There was never a doubt in my mind that The Originals was going to be my favorite show of the 2013-14 TV season. How could it not be when the writers and producers of The Vampire Diaries (my favorite show since its first season) took three of the best characters and centered a series on them? The series pick-up was basically the equivalent of a present to me from The CW (and they owed me after they canceled Emily Owens, M.D. Forever bitter).
But here’s the thing about favorites: just because we love them best does not mean that they are perfect and flawless. As much as I enjoy watching the show each week, The Originals has disappointed me over the course of its 10 episodes. Some of the stories are downright terrible (looking at you, magical miracle baby), the first few episodes were overloaded with exposition dialogue and some of the beats are hit way too hard like the writers don’t have any faith in the intelligence of the audience (Klaus compels Cami. Cami gets mad at Klaus. Tears ensue. Klaus compels Cami again. Repeat for four episodes).
While the show could use some tweaks and improvements, overall, I’ve enjoyed each of the episodes that have aired and I’m looking forward to what’s coming next once the show returns from hiatus. Elijah, Rebekah and Klaus remain three of the best characters on television and while some of the supporting characters are better than others, it’s still early enough in the series that all of them could still turn out to be great with the right storylines. Let’s talk about the best and worst of the series so far.
Overall Midseason Grade: B
Best Storyline: The Harvest
We thought we had it all figured out: Marcel was the bad guy, using Davina to keep the witches under control and Sophie was the oppressed good guy, just trying to save her people, even if it meant making a deal with the devil to stop Marcel. But then we saw that the witches were willing to kill a baby because one witch had a vision that it might be their downfall. That seemed a little sketchy, but there are bad apples in every bunch. That’s when we learned the real truth: the witches were on a quest for power and Davina had to die in order for them to get it and for Sophie to bring her niece back.
It was a great twist as was the revelation that Agnes had been the one to curse Cami’s brother, which led to a massacre. I’m a big fan of umbrella stories that find ways to affect the entire canvas of characters. And the audience was just as taken in by Sophie’s deception as the Original siblings and Hayley had been. It never crossed my mind that she had such a personal ulterior motive to getting the Original family to stop Marcel so she could get Davina back.
All of the characters being involved in one way or another leaves the door open for future storylines once the harvest plays out. Alliances could shift in many different directions and the witches getting their full powers back after the vampires have ruthlessly killed their people could mean real trouble for our favorites. This entire story could (and should) lead to a goldmine of possibilities.
Worst Storyline: The Magical Miracle Baby
I’m not a fan of baby storylines to begin with so when it was revealed in the backdoor pilot that Hayley was pregnant after her one night stand with Klaus thanks to some magical loophole in his hybrid genes, I was ready to give up on the show before it had even started. Why would anyone want to take the most powerful vampires and saddle them with a baby? Or worse, have every episode be focused on some new threat to the baby? I’m bored just typing it. But I was willing to give it a chance because I do have faith in these writers to tell a good story. Maybe they had something bigger in mind for the baby.
Unfortunately, that something bigger turned out to be a new way to make hybrids. I was willing to look the other way when the baby’s blood healed Hayley because whatever, this isn’t science, it’s a TV show (and yes, it is possible for a mother and baby to share blood). But when the baby was able to make hybrids, aka one of the worst plotlines from TVD? Why? Why is this happening? Even if we ignore everything we know about hybrids needing the doppelganger blood, how is the baby a hybrid? First, it shouldn’t be a werewolf yet because the werewolf curse isn’t activated until the person kills someone. Second, it shouldn’t be a vampire because vampires are made, not born and oh yeah, they’re dead.
Look, I’m good at suspended disbelief. My favorite shows are about vampires. But it makes me really angry when a show messes with its own mythology. And I know the magical miracle baby is special because no one really knows what it is (we’ve been beaten over the head with that exposition), but I just want this storyline to be wrapped up, swept under the rug and never mentioned again.
Best Episode: “Fruit of the Poisoned Tree”
For me, this episode was perfect. Elijah was back with his siblings and they were plotting to take on the witches. Meanwhile, the witches led by Agnes were plotting to cause Hayley to have a miscarriage by stabbing Sophie with a cursed needle. Davina was tasked with unlinking Hayley and Sophie and Marcel was starting to put the pieces together as to what his ‘friend’ Klaus was really doing in New Orleans. Cami and Kieran learned the truth about Sean, Elijah got to be BAMF, making his brother proud and the Originals got to win…until they discovered Hayley was missing and Marcel had been at the house. It was great from start to finish.
Worst Episode: “Bloodletting”
It was really disappointing when the best episode was followed by the worst. Tyler kidnapping Hayley led to the magical miracle baby hybrid reveal, Klaus biting Elijah and Marcel learning that Hayley was pregnant. But as bad as the hybrid stuff was, Elijah and Klaus turning on each other so fast was awful. It felt like a weak excuse to cause trouble between the siblings after one episode of them being on the same page. On the positive side, this episode gave us Josh and Davina bonding, Hayley and Elijah hugging and Klaus mentioning Caroline so it wasn’t all bad.
Best Character: The Original Siblings
This is a no contest choice for me…unless someone forced me to pick just one (Luckily, no one is making me do that). Klaus, Elijah and Rebekah are fantastic, layered characters. Each has his or her strengths and weakness and Claire Holt, Daniel Gillies and Joseph Morgan deserve all of the awards for never missing a beat or a subtle nuance that makes each character so unique. No matter what the story, there is no looking away from the screen when any of these three characters is in a scene and when all three of them are together? That’s when they really shine.
Family means everything and nothing to the Original siblings, depending on their mood or goals and it’s fascinating to watch their interactions whether they’re teaming up to go after a common enemy or turning on one another. They might be over 1,000 years old, but their bond, their connection to one another feels raw and real and it hurts to watch them turn against each other, but it’s the good hurt, the kind that makes me want to keep watching week after week and hope that sooner or later they’ll end up on the same page again.
Worst Character: Marcel Gerard
Let me preface this by saying I think Charles Michael Davis is fantastic. I’ve loved him from the moment he appeared onscreen in the backdoor pilot. He has amazing presence; he’s talented, charismatic and doesn’t get enough credit for how easily he can hold his own when sharing the screen with Morgan, Gillies and Holt. But the problem with Marcel is that even though he’s the most developed character outside of the ones we already knew from TVD, he’s not a strong enough character to root for when he’s going against the Original family.
Elijah, Klaus and Rebekah were all, to some extent, villains on TVD. But plenty of us rooted for them just as hard as we rooted for the ‘good’ guys. That’s what Marcel should have been from the beginning. Instead, it felt ridiculous any time he would best Klaus or Rebekah or when he was holding Elijah captive because any one of them could have pulled out his heart and gone about their business. And while I might have missed Davis, I wouldn’t have been too broken up if Marcel had been killed off because I wasn’t invested in his character.
Looking Ahead to 2014:
The witches and the harvest are back when the show returns. The CW has released quite a few promos over the past few days, but this one is by far my favorite.
Now it’s your turn. We want to know which stories, characters and episodes you loved and hated. What grade would you give the first 10 episodes? What’s on your wish list for the rest of the season? Hit the comments and share your thoughts with us!
The Originals returns Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 8/7c on The CW.