When the idea of spinning off the original vampires from The Vampire Diaries came along, I was pretty thrilled. I always thought Klaus, Rebekah, and Elijah (plus Kol, who should not be dead) added something to the table that took TVD beyond it’s teen vampire drama roots. Plus, they got three charismatic actors that not only play their roles well, but when put together always managed to create something extraordinary.
However, when the timeslot was announced, Tuesdays at 8pm, I knew there would be some conflicts for me. My family already were stoked about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and that became our family appointment television. With Supernatural on at 9pm and Person of Interest at 10pm, it was looking like a “wait and see” with The Originals. I did see the first episode, “Always and Forever” when it aired on Thursday, 10/3 after TVD, but the rest had to wait until there was time.
After catching up en masse online at cwtv.com, suddenly The Originals has been worked into my schedule Thursdays via DVR playback. We got to know each other at that night, and given how I’m enjoying The Originals this season, I’m keeping up old habits in a new way. This show has proven to be well worth it.
So what is it about this show that’s got me hooked? For those that have never see The Originals (and even those that have), here’s five reasons why I’m loving this show so far:
1. It’s vampires for grown ups.
Vampires for grown ups means there’s a sophistication added to the character interactions and storytelling. Sure, they’re all scheming and trying to stab each other in the back, I mean, they are vampires after all, but the very adult environment of New Orleans adds a seediness that draws out a more passion, mysticism and danger. Using the New Orleans trademark crypts in the graveyard alone adds an element that’s not seen in other stories. It’s darker, more mature, and a lot more sophisticated in it’s tone and execution, as much as a sci-fi story about three original vampires, witches, and werewolves can be anyway. As any sci-fi fan knows, enjoying any premise involves a suspension of disbelief and judging a story on its merits.
Carrying on the tradition with its parent series, yet straying from the teen drama and high school setting that always made these characters stick out like a sore thumb, The Originals has characters that struggle with being both good and evil, treading the fine lines of deceit and trust. They aren’t always easy to root for when embroiled in the power struggles among other similar beings. Klaus, Rebekah, and even moral than most vampires Elijah are flawed and often have to fight the nature of their inner beast with their once human side. They don’t make good decisions, and their actions are often tactical for self-serving purposes. However, when it all comes together everything blends well, and suddenly an engrossing story begins to unfold. Given the complexity of the main characters, any character dynamics in this show becomes unpredictable and opens up vast storyline possibilities.
2. This ain’t the Cunninghams.
Anyone who watched The Vampire Diaries knows the Mikaelson story is whacked. Their mother was a witch that created them as the first vampire race, and their father spent hundreds of years trying to hunt them down and kill them. This family of vampires, down two dead brothers thanks to scheming in Mystic Falls, spends too much time trying to control one another than trusting and working together. Yet they often end up on the same page (in strange ways) and use everything in their power both together and apart to do what’s best for the family. What’s great though is you don’t have to have know the backstory on TVD to catch up. A lot of who these characters are come out every week when they interact with new characters, and they’re every bit as fascinating as the day they first appeared in that other series.
Klaus is ruthless, carries an awful temper fueled by a thousand years of anger and alienation with the world. As a vampire/werewolf hybrid, he feels alone, even in the presence of his own family. Most of his actions are not only harming others, but they’re self-destructive as well. He does long for beauty and love though. He’s a brilliant artist that finds real appreciation in what’s shown on the canvas. He also gives mercy to certain souls he finds interesting. Not only was this true with his attraction to Caroline in TVD, but now we see that same side in flashbacks with Marcel when he was chosen as Klaus’ protégé and with his affinity for Cami the bartender. Sure, he does horrible things with daggers to control his family, but he still holds a lifelong allegiance to them, even if they’re dormant in a box for several decades at a time.
Rebekah is hot tempered as well, and in The Vampire Diaries often came across as bratty and whiny (especially in the high school setting). So far in The Originals her ire is working to her advantage, probably because she still accepts orders from Klaus and Elijah because of her loyalty. She is the one most capable of making friends, and the one who most desires to be human again. She’s proven to be quite the team player, yet also shows that she does care at times, especially with her friendship so far with Hayley. I’m not buying the whole torrid past with Marcel thing, but hey, if they’re both over it, so am I. I know, we haven’t seen the end of that.
Elijah is the one original that wasn’t around as much on The Vampire Diaries to get real character development, even though it was his character that was introduced first. He is the oldest living sibling and the moral center of this family. He’s even keeled, smart, approaches predicaments with calmness and sensibility, but he is not to be messed with either. When push comes to shove, he will do whatever it take to protect his family, even Klaus, who betrays him more often than the wind shifts. Elijah strangely wants the same thing that Klaus does, to restore their family’s legacy. The difference is he seeks it through honor and respect, where Klaus craves power. Elijah is more than happy to give it to him.
3. The new characters aren’t half bad either.
In the past few weeks, the supporting characters have grown stronger as well. I’m especially fond of bartender Cami and her connection with Klaus, although I was disappointed to find she was front in center in the mythology when there was a big reveal about her twin brother and that Father Kiernan, the priest from the local church, was her uncle. I liked the idea of her being a supportive bystander, but those kind of characters are eventually killed in these types of shows so it’s probably not a bad thing. I adored her scenes with Klaus though, and those two have a mystifying chemistry. My heart broke when Klaus compelled her to forget her brother’s tragedy to spare her all that pain, while at the same time plotted revenge against those that did that on her behalf. It’s heart-wrenching drama that fan girls like me love, but it really helps that Joseph Morgan has a swagger that sells ice to the eskimos, no matter who’s on screen with him.
Marcel is a tyrant, but he seems like the kind of tyrant to me that can’t last more than a season. His fall is being forecasted like flashing neon sign, not just from the originals but his own subordinates, not to mention the pissed off witches. I do think his character has improved since the pilot and even he isn’t the bad guy we think. His sympathy toward the witch in hiding Davina is quite touching and his actions against the witches suddenly seem more protective than diabolical, although I’m sure if she didn’t exist he’d find another way to screw over the witches anyway. It goes with the overall theme, everyone is born good and life twists all that, but the core human is still there.
Hayley the werewolf wasn’t given much development on The Vampire Diaries, and she’s not been given much to work with here either. Her deep connection with Elijah and friendship with Rebekah is a most interesting development though, and it’s through them that we’ll get to know her more over time. Maybe. She also seems like a prime candidate to suffer premature death. Sophie Deveraux, the main witch protagonist in this story, is only just now getting a backstory, but her actions are not unlike Klaus, Elijah and Rebekah. She is trying to protect her family, and will do whatever it takes. There’s plenty more to come with her and it’s looking promising.
4. There’s lot’s of story potential.
These are the original vampires that have over a thousand years of history behind them. Backstory alone could keep us going for years. This show often bridges that past with current events and it works so well. A lot of what happened then defines who they are now and what they hope to achieve. It’s a history that often wasn’t given proper exploration on The Vampire Diaries because there wasn’t any time. Now that there is room to breathe and a better focus on this family, I find watching the Mikaelsons far more enjoyable. They really can carry a whole series on their own.
These characters have always been compelling to watch, however, we’ve normally seen them interacting with others in Mystic Falls rather than working together. This is especially true with Elijah, who in my opinion is way better when he’s awake than a grey and purple stiff in a box. The three are far better as an ensemble, and some of the strongest episodes on The Vampire Diaries were when this family was working together. They’ve only been together for a couple of episodes on The Originals so far, and now that Elijah is back I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do collectively. Of course there’s always going to be tension between them, but that’s the fun of families. Five seasons of the Salvatore brothers (not to mention nine seasons of the Winchester brothers) have proven that!
5. I’m not totally lost in the escalating mytharc.
As often times with serial dramas, the mythology and the twists get so convoluted that it’s dizzying to keep track of all the madness (yes, kind of like that show that starts with “L” and ends with “ost”). Even The Vampire Diaries this year has been guilty of that with the introduction of Qetisyha as a live being, leaving me feel like they’re clutching at straws and giving me the infernal headache.
However, The Originals is moving forward with just the right amount of mythology. These twists weave so tightly into the character interactions, thus showing how one incident can impact so many and snowball pretty fast. Turns out everything started with the witches trying to regain more power, and now there’s many factions, each trying to retain its footing and way of life (even the humans have Father Kiernan). It hasn’t come off as perfectly clean each week, but it’s certainly enthralling me more and more the deeper it goes. It’s gotten fans talking and theorizing, and that’s a good thing so early into the series.
What’s great is the originals are right in the middle of it all, and they’re trying to use all this madness to their advantage. They want to regain their power and legacy by running New Orleans like they once did. So far it’s all playing out like a chess match, one side strategizing over the other, move by move, getting closer to the ultimate victory. There’s a long way to go into this game though, and I can’t wait to see what each side does next.
I don’t want to spoil too much in hopes that those of you that haven’t caught up are inspired to do so, but whether you’re able to watch live or catch up via DVR or online, there’s plenty of entertainment value in this new show. So far the ratings have made The Originals a new hit for The CW, which assures that it will be around for a while for your viewing pleasure.
Catch The Originals on Tuesdays at 8pm on The CW. It’s paired with another big CW show at 9pm, a little something called Supernatural, so it makes for a real event night. If you’re like me and can’t watch Tuesdays at 8 pm, then pick a day and time that works and I’m sure this will become your new appointment television. After all, this is a story you can sink your teeth into (*dodges flying tomatoes over bad pun*).
Starting this week, TV For The Rest of Us will start doing weekly reviews for The Originals. So check back here for those reviews, or follow us on Twitter at @TVFTROU for links on all our reviews.