Warnings: no warnings whatsoever unless you by odd chance haven’t watched the season finale…
…which was aired three weeks ago. I watched the episode right after its airing but delayed writing the review. Half of the blame fell on my chronic slothfulness and half fell on my recent obsession with a certain young actor. Anyway, what must be done cannot be postponed forever so here it is, my final episodic review for the third season of The Originals.
There’s just so many things to talk about in this episode – the beauty of the love between the Mikaelsons, most visibly in Klaus’s ultimate sacrifice, how Hayley has finally become a Mikaelson, how Marcel has turned into the new Klaus, albeit without the family part to help redeem himself, etc. – that I end up not having much to say about it. I remember sitting in front of my laptop, silently watching the 45 minutes of bittersweetness and being overwhelmed with emotions: sad, hurt, angry, moved and hopeful; but to put all those emotions into incoherent words is too difficult a task and I had decided right back then that I wouldn’t; each of us has our way of expressing our feelings towards the episode; still, one thing in common is that most of us are touched by the combined effort of the production crew and the actors. It’s in episodes like that the core of the entire series shines: Always and forever – Family above all.
Let us give a long, resounding applause to the characters for getting through the episode alive (though on the verge of death). There were many rumors and speculations circulated around the fandom and the idea of one more major death in the season finale was juggling by the producers themselves, so most of us would probably watch the episode with growing anxiety or fear for our favorite characters’ lives. Kol was the most popular guess since 1. Nate Buzolic has remained a guest star so far and 2. Kol died not once but twice already; third time’s a charm and what could stop the producers from repeating history? Rebekah was the second-most popular guess because Claire Holt, like Buzolic, has been a (special) guest star, who could leave the show on a sad but otherwise expected note. And then there were rumors the third major death would be Freya as she is the only mortal in a family of immortals and more often than not has fallen into the “squishy mage” trope. The fear gains a lot more ground when only a couple minutes into the episode, Kol and Elijah have been bitten by Marcel and Freya is poisoned (again). It would be three deaths in total and undoubtedly a devastating blow to the series in general, but thank goodness, the crisis is brilliantly averted by Freya’s spell and Klaus’s sacrifice (the second thing to thank dear late Aunt Dahlia after the fertility spell). In short, none of our beloved characters, including Marcel, has to say farewell and although they all have “fallen”, by family, friend, foe or all three, the Mikaelsons will definitely rise again, stronger and more united, to fight and take back what they have lost.
The gem of this show is that in the direst situation, the Mikaelson siblings will swipe aside their differences and conflicts to stand together as one. We see Rebekah stopping Marcel so that her brothers could retreat. We see Rebekah reinforce a truth that really needs no reinforcement (but still touching to hear), that she will always and forever choose her family. We see Rebekah and Klaus working together to turn the odds to their favor and emerging ‘victorious’ in terms that their plan succeeds and the whole family live to see another day. We see Klaus coming to his brother Elijah with a heartfelt confession: “I can’t do this without you”, and the latter, looking worse for wear, giving his younger sibling courage in a firm embrace. Klelijah shipper or non-Klelijah shipper, each of us feels the love and trust brimming between the brothers. It’s even more touching as they began the season with a deep “ravine” (to quote Daniel Gilles) between them and have incessantly antagonized each other. In the previous episode Klaus was even mad at Elijah for eliminating Marcel. Nonetheless, in the face of threat, they immediately prove that they are true family, bound by blood, a millennium-old lasting vow and above all, a love that has been many a time tried, abused, shredded and yet is not lost, never lost. Their love is both their damnation, as they have accumulated countless enemies in its name, and their salvation – their shining hope in the darkest hours. Romance comes and goes, ships sail and sink but the love between the Mikaelson siblings remains strong as always.
Such love explains Kol’s revolving attitude with Freya, whom he severely chastised in their last encounter; he even proclaimed to leave his siblings behind to live or to die on their own. His words were harsh, yet in the end he didn’t. Some might think Kol’s characterization has serious issues, but I believe he isn’t OOC at all. Kol has three things that he regards as important in his life: his magic, Davina and his family; now that he has lost his magic and Davina, he only has his siblings. Kol knows that even though they have hurt him in a way that requires a long time to make amends, they are the only ones he has in this world. He has no friends, his love is dead and if he lost them, he would not be able to go on with his life. So it’s understandable that the moment he hears Klaus’s enemies are gathering, he joins them. He may not forgive Freya (and Elijah) yet; however, it is not the time to start a civil war while their enemies are rallying outside their door. I admit the scenes between Kol and Freya are not very well handled – it would have been better if they had had a few more words instead of postponing the matter to the next season. Maybe, just maybe we will get to see it in the deleted cuts.
I’d like to talk a little about Marcel, the Beast and true antagonist of this season. What he’s done to the Mikaelsons is neither right nor wrong, just understandable given what they have done to him. And yet, somehow he has a delusion that by driving the Mikaelsons out of New Orleans, he is doing the whole city a huge favor. He isn’t, as Marcel proves to not be any better than his family; he is exactly like them: ruthless, calculating, hypocritical and above all, having little to no regard to human lives, or collateral damage. I’m glad there is at least one Vincent to call him out on his actions (but honestly how the hell could Vincent think someone raised by the Mikaelsons be any different from them? Vincent wasn’t in Nola during Marcel’s reign?!). On the surface, Marcel appears on the triumphant side – he’s utterly strong, he rules again and there’s no stronger creature to threaten him – and the Mikaelsons, the defeated. Nevertheless, their defeat brings them together and tightens their bond; each of the Mikaelsons is fearsome on their own right but their true power lies in family. As for Marcel, he is undeniably alone now: family lost, subordinates (the Strix) killed by his own hands and allies turned opponents while the bunch of rascals he has summoned are by no means allies or friends. So on the bloody throne the king sits by himself, vulnerable to attacks. I bet it won’t be long before Marcel realizes the kind of stand-alone-powerful is not the kind that lasts.
Highlights of the episode:
- Klaus’s apologizing to Hayley and placing his trust in her. Klaus, the megalomaniac, paranoid, control-freak Klaus apologizes and admits his mistakes. That’s one hell of character development.
- Klaus’s sacrifice so that his family get to live
- Klaus’s letter to Hope. Let’s hope he will be back with her before she learns to say “Papa”.
- Klaus’s unapologetic “I’m your maker”
- Hayley’s finally a Mikaelson. She’s made her choice and it’s with them.
- Where’s the sneak little peak of Hope’s powers as teased????
- Vincent’s “The King is dead. All hail the King.” Yusuf Gatewood delivers the sarcasm so well. His “Consequences be damned” also counts.
- Klaus’s look of horror as he witnesses his two brothers being bitten. Joseph Morgan doesn’t only act it, he lives it and makes us feel it.
- Freya’s utilizing the same spell that inhibited her to save her family
- “Don’t fear the Reaper.”
- Freya’s beautiful dream world
- Rebekah’s returning to her family and staying with them
- Elijah and Hayley’s moments
- Hayley’s chaste kiss to the slumbering Elijah
- I’m not the only one to mourn the destruction of the Mikaelson house, aren’t I?
- One word for Marcel’s gathered bunch: uncivil
Since it’s the season finale, which means I won’t get to see those endearing monsters until January (what the actual hell?!), I think I should do a sort-of summary of what I like and what I don’t about this season.
What I like:
- Freya is accepted and loved by the family she always yearned for and in turn, she’s fought with the ferocity of a tigress to protect her younger siblings. Any doubt of her character and commitment to her family at the end of season 2 has been wiped clean during the course of season three.
- How Hayley has finally been integrated into the Mikaelsons. It should have happened long ago as she was bearing a Mikaelson child and she’s proven to share a lot of similar traits with the Mikaelsons. It’s kind of annoying to see her swing back and forth between being ‘in’ and being ‘out’. She’s made her choice and that’s one of the greatest points of this season.
- Kol’s resurrection. After so much pressure from fans, the producers finally decided to bring their favorite Original back, played by none other than the original actor. Daniel Sharman was wonderful in his portrayal of Kol but it was Nate Buzolic that left such a profound impression with the fans – it’s impossible to forget his boyish rascal look as he casually swung the baseball bat… on Damon’s face. If we had to make a choice between them, Nate would probably win by a hairbreadth.
- Finn’s return, however brief it is. At least this time he dies in the arms of his siblings, surrounded by familial love as compared to his first, sudden and lonely death. This time, he makes peace with his family and has the chance to bid farewell before leaving. Bonus point: the touching funeral scene where Finn is mourned by all of them sans Rebekah.
- Character development of the Mikaelsons. They are a vivid example that living beings change as they live (though technically speaking most of them aren’t “living beings”). Even for thousand-year-old creatures, they are capable of development – to act out of what is expected of them. The most notable examples are Klaus and Elijah. Elijah has grown far out of the “Knight in shining armor” image others wrongly cut for him. He can be monstrous, he can be hypocritical and he is capable of destroying to serve his purpose. And instead of hurting his siblings, Klaus now puts them before himself. Still, despite the changes, the core of their characters: their devotion to their family remains the same.
- The general suspense hanging above the last episodes. The producers have played into our reassurance that main characters won’t die no matter what their predicament is, and then knocked the chair from under us. The grim prospect that anyone can perish heightens the anxiety and adds a more realistic touch to our already dark show (I’d find a show with a mature theme unrealistic if the heroes and heroines’ plot armor is too thick).
- The introduction of intriguing characters – the Trinity and Aya. It wouldn’t be boasting to say they produce enough material to run a spinoff show.
What I don’t:
- Though I appreciate the realistic sense that anyone can die, I’m still shaken by the loss of familiar faces. I guess once we’ve gotten used to seeing them in the show we will want them to stay whether we are their fans or not.
- The underdevelopment of potential minor characters. Season 3 cast some new faces and so far, only the Trinity and to some extent, Aya, are note-worthy. Will, who could have had a thicker plot considering his rocky experiences with the supernatural, is written pretty flat; he is kind of be there to aid when other characters need something done and as a result, has no plot of his own. The same goes for Van Nguyen, who also exists to serve a few purposes and then dies an obscure death. Let’s not mention Cortez, Sofya and Adrianne, who are all one-episode wonders.
- In contrast to characters whose plots are too thin, there are characters whose are too thick they end up being underdeveloped, such as Lucien, Aurora, Tristan and Aya. It would have been nice if we had been given a few glimpses of Lucien’s madness, how he and Klaus “painted the town red” back in the day, Tristan’s struggles with his sister’s problems and Aurora’s inner conflicts between her love for Tristan and her desire to be free from him. It would have been wonderful if we had gotten a peak of how the three young vampires survived Mikael or under what circumstance did Aya and Elijah meet. None of those happen and heck, we didn’t even get to see Tristan’s turning while the other two were shown! The producers and actors promised viewers a flashback-heavy season and it was a blatant lie: it has fewer flashback scenes than the previous seasons although the threading plot involves a lot of past affairs. Isn’t it a big sarcasm how the tag line is “Fight the past” while the past is obscure and generally crammed into dialogues instead of being focused?
- The Strix, big disappointment, period. They were introduced as the world’s oldest vampire society, which has been around for several centuries. They gave an impression they would be great element to the plot and yet, and yet they, save Tristan and Aya, were mostly faceless. After Aya’s death, they were reduced to mere sidekicks running amok in the background, waiting to be killed by Marcel in the season finale. I mean, what the hell?? An ancient vampire society completely, irredeemably wasted. The writers of The Originals have a major issue in writing here: they are capable of creating amazing, intriguing materials and instead of using them to their full potential, they just dumped them down the drain.