Everybody's afraid of something. Scientists agree that 100 percent of immortal nightmare creatures are capable of fear; it just takes something as simple as an earthquake or swirling graveyard fire to get their non-pulses racing. And as viewers, when someone who is brave and powerful seems truly afraid, that makes US afraid by extension. Like, sure, in a French Quarter night club courtyard you might seem invulnerable, but the second the ground starts moving beneath your feet, you learn you're just as delicate and powerless as anyone else. The Originals was never going to work unless the ground started shaking. Now it has begun.
Believe it: "Après Moi, Le Déluge" was by far the best episode of The Originals yet and may even be a hard one to top in the future. If I had one persistent complaint about the first ten episodes (which I gladly shouted about to anybody, including strangers, stray animals, and my shoes while wandering the sidewalks), it was that this show about "epic" personalities had trapped them in decidedly non-epic surroundings. From the premise to the setting, just nothing about The Originals felt terribly significant. What were these ancient immortals even doing in that neighborhood? Why had they all lost the capacity for big-picture thinking? Why were we supposed to care about a basic turf war when we knew the central characters had dabbled in huge, history-shaping adventures for over a thousand years? But these questions all had their necks snapped this week when The Originals finally, finally found its epic scope. The ground rattled and the city shook and the last big barrier to enjoying this show crumbled to the ground. Seriously: What a fantastic episode.
First of all, WHOA. I know it's not fair to constantly compare The Originals to its small-town mothership, but this episode meant business in a way reminiscent of early season TVD. Did anybody expect the Harvest plotline to be addressed and possibly even wrapped up this soon? Even if it seems unlikely that we've seen the last of Davina, this still represented major closure to her main arc, which is an insanely risky move on the writers' part, seeing as she's one of the series' best inventions. But in losing Davina (temporarily?) we gained something huge in return: the element of shock. She can't be dead! Can they do that? Even better, should she return, she could very easily return with a grudge. The storytelling potential is off the charts, and that's not even counting how amazing this new development with Celeste and her undead friends seems to be. Like, I miss Davina already (and this episode was a big showcase for Danielle Campbell's next-level skills; ugh, that final speech to Marcel was a real heart-ripper), but the shock of her death and the ensuing twist made it all worth it, to be honest. A little surprise goes a long way. A big surprise even further.
Before I get too ahead of myself we should talk about how elegantly "Après Mois, Le Déluge" was written. Except for some scattered character-moment interludes here and there, almost the entire episode revolved around one central plotline: Davina's physical instability following the death of Tim. Which, I mean, that metaphor alone was perfect. Her extreme grief had caused a rupture in her, I don't know, magic membrane? And now four seemingly biblical plagues were descending upon New Orleans (earthquakes, wind, rain, fire) and she was vomiting representations of each one onto her duvet. (I sincerely wanted to see her vomit fire, but maybe I'm just a bad person?) So that gave Sophie the leverage she needed to convince the others that the Harvest needed to be completed. Davina was a ticking time bomb basically, and if all went according to plan, Davina's ritualistic sacrifice would result in her own resurrection and everyone would live happily ever after. What could go wrong? Well, spoiler alert: Sophie is the second worst witch on TV, so of course it all went to hell. Classic Sophie! But at least her scheme involved the sorta-return of the Mikaelsons' mother (unseen in a casket) and then the surprise reveal that Elijah's dead witch lover had been alive the whole time and posing as the background witch Sabin. Oh AND Sabin ended up stealing everybody's magic so that she could resurrect her posse, which includes that scary lady from the Harvest flashbacks. Honestly, everything about these events was riveting. EVERYTHING. The storytelling was just so good and that's to say nothing of how rich the emotional turns were. Ugh, so rich.
Because, let's be real: At some point it doesn't matter how complicated or well-structured a plotline is; if you're not invested in the characters it just won't matter. But "Après Moi, Le Déluge" made us care about everyone across the board—even Sophie, the last remaining who-cares character on The Originals. But the episode MVP, in my opinion, was Klaus. Ever since fist fighting a hundred vampires and taking back the French Quarter he'd been a bit of a dick. But as is The Originals' way, this episode saw him softening again and it felt nothing less than devastating in a good way. THE HUG. The hug, you guys. That was set up in an earlier knee-weakening moment when Klaus advised Hayley to simply apologize to Elijah for betraying him: "Don't do as I do." It was a bracing admission that Klaus knows his shortcomings, but also a demonstration that he cares about Hayley's happiness and would even allow her to fall in love with his brother if necessary. Then later on, when Marcel was upset about Davina's seemingly pointless death, Klaus apologized and hugged him and confided that he'd once grieved for Marcel in the same way Marcel was grieving for Davina and oh no I'm crying as I type this.
Or what about the part where Klaus sincerely praised Rebekah for her scheming abilities? Or the part where Klaus revealed he'd been secretly overseeing the well-being of all those swamp werewolves? Or even just the look of pure pain on his face when Davina didn't resurrect? This episode was The Klaus Show for sure and that is saying something considering how excellent everybody else was. (Rebekah should probably know better than to be teaming up with Sophie in secret, but still: I am so invested in this subplot.) Meanwhile Elijah and Hayley shared an ALMOST-kiss. Haha the second he ducked out of it I realized just how sadistic this show is going to be toward the fans. Obviously those two are going to have a killer romance, just not quite yet. And Phoebe Tonkin did a lot of heavy lifting in this episode as essentially a bystander but also an emotional through-line. That part where she was just silently weeping while packing up canned ham? WE'VE ALL BEEN THERE.
It's not a coincidence that an episode so huge in concept was littered with so many tiny, affecting details. Like when Rebekah bitterly reminded Davina that she was only a vampire due to other peoples' whims. Or Davina telling Marcel that she was grateful for her life even though it was plainly obvious how short and limited it had been (Marcel was kind enough not to point his out). Heck, even that Fever Ray song that played at the end (watch the music video ASAP if you haven't already): All these little things enhanced how big and unpredictable the straight-up disaster film elements were. (Has there ever been a more awesome image on television than the flames that trailed Marcel and Davina into the cemetery?) I don't quite know the economics of creating a television series like this, or if episodes with this kind of intensity and largesse are too expensive to produce week after week. But I would love to see more on this scope, please. Regardless, something tells me that The Originals is now suddenly capable of keeping the feelings big even without graveyard fires or French Quarter ruination. Literal, metaphorical, it doesn't matter: Let's keep the disasters coming!
This show is epic finally. This episode was water-cooler television. What will happen next? I really don't know and I've never cared more. So good.
... Will Davina be back?
... Will Elijah like Celeste's new face?
... Does Thierry seem slightly upset about his current situation?
... Which character was your MVP for the week?
AIRED ON 5/20/2016
Season 3 : Episode 22