This review contains spoilers.
1.13 Crescent City
I’ve found myself feeling a little lukewarm about The Originals over the last few weeks, not because the series has delivered an episode that’s anything less than great in that time, but because I was having a harder time keeping track of the haphazard story threads than I perhaps wanted to. I’m all for manic television – heck, it’s my favourite kind – but when it becomes too much like hard work re-establishing the positions of each character every week, then there are always going to be people who find it easier to check out entirely. But Crescent City changed all that, for me at least, by lending some much-needed drama and coherence to proceedings.
An all-out war between the beings of New Orleans has been hinted at for weeks now but, with the vampires now just one entity that includes both Klaus, Marcel and the rest of the family, it took a while for us to identify the big bads of the first season. That’s the witches, then, led by Celeste with an endgame of resurrecting each of the young girls sacrificed during the Harvest. Judging by the renewed loyalty and conviction exhibited by Monique – the first of the girls to return in this week’s episode – convincing even Davina to side with our gang once she returns is going to be a feat. No matter what happens, I like where we’re going.
There’s been a feeling around The Originals since it started that the writers have been scrambling around for something that really works and, for a show as fast-paced as this, that can be a dangerous thing. Thankfully, with a built-in audience and three brilliant characters at the centre, it has been granted the chance to work itself out where so many shows would have fallen, and that feeling has finally been eradicated. We have the vampires (the Mikaelsons and Marcel), the werewolves (the Crescents and Hayley), the humans (Kieran and Cami) and the witches (Celeste and everyone else), all of whom have some stake in New Orleans and all of whom want to take back ultimate control.
This instantly makes the stakes sky-high and, with established characters in every faction and the prospect of Davina’s return, we can be sure things are going to get epic before the first season is out. It’s always helpful to have a villain with a serviceable plan, and Celeste’s was so well conceived that she near-enough succeeded. I always enjoy when the show questions Elijah’s noble, good-guy façade and forces him to do panicked, drastic things so, with Celeste able to predict his moves and get under his skin better than any other villain could, his decision to save Hayley instead of Klaus and Rebekah will probably have significant ramifications.
And Cami and Kieran are also in the witches’ bad books along with the Mikaelson clan, as Cami did the smart thing and picked a side before the war could truly kick off. That choice might have been proven to be the wrong one here but, because we know what this show will be about in the end, at least the audience can have some confidence in her decision to stick with Klaus over the witches. We’ll have to wait and see how that hex on Kieran will manifest but, judging by how murderous Cami’s brother eventually became under the same influence, it isn’t going to be good for anyone.
We even got some more information on Hayley’s family history, which turned out to be much richer and more interesting than I had imagined. Like witches, werewolves were always kind of a tedious afterthought on The Vampire Diaries, but including two cursed families who are only human once a month is a clever way to get Hayley involved in the plot beyond carrying her ‘precious cargo’. We even meet her supposed fiancé (in an arranged sort of way) who, in contrast to the relatives who went after Rebekah on Celeste’s orders, actually might be on our side. I liked him, anyway, and hope he becomes a bigger part of the show.
But the best moment of the episode, and one that will greatly improve the show no matter what happens next, was the death of Sophie and the end of the witches as sympathetic characters. These guys aren’t likely to switch sides whenever the mood takes them, and it has to be said the Sophie had been one loyalty-switcher too many on a show made up entirely of grey areas. It was a great death, too – gory and punishingly final – but it’s what The Originals can do now that excites me the most. I thought Davina was the big, shocking death we were expecting but, with her poised for a return, it seems it was meant to be Sophie all along.
We’ve got two weeks to wait before we see what becomes of Rebekah and Klaus, and how Elijah plans to rampage his way through the witch population of the town, but at least they left us with an episode as stellar as Crescent City to keep us going.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Dance Back To The Grave, here.
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