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, 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, 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. So, to satisfy my superiority complex, I’d like to explain what I think those are and how I would’ve explored them.
First, let’s deal 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 Elijah, as in season 1 episode 9, or some practical considerations, such as in episode 5 of season 3 where they reunite to fight the trinity. But we rarely get into why exactly those things work on Elijah, aside from the presence of the dedication itself. We know feelings of guilt Elijah has 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.
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. So here comes 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. The episode would make it clear he wants to return to Klaus’ side, and he would search intently during said 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 after Klaus had told him he’d 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. Maybe even partially instigated by Elijah in an attempt to manipulate Klaus into giving him a reason to believe in him again. This then 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’d 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 of the 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 of tricking him we see Elijah commit even more atrocities. Which makes him feel even worse about himself, which makes him need to believe Klaus can be redeemed even more because otherwise he feels he can’t be redeemed. And so the cycle would continue.
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). Either way it would mirror the behaviour of Klaus in the episode we just saw exactly.
Now, on to the second problem that I mentioned: lack of escalation. 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 do, I do mind this part because it’s dramatically inert. It makes the splits between them look too trivial.
The main reason the writers do this is likely that they fear 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 that’s a legitimate concern, not taking that risk is far worse. The Vampire Diaries in its earlier seasons was so good exactly because it didn’t fear changing the status quo when it needed to.
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. Maybe even agreeing to have Klaus desiccated for a time. Of course, things wouldn’t even go that simply because Elijah would have a conflict of interests with his partners, who actually do want Klaus dead. Thus there would be tension in his leadership too.
Nevertheless we would see continued escalation between Klaus and Elijah in this war until Lucien’s complicity is revealed, which would be later in my version of season 3 than it happened in the real season 3, and eventually we would see Elijah turn back to Klaus’ side in the way I mentioned above.
This is just something I came up with on the spot though, so it doesn’t represent accurately what I would do if I were actually writing it. But hopefully it does give you some idea. And if you think I’m full of shit, an awful writer and want to keep me away from your precious Klaus and Elijah with a 10-foot pole… well, that’s what the comment section is for.
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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.