Episode grade: 8
Can I take a moment up front to praise the stunningly charismatic and talented Yusuf Gatewood? He’s been such a gift to this show. When he first showed up, he wasn’t so charming, because he was possessed by eternal wet blanket, Finn Mikaelson, but that just demonstrates how phenomenally gifted this actor is. He embodied sad sack Finn so completely that it changed his physicality, even downscaled his screen presence. Once Vincent Griffith was free of Finn, he became the immensely compelling presence we look forward to every week. His performance is the anchor of this episode, and he shines as always.
Vincent is distraught and eager to atone for his sins this week, so we finally get to learn a little more about what he’s got to atone for. We learned a while back that his wife, Eva, had turned dark for some reason, and she’d killed nine children before being trapped in the witch asylum. As children are now going missing again, Vincent is the one person equipped to recognize the signs that his past is coming back to haunt him.
It seems that Eva’s dark transformation was something Vincent started. He had been looking for a new (or old, as it happens) form of magic that would allow the witches to take back New Orleans, in the bad old days when Marcel ruled with a no-magic policy. It’s sad and selfish of him, in a way; Eva asked him to just flee and start again in a new place, but Vincent felt that New Orleans was their home, their birthright, and he didn’t want to give it up.
His quest for a magical holy grail seemed to be going nowhere…but then, the book appeared. It was written in his own handwriting, but he had no memory of creating it. He started exploring the spells within, and they required sacrifice. His goodness stood in the way of carrying out the natural extent of what the spells intended, but Eva, as it turned out, didn’t have the same moral boundary. “I imagine,” she said, “a true sacrifice must be something truly loved.” And then she killed their pet bird. Once a person can kill someone they loved, they’re beyond saving. It wasn’t long before children started disappearing, and Vincent knew just what was happening.
Now, the book has returned, and it resists attempts to destroy it. Vincent lets Detective Will know the case is beyond the cops’ capabilities, and he and Marcel head to the abandoned Strix mansion to follow up on a lead.
Vincent has a magic duel/fistfight, and the bad guy is more than holding his own, bolstered by the evil he’s invoked. He taunts Vincent about the connection between Vincent and this evil, and he nearly maims Vincent before Marcel stops him.
The kids are already in the grips of a deadly spell that is draining the life out of them, but Vincent is able to save them. Unfortunately, there are only four kids on the scene, but the altar indicates five kids are connected to the spell. Marcel recognizes the personal item for the fifth sacrifice as bearing the Mikaelson emblem.
The Mikaelsons are living on Hayley’s farm, and they’re quite divided about this experience. Klaus just wants to be with his daughter, and Elijah just wants to be with Hayley. Rebekah and Kol are bored and ready to move on. Freya is a cold-blooded bitch who spends most of the episode torturing Keelin to extract her venom. Hayley even frees Keelin, but Freya just drags her back. I find myself wanting Freya to die, or at least leave town, but no, she’s sticking around.
Who is leaving, though? Kol, of course, and Rebekah, who asks Klaus to please not dagger her this time. He actually manages to make it seem magnanimous.
But the real winner this week is Klaus, who successfully bonds with his daughter. He’s fearful at first, convinced that people have talked smack about him to Hope, but Hayley assures him that’s not the case; in fact, Hope holds Klaus on something of a pedestal, because he’s the mysterious father who gave up his freedom to protect their family.
They bond over a love of painting, and Hope confides in him about her magical ability to restore wounded creatures to health. It’s lovely, and his perfect Prince Charming smile reminds us all why we can’t help loving him.
He pores over Hope’s sketchbook later and is troubled by her repetition of the dark magic symbol we recognize from the cover of Vincent’s book. Hope comes to him, complaining of a bad dream, a cold feeling, and pain. Her nose starts bleeding, and Freya confirms this is a mystical affliction.
Vincent magically reaches out to Hayley to invite them back to NOLA for a cure. Here’s hoping he can stay sane long enough to pull off the good deed, though; the darkness is pulling at him.
The darkness has apparently already consumed one of our allies, too. Detective Will hijacks the ambulance full of the kids Vincent just rescued, so the good guys can erase the mark they just put in their win column.
What was your favorite scene or moment this week?