Before I begin, I have to give thanks to my friend and fellow reviewer, Jasmin, who has been covering The Vampire Diaries since she started writing for Project Fandom. It just happens that I am beginning my reviews for The Originals right as TVD has ended and she did a wonderful job covering that show. I am merely picking up the baton.
The Originals has always distinguished itself from The Vampire Diaries by being a bit more mature, more adult, and definitely darker (literally and figuratively, The Originals actually gives their POC characters development and screentime). But like TVD, The Originals is ultimately about family, and one family in particular, the Mikaelsons. At the end of season 3, Klaus (Joseph Morgan) turned himself over to Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), to be punished for his many crimes and in doing so, linked his life to his sibling’s lives so that Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) and Freya (Riley Voelkel) could find a way to cure them from the witches and wolves revenge. Now, five years have passed, Klaus is still under Marcel’s control and Hayley has been gathering the materials Freya needs while raising the daughter she had with Klaus, Hope (Summer Fontana).
Of course, because we’re close to breaking the curse, everyone is stirring up trouble. Vincent has been leading the witches in the French Quarter, but there may be a faction going after the vampires. Marcel has his New Orleans vampires in check, but out-of-towners want to kill Klaus and are willing to kick up a fuss until Marcel agrees. Also, there’s a part of Marcel that still sympathizes with his maker even though their sire bond has been severed. The chemistry between Davis and Morgan’s characters has always been off the charts and even though the Mikaelson’s put their immediate family above all, Klaus and Marcel will always have a bond that’s unbreakable.
As usual, there’s lots of wheeling and dealing and machinations. Marcel allows Klaus to take out the vampire challenging him while also putting on a show of keeping Klaus in check to assert his authority. Hayley gets the final ingredient to cure Elijah and Kol (werewolf venom from the seventh clan) and wakes Freya to complete the spell. It’s a great scene with Hayley fighting off the vampires trying to attack them before Freya can complete the spell and it culminates in Hayley going full werewolf, which is a rarity. They really upped the CGI budget because Hayley’s wolf looked like Ghost on Game of Thrones. It was amazing. Also, if we’re going to talk chemistry, shout out to Phoebe Tonkin (Hayley) and Daniel Gilles (Elijah). The look on Hayley’s face when she realizes Elijah is awake and healed goes from relief, to love to desire, and back again. It was a beautifully acted scene.
By episode’s end, we’re set up for a hell of a season. The Mikaelsons are back and on their way to reunite their family. Freya, in particular, woke up ready to murder anything in their path. Marcel is trying to figure out what the New Orleans witches are up to and doesn’t even realize he’s about to have a way bigger battle on his hands. If you’re looking for something to sate your bloodlust, this season of The Originals looks bigger and bloodier than ever.
Although The Originals was created from The Vampires Diaries it doesn’t suffer from the same Plec-ian tropes. The fandom may have its ships, but ultimately, the show centers around themes of family, loyalty, and power. The sex and romance is there to enhance not dominate the story, and the angst that The CW loves comes from familial betrayal more than anything. The chemistry between the cast leads to some great performances and this episode was no exception. Coming off a long hiatus, everyone delivered and the time jump should allow for some great moments. I’m really eager to see Freya take the position as the “bad” sibling since her moral high ground has always been a bit shaky. As the season progresses it will be interesting to see who falls where. Elijah and Klaus have their love for Hayey and Hope, respectively, to keep them in check but everyone else is a wildcard. Luckily, The Originals excels at keeping us guessing.