The Originals season 2 episode 17 review: Exquisite Corpse

The Originals continues its madcap fantasy soap opera with an Eva and Rebekah-focused episode...

This review contains spoilers.

2.17 Exquisite Corpse

We all have our demons, but the Mikaelson family have more than their fair share. Though, while its parent show is essentially all about a bunch of people trying to control the monsters inside of them, The Originals is much more content to simply let those monsters co-exist with their hosts.

They are the very definition of cursed, as Rebekah once said, and for them it’s much more about embracing their nature and doing the best they can, with family taking precedence over everything.

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Instead of dealing with those little demons inside, however, Rebekah is battling instead against the shell she’s found herself trapped in. It’s so interesting that the representation of Rebekah used in this episode – though I’m sure it had something to do with not having access to Claire Holt – is a little girl up against a fully-grown, deranged witch intent on clawing back her power whichever way she can.

The entire episode is about Eva and Rebekah, actually, with one departing the show and the other re-establishing herself as a character divorced of Claire Holt’s face and performance.

I’m torn about this, as I have been since Christmas, simply because Holt’s portrayal of Rebekah has ultimately been very special to me, but then that doesn’t cancel out the wonderful potential of having a new actress try her hand at this remarkable character. At least this way we still get to have her around.

But it wouldn’t be an episode of The Originals without some pointless recapping of past grievances, and in comes Esther to do the honours. It’s her last hurrah, we find out later, so that retroactively makes it forgivable, but dear god this show needs to cut out these repetitive monologues.

Klaus and Hayley are still arguing about what’s best for Hope with no hope of resolution, and Klaus decides that the best way to protect his daughter from his increasingly mad sister is to go to his partially-dead mother and introduce his possible first-born sister to her after centuries apart courtesy of a wicked aunt. As you do.

They’re a “macabre echo of a family,” she says, and we see here that Klaus and Freya really are two sides of the same coin, unloved by their parents and tormented by their caregivers. It’s possible that the reason Klaus distrusts her so much is because they’re such similarly broken, twisted creatures, and that makes Freya someone the audience should be just as wary of.

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Having one goal for all of the characters in this episode allows us to see them play to their strengths more than we usually do, with Klaus playing with familial politics, Rebekah being a badass even as a ghost child and Elijah attempting to charm Josephine into extending the truce between the vampires and witches.

Even with Hayley and Gia in tow, however, Josephine rejects his request, leaving an utterly flabbergasted Elijah dealing with the fact his Mikaelson charm and “way with words” has finally failed to get him something he wants. While he takes care of business, we then get some awkward scenes of Hayley and Gia comparing notes on their past and current boyfriend – gotta have a love triangle.

Our newest character, Vincent, was the MVP of the episode, tricking Eva into revealing her hiding place for all the sleeping magical children she has been channelling for power. I liked Finn, and would gladly see him back on the show in some form, but the introduction of Vincent as a separate player makes me hope we can keep them both. He just fits in this world; weary of the New Orleans drama but with an air of decency about him.

The den of sleeping magical children includes Davina, though I feel like I was as unaware of this fact as Marcel was. The show has really retreated from her character this year, and it was only Marcel’s reaction at the news that she was involved that I remembered she was a character we were supposed to care about.

So Exquisite Corpse was an episode about re-establishing characters we’ve already met and actors who have recently switched roles, all now major players in the madcap fantasy soap opera we know as The Originals. Esther and Eva are gone, sure, but something tells me that Freya is going to cause even more trouble than both of them combined. She’s a Mikaelson, after all. 

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Save My Soul, here.

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