REVIEW: THE ORIGINALS – SEASON 1 & 2

MAIN CAST

Joseph Morgan (Hex)
Daniel Gillies (Young Hercules)
Claire Holt (Mean Girls 2)
Phoebe Tonkin (Bait)
Charles Michael Davis (The Game)
Daniella Pineda (The Detour)
Leah Pipes (Sorority Row)
Danielle Campbell (Prison Break)

Image result for the originals house of the rising sun
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Nathaniel Buzolic (Significant Mother)
Shannon Kane (Brooklyn’s Finest)
Eka Darville (Power Rangers RPM)
Callard Harris (Dallas)
Sebastian Roche (Odyssey 5)
Malaya Rivera Drew (The L Word)
Steven Krueger (Goosebumps)
Raney Branch (Ringside)
Todd Stashwick (Gotham)
Shannon Eubanks (The Patriot)
Yasmine Al-Bustami (Nashville)
Michael Trevino (The Vampire Diaries)
Elyse Levesque (Stargate Universe)
Peta Sergeant (Winners and Losers)
Chase Coleman (Boardwalk Empire)
Nathan Parsons (The Roommate)
Natalie Dreyfuss (2 Broke Girls)
Yusuf Gatewood (The Interpreter)
Daniel Sharman (Immortals)
Nishi Munshi (Bones)
Sonja Sohn (The Wire)
Colin Woodell (XOXO)
Alice Evans (102 Dalmations)
Lloyd Owen (Apollo 18)
Riley Voelkel (Prom)
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Legends of Tomorrow)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Veronica Mars)
Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries)
Meg Foster (Masters of The Universe)
Claudia Black (Stargate SG.1)

The Originals is a spin-off series based upon characters created and introduced in The Vampire Diaries, and it is a creation of writer Julie Plec, who is the head-writer and showrunner of both series. The concept of the show revolves around a group of characters referred to as being the ‘originals’ – i.e. the first vampires to ever exist. They also happen to be family. These original vampires have existed for centuries and have the longest history of all: a complex back-story which unfolds over the course of the series storytelling, which alternates back and forth with telling the long-running back-story of these original vampires while focusing on a modern day setting in New Orleans.The world of television has spawned an immensely high number of series that take on some sort of science fiction or supernatural aspect, and one of the most popular staples has been found in vampire tales: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood, and The Vampire Diaries being popular series chiefly placed amongst the pop culture echelon. Then there’s the fact that vampires are popular in films, too (including the teen-sensation series Twilight). Can another show join a lineup of other successful vampire-lore creations? It seems so, as The CW network has once again teamed with the creative mind behind The Vampire Diaries for another successful and entertaining entry in the genre’s growing list of successes.The cast consists of Klaus (Joseph Morgan), Elijah (Daniel Gillies), Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin), Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), Camille (Leah Pipes), Davina (Danielle Campbell), Sophie (Daniella Pineda), and Rebekah (Claire Holt).

The basic plot of the series is to revolve around the story of the original vampire family after they decide to return to their former home in New Orleans. Upon returning, the originals find that the land they once knew has changed a great deal and their home and rule has been replaced by a character they once considered their own: Marcel. Meanwhile, there is also a war is brewing between vampires and witches and things complicate with Marcel working with a powerful young witch named Davina, who has abilities that could pose a threat to all the vampires.

Image result for the originals house of the rising sunKlaus, Elijah, and Rebekah are the main characters of The Originals. They are each returning characters from the Vampire Diaries universe. Klaus continues to make things difficult for everyone with his typical brooding self getting into the way of other vampire’s own agendas. Klaus finds a friend in Camille, a psychologist major who starts to have an unlikely connection to him. Meanwhile, Klaus’s blood-line as a werewolf/vampire hybrid (and his one-night stand with Hayley) results in Hayley’s pregnancy and a cult following for a baby born to a vampire. Elijah acts as if a guardian vampire of sorts who keeps his word (but who can also go totally vampire-bananas at times, as “necessary”), and Rebekah is a insecure and lonely vampire who gets into lots of mischief, causing problems for the originals (amongst others), but who really just wants a friend by her side and to be a normal human again. Of course, these characters (and their back-stories) lead to lots of surprising revelations and storytelling detours over the course of the show.

Marcel is a past connection to the original vampires who is now calling himself ‘the king’ and is ruling over New Orleans vampires as a sort of leader-vampire who calls the shots and has a big company of “minions” working for him (so to speak). Marcel makes vampires do his bidding to keep New Orleans a vampire-safe haven. Vampires will do his bidding to try and earn ‘daylight rings’, which allow for a select few to live in the day. There’s a big history between Marcel and Kalus, too, as Klaus raised him when he was a boy.

Aside from the pilot, which combines too much footage found in the “backdoor pilot” produced on The Vampire Diaries Season 4 under the title “The Originals”, the series finds a distinct and interesting creative voice. The first episode is a bit disappointing for fans of both series as it had borrowed so much (some scenes were basically “copy and paste” versions already featured upon the former), The Originals is interesting, original, and well-made with quality writing/directing. Assembling a hugely talented group of people for the production, the series reunites many of the same behind-the-scenes crew who made The Vampire Diaries a huge success, from some of the cinematographers, to the costume designer, o the composer to the production designer. It’s a big family of creative talents who united to create this compelling drama series.

The Originals has many things in common with its predecessor – starting with the fact that the characters that predominately reside are many of the same characters featured on The Vampire Diaries, but now with expanded roles – and that the group of writers and directors responsible for making the program are largely from the same creative pool. Yet it’s still a standalone series that newcomers who aren’t as familiar to previous lore should be able to discover. It offers a slightly different storytelling approach, though stylistically it shares a lot in common. If one can like The Vampire Diaries then they will surely enjoy The Originals, and vice-versa, so there’s certainly room for the show to both be followed by longtime fans of the characters and perhaps by new audience members.

There have been so many vampire series and films that the market seems flooded with them and it can be a bit frustrating to see so many stories being told simultaneously with this concept. It’s certainly a concept that has been done again and again, and shows no signs of going anywhere. Yet the good news is that there are still writers who are telling vampire stories with writing of note, who are drawing forth more interesting elements by focusing on the dramatic elements more than anything else. This is a perfect example of what is happening here: the writing is elementally the main key to the quality of the program, and in this case, that’s a good thing. The writing here is solid. Fans of quality storytelling who have an inclination towards the supernatural genre will find this to be a well-produced, written, directed, and acted program. Without a good storyline backdrop, one could easily see The Originals being a faltering series. Yet there was more than enough storytelling potential for the core group of characters as seen in the storyline its parent series offered, and the writers have expanded on that universe of ideas so that a fully-fledged program can exist. This is a series well worth seeing out as one of the more interesting programs currently on air. Television viewers who enjoy a well told story will find much to appreciate.

Now that The Originals has made it to season two, the writers aren’t wasting any time with formalities. “Rebirth” brings back some familiar names with brand spanking new faces. This episode doesn’t really introduce viewers to the returning characters, as it makes the broad generalization that you’re already familiar with them from The Vampire Diaries – despite their dramatic new looks. Instead, it delves right into the setting the stage for a reunion that is sure to be memorable.

The Originals branded its second season a family reunion, and that’s exactly what the season premiere sets into motion. The Guerreros are out, and once again the Mikaelson’s are back in – all of them. It’s only a matter of time before Rebekah (Claire Holt) is lured back to New Orleans, and then the fun will really begin. In the meantime, Klaus (Joseph Morgan) has both parents and all his other siblings to occupy his schedule – good thing he doesn’t have changing diapers to distract him from whatever is coming.

Having Claire Holt leave the show full-time was hard last year, but there was a definite sense that she would be coming back, if only for an episode here and there (as has been the case). Now, that’s not a feeling The Originals mid-season finale leaves you with – Claire Holt is no longer occupying the role of Rebekah Mikaelson, and it seems that the whole body-jumping plotline was just leading us to this point.

Rebekah has been around since season three of The Vampire Diaries and, while she never got as much of the spotlight as Klaus, she has been a huge presence ever since. I wrote last week that Claire Holt gives the character something that can’t be replaced, and I honestly don’t know if the show can make me accept another actress as the face of Rebekah. It’ll be hard to keep an open mind, even I’m a little ashamed to admit it.But the episode Map of the Moments was great, with vintage moments for every single character. The long-awaited reunion between Hayley, Klaus and baby Hope didn’t disappoint, for starters, and provided a brief moment of happiness and contentment for a family so often at loggerheads. The moment in which they took a family photo mere moments before having to burn it should have been jarring and ridiculous, but it was actually the highlight of the hour. Looking back on that knowing what would happen to Rebekah by the end makes it even more heartbreaking, and a little bit of sunshine and happiness, albeit still tinged with sadness, was welcome in a show.The Revelation about Freya (the other Mikaelson Sister) being alive was a brilliant revelation along with Esthers sister Dahlia who is hellbent on taking baby hope. this leads to a series of events that brings us to the finale of season 2 . Season two of The Originals puts to rest the oldest family war and instills in its place a familiar mark between warring siblings. Lullabies are spoken and promises are made for the good of innocence and the threat of new evil likely to rear its head in New Orleans come the fall. All in all, the king of wolves and vamps settles in, ready to settle into fatherhood unaware of the future, but believing he has control of it.

There was some gorgeous imagery that fit in quite nicely upon the climax of “Ashes to Ashes.” The episode stood on its own and provided a much needed finality to the old generation of Mikaelsons and their sophisticated rival, Dhalia. The most fascinating aspect was of course how the battle played itself out, leaving the final segments as all too familiar approaches to goodbyes and promises of sardonic revenge. In many ways, it was the highlight of the season saving the best for last.

After linking with Dalia, Klaus stabs himself with the dagger and the two are returned to torpor. Elijah recovers Hope with Freya as Rebekah returns to her original body as a vampire once more. Convinced of Klaus’s plan, Elijah burns the body of their original mother and swaps the ashes with Kol’s when Davina attempts to user her “one time” ability to harness the coven’s power and use resurrection. Instead of Kol, Esther is brought back and captured immediately by the Mikaelsons. Dalia, still possessing power, melts the dagger in Klaus, awakens, steals Freya, and escapes. Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah later confront Dalia but are subdued by splinters of the white oak stake being ingested through Dalia’s power. Esther distracts Dalia long enough for Klaus to impale the two of them finally killing them both. In a final scene with the pair as their younger selves, Esther relents that she should have stayed by Dalia’s side. The two forgive each other and perish together. Later, during the full moon, Hayley makes Elijah promise to look after Hope even though he had no intention to remain at Klaus’s side. Freya magically heals Rebekah’s human body and Rebekah once more inhabits it with plans to decide which she intends to stay in at a later time. Klaus and Camille share a drink as both are essentially still awkward around each other but later, Klaus settles in with Hope in his arms, commenting on a new chapter in their lives.I had fun watching this season and it leaves you wanting me, with season 3 shapeing up to just as fun, it shows that a spin-off can work.

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