The Originals plays like a supernatural Dallas set in New Orleans. It’s about shifting alliances and power struggles, with frequent but doomed romances thrown into the mix. There be vampires and witches and werewolves duking it out to gain the upper hand. The series starts off with a tension challenge because the three leads, two brothers and their sister, are all Original Vampires – the first ones – and are therefore seriously hard to kill. But the writers are creative enough to find multiple ways of making them suffer. And there are always some recurring characters in the cast who are more vulnerable and at risk of getting offed. The one most at risk is a werewolf who will be giving birth to a miracle-baby, who will be half werewolf and half vampire. A considerable amount of people want her dead.
The main three characters will be familiar to a lot of viewers, The Originals being a spin-off. The disfunctional family already spent a few seasons causing trouble on parent show The Vampire diaries. Now striking out on their own, the dynamic between the siblings doesn’t take long to grow a bit stale. There is brother Klaus, who keeps manipulating people and then complains that people don’t trust him and betray him. There is his sister Rebekah, who has a hard time forgiving Klaus for all the Evil things he has done – and is still doing – to her and to others. And there is the relatively noble Elijah who wants to do the Right Thing and thinks Klaus is not yet beyond redemption. The three seem to have trouble breaking out of their holding patterns, but thankfully the series shakes things up about two-thirds into the season in a way I will not spoil. To think that their petty infighting has been going on for centuries boggles the brain. It doesn’t make immortality seem all that appealing.
Like in The Vampire Diaries, viewers could easily get emotional whiplash from all the turnarounds and betrayals. This whole town is in a codependent, abusive relationship with itself and you half wonder why everyone doesn’t just pack up and get out of each other’s face. Instead, people will end up bedding former enemies, who may very well end up trying to kill them again a few episodes down the road. It’s entertaining but a bit exhausting to watch. Because the series keeps the twists coming hard and fast, you don’t often get a chance to feel bored or to ponder just how ridiculous it all is. (A trick also employed by The Vampire Diaries.) The acting is okay for this sort of thing, with some wood-adjacent performances not spoiling the fun. The cast seems to relish chewing the scenery and especially enjoys getting all arch and Evil.
When a new episode rolls around, I will often completely have forgotten what happened the previous week, so the recaps at the beginning are useful. And yet, I can’t help but watch. The Originals is like candyfloss, pleasant on the palate but it quickly evaporates. It disappears straight out of my mind after watching, as if it has been rejected by the memory bank. A guilty pleasure then, just like the series that Sired it, even if The Originals does not feel very original.