May 21, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “The Originals”


THE ORIGINALS has some recurring problems.  For one thing, since its antihero family the Mikaelsons are ageless supernaturals who emigrated to the US over the centuries, their foes–and even the family members who turn up from time to time, sometimes in new bodies–tend to be interchangeable Eurotrash.  It took effort this season to remember just how Tristan (Oliver Ackland) was different from Lucien (Andrew Lees), and that Kol (Nathaniel Buzolic) and Finn (Caspar Zafar) were actually Mikaelsons (especially, in the latter cases, because they were often trying to kill their siblings).  Also, since the Mikaelsons are super-powerful, most of them not just ancient vampires like Elijah (Daniel Gillies), but vampire/werewolf hybrids like Klaus (Joseph Morgan) or witches like Freya (Riley Voelkel), in order for them to be at risk in the narrative, the writers have to come up with ever more elaborate spells, potions and prophecies, which then require agonizing amounts of time to discover, explain and eventually defeat.  It’s all put The Originals into something of a rut.

Series creator Julie Plec and the rest of the writer/producers seemed to understand the need to introduce some variety into the series as Season 3 went on.  The sharpest change may have been a misguided one, the decision to kill off the cast’s token human Cami (Leah Pipes), Klaus’s soulmate, just when becoming a vampire had finally made her interesting.  In addition, uber-witch Davina (Danielle Campbell) is also currently although perhaps not as permanently dead, sacrificed by Freya to save Klaus.

With the various Euro-foes vanquished, tonight’s season finale, written by Executive Producer Diane Ademu-John and Beau DeMayo, and directed by Matt Hastings, went to some effort to leave the Mikaelsons in a different place than they’ve been thus far.  Longtime Mikaelson frenemy Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), jealous protege of Klaus, dear friend of Davina and one-time lover of Rebekah Mikaelson (Claire Holt, making one of her occasional guest star appearances), took the potion to make him the vampire hybrid supreme, and then bit Kol and Elijah (Freya had previously been poisoned, and Rebekah had her own curse that was going to turn her terminally insane), all of which required Klaus to endure a rather tiresome “trial” for his centuries of crimes, before being daggered in agony so that his siblings could go into suspended animation while Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin), mother of Klaus’s super-baby and recent lover of Elijah, had some time to search for cures for all their maladies.

Since the last we saw of the non-Klaus Mikaelsons, they were in the back of a truck being driven by Hayley out of New Orleans, a time jump seems likely for Season 4, and perhaps some new ideas.  (Klaus was being bricked up by Marcel when last seen.)  There’s fundamental strength to The Originals, with a solid cast led by Morgan and Gillies and plotting that holds together better than most genre tales, but the show has always been heavier and less amusing than The Vampire Diaries, from which it spun off, with characters who are constantly questioning the existential justice of their actions.  The series is being held for midseason (its slot going to its polar opposite, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), and although the calculations are different at CW, it would seem to be at risk unless it can broaden its low-rated appeal.  Its writers may need a spell of their own.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."