Last night's episode of The Originals was another fun, crazy outing full of family drama. And yet, something felt... lacking. It was only after thinking about it a bit that I realized: There was just too much of the Original vampires, and not enough of the other characters. Spoilers ahead...
The Originals has to walk a weird tight-rope. On the one hand, it's a show about the first ever vampires, the family that got vampirized back in the Old-Timey Wig Days. It's right there in the name: we're following Klaus, Elijah, sometimes Rebekah, and sometimes their dead family members through an endless series of family dramz.
On the other hand, The Originals has gotten more engrossing as it's developed its own New Orleans supporting cast, who weren't on The Vampire Diaries. In particular, the vampire Marcel and his sometime sidekick Josh are often the best part of any episode. And Davina the teenage witch has come into her own as a character. Camille, the psych major/bartender, has her moments too, even though she gets kinda pouty. These characters are a bit more vulnerable and a bit less operatic than the actual Original family.
And "operatic" really is the word — watching last night's episode, which had a lot of scenes where 1,000-year-old people speechify at each other, the feeling of highfalutin melodrama became hard to escape. Klaus and Elijah both speak in paragraphs, made up of histrionic old-timey words — it's entertaining to watch either one of them try to hold a conversation with a normal person, but kind of exhausting after a while when they talk to each other.
It's no accident that the best part of last night's outing involved Marcel trying to convince Elijah to take Gia on as Elijah's new protegee. Because watching the stiff-necked Elijah deal with Marcel's smooth charm is actually kind of sweet:
And I kind of believe Marcel when he says he wants all the vampires to be a family.
The rest of the episode is interesting, especially in its deep dive into the twisted relationship between Klaus and Klaus' mom Esther. But it's also kind of harder to care about those characters when they're interacting with each other. In a nutshell, the meat of the episode is about how Esther used to love her children, most of all Klaus, before she turned against them and started trying to wipe them out. She gave Klaus a special bird necklace, which was supposed to protect him but which actually weakened him so he wouldn't kill anybody and trigger his werewolf curse — thus revealing that his dad was a werewolf, not Mikael.
In the present, Esther and Finn have dinner with Klaus and Elijah, and we discover her endgame: she wants to do for her two remaining sons what she already did for Finn and Kol: resurrect them in new witch bodies. That way they won't be vampires (or hybrids) any more, and all the other vampires will be dead. (Once she deals with Rebekah, I guess.) So she's not just bent on murdering her entire family — she wants them to be together as body-jumping parasites. It's kinda sweet, I guess.
But the most alarming part of the episode is the end, when Esther is in the a new body (that of Sonja Sohn from The Wire) and she announces that she's going to destroy Marcel's vampire community as part of her plan to bring her sons to their lowest point. And the threat of more injury being inflicted on Marcel's plucky, heartwarming group of vamps is somehow more affecting than a million threats against the Original boys, Klaus and Elijah. (Who we know are going to be fine. It's their show, after all.)