For centuries now people have written about vampires. And that’s quite understandable, what’s not to love? There’s 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 vampire works and some vampire 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 that I think are noteworthy. Tonight’s episode made me think about the fact that The Originals will probably never stand 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 before.
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 smaller events and characterization. One big thing happened obviously, Lucien turning, that the episode hinged around but in the process it abandoned most of its attempts to really, slowly develop some of the other things going on. Which brings me to this episode’s big problems…
It seems to me that this show has a tendency to choose plot over things like characterization whenever the two come into conflict. While it has plenty of slower, characterization-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 on excitement and plot than characterization. Rarely has this been more clearly illustrated in this episode, where the understanding between Klaus and Hayley from last episode is 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 why he did what he did in the past and what his dynamic with his siblings was like for 1000 years 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 beings 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.
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 (not being able to let go of that basic urge when seeing Finn so emotional and vulnerable), and his insistence on the fact that Finn was still their brother were an interesting mix. Very human conflict. Though the one thing I didn’t really like about it was Finn’s revelation about what happened to him in the coffin. Mostly 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. Though I will give props to them for shooting two emotional scenes with Finn’s death and “burial” scenes.
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 implausible one, depending on how it’s done) it’s hardly worth the price of Kol’s characterization to do it this way.
This episode took many of the possibilities inherent in bringing back Kol and Finn as vampires off the board in the span of only about 40 minutes, and well that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
- “The enemies that you have are the ones that you made.” – Alone With Everybody Review
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- 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.