Review: ‘The Originals’: Oh I just can’t wait to be king
When the news broke in January that there would be an Originals spinoff of ‘The Vampire Diaries’, I was hesitant to say the least. I wasn’t sure Klaus could anchor a series or remain a compelling character outside of Mystic Falls. But once it was announced Daniel Gillies’ Elijah would be joining his brother in New Orleans, I was pushing over little old ladies on my way to the nearest bandwagon. Everyone loves Elijah – he’s the glue that binds us all together. If Elijah suddenly popped up on ‘Beauty and the Beast’, I might be persuaded to watch (OK, that’s probably going too far).
But despite Daniel Gillies’ involvement, I still approached the spin off with trepidation. Klaus’ story, and the story of the Originals as a whole, was so inextricably linked to the town of Mystic Falls that I was concerned that should the Originals just up and leave the show, a vacuum would be created. Klaus and Rebekah (Elijah less so because he’s never been one to stick around for long periods of time) had become main characters in this saga and it seemed implausible Julie Plec would find an authentic way to remove them from Mystic Falls’ life (and it appears that’s still the case, as Klaus went to New Orleans based on a shady note from Katherine).
But as the season has progressed, it’s become clear that Klaus, though still a cause for fear, is no longer the threat he once was. His feelings for Karoline haven’t softened him per se, though many shippers hope he’ll change a la Damon (though, when you examine it, Damon was always capable of love, he just chose to turn off his emotions, where as Klaus truly only cares about himself), but he hasn’t been lobbing soccer balls through houses in broad daylight for awhile. And with the introduction of Silas, it was clear that Klaus was no longer supposed to be the worst or most evil creature in town. His story this season, aside from the slaughtering of the hybrids and the drowning of Mayor Lockwood, hasn’t been that menacing. I’m certain Klaus became less of a focus because of his potential spinning off, but it also put a damper on the series.
But now the time has come and after four long months, the backdoor pilot finally aired last night in place of what probably would have been a rather boring TVD episode if the cure had anything to say about it. And to say that it delivered would be an understatement. Aside from one tiny bump (pun not intended), the episode was compelling and dark, it was exciting and dangerous, and it had what is possibly Elijah’s greatest entrance yet (complete with heart ripping!). It did a great job creating an entire world within the confines of New Orleans. And I want to live in it forever.
To be honest, New Orleans is as much a character in this episode as Klaus or Elijah and if the show can afford to shoot there on location, even from time to time, the story can only benefit from it. There’s a rich history and a certain darkness that permeates New Orleans and that comes through in nearly every scene, whether it’s the shots of the city or a scene set in a darkened cemetery. New Orleans has always been a city shrouded in mystery, and the one it provides here is more compelling than anything Mystic Falls has produced in quite awhile. And it helps that the characters that inhabit this world are as dark and dangerous as the city.
Marcel, Klaus’ protege, is a character who seems like he’d be an awesome guy to grab a beer with – we’re introduced to him as he’s singing karaoke in a bar – but someone you’d also never want to cross – he kills a witch who’s betrayed him in a public display of dominance. He’s dangerous in an uncontrollable way, and he’s frightening to the point that it’s clear we’re not in Mystic Falls anymore. Julie Plec promised a darker, more mature series and that’s what we’ve got.
Marcel is an interesting man because he’s done what Klaus could not – he’s created his own army. He’s got men and women who are loyal to him, so loyal that they’re dumb enough to take Klaus Duty and trail him through the city (which only gets them killed once Elijah arrives). He’s influential but it’s not exactly clear how or why he holds so much power and that’s perhaps the most frightening thing about him. Forget that he’s somehow got nearly every witch in the French Quarter under his control, this man has the supernatural community in the palm of his hand. In other words, homeboy is king of the castle, something Klaus vocally resents.
The differences between ‘The Originals’ and the show that spawned it (sigh, no pun intended) are glaringly obvious when you contrast it to the action of Mystic Falls, which now feels small and silly in comparison (and it’s never more obvious how disappointing TVD is right now than when the story shifts between the action in Louisiana and the action in Virginia). So much of what occurs on ‘The Vampire Diaries’ is centered around one person – Elena – that it’s easy to forget that there’s a world outside Mystic Falls, a world in which people have no idea who she is and who don’t care at all about her humanity. This is a show on a much larger and darker stage and by the time we’re a quarter of the way in, women everywhere were ready to swear allegiance to Marcel and his absurdly charming magnetism, fangs and all.
But he’s not the only new face. We’re introduced to a witch, Sophie, who’s already proven to be stronger and more wise than she appears at first. She’s instantly more likable than Bonnie ever was and it’s refreshing, actually, to see a non-Bennett witch and for that matter, a witch who’s interesting for other reasons than being a Bennett and/or Elena’s best friend. For so long that’s all we’ve seen, and you know what? The Bennetts kind of suck. The witches on ‘The Vampire Diaries’ kind of suck. It’s the one aspect of the supernatural that the writers have never been able to properly illustrate or bring to life. So bring on Sophie and the witches of New Orleans, because I have a feeling what we’re going to experience here is more interesting, more powerful and a hell of a lot more entertaining.
And then there’s Camille, or Cami as she calls herself. She’s a fearless bartender with a backstory that’s probably more interesting than that. And she apparently has a thing for angry painting – in other words, Klaus is probably her kryptonite. Both women are brave in their own ways and not one of them is content to play the victim. They’re a far cry from the women of Mystic Falls and it’s a beautiful thing.
In addition to Elijah, Klaus is joined by Hayley in New Orleans, and since the announcement was made in January that she’d be joining the spinoff, we’ve all been wondering why. She skipped town after she had a one-night stand with Klaus and he mentioned some werewolf pack from New Orleans. Bam. What else did we need to know about her story? But last night we found out why – it’s because she’s pregnant with Klaus’ unborn hybrid baby (crickets crickets).
If you were on Twitter last night during the east coast airing, your timeline was probably full of caps lock and frustration, because mine was. The momentum of the episode was completely halted by this reveal and aside from Carrie Reisler of The AV Club, it seems that almost no one loved this particular plot point. I was never a fan of Twilight (which I constantly spell as twiglight), but I can tell you I laughed the loudest when I heard Bella and Edward had a weird vampire baby. But because I wasn’t a fan, it didn’t affect me. I didn’t care. But I care very much about ‘The Originals’ and the minute the baby bomb was dropped last night, I flashed back to the early ’00s and was reminded of another supernatural show that went down this path and was never (in my opinion) able to recover: ‘Angel’.
It’s commonly agreed upon in fan circles that the introduction of Angel and Darla’s spawn, Connor, was by far one of the worst things to happen to the show. The greatest thing to happen to the show was when Wesley kidnapped the child and took it to a hell dimension. Unfortunately, Connor didn’t remain there, he returned as a fully grown adult that resembled a pre-“Mad Men’, still with hair, Vincent Kartheiser. Connor was awful. Like, beyond awful. And I’m afraid for what this demon spawn could mean for ‘The Originals’. It has cast a shadow on the series before it’s technically even become a series (The CW has yet to order it to series, though it’s pretty much a done deal). The reveal was almost too soapy for a drama that’s supposed to be darker than the average CW fare. And I can’t help wondering if this is what they meant when the show would be more mature – but as we all know, maturity does not come standard with the introduction of children into one’s life.
It bothers me that Klaus has had a change of heart, but it isn’t all that unusual given how prevalent the theme of family is in this universe. Just as ‘The Vampire Diaries’ is about the Salvatore brothers (and once again I reiterate that it’s not a show based on the love-triangle or Elena Gilbert), ‘The Originals’ is a story as much about the Original family as it is about Klaus’ campaign to take back the city. Introducing an heir (though Klaus is immortal and and an heir in the technical sense doesn’t work here) is just another way to bring family to the forefront. But I still have my doubts about it.
But then there’s the flip side to this: I’m not entirely convinced this baby is even real, because it could all be a ploy to get Klaus to remain in New Orleans. Yeah, yeah, supposedly Klaus could hear the baby’s heart beat (um, how far along is Hayley supposed to be?), but that’s probably something the witches could conjure up. I mean, it can’t be that hard, can it? And when you think of everything these witches have been through, it’s not only plausible, but it’s probable.
The witches of the city are tired of being controlled by Marcel, and what better way to get out from under his thumb than have Klaus return to his old kingdom and take back the throne? Klaus vocally wants to be king of New Orleans again, and he’s probably the only man who could do it. I’m not saying there’s any reason to believe any of my conspiracy theories, but the witches of this city aren’t the witches of Mystic Falls – they’re stronger, more powerful and quite obviously more intelligent. I wouldn’t underestimate them.
Some stray observations/Suggestions for dealing with the baby:
- Bonnie kidnaps the child and takes it to a hell dimension never to be seen again.
- Klaus sells the baby on the black market for a new set of paintbrushes.
- Give it up for adoption so a nice loving family can have the hybrid/werewolf child they’ve always wanted.
- Give it to the Salvatores for football practice when they can’t find their old football.
- Let Elijah dress it up in cute baby tuxedos and cart it around everywhere because Elijah with a baby would be adorable.
What did you guys think? Will you watch ‘The Originals’ should it be ordered to series? Do you like or dislike the baby aspect? How awesome was Elijah’s entrance this time? And how do you think they’ll drag Rebekah away from Mystic Falls?
Photo courtesy of The CW.