraud,” Hope replies. Everyone else gasps. Hope is willing to participate anyway, though she thinks it’s “crystal clear” what her mood is. Indeed, the crystal glows red when she touches it.
Andi says that Hope has a lot of power. She puts her hand on Hope’s, guiding her through other colors until the crystal turns blue. Hope calms immediately and is grateful for Andi’s help. Andi says her coven has mastered empathic transference. She’s so powerful that she has to wear gloves all the time, since skin-to-skin contact with an empath can be overwhelming. Hope gets her own blue crystal, and Andi tells her she’s free. Lizzie’s old Hope-related resentment starts coming back, and her negative emotions make her crystal turn red.
During personal meditation time, Lizzie goes to Andi’s cabin and admits that she had a setback because of her jealousy. She’s trying to get past that by reminding herself that she’s the one Andi chose to help with the purification ritual. She asks Andi to help get her back to blue, but Andi wants to conserve her energy. She’s decided to move up the ritual. Hope is so special and powerful that they don’t need to recruit any more witches. They’ll do the purification this afternoon. Lizzie now has to go back to the red path and start over.
In Grove Hill, Alaric and Dorian debate whether they’re looking for a Malivore monster or M.G. has gone on a Ripper spree. They come across M.G., whose clothes are bloody. He asks Alaric for help, saying there’s a body. Dorian vervains him before he can elaborate.
Lizzie’s annoyed to be on laundry duty with Samantha. Someone brings in some of Andi’s clothes, including one of her gloves, which don’t usually end up there. Samantha grabs it, anticipating how grateful Andi will be to get it back. Her crystal suddenly turns blue and Samantha’s negative emotions toward Lizzie disappear. She wishes Lizzie luck on her journey. “Go blue yourself,” Lizzie snaps. Heh.
Alaric puts M.G. in his SUV but won’t let Dorian restrain him. They don’t know for sure that M.G. did anything. Dorian says he found the body M.G. told them about. He reminds Alaric that he used to hunt vampires and should know how dangerous Rippers can be. Maybe he’s changed. Alaric says he’s trying to, because assuming the worst in people has just brought out the worst in himself. He won’t condemn M.G. until they hear his side. Dorian angrily heads off to bury the body, hoping he won’t have to bury Alaric’s when he gets back.
Jed is ready for Finch when it’s time for their pool game, feeling confident that he’ll beat her. She shows up with her own cue, completely unconcerned that he’s undefeated at the school. Brutus reveals that that’s only because everyone always let him win. Jed’s confidence starts dropping as Finch puts on gloves. He lets her break, and she gives him a wink before sinking multiple balls in one shot.
Lizzie spies on Andi through her cabin window, watching her use tongs to throw out some of her gloves. She takes off her crystal and tells herself that she’s finally going to be free. When she goes to take a shower, Lizzie sneaks inside and goes through her things. She finds a little vial of something with a warning label saying it shouldn’t come into contact with skin, since it can have “psychotropic effects.” The Triad logo is on the label, which Lizzie knows can’t be good. As she’s opening the vial, Andi hears her and calls out asking who’s there. Lizzie drops the vial and runs.
Dorian finishes burying the body, feeling connected to the person it belonged to, Colin. Dorian lost his family the way Colin’s family lost him. He’s sorry that they won’t get closure, but it might be better for them to think he’s missing instead of learning the truth. Dorian promises to check on Colin’s family and the vampire who killed him, to make sure this never happens again. Some noises in the woods let Dorian know that something’s out there, and a horned shadow clarifies that it’s not a vampire. Alaric was right – there’s another Malivore monster. It looks like a Yeti crossed with a demented deer.
Josie has gotten her own crystal, and she and Hope – both now wearing flower crowns, but not yet in white – have joined the other witches for their peaceful outdoor activities. Lizzie tells them they were right about this being a cult, and they need to leave. Andi’s a fraud and just a basic witch. Her crystal is actually colored glass, which is why it’s always blue. The enlightenment everyone’s feeling is from a Triad drug. Lizzie doesn’t know the organization’s connection to Andi, but that’s something they can figure out after they leave.
The girls are about to go when Samantha bangs on the big crystal like it’s a gong. The sound summons everyone to the purification ritual. It seems to have a similar effect to the Triad drug, as Hope and Josie turn into good little cult members like everyone else. Lizzie decides she should go home and get help. Hope knocks her out with a sleep spell before she can leave.
Lizzie wakes up in Andi’s cabin and learns that Andi knows that she snuck in there earlier. Lizzie’s smug that Andi can’t use mind control on her anymore. Andi’s curious about that, since even just a drop of the Triad drug on her gloves makes everyone worship her. Lizzie makes an obligatory “the gloves are off now” joke. Andi thinks the problem could be Lizzie’s brain chemistry or bad vibes.
Triad did some horrible things to witches the drug didn’t work on. Lizzie comments that it wasn’t bad enough to keep Andi from agreeing to work for them. Andi says no one supernatural has ever worked for them – they were imprisoned and forced to do what Triad wanted. Andi was the person Clarke was talking to in the cell.
Lizzie has no sympathy for her, since she’s basically doing to the witches at the retreat what Triad did to her. Andi calls her “a self-indulgent daddy’s girl who’s never had a real problem in her life.” Hey, she was almost handed over to the devil for indentured servitude when she was in preschool! That’s worth at least six months’ worth of therapy! Lizzie says she’s overcome a lot.
Since Andi’s obviously not an empath, Lizzie wants to know what the purification ritual is really for. Andi says only witches with blue crystals get to know that. Josie comes in, now wearing all white. Andi tells her to bring Lizzie to the ritual for the “grand finale.” They need a human sacrifice.
Finch practically runs the table, and the only shot Jed’s taken so far, he missed. Brutus can’t help applauding Finch’s skills, leading Jed to make a saw-it-coming-from-a-mile-away “et tu, Brutus?” quip. Down to the 8 ball, Finch confirms that if she sinks it, she becomes the new alpha. Jed reluctantly says that’s right. She’s about to make her winning shot when she sees how disappointed he is to be losing his alpha status.
Lizzie tells a super-smiley Josie that Andi might be right about her negative emotions keeping her from being mind-controlled. Hopefully she can use them to break Josie out of Andi’s hold. She notes that their dynamic for years was basically like Lizzie was controlling Josie. Now she’s independent, going to Mystic Falls High by herself. No, wait, she’s already back at the Salvatore School. Her independent phase lasted as long as her “Dark Josie bender.”
Josie’s crystal starts glitching, so Lizzie steps it up. She points out that Josie is once again neglecting her own happiness to bail Hope and Lizzie out of a jam. At least Lizzie’s trying to be happy. “Are you seriously pinning this on me right now? You’re the one that indoctrinated us into a freaking cult!” Josie yells. Just like that, she’s back to normal. Now they just need to save Hope. Lizzie grabs Andi’s fake crystal and tells Josie to tie her up.
Alaric finds Dorian, who’s been bitten by the latest monster (which left behind a tooth) and is hiding in a cave. “I wonder who has whatever this belongs to in the monster pool,” Alaric says. Dorian tells him that, amazingly, it’s a wendigo. “It’s never a wendigo,” Alaric protests. Dorian tells him it’s really strong and would have killed him if he hadn’t found the cave. It contains a cot, blood bags, and a journal. Alaric realizes it’s where M.G.’s been staying.
Dorian read the journal and now knows that he was wrong about M.G. He’s been continuing his superhero activities without Ethan. The blood on his clothes must have been from his attempts to stop the wendigo. The guys start to leave before it finds them, but it’s already there.
Josie takes Lizzie to the purification ritual, where she plans to let out a bunch of her Hope-related bitterness to get Hope to snap out of it. They join Andi and Hope on a platform, but as Lizzie is about to let loose all of her resentment (starting with her standard annoyed-at-Hope greeting, Hope’s full name), she collapses. Samantha has knocked her out, and Josie’s left to handle the dilemma on her own.
She tries to summon up some anger toward Hope, but all she can come up with is, “That crystal doesn’t work on you and blue isn’t your color.” Andi tells Hope to throw both twins in a pit by the platform so they can get things started. Josie stops Hope, saying she’s only ever wanted her to be happy, but she can’t let it happen like this. Hope is lying to herself. She’s mad at Landon and blaming him for the breakup, but it’s not all his fault.
Andi splashes the Triad drug on the other witches as Hope’s crystal stats glitching. Josie says that Hope’s known since Landon died that they’re “biologically incompatible,” but she denied it. Now she knows that she and Landon can’t be truly happy together. Hope replies that she did everything she could to get Landon back, and he didn’t tell her he was alive. Then he left her again. Josie says that Landon did the one thing Hope wasn’t strong enough to do.
Hope grabs Josie’s arm, and Josie asks if she’s back to herself. Andi calls up that it’s time to throw the twins in the pit. Josie glances down and is happy to see that Hope’s crystal is red. Hope jumps down from the platform, rips off her crystal, and says, “This is the part where you attack me and deeply regret it later.”
Dorian asks Alaric how they’re supposed to kill the wendigo. Alaric doesn’t know, since – say it with me – it’s never a wendigo. He picks up a rock so he can throw it, though Dorian doesn’t think that’ll help. Suddenly the light inside the wendigo goes out, like someone poured water on a fire. “Never doubted you, rock,” Dorian says. Heh. Really, it’s because M.G. pulled out the wendigo’s heart. He explains that they have hearts of ice. It’s a weakness, like sunlight is for vampires, unless you make that weakness your strength, like M.G. just did with his daylight ring. P.S. He had a wendigo in the monster pool.
When Lizzie regains consciousness, all the witches except Hope and Josie are unconscious. The girls have frozen Andi, and when they unfreeze her, she explains that she needed a lot of witches with a lot of power who wouldn’t ask questions. She used the Triad drug because she knew how it worked firsthand. The ritual is to summon something from the pit. Andi doesn’t know what it is and doesn’t care – she’s just there for her freedom.
Hope asks who she made a deal with. Andi can’t remember, which the girls assume is because that person was consumed by Malivore. Andi’s deal is bound by an unbreakable covenant spell, so if she fails, she dies. Hope tells her that she’s definitely going to fail. Andi considers her options, then says that she’ll have peace knowing that the girls will have to deal with whatever her death brings forth. She throws a bowlful of the Triad drug on them, then dives into the pit. “As much as I hate Andi, that was a total boss move,” Lizzie says.
That night, the girls sit around the pit, waiting for whatever will emerge. Josie apologizes to Hope for what she said about Landon. Hope says she needed to hear it, just like Josie needed to hear that it’s okay for her to be happy. They agree that coming to the retreat wasn’t all bad. Lizzie speaks up that she thinks she figured out what Andi was trying to do. They look over and see that she’s wearing a panda costume. “She’s turning us into pandas,” Lizzie says. “Then she nailed it,” Hope replies. The girls laugh.
Jed retains his alpha status, and the wolves throw a party at the old mill to celebrate. He admits to Finch that the best fighter might not be the best leader of the pack. He knows she threw the game. She says she saw how much he cares about the pack and wanted to let him continue to lead. He tells her that not too long ago, he would have called her weak for letting him win. Finch replies that if he can change, the rules can, too.
Alaric and M.G. take Dorian to the hospital, where he gets a good prognosis. Alaric, who kept the wendigo’s tooth as a souvenir, dreads how mad Emma will be at him for putting her husband in danger. M.G. feels bad that Dorian got hurt looking for him. Alaric says they didn’t need to worry about M.G., judging from what he wrote in his journal. M.G. admits that he’s struggling to be on his own. Alaric invites him back to the Salvatore School, but M.G. wants him to know first that he didn’t compel away Ethan’s memories when Alaric told him to. It was a mistake, but M.G. learned from it. He wants to come back to the school but he also wants to help people. Alaric says he can do both.
Hope and Josie have joined Lizzie as pandas, and she’s relieved that they’re having the same hallucination. (Music: “Because I Got High,” Afroman) Hope tries to get them to focus so they can be prepared to fight whatever Andi’s sacrifice brings forth, but even she can’t keep a straight face. The girls try to come up with a plan, knowing that whatever comes out of the pit will be…”panda-monium,” Josie whispers. They all crack up.
Something inside the pit explodes, blowing the three girls back and out of their panda-llucination. Hope turns to see what’s coming out of the pit. It’s…Darth Vader??
Etc.: If I didn’t already love Wade, “and scene” would solidify it for me. I love an “and scene” joke.
Finch’s plot in this episode is probably the best thing they could do for her at this point. She needed to be shown apart from Josie, or she would risk only being seen as Josie’s girlfriend. Here, she shows that she would fit in at the school even if Josie weren’t there. She gets to be her own person here.
More Wade love: In the background at the pool game, he’s taking bets from the werewolves.
Guys, stop trying to make “it’s never a wendigo” happen.
Interesting that Dorian opts for regular medicine instead of supernatural healing aids. I guess he’s the new Matt.