Welcome back to a place we haven’t seen in a long time: Whitmore College. Vardemus is teaching there now. He asks his students to identify a picture he’s displayed of one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Either they’re too dumb to know it’s the Great Pyramid or they’re too hungover/stoned/still drunk from last night’s parties to care. A student named Jen finally identifies it, and Vardemus talks about the mystery of the pyramids and their construction. Someone calls out jokingly that aliens were responsible.
Vardemus cautions his students not to discount the possibility of the supernatural. Jen seems open-minded, but Vardemus suspects that her classmates are only taking the class to mock him. “I believe,” someone speaks up. Vardemus isn’t surprised to hear that, since the speaker is Hope.
Cleo assembles the remnants of the Super Squad, who at this point are only M.G. and Jed. (Hey, where’s Wade? He’s been MIA.) The three of them have become the leaders of their factions, mostly by default, so they need to decide what to do about Ben. He’s not a direct threat right now, but Cleo’s worried that his presence alone could cause trouble at the school. He has some sort of “affliction” she hasn’t puzzled out yet.
M.G. thinks that since Ben is a “monster magnet,” he has to go. His presence is too dangerous for everyone else. Kaleb even had to go home to stay away from him. Cleo thinks she can figure out why Kaleb and Ethan attacked Ben, but he’d have to stay there for her to study him. Jed gets the tie-breaking vote, which he doesn’t want. He gets not trusting outsiders, but look how great things turned out after they let Cleo stay. He decides he needs to talk to Ben and see “if the risk is worth the reward.”
The Sphinx has provided Alaric, Landon, and Ted with a riddle to solve: “If you pray twice a day beneath a false face, you’ll be as blue in the face as I am. Who am I?” A Smurf? Someone from Avatar? Ooh, a guy from the Blue Man Group? Am I getting warmer? Ted is annoyed that they gave the Sphinx all their coins for the riddle. Yeah, that was pretty stupid.
Landon reminds him and Alaric that everything in the Sphinx’s first riddle came true. Ted doesn’t care: Alaric (“Dr. Doolittle”) is desperate, and his bad judgment is going to spell doom for all of them. Alaric reminds him that they’re already dead. Ted doesn’t think Alaric has ever had a plan work out. Alaric notes that Ted’s batting average is about the same. Landon separates them and tries to get them to focus.
Jed goes to let Ben know that he gets to decide if Ben can stay at the school. There’s a bigger problem, though – Ben has been impaled by a bunch of little spikes. “It’s still here,” he tells Jed. And what is “it”? A monster called a Pukwudgie, which looks more or less like a large, demonic porcupine. It fires a spike (well, I guess it’s a quill) at Jed, who catches it. He tries to tackle the Pukwudgie, but, like Ethan, it can phase in and out. Jed asks Ben what it was. “The story of my life,” Ben title-drops.
Hope has brought Aurora’s sarcophagus to Vardemus, who confirms Aurora’s belief that it’s connected to gods. Hope is skeptical about gods being real, but Vardemus is a believer. He asks why she brought it to him instead of Alaric. She says they had a fight and she’s taking the semester off. Vardemus calls it a “supernatural Rumspringa.” He misses the Salvatore School and is only at Whitmore because they fund his research.
He does a thermal sweep of the sarcophagus and is delighted to see that not only is someone inside, but they’re alive. Hope tells him it’s Lizzie, and her being alive is kind of a problem for Hope. Vardemus realizes that something has happened to Hope. They go to a storeroom so he can look for an artifact. Hope is impatient to destroy the sarcophagus and hasn’t yet been able to. Vardemus suggests that she remove Lizzie from it and let her siphon the magic protecting it. Hope’s like, “Did I forget to tell you that I killed her and she’s in transition and will soon be a Heretic, so I used a sleep spell on her and am waiting for her to starve to death?”
Vardemus is disappointed that Hope turned cruel when she became the tribrid. She tells him her humanity is off. He should move a little faster to do what she wants. He’s looking for a special kind of marble that can absorb the sarcophagus’ powers. He finds it in the form of an urn, which he tells Hope to look inside.
When she does, she’s transported to a hallway where a bunch of illuminated keys are suspended in mid-air. Vardemus has trapped her in a chambre de chasse, or, as Hope calls it, a “stupid witch escape room.” She vows to kill him once she’s out. Vardemus plans to be far away with Lizzie by then. He runs out, leaving Hope behind with the keys. They’re all inscribed with names, including Landon, Josie, Klaus, and Lizzie.
Cleo “inspired” Finch to take everyone at the school on a field trip, both to keep them away from the Pukwudgie and to cheer Finch up after Josie’s departure. M.G. notes that it’ll be just as dangerous when they get back, since Ben is still there. Maybe Hope was right about what it takes to lead and they just haven’t been pushed far enough to realize it yet. Cleo remind him that Hope’s humanity is off; theirs is their sole advantage. They need to trap the monster, and M.G. should trust that Cleo will find a way to protect everyone.
A barrier spell keeps Ben safe in the library, where he’s pulling the Pukwudgie’s quills out of himself. Jed asks what he meant the night before when he said monsters were the least of their problems. Ben tells him they’re nothing compared to gods. Jed wants to hear more, though Ben says it won’t change anything. He starts with a story from his childhood.
5,000 years ago: Ben lives in the Caucasus Mountains, the product of a god and a human mother, at least according to what his mother has told him. He’s invincible in battle and fights to protect his village but has no use for the gods. They’ve never revealed themselves to him and he’s never asked them for anything. Ben’s main focus seems to be Ashur, his lover/best friend. When he comes home from battle and learns that Ashur is sick, he realizes that saving Ashur will mean appealing to the gods.
Present: “Why do I get the feeling like this story’s about to ruin my day?” Jed asks. “Aw, that’s sweet. And we haven’t even reached the ruinous part yet,” Ben replies. He promises that when they get there, Jed will know what to do with him.
Vardemus returns to his office, where Jen is studying the sarcophagus. She loved his lecture and wanted to talk more. He asks her to help him open the sarcophagus, warning that she’s on the verge of stepping into a big, scary world. Jen’s not really excited about that, but she opens the sarcophagus anyway. Vardemus worries that he wasn’t fast enough to get back to Lizzie before she died (“curse my delicate hamstrings!”). But she’s still alive, and she wastes no time cutting Vardemus’ throat so she can drink his blood and complete her transition.
Lizzie’s still hungry, so she zooms across the room to feed on Jen. She overshoots with her zooming, having never done it before, and slams into the door. She compels Jen to stay put, then tests out her new retractable fangs. She’ll come back to show them off (and eat Jen) after she kills Hope.
Hope studies the keys, deciding that Klaus’ is the most obvious one to start with. The hallway is lined with doors, so she’ll have to match the right keys to the right locks. This takes a while, and she gets impatient and throws the Klaus key down the hall. She takes the Landon key instead, but before she can start testing it, Lizzie arrives. She reports that she escaped the sarcophagus and completed her transition. Hope mocks that her stupidity must have been heightened along with her senses, because Lizzie’s now trapped in the chambre de chasse, too. Lizzie says her urge to kill Hope is also heightened.
She’s “practically an expert on mental prisons,” and she tells Hope that escaping is always about getting to the root of your problems. She takes a key with Hope’s name and says Hope has always been her problem. Lizzie should be able to leave whenever she wants. She just came to say goodbye.
Hope notes that Lizzie can’t kill her in there, but Lizzie replies that she can in the real world, where Hope is currently defenseless. “It was a big tree, Hope,” Lizzie says as she removes a wooden hair accessory. “I made more than one stake.” She even decorated this one. Hope thinks she’s bluffing. Lizzie vows not to lose her nerve this time. She easily finds the right door and grins over how fun it is to have vampire powers. As she exits the chambre de chasse, all the remaining suspended keys drop to the floor.
Landon and Alaric haven’t had any luck with the riddle. Alaric wants to give up but Landon won’t let him, since this was his plan. “I know the answer!” Ted suddenly exclaims, approaching Alaric. “You’re a gullible moron who’s doomed us to remain in limbo forever.” Landon calls for peace again, but Alaric says Ted is right. Maybe he’s earned this fate. Landon hasn’t, though.
Landon shares that he always felt like something was wrong with him when he was a kid, since no one ever wanted him to stay for long. Then he met Rafael, who felt the same because of his anger issues. He felt doomed. He wouldn’t even unpack when he arrived at a new place. Landon decided Rafael must be wrong, since he was such a good person. That means Landon was wrong about himself, too. He convinced Rafael of that and they unpacked their things and became brothers.
Whatever led Landon, Ted, and Alaric to limbo, their sins don’t define them unless they let them. “I promise, you’re just one good moment away from believing it,” Landon says. They should make this that moment. He puts out his hand for a “rah rah go team” thing, and Alaric does the same. Seeing their hands together gives Ted the answer to the riddle. Hands come together in prayer, as well as on a clock, which displays the same time twice a day. Alaric realizes that the riddle is sending them to the clock tower.
Jed tells Ben that if someone he loved needed help, he’d go straight to the gods “and be like, ‘Dude, are you my dad or what?'” Ben says that’s what he did. He figured any father would want to help his son.
5,000 years ago: The gods in Ben’s village live at the top of a mountain. He takes Ashur to the bottom of it, since he’s mortal and can’t go up any higher. Ben calls out to his father for help for the first time, but his father doesn’t respond. Ben takes matters into his own hands as he always has. He tries to ascend the mountain with Ashur but can’t get past the no-mortals-allowed barrier. Ben has to leave him behind and go up on his own.
Present: After confirming that he really is half-god, Ben stole his birthright. He asks Jed if he knows what separates men from gods. “Togas?” Jed jokes. It’s magic. Ben wanted it to save Ashur’s life.
5,000 years ago: Ben returns to Ashur with a ball of healing fire, but Ashur has already died.
Present: Jed guesses what happened next: The gods cursed Ben and made monsters hunt him. Ben corrects that the gods didn’t create monsters – he did. He gave the magic to the villagers so they could take care of themselves instead of relying on gods. They wanted the power the gods had, though, so instead of worshipping the gods, they tried to become like them. Monsters and other troubles of the world were the result.
Ben is cursed because he trusted the gods. He feels like he might deserve it. Jed disagrees. He’s decided that Ben should stay at the school until the figure out how to give him a new home. Ben is grateful but declines the offer. He has enough power to walk right through the barrier spell keeping him in the library, saying that magic can’t hold him.
Lizzie goes back to Vardemus’ office and realizes that she killed him. She bites her wrist to give him her blood, shocked by how painful the act is. Jen is even more shocked to see Vardemus basically come back to life. He’s glad that Lizzie saved him but guesses that she had a reason to. She tells him she needs help: “As much as I want to kill Hope Mikaelson, I can’t.”
She means that literally, as she demonstrates when she takes Vardemus to the currently catatonic Hope. Any time she tries to stake Hope with her red oak hair accessory, something makes her hand stop. Vardemus gives her an axe, and Lizzie figures maiming Hope is just as good as killing her. Her hand stops again, though. Vardemus has a theory, which he tests by swinging the axe at Hope himself. Lizzie’s hand shoots out and stops him. She doesn’t get why she not only can’t kill Hope but is now actively protecting her. Vardemus asks how Lizzie turned. Before she can answer, Hope emerges from the chambre de chasse.
Cleo has figured out what’s going on with Ben, but when she goes to tell him, Jed lets her know that he walked right through her barrier, being “a freaking demigod” and all. Cleo says that’s not the only thing that makes him special. She tested his blood from one of the Pukwudgie’s quills and determined that it vibrates at some frequency that only monsters can hear. That’s how they track him. She thinks she can do a spell to mute the frequency. Jed breaks the quill and notices that it’s wooden. Cleo realizes that M.G., who she just sent after the Pukwudgie, could be in some trouble.
Instead of the Pukwudgie, M.G. comes across Ben. The Pukwudgie finds them both and fires a quill at M.G., which Ben takes through the hand to save him. He tells M.G. to run, then phases out with the Pukwudgie.
Hope tells Lizzie that her hint did the trick, and since she made herself Hope’s problem, Hope just had to find her key. She snags the mini-stake from Lizzie, since Lizzie’s now as vulnerable to it as Hope is. But the “bibrid” to Hope’s tribrid just uses her now-self-siphoning magic to burn up the mini-stake. “Do you have a pencil I could borrow?” Hope asks Vardemus impatiently.
Vardemus tells Hope that Lizzie can’t hurt her. Actually, he thinks Lizzie will do anything Hope says. He’s right, because when Hope tells Lizzie to stop talking, she shuts right up. Vardemus asks whose blood was in Lizzie’s system when she died. She doesn’t know; she just took blood from the school’s first-aid kits. Welp, it was Hope’s, and now Lizzie and Hope have themselves a little sire bond.
They go back to Vardemus’ office (Lizzie hopping on one foot because Hope is messing with her) and discover that Jen and the sarcophagus are both gone. This is mostly significant because the sarcophagus is extremely heavy and Jen is pretty tiny. “I am as shocked as you both that your dynamic could become even stranger,” Vardemus says to the bickering bibrid and tribrid, but they need to get the possibly-extremely-powerful sarcophagus back.
Hope zooms off to find Jen, and Lizzie plans to flee before she gets back. Vardemus guesses that her emotions are heightened after her transition. She’s not sure, since her emotions have always been a little different. He tells her gently that she’s a good person and should remember that Hope is in a dark place and chasing an innocent student. Lizzie’s face says, “I’m going to have to get involved, aren’t I?”
M.G. finds Ben’s arm in the woods just as Cleo and Jed join him. “Need a hand?” Jed accidentally jokes before he sees the arm. He thinks he knows what’s going on with Ben. Cleo warns M.G. to get back inside the school. Before she can tell him about the wooden quills, the Pukwudgie and a one-armed Ben reappear. Ben sends the others way, since the monster can’t kill him, but they don’t want to leave him behind. Jed kicks the Pukwudgie, which phases back out. Cleo puts a bracelet on Ben’s wrist, saying that it’ll protect him. The Pukwudgie reappears, growling, but when Cleo fastens the bracelet, it goes docile. It even seems grateful to Cleo. Ben thinks his curse might be the Pukwudgie’s curse, too.
Hope finds Jen trying to shove the sarcophagus into the bed of a pickup truck. She’d like to know why she couldn’t track Jen with a locator spell. (She should also ask why Lizzie’s compulsion didn’t keep Jen in the office.) Jen says it’s a long story. Hope has plenty of time, being immortal and all. “Immortality’s a b&^$%, huh?” Jen says. “I mean, not really. But I am,” Hope replies.
Jen’s a pacifist and doesn’t want to hurt Hope, who doubts she could anyway. But when she picks up the sarcophagus and throws it at Hope without breaking a sweat, Hope realizes she’s not dealing with a normal person here. Jen says that Hope doesn’t want to know the things she thinks she does. She picks up a piece of the broken sarcophagus and raises her arm to stake Hope. Lizzie zooms up, siphons her, and greets Hope with, “Hey, b&^$%.”
Jen wants to be left out of whatever’s going on here, but Hope says that’s not an option. Jen announces that, in that case, “it’s time to get high.” She takes off like a rocket and flies away. “Well, you don’t see that every day,” Lizzie says. Hope guesses that Jen is a god.
The other god new to the Super Squad is with Jed at the old mill. Jed has figured out that Ben’s real name is Prometheus. (Jed is smarter than people think, and he’s a fan of Greek mythology.) He thinks Ben is awesome for stealing magic from the gods and giving it to humans, regardless of how that worked out. Ben gets tortured every day, but the myth about eagles eating his liver over and over isn’t true; there were monsters instead. Also, the names in myths are all wrong because the real ones are unpronounceable. Ben likes his new name, though. It’s simple, like Jed’s name.
Ben doesn’t think he should stay at the school. Jed notes that he gets chained up once a month, too. “Being cursed is pretty much a requirement for being at the Salvatore School,” he says. Ben should give it a chance. He decides staying would be better than being digested by a gorgon again. Speaking of gorgons, I hope Nia is doing well wherever she is.
Lizzie doesn’t get why Hope isn’t happier about the sarcophagus being destroyed. Hope’s worried that Aurora will find out that gods exist. Hope needs Lizzie’s help now – her power doesn’t keep her from being blindsided by things her lack of humanity isn’t picking up. She’s been reckless, and she needs a partner to help her take down Aurora.
Lizzie thinks she’d be more like a canary in a coalmine, and she’s not on board. She seems to have forgotten already that the sire bond means she has to do whatever Hope wants. Lizzie warns that she’s going to be even more annoying as a Heretic. Plus, the Super Squad will come looking for her when they find out what happened. Hope says they won’t if Lizzie does what she says. Which, of course, she will, because of the sire bond.
Cleo has brought the Pukwudgie back to the school as a kind of pet. M.G. thinks that’s where Ethan’s monster side came from, since they teleport the same way. Speaking of Ethan, with Ben’s curse neutralized, he and Kaleb can come back. M.G.’s ready to make up with Ethan, feeling like he rushed to judgment. He’s glad Cleo demonstrated her leadership skills today and kept him from banishing Ben. Cleo reveals that she spent the day asking herself what M.G. would do. He’s a great leader, no matter what Hope said.
Now that the monsters have been handled, M.G. wants to go find Lizzie. She astral-projects in just then and declares the Pukwudgie the “ugliest emotional support animal” she’s ever seen. She advises M.G. to sit down before she tells him what’s been going on with her.
We don’t get to hear it, but Lizzie tells Hope that she thinks he bought her story that she’s going to spend some time with Caroline. She really, really doesn’t want to team up with Hope, and she disagrees with Hope’s claim that this arrangement will be mutually beneficial. Hope tells her that once Aurora is dead, she’ll make Lizzie promise not to kill her, then release her. Lizzie doesn’t believe her, but it’s not like she has any other options. Besides, “codependency is [her] crutch,” and she wouldn’t mind killing Aurora.
Landon, Ted, and Alaric head into the clock tower (everyone wave at the Maxwell bell!), which houses a bar that seems pretty popular to the residents of limbo. The guys aren’t sure who they need to talk to about getting out of there, but at least they can get some bourbon. The bartender charges them a coin each, so it’s too bad they gave all of theirs to the Sphinx. But this trip isn’t a total loss: The bartender is a jinni. That explains the “blue in the face” part of the riddle. Alaric cancels their order for three drinks and orders three wishes instead.
Etc.: Full disclosure: I hate the gods stuff. Hate it. Not the characters themselves, just the arc.
Wouldn’t the supernatural rumor mill have spread the news that Hope has become the tribrid? I would think supernatural beings all over the world would have heard somehow. Maybe Vardemus is just out of the loop.
I wish we’d seen more throughout the series of baby vamps practicing things like zooming and using their super-strength. I like that, as Lizzie demonstrates here, it doesn’t come to them naturally and in some cases they have no idea what they’re doing.