One Step Forward, Twenty Steps Back – Why Hope Mikaelson Has No Character Arc

(Warning: this audio clip can get a wee bit loud. Please make sure your ears are still attached after listening if you use a headphone)

Behold! The blue eyes of personality erasing magic!

I really didn’t want to watch season 5 of the Originals. I just didn’t. I knew before I even watched it that it would be awful. I knew that season 5 would never provide anything better than the beautiful, thematically relevant ending season 4 left us with. None of the plot made any sense, none of the characters had anything even resembling a character arc. In fact, some of them even seemed to have regressed back to previous states of their character journey. But one was even worse than that. Not only did she not have a character arc, not only did “magic” determine her personality in the second half of the season, but the ending also became the antithesis of what she was supposed to evolve into as a character. I’m talking, of course, about Hope Mikaelson…

The aftermath of Hope’s scheming to bring daddy home. The apple did not fall far off the tree indeed…

Season 5 starts with our beloved Hope Mikaelson proving she’s her daddy’s little girl. A schemer who goes out of her way to bend the rules by preying on the feelings of a lone werewolf. By abusing the poor kid’s sense of isolation so she can do something so terrible that it’ll sure get her some punishment: condemn a guy to a pretty poor life as her little slave: the hybrid. Those little mooks who die by creatures who are, supposedly, weaker than they are. Why does she do this? So daddy dearest has to give her a good ol’ scolding.

One Two, Daddy’s Booboo

You see, Hope Mikaelson misses her father. Her beloved, psychotic man-child of a daddy who’s been avoiding her while he takes care of that neverending list of enemies the Mikaelsons have. Worse still! In this day and age of cellphones and video chat calls he’s been actively avoiding her, far beyond what the curse that is the Hollow should really be causing him to do. Of course she’s a Mikaelson, so rather than talking to her mother, aunts and uncles she’ll bring her father back the only way a Mikaelson knows how: by destroying the life of another. Oh, and by kidnapping her mother when it turns out destroying someone’s very existence isn’t enough to phase dear ol’ daddy-o.

Now, as you may expect this all blows up spectacularly in her face. Kidnapping her mother creates a power vacuum of sorts, something the nazi vampires of this season abuse oh so maliciously. You see, it turns out Hayley was an important reason as to why all of the factions got to play nicely together. Take her away and all of a sudden everyone’s at each other throat. Sure, that hybrid kid I spoke of before had something to do with that, killing a vampire as he did, but really! It’s Hayley we all give a shit about. She’s gone and we have to find her. But oh noes! Hayley dies after a domestic dispute with a semi-brainwashed Elijah and those same nazi vampires the show just can’t help but reiterate are evil.  A thematic point in the story my dearest friend Analyze-chan may actually have something to say about.

Hope hurting Elijah to get rid of all that magicky anger she’s bottling up inside.

After her mother dies Hope seems to have learned her lesson… Well, no she hasn’t. Not at all. This isn’t a season where people actually learn from their mistakes. But what Hope does next is supposed to be a form of character development. She decides that she will take responsibility by siphoning the Hollow, which Klaus, Rebekah, Elijah and Kol had all been suffering from, into herself so her family can finally be with her. The show tries to demonstrate that Hope wants to make sacrifices like her family, that she wants to be close to them and protect them. Of course, the only way that can be done is by losing her personality to magic, because for the rest of the season her main struggles are all about trying to get rid of the Hollow’s influence by hurting other people. First Elijah, then Rowan, then the entire gang of nazi vampires the season had been building up as such an ideological threat and then some kids in Mystic Falls. You see, this is the point where the show doesn’t even pretend she’s evolving as a character anymore. It’s all about her getting angry, venting her anger, repeat step 1 and 2 over and over again. It turns out that siphoning the Hollow into her isn’t such a great idea. Who knew? Oh, EVERYONE FUCKING DID!

The Black Hole of Magic

Of course, eventually the Klaus gang finds out that Hope is not only getting her personality erased in favour of “magicz”, but she’s also slowly dying. At the season finale she has one day left before she dies. Ignoring the fact that the Hollow was supposed to be a character and not some random curse, of course Klaus just can’t let that happen. So he takes all of that Hollow juice into himself. And Elijah being Elijah he takes in a part of THAT Hollow juice and they both eventually commit seppuku and die together, redeemed as two characters having fulfilled their character arcs.

I guess dearest Hope-chan did get daddy’s attention…

BAHAHAHAHA! Redeemed! Bahahahaha, character arcs! Oooooooh, that was a good joke. Wait… You’re serious? WHAT?! Not only does this not at all redeem the two characters, but this actually negates Hope’s character arc. Throughout the season she desperately wants to prove herself. She wants to show she’s a part of the family, that her family doesn’t need to make sacrifices for her, that she’s strong enough to handle the Hollow and that she just wants her family with her so they can form a happy little dysfunctional family. So how does the season end? With her father and uncle dying in order to protect herself from the Hollow. So not only is this girl worse off by the end of the season, not only is Elijah dying completely pointless. Not only is KLAUS DYING completely pointless if Elijah was so happy to do it himself, but Hope is not shown to have actually learned from her mistakes. She acted recklessly and without planning ahead the entire season and has been shown time and again to evade responsibility from her actions. Her mother dying is clearly not her fault. No, that’s Elijah’s fault. Her dying from the Hollow is clearly not her fault. She just wanted her daddy. Klaus and Elijah dying is clearly not her fau- Oh wait, YES IT ALL FUCKING IS! Holy shit The Originals, what on earth is all this bullshit?

… RIGHT BEFORE HE FUCKING DIES BECAUSE OF HER!

How can you build up such an irresponsible character and not have her learn anything this past season? In a show that is all about making her father deal with the fallout of acting recklessly and selfishly?! Every goddamn time this character was shown in screen she’s done nothing but angsting about how she wants her family back together. Yeah, I get that she’s a teenager going through puberty, but most adolescents don’t get to fuck with such magical powers, nor do they evade all the responsibility of their actions, especially if said actions results in dead people.

Upbringing With a Massive Shield, Armour and a Closed Helmet

You can clearly tell that Klaus and Elijah dying together was not meant as an indication that everything Hope did blew up spectacularly in her face, but that it’s all about them having their final moment. So what has Hope really accomplished? Nothing. She didn’t learn from her mistakes, she wasn’t even exposed to how HER actions caused all this. Partially because her family shields her from that crap, which they are wont to do, but also because the second half of the season had “magic” occupy her entire personality. When she should’ve been learning about the ramifications of what her actions can and will do she was just looking for her next anger fix and angsting towards everyone who will listen about how angry and sad she is the entire time. That is NOT a character arc. That’s just plot happening and her being prepped for the next few scenes and probably for Legacies.

And this lack of a character arc is a perfect example of how this season sucked. It was all about the next dramatic moment, not about actually living people trying to live in a world dealing with their dysfunctional bullshit and the consequences of their actions. But I will not suffer this torture any longer. I will not watch Legacies, no matter how much Analyze tries to force me to do so. In fact, I told him that under only one condition I’d ever consider watching that crap: he has to find me the perfect girlfriend. In other words, I’m completely safe… Which… Yeah I really don’t want to view that crap.

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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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