Cleo remembers the day she saw magic performed for the first time. She revisits a memory of a time a warrior was brought to her family’s hut so Ayomi could help her. The warrior was poisoned in battle, and the only way to save her was to magically transfer the poison to someone who’d been exposed to it before and was now immune. Cleo watches as Ayomi makes the poison travel down a long, thick braid from the warrior to the immune person. Hope views this memory, inspired by her friend the Muse.
She tells Kaleb, M.G., Josie, Jed, and Wade that if they can find a way to do the same spell, they can transfer Malivore out of Landon. But only if they’re all on board, because Hope agrees with M.G. that they can’t let Malivore drive them apart. She acknowledges that sometimes she likes to be in charge. Everyone fights back laughter until she admits that “sometimes” is more like “all of the times.” She promises that she can adapt, because “there’s no I in team, or whatever.”
Josie speaks for herself and Lizzie, saying they’re both on board. M.G. and Jed are, too. Jed asks if Cleo happened to provide blueprints for the spell. Nope! Jed helpfully writes himself a note: “No blueprints.” Wade is definitely up for saving Landon, and he wonders if he’s still inside his body. Kaleb lies that they don’t know for sure. The teens all put their hands together for a show of agreement.
Kaleb goes to Alaric’s office, where Alaric has just received some shirts advertising a movie in the town square. The Salvatore School hasn’t completed all its community service from the mess at the football game, so they’ll be organizing the event. Kaleb protests, since they just came up with a plan to rescue Cleo and Landon, but Alaric reminds him that keeping the secret about Landon means he has to taken on burdens like doing things no one wants to do.
Lizzie is also on volunteer duty, and she wants to make sure she looks cute for when she and Ethan watch the movie together. M.G. eavesdrops via vamp hearing as Lizzie wonders if her new crush is “epic romance material.” She shares with Josie her requirements for someone who qualifies, magically making the list appear on a mirror: a guy who holds doors open, plays the guitar, speaks French, and is willing to risk his life for her at the drop of a hat. She doesn’t think it’s too much to ask.
The rest of the Super Squad works on Operation Take the Mal Out of Malidon, starting with the braid. Ayomi used one made of lion’s hair, but Wade and Jed’s is mostly composed of shoelaces. Wade asks Hope if she’s decided who they’ll transfer Malivore into. Hope only has one person in mind.
That person is still in the hospital after having his throat slit by his own father, who was secretly inside his brother’s body at the time. That experience might still be better than having to eat gross hospital food. Clarke gets discharged and is surprised to see that his bill adds up to more than $81,000. Hope pops up and reminds him that he also owes her a debt. She’s there to collect.
In the darkness of Malivore, Cleo comes across her family’s hut, which is on fire. She can’t get inside, even by using magic, and she begs Malivore to stop making her watch her family die. She promises to give him what he wants. As he approaches, she tells him she doesn’t have answers for him yet, but they’ll come. He apologetically says he can’t end her torture – this is real Landon, not Malidon. He’s eager to get Cleo out of there before she really does give Malivore what he wants.
Hope freezes Clarke so he can’t walk away from her, then presents him with her plan. She’s hoping that when Landon is back to himself, he’ll know from sharing a brain with Malivore how to get rid of him for good. Clarke has no intention of putting his new mortality on the line for such uncertainty. She tells him that part of being a human is having a conscience. Plus, if he helps the Super Squad defeat Malivore, he’ll truly be free. He also won’t have to live with the guilt of knowing he let them all down, which is totally a bummer. Clarke’s like, “I’m grateful to you, but, like, dog-sitting grateful, not let-you-put-my-evil-father-in-my-body grateful.” Maybe he hasn’t changed as much as he thought.
Ethan joins Lizzie for movie-night setup, and she uses the opportunity to learn more about him. They have stuff in common and he doesn’t seem interested in anyone else, so things are going well so far. Back at the school, Alaric joins the prep for Operation Take the Mal Out of Malidon, which Hope is proceeding with even without someone to put Malivore into. She thinks Clarke will show up, since he’s so eager for redemption. Alaric is skeptical about a plan that hinges on Clarke being a good person.
Finch brings in a bucket of salt, which Josie somehow ties to Italy as a segue to invite Finch to go there with her to visit Caroline over a school break. The two of them are back to being their cute, happy selves together. Jed and Wade managed to get some lion’s hair (who knew Grove Hill had a zoo?), so prep is almost done.
Wade goes to get a black candle that they can use to contain Clarke, though he doesn’t like the thought of his life being dependent on wax. Alaric tells him not to worry since Operation TTMOOM isn’t going to happen. But Clarke arrives just then, ready to participate…in exchange for the money he needs for his medical bills. Fortunately, the school still has some money left over from the leprechaun. Clarke asks for one more thing before they start.
Lizzie has decided that Ethan is “epic romance material,” but she doesn’t feel anything for him. Kaleb thinks her problems are minor compared to his, since his love interest is trapped in a Hell dimension and he’s been sidelined from the mission to rescue her. Lizzie reminds him that they’re there so the rest of the Super Squad is freed up for Operation TTMOOM. She siphons from him and uses the magic to make the popcorn machine malfunction so she has another excuse to get close to Ethan. The movie of the night is King Kong (the 1933 version), and the event’s decorations include cardboard standees of various movie monsters. Kaleb spots M.G. hiding behind one of Nosferatu so he can spy on Lizzie.
Clarke goes to the gym to see Malidon, telling him that Hope wants Clarke to do something. Malidon offers to free him if he reveals what it is. Clarke knows better than to trust Malidon after all the times he’s been burned. He asks why Malidon has always ignored him when all Clarke has done is serve him. Malidon says he created Clarke to become him. When that didn’t work, Malidon could only see his failures. He’s sorry for not being a better father.
Clarke’s pleased to hear that, but only because it confirms that Malidon is so nervous about what Hope is planning that he’ll say anything. Clarke’s ready to join the Super Squad and participate in Operation TTMOOM. “Guilt sucks, but revenge? That’s another story,” he tells Hope.
They start the spell upstairs, but there’s some glitch that suddenly makes everything stop. It turns out not to be real, though – the Super Squad is using the therapy box to run simulations so they can see everything that might go wrong. Josie thinks the problem is Hope. She can’t think clearly because Landon’s involved, so she shouldn’t be in charge. Josie reminds Hope that they all care about her and Landon. As much as Hope says she’s part of the team, she’s the one they always turn to in difficult times. Josie will step up and be the leader this time, assuming Hope can trust her to do it.
Kaleb calls M.G. out on spying on Lizzie. M.G. says it’s just because he doesn’t want Ethan to get involved in the supernatural world again. Kaleb thinks he’s jealous. M.G admits that he is, since he always thought he and Lizzie would figure things out when the timing was right. What if Lizzie and Ethan’s timing is right now, and M.G. never gets another chance to date her?
Clarke objects to Josie doing the spell, since she hates him, but Hope promises that she won’t let anyone hurt him, including Malidon. Next Clarke worries that the sleep spell he’ll be under will wear off. “Bro, stop manifesting, okay?” Jed says. Hope reminds Clarke that Malidon will be held back by a binding spell. Clarke wants double his payment, but she says they both know this isn’t about money. Josie’s ready to start the spell, and she brings in Finch for another siphoning. (Finch’s only condition is that Josie promise not to make her soup again. Heh.)
In Malivore, Landon starts to ask Cleo a question that she anticipates before he finishes: What does Malivore want from her? She says he wants to know how to kill Hope. Landon hushes her before she can go into any detail, so Malivore can’t get any information from their shared mind. Cleo says that Malivore just has to concentrate on what he wants to know and she’ll inspire the answer for him…eventually. She’s trying to delay it as long as she can, but she knows that the longer she’s in the darkness, the more likely it is that she’ll fail.
Landon offers to help distract her, suggesting that they talk about his go-to topic of conversation, Star Wars. Having been trapped inside an artifact since the 1400s, Cleo doesn’t know what that is. Landon decides that they should just ask each other questions. He asks if she’s ever been in love and she says once, with Leonardo da Vinci. Yep, that Leonardo da Vinci. Landon comments that they’ve both experienced “epic love.” Guys, if you can’t use that word more responsibly, I’m going to have to take it away from you.
Cleo doesn’t think she should ever have that kind of love again. The stronger her feelings for someone, the more she inspires them. Her love for da Vinci helped change the world, but she doesn’t know what could have happened if he hadn’t been the person he was. It wouldn’t have been good. Landon thinks it’ll be equally bad if Hope goes full tribrid. It’ll change the supernatural world, and he’s not sure if it’ll be for better or worse.
Cleo refers to Hope as a tribrid and Landon corrects that she’d be the tribrid, the first and only of her kind. She’d become “an immortal, unstoppable force of nature.” They can’t forget that her father was one of the most ruthless killers in history. Cleo suddenly has a vision of a red-leaved tree with blood seeping out of its trunk. She tells Landon she’s just had an idea. Correction – the idea.
Alaric sits with Hope as the others do the spell. He can relate to her seeing people she cares about in danger because of a decision she made. She asks how he handles that. “Bourbon, mostly,” he replies. He also reminds himself that he trusts the people he’s put in danger to protect themselves. Hope notes that no one would be in danger if she became the tribrid. Alaric knows she doesn’t want that – no one does. But she’s not sure that’s the right decision. She used to think she would do anything for Landon. Why not that?
Malidon starts convulsing, and Jed tells Josie that Landon’s body can’t take the spell. They need to stop. Josie thinks they should go faster instead. Finch gives her more magic and the Malivore goo continues traveling down the braid from Malidon to Clarke. When the spell is done, Clarke says he doesn’t feel like anything happened. Malidon confirms that he’s still himself, “but something definitely happened.”
He whips the braid at the candle keeping him confined, knocking it down and putting it out. Clarke starts writhing like something inside him is trying to break free. He flings Jed aside and runs out. Malidon tells Hope that he did the hardest thing he’s ever done: “Made him useful.”
Hope and Alaric send Malidon back to his cage in the gym, where he tells them that Cleo inspired him with a way to mess with their plan. He “offered up an alternative” to having himself transferred into Clarke’s body. He sent in a dybbuk, which will give Clarke super-strength, and directed him to the town square. To kill the dybbuk, they’ll have to kill Clarke.
The movie has started and Lizzie’s on her way to get a milkshake when Clarke shows up downtown. M.G.’s trying to psych himself up to make a move on Lizzie, feeling like he’s waited long enough. He loses track of her when she goes behind the movie screen to talk to Clarke, who says he doesn’t remember anything after the spell failed. He starts transforming, and he straightens up as a much larger demon just as King Kong is introduced as the Eighth Wonder of the World in the movie.
Ethan appears behind Lizzie and tells the Clarke dybbuk (the…Clabbuk? It’s clunky but whatever) to leave her alone. Lizzie advises him to run, but Ethan thinks his methods for dealing with bullies will work on this one. Unsurprisingly, the Clabbuk flings him aside, knocking him out. Then he knocks out Lizzie and picks her up like she’s Ann Darrow in the movie.
Hope and Alaric are getting ready to go after the Clabbuk, but she wants assurance that Alaric won’t kill him. She intends to keep her promise to Clarke. Alaric respects that but won’t let any innocent people get hurt. Hope reminds him that they’re supposed to be working as a team. He replies that he’s the headmaster, so if he has to choose between hurting Clarke and letting one of his daughters or students get hurt, there’s no question what he’ll pick. Hope wants to find another way to handle this, but Alaric says she’ll have to work on that while he heads out. Someone needs to make the hard choice. Hope agrees, knocking him out with a sleep spell.
Kaleb and M.G. find Ethan unconscious and Lizzie gone. Kaleb tells M.G. to get Ethan to the school while he looks for Lizzie. M.G. thinks they should swap tasks, clearly wanting to be the hero Lizzie’s looking for, but he decides he should be the one there when Ethan wakes up with questions.
Landon tells Cleo that if she knows how to kill Hope, she needs to get away from him and find a way out of Malivore ASAP. She’ll have to find a door to the real world. Cleo is anxious about being on her own again, but Landon reminds her that she’s a Muse and can inspire herself. She wishes him luck and he tells her it was nice to meet her.
The Clabbuk takes Lizzie to an abandoned office suite and ties her up. He starts a fire, which she thinks is so he can eat her. Kaleb zooms in and restrains the Clabbuk, promising that no one’s getting eaten. Lizzie tells him that Ethan’s hurt, and he assures her that M.G.’s on it. The Clabbuk gets free and knocks Kaleb into a cubicle, preparing to take another swing at him. The braid from the spell suddenly flies out and wraps around the Clabbuk’s wrist. Hope brought it along on her rescue mission. She apologizes for what she’s about to do, but she made a promise to Clarke and doesn’t like debt any more than he does. She reverse the transfer spell and exorcises the dybbuk out of Clarke.
Lizzie and Kaleb debrief at the hospital, where he tries to convince her that there are guys out there for her. But she’s smitten with Ethan’s heroics and thinks they could have something epic. Sigh. She’s also grateful to Kaleb, though he says Hope was the bigger hero today. He adds that Alaric would have known exactly what to do if he’d been there. Lizzie tells him that Alaric would be proud of him for helping keep everyone safe, including one of his daughters.
Clarke’s a patient again, though Kaleb gave him blood. Why are they making him rack up another bill if he doesn’t need medical treatment? Whatever. Clarke still isn’t thrilled with the weaknesses that come with being human, but he prefers that to being a monster. He’s grateful that Hope kept her promise not to let anyone hurt him. She says she’d be a hypocrite if she asked him to make a sacrifice she wasn’t willing to make. She gives him his payment, along with a ticket out of town. The Super Squad won’t be trying the transfer spell again.
Clarke advises her to kill Malidon. He knows Malivore is in the body of someone Hope loves, but the longer they leave him in there, the greater Malivore’s chances of winning. Hope wonders what that would look like. Clarke guesses that he’ll try to get revenge on everyone who’s wronged him, probably starting with Hope and the Salvatore School. Malivore is “an eternal, bottomless well that can never be filled but must be fed.” And now he has a taste for humans, so no one is safe. He could consume tons of people, erasing them from existence.
Hope tells Clarke that it’s not his problem anymore. He’s earned his freedom and a peaceful human life. She hopes it’s a good one. Clarke – who now wants to be known by his first name, Ryan – says that he was able to get a glimpse into Malivore’s mind. Hope should talk to Alaric about Landon.
Josie determines that Ethan, who’s still unconscious, isn’t hurt badly and they can treat him with an herb that will reduce his swelling. She asks M.G. to take care of that while she talks to Finch, since they have some unresolved stuff going on. M.G.’s fine with that, saying that at least one of them should get the girl. He teases an unconscious Ethan for not being able to stop himself from saving people. Ethan wakes up after he leaves and hears Malidon calling for help from the gym.
Finch and Josie meet up in the town square to discuss what Josie has already guessed is wrong: Finch is struggling with what she’s learned about the merge. Finch is understandably shaken by the fact that her girlfriend might not live past the age of 22. Josie says she’s made peace with it, and she hopes Finch can, too. “There’s nothing peaceful about counting the days until you lose someone you love,” Finch replies. The L word already? You’ve been dating for, like, a month! Anyway, Finch isn’t sure she can handle a relationship with someone who’s facing a fate like Josie’s.
M.G. alerts Alaric to the fact that Ethan isn’t where he left him. “I’m adding this to the list of things I’m never telling his mother,” Alaric says. They find Ethan in the gym, being held up against the bars of the cage by Malidon, who’s wrapped a chain around Ethan’s neck. Malidon will kill him if they don’t let him go.
Hope’s mad at Alaric already for keeping things from her, but she’s about to have another reason to be angry: He tells her, Lizzie, and Kaleb that he let Malidon go. He promises to explain, but first he wants to come clean about what he and Kaleb know about Landon.
Malidon and Ethan end up in Ethan’s truck, which he expects will be where Malidon kills him. Malidon says he just wants to “hitch a ride.” He grabs Ethan’s face and squeezes, forcing Malivore goo into Ethan’s body.
Etc.: Josie’s face when Jed writes his “no blueprints” note is so funny. It’s a combination of “how do you function in the world?” and “I can’t believe Lizzie used to have a crush on you.”
Clarke’s pretty bold to say no to Hope, who he definitely knows could force him to do whatever she wants. And on that note, good for her for giving him the option instead of just knocking him out and going ahead with her plan.
I would have loved to see Landon try to summarize Star Wars for Cleo.
Why have all those Ethan/Lizzie scenes building up their chemistry if it wasn’t going to go anywhere?
Trivia: Lizzie and Hope like the same kind of peanut butter milkshake.