The species of New Orleans have been at war for as long as we can remember. From the beginning of the show it is made very clear that vampires, werewolves and witches don’t get along. And with “don’t get along” I mean New Orleans’ most popular sport is golf with another species’ eyeballs. Throughout the series we see them fight each other, try to dominate each other, distrust each other and slaughter each other. Each faction struggling for dominance over the others. But in the later seasons the question was also asked: Does it have to be this way? Does there have to always be distrust and war? Do the races have to be in a constant struggle? According to season 5, yes. Yes they do. What do I mean with this? Well, strap in because daddy Analyze is about to slap you in the face with his bigly supply of answers.
A New Hope
One of the major ways that season 5 plays with The Originals’ formula is by zoning in on the wars and tensions between the species. From the very start, when a werewolf is turned into a hybrid and accidentally kills someone, this is obvious. This single event spills over and gets into the ever-present tensions between the various species. We see how the werewolves distrust vampires like Marcel, with Lisina not letting him into her house. We see how this boy, after being punished, is strung up for being an abomination by Greta’s vampires and how that further heightens tensions. How it sows even greater distrust between the werewolves and the vampires until everything threatens to spill over later in the season.
But we also see a different side of it. We see Josh attempting to diffuse tensions. Attempting to talk the werewolf Lisina into turning the new hybrid over to Marcel’s custody. We see Marcel, Josh and Vincent standing with the werewolves against the vampire purists in a brave final stand. In other words, we see attempts at bridging these age old divisions and pulling together once again in the face of a common enemy.
This seems to be what this season is saying then. That these unnecessary conflicts can be ended. That these divisions that separate us can be bridged. That peace can come again, even to a place as full of conflict and hate as New Orleans. Perhaps even an equal peace this time rather than a tense truce where one race rules over another. Every race can live together in harmony, frolick through the vast streets of New Orleans singing kumbaya, drinking lemonde and riding rainbows into the sunset until the end of time! And then the season ends with Marcel unceremoniously kicking the vampires out…
A New Rope
Antagonists serve the role of being an opposing force to our protagonists. Often they represent something antithetical to what our protagonists represent, usually something bad. Greta, Emmett and August are just about your average Nazi villains. They have an array of intense evil-ey stares, they’re manipulative and violent sociopaths, they have a suitable-for-TV-swastika-rip-off, an unexplained and extreme reverance for their leader and August even has his own silly little moustache. And above all they go on and on about the “dirtying” of their species. How vampires have a “pure” and “superior” nature, how the “defect” of werewolfism must be corrected and how vampires are an “apex species” and werewolves “diminish” them. Emmett, nazi vampire 3.0, even says: “Peace and harmony among the species because everyone stays where they belong.” The fiend! The bastard! The scoundrel! Perfect fodder for our heroes to oppose throughout the season, right? Although, does that line remind you of anything?
“If I’m leaving, then so are you. No more vampires. We’re giving the city back. Train leaves in a couple of hours, so take a last look at New Orleans. Then get the hell out of dodge.” Those are lines spoken by our indomidable leader, Marcel in the final episode while he’s handing out train tickets to all his vampires.
That’s right, the show’s ending tells us all that August was absolutely and completely right.
This is pretty much the ultimate betrayal of everything the season supposedly stood for. You can’t make a season of TV about how segregation is bad and how divisions can be overcome and then have the final episode contain one of your heroes suggesting segregation is the way to go. And it’s not even treated as if Marcel is doing something horrible there. With the kind smile on his face and the saccharin music in the background, if anything it’s treated as a way to finally bring peace to New Orleans by making sure the vampires don’t live among these other species. With the idea that they don’t belong there. That peace can only be attained if everyone with a different identity has their own little corner. Has their own place where they belong. Just like our season’s main antagonists claimed.
But the worst part of this? They had seemingly lined up a way out of this that they just didn’t use in the end. What do I mean? The character of Declan.
Remember Declan? Neither Did the Writers…
To many I would imagine Declan seems like a fairly pointless character. And if you thought that, I wouldn’t blame you. For quite a while I wondered what the hell this character was for. I figured he was mostly a foil for other characters. That is until his O’Connell heritage was revealed.
You see, O’Connells have historically been peacekeepers in New Orleans. Kieran being perhaps the prime example of this. He always managed tensions between the human faction and the supernatural denizens of New Orleans. Camille, in her own way, being another by encouraging Klaus and Marcel to make up and opt for peace rather than war. And indeed, later in the season Declan wants to get the human faction involved again and once again bring peace to the city. And to all of our surprise, Marcel decides to help him. He heroically steps up to the plate and swears a blood oath to teach Declan the ins and outs of New Orleans, to educate him on all the long simmering tensions between the factions and to dedicate whatever time he needs to finally bring peace to his belove-… oh look at the time, he gots to go. Then Marcel leaves New Orleans forever and Declan is never mentioned again.
This is infuriating as he was seemingly the answer to their little problem. If they were going to have Marcel leave they should instead have him pass the torch immediately. They should’ve made clear that Marcel passes his knowledge on to Declan and that he helps him revive the human faction. This time not as a corrupt gang of thugs, but as a powerful group of peacemakers and diplomats.
If they’d done that then there’d have been no need for Marcel to command his vampires to leave. There would’ve been no need for segregation, the enemy of the season, to prevail. The final episode could’ve made clear that Declan would eventually manage to broker a true peace. Not through the submission or repression of the other factions, not through subjugation, not through a tense truce between them but an understanding. A diverse community bonded through shared grief and a shared city where disagreements are settled with words and compromise, not violence and blood. Now that would’ve been an ending to put the vampire purists to shame.
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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.