This review contains spoilers.
When The Originals was spun-off last year, no one was sure it would work. It didn’t make the noise that some of the CW’s other more ‘adult’ shows generally do, and it was the offspring of an old and tired series no one particularly liked anymore. But now, as we enter the show’s second year, The Originals might actually be one of the network’s best shows. This premiere was an excellent example of everything it’s always set out to do and all it learnt last season, and kicks off what looks to be another treacherous year for the Mikaelson clan.
We begin, as with the comic-con promo shown over the summer, with Rebekah’s exposition-filled lullaby to baby Hope, and learn right off the bat that the rest of the family haven’t been coping with their loss very well. Klaus and Elijah are hiding out for fear of an unbalanced fight against Francesca’s werewolves, Hayley has cut herself off from everyone, Davina is still babysitting Mikael and Cami and Marcel have continued their no-strings relationship from the end of last season.
Hayley and Klaus, in particular, have reacted to the loss of their child in exactly the way we would have expected – by not speaking to each other. Hayley’s place in the family was always dependent on her role as mother to the heir and saviour and so, without that to keep them together, it makes sense for them to scatter. Elijah feels a duty to keep Klaus in line and is still wrestling with his feelings for Hayley, but the glue keeping them together – the mission statement of the pilot a year ago – has been taken out of the equation.
The literal obstacle between each of the characters is eradicated within this episode when Hayley unleashes her anger on Francesca, but the turf war that began with Klaus and Marcel and evolved into a competition between vampires, originals, witches, werewolves and humans for ownership of New Orleans rages on, now primarily fought between werewolves and vampires. That’s if the alliance between Klaus and Marcel holds, of course, and history has taught us that their latest friendship probably won’t make it three weeks.
The real danger that none of them know is brewing is going to hit close to home – Esther, Kol and Finn are back. We learned this at the end of last season, but now we have a face for the then-missing brother – Daniel Sharman. He appearance this season has been highly-anticipated (by me and fellow Teen Wolf fans, anyway), but before this premiere it was also hinted that he would be interacting with Davina as a possible love interest. This is so much better, and I’m suddenly a lot more interested in this element of the story.
We’re not given much insight into what they and Mikael might get up to, but the latter seems tied to the whims of Davina for the time being. There was actually a lot of nice continuity with the lore from their Vampire Diaries days in this episode, what with Davina attempting to unlink Klaus from the rest of his bloodline before unleashing his father and the brothers’ own fears regarding the location of the white oak stake. It’s boring if these characters are invincible, and so reminding us of these already-established vulnerabilities feels like a smart move.
For a show that’s as shockingly action-free as The Originals, that werewolf-slaughtering sequence was beautifully done. As much as some fans complain about how talky the show can sometimes be, moments like this prove that, when it decides it’s going to break from negotiations and resort to the mindless violence we know all of these characters are capable of, the opportunity is never wasted. Elijah and his handkerchief were, as always, the highlight, but we also got some nice character development for Hayley and forward motion for her relationship with Klaus.
This premiere genuinely feels much more focused that anything we saw in the early part of last season, and we can assume that this year will primarily be about making the city safe for Rebekah and Hope to return. That’s a motivation that should stand up a lot better than Marcel’s murky ‘soul of the city’ statement, and I hope, as is the general style and pacing of the show, we don’t wrap up that idea too quickly.
The Originals feels so fresh and exciting right now, with endless stories to tell and time to tell them, but there’s always the worry that they’ll burn through them in a matter of weeks, a la Vampire Diaries. Assuming that won’t happen, season two is in place to easily surpass its freshman year.
Read Caroline’s review of the season 1 finale, From A Cradle To A Grave, here.
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