Around the time of 1,000 AD, Leif Eriksson (no, not that one) became the first European explorer to discover North America. I learned this in history class, where we were taught all about L’Anse Aux Meadows and the fabled land called Vinland, which is though to encompass most of Atlantic Canada. What they didn’t tell us was that Leif had a bunch of vampire cousins with curiously Biblical names living in Virginia, one of whom bore a striking resemblance to Elrond in Lord of the Rings.
Who knew supernatural dramas could be educational?
Well, Alaric the history teacher, that’s who. We begin this episode with him and Elena spelunking through the cave that Mason and Damon uncovered in the last episode. Damon pops out at Elena and fails to frighten her, except maybe with his hair.
Alaric shines a light (literally) on the cave wall to show Elena what he’s uncovered. There are symbols, lots of them, telling a story which he hasn’t yet deciphered. But he knows it’s a story about werewolves and vampires, and looky here – there are names carved into the wall, in runic, which is a Viking script. And the names are Niklaus, Elijah, Rebekah – and Mikael. They’re obviously all members of the same family. Alaric and Damon deduce (correctly) that Mikael is the daddy. Which I’m sure comes as a surprise to zero-point-zero percent of the viewing audience.
Cut to Historical Flashback Number 1: Rebekah is rebelliously wielding a knife, which proper delicate ladies should never do, unless they’re skinning dead animals or chopping vegetables in the kitchen. She’s carving family members’ names into the cave wall. Niklaus is standing next to her holding a torch, looking nervously over his shoulder. If daddy catches you, Niklaus tells her, you’re going to be in a lick of trouble. Klaus confesses that their father frightens him. Rebekah replies, “He frightens us all. That’s why we must stick together.”
Later, we see Klaus and Elijah, looking like the Elf Lord, practicing their sword-fighting. They’re laughing and joking, and Klaus playfully cuts off Elijah’s belt. Mikael sees him and blows his top at this blatant display of incestuous homo-eroticism. He grab’s Elijah’s sword and advances on Klaus, and they spar until the naughty boy ends up on his back in the dirt, with daddy’s sword pointed at his neck. Papa Viking calls Klaus foolish and impulsive and says he’ll get them all killed. Silly Klaus, don’t you know that sword-fighting is srs bsns?
Back at Alaric’s apartment, Ric is looking over a table full of photos, trying to decipher the wall symbols, while Damon and Elena spar. Elena’s learning the moves, but Damon still manages to grab her, spin her around, yank her in and bite her neck. “Bang, you’re dead,” he whispers, and Elena looks annoyed yet aroused. It’s okay, Elena, Damon has that effect on everyone.
Elena decides that Ric fails at runic puzzle-solving and so rather than wait for him to decipher the wall graffiti, she’s going to interrogate Rebekah about her family history. She and Rebekah have a Mean Girls argument, where Elena threatens to sic daddy on her unless she spills the beans. Rebekah counters by compelling a bunch of girls to model dresses for her and ordering Elena to pick one. Bex needs a dress for the Homecoming Dance, and she’ll eat someone unless Elena helps her shop. Elena picks the red one, and now that they’ve shopped together and dated the same boy, they’re bestest buds! So they go snooping through Stefan’s room while Rebekah gives Elena the once-upon-a-time.
Cut to Historical Flashback Numbers 2-?. Rebekah’s parents were the curiously Biblicly-named Mikael and Esther, who fled their European homeland after a plague struck. Esther was friends with an African-American witch (500 years before Africans were trafficked to America) named Iana. She knew of a magical land where everyone was healthy, blessed with speed and strength. So Esther and Mikael pack up their brood and their witch and go a-viking, landing in Mystic Falls and living among the werewolves.
Once a month, the family and Iana retreated to the caves below the town while the wolves howled and ran free. Mikael strictly forbid his children from roaming around on those nights. But one full moon, Niklaus and his youngest brother, Henrik, snuck out to watch the men turn into beasts. Henrik was mauled to death, Niklaus was riddled with guilt, and Mikael was out for revenge. That was the end of mead and mouldy bread at the neighbours’ huts.
Mikael wanted to kill all the werewolves, but in order to do this he had to be stronger, faster and meaner than them. They asked Iana to turn the whole family into vampires. Okay, so, very few things can kill a vampire, but one of those things happens to be the bite of a werewolf. Anybody else seeing a flaw in this plan?
Iana listened to the plan and decided Mikael was too stupid to live forever, so she refused to do it. Instead, Esther did it herself. Turns out she was also a witch! Witch from the Original Family = the Original Witch. Get it? It’s as exciting a misdirect as the Sun and the Moon curse. By which I mean no one will remember it next week.
Anyway, the necklace that used to be Rebekah’s, and that Stefan gave to Elena, originally belonged to Esther. I’m sure that will turn out to be important at some point, since the necklace magically phoenixed itself out of the ashes last week.
Continuing with the history lesson, Rebekah unravels the vampire lore of the universe: the spell her mother used to turn them all into vampires involved the white oak tree that stood in their village, blood, and power from the sun. All of these ingredients then become a curse, like when you eat too much cake and it all ends up on your hips. The sun burns them, friends who had opened their huts to them could now lock them out, the vervain flowers at the base of the white oak tree burned them and prevented compulsion, and a dagger made of white oak would kill them. So they burned the tree to the ground. Also, they couldn’t control their hunger for blood and started eating the neighbours. No wonder they locked their hovel doors.
When Klaus made his first human kill, it triggered his werewolf gene, which is how Daddy Mikael found out he wasn’t really Klaus’s daddy. Mom put a curse on Klaus to suppress his werewolf side, but she wanted nothing to do with him anymore on account of him being her not-so-seekrit-shame. Rebekah tells Elena that Mikael’s tragic flaw is pride. He went on a rampage and killed half the village, then tore Esther’s heart from her chest while Klaus watched.
Then we get a touching scene in which the siblings bury their mother and do some family bonding:
Rebekah: I know you think she hated you, Niklaus, but she did not. She was just afraid. I’m sorry she turned her back on you. I will never do that.
Elijah: Nor will I.
Rebekah: We stick together as one. Always and forever.
Gimli: You have my axe.
Legolas: And my bow.
Aragorn: And my sword.
Sorry, I got confused by Elijah’s hair.
Thus endeth the tale of the original vampire family. And the moral of the story is:
Rebekah: We all have our faults. I’m stubborn, Elijah moral, and Nik has no tolerance for those who disappoint him. Over a thousand years as a family, we’ve all made that mistake at least once.
Elena: Yet you still love him.
Rebekah: He’s my brother, and I’m immortal. Should I spend an eternity alone, instead?
Elena totally gets it, and she feels kinda sorry for Rebekah, but Klaus has a hold on Stefan and Elena won’t stop until Klaus is dead. Rebekah warns her, “Do what you need. Wake Mikael at your own peril. But make no mistake. If you come after my brother, I will rip you apart. And I get my temper from my father.”
Meanwhile, there’s some other family bonding going on at a bar down in Hicksville. Damon decides that Lexi’s Dungeon and Starvation Diet Plan isn’t working, for Stefan or for him. He goes down into the Salvatore dungeon and yanks Stefan free, then drags him out for a night of feeding and debauchery. Damon calls Elena from the bar:
Elena: Damon, where are you?
Damon: No idea, but I’m pretty sure I’m overdressed.
Damon orders a bottle for himself and offers Stefan a bite of bartender. Damon compels her and she becomes Stefan’s feedbag for the rest of the night. They play that drinking game where you flip coins into empty glasses, and Stefan is winning:
Damon: You’ve been on this bunny diet for the better part of 50 years. So how is it that Saint Stefan, of all people, is good at a drinking game?
Stefan: Well, the bunny diet gave me a lot of time to practice. Wallow in despair (flip), drown in guilt (flip), regret my existence (flip), it’s precision borne out of tragic boredom. Drink up, brother.
Damon: All that effort wasted trying to tell you how boring you were, and now you finally agree with me?
Stefan: Damon, you are worse than Elena. Getting me drunk, brotherly bonding – you think I’ll break down and you can pull me back from the edge, is that it?
Damon: I happen to like the edge, Stefan. Your problem is your inability to resist falling over it. You’re all or nothing, man. You can’t just be. Although, who am I to judge? (flip) Drink up, brother.
Hahahaha. I love this scene to pieces. Next, we’re treated to Damon dancing on the bar with a bunch of girls. Turns out Damon isn’t much of a dancer, but he’s still pretty to watch.
Then, Mikael comes in and breaks up the party. He heard the Salvatores were looking for him, and he’s come to offer his services to kill Klaus. He asks Stefan where Klaus is, but Stefan is compelled not to tell anyone, so he doesn’t answer. Mikael shoves his fist into Damon’s chest and says if Stefan doesn’t talk, he’s going to yank out his heart.
After a tense, somewhat comic moment of Stefan’s mouth opening and closing with no sound coming out, he finally blurts out that he can lure Klaus back to Mystic Falls. “And there we have our loophole,” Mikael says, and lets Damon drop to the floor, still alive. “Get Klaus back to Mystic Falls, and I will gladly drive a stake through his heart,” Mikael tells Stefan. “Fail, and I’ll drive it through yours.” Mikael is humourless and scary, and methinks Damon finally has a rival in the eyes-of-crazy department.
Back in town, Bonnie comes over to Alaric’s to bring him Esther’s necklace. Ric gives her a daddy pep-talk: “Jeremy is an idiot, and I know this with certainty because I was once a Jeremy. Trust me, we learn. Eventually.” Awww, I love Ric in all his daddiness. Mikael should take a few lessons.
They meet up with Elena in the cave and decipher some more symbols. Alaric has deciphered the symbols for “vampire,” “hybrid” and “witch.” They discover a part of the story that tells of a hybrid killing the witch. Uh-oh, Klaus has been lying to everyone for a thousand years! Turns out Daddy didn’t kill Mommy, after all – it was Sonny Boy who did her in.
Elena runs back to Rebekah, and asks what proof she has that Mikael killed Esther. Bex replies that Klaus saw him do it. No, Elena says, Klaus killed Esther himself, then lied to his siblings about it so that they wouldn’t leave him. Klaus was angry at his mother for (a) putting the anti-werewolf curse on him, and (b) rejecting him. Rebekah doesn’t believe at first and she goes for Elena’s throat – literally – but realization gradually dawns, and she’s devastated. She’s left crying and sobbing, feeling completely betrayed by the brother she gave up everything for.
And speaking of giving up everything for your brother, Stefan and Damon are staggering out of the bar, doing their version of, “I love you man!” / “I love you, too, man! This guy, this is the guy!” Damon starts ribbing Stefan about what just happened with Mikael:
Damon: Oooh, my brother’s about to die. I just have to save his life for the bajillionth time. Careful, Stefan, your humanity’s showing.
Stefan: Why’s everybody trying to save me?
Damon: Because I have to, Stefan. Because you’re in this mess with Klaus because you saved my life. Because I owe you. And, I can’t just leave you in a cell to rot.
Stefan: Better be careful brother. Your humanity’s showing.
Damon then punches Stefan in the face and kicks the crap out of him. Stefan lies on the pavement and laughs. For them, this is hugging and hand-holding. BOYS.
In the final scene, Elena’s getting ready for bed and finds Damon sprawled across it. “Seriously, Damon?” she says, and they proceed to talk while she’s trying to yank the sheets out from under him. It doesn’t work, so she just throws back the blankets and crawls in beside him. And they’re still talking. Hahahahaha, I love this scene. They’re both 12.
Damon gives Elena the news that Mikael showed up, and is working with them to hunt down and kill Klaus. Stefan has also joined the team: “He’s an even bigger dick then ever,” Damon says, “it’s just that now, he’s a dick who’s on our side.” Elena shares that they have Rebekah on their side, too. “She’s just a girl who lost her mom too young,” Elena says, “who loves blindly and recklessly even if it consumes her. And when all is said and done, there’s nothing more important than the bond of family.”
I love that Elena sees something of herself in Rebekah. A thousand years, and humans are still driven by the same loves.
“I’m not mad at you for letting him out, Damon,” Elena says. “I think that you’re gonna be the one to save him from himself. It won’t be because he loves me. It’ll be because he loves you.” Okay, those last two lines were completely unnecessary exposition. We already knew that. But I still got all teary-eyed hearing Elena say them. Sniffle.
They fall asleep together, getting their last bit of rest before Klaus comes back for the fight-to-the-death showdown. Will he bring Leif Eriksson with him? Tune in next week to find out.
SHIRTLESS SOMERHALDER SIGHTINGS: None, but we did get Dancing Somerhalder, which was pretty hilarious.
QUIPPITY QUIP: “It’s the Lockwood Diaries. Pictionary style.”