This review contains spoilers.
1.19 An Unblinking Death
For a show that most of the time has too much going on, too many characters fighting for attention and too many ideas to properly explore in any depth, this week’s The Originals, An Unblinking Death, made for a nice change of pace. There was still a lot happening, of course, but by focusing on just two of the most pressing storylines – Father Kieran’s madness and the werewolf vs. Marcel war that’s been brewing – we were able to really (no pun intended) sink out teeth into the ramifications of both. It was one of the most controlled episodes the show has done, and was all the more powerful as a result.
Starting with Cami and Kieran, this episode finally dealt with the impending chaos that has been cooking inside him for weeks, and as a handy by-product, also allowed us to spend a lot more time with Cami. She has arguably been the weak link since the backdoor pilot, with audiences not really taking to her as a love interest for either Marcel or Klaus, but having her pretty much single-handedly (with a little help from Josh) take care of business with her uncle was a smart move. Now, with Klaus acting selflessly for someone for the first time since Caroline Forbes was around, we have a reason to care.
We care not necessarily about her relationship with any of the homicidal vampires currently fighting for her attention – a thread that might disappointingly have turned back into a love triangle this week – but about her as a legitimate force in this war. With Hayley on the side of the werewolves, Marcel the vampires and Davina the witches, there’s been a desperate need for a human to show strength comparable to the others, and the death of Kieran, allowed by Cami for the greater good, was the moment she really became a contender. We might have gone around the houses to get here, but she finally feels like she belongs.
Hayley was a character in much the same boat as Cami, unloved after her introduction on The Vampire Diaries and dubbed the centre of a love triangle when Elijah took an interest. But now we know that this show has no intention of doing things in the same way as its parent show and, in New Orleans, Klaus and Elijah are merely bystanders trying to manage, or at least benefit from, the chaos the surrounds them. They might want and expect to take the throne when the war is over, but right now it’s Hayley who has the most to lose. The attack on the bayou showed that, and her reaction to it demonstrated what a brilliant character she has become.
The reveal of Oliver as the inside man who had staged the attack wasn’t a complete surprise, but it at least allowed things to move forwards without making Marcel into an irredeemable villain. That’s going to be the hardest thing for The Originals to get right in the last few episodes – keeping everyone sympathetic while also ramping up the action. Right now, it feels as though the werewolves and witches are going to be the easiest to demonise, with Hayley siding with Klaus and Elijah once her child is born, Davina helping to take down the witches and Cami rallying the humans with the help of Marcel.
Everyone has a reason to hate everyone right now, and the show seems finally to be delivering on its promise. This has been a fantastic first season when looking at in relation to other debut shows on the air, but it has also been plagued by its own ambition along the way. Like with The Vampire Diaries, it seems to think that the more they cram into each episode, the more entertained their audience will be. The trouble is, when the show doesn’t really know what it’s about anymore, as with the current season of VD, the fast pace just irks viewers, but this war between species centres things in a brilliant way.
The absence of Rebekah helps to shift the focus away from the Mikaelsons, making the show more about ‘the originals’ of every faction fighting it out, and that has the potential to be truly epic. Crucially, it’s something that was never done on its parent show, making it fresh and exciting while still using the existing tools set out for them, and I for one can’t wait to see whether Elijah and Klaus really will manage to achieve ultimate victory. If they do, of course, what the heck are we going to do next year?
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Big Uneasy, here.
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