Kaleb’s Corvette is upside-down and on fire. Aww, R.I.P., Kaleb’s Corvette. Jed crawls away from the wreckage to reach the resurrected corpse formerly known as the argus’ victim (AKA Ben). He’s still alive, but his skin is pretty much gone and his tongue is missing. Jed wants to get himself and Ben out of there before “he” comes back, but it’s too late. Kaleb used his dragon powers to try to kill Ben, who made him wreck his car, and he’s determined to finish the job.
Hope – currently in Aurora’s body – steals a jacket and hat from a birthday party in a weak attempt to disguise herself from the real Aurora. Aurora calls her from a restaurant, wanting Hope to think she’s nearby. As she hangs up, someone stabs a stake through her hand. “Hope Andrea Mikaelson,” Lizzie greets her. She’s happy to have this chance to talk.
M.G. assembles the members of the Super Squad who aren’t otherwise engaged for an official meeting, Ethan’s first. He’s a little underwhelmed, since he, M.G., and Cleo are the only people in attendance. M.G. says that Lizzie took off the night before, and Kaleb and Jed have been incommunicado for a little while. He asks if Cleo’s heard from Kaleb, which she thinks is a weird question. It’s not like they’re dating. Or at least they haven’t defined their relationship status, just like the guys haven’t with Lizzie.
M.G.’s concerned that Lizzie didn’t tell anyone where she was going or why. Cleo doesn’t think it’s a big deal; if they needed to know, Lizzie would have told them. Ethan agrees, saying there’s nothing they need to take care of right now. The drama teacher enters just then and sends the students to class. Oh, hey, he’s the acting headmaster! Someone’s in charge! He tells the teens that with Malivore and the monsters all gone, the squad isn’t needed. Cue Jed coming through the door with Ben and the news that they have a monster problem: Kaleb. The drama teacher passes out. Thanks for trying, buddy.
Josie packs a suitcase while dictating a letter being written by a magical quill. She’s trying to figure out how to tell Alaric that she’s leaving town. “Father, if you’re reading this, congratulations – you are no longer in a coma” gets scratched. She writes that the therapy box showed her that leaving the school might be the only way she can save Hope. She’s heading out in a few hours. She wishes Alaric were there to help her figure out how to break the news to Lizzie.
Finch comes by and Josie turns her quill and letter invisible. She admits to writing to Alaric, which Finch interprets as her way of expressing her feelings about his condition. (She wrote to her grandfather once after his death and it helped her.) She asks if that’s what the therapy box recommended, then decides that’s too nosy. She came to get Josie to help with the latest monster problem. Josie’s eager to help, mostly because it means she gets to delay telling Finch that she’s leaving town. She just says she needs to be done before “a thing” she has later in the day.
Aurora tries to tell Lizzie that she has the wrong person. Lizzie thinks she’s desperate and grasping at straws. Aurora calls out for help but Lizzie cast a spell to make their conversation silent to everyone else in the restaurant. She reveals that the stake in Aurora’s hand is “tribrid kryptonite” that would have killed Aurora if Lizzie had put it through her heart. Once again, nature came through with a loophole. Lizzie gets to decide whether Aurora lives or dies.
Unable to do anything to help herself, Aurora casts a fire-starting spell. Lizzie isn’t affected but someone’s food across the restaurant gets flambéd. Lizzie immediately realizes that something is off – Hope would never screw up such an easy spell. Aurora’s like, “You know how I said I’m not Hope? It’s because I’m not Hope.”
The Super Squad tends to Ben, wrapping him in bandages as Jed explains that he was ripped apart by an argus, then started healing himself. On the trip back to the school, Kaleb blew up his Corvette and burned Ben. Jed says it was like a flip switched inside Kaleb. M.G. knows they can’t get answers out of Ben until his tongue is back in place, so they’ll have to wait. He assigns Jed to keep an eye on Ben while he and Ethan go find Kaleb. Cleo wants to go along with them., and Ethan decides he should stay back. If Ben turns out to be dangerous, someone needs to protect their classmates.
In limbo, Alaric, Landon, and Ted have their three coins and are ready to start Operation Get on the Ferryman’s Boat, Jump Him, and Take Ourselves Home. Does that count as piracy? Okay, I’m calling it Operation Pirate. Ted wants to go to peace instead of back to the real world, but it doesn’t look like Alaric is willing to take a detour. The guys approach the Ferryman and offer up their coins, but the Ferryman just points them toward three glass bowls. Two are about the size of fishbowls while the third is much smaller. Landon guesses that they’re going to have to fill the bowls with coins before they can get on the boat.
Aurora explains to Lizzie that Klaus put her in a wall. “Gothic villainy must run in the family,” Lizzie comments; Hope once stole her favorite butterfly clip. Aurora doesn’t find their situations comparable, but Lizzie thinks suffering is suffering, so they’re basically kindred spirits. Aurora has no interest in teaming up, since she has all she needs – Hope’s body. Lizzie notes that she doesn’t know how to use it. Plus, Hope is now in the body of a super-powerful 1,000-year-old vampire. Aurora needs Lizzie to watch her back. Also, they have the same goal of making Hope pay. Aurora agrees and they toast with wine.
She takes Lizzie to her basement to share her plan: trap Hope in a sarcophagus that’s said to be able to contain a god. Lizzie’s skeptical about gods being real, but Aurora figures if monsters exist, so can deities. Once Hope is their captive, they’ll drop her at the bottom of the ocean, where she’ll die and resurrect over and over. Hmm, sounds familiar.
Lizzie warns that Hope always finds a way out. Even if she can’t, Aurora’s revenge seems “a little…biblical.” Lizzie wants Hope to suffer, but not along the lines of “an eternity of torture.” No, no, it’s “an eternity of misery”! Check the site name! Aurora wants someone to pay for what the Mikaelsons did to her, and it might as well be Hope.
Lizzie replies that Aurora is no better than Klaus. She realizes that if she participates in this revenge scheme, she’ll be no better than Aurora. She starts to siphon from the red oak stake, but Aurora’s quickly figured out how to use magic and is able to nab it from her. She’s waited too long to carry out her plan, and she’s not going to let anyone ruin her fun.
M.G. and Cleo track Kaleb with a locator spell as she tries to convince herself that everything’s okay. M.G. doesn’t want her to bottle up how she feels about Kaleb. He tells her that when she and Landon “went all Bonnie and Clyde,” Kaleb spent the search for them figuring out what to say to her. He was going to tell her that she makes him want to be a better version of himself. Apparently he never actually told her. M.G. assures Cleo that she’s allowed to worry about Kaleb: “Who you are to each other is special.” They find Kaleb, who’s been stabbed in the stomach with a big stick.
Finch helps Josie gather plants in the garden, hinting that she wants to know what’s going on with Josie and her secret plans. Josie isn’t ready to talk, but Finch spots her one-way bus ticket out of town, so Josie’s going to have to start explaining herself.
Lizzie calls Hope from Aurora’s basement to announce that she’s switching sides. She teamed up with Aurora, but “her centuries-long vendetta might have knocked a screw loose,” so Lizzie trapped her in the sarcophagus. She’ll help Hope get her body back if Hope agrees to clean up her mess and save Alaric. Hope agrees. But it turns out that Lizzie didn’t actually trap Aurora, who made her place the call to lure Hope to them. After she hangs up, Lizzie says she was telling the truth, then traps Aurora in the sarcophagus for real.
She removes Aurora’s mouth so she’ll have to listen to Lizzie as she slams Aurora’s plan. Going after Hope won’t undo what Klaus and the other Mikaelsons did to Aurora. She’s just prolonging her own pain. Lizzie doesn’t want her future to look like Aurora’s, so she’s going to do what she came there to do. As she’s brainstorming a trap to spring on Hope, Hope arrives.
Instead of doing some brainstorming of their own to figure out how to get more coins, Alaric and Ted get drunk. Alaric doesn’t think it’s fair that his bowl is as big as Ted’s when Ted killed a ton more people, and not for any good reason. Likewise, Ted doesn’t think it’s fair that Landon has to atone for things he did when he was Malivore’s vessel. He’s sorry that Alaric can’t get home to his daughters. Alaric thinks they could be better off without him. Ted assures him that he did the best he could.
Landon brings them some coins he got from helping their fellow limbo-dwellers move on to peace. He’s learned that they’re mostly held back by one of three things: parents, sex, and God. Basically, they need to psychoanalyze everyone and help them move past their issues. “Your obsessive need to insert yourself into other people’s stories is finally paying off!” Ted exclaims. The guys take their bowls and set out to help some people.
While they’re trying to get home, Josie wants to explain to Finch why she’s leaving hers. Finch reminds her that she said she wants someone who will stare death in the face with her and fight with her even if it’s a lost cause. Josie still feels that way, but she can’t stay at the school. She presents Finch with a second ticket and invites her to leave with her.
M.G. pulls the stick out of Kaleb, who’s not grateful. It was the only thing stopping him. He staked himself to keep his monster side from taking over. It was his way of buying time so Jed and Ben could get away. M.G. and Cleo are proud of him for that and tell him that his plan worked. But when Kaleb learns that Ben is at the school, he’s worried. Ben was the reason he lost control. Now Ben’s around another half-monster: Ethan.
Ethan offers to take over Ben-watching duty from Jed, who doesn’t get the hint that Ethan wants him to leave. Ethan goes invisible, then reappears behind Jed and knocks him out with a dumbbell.
Lizzie tells Hope that the therapy box showed her another side of herself. “The side that cosplays as a vampire hunter?” Hope asks. Nope, the side that’s willing to kill her. Hope’s curious to know how Lizzie plans to fight her without dying. Lizzie says it doesn’t matter, since Hope isn’t in her tribrid body anymore, which means Lizzie just has to stake her.
Hope says that knowing what you need to do and actually doing it are very different things. She tosses Lizzie a stake and challenges her to use it (just like she did with M.G. and the sword, though at least then she knew the sword wouldn’t kill her). Lizzie thinks it’ll be easy if she’s looking at the person who tried to kill her father, so she uses an illusion spell to give Hope back her real form. But she can’t go through with it.
Lizzie wanted to make Hope hurt the way she hurt their friends, but now she just keeps thinking of good memories of Hope. Lizzie hates that she chose to do this because no one else would. She also hates Hope for being her friend and part of her “weird, messed-up family,” and making Lizzie love her. No matter how evil Hope is, Lizzie apparently can’t be the one to stop her. As she drops the stake, something seems to come over Hope. She tells Lizzie she’s back and smiles.
Josie explains to Finch that she’s sure there’s still good in Hope, but she can’t reach it while she’s at the school. She needs to be someplace where she doesn’t feel like she has to save everyone all the time. Finch deserves to be happy, and she’s gained so much being at the Salvatore School, so Josie doesn’t want to be selfish and ask her to leave it all behind. Finch notes that she wouldn’t have what she does now if it weren’t for Josie. She wants to be with Josie, so she’s coming along.
M.G. zooms up to ask Josie for something that will immediately knock someone out. Jed’s recovered from the dumbbell attack and is trying to figure out what’s up with Ethan. Ethan can’t explain it but he has the sudden urge to kill Ben. Jed shifts to alpha mode and the two guys fight. Unfortunately for Jed, Ethan can phase in and out, and he still has the dumbbell, which he uses to break Jed’s arm. M.G. zooms in with whatever Josie gave him and renders Ethan unconscious.
Lizzie does something magical with the trident, telling Hope to save her apologies for now. She admits that she didn’t believe Josie when she said Hope was still reachable. Lizzie isn’t sure why she got to be the one to bring Hope back, but she’s happy it wasn’t during Salvatore Idol. Hope feels the same. Lizzie drops her illusion spell so Hope looks like Aurora again. When they’ve been unswapped, Hope will say something only the real her would know, so Lizzie can be sure the swap worked.
Lizzie opens the sarcophagus and Hope stabs Aurora with the trident. The body swap is undone, and Hope assures Lizzie that it was successful, adding, “Panda promise.” Aurora warns Lizzie not to trust Hope: “Once a Mikaelson, always a Mikaelson.” She shoves over a support beam that collapses the ceiling, knocking Hope and Lizzie back so they can’t run after her.
Josie fixes up Jed as his pack comes to check on him. Finch reassures them that he’ll be okay. Brutus notes that they need an alpha while Jed is recovering. Finch clearly wants to volunteer.
Lizzie’s first priority now that Hope is herself again is to go home and try to save Alaric. Then they can go after Aurora. Hope would like her to explain the red oak stake. Lizzie tells her it came from the tree the two of them and Josie grew. “Nature really doesn’t waste any time, does it?” Hope comments. “Unlike you.” Lizzie had her shot and didn’t take it. Hope burns up the stake and Lizzie realizes that her humanity isn’t actually back. It was an act.
Lizzie promises that she meant what she said. There’s still some good in Hope. Hope’s tired of hearing that and wants to prove everyone wrong. She vamps out, but Lizzie refuses to fight her or run. There’s no way Hope will actually kill her. She hasn’t killed anyone she cares about. She’s just being a bully. It’s time to drop the act because there are lines even Hope won’t cro–.
Hope zooms over and snaps Lizzie’s neck, then walks away.
Cleo checks on Kaleb, asking if his urge to kill Ben is still there. It is – it’s like a whisper that gets louder the closer he gets to Ben. He thinks he should go find a solution instead of hanging around the school. Cleo offers to help, but Kaleb wants to do it on his own. She says he’s already shown that he can control his monster side. He staked himself to save a stranger. Also, she’s allowed to worry about her boyfriend. Uh, as long as Kaleb is okay with being her boyfriend. They shouldn’t make a big deal out of it. Kaleb agrees with the “boyfriend” label but not the part about it not being a big deal.
Ethan’s in control of himself now, too, and he feels horrible for going after Ben. He doesn’t think he deserves to stay at the school. M.G. starts to protest, and Ethan continues that he also lied. When he and Lizzie went off together the other day, they didn’t go for a walk – they were spying on M.G. and Cleo. Lizzie saved some of the red oak and told Ethan not to say anything to the others. Ethan thought that protecting the school meant making hard decisions, but he knows Lizzie is his weakness, too. He doesn’t know if she went after Hope with the stake. M.G. quietly but angrily tells Ethan to leave the school.
Josie and Finch wait for the bus at that one bus stop everyone always uses. Something feels off to Josie but she can’t figure out what it is. Finch thinks she’s just anxious about leaving. Josie thought Lizzie would be back before she left. Finch says she’s making the right decision to leave. There will always be reasons to stay, but she shouldn’t feel like she’s betraying her friends by leaving.
Josie guesses that Finch isn’t going to come with her after all. She’s right. Finch wants to, but the pack needs her. She’s not used to being needed. Josie says the therapy box told her to go alone, but the first thing she did was buy a ticket for Finch. She’ll have to work on breaking that old habit. Finch assures Josie that she can do this. Josie’s happy that Finch found a home, and she hopes to see where they stand when she comes back.
Ted had no luck helping anyone move on, so he goes to mope in the Salvatore crypt. Landon’s done much better and has earned a bunch of coins. Ted admits that he never thought he had a chance at peace, but when they first got their coins, he almost believed it was possible. He’ll be sad to see Landon go, but he deserves to go to peace. Landon sighs a little, like he’s thinking, “I can’t believe I’m going to do this,” then pours his coins into Ted’s bowl. He’s not going without Ted.
Alaric joins them and says Operation Pirate is taking too long. They need to find another way out of limbo. He may not know one, but he’s found someone who does: the Sphinx. “What an unforeseeable surprise,” he says in greeting.
Jed is alone in the Great Room when he hears moaning and sees someone approaching. It’s Ben, who’s completely healed from his injuries. Also, nothing about his behavior indicates that Jed should be afraid of him. (The moaning is just something that happens when his tongue is growing back.) Also also, he looks like a human. A very, very attractive human. Jed says he thought Ben was a monster. “Unfortunately, monsters are the least of your problems now,” Ben replies.
On the bus, Josie falls asleep and…okay, I’m not 100 percent sure what really happens here. She either travels to some other realm or she’s just dreaming. Either way, Lizzie’s there. They both say they couldn’t feel each other. Lizzie promises that Josie doesn’t need to worry about what happened to her. Of course, that’s Josie’s cue to worry. She asks what Lizzie did. “Something kind of dumb,” Lizzie says. But it’s okay: “I had an insurance policy just in case.”
Josie offers to find her and help her, but Lizzie tells her not to. They’re both doing what they think is right. Lizzie made a choice and needs to see it through alone. Josie has to do the same. Lizzie repeats that Josie shouldn’t worry about her. “No matter what you feel next, just know, wherever I am, I’m okay,” she promises. “And you’re gonna be okay, too. And remind yourself that you are loved, no matter what.” Josie replies that she loves Lizzie, too, no matter what. When she wakes up, she’s alone.
Hope tries but fails to destroy the sarcophagus while Aurora’s inside it. Behind her, Lizzie gasps awake. “You’re supposed to be dead,” Hope says in surprise. “I know,” Lizzie replies. “But now, all I am…is hungry.” Guess who’s one sip of blood away from becoming a Heretic!
Etc.: The body-swap stuff is dumb because humanity-less Hope is so much like Aurora that the actresses barely have to do anything different to play each other’s characters. They don’t even switch accents! Also, it’s needlessly confusing because I had to keep switching names in my brain before I typed them out.
The spell Lizzie casts for a private conversation is called conus silenti, which I imagine is a reference to this, which is really clever. Shout-out to the writer who got that in the script.
Hope’s fake-out about turning her humanity back on was great. I’m surprised vampires don’t do that more often to get people to leave them alone.
I’m so used to people having their necks snapped on these shows that when Hope killed Lizzie, my immediate response was, “Well, that’ll only delay her for a while.” Then I remembered that witches can’t revive after neck snaps.
I’m not sure why Josie thinks leaving school this time will work out any better than last time, but okay. Kaylee Bryant wanted to leave, and this was better than killing Josie off.
I didn’t realize this until someone online pointed it out but Caroline and Lizzie both died at 17. Spooky.
After all the talk about the merge, it’s suddenly, almost anticlimactically, no longer an issue. And it even gets voided in a way Lizzie once admitted she’d considered voiding it.