Friday, August 10, 2018

Requiem: The Originals

After five seasons The Originals has finally come to a close; after coming back from he dead over and over again this show has finally died for the new season of Legacies to drag itself from the ashes.

The Originals was one of those shows that actually managed to pull off a spin off - it made it work and managed to create a unique entity that both had all of the connections it needed to the Vampire Diaries while still being its own unique creation. And that kept going for five seasons

Whether or not that was a good thing is… debatable.

The Good

The acting. There has always been some top notch acting on this show. Even with these often terrible storylines, even having to force all of these endless angst and drama scenes over and over and over. They were not given a lot to work with but damn they worked it well.

I also think the underlying world setting of this series is good. The Original Vampires, the different kinds of witches, the werewolves and their curse - at its core it was a fascinating world setting I would love to explore. It actually makes me a little angry that the writers cared so little about continuity that they ruined this one element I liked

The Bad

When The Originals first spun off from the Vampire Diaries the writers had two major problems. Firstly, The Originals were the worst. Oh Rebekkah and Elijah had been shown with some redeeming features - but Klaus and Kol were definitely irredeemably awful. It was hard to think of how these characters could be sympathetic protagonists unless you’re going to outright run with “audiences will tolerate any evil so long as the guy is hot.” While this is true, it’s unusual to outright openly rely on that

The second, and bane of any writer, is that they are ridiculously powerful. For much of Vampire Diaries they were figures of almost legend. The founding vampires, the first, hundreds of years old and more powerful than anything in the world. Which works for a mighty antagonist your cast is afraid of - but as a protagonist?

This scenes encapsulates the problem:

Each Original is quite capable of massacring entire armies - and we KNOW they have no moral qualms about killing since pretty much all of them has slaughtered people on occasion. One alone is pretty unbeatable - get any number of them actually working in tandem and the writers are faced with trying to think of a convoluted reason WHY Klaus/Elijah/Kol/Rebekkah don’t just unleash a massacre. Several seasons of Marcel challenging Klaus? Massacre. Nazi vampires? Massacre. Angry witches? Massacre. The Stricts? Massacre. The return of Lucien and their oldest children? Massacre. Angry werewolf pack? Massacre. Massacre, massacre, massacre.

This led to the writers either continuing and exacerbating The Vampire Diaries habit of changing the various powers and abilities of the creatures based on what is narratively necessary with mighty Original vampires either massacring armies or being brought down with a convenient magical item or not that impressive witch in between

The second option was family drama. So much family drama. Over and over and over and over: angst and family drama which just repeats over and over. Klaus does something terrible, everyone angsts, Klaus is sad, love interest humanises him, there is more sad, Elijah mopes, Klaus says he’ll do better. Then rinse and repeat. It got old fast.

The Diversity

Is not great. And we’ve discussed this multiple times before about race, about women and about the LGBTQ characters. These posts were all written prior to the last seasons but we’ve just seen the same dubious habits continued. We see POC in sacrificial bit parts - with an added side of female fridging - from Ivy and Lisinia most notably: characters which should have mattered but instead were thrown away for more angst. And I don’t think Hayley was treated in a more respectful manner for that matter, given how important she was supposed to be: dead pointlessly for angst. Marcel continues to be the uppity one stepping out of his place - even when given super powers he still is banished to second fiddle. The LGBTQ characters continue to serve and die - and when Freya and Keelin (plot boxed! As was Josh, over and over) actually got married and we finally have a major moment for a moment… and they spent the whole time with Elijah’s moping. It wasn’t even subtle

All of which have been exacerbated by sharing a world with The Vampire Diaries. When you have such a direct spin off and such a direct world it provides a wider context that has to be considered: looking at them as separate entity rather misses the reality of what these shows are. So when we look at these failings we have to acknowledge that all of these are continuations for the same fail we’ve seen over and over in the Vampire Diaries.

The Future

Which brings me to Legacies. Because like The Originals this show will not be able to escape the pattern of its parents and it desperately needs to. We have Hope, with all her super powers, is going to have the same problems with The Originals. Already the very setting is bending and breaking the show’s canon (why a school?! Why?) and rules. And that’s before we consider the ongoing legacies of minority treatment. Legacies needs to step out of this mires and make this world setting work somehow with this broken concept. And so far I see no indication they’re even going to do it.