Fast paced vampire story turns deadly at every turn. I sit back with a violent glee of being thoroughly entertained by this tale that spins great leading women and men.
Ever since I watched [The Vampire Diaries](series:200853) for the first time I started to appreciate fast paced storytelling. This structure is something The Originals also adopts to a greater success. While the latest season of The Vampire Diaries is starting to get tiring, the first season of this show is proving to be worthwhile while also seeming fresh. For one it employs a greater variety of female agency. While The Vampire Diaries certainly wasn't the worst offender here, The Originals takes this element further. Even though some of the females at the start of the season seems paper-thin personality-wise, they are the ones who change more, and also gets fleshed out more.
The second thing about this show is that out of the gate they sport even better characters. For one my favorite characters of these siblings is Rebeka Mikaelson (Claire Holt), who is in full force for the whole season. Other characters gets more fleshed out, like Niklaus Mikaleson (Joseph Morgan) and another one becoming my favourite; Elijah Mikaelson (Daniel Gillies). What I did not expect was that Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) would grow so close to my heart. When she was first introduced in season three of The Vampire Diaries she was bland and seemed to only exist to create drama between Caroline Forbes (Candice Accola) and Tyler Lockwood (Michael Trevino). But in The Originals she actually becomes a person, not a damsel in distress (showing the she is fully capable of defending herself by kicking total ass every time).
The third thing is the setting. I have always loved New Orleans and is one of those places I want to visit before I eventually die. This place has a rich history with voodoo practitioners and witches abound. This is also here that [The Originals](series:833141) does a better job with the witches and they get greatly fleshed out. I also think most of the story lines on this show is tighter than The Vampire Diaries have been in a while. The Originals feels almost like the first season of that show; they don't copy what the sister show did, but is highly exhilarating and dare to do new shit with a breakneck pace.
Baby's a' coming
So what brings these vampires to New Orleans? First and foremost for Klaus it is taking back what he deems his (he sometimes sports an entitled crybaby stance). You see in 1919 he and his siblings controlled the city, but now Marcel (Charles Michael Davis) has taken it with his iron-grip; also having a tight leash on the witches and werewolves. The other thing that drives the siblings to stay is Hayley, that after a one night stand with Klaus becomes pregnant with his baby. You see, Hayley is an werewolf, and since vampires aren't technically alive it's impossible for them to bring a child to the world. This makes the baby special, something which Elijah sees and together with Klaus and Rebeka they try to take back what was theirs while protecting the baby mamma. She shows herself to be highly capable of doing it herself and before they know it Elijah has instead been taken by Marcel. To complicate things even more Klaus has aligned himself with the witches led by Sophie Deveraux (Daniella Pineda) which seemed to be driven by her own agenda. Other important characters include Davina Claire (Danielle Campbell) as Marcel's controlling witch, Camille O'Connell (Leah Pipes) who has her own secrets and lastly but not least her uncle Kieran (Todd Stashwick).
Klaus started his journey on The Vampire Diaries and there he was portrayed as someone who was not capable of doing an decent act. This is propelled further in the first season of The Originals. But while on the sister show it didn't seem like he was redeemable, this series takes us on a different route. Yes he is still severely unlikable and kind of a cry-baby, but I like that they don't shy away from this and make his journey for that reason, much more believable. Still his sense of entitlement is rooted in his dislike for his step-father and his underlying issues shouldn't be taken lightly. Season one really digs into these issues and doesn't let Klaus go free of them too easily. In the first half of the season he really struggles with these issues, until settling into who he really is by the end of the season. This is of course perfectly and ferociously played up by the brilliant Morgan. I always thought he was good in The Vampire Diaries (while satiated tempered), but in his own show he really gets to show his acting chops.
Even though Elijah had a fairly slim role in The Vampire Diaries he still managed to creep up on me. Maybe it was because his fairly limited role made him screw the juice out of every scene he was in? In the first season of The Originals he is still the same old Elijah, the ever loyal to Klaus. His intentions is always noble but he also gets to let his freak out; especially when he kills several witches even though he gave his word that he wouldn't. Elijah would do anything for Klaus, even though he has been mistreated by him all these years. Why does he do it? It's all because of family; while a noble effort, it's still his biggest flaw. Elijah also falls in love this season, again I might add. But this time it seems more genuine. This is also one of the big reasons for his commitment to keep his family together; Hayley the girl pregnant with Klaus's baby is what's at stake. In the season he learns slowly but surely to let go of his flaws. The problem is that he has been doing this for a long time, and letting go of it completely is hard. Still it seems like he and Klaus is at it's closest ever by the end of the season. Gillies plays his character with a calm and some aggression bubbling under the surface. This is perfect for this noble character.
Hayley as I stated previously wasn't my favorite character on that other show. In The Originals she quickly became one of my favorite characters. I like that she is strong, resourceful and doesn't take crap from anyone (this also includes Klaus and Elijah who is insistent on protecting her. Fortunately they learn that she indeed is perfectly able to handle this on her own through the season). Even though Hayley is heavily pregnant through most of the story she is still an important player. Her storyline is the search for her clan and if she finds it, is not for me to say. Let me just put it this way, she find out in the story that she is almost a perfect leader of her own. Tonkin is actually from Sydney, Australia, and while I find her acting to be pretty good; unfortunately her american accent isn't perfect. It does nothing to much to detract from her work, it still kinda bothers me. But I guess my real bother is why they didn't just make her australian. Was it so important for her to be american? Tonkin has this intensity that draws you in at once, even though she seems at a loss in the more emotional scenes, but as the season progresses she really comes into her own.
Ah Rebekah, my favorite Original; you can do no wrong, still the writers are able to. I guess some characters never change, she does; but hear me out: Her journey in The Vampire Diaries predicated that she falls for nearly every boy she meets. I think this is doing her great disservice; because she is the mostly sly, sardonic and sarcastically fascinating character I have seen. This obsession over boys is repeated in The Originals, so much that I am kinda nauseated. Still this isn't so much a misstep, as it is a rebellion from her because of the way Klaus treats her. We find out that he mistreats her because he cares about her; staking her every time he thinks she does something wrong. Through the middle of the season she starts to transform and I for one love her journey except for these retread grounds. Holt might not be the best actress on the show, but she still has bundles of emotional and evocatively chops to drive the scenes further. This is all evident in the emotional scars caused by none other than Klaus. The brother and sister goes through a lot in the season and they are all better for it.
I wasn't entirely sold on Marcel as the season started. He seemed overly eager to be evil and not share his kingdom with Klaus. But as it turned out, this story had another tune. This is one of the complexities that The Originals and mostly The Vampire Diaries are good at. The weave a long and arduous tale, but they complement it with flashbacks later that tell another story than the one we're presented with. Wait? What? You say other shows also do this? Well, the twist her is that the story structure of these two shows are so fast, that we get caught up with these intricacies faster than normal shows do. This also means that some plot lines don't tend to go on for long. But that is the beauty of these two shows, it rarely gets boring (well it seems The Vampire Diarires has become that). Back to Marcel: his interplay with Klaus quickly gets up to speed and it's exhilarating seeing these to trying to one up each other; I never get tired of backstabbing (I say with a violent glee). By the end of the season Marcel has come a long way, and Davis has shown us that he can keep up with his sophisticated coy smiles and bouts of aggression when needed.
I keep on hammering this point in: The women of The Originals are freaking awesome. This can also be laid on Campbells feet. Davina is a witch in league with Marcel, trying to control the french quarter. While I thought she was kinda one-dimensional in the first episode; she quickly got to me. She showed resilience and the need to be in control. Also she got to be human and not some powerful weapon Marcel could use whenever he desired. She also played nicely up against the charming but clumsy Josh Rosza (Steve Krueger). The best thing here is that they became friends; and seeing as they are man and woman it would seems they should start a relationship. But they are only friends and I love it! I love it when tv- shows can show a woman and a man being friends instead of complicating it with romantic relations. Campbell has this ferocious intensity that lay wastes to the screen and the audience watching her. It helps that she also gets a lot to play with and shows capable with everything they throw at her.
Still the show has time to show and appreciate Camille and Kieran. While they don't have such big roles as the others have, they still get to do things so we care about them. Camille's role was marginalized in the beginning of the season, but as it progresses she turns out to be really important. What I told you about Marcel is also what happens here. Camille story turns out to be more personal and emotional than one could foresee. This is also ties in to Kieran's story of betrayal and trying to keep his town in check. Pipes and Stashwick conjures and spellbinds us til the season ends.
Absorbing, enticing and a tiny bit of wrongness
I have already mentioned The Originals fast-paced storytelling. It bears mentioning once again. I think it easily surpasses The Vampire Diaries, at least the later season, also without sacrificing the fine points. Characters live and then suddenly die, when you least expect. I also don't think the deaths are gratuitous, and most of them give meaning to the story. There are no deaths just so that characters can develop; and it's all the better for it. This fast-paced storytelling might make us care less about the characters because we aren't able to catch our breaths. This is fortunately not the case, and even though some characters stick out like sore thumbs; I feel that most of these characters gets their due even though everything moves so fast. The fast-pacedness also makes for the season covering more ground than other shows cannot. Something that might seem like the seasons arc, turns out that it's not at all; it's just a red herring for the great "beast" to come. This way, the series is able to make us second guess what's happening and it envelopes into a much more surprising and enticing story.
What would the storytelling be if it hadn't great characters. And just as I've written earlier in this review, there are plenty of them. I also don't feel like characters are assassinated to make room for the story; by this I mean that they don't do surprise twist and turns that don't mesh with the characters. There might be some wiggle room here and there, but mostly I feel like they give their deserved due. Instead of either one sacrificing each other to have more room I feel like they mesh it so well that it's an marriage made in heaven.
I always thought the music in The Vampire Diaries was good at setting the mood. The music for this show has some similarities to their sister-show, but here stops the likeness. Even though it's Michael Suby doing the soundtrack for this show as well, he adds so much more to it that it's sometimes hard to recognize him. The soundtrack to this show employs more electronic sounds. It also sounds like he is given more leeway and most of the songs more authentic and real than they did on The Vampire Diaries.
Well I can't really find much wrong this show except for a few things. Even though I love the fast-paced story, I sometimes wish they would slow down and take greater care at developing everything. I also feel that the show takes some time before it really slides out the door. It's not boring when it starts, but sometimes it lacked the punch. Then again The Vampire Diaries had the same problem, fronting more of a teenage soap drama. While the show clearly was aimed at the teens, it still resonated much more when it found it's grasp. The Originals while not as obsessed at being a teenage show, also had trouble finding it's footing early on. I think they weren't sure about what show they were gonna do. The first episodes was plagued with information dump that seemed like they didn't trust their audience as much as they should've.
I'm in love
I really didn't think I was gonna love this show as much as I ended up doing. When it really started gaining ground it felt like the first season of The Vampire Diaries with it's fast-paced and absorbing story lines. Where I think this show wins is their emphasis on better characters and actually showing some growth in them. Not that The Vampire Diaries didn't have this, it just seems like they have taken greater care to these characters. I also think this show is much better at portraying kick-ass women characters. The sister-show had this as well, but as with the characters I think they writers have really learned from the mistakes made in The Vampire Diaries. While adding all the action and drama, this makes for the most exhilarating show of 2013-2014 for my part.