Warnings: spoilers, ranting tendency, disagreement welcome but not hates, never hates
It’s been a while since an episode of The Originals stirred me enough to beat my terminal laziness, and instead of delaying the review till the weekend like usual, I feel compelled to express my thoughts as soon as I could.
… Maybe not as soon as I could as I was caught in a plethora of new fanvids and fanfics dedicated to a couple I ship. Me being… me, once again I delayed writing my review.
Perhaps in celebration of the newly released Marvel movie Captain America 3: Civil War, the CW wanted to do something similar and The Originals became the subject. Thus we are treated to not one but TWO civil wars going side by side: one going on between our tormented Mikaelsons (plus or minus Kol) and Marcel and Vincent (also plus or minus Kol), and the other going on between fans who rage against Freya and Elijah in Davina’s name and those try to justify their action and defend them. In the past few days I’ve encountered many hate posts bashing Freya and Elijah that browsing their tags kind of make me cringe. Elijah used to be my fave (but my fave has kind of shifted to his first progeny, who is now wooing some mermaid (or merman) with his dead seriousness – I’m aware that I’m fickle, thank you) and Freya has always been the type of female character I want to see in a movie/TV series/novel/manga/whatever: strong in personality and fiercely loyal to those she loves; still, let me make myself clear before continuing: I’m not taking either side; what I want to discuss in this post is how Freya and Elijah’s decision is understandable given the situation – not noble, not good, just understandable, that they don’t deserve the flaming insults (you may loathe them and flood their tags with posts expressing your bitterness but saying that Marcel should rip Freya’s heart and shove it down Elijah’s throat is too uncivil), and how the fandom have been seething over their ‘evil’ deed and promptly ignoring another evil deed committed in this same episode.
(Please note that I have talked a little bit about it on Tumblr and received some responses expressing disagreement, and I’m now using this review to indirectly reply to them because if I answer them on Tumblr, I feel like repeating myself and more importantly, it’d be tedious to write/read the same contents.)
There’s a controversial ideology in the Fate franchise (games, manga and anime in case you’re interested just what the Fate franchise is about) that I think would apply perfectly to the major conflict of this episode: if you save someone’s life, you simultaneously abandon another because it’s basically how the life scale balances. Freya and Elijah choose to save Rebekah, Klaus and Hayley, so at the same time they have to abandon Davina. It is a tough choice, bordering on sadistic, and they visibly struggle with it before the situation gives a final push and that’s it – they will grasp this super rare chance and destroy Lucien, saving their siblings or they will lose it, lose their siblings and their lives. Lucien has made it very clear that he won’t rest until the Mikaelsons are history; it’s only a matter of short time before the Ancestors help him penetrate the compound. Freya and Elijah are not dumb to see the possible scenarios that come out of their decision; moreover, they are the most devoted to their family out of the Mikaelsons and it’s never a question who they will pick: their own flesh and blood over an outsider. Family is all Freya has, according to Michael Narducci, and Elijah holds the “Family Above All” almost word for word – he has been known (and loathed) to abandon his lovers and ‘children’ for his family.
With that in mind, Elijah isn’t hypocritical when he says Marcel is family, but we all know the Mikaelson family has a terrible habit of backstabbing, betraying and hurting their own family, deliberately or not. Still, at the end of the day, they will keep each other alive and safe no matter the cost. Sacrificing Davina will severely antagonize Marcel and Kol; Freya and Elijah know it, yet it will keep them alive and that’s worth it.
Besides, has Freya and Elijah ever considered Davina family? No. To them she’s a witch kid who has antagonized their family more than helped, many a time adding trouble to their already gargantuan heap. I have a feeling that they tolerated her because of her close relationship with Marcel and Kol rather than real affection.
Some fans say they could have opted for another method that somehow saves their siblings and preserves Davina’s soul. It’s too good to be true and one thing we know about The Originals’ writers is that they don’t favor such idealistic solution. Everything comes with a price and more of than not, the loss is bigger than the gain. Perhaps, had they had more time to spare, they might have come up with something else, something less desperate. Nevertheless, time is precisely what they don’t have: neither Klaus nor Hayley answers the phone and with Lucien on the way to find Rebekah, it’s unlikely the two Hybrids have dropped their phones or turned them off. In the worst scenario, Lucien might have already gotten his fangs on Rebekah and torn Klaus’s and Hayley’s heads off – fortunately for us our heroes’ plot armor is thick enough for the actually killing to happen. Time is of the essence here and rather than wasting precious time by summoning the scattered Marcel, Kol and Vincent to discuss a solution, whatever of which wouldn’t be able to defeat a Lucien with enhanced powers and a legion of dead witches behind his back anyway. What choice is left for Freya and Elijah but to take matter into their own hands and act quickly?
Speaking of choice, on a hindsight, Freya and Elijah have saved the others from having to choose. Imagine for a second that Vincent, Marcel and Kol were put in the same situation as Freya and Elijah. For Vincent the choice would be easy – Davina – as he has little love for the Mikaelsons; nevertheless, how about Marcel and Kol? Marcel would have to pick between his adopted daughter and Rebekah, whom he has loved and always wanted to protect no matter what. And Kol, he would be torn between saving the love of his life, his savior literally, and his siblings. Personally I believe it would be much crueler for everyone involved if the writers decided for the choice to fall on Kol; he would break, undoubted. It may sound condescending but it’s a mercy for the other two that Freya and Elijah are the ones to choose (and bear the burden afterwards) because it’s easier for them to pick their family over Davina.
Kol murders a young man out of wrath and nobody bats an eye.
Freya and Elijah sacrifice a young woman to save their family and everyone loses their mind.
(To use an infamous Joker meme)
I know I wrote this on Tumblr on the spur of the moment, but for the sake of argument, I bring it here and elaborate on it a bit more, otherwise my review will be missing a significant point.
People loathe and curse Freya and Elijah for what they’ve done to Davina, which robs her off her chance of life and damns her to an eternity of suffering (which is so far theoretically; we have yet to learn of her true, final fate). It’s atrocious, I’m fully aware. Davina was nineteen and lost her future. But if we pay a little more attention to a minor character who is portrayed by a guest star with a one-season contract, we’ll see Davina is not the only life loss in this episode. Van Nguyen was probably a few years older than Davina, twenty-something, and he also lost his future the moment Kol sank his fangs into his neck. Whether Davina deserves such harsh treatment remains debatable, but what has Van Nguyen done to earn his fate? He lost his mother and perhaps some of his relatives/acquaintances (as they were killed alongside her) but unlike some other characters in this show, he sought justice, not vengeance. He didn’t attempt to kill her, merely exposing her crime so that she was shunned from the community, which implies his moral compass was rather strong and he wasn’t an evil man. He aided Lucien and attacked Vincent, sure, but he was following the Ancestors’ instructions (at this point it’s safe to say the Regent is the Ancestors’ puppet to intervene with the living world) and because he believed in their vision of a vampire-Nola, which is a good thing for the human faction because honestly what good do the vampires bring to humans anyway? You could argue that he agreed to previously help Tristan and then Lucien for money, and it’s true. It isn’t noble or a right thing to do, of course, but it’s something he had to do in order to support his younger siblings thanks to a certain teenage witch’s murdering their mother out of paranoia. “Life’s a bitch in the ninth” according to Vincent and Van Nguyen had to struggle to “put food on the table for his sisters”, implying his family was in a dire state of poverty after Kara’s death. If you think what happens to Davina is horror, try imagine the life of Van and Kara’s family after they lose not only their mother but also their brother. While Davina’s state is a kind of ‘fantasy’ horror, having her soul destroyed, the other horror is very real and it happens all over the world every day. Just because the showmakers only had a brief talk about it and never dwells on it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist and therefore not worth discussing.
Killing Van is an atrocious act since he dies for absolutely no purpose – he wasn’t responsible for Davina’s suffering, his death won’t bring her back, and he was hardly a threat to our heroes. Kol puts an end to him simply because he’s in pain and he inflicts pain on others as a kind of counter-mechanism, which is what he’s been used to pre-Davina. It’s neither Kol’s nor the Mikaelsons’ morality that I’m arguing here because frankly their morality is gloriously screwed; what disturbs me is the writers’ treatment of a character who is deemed minor and how the fandom just entirely let it pass their radar.
On a side note, I don’t get why Van just stood there like a helpless, non–magic person while he should have uttered a spell the moment he heard Kol. What good can come from an Original vampire who has just lost his love and is visibly seething with rage?
I have to strongly disagree with Vincent here because Davina WASN’T good. Not at all. She could use others for her advantage (summoning and using Mikael as a means to destroy the Mikaelsons, for instance) and she already tainted her hands with blood, and all of these make her NOT a good person following normal moral standards. So, either Vincent is consumed with grief and rage that his judgment is a bit clouded or he has really warped moral standards as he’s fully aware Davina murdered a fellow witch and indirectly caused the deaths of a few more (he was the one to expose her crime, wasn’t he?). Anyway, Davina was not good, nor was she evil; she had, like most other characters in this show, her good sides and her bad, which makes her a complex, relatable character worthy of being one of the female leads. I truly appreciate some of her fans who acknowledge both her light and her darkness instead of insisting she was an innocent child and did not deserve such cruel fate, which unnecessarily positions her as a victim she was never be; she was a player and she lost the game. Although I think ripping her soul apart is too harsh a punishment, I believe Davina somehow deserved it. The Ancestors are overzealous, extreme and whatever; however, they don’t hate her and want to wipe her out for no reason. When she died the first time, they isolated her but didn’t destroy her soul despite what she had done (helping Marcel to subdue the witch community); they didn’t try to murder her the entire season 2, and they even allowed her ascension to regency. They punish her for the crime she committed; why else they made Kara her punisher and not someone else? Kara never meant to kill her, not in broad daylight and in the presence of other witches – killing a witch is after all a severe offence of their law; furthermore, Davina, with her Regent status, had more powers than Kara, so Kara wasn’t a big enough threat that she must have resorted to extreme method to deal with. Out of many other (wiser and less brutal) options, she went with elimination like a tyrannical ruler. Anyway, it was the choice she made as a young adult, not a child, which she stopped being the moment she chose to get out from under Marcel’s wing and left the attic. From then on any choices she made were her own and she was well aware of their consequences – “I’m a New Orleans witch. I was born with blood on my hands.” She even told Marcel that she had grown up. If the character saw herself as an adult, I don’t get it while some of her fans insist that she was a child who was treated unfairly by adults.
Highlights of the episode:
- The music in this episode is spectacular. The song used in the scene where Freya breaks the circle and Davina is sent to the Ancestral plane is simply haunting, especially as the crescendo is in sync with Davina’s scream.
- The Hybrids’ bantering and then Klaus’s giving Hayley’s love advice. I may ship Klayley but never romantically, just close friends raising a child together.
- The Haylijah It’s been quite a while since the last time anything Haylijah-related stirred me. But this scene is marvelous: neither of them speaks a word, merely sharing the pain and burden in silence.
- Marcel and Davina’s heart-to-heart conversation
- The Civil War is truly happening.
- How many cars are the staff allowed to trash each season? I’m pretty impressed by the car crash.
- The fighting sequence is bloody awesome.
- I’m not the only one who feels uncomfortable watching Lucien’s execution, am I? I mean, is the face mutilation necessary?
- On the other hand, look how Klaus and Elijah work in perfect tandem when they torture and murder someone.
- I.P Lucien. You’ll be missed as the world’s first non-Original vampire and a very entertaining villain. Also, your “abs of a laborer”.
- Forever lament that he won’t stick around and we won’t get to know him better.
- What should we call Tristan and Aurora now as the Trinity is no more?
- At this point, I don’t think I would feel pain if they killed Tristan or Aurora or both in the last two episodes; I have become quite numb. If the writers could kill main characters who have gone through three seasons, I don’t see why they would show mercy towards two minor villains.
- Klaus’s jealously over Elijah and Rebekah’s sharing secret is weirdly adorably Klaus-ish.
- If my memory serves, Marcel joined the “stupid cult” out of his free will: he could have ignored Tristan’s offer but instead, he wore the tux and came to the Strix’s party, resulting in his membership. Elijah never asked him to join; in fact, he was uncomfortable seeing Marcel hanging out with his new ‘buddies’. Or he could have left the Strix after Aya’s death if he didn’t like it.
- I’m gonna put this blame to his overwhelming grief.
- The way Freya pulls Elijah to a corner as she divulges with him her newly discovered method to destroy Lucien really shows how close the two of them have gotten over the season. She trusts him to aid her with the plan when the time comes. Now they’re going to bear the weight of the sin together.