At first blush, that sounds like nothing new — in the Vampire Diaries universe, one of the most useful abilities vampires have is the capacity for turning their human emotions off, and becoming pure sociopaths. But last night's Originals hinted that even regular vampires engage in a lot of repression. Spoilers ahead...
Basically, the meat of last night's Originals had to do with Elijah and Klaus confronting their respective parents, and hashing out events of 1,000 years ago. In particular, Elijah is chained up with magic voodoo bondage by his mom Esther, who's now Sonja Sohn from The Wire (a major upgrade), and she's trying to force him to rethink his earliest memories of vampiredom.
It's interesting timing, coming so soon after the TVD episode where Stefan tries to explain to Elena that the secret of being nigh-immortal is starting over every 20-30 years, so people don't ask too many questions about why you never age. That requires a clean slate, which in turn requires leaving people behind and forgetting.
And now, we get Esther's take on Elijah's "noble" image — for 1,000 years, he has been repressing all his memories of killing and hurting people, especially women who got too close to him. Way back in the Wig Era, she encouraged him to lock his memories of killing the First Doppelganger away behind a Red Door, and now he's been cramming every unpleasant memory back there. As long as his suit stays immaculate and he looks clean, he feels blameless.
But what's especially interesting is we don't know which version of the events Mama Original is referencing is true. Is she gaslighting her son? Or is she revealing the truth? Even Elijah seems not entirely sure. In Elijah's version of events, he was in love with the First Doppelganger, but Esther killed her and used her blood for the spell that suppressed Klaus' werewolf side. In Esther's version, Elijah lost control of his new vampire powers and killed his girlfriend — and Esther just used her blood for the spell as she was dying, because waste not, want not.
We may never know which version is true, especially since Nina Dobrev (who plays the First Doppelganger in a series of flashbacks here) is kinda busy. And that ambiguity seems to fit Elijah — he's either a totally blameless decent guy who's just trying to deal with the messes his family makes, over and over, or he's a psycho pretending to be "noble." Even he isn't sure which he is.
Mama Original wants to break Elijah so he'll accept the "gift" of a new mortal witch body — not by torturing him, but by destroying his self-image. In the end, she grants him a happy vision of Haley rescuing him, only to have Elijah drink possibly a fatal amount of the imaginary Haley's blood.
Meanwhile, Klaus seems to have made some strides towards getting over his daddy issues — but his stepdad, Mikael, hasn't. Klaus spared Mikael's life, at Cami's urging, to prove that he's capable of something other than just hatred and violence. But Mikael is hatred and violence incarnate, who not only loathes and despises Klaus, but blames him for every bad thing that ever happened to his family in a kind of flipside of Elijah's selective memory loss. As terrible as Cami's speech was last week, her rant at Mikael about the pointlessness of the endless cycle of Mikaelsons killing each other over and over was actually terrific — because Cami seemed genuinely pissed, and as though she finally realizes how blinkered she's been in her judgmental attitude towards Klaus.
In the end, this time around, Klaus wins not because he's stronger than Mikael, but because he has a posse — albeit a posse who mostly just want to save themselves or their friends. He wins because Davina and his brother Kol do a spell to disable the white-oak stake just in time, and then Cami pulls it out. And then Haley and Elijah show up to rescue him. None of this is because Klaus has done anything to earn these people's loyalty — but it still shows how having people around him winds up saving him from himself.
Oh, and Davina and Klaus both find out the truth about Kol — who disabled Davina's bracelet as well as her spell to de-link Klaus from the vampires he's sired. But Davina still seems to think she can work with Kol, after he helps her with the stake spell. Based on Kol's past behavior, that's going to turn out incredibly well for her.