The Originals episode 1 review: Always And Forever

The Vampire Diaries spin-off, The Originals, begins its first season, but how does it measure up?

This review contains spoilers.

1.1 Always and Forever

I’ll get this confession out of the way before we begin – I really loved the backdoor pilot for The Originals. I liked it a little more than this real premiere episode, but I also realise that there are many people who think the exact opposite. As a result, I guess we won’t actually know what the series is going to be until episode two/three. Having said that, I so think it was a very smart move to simply rejig the backdoor episode as a more welcoming hour for new viewers, switching the focus from Klaus to Elijah, and you’d be a fool not to be excited by the potential of this series.

Elijah was introduced on The Vampire Diaries a whole half a season before Klaus, so it’s fitting that he is the one, as before, to introduce viewers to the world of the Mikaelson family. It’s a long and complicated story, which I admit I hadn’t really appreciated for a while, and there’s a heck of a lot of exposition to get out of the way. This was probably one of the major reasons for bringing Elijah to the fore in this episode, since he’s always been a brilliantly captivating deliverer of exposition, and he just about copes with it. I don’t know if new viewers will be confused, but I think they got a good overview of the rules.

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An introductory flashback solidifies the idea that our protagonists are not brooding Twilight-vampires, but cold-blooded murderers and the most dysfunctional family of all time. This is the first brief glimpse of Rebekah, who was off snogging Matt on The Vampire Diaries this week, but her role in things will presumably be explained next week. From here, we follow Elijah around New Orleans as he pieces together the events we witnessed before the summer break – from Hayley’s miracle pregnancy to Marcel’s control of the witches. The episode could never have picked up where the previous episode left off, and a fresh perspective was welcome.

Then again, as much as I love Elijah, it’s a bit of a shame that people coming to The Originals blind only really have an idea of Klaus based on his brother’s monologues. What the original pilot did so well was to paint a picture of who Klaus was, who he is and what’s going to be motivating him for this new series, while Elijah’s position and motivations have always been pretty straightforward. He wants his family together, including Rebekah and the baby, and the petulant behaviour of his siblings is a constant source of irritation to him. Did that need a whole hour to explain? The episode lacked Klaus; it lacked enough Marcel and it lacked a clear mission statement.

Ignoring those quibbles, this episode obviously still contained the things I loved about the show in the first place. It’s a more adult take on the brother dynamic that made The Vampire Diaries so compelling in the first couple of seasons and, with Rebekah thrown into the mix, the family drama will be the best part of the show. Then there’s Marcel, who’s the most deliciously charismatic antagonist I’ve seen for a long time. The chemistry between him and Klaus is fantastic and, with a show like this, there are no rules as to which side our characters will be on from week to week. Also, people might complain that Klaus has been made too soft by the writers, but there are just as many fans who want to see him truly redeemed.

The Originals is an odd show that never would have existed without The Vampire Diaries, and for that we should be grateful. There are currently no love triangles or teenage angst and, with its pairing on Tuesday nights with Supernatural, I’m hoping this gets really dark, really fast. There’s no reason it can’t, which is the beauty of it, as this is an organically grown idea from a show that’s been struggling for a couple of years. We don’t know what The Originals can be, and I’m very excited to get going. I just hope it doesn’t take long for someone to un-dagger Elijah.  

Read Caroline’s review of the backdoor pilot for The Originals, here.

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