This review contains spoilers.
1.22 From A Cradle To A Grave
As I mentioned in last week’s Originals review, the first season finale would have to feature the birth of Hayley’s baby. We would have to see what the show was intending to do with said baby going forwards, and Mikael would have to be returning to wreak havoc on his children’s lives. What this episode, From A Cradle To A Grave, actually did, however, was craft a pretty magnificent finale out of every element of the series, thematic or plotty, making all of the messy middle of this freshman season feel like it was heading towards this resolution and this resolution only.
Rebekah’s surprise return, for example, shouldn’t have felt as achingly satisfying as it did. That scene alone would have made sticking with the show all year worth it, with Claire Holt’s presence instantly reminding us of why we love Rebekah, of her relationship with Klaus and of her desire for a family. Giving baby Hope over to her to protect while Klaus, Elijah and Hayley wage a war is the perfect solution for a number of reasons – it gets rid of the baby without, you know, killing it; it finishes off Rebekah’s story in a way we didn’t even know it needed to be finished, and it gives the central cast an off-screen cause to fight for.
That last one is the most important for season two, as what this first run of episodes has lacked is a thematic focus. First, we were told the show would be about the turf war between Klaus and Marcel, then about Elijah’s planned redemption for his brother via fatherhood. Then we got lost for a while and didn’t what the heck we were following before finally focusing on the exciting almost-treaty between the witches, humans, werewolves and vampires in New Orleans. Now, those things have all been tied together to make an uber-show, with the baby acting as a source of redemption for Klaus as well as a reason for him to fight on.
The factions have been condensed into two teams, with most of the vampires killed off after the werewolf attack and Marcel joining with Klaus, Elijah and Hayley. They can’t exactly be dubbed the good guys but, against the werewolves (now under the impression that Klaus blames them for the baby’s fake-death), they’re as close as we’ve got. On top of this, there was the double twist of not one, but three dead originals coming back to life, and we can assume that this will provide the bulk of season two’s conflict. It’s a twist that makes total sense, but thankfully wasn’t too obvious before that final cliffhanger landed.
But I do wonder what non-Vampire Diaries viewers (do they exist?!) make of Esther and Finn’s return, or what exactly we’re meant to. We know what Mikael represents for the brothers, but what might the return of their mother and brother do to their tight little makeshift family? There’s every chance that season two will see a kinder, gentler Klaus but, as history with the character has shown us, there’s equal chance that he’ll come back more vicious than ever. The three returning Mikaelson’s will give him and Elijah an undisputed threat to fight against in addition to the werewolves, and hopefully give the season more focus in the process.
From A Cradle To A Grave was a fantastic way to finish of a series that, while a little muddled, lived up to high expectations and actually managed to surpass its parent show in almost every way throughout the year. It was a risky concept from the beginning, but that’s probably what’s most special about it. The Originals is a series that has always had more going for it than it could possibly utilise but, with Hayley now pregnancy-free, Rebekah’s absence shifting the focus onto the brothers and a handle on the what the ‘good guys’ need to be fighting against, there’s every chance that season two will finally crack what this already-strong show can really become.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Battle Of New Orleans, here.
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