Part of the reason I’ve focused so much on main characters, subjective point of view, and moral centers in my reviews of The Originals is on display in “Bloodletting.” The first major crossover from The Vampire Diaries occurs in this episode, with Tyler Lockwood showing up to attempt to take revenge against Klaus. With a familiar character placed in an unfamiliar context, it makes it easy to see how the shift in viewpoint on The Originals can be quite disorienting.
Over on The Vampire Diaries, Tyler has been one of the gang since the middle of the second season, when he became a more important character. The shifting alliances on that show mean that it’s often hard to say someone is generally “good,” but he dated Caroline—probably the best person on the show—and was usually aligned with the main characters we’re supposed to root for: Damon, Stefan, Elena, and Bonnie.
Yet over on The Originals, Tyler is treated as pure villain. His introduction is entirely from Hayley’s point of view—and she is, at this point, the most moral character around, or at least the damsel in distress that we’re ostensibly supposed to hope gets less distressed. From her perspective, he’s pure villain. We only see the back of his head, the side of his face, and only hear his plan from his angry shouts at her. And his plan does seem quite villainous—he takes some of the baby’s blood by force, and uses it to create a vampire-werewolf hybrid outside of Klaus’ control. Yes, he has permission from his test subject, but only because he says that subject doesn’t care if he lives or dies (he dies, by Tyler’s hand). We see Tyler’s vamp-face, even, something that TVD seems to show increasingly rarely for its beautiful/sympathetic main characters. Even the Tyler introduction for non-TVD viewers, an Elijah-Klaus conversation interspersed with flashbacks, looks more like “the tragic creation of a supervillain” than “poor Tyler Lockwood,” because Tyler acts like a villain before and after.
The reason for this is simple: this is a show about the Original Family, and both remaining brothers of that family want to find and protect Hayley. So the camera treats them as sympathetic subjects. Now, I’m sure a lot of this is intentional, particularly the initial Tyler scene that also functions as a surprise for Vampire Diaries viewers. But as I said, it’s also illustrative of how the show behaves normally. If Tyler, normally a good guy, can be portrayed as a villain because that serves the Mikaelson’s purposes, then what about Marcel? What about Sophie? Kieran?
I bring this up not because it’s necessarily a bad thing for The Originals to be told from the point-of-view of its villains, but because it indicates different directions that the show might go in. In fact, we’re already seeing two point-of-view shifts: Marcel and Davina. Marcel’s been getting more and more screentime—like his conversation with Thierry—that demonstrates his thoughts and motivations. It’s Marcel who’s the subject in the final scene, as the camera slowly turns to reveal after the vampire speaks. This is probably a good thing—Charles Michael Davis has been the breakout performer of the show so far.
Davina’s continued humanization, on the other hand, is less interesting, because it hasn’t been matched by strong characterization. The unhinged, superpowered witch we only saw in bits and pieces has given way to an abnormally pretty teenager whose primary motivation is to be normal. Has that ever been a worthwhile long-term plot on a supernatural show? Eventually this’ll turn potentially interesting when Davina realizes she’ll never be normal again, but it’s not doing much for me now.
Overall, “Bloodletting” seemed to exist primarily as a way to introduce Tyler into the New Orleans mix and see what that changed. Now Marcel has a few new allies, is directly working against Klaus, and Klaus is friendless. Finally, there are potential stakes for the protagonist of the show, which I’m guessing will lead to the show’s fall finale, assuming it’s using the same structure as most CW shows.
- “Do be certain to leave the windows down.” Elijah gets sassy!
- Josh’s discussions with Davina make him appear to be the first normally out gay person in the TVDverse. (Is there a better term for that? Is there a worse one?) I know Bill Forbes was gay, but that was treated as a weird, possibly private thing that Caroline considered a reason for her family breaking apart. It’s especially ironic that this is made explicit the week that Tyler is on the show, as his implicit sexual tension with Jeremy early in TVD’s run quietly disappeared when they stopped having scenes together.
- Flashback hair grade: n/a, once again. But there’s an upcoming episode with the brothers M in military uniform, so that should be pleasing.