This review contains spoilers.
2.22 Ashes To Ashes
One of the biggest things The Originals inherited from The Vampire Diaries is an absolute inability to pace itself. Generally speaking, it has an idea, introduces it, gets over-excited and then burns it out within two or three episodes. This is fine, and certainly keeps the interest of viewers who struggle otherwise with a short attention span but, for those of us paying attention, it can be incredibly frustrating.
We began season two with the promise of Esther and Finn back from the dead, for instance, and since then have seen Esther, Finn, Kol, Mikael, Klaus’ biological father, Dahlia and Freya all resurrected from the dead at one point or another. What’s more, they’ve all had a couple of bodies each, and some of those bodies are still kicking around as independent characters.
It was a deviation from last season’s ‘rival mobs of New Orleans’- shtick but, when everyone on screen is still swearing vengeance against someone else, it doesn’t feel so different.
Getting into the finale, then, we begin with Klaus still working to bring down Dahlia from the inside, Elijah mightily pissed at his brother and Rebekah back in her old body. One of the unmitigated joys of this episode, as expected, was seeing the original trio back fighting together and, even if we don’t see Claire Holt back for a while, we can at least be a little more hopeful that she’s not gone for good.
Giving her a choice was a lovely touch, as it offers Rebekah a little agency over which life she truly wants at the same time as freeing the showrunners up to have the character appear in whichever guise is available.
The episode in general was about bringing the Mikaelsons together before letting the dust settle and realising they’re actually more fractured than ever. Hayley, for instance, is almost entirely absent after her pack was affected by the curse and, while the family could put aside their differences long enough to take down Dahlia and Esther, we actually end on a decidedly unhappy note.
But the threat has been eliminated and, thankfully, we’re dealing with fewer characters going into season three. Davina was tricked into bringing back Esther instead of Kol, so he’s out, Finn’s still trapped in that magical locket, I guess, and the previous generation are all dead to varying degrees. The only newbie to stick is Freya who, with the temporary happy ending given to Rebekah and Hayley’s emancipation from the family, looks to be the new female lead going forward.
As has been the case for a while, though, it’s the outliers like Vincent, Cami and Josh who are the most intriguing. Cami has really proven herself to be essential to the makeup of The Originals this year, lighting up any scene she happens to share with another, and it’s entirely down to her that the prospect of a Klaus romance doesn’t fill me with dread.
We’ve seen that side of him play out before on The Vampire Diaries, of course (and I fully believe Caroline will come back around whenever one or both of the shows are cancelled), but here it feels like something a little deeper and more interesting. In general, I’m just looking forward to seeing these characters interact with each other, rather than just watching them all react to whichever guest villain is around at the time.
But as Marcel says, “if you’re not a Mikaelson, you’re cannon fodder,” and it’s precisely this notion that has led Davina to grab hold of as much power as she possibly can. She’s the head of the witches now, and her grudge against Klaus has only snowballed since last season. Of course, that’s made Davina’s whole thing seem really repetitive this year, as she’s been reduced to a simple plot device.
Hopefully her relationship with Vincent lives up to the promise glimpsed over the last few weeks, with Cami quite sensibly calling him out for dumping his responsibilities with the witches onto a teenage girl.
But, as annoyed as I’ve frequently been with this season, the centre around which all of the craziness revolved has at least remained a constant throughout. Hope hasn’t even been the most important presence this year, but the way in which she has informed everyone’s actions certainly changed the entire mood and dynamic of the show.
We end on a scene between Klaus and Hope, eluding any cliffhangers, as he tells her a bedtime story reminiscent of the one Rebekah told her a full 22 episodes ago. Back then, her family was painted as something whole and inviting, but now it’s simply one man, the rest of them dead, incapacitated or scared away.
Elijah shows up as per Hayley’s request that he remain an influence in her daughter’s life, but that doesn’t mean we’ll return to a family that’s in any way healed from the carnage of this season. Like their mother and aunt before them, they’re cursed to love and destroy each other for all eternity, and anyone circling their orbit won’t be able to escape the destruction.
Happily ever after it was not, but sometimes even the worse endings are not really endings at all.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Fire With Fire, here.
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