For centuries now people have written about vampires. And that’s quite understandable, what’s not to love? There are so many possible angles: They’re monsters but human, they’re outcasts and supremely powerful, they can be heroes but they’ll always be villains. All of these angles are represented in different works of fiction and some of these works have become seminal to defining what the vampire is. Early folklore, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, its stage adaption and Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles novels are a few which are noteworthy. Tonight’s episode made me think about the fact that The Originals will never be among them.
Let’s get one thing straight, I love The Originals. It’s one of my favourite shows. But the main problems inherent in tonight’s episode really emphasize why I think, despite flashes of what I think is brilliance, it will never become a work as seminal as those mentioned above.
Giving You the Good Stuff
Let’s start off with the good stuff. Joseph Morgan did a good job on his first time directing, the acting was just as good as it has always been and the episode certainly set the stakes for things to come. It also, mostly, re-used things we already knew about Lucien (like his knowledge of werewolf venom and Kingmaker) in order to make what happened lore-wise fairly plausible.
Overall the episode was exciting and entertaining to watch, if a bit non-eventful in the sense of there being few smaller events and not much in the way of characterization. One big thing happened, obviously, Lucien turning, and the episode revolved around that. But in the process it abandoned most of its attempts to slowly develop some of the other things going on. Which brings me to this episode’s big problems…
Characterization? What Characterization?
It seems to me that this show has a tendency to choose plot over characterization or theme whenever the two come into conflict. While the show has plenty of slower, character-driven moments (which I’d argue are its best parts) it never can seem to pass up the opportunity for a good old shocking plot twist or an episode which plays more to excitement and plot than characterization. Rarely has this been more apparent than in this episode, where the understanding between Klaus and Hayley from last episode goes mostly unmentioned (which doesn’t mean it’s forgotten of course, but it was at least put on pause), where Kol’s struggles with his return to vampirism are completely stripped of their use as characterization (plot twist: it’s the witches that are doing it) instead of continuously used as a way to illustrate who Kol is as a person and while Finn’s conflict with his family isn’t abandoned, it’s only adressed a few times in a meaningful way within the episode and then rushed to a conclusion upon his death (where he somewhat accepts his siblings again).
All these are missed opportunities, interesting opportunities for exploring who these people are, what made them who they are and letting those things come to a natural head are sacrificed at the altar of the next exciting plot twist. Though granted, I’m aware of some vague rumours surrounding the idea that the actor playing Finn may not have wanted to continue, so they may have influenced this choice if they are true. That however does not change that this was not a good thing and it doesn’t erase all of the other examples I mentioned.
How Finn Got Wasted
Finn’s continued characterization, conflict with his family and slow turn towards the family could’ve been a beautiful example of both the corrupting influence of family and the unconditional love a family can offer. For example the interactions between Elijah and Finn did have this episode were interesting. Finn’s anger at Elijah, his palpable pain at what his siblings had done to him, along with Elijah, after last episode having rediscovered some degree of caring for his big brother, and his insistence on the fact that Finn was still their brother were an interesting mix. Very human conflict.
The one thing I didn’t really like about it was Finn’s revelation about what happened to him in the coffin. Because while it’s not completely implausible, it comes kind of out of nowhere. And while it doesn’t conflict directly with what we know of daggering (that it’s a dreamless sleep) because he was daggered so much longer (when basically the dagger starts wearing off) I think it was also quite unnecessary. Finn’s anger and pain were more than justified by the simple realization that his siblings stole nearly a millenium from him.
In any case, all of this is a taste of what could’ve been if they’d just taken their time and kept Finn around, but they didn’t. Though I will give props to them for shooting two emotional scenes with Finn’s death and “burial” scenes.
Witchus Ex Machina
Kol’s issues being because of his naturally impulsive behaviour could’ve been an interesting way to explore why he acted the way he acted for 1000 years. And while the idea of Davina and Vincent changing things for the New Orleans covens forever by taking away their source of power, believing it has essentially become a chain, is interesting and could lead to quite an epic storyline (or a highly rushed and implausible one, depending on how it’s done) it’s hardly worth the price of selling Kol’s characterization down the river.
This episode took many of the possibilities inherent in bringing back Kol and Finn as vampires and in the span of only about 40 minutes wiped them all off the board, and well… that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
- “The enemies that you have are the ones that you made.” – Alone With Everybody Review
- A Regrettable Retrospective – Season 3’s Missed Opportunities
- The Original Sin – The Vampire’s Diaries’ Biggest Sin
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.