by Chris Lovato
Always and forever: this is the motto of the Mikaelson family, and the ever-present theme of one of the CW’s latest ventures: The Originals.
Born of The Vampire Diaries, The Originals explores the story of three very prominent characters in the Vampire Diaries universe; its first episode aired as part of its parent series, and it’s caught audiences by storm since it aired in October. Its back-story is winding and spans centuries and it goes a little something like this:
Almost a thousand years ago, tragedy struck the Mikaelson family when werewolves killed the youngest son. The mother, a powerful witch, saw magic as the only way to protect her family. She used a spell to turn her husband and children into the first vampires, the Originals; however, her son Niklaus (Klaus) became the first hybrid when his family found out that he was a werewolf (the result of an affair his mother had).
Over the centuries, Klaus, his older brother, Elijah, and his younger sister, Rebekah, ran from their father, who hunted them relentlessly. The siblings managed to settle down in New Orleans back in the 1700’s, and they took a liking to a young slave named Marcellus. The trio’s father drove them from the city and, in their absence, Marcellus, now Marcel, seized control of New Orleans by building an army of vampires and suppressing the local witch population.
The series finds Klaus in the middle of a war between vampires and witches, and as one explores what happened in the Mikaelsons’ absence and the ties that bind everyone together, one realizes that everything isn’t always black and white. Caught in the middle is Hayley, the werewolf who helped Tyler Lockwood break his sire bond to Klaus, who is pregnant with the Original hybrid’s baby. (Yes, they do explain how that happens)
Carrying over a few brilliant talents from The Vampire Diaries, Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies, and Claire Holt top the cast off as Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah Mikaelson respectively, and if you’ve watched Vampire Diaries, you’ll definitely appreciate their character integrity remaining completely intact, with much more room for growth as we find out more about their family. Phoebe Tonkin rejoins her former H20: Just Add Water costar Holt as Hayley, and one might find the more vulnerable aspects of her personality endearing; of course, she still kicks butt.
New to the Vampire Diaries universe is Marcel (AKA The King of New Orleans), played by Charles Michael Davis. He steps into the role of the King and fills it well as an iron-fisted ruler with a tenuous hold on the city. Danielle Campbell comes raging in as Davina, an extremely powerful witch and Marcel’s secret to keeping the witches in the French Quarter in line, and Daniella Pineda brings an interesting flair to Sophie Deveraux, a witch with an agenda of her own. Of course, we have yet to see a crossover, but whisperings on the Other Side say we might see our first Vampire Diaries guest star very soon…
The production staff did a wonderful job of bringing The Big Easy to life, and it’s hard to forget where everything is taking place. Of course, sprawling Southern plantation homes gave them license to whip up some interesting houses, especially Davina’s. With a new location comes new twists on old favorites, like magic; rather than practice Expression or spirit magic, the witches of New Orleans practice Ancestral Magic, and the spells so far would impress Bonnie Bennett. Add that to a storyline that has more twists and turns than a mountain road and you have a recipe for a show that can hold its own outside its parent show.
Overall, if you’re a big fan of The Vampire Diaries, I’d definitely recommend giving The Originals a shot, if you think you can handle having your heart ripped out and crammed back in your chest like The Vampire Diaries is so good at doing.
The Originals airs every Thursday on The CW at 8/7 p.m. Central.