Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this recap, I want to preface this by saying I love the character of Klaus Mikaelson. Ever since he made his debut on TVD in Season 2, I’ve been captivated by his edge, his viciousness, and most importantly, his vulnerability. Of course, his swoon-worthy accent doesn’t hurt. But I’ve always seen him as a redeemable bad guy.
So as someone who’s been saying Klaus should have his own spin-off since Season 3, I have one question for boss lady Julie Plec: why take the focus away from Klaus in the premiere? Don’t get me wrong: I love Elijah, and I think Daniel Gillies carried this premiere episode beautifully, but with so much exposition and mythology to get through, The Originals lacked the spark it needed to really ignite.
It’s not easy to take characters with over two seasons of backstory and try and introduce them to a new audience. So by letting Elijah narrate the story, not only did viewers get a history lesson in Vampires 101, but they also saw it through the eyes of someone who was there. However, by placing Elijah, the observer, at the forefront of this battle between witches and vampires, everything that made the backdoor pilot so captivating — the action, the suspense, and the high stakes — was buried under layers of exposition.
Instead of watching Marcel kill practicing witch Jane-Anne Deveraux, we see Elijah get to the scene of the crime hours too late. We watch as Jane-Anne’s sister Sophie prays over her body, and wails in agony as Marcel and his vampire minions carry her body away before Sophie can lay her sister to properly rest. And while that’s all heartbreaking and emotional, it doesn’t set the stakes nearly as high as they should be.
Not to mention by putting Klaus in the background, the viewers don’t get a sense of why they should care about him. If this is supposed to be Klaus’s redemption story, then he needs to be a featured player. Elijah describes his brothers as “complicated, defiant, ill-mannered, and a little temperamental.” But that barely scratches the surface! All the nuance of Joseph Morgan’s fragility is lost, and that’s a shame. (Remember when Klaus had tears in his eyes when he was talking to Cami in the backdoor pilot? Yeah, that didn’t make this cut.)
That being said, The Originals worked on many levels. Its darker tone separates it from The Vampire Diaries. There’s no cliche love triangle (yet) and no petty high school drama. This is a story about a family, bound by blood, and frayed after centuries of betrayal and abandonment. At the heart of this series, there’s a war brewing between the witches of New Orleans and the French Quarter’s vampire king Marcel (played by the charismatic Charles Michael Davis). Marcel has restricted the witches from using magic (why? we don’t know), so in order to regain control of the Big Easy, the witches lure Klaus to NOLA and force him to join their fight.
Now, one might ask what would make an immortal Original hybrid (part vampire, part werewolf) like Klaus play this silly game. The answer is a baby. Yes, Klaus is a soon-to-be daddy, and the witches have tracked down his baby mama Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin). But Klaus really doesn’t care about his unborn child — Elijah does. The elder is Mikaelson is big on family and he sees this baby as the thing that can save Klaus from himself. “This child could offer you the one thing you never believed you had — the unconditional love of family.” However, Klaus sees the baby as a power play. As the former king of N’awlins, Klaus wants to return to his rightful throne.
In order to do so, he needs to convince Marcel he’s on his good side (with a little help from Elijah) and then take his kingdom out from under him. Now, this is where it gets tricky. Klaus could easily kill Marcel; Klaus is indestructible, Marcel is not. So what’s keeping Klaus from killing him? Sophie. The Deveraux has a plan, and everything has to go her way — or else. Before her death, Jane-Anne binded Sophie’s life with Hayley’s, so Sophie is in completely control of this chess game. But Marcel has his own queen ready to destroy the board — Devina.
Unlike Sabrina, this teenage witch is lethal, and she’s completely loyal to Marcel. It appears as though Marcel is using her to detect when witches are using magic. Sophie obviously knows about Devina, so the real question is why doesn’t she want Klaus to know about her?
The dynamics between Klaus and Elijah are deeply complex. Both Joseph Morgan and Daniel Gillies deliver phenomenal performances, especially when the two brothers find themselves at odds halfway through the episode. After a broody fistfight (in which the words “I will never let go!” are uttered), Elijah tells his brother why, after all these years, he’s never lost hope on him, even when everyone else has. Elijah feels like he failed Klaus. “The first time our father laid a hand on you, I should have struck him dead. I made a promise to you: Always and forever. Family above all.”
Of course, Klaus isn’t very receptive to Elijah’s regrets. As thick as Klaus would like to pretend his skin is, we all know he’s an emotional mess behind the leather jackets and man jewelry. (This is a man who likes to draw horses, remember?) So Elijah hits him where it hurts. “Who’s more pathetic? The one who sees hope to make his family whole, or the coward who can only see the world through his own fear?” Drop mic.
By the end of the episode, it seems like Elijah has finally convinced his brother to play house with Hayley and the unborn baby in the Big Easy. But Klaus lets his insecurities and paranoia get the best of him and he stakes his brother Elijah and dessicates him. For new viewers, this might seem shocking, but TVD fans know that this is a regular event for the Mikaelson siblings. There’s a reason Rebekah (Claire Holt) is only seen in telephone conversations with Elijah. She’s not too happy with Klaus and his constant need to push his siblings away.
So is this baby a way for Klaus to find happiness? A way to save himself? I hope so. I only wish that after that premiere others feel the same way.
$#*! The Originals Say
“Well, he’s complicated. Defiant, ill-mannered, and a little temperamental.”
“Consider this me calling me take backs.”
“I’m Elijah. You heard of me?”
“Nothing is impossible, especially when it comes to your brother.”
“Your dad was a dick.” (You will never be Caroline, Cami.)
“Family is power, Niklaus.”
“Then leave him to his temper tantrum and return home.”
“Say what you want about Niklaus, but on my life, I’m not letting anything happen to that baby.”
“Then he gets pissed off like a little bitch and bites one of my guys.”
“You demand to be left alone at least once a decade, so by now, it’s lost its impact.”
“I will not let go. I will never let go.”
“Who’s more pathetic? The one who sees hope to make his family whole, or the coward who can only see the world through his own fear?”
“One too many times daggered and shoved in a box, I gather.”
What did you think of the premiere episode? Will you tune in next week? Sound off in the comments!
Catch the next episode of The Originals on Tuesday, October 8, 2013, at 8 p.m. ET on The CW, followed by the season premiere of Supernatural.
Crystal Bell is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident fangirl for all things The Vampire Diaries. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!