The Originals is a show about many things. It’s a show about old vampires warring amongst each other, it’s about the reclaiming of a home, it’s about parents and children and perhaps most crucially, at least in my opinion, it’s about the relationships between the Mikaelson siblings. The oldest of these, dating back even to the second season of The Vampire Diaries, is the one between Klaus and Elijah. It’s a relationship that has gotten plenty of attention in the series and one I think is very, very interesting. However, I also think that while the writers have created two interesting characters with an interesting dynamic, there are a few crucial aspects of the relationship that have not been wholely explored. Here I’d like to explain what I think those are and how I would’ve explored them.
A key aspect to the relationship between Klaus and Elijah is, of course, Elijah’s untiring dedication to his brother and to his brother’s redemption (at least in Elijah’s own words). We’ve seen it tested several times throughout the series, but time and time again (despite swearing he won’t) Elijah ends up going back to his brother. Now, while some people mind this, I really don’t. I think it is an interesting aspect to Elijah’s character and to their relationship. What I do think is lacking though, is a better framework to explain why he goes back to Klaus time and time again and, admittedly, also the willingness to take things farther.
First, let’s deal with what I mean with the framework issue. Every time we see Elijah and Klaus fight and then make-up, it’s usually something fairly simple which reunites them. Either an apology by Klaus, as in season 1 episode 9, or some practical considerations, such as in episode 5 of season 3. But we rarely get into why exactly those things work on Elijah, aside from the presence of the dedication itself. We do know of the feelings of guilt Elijah has which inform this, but we never quite see how they factor into these decisions or why they’re enough to make him do this time and time again.
So what I would’ve liked to have seen, or if possible would still like to see, is an Elijah-focused episode which deals with this in depth. A little (intentionally rather vague) overview of how I might have done it: I would’ve had an episode early on in season 3, before Klaus and Elijah make up again, that’s all about Elijah considering this dilemma. At the beginning of the episode, or at the end of the previous episode, there’s a practical reason given for why it might be good for Elijah to return to Klaus’ side. We might then see Elijah consider this, he wants to return to Klaus’ side, and search intently during the episode for some hint that Klaus has changed his ways, that he wouldn’t kill Gia again given the chance. Not only that, but we would also finally have flashbacks to the years Elijah and Klaus spent apart where Elijah thought Klaus had dropped his siblings in the ocean. The one period of time that caused Elijah to give up on Klaus and turn against him. The one unforgivable sin to Elijah: Klaus no longer caring about their family. We might see Klaus do horrible, very Klaus-like things during the episode, but cap it off with some sort of kind act towards a family member (though maybe even partially instigated by Elijah in an attempt to manipulate Klaus into giving him a reason to believe in him again). Thus reminding Elijah that there is a difference between when he thought everything was lost and the now (whatever the specifics that story ended up being), namely that so long that Klaus still cares about his family there’s still kindness and a chance for redemption (which could then also tie in with Hope and Marcel, Klaus’ children).
During the episode we might also see how every time Klaus does something bad, Elijah thinks of his father and thinks of himself doing similar things. But we might see that if Elijah can believe that Klaus can be redeemed and if he stays dedicated to his family (as his mother drilled into his head as being a good thing in flashbacks in this episode) then that means he’s not bad. That means he can be good
again some day, and they can all stay together and be happy at some point. Then we see the combination of that temptation and Elijah’s actions in manipulating Klaus to do something good for a family member turn Elijah back to Klaus’ side. As viewers though we would clearly see that it’s merely Elijah tricking himself into believing that he’s changing Klaus and in the process we see him commit even more atrocities (which makes him feel worse about himself, which makes him need to believe Klaus can be redeemed so he can be redeemed even more).
We may also see that what happened between Klaus and Elijah in the past isn’t that different after all, because Elijah did something that Klaus didn’t approve of and Klaus retaliated by taking revenge on him and saying his family was dropped in the ocean, perhaps because circumstances made it so that he couldn’t dagger Elijah at the time (maybe the last dagger had gotten lost, which would also explain how Isobel got it for John in season 2 of TVD).Keep in mind that I basically made the above up on the spot, minus a few things I’ve thought of before, so if I were actually doing the episode I would’ve gone far more in-depth, tied everything in far more, etc.
Now, on to the second problem that I mentioned: lack of escalation. I feel like a lot of the time they have Klaus and Elijah fight but then make up only a few episodes later. While I don’t mind them making up, as some people mind, I do mind this part because it’s dramatically inert. It makes the splits between them
look too trivial. The main reason for this is I think a fear of changing the status-quo too much. If the brothers are actually at war, then there’s a risk that the heart of the show could collapse. But while I think that’s a legitimate concern, I think not taking that risk is far worse. The Vampire Diaries in its earlier seasons was so good in part exactly because it didn’t fear changing the status quo when it needed to, after all.
So what would I have done? Well, I would’ve had Klaus try to make up as he always has but I’d have circumstances caused by the Trinity actually continue to escalate the rift between Klaus and Elijah due to their different tactics of wishing to deal with them. Eventually I would’ve had this escalate into full scale war between them, where Elijah actually goes to Tristan and Aurora and works with them (this is of course before Lucien’s complicity is revealed). Elijah wouldn’t seek to kill Klaus of course, but might do something like offer them his protection and his leadership in dealing with the rest of Klaus’ bloodline and eliminating them and having Klaus desiccated for a time. Of course, things wouldn’t even go that simply because Elijah would of course have a conflict of interests with his partners, who actually want Klaus dead, and thus there would be tension in his leadership too. But we would see continued escalation between Klaus and Elijah until Lucien’s complicity is revealed, later in my version of season 3 than in the real season 3, and eventually we would see Elijah turn back to Klaus’ side in the way that I mentioned above.
Again, this is something I’ve come up with on the spot, so it doesn’t represent accurately what I would do, just to give you an idea of it.
Anyway, that is all. This is how I would deal with digging deeper into Elijah’s millenium old Klaus-dilemma and at the same time deal with an issue that we I think all want to know about: What happened when Elijah thought all was lost? And where would Elijah draw the line?
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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.