Since I’ve been doing features on this year’s pilot crop, it’s only natural that I do a review on a pilot we actually got to see before upfronts, “The Originals.” Sure, it’s a backdoor pilot that took a week from the regular scheming and backstabbing of The Vampire Diaries, but it’s still a pilot. The outcome of this episode will determine if this goes to series our not. No pressure!
The story itself was okay for me, but then again I don’t think the story was what was supposed to win us over. It’s getting used to the idea of Klaus, Elijah, and to a lesser extent Rebekah in this setting. Can you buy Joseph Morgan as a lead in his own series? Does Daniel Gilles’ Elijah provide the adequate balance to be his ally/foil, much like the Salvatore brothers? The answer I got out of this pilot was an unequivocal, “Yes.” There’s definitely something here.
As someone who’s watched The Vampire Diaries since day one, one of my biggest complaints, especially since the originals were introduced, is there really hasn’t been any room to flesh out character stories adequately. The originals all have a long history and awesome story potential that has gone largely untapped because there just hasn’t been time. This family has been so dysfunctional, so layered, that a spinoff was the only way to give their story the real justice it deserves.
This is especially true with Elijah, who’s been my favorite original to date but hasn’t been around a lot. He’s so different than the others in that he’s moral and is in tune with his human side. He’s definitely the most zen out of the three, but he’s no pushover either. He had no problem with the idea that he’d go to New Orleans to either protect Klaus or let him die. It all depended on his mood! His last few outings prove he’s adding something extraordinary to the mix, the authority figure who will be fair minded with both his ill tempered siblings, but he’s not afraid to guide them with his strong opinions either.
What do I like about this new setup? For one, the setting. New Orleans is the perfect place for this sort of old world vampire/witches/werewolf story. There’s a ton of mysticism and character, something that does blend with Klaus perfectly. To see him smile during a normal day walking the streets, hearing the music, seeing the festivities, the artists on the street, we saw how much that connected with him spiritually. He’s happy, and he’s at home. Elijah too connected with the place well, reminding these weary beings what it was like once upon a time to be happy. It made me happy. This backdrop set the grittier tone, which is much needed (and welcome) when dealing with vampires that are a thousand years old. They are in their true element. This isn’t your basic teen vampires in high school drama.
Marcel and his inner circle have some interesting potential. Klaus needs a foe, and this guy isn’t going down quietly. Charles Michael Davis really stands out, which is something you probably want for a potential cast member. He’s charismatic, and oh so cold. In this pilot he was a bit over the top for my tastes, but I do believe that’s what’s supposed to make his character unique. I was wondering though what was preventing a temperamental dude like Klaus from ripping this guy’s heart out? Does the power make Marcel invincible? Why does someone like Klaus have to work his way into the guy’s inner circle to take him down? I’m assuming it’s because Klaus wants what this guy has, and he has to earn that. It just can’t be because of the hold this guy has on the witches.
On a side note the minions were faceless and crude, but that just made them easy to kill. One of my favorite parts was Elijah swooping in and taking out the two tools so easily, to rescue witch Sofia, doing so in very slick fashion. The guy’s got style!
You also can’t have a vampire/werewolf story without witches, especially in the Big Easy. Plus any excuse to have scenes in a typical New Orleans graveyard is great with me! Those above ground crypts have always been so creepy to me. Witches are running scared from Marcel, and they have found their leverage through of all people werewolf Haley. They capture her, because she’s (major bombshell here) pregnant with Klaus’ child! This brings up the controversial and very risky part of the episode. I’m not a Twilight follower, never have been, but I’m assuming the whole wolf baby thing is in relation to that. It certainly reeks of “been there done that.” I’m just surprised that they went for that dinger in the pilot. That’s something you usually save for a midseason or season ending surprise. Many were turned off by that development, but I think it adds an extremely interesting layer to this premise.
Think about it. A stormy one night stand and after 1000 years Klaus finally put one past the goalie? A blip in the universe? Chances are he didn’t sleep with any other werewolves I’d guess, but no wonder Elijah finds this to be a miracle, one that’s a long time coming. Their family can continue. It strengthens their legacy and gives them new hope. Elijah reminded Klaus how they’ve been shunned by everyone, and even their own parents tried to kill them. Klaus, being the stupid hothead he is decided at first he’d rather see the baby die than be controlled by witches. But it ends up Marcel of all people that changes all that. He’s the king of New Orleans, and Klaus wants that…bad. He’s hated in Mystic Falls and not very happy there because he knows he’ll never get the level of respect he thinks he deserves. This is a chance to take back what was once his.
That final scene in the courtyard between Klaus and Elijah is so perfect, or as I call it the tale of two brothers. Klaus, after cooling off a bit, remembers what it is he craves the most. Power and respect. It’s what truly makes him happy. Elijah claims he can do all that, with family. “Always and forever” he reminded Klaus earlier and I love how this brings forth Elijah’s long standing motivations as well. Family and loyalty is all that ever mattered to him. Here’s the place where those two seemingly opposable goals can be used together to achieve one purpose. Klaus is on board, but there’s still one dangling issue. “What of the child?” Elijah asks. Klaus smiles. “Everyone needs an heir.” Ding, ding, ding, we have the winning answer! It convinced Elijah, who went back to Mystic Falls and dumped Katherine. I must say, I found that scene extremely satisfying. She needs to show more humanity in order to snag a guy like Elijah. She’ll never learn. Plus it was nice to see someone dump her for once.
I’ve always loved the contrasts between the Mikaelson brothers and the Salvatores, and this is the backbone of a series I can get behind. There’s even insecure little sister Rebekah too, who’s really hating Klaus right now, and that only makes this blend more interesting. I do wish they could have kept Kol alive too, for his evil nature did have a softer side worthy of redemption as well. Maybe this whole Silas mess that’s dominating The Vampire Diaries landscape can bring him back too, and really complicate this underlying theme of family conquers all. Maybe he is secretly on the cast list, but they can’t say so until the events of The Vampire Diaries plays out for the rest of this season. Hey, a girl can dream, right?
I’m not calling “The Originals” an overwhelmingly exciting pilot, but the setup is perfect enough for me to add this series to my DVR list for next fall. I’ve already grown to love these characters through their time on The Vampire Diaries, and I’m sure that’s exactly what The CW is banking on when getting this series out of the gate. I just hope executive producers Julie Plec and Michael Narducci can deliver a scenario that will stay fresh and keep our interest, but not need to channel the twisty and fast paced world of Mystic Falls do to it. Stick with the strength of their characters and lead actors and everything should be fine. Plus, if this series is spunoff, this also gives a lot of room back to The Vampire Diaries to explore main character interactions and do twisty plots. Won’t that be refreshing? Everybody wins.