The Originals Season Finale Review: Episode for a New Hope

By Price Peterson

May 14, 2014

The Originals S01E22: "From a Cradle to a Grave"

Oh, right, that's what crying feels like, cool, I had almost forgotten. Man, this episode.

This being the season finale and all, maybe we should start at the beginning? Do you know that thing that happens when something is SUCH a sure bet that it can't help but disappoint? Like, either not enough effort was put into it or it simply didn't reach the expectations that tend to accompany a sure bet? In retrospect that seems to be what happened with The Originals' backdoor pilot. I don't think anybody doubted that the Mikaelsons could front their own show (and some of us had been openly fantasizing about this concept since they overtook Season 3 of The Vampire Diaries through sheer force of personality), but the resulting episode just didn't feel fully baked for whatever reason. My guess is that the legit geniuses behind TVD already had a full plate figuring out how to resolve Season 4's ancient wizard drama and that stress was compounded by how impossible it can be to work within a network's gauntlet of notes and directives. But yeah: The Mikaelsons hanging around a 6-block tourist trap with barmaids and weak witches and karaoke-singing gang leaders felt about as underwhelming as possible considering these were highly cultured, one thousand-year-old immortals we were dealing with. Remember Klaus' speech to Caroline about the wondrous world of art and culture? Or the literal castle that Elijah had once romanced Katherine in? What on earth were these titans doing in the puke-filled gutters and tchotchke-choked kiosks of Bourbon Street? As it turned out, like the writers who created them, these characters would quickly find their way.

This is the story of how a sure thing became a slight disappointment became a rousing success: The Originals knew how to course correct. It not only identified and eliminated its weaknesses (ahem, Sophie), it managed to take IRL dilemmas (Claire Holt's impending departure) and integrate them into the show with extremely effective and affecting storytelling. There was a bravery on display here that felt revelatory for a baby show. What was once confusing or unmotivated felt suddenly captivating. Peripheral characters who once made no sense were now instrumental in the lives of our heroes. So yeah, it wasn't long before this show stopped feeling like a freshman season and it started feeling like it had been on the air for years.

And that brings us up to the first season's absolutely tremendous finale. Guys, it was good. You know, if by "good" you mean "gasp-sob inducing." Which I do.

"From a Cradle To a Grave" was huge in all the ways the backdoor pilot was not. The sets were bigger and more lavish, the roster of characters deeper and more purposeful, and the emotions basically apocalyptic. The cold open alone felt like a particularly intense art film. A flashback of Hayley and Klaus getting heart-warmingly parental, then Hayley reading a letter to her unborn child, and it was all intercut with Hayley writhing around on the church altar as witches prepared to steal her child. And that was BEFORE Klaus busted in and found himself slammed against the church wall so he could watch in agony as his child was born and then Hayley was MURDERED. I mean, that whole segment was A LOT. Just a lot for the characters to handle, yeah, but even more for US to handle.

After the witches left with the baby, Elijah arrived to find Klaus cradling Hayley's dead body and he took the opportunity to scream in Klaus' face, as was his right, but it wasn't really helping if we're being honest. Later they regrouped a bit and went to the cemetery to stop the impending baby-sacrifice, but found themselves lost in a magical spell that made the cemetery miles-wide. Elijah made a truly heartbreaking speech about how he'd let Hayley into his heart and now he was broken. Then guess who showed up? Hayley. She just sorta strolled in like it was NBD. Turned out the baby blood in her system resurrected her as a hybrid in transition! Not only that, but her maternal instinct had some serious psychic vibes so she led the boys directly to the witches. They were momentarily stopped in their tracks by a gang of witch ghosts, but after throwing a potted plant and a fence post and also a ninja star, the witches were all murdered! Especially Monique, who was the worst. At that point I was like, whew, what a good finale. But then I looked at the clock and we were only 25 minutes into the episode? Madness. Anyway, then Marcel ran up and snatched the baby and ran away again.

As it turned out, Marcel was still dying from Klaus' bite and he needed Klaus' blood to survive, so that's why he showed up with the ninja star to save the day but also take the baby. Klaus was in a super good mood and gladly gave his blood to Marcel (in another knee-weakeningly emotional moment). Meanwhile Josh had already been cured by Davina after she levitated all of Klaus' dirty blood off the asphalt and put it in an empty Hurricane cup for him. The other vampires died, though. There was essentially a vampire genocide in this episode, sorry guys. Speaking of blood, in order for Hayley to continue her transition into a hybrid she had to drink the blood of her own child! That was insane. I was wondering if the show would really go there, but it definitely went there. I never thought I'd live to see the day when I'd see a newborn baby's thumb pricked by a needle, but now I have. (And that's to say nothing of the actual dead-baby-in-a-cardboard-box that showed up later).

But when we and also the future scholars of television look back at this episode we and they will only talk about THE SCENE. You know the scene. Okay, so: Hayley and Klaus and Elijah decided that the only way to protect the child from the witches (specifically Esther, who it turned out was behind the ancestors' wish to kill the baby) was to fake her death and then send her away and pretend to mourn. And then, as we were treated to heartbreaking images of Hayley and Elijah breaking down in public over the ostensibly slain baby we heard a conversation between Klaus and Elijah in which they wondered who could possibly look after their child in their absence? And then THIS SCENE happened:

YES. Yes. Yes. Yes.

This wasn't so much a surprise twist as it was a cathartic, impossibly moving moment that crystallized everything we love about this show, Rebekah, Claire Holt, the writers, just everything. Yes, The Originals will survive without Rebekah, but bringing her back for this explicit purpose both honored her and permanently enmeshed her presence into the show even when we won't see her. Man, I don't know what to tell you except that I've rarely ever had such a viscerally powerful reaction to a piece of entertainment like this. I think the last time I was this overcome was maybe during the New Caprica rescue scene in Battlestar Galactica, or certain parts of Dancer in the Dark, or maybe the finale of Big Fish. This scene just floored me, is what I'm trying to say. Even if Rebekah had remained silent I would have been ruined. But then Klaus made that speech, that angry and loving speech to his sleeping daughter while Rebekah looked on full of emotion. Then he gave that one thousand-year-old toy of Rebekah's back to her. And then he revealed that the baby's name was Hope and then kissed Rebekah's forehead. I'm crying as I type this, no lie. It's honestly a relief to know that I have normal human emotions. Thanks for the reminder, The Originals! Because wow.

Nothing else seems as important as that scene, but more stuff did happen in this episode! Uh, for one thing, Davina legit resurrected Mikael! But she's a clever girl so she created a bracelet that allows her to control him like a puppet, which is AMAZING. (That moment where she prevented him from harming Klaus and his baby was so subtle and wonderful). Meanwhile Klaus had to lie to a devastated Cami about his daughter's death and then he, in a very true sense, banished Cami from his life out of concern for her welfare. Heartbreaking. The werewolves were out in the street openly plotting about whatever. And then that final twist: Esther REBORN! And not just Esther, but one of her children also. But since they were body-hopping into strangers, it wasn't clear if it was Finn or Kol. But still: Both Esther AND Mikael and another Original are back in action. That's a pretty tantalizing tease for next season in my opinion. More Originals!

I am still thinking about that Rebekah moment, though. So much of its power was in how it took advantage of our general love for Rebekah (and Claire Holt) and just when we'd finally gotten over the fact that she wouldn't be around anymore. But it also honored that character while also providing an elegant out for the whole baby plotline. Because let's face it, this was never going to be a show with a baby to raise. I'd wondered how The Originals would solve the issue of getting rid of the baby without being too depressing and guess what? It figured out the absolute best way to do it. See what I'm saying about how good this show is at getting itself out of narrative corners? It is the best maybe. Man, I just. I'm going to be thinking about that scene for a while.

The Originals' first season wasn't without flaws, but it's astounding for what it achieved overall. Just so many high points, with its finale the highest. AS IT SHOULD BE. I will truly miss this show over the summer. It may have just ruined my life, but still. Please hurry back and ruin me some more.


QUESTIONS

... Are you okay?

... How are you though?

... Favorite moment(s)?

... Will you be okay in the future?


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  • thanehendricks Oct 23, 2014

    You are forgetting there was another Mikaelson Henrick

  • virgo091085 Sep 14, 2014

    The Scene! Rebekah!

  • B-a-n-e Aug 17, 2014

    I would be better with photo recaps. Just saying.

  • rocioalegriatapia Jul 03, 2014

    i cried while reading THE SCENE!!!!!!!! Loveeeee Rebekah

  • TQB Jul 02, 2014

    I'm so late to this party, but man, was this worth the wait!

    -I'm OKish. I too just absolutely lost it when Becks appeared. I even knew ahead of time that she showed up in the finale but to the show's credit, I was so captivated I completely forgot. It really was one of the most powerful TV moments in recent memory. So yeah, I'm going to need some time here.

    I had not really thought of the boy with Esther as literally one of her sons, but of course that makes sense, and of course it's got to be Finn - he was the one who was always supportive of her. No way do I buy Kol having some sort of change of heart here.

    Nothing much more to say - except, well done, show. I had high expectations and you completely exceeded them.

  • CarolinaDazaL Jun 15, 2014

    Damn.

    I am ok, more than ok! What an episode! Some thing I want to comment:

    1- I am happy that Rebekah was back and she and Klaus finally made peace, the same goes with Marcel.
    2- I love to have some originals back, even when they're not really in their bodies (outside of Mikael). I actually want to see Mikael interact with his wife, we have never seen that, right? I don't even know if they're on good terms or not! As much as I want "the son" to be Kol, I think it will be Finn because...well, who is the son who has a stronger relationship with his mother to the point to want to commit suicide to obey her? Yep, Finn. Anyway, I would actually love to know more about Finn and about his relationship with his brother, I know they're not as close with them as the others (even Kol seemed to enjoy Klaus' and Rebekah's company), but we don't know much about Finn.

    BUT If it is Kol, I will do a victory dance, no doubt. We need Kol here to spice things a little (but in Nathaniel's body, please). Well, Kol seemed like the naughty brother but I guess the promise of resurrecting will make him obey his mum... and his short appearance in TVD would actually make sense! :)

    3- This is more related to the episode before the finale, I always find very curious when Klaus calls Mikael father, that has already been explained (SO GOOD that line, too) but Mikael calls Klaus "his son" as many times as he screams: "He is not my son!!"... gish, make up your mind! Though it makes the conversation quite funny:

    "Who are you?"..."We are family because you have my son's child inside you"... "Why do you hate your child so much?"... "HE IS NOT MY CHILD!!!!"... "But didn't you just say...?? ok, ok, sorry! He uses your surname, though!"

    Yep, Mikael, I don't understand you. What horrible parents, though!

  • TQB Jul 02, 2014

    If we get Kol back, I want Kol as Kol and full of his batshit meanness. I don't want to see him have some sort of conversion to his mother's side!

    But yeah, terrible parents. Jeez. I've always had this bone to pick with Mikael for forcing his children to become monsters and then hunting them because, MONSTERS.

  • WillowPuma Jun 14, 2014

    ... Are you okay? Uhm.
    ... How are you though? Sobbing in a puddle of my tears in fetal position, in a corner under a fluffy, comforting blanket, shoving popcorn into my mouth to stop the crying.
    ... Favorite moment(s)? All of them? Rebekah, Monique's death, Klaus being adorable, Davina saving Klaus, Klaus being adorable again with his kids, Elijah being all broken, Klaus telling Cami to leave, a friggin' ninja star (!!), Just everything.
    ... Will you be okay in the future? Currently trying to stuff three-month old muffins into my mouth because we're out of popcorn, ice-cream, non-green muffins, and cheese. Basically i'll eat my feelings until I feel better.

  • TQB Jul 02, 2014

    it's weeks later, but I am RIGHT THERE WITH YOU.

  • Maddyy97 Jun 11, 2014

    since the beggining of the show ive known the baby was a girl and was going to be named Hope.

  • Madelynn1984 Jun 08, 2014

    Rebekah!!

  • Ankh49 May 31, 2014

    I think Finn got resurrected - he was the one that was willing to help her kill his siblings when the family all got together on TVD.

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