The Originals sprang from a show about supernatural teenagers, and it’s on a network increasingly dedicated to supernatural teenagers. That’s not a bad thing—hell, I love many supernatural teen stories. The implicit metaphors surrounding the combinations of the supernatural, sudden adult faculties, and sudden adult impulses are inherently powerful, whether directly acknowledged or not. Yet this doesn’t mean that having superpowered teens around is always a good idea. In a situation where they’re not the dominant set of characters in a story, adding teenaged—or more accurately, youngsters’—impulses can serve as a distraction.
Such is the case with “A Closer Walk With Thee,” an episode that demonstrates some of the best of what The Originals has to offer when it focuses on the adults, and struggles when its handful of kids are around. The chief evidence of this: Mikael, the Original patriarch, is finally an active participant in the show’s proceedings. He’s had some important flashback scenes with major revelations earlier in the season, but hasn’t been an active participant yet. But thanks to something going on in Mystic Falls involving Purgatory—I haven’t been keeping up with The Vampire Diaries but it sounds like it’s Bonnie’s fault—Mikael can influence the present, disorienting Klaus and Elijah, attempting to kill Hayley, and convincing Davina to resurrect him.
The idea of generational conflict pervades “A Closer Walk With Thee,” well beyond Mikael. At almost every turn, the older characters attempt to deal with younger ones, and the elder characters are far more interesting. So, after Mikael appears in a dream, we immediately see the witches talking. Genevieve is delivering exposition, but Horrible Monique starts sneering and criticizing. It takes some doing to turn Genevieve into the more sympathetic character, but having Monique be as antagonistic as she is to everyone does the trick.
A far better form of the generational divide occurs shortly after, at the wake for Father Kieran (a convenient title!). Klaus, the youngest sibling, is petulantly nursing his drink when Elijah, the eldest sibling, comes along. And Elijah is on fire in this scene: “Far better than your process of grief, Niklaus. Denial, rage, and hoarding coffins in basements.”
This is followed by a confrontation between Cami and Francesca, the casino owner who now runs the Human Faction. Francesca doesn’t have many scenes in this episode, but she controls each of them. Actress Peta Sergeant is clearly reveling in playing the sort of forthright, dominant character who can take over a scene by motioning for a drink, or raising an eyebrow at a rival. She’s older than Cami and Hayley, those rivals in this episode’s scenes, and that gives her power that she may not physically possess as a “mere” human.
Hayley, meanwhile, finds herself trapped by paternalism. Klaus keeps on demanding her presence in the Original household after the terrorist attack, and Hayley rejects the idea. But after confronting Francesca, and after being stricken by Monique, and after fighting with Mikael, Hayley returns to Klaus’ control. I understand the narrative value of such a move—have your main characters near each other—but the question of how much agency Hayley actually that has plagued the series for so long, and seemed at least partially resolved, now rears its ugly head again. Is she actually a character, or is she a vessel for the baby and a love interest for Elijah?
Meanwhile, the episode is also fraught with paternalism from the Cami/Marcel pairing. This isn’t a quality issue—both actors and character read as roughly the same age—but it’s got power and mythological age issues. Marcel, the centuries-old, powerful vampire, wants to help Cami but can’t help but use his knowledge, in order to attempt to manipulate her. But she knows it, and initially rejects, then attempts to embrace on her own terms.
But the main motivator of “A Closer Walk With Thee” remains the Original patriarch. Mikael’s background has hung over this series since its beginning, and his presence has grown increasingly important since the major flashbacks at the heart of the Rebekah arc. The Originals simply has to confront who Mikael is and what he means to the series’ concept. Based on the events of this episode, it knows this, and is working directly toward it (possibly with Mikael’s resurrection in the season finale?) Based on Sebastian Roche’s sheer presence, this will be a very welcome change indeed. Between Mikael, Elijah, and Francesca, this was a great episode for the elder generation.
- Cami quickly realizes the games Marcel is playing: “Which you know! Or you would have asked ‘what key?’”
- Klaus is a PUA: “Please tell me you’ve designed a better method to control the witch than playing hard-to-get.” “I’ve always been partial to the classics.”
- A bit worried about the box that Cami and Marcel dug up. After a season-plus of The Vampire Diaries being spent on various supernatural weapons to kill Klaus with, another doesn’t sound appealing.
- “Were I waging a war against the wolves, you’d be my first target! I’d string you up, for all of your worshippers to see.” Klaus, charmer.
- Best Cami line? “Listen, Hayley, I’m trying, mostly failing, to stay out of all this stuff, but...she’s a real bitch, so if I hear anything, yeah, I’ll let you know.” Best Cami line.
- “There is no saving that atrocity festering in your womb. Klaus will destroy it, one way or another.” Yes. I want Sebastian Roche back on this show, delivering lines like this.
- Klaus and Marcel start to make peace. “How did I fail?” “Maybe the scars just ran too deep.”