Thursday, May 15, 2014

Originals, Season 1, Episode 22: From Cradle to Grave

We begin with an artsy montage – Klaus and Hayley being cute together while Hayley writes a letter to her baby – before we see her dragged onto the altar by the witches and Klaus pinned by their magic.

Hayley gives birth to a baby girl – and then Monique slits Hayley’s throat and she breaks Klaus’s neck as they leave with his baby.

Elijah arrives to find Klaus cradling Hayley’s body – Klaus says she’s dead. The brothers grieve and Klaus realises Elijah has been bitten by a werewolf – and gives Elijah his blood. No debate, no negotiation or battling – just gives it to him. Klaus says he was “bested” which Elijah doesn’t take as a reasonable excuse – but they go searching for the baby, Elijah losing that remarkable emotional control. They go to the graveyward, but the witches have cast a spell making it infinitely big

Elijah has a beautiful emotional break about how he let Hayley in – when he never lets anyone in – and Klaus’s endless scheming and enemies have resulted in her death.

Davina sees the carnage caused by Francesca and the Guerrera werewolves and realises all the vampires needs Klaus’s blood to survive – she goes to the place Klaus fought Marcel to use magic to summon his blood from the pavement.

She takes it back to Marcel who says there’s only enough there for one. Davina cries that she can’t choose; Marcel tells her to save Josh because he’s one of his people and he will look after everyone else. Davina is still hallucinating Mikael and Marcel wants to get more blood from Klaus – so Camille takes him to Kieren’s stockpile of weapons, grabbing a Devil’s Star. 1 throw can make a thousand cuts.

In the church, Hayley has laid on the altar – but her wound is gone. She gasps and is alive. Wouldn’t a pregnant woman die with some of her baby’s blood in her system? And if said baby were a hybrid – a super special hybrid – would that make the mother a hybrid/vampire herself?

She remembers the witches took her baby and she does not look happy. She goes and joins Elijah and Klaus in the endless graveyard and they confirm that Hayley is in transition to hybrid-dom. But to be fully reborn she needs to drink the blood of her daughter.

Monique also doesn’t want Genevieve to kill the baby. Not because she has any compunction about baby slaughter – but because, with Genevieve dead, the last Harvest Girl (Cassie) can be restored.

Hayley leads the two men to her daughter using mystical hybrid-hunger senses. But Monique and other-harvest-girl-whose-name-I-can’t-remember-because-she-is-so-going-to-die channel their baby killing ancestors – in the graveyard where they’re super powerful – to hold them off, summoning thousands of ancestors to ghost in now and then with telekinesis.

Which ends when Klaus throws a metal fence rail through the other-harvest-girl-who-just-did-die. Really, Monique, you didn’t expect the vampires to throw shit? She runs to do the sacrifice herself – and Marcel throws the throwing star of a hundred cuts at her – and runs off with the baby.

Davina has her own ill thought out random plan, using items stolen from Camille’s stockpile, she casts a spell to bring Mikael back from the dead. Who then promptly goes to the all the injured, dying vampires and starts eating (Mikael only eats vampire blood).

Klaus follows Marcel to where he’s surrounded by his vampires – who are all dead, thanks to Mikael (well done Davina!) Klaus assumes the Guerrera werewolves came to finish the vampires off – and offers Marcel his blood. And Marcel accepts responsibility for everything for bringing Mikael to town a century ago (which is an awfully one sided version of events). Klaus tells Marcel they’ll hunt down their enemies – looks like they’re on the same team. Klaus holds his daughter and looks so very cute even with the blood stained mouth - watched by Mikael holding the white oak stake.

But he doesn’t get to murder Klaus – because Davina has cast a spell as part of the resurrection to control him. She now can control his every move, make him kneel – and drag him to her loft to use when she chooses.

Genevieve is chained up by Elijah and Hayley and she tells them about the ancestor’s decree – Esther’s decree. After all, Mummy Original tried to kill them all before. Genevieve warns them that the witches of New Orleans, led by the Ancestors, will continue to attack. Genevieve says she’s sorry as the Ancestors begin to kill her – and Hayley stabs her. She’s not sorry. Not one bit. Elijah seems quite perturbed by this.

Back in the house, Klaus sums up the problems – the witches will keep attacked because of Esther (are there any witches left!?) and the Guerrera wolves will keep attacking because Hayley and the baby are werewolf royalty and therefore a challenge to their authority. How can they keep her safe

Hayley has an amazing moment where she tells them how she promised her baby she wouldn’t grow up like she did – sent away and unloved – but on her first day granny wants to shank the child and her own mother needs to drink her blood to become a hybrid. She realises her parents were right – with so many people after the child, hunting the child, the only way to save her will be to send her away. While they stay behind and “clean up the mess they’ve made.” Klaus has a plan to ensure she isn’t hunted

Francesca holds a big press conference about the “gang violence” and making the city safe again by removing the undesirable element. i.e. vampires. Marcel takes the chance to talk to Oliver, one of Francesca’s lackies, to make a deal or he’ll set Klaus on him. Oliver doesn’t believe Klaus will side with Marcel over the wolfpack he created – but Marcel warns him he’ll tell Klaus that the wolves killed his kid: and shows Oliver a box. Whatever’s in that box horrifies Oliver and Marcel says to cremate it if they don’t want Klaus to smell it on them

Camille looks at the memorial wall of people who died during the gang violence and, among them, she sees a plaque for “baby Mikaelson”. She’s immensely upset and rushes to Klaus who tells Camille the baby is dead, but also ensures Camille doesn’t blame herself for not uncovering Francesca’s plot earlier. He tells Camille she has to stay away from him because she’s right – he is plagued by his demons that destroy everything he finds beautiful. Like her.

Klaus and Elijah consult – Marcel used a stillborn’s body and agreed to have his memory wiped, in exchange he gets vials of Klaus’s blood to protect against werewolf bites. They just have to sell it to the witches – and the 4th risen harvest girl. Elijah and Hayley go to the mourning wall to make their grief public

While Klaus passes the baby to the only one they trust to keep her safe. Rebekah. Klaus makes his goodbyes with the baby – and gives her the little toy he gave Rebekah a thousand years before. The baby is called Hope.

In the graveyward, Cassie wakes up and places a rose on the grave of Esther. A Black man appears and says “may you rest in peace” to which she says “what’s the fun in that?” He calls her mother

So Esther has possessed Cassie and resurrected Finn both in new bodies? The Originals are all coming back!

Some very stellar performances in this last episode – a lot of very real emotion and some real power behind it all – not just hollow angst.

The Originals make difficult protagonists and make for very… dubious decisions on both their part and the part of their enemies. They have to make dubious decisions because it’s the only way they can not just easily win. And their enemies make strange decisions in challenging them in the first place – the witches want to sacrifice Klaus’s child for power – but what power will be worth the three surviving Originals spending the rest of eternity destroying your coven? Because even Rebekah’s going to be hella pissed over this. “We’re in our graveyard, our place of power” uh-huh, going to spend the rest of your life there?

The innumerable people who decide to throw down the grudgy gauntlet against the Originals – Genevieve, Celeste etc etc – but when facing immortals it can only end one way.

Or there’s Marcel – constantly throwing his vampires at an unbeatable force. He SAW what happened when he attacked Klaus before, sure it was the Guerrera wolves who bit them, but it was Elijah who took on his entire army and put them down. He could just as easily have staked them while they were helpless – and there was no way he could have been sure Klaus wouldn’t have got in the biting anyway. Frankly, the utter destruction of the vampires and the witches wasn’t only likely, but an inevitable conclusion of what is going to happen whenever ANYONE puts themselves on the Originals’ shit list in block capitals.

But even this whole situation comes from Klaus’s “mistakes”. Some of them are in character – his arrogance and refusal to meet Marcel halfway or work with Marcel. But he started scheming to take over the city with his enhanced werewolves as soon as he had all the factions in line – he quite literally schemed to take the city off himself. If he had worked with Elijah to bring peace and added his threat in a united front maybe they could have achieved something – but instead he creates the Guerrera’s moonlight rings because… because…. Because?

It says a lot about the quality of the acting and the compelling nature of the characters that the show was still great fun to watch despite these, what could really be considered, fundamental, difficulty in the core concept of the Originals. I think the next season may address that more with Mikael and Esther – the show has brought back people who can play at the Originals’ level.

This fundamental problem carries through to the use of race on the show. The Originals family is White and any POC have been firmly in the opposition camp. From numerous, quickly killed (in large numbers) of Black witches (dead dead dead and more dead) including Monique (dead) and Papa Tunde (dead) and Celeste (dead), to Black vampires (aaaaalllll dead) including Diego (dead). This is a large number of POC characters who just die and die and die.

Next season it seems Francesca (I believe that actress is part Malay while she’s playing a Latina woman) will be one of the big bads (though not the MAIN big bad) and even Finn has been resurrected into the body of a Black man. So we’re setting up POC enemies again.

Marcel is the only POC on the show who isn’t an enemy to kill (who is killed successfully) but his storyline is as – if not more – problematic. At best, Marcel is the wayward son to be brought into line (infantilising), at worst he’s uppity and above himself. He isn’t killed because they don’t want to kill him, they want him to Know His Place. No dating Rebekah (yes, Klaus is big on the vagina policing, but the dominant theme here was Marcel and Rebekah – he didn’t hunt down Matt when he and Rebekah went on their world tour), he’s not good enough for that. No running the city he built. No living in the home he maintained. Don’t presume to be Klaus’s equal, don’t presume to have any rights to what he’s built and made. Marcel’s whole story is one of Klaus trying to hammer him back in place, of Marcel trying to assert his own rights over what he made and of him finally seeming to accept his subservient status after being punished by losing everything.

And there’s Davina. Marcel’s concern for her was supposed to add to his character and he certainly got some use from her from the beginning, but even then that “use” was countered by a lot of softly-softly approach and quickly crumbled. But Davina is a master of minority servants – exhibit Josh. Josh was a tool, this whole season. He was created randomly to be Klaus’s tool, then Marcel made him a tool then Klaus then Marcel – who knows which one owned him at some point? Then Davina stepped in and he became her tool – occasionally leant to Camille. There’s no real reason for Josh to be connected to any of these people, but he lives to serve up to and including willing to sacrifice his life for Davina. When Davina doesn’t need Josh to grow her storyline then Josh disappears. Josh has no storyline, no characterisation, no interest or existence outside of the people who use him – which is the quintessential definition of a GBF. In terms of inclusion of LGBT character in the Originals/Vampire Diaries Universe this makes him one of the best – but since it’s a field of 4 and they’re all bad to awful to DEAR GODS NO – that’s not saying much.

We do have a large number of female characters – a large number of which are problematic especially Rebekah (who is so much weaker than her brothers) and Klaus and his sexuality policing. Hayley also spent a large part of the early season being the precious holy womb while Davina was the shut in Mcguffin and Camille a love interest who was regularly mind wiped and pushed into different beds.

And a lot of women died. Women were heavily represented among the witches and they have been dying in large numbers (seriously, how many witches are there in this city).

But women did pull it back somewhat in the later series. Francesca may be a villain, but she’s intelligent, capable, crafty (and soon to be eaten). Genevieve wasn’t great but, despite the control and death, she had power and wielded it with intelligence. Camille asserted herself as much as she could within her limited circumstances, it wasn’t great, but there are glimmers of personhood taking her beyond being an object of desire. But Hayley broke out the most – asserting herself as a Queen of the werewolves, a leader, someone who stepped up and demanded respect for who she was - not just for being the womb in which the special baby would be born from.