by Ryan J. Downey
Julie Plec had her work cut out for her with last night's series premiere of "The Originals."
"The Vampire Diaries" executive producer created and launched the new drama about the Original vampire family via what the television industry calls a "backdoor pilot": a tester of sorts disguised as an episode of "The Vampire Diaries." That maneuver doesn't always work (sorry about your luck, Dwight Schrute centered spin-off from "The Office"), but this one passed with flying colors.
The appropriately titled "Always and Forever" series premiere had the difficult challenge of establishing a new show for folks who've never seen "TVD" (and seriously, who are those people?), while pleasing longtime fans of the Mystic Falls mythology. And the way the season premiere was able to simultaneously serve audiences both old and new was nothing short of excellent to say the least.
"Always and Forever" retraced the bloody footprints of the backdoor pilot (with scenes both old and new), but from the vantage point of Elijah. There were also some flashbacks to the supernatural beginnings of the Mikaelson family, including Klaus' first werewolf transformation (thanks to mama Mikaelson's elicit furball affair). The episode kicked off with the Originals' ultra gory arrival in New Orleans some 300 years ago, with a couple of the brothers magically daggered away in boxes, and very hungry Elijah, Klaus and Rebekah feasting upon some poor unfortunate souls at the conclusion of a long ocean journey, during which they apparently had eaten the crew.
"The Vampire Diaries" season premiere may have given all of us Claire Holt admirers an early Halloween treat with that steamy threesome(!), but "The Originals" series premiere wasn't without its delicious Rebekah moment, either. When Elijah called her back in Mystic Falls to tell her what Klaus was up to in New Orleans, we found the unimpressed and uninterested bombshell in the bath.
Elijah was introduced on "The Vampire Diaries" as a harbinger of sorts for big-bad Klaus, the evil hybrid who had chased Katherine for centuries in order to harvest her magical doppelgänger blood in order to make new hybrids. While Klaus may have crushed on Caroline and brooded about being alienated and lonely from time to time, he pretty much stayed consistently evil. Elijah, on the other hand, offered several glimpses of humanity, particularly in his kindness toward Elena, always placing family first even in light of betrayal.
"Always and Forever" actually concluded with yet another betrayal from magic dagger happy Klaus. But more on that later.
We watched Elijah play detective throughout the episode, learning through his perspective about how Klaus' protege, Marcel, had become vampire bossman of New Orleans in Klaus' absence. Elijah was appalled by how Marcel's crew kills people in public. He was also mystified by Marcel's mysterious control over the town's witches, who aren't allowed to practice magic under penalty of death.
Speaking of the backdrop of "The Originals," here's a new drinking game: Have a sip every time somebody says "gumbo."
It was great to see Phoebe Tonkin back in action. Phoebe was the breakout star of the ill-fated series "The Secret Circle," which shared an executive producer with "The Vampire Diaries," in "Dawson's Creek" and "Scream" creator Kevin Williamson. Phoebe was part of a teen mermaid trio alongside Claire Holt in the Australian TV series "H2O: Just Add Water." It was nice to see Claire's pal added to "TVD" crew as werewolf gal Hayley following the untimely demise of "The Secret Circle," and she's moved over to "The Originals" now, as well.
Hayley still has a bunch of mysteries to uncover regarding her origins, but the biggest revelation of the backdoor pilot (which was explored in more depth last night) was that Hayley is somehow pregnant with Klaus' baby. Vampires aren't supposed to be able to have kids, but apparently the whole werewolf hybrid aspect of Klaus biology made him an exception. The witches of New Orleans want to overthrow Marcel and they need Klaus to do it, so they were holding Hayley hostage hoping to leverage him with the unborn child.
But Klaus is super evil most of the time, remember? He refused to be controlled by Elijah, who feeling sympathy for Hayley, vowed to protect her and to bring his brother around to colluding with the neighborhood spell casters. We saw a lot more of Sophie, the mourning sister of the witch Jane-Anne who was brutally killed in the streets by Marcel. She was the one who told Elijah about the baby. Elijah later explained how it could have all happened to Hayley, giving us another batch of killer flashbacks to the Originals', um, origins.
We also learned that the spell Jane-Anne gave her life for was a spell linking her sister to Hayley, sort of the way Katherine and Elena were linked on "The Vampire Diaries." It was basically yet another way to incentivize the Mikaelsons into working with them. In order to protect Hayley, they will have to protect Sophie as well, because if something happens to her... Well, you get the picture.
Klaus and Elijah ended up fighting, of course, but all seemed to finally be forgiven when Elijah apologized to Klaus for not standing up to their father sooner on his behalf. Klaus agreed to donate some of his magical blood to that Marcel minion he gave the werewolf death bite to in order to prove a point, sealing the secret deal Elijah had made where Marcel promised to give Jane-Anne's body back to the witches (something about having to bury her witch style for her spirit to rest, lest it wander around like Bonnie and her Grams?).
Klaus ended the backdoor pilot pretending to make peace with Marcel, too, but we all know how much Klaus can be trusted. As we suspected, it was revealed that's all a ploy. He's plotting and scheming to take back his city with the bloody quickness.
Plec has revealed that Elijah was originally written just to introduce Klaus and shove-off, but New Zealander Daniel Gillies was so charming in the role that they just kept writing more for him to do. Elijah had plenty to do in this episode by explaining all kinds of things to the audience, recapping where we've been and expanding upon the foundations for where the show is headed.
Now surely Elijah wouldn't just get stuck back in a box after all of that, right? RIGHT?!
You'd think Elijah would have learned his lesson over the centuries (as Rebekah seemed to have) but no, he's standing right there on the receiving end of a dagger as Klaus tells him, "Family makes you weak."
"If I'm going to win this war, I have to do it alone."
What did you think of "The Originals" premiere?