June 24, 2017

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “The Originals”


Season 4 of THE ORIGINALS had the chance to emerge from the shadow of its departing parent The Vampire Diaries–there was even a 5-year time jump to distance the two shows–but it didn’t really happen.  For most of its length, the season was a variation of the same pattern that Originals has followed since it started.  The Mikaelsons, the world’s titular original vampires, fight with each other, not infrequently to the point of temporary murder:  Klaus (Joseph Morgan), Elijah (Daniel Gillies), Rebekah (Claire Holt, still a guest star but heavily recurring this season), and Kol (guest star Nathaniel Buzolic), along with witch sister Freya (Riley Voelkel) and hybrid vampire/werewolf Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin), mother of Klaus’s daughter Hope (Summer Fontana) and lover of Elijah.  They also fight with New Orleans’ other senior supernatural figures, vampire Marcel (Charles Michael Davis) and super-witch Vincent (Yusuf Gatewood), also unto temporary death.  Eventually, they all have to join forces against a Big Bad, this season the mega-witch known as The Hollow (who with her ability to take over various bodies was played by several actors over the course of the season).  Rinse and repeat.

Tonight’s season finale, though, had an unusual degree of finality, which may have been caused not only by uncertainty about a renewal, but by the fact that showrunner Michael Narducci, who wrote the episode, has changed studio affiliations and won’t be with the show next season.  (Series creator Julie Plec is set to resume day-to-day control.)  The premise was straightforward:  in order to rid the world, and the possessed Hope, of The Hollow, her soul would have to be split among the vampire Mikaelsons, the catch being that the quartet would then have to part forever, lest The Hollow be able to reassemble herself if they were in proximity.  Thus the season ended with Rebekah in New York, apparently about to rekindle her century-old romance with Marcel; Kol in San Francisco, ready to propose to witch Davina (Danielle Campbell), also recently restored from the dead; and Klaus and Elijah very briefly in the same bar in France, where Elijah was working as the piano man (!).  Meanwhile, Hayley had enrolled Hope in the Hogwarts/Professor Xavier’s school founded by Alaric (Matt Davis) and Caroline (unseen in the episode) at the end of The Vampire Diaries.

All of this puts Season 5 of The Originals potentially in a much more interesting place than anywhere it went during Season 4.  That includes the finale, which mostly consisted of the Mikaelsons agonizing over the fact that their family was going to be pulled apart, then gritting their collective fangs and going through with the plan for Hope’s sake.  The split of The Hollow’s soul was all too easy, a poof! of magic dust to put the possessed Hope/Hollow to sleep, then an incantation while the various Mikaelsons stood in their assigned positions, leaving very little for director Bethany Rooney or the cast to make exciting.

Of course, it remains to be seen if Plec will explore the Season 5 possibilities or quickly abandon them, introducing a contrivance that allows the family to reassemble after all, and planting them back in New Orleans with a new Big Bad to vanquish together.  The Originals also hasn’t solved its leading lady problem, with Holt still a guest star, Hayley still an unthrilling character, and the build up of Freya (she got a lover this season in the person of Christina Moses as werewolf doctor Keelin) not enough to make up for last season’s killing of Camille (the much-missed Leah Pipes).  Still, the show needed a shake-up, both creatively and in the ratings, and at least next season has the chance to break the series free of its moorings.  The Originals could definitely use some novelty.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."