Becoming the Destroyer – A Psychological Analysis of Mikael

 

With Mikael’s death in the most recent episode of “The Originals” and considering what his final conversation with Klaus was about, I thought it was time for me to write down some of my thoughts about what made Mikael who he is. We know him as the destroyer, the vampire who hunts vampires and he is reknowned for levelling half of Europe in pursuit of his children and for his legendary hatred of Klaus. But what made him this way? As a psychology student this fascinates me. So here is my personal analysis of what I think that might be.

Mikael’s Childhood 

Mikael Meditating

Michael’s mental discipline allows him to fight off the effects of the werewolf venom.

First and foremost we should look back at what Mikael’s childhood might have been like. Though we have yet to see any flashbacks to this period of time, we do know one thing about Mikael’s childhood for sure: Mikael had an admiration for his father and his father was one tough son of a bitch. Mikael tells Davina, during their heart-warming training session, that his father trained him from when he was a little child and that had he shown any weakness his father would have ‘corrected’ him. Adding that “mothers love their children, fathers make them strong.” Not something you’d expect if daddy was a teddybear. We also have another hint at this sort of behaviour from Klaus when he says about Mikael that “perhaps his father made him the way he was.”

In short my image of Mikael’s childhood is that his father was, to put it mildly, quite rough on him. Engraining in him a very warrior-like, practical mentality. Drilling into his mind the importance of strength and the idea that “fathers make their children strong.”

Mikael Becomes a Parent but Loses Freya

We also know however that later, when Mikael had his first children (Finn and Freya), he was kind to them. He clearly loved both of them greatly, though especially Freya. So I suspect that while he’d admired his father all his life, he disagreed in part with his father’s philosophy about what it meant to be a parent. He would still make his children strong, but after looking into little Freya’s eyes for the first time he could not bring himself not to shower them with affection as well. This backfired the moment Freya died, or at least when Mikael thought she’d died, of plague. At this point Mikael blamed himself. Freya had been too weak to resist the plague that had claimed her and this was his fault for not making her strong. For spoiling her with affection. He now realized his father had been right all along. He came to believe he hadn’t fulfilled his duty towards his children (making them strong like his father made him strong). As a result of his grief and guilt about this he slipped into a depression, taking distance from those he loved in fear of failing them again and being himself hurt in the process. He simply could not bear losing another loved one.

Mikael sees Klaus for the first time

Mikael happy to see baby Klaus for the first time.

Klaus is Born 

We also know from Esther that when Klaus was born, Mikael’s spirits were renewed. Mikael himself said that he thought Klaus had “the eyes of the warrior.” Based on this I suspect that upon Klaus’ birth he saw something in Klaus. A strength the others had lacked. He figured that this new child would become strong and he took it upon himself to raise him right this time. To raise him as his father had taught him. This time he would not fail. As a result Klaus became the target of all of Mikael’s expectations and so he came to play an important part in Mikael’s self-esteem.

However, as we well know, Klaus wasn’t particularly strong or good at hunting or really anything martial. Instead, Klaus was artistic and sensitive. Instead of being good at fighting for survival, he busied himself with worthless things (in Mikael’s eyes) like art. The potential Mikael saw in Klaus seemed to remain unrealised and at first Mikael once again blamed himself. He feared losing Klaus as he did Freya, and failing as a father again. So, fearing this, he decided to push the boy even harder. He would make him strong, come hell or high water.

However, as we know Klaus continuously failed to live up to Mikael’s expectations. I think this had a dual effect. Firstly it made Mikael distance himself emotionally from Klaus, whom he thought was doomed to die. Secondly, it made him feel like he’d once again failed as a father. Something which made him hate himself and then Klaus (as the source of that hatred). So over time Mikael’s efforts to make Klaus strong turned from frustration to hatred. First of himself and then of the boy.

This likely wasn’t helped by the fact that his other children seemed to turn out just fine. So how could it be his fault that Klaus turned out so badly, he might’ve reasoned. And that sort of thinking continued long afterwards. In an attempt to rescue his self-esteem and to cope with his percieved failure he attributed the failure to Klaus.

Henrik Dies & The Truth is Revealed 

Henrik: A Doorknob

Henrik dead in Klaus’ arms.

When Henrik died not only did Mikael’s feelings towards Klaus grow even darker, though not dark enough not to turn Klaus along with the rest of his children, but he’d also had enough of it. This second child to die pushed him over the edge. To make sure it would never happen again he had Esther turn all his children into vampires. Henrik’s death could also have been what instilled in Mikael a hatred for the wolves. Although it is worth noting he may have had some hatred for them already considering how prideful he is. After all him and his people had to hide from the wolves every full moon. Something which I think would’ve felt embarassing to Mikael, who had been trained by his father to be a fearless warrior. And it’s not very brave, after all, to run and hide from these wolves simply because they could not control themselves (in his view).

As a result when Klaus’ true heritage was revealed Mikael felt vindicated in his hatred of the boy. Relieved that all his self-doubt had turned out to be unnecessary. Mikael now felt certain it wasn’t his fault that Klaus  turned out the way he did. He hadn’t failed as a father, instead it was Klaus’ beast-like nature which was to blame. Things like Klaus’ impulsive behaviour, it wasn’t due to Mikael’s parenting. No, it was because he was a werewolf and just like the other werewolves Klaus could not control himself. As such he believed there was nothing he could’ve done that could’ve changed how Klaus turned out. Or to put it in his words: “You do not talk to abominations or try to change them, you erase them.” Of course he would say that, because trying to change Klaus was the mistake he thought he’d made.

Most importantly he could now attribute all of Klaus’ bad attributes to the boy himself without lingering internal conflict. This allowed him to release the doubts he’d still had about whether or not he was to blame for how Klaus turned out alongside with his feelings of guilt and shame about not being able to live up to his father’s philosophy. Him having Esther put the hybrid curse on Klaus was a way of justifying these thoughts further. Reinforcing the idea that the werewolfism was Klaus’ problem all along. And so expecting that Klaus’ behaviour would change after his werewolf nature had been repressed.

Note  also that Mikael still didn’t kill Klaus, despite all this. So while he might’ve resented the boy to some degree, this indicates that he still had lingering paternal feelings towards him. Maybe even sympathising with the boy for having been afflicted with this beast-like nature. Offering, in his mind, a kindness to the boy by cleansing him of it. And of the weakness and impulsiveness that came along with it.

Klaus’ Betrayal

Mikael stapping Klaus down

Mikael straps down a sobbing Klaus so the hybrid curse can be placed on him.

These last paternal feelings were crushed however when Klaus, in Mikael’s mind, betrayed him by killing his wife and then turning his own children against him. The children he’d just given up everything to protect. Those children who were the last things he felt he had in the world. Whom he’d feared losing ever since he lost Freya. Despite the fact that he’d been a father to Klaus all his life, despite the fact that he’d attempted to make Klaus strong even with Klaus’ many failures, despite the fact that he’d given Klaus eternal life and that he’d helped Klaus be cleansed of his curse, Klaus had taken away everything from him now. Klaus had just fulfilled what had been Mikael’s worst fear for decades. His mind was now made up. Nothing could cleanse this evil from this boy. He’d always remain at the mercy of his beast-like nature (even with the curse).

With nothing left in this world Mikael gave himself a single goal: to kill the person who had caused all of this. And so his hatred consumed him as he wandered the world alone for centuries seeking Klaus. The more he invested in this goal, the harder it was to let it go of it. The more bad things happened between the two of them, since they went around fighting each other for a millenium, the more hatred he developed. Until it became the legendary hatred we saw when we first met him.

I think Mikael was being truthful in saying he didn’t know why he hated Klaus when he was a child. This is why I personally think he did. No matter how correct or incorrect this analysis is though, I hope to see more of his psychology uncovered in the future (through flashbacks and the like).

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Copyright: The images used in this article are screenshots taken from the episodes of the show. We are allowed to use them under section 107 of the US Copyright Act of 1976. The Originals belongs to the CW and Alloy Entertainment.

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