The Originals Episode 1: Always & Forever at MCM London Comic Con


An all-new spin-off of the popular The Vampire Diaries series created by Julie Plec, The Originals follows the story of the Mikaelson siblings – Klaus, Elijah and Rebekah – the world’s “original” vampires, and their return to the home they made in New Orleans after a long absence.

Now underway in the US, the series’ first episode, Always and Forever, premiered in the UK just last week. In addition to a special screening of Always and Forever, attendees of the MCM London Comic Con were also treated to a short preview of Episode Two, House of the Rising Son.

Always and ForeverEpisode One begins with a flashback to the Mikaelsons’ initial arrival in New Orleans in the 17th century, before taking us forwards in time to their more recent return. We follow the perspective of Elijah (Daniel Gillies) – perhaps the most “human”, or at least the most humane, of the three Mikaelsons – who immediately proves to be a compelling and charismatic lead. Although he is by nature introspective and empathetic, he’s nevertheless a powerful presence, who subtly conveys his ability to be as deadly and dangerous as either of his considerably less careful siblings as and when he chooses.

Elijah has followed his older and more volatile brother back to New Orleans after discovering that Klaus (Joseph Morgan) was summoned on a matter of some urgency by a local coven of witches. Upon arrival, he finds that things have changed drastically since the Originals first fled the city, as a result of a takeover by the cruel and power-hungry Marcel (Charles Michael Davis), a former protégé of Klaus’s. Banned from using magic and relegated to virtual silence by Marcel, the witches seek to overthrow the city’s self-appointed king, but in order to do so, they require the help of the Originals.

AlwaysSneakPeek2Complicating matters for the Mikaelsons is the fact that an earlier one-night stand between Klaus and the werewolf Hayley Marshall (Phoebe Tonkin) has led to an unexpected pregnancy. Having bound Hayley to one of their own, Sophie Deveraux (Daniella Pineda), the witches use her and the unborn baby as leverage, threatening to kill her if the vampires refuse to help them. While Elijah is bent on protecting Hayley, hoping that her child will offer a kind of redemption for his family, particularly his damaged and dangerous brother, Klaus’s own feelings are divided. Torn between on the one hand his desire for an heir, distrust of Marcel and some genuine feelings for his brother, and on the other his fear of displaying weakness by being manipulated or even guided by other people, Klaus behaves erratically, sometimes listening and sometimes having childish temper tantrums.

Always and ForeverThroughout the episode, the flashbacks and flash-forwards continue, with Hayley’s lack of knowledge providing a convenient excuse to recap the vampires’ origins stories. This is a smart move, and allows those unfamiliar with The Vampire Diaries universe to easily follow the story and keep track of who all the characters are, as well as adding a bit of always welcome period glamour to the mix.

Criticisms have been made elsewhere that the story and structure of this first episode are virtually identical to those of the backdoor pilot aired earlier this year. Nevertheless, most fans seem to agree that Always and Forever improves on this earlier teaser, with the characters portrayed in more convincing and interesting ways and the focus on the thoughtful Elijah adding an element of intrigue and a new way of viewing the family and their world.

Performances from most of the lead actors are strong and the characters and their world exciting and engaging. Daniel Gillies easily steals the show, but even in her relatively limited role here, Phoebe Tonkin manages to command a lot of attention. That said, there were still a few flaws, which will hopefully be ironed out as the series progresses.

Always and ForeverIncredibly conspicuous to British viewers, though doubtless much less of an issue in the States, are the sometimes jarring mannerisms and terminology used by these supposedly oldest of vampires. While Gillies generally manages to maintain a convincingly old-fashioned, well-spoken idiolect, just enough to mark him as being out of place in our time without ever seeming overdone, Claire Holt‘s speech and body language as Rebekah seem to suggest another era altogether. Her use of slightly dated, but not properly old, colloquialisms such as “bloody” and “tum” betray a pretty inexcusable lack of research on the writers’ part: virtually anyone from this country who has seen the episode must have cringed a little at those, with the possible exception of the lucky few still young enough to think that words like that really are ancient. In any case, at no point in British history would these have been appropriate terms for a character of Rebekah’s social status, and that’s before we even touch on the fact that the Mikaelsons aren’t actually English.

We-stick-together-as-one-Always-and-forever-the-originals-34189499-500-280Story-wise, it was never made wholly clear how or why Hayley had fallen in with the witches. Though once bound to Sophie Deveraux she is obviously unable to escape, it’s still difficult at this stage to understand why somebody with her wits would have allowed herself to be caught by them in the first place, or alternatively, why someone with her history would have trusted them. Still, it’s a relatively minor quibble, and not really enough to take away from the enjoyment of the show. It also may well be something that gets explained later.

Overall then, a promising start. Without giving us all the answers, the episode opens up a number of possibilities for the rest of the series, effectively showcasing its potential to develop into something even better.

 The Originals is currently showing on the Syfy channel Tuesdays at 10pm.

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