Episode grade: 8
Whenever I described The Vampire Diaries as the best show on television, I got one of two reactions. Either immediate and wholehearted agreement, or a skeptical smirk, followed by an admission that while they’d never seen it, they found that hard to imagine. At that point, I would always explain that TVD had a tightness of storytelling and a faith in their material that made it a wholly satisfying journey, on which you were able to trust the navigators. That after the profound disappointment of shows like Lost and Battlestar Galactica, it was a glorious experience to know the showrunners had a plan; that after years of watching Lost string us along with hints of a larger story, only to realize they were desperately milking the thinnest of threads, it was incredible to watch a show develop carefully crafted story arcs and well-drawn villains, only to see them resolve those epic-seeming arcs in an episode or two, because they weren’t afraid to move on; they knew the next idea was as good or better than the one before. It was fearless, tight storytelling the likes of which we have rarely seen in any long-form medium.
The Originals, having sprung out of TVD, with Julie Plec at the helm, does hew to that breakneck pace, and that’s part of why it works as well as it does. Last week ended with the audience’s awareness of the Hollow’s infecting Klaus and Marcel. A lesser show would draw that out for a week or two, showing us the furtive behavior and slowly dawning suspicions of their friends and family, before finally letting the characters in on the secret the audience already knows. But this is a Julie Plec show, so we don’t waste time with filler stories like that. Marcel has realized what is going on, and he’s already seeking help from witches (awkward as that is, considering how much he’s oppressed them over the last fifty years or so!). Klaus has figured it out, too, so he sends Hope to visit Grandma Mary in the Bayou.
This episode takes a page from Buffy, with the Hollow taking the form of various tormentors, à la The First Evil. It appears to Klaus as Mikael (his father), to Marcel as both Elijah and Klaus (his father figures). Daddy issues on parade! Turns out the Hollow wants these two to fight to the death because either one would be a powerful blood sacrifice to allow the Hollow a permanent anchor to our world.
Freya helpfully hands over the weapon she’s devised to kill Marcel, before realizing that is exactly what the Hollow wants. (Strangely, when she takes it back later, she does so seemingly out of frustration that Klaus didn’t kill Marcel, rather than the very rational recognition that we can’t afford to kill Marcel at a time when it would benefit a much deadlier foe.)
What I’m really not buying is whatever’s going on between Freya and Keelin. I believed Keelin got sick of fighting a losing battle, even that she accepted that her interests were temporarily served by her alignment with the Mikaelsons. But now they’re friendly, even flirtatious, and I don’t buy this lightning-fast relationship transition. As CinemaSins would put it, I guess they’re playing at the power of ladyboners being stronger. Plus Stockholm Syndrome.
There’s a big fight, of course, and Marcel’s blood is spilled in the abandoned shack where Vincent encountered the Hollow glow; from the blood grows a thorny vine that will supposedly kill an Original. Oh, and Marcel’s girl Friday is a traitor, but he’s got more immediate concerns; he’s in the cell where Klaus spent the last five years.
What did you think of this episode? Are you buying the new dynamic between Keelin and Freya?