Guys. Where does a person even begin to recap what just happened? We’ve all just experienced so many emotions that I’m just going to be happy if I can get through this without any major typos. (Sorry, editors.) Although, as distraught and traumatized as I am, I will say this: That was a fantastic hour of television. I might even say it was the best of the season. Heck, I might even say it was one of the best of the series.
Since episode 1 of its third season, this show has been laying the groundwork for something big. They’d paced themselves. And now, they’ve delivered the sort of emotionally draining blow that fans deserve. Bottom line: An episode that makes you feel this much is a great episode.
Act One: Hello, Sister
We start with Rebekah’s voiceover discussing how whatever they used on her was not your typical dagger. With this one, she feels everything. (In other words, she definitely did pull a Stefan.) But luckily for her, Elijah paid a couple of men to get her off the ocean floor, and because he’s a good brother, he also shows up to finish the job. (Read: Kill those men and wake Rebekah up.) Of course, all Rebekah wants to know is if she missed Christmas. #priorities
Spoiler: No, she didn’t. Back at the compound, Christmas is only getting started, with Klaus letting Cami heal while he compels his staff to feed him and hang an ornament or
two 1,000. Checking in on Cami, Klaus is happy with her improvement. He’s not so happy when she gets a text from Vincent that says Kinney is in trouble. Apparently, the detective’s lack of memory — thanks, Lucien — has gotten him fired, and he’s not taking anyone’s calls. With that, Cami is off to his house.
In town, Tristan has made his way to Marcel’s bar because apparently whatever belongs to Marcel also belongs to the Strix. (Rich people are always the greediest, amirite?) They inform Marcel that they’ve decided that the young boy whose mother Hayley/Davina killed should be regent, mostly because he’ll do whatever the Strix asks him to do. Marcel nods along but quickly runs to Vincent, who’s working on his biceps at the fighting gym.
Marcel hates the idea of handing nine powerful covens over to some outsider of the city, so instead, he pisses off Vincent to the point where Vincent does the one thing he’s been so ferociously trying to avoid: He uses his magic. Even more than that, he informs Marcel that he will be the next regent and Marcel is not going to like what he does with his new position. (However, right now Marcel is one very happy camper.)
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Meanwhile, in the bayou, Hayley begs Jackson to come home. He asks if she loves Elijah, to which she very simply tells him, “You knew when you married me.” Poor Jackson thought her affection for suits would fade over time, but it hasn’t. (They’re just so well-tailored.)
However, she did choose Jackson, and she continues to choose him every day. And right now? It’s Christmas, and Hayley’s more than ready to have the first happy Christmas of her life. She promises him a quiet night with his small family if he returns home. He agrees to meet her there…
…and he even brings his trusty ax (at least he used it to chop down a tree first). But before Jackson can make it into the apartment, he witnesses a few members of the Strix — or as he puts it, vampires dressed like yuppies — following Freya. He shows up in time to decapitate a few of them with his ax, but he’s not fast enough: One of them takes the medallion while another stabs Freya with his ring.
It might not sound like much, but said ring was full of a slow-acting poison. Apparently, it’s a Strix signature. But that’s not the family’s only problem. After Rebekah learns what hell really looks like — the inside of a gas station bathroom — she discovers a skull mark growing on her arm. So, which sister do we save first?
Actually, first we save Kinney. When Cami makes her way to Kinney’s house, Klaus — white knight/bodyguard — follows her. And it’s a good thing he does because he’s able to bust down the door before Kinney can shoot himself. Turns out, Lucien’s compulsion about feeling worthless is really sticking.
In what might be the nicest Klaus scene ever, the hybrid tells Kinney that “there is beauty in the courage of a fragile fighter, those who persevere despite all they’ve been through, those who still believe there is good in the world.” As he looks at Cami, he tells Kinney, “Us dark things often find we need that light the most.” The kicker? “What you do not see in yourself, others see in you. You do matter.”
NEXT: Rebekah goes cray cray
Klaus tells Kinney to visit his sister and enjoy the holidays. He promises that when he returns, his job will be waiting for him. “You will remember today as your darkest day. Tomorrow will be better. And the day after, better still. You will go on.” Yep, I just got chills even writing about that moment.
Sadly, Cami’s thank you to Klaus is interrupted when Elijah calls with news of their sister predicament. Rebekah might be “the prettiest urgent problem you have ever seen,” but she’s still an urgent problem. Klaus and Cami agree to run to Lucien’s apartment. If the Strix has used that poison for years, Lucien’s sure to have crafted a cure. Meanwhile, Freya informs Rebekah that the stake the Strix used on her was cursed. She’s now infected, and as the mark grows, she will go mad. By the end of it, she’ll be a relentless, unstoppable ripper.
Act Two: Ripper Rebekah
Despite her condition, Freya tries to help Rebekah by channeling Finn. Of course, Finn does not think that Rebekah — or any of his siblings — are worth Freya risking her life, but when Elijah enters and offers Freya his blood out of concern, Finn is convinced to give Freya his power.
Sadly, it doesn’t work. Instead, Rebekah’s reunion with Hayley is less than friendly. Ripping into Hayley verbally, Rebekah calls her out on how every time Hayley is looking for someone to blame for her unhappiness, she turns to the Mikaelsons. And remember that time Hayley was going to take Hope away from them? Well, Beks does. And she’s pissed.
And don’t even get Rebekah started on the agony that Hayley seems to enjoy causing Elijah. Hayley claims that it kills her to hurt Elijah, but Bekah is more concerned with what will actually be killing Hayley.
Elijah steps in just as Rebekah’s eyes go black — so perhaps she’s more demon than ripper? — but she quickly snaps his neck. Klaus then arrives just in time and sends Cami to get Freya the cure to the Strix poison…but not until after Cami hears Rebekah say that Klaus likes to keep Cami behind glass because he’s scared he’ll ruin her, like she’s a breakable object. (Don’t worry, it will come up later.)
Once Cami delivers the cure, Freya can complete her spell and rushes down to cut the skull off Rebekah’s arm. Let’s take a moment here to really talk about what just happened: Freya essentially skinned her sister’s arm. It has to be the most gruesome shot this show’s ever done. Rebekah might be scar free. I, however, definitely am not.
Just like that, the family is back together and as normal as they’ve ever been. Hayley thanks Jackson for helping Freya. He tells her: “I was born to love you. If that means I have to deal with the Mikaelsons, then okay. I’m in.” In fact, he’s so in that he’s put together a complete family Christmas for everyone to enjoy.
And Rebekah’s brought a little something special to the party: A fire pit. As she, Klaus, and Elijah burn their wishes, they come to the realization that it’s best if the Trinity thinks Rebekah is still at sea. In other words, she can’t stay. But she’s okay with it. As she takes the hands of her two favorite brothers, she says her wish has already come true.
Saying her goodbyes once again, Rebekah apologizes to Hayley, who has finally learned what we all learned in season 3 of The Vampire Diaries — even when you hate Klaus, you love him. As for Klaus, Rebekah tells him, “I’ll run away from love if you’ll run toward it.” Yes, she means Cami. And Klaus seems to like the idea.
Sadly, Marcel was not invited to the family Christmas celebration. (I know the Strix can’t know the Mikaelsons like him, but Rebekah was in town!) Instead, he’s left informing Tristan that Vincent is now regent. The bad news for Tristan is that Vincent is not easily manipulated and is ready to enforce justice on all vampires. The bad news for Vincent is that Tristan has gotten his hands on Finn. (We might be getting our Finncent back, y’all!)
NEXT: Klaus loses someone he loves
Act Three: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
As Elijah and Freya have a lovely bonding moment where she admits that she snuck into a Mikaelson Christmas party 100 years ago and was worried she’d always be an outsider, Klaus and Cami have the moment of their own. Specifically, it’s a moment many of you have been waiting for.
After Cami asks if what Rebekah said about Klaus keeping fragile Cami behind glass was true, Klaus gives what might be one of the my favorite romantic speeches ever. Cami wants to know why Klaus saved Kinney, a stranger, today. “Because you wished it,” he tells her. “Because what’s important to you is important to me. What makes you happy makes me want to keep you so. What scares you I want to tear apart. I do not wish to watch you from behind glass, Camille.”
So what does he wish? To kiss her, which he does! (Happy holidays — for now — shippers!)
From one beautiful image to another, we cut to an incredibly dapper Elijah walking down the street. When he rounds the corner, we discover that he’s meeting with Rebekah. Freya’s spell/skinning didn’t work. The skull mark is back on her arm. And with that, she hands over a dagger and tells him to hide her body and swear not to tell a soul, especially Klaus, whom she wants to be happy.
In a beautiful scene between two of my favorite actors on the show, Elijah refuses to dagger his sister. But Rebekah makes a good argument: It will fulfill the family portion of the prophecy, which will allow the remaining siblings to fully trust one another once again. And once the year that the prophecy foretold is over, Freya can find a cure and wake Rebekah up.
With tears in his eyes, Elijah fulfills his sister’s wish … and gives us our Elijah Moment of the Week.
But he’s not the only one with tears in his eyes. After Klaus and Cami enjoy a quick makeout, we watch as Cami wakes up and looks startled. Just as I panic that she’s regretting kissing Klaus, we cut to Tristan as he checks in on a freakishly chipper Aurora. It seems Aurora thinks today was a “beautiful day,” which can only mean horrible things.
Moments later, Klaus wakes up. Sleeping with his arm around Cami, he sees blood on his hand. Turning Cami over, he realizes her throat’s been slit.
NOW can we all freak out together?! Can we talk about how amazing that hour was and how I have no emotions left in my entire body? There’s no way that makes sense, but I’m leaving it, because I’m sure you can all relate.
Hit the comments with your every thought and emotion, or find me on Twitter @samhighfill.
And for those of you who need explanation, check out Julie Plec’s blog and my postmortem with executive producer Michael Narducci. See you all in 2016!