The Originals is about two very specific things, and no, it’s not “vampires and werewolves.” From the show’s inception, it has very much been a show about family and war. In both of those aspects of the show, it’s all about the power struggles within both of those facets, the battles, the pain. War is family. Family is war. This week’s episode — “Brotherhood of the Damned” — pretty much says that outright, and even with the more on-the-nose parts that comes with being so blunt, it’s still a straight-up powerful episode of the season (and the series, as a whole). This second season of The Originals really doing some amazing stuff this season, and I feel like not enough people are aware of that.
Part of that “amazing stuff” — especially in this episode — is Charles Michael Davis. As Marcel, he doesn’t often get enough of a chance to carry the emotional weight of the series, especially with Klaus’ lip quiver (a very fine lip quiver, but still) often on full display. Now, as much as I love Elijah (and you all know I do), as far as the show goes, Marcel should really be getting screentime that is equal or at least second only to Klaus. This is ultimately their story. It was their war that started this all. It was their father-son bond that started this all. Everything else is beautiful and painful and excellent, but it’s still all technically comes after Klaus / Marcel in my eyes. And you know I’m serious about this, because my ideal version of The Originals is The Rebekah Mikaelson Show.
“Brotherhood of the Damned” continues where “Gonna Set Your Flag on Fire” left off, although now we know for sure that, during the tussle with the werewolves last week, Marcel got bitten by one of them. We know what that means: hallucinations! There’s no chance Marcel isn’t actually going to make it out of the whole ordeal alive, but the tension and intrigue comes from how the bite is going to mess with Marcel’s mind and how he’s going to hide it from his crew, if he can do such a thing.
Turns out, he can’t. And Gia is rightfully upset about it, which makes for a lot of good comparisons in the form of WWI flashbacks.
It’s actually pretty impressive that we’ve never gotten war flashbacks in the Vampy Verse before. We’ve gotten flashbacks to the before and after but never during, which is ridiculous, because wartime is the perfect cause for intense speeches about family and livelihood and, well, war. That’s the Vampy Verse, in a nutshell, and why have at least three characters who have been in wars (Marcel, Stefan, and Damon) and not show at least a little bit of that (especially since seeing Damon actually bail on the Civil War could be so fascinating)? Plus, seeing Marcel in this environment, as a member of the Brotherhood of the Damned — again placed in a situation where his color is all that anyone in charge truly even sees — explains so much about the man that he is. Marcel’s resolve and fighting spirit are a result of being raised by Klaus and the Mikaelsons, sure, but his discipline and need for trust and strength in those he chooses to be his “warriors” (the word he often specifically uses) are even better highlighted by the look back at the time he went to war.
Plus, it’s just nice (that’s subjective) to see that Marcel was a man of his word and did everything to help his men in the war — even turning them into vampires to carry on through the night … despite the fact that they surely died come morning because of that.
Meanwhile, Finncent’s plan is for his border spell to end come sundown, and cause Marcel and the vampires — who are still freaking hungry — to massacre the French Quarter, which is yet again celebrating an extravagant festivity. His plan is for Marcel and company — who’ve made a vow to never go after their fellow citizens, despite the fact that they’re Happy Meals with legs — to give into their monstrous way, because as we all know, they are the monsters. Unlike dear, sweet, Finncent, who spends most of the day corralling his brothers into a mental prison for small talk about what it is they’re hiding from him. That involves construction a mental cabin with animals representing each one of Finncent’s brothers: the fox for Koleb, the stag for Elijah, and the wolf for Klaus. Also, Finncent’s animal is the boar, because we’re never going to be finished with (pretty apt, honestly) “Finn is boring” jokes. Finncent rips their consciousness out of their bodies for this meeting, and while Klaus and Elijah are merely unamused by this, Koleb spends the whole time freaking out — his body is still with the vampires, after all. However, proving that he has a sense of humor, Finncent puts Koleb back into his body, so he can experience the pain of being ripped to shreds by the vampires. (Sadly, the vampires do not do that.)
That leaves Finncent with Klaus and Elijah, and Finncent wants to know why Klaus killed his real father. He wants to know the secrets deep inside of Klaus’ mind, and he knows Klaus and Elijah are hiding something, but he just doesn’t know what. Finncent is actually dangerously close to finding out about the Hope of it all, but Elijah uses his brain and falls on his sword to stop this all. You see, the way this mental prison works, it all falls apart if it’s not based on truth. It’s “representational magic.” Elijah being the noble stag of a brother isn’t necessarily true if he reveals that he is the one who killed Tatia all those years ago, and that’s what he does. It works momentarily, until Finncent points out that it’s in his character to confess something like that. What shatters the illusion and breaks the spell is Klaus seemingly acting out of character by forgiving his brother. It’s a beautiful moment. Plus: suck it, Finncent.
Back with Marcel and the vamps, as I mentioned before, morale is at all all-time low. Gia takes an intense amount of offense to Marcel hiding the bite from all of them, because (as he would expect from a warrior of his), she questions how he can even lead them and speak of strength, when he himself doesn’t have the strength to tell him he’s dying. He eventually brings up vial of Klaus’ blood in his place, but the point is fair. Still, Marcel is still Marcel, and he can speechify with the best of them — so he does, and the show intercuts his speech to his vampified WWI brethren with his own words to his crew and as they finally are able to walk through the French quarter. It’s honestly one of the more amazingly and beautifully shot scenes of the series, with the mounting fear that one of Marcel’s men is going to slip and feed on someone as they all stumble home together. The fear grows even stronger as Davina and Klaus look for Marcel and company, and Davina completely gives up her search as soon as she sees and can kiss Koleb.
Remember how much I loved Davina last season? That love decreases every time she’s a blind fool when it comes to all things Koleb. I get that she’s a teenager, but she was so much better when her life was constantly at risk. Sorry, not sorry.
Oh, and Jackson and Hayley’s wedding continues to be an event Hayley doesn’t quite get while Jackson gets it maybe too much. Honestly, I miss drunk, existential Jackson, because at least that version of Jackson wasn’t spewing his “I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You” (by Savage Garden) nonsense. That isn’t romantic — especially when the girl has made it clear on more than one occasion that she’s just not that into you. But the actual problem here this week is that one of the rituals with the unification ceremony (which is looming — the wolves have already given up their moonlight rings) involves both Jackson and Hayley revealing all of their secrets to each other. Again, the Hope of it all makes that a bit of a problem. The episode ends with Klaus finding out about this (after Hayley finally agrees to follow through on such a terrible idea), which is a fine distraction from the disappearance of Marcel and his crew.
Oh yeah, Finn disappears Marcel and his people, because he feels like Marcel is the next best way to get to the bottom of Klaus’ secret. It’s pretty upsetting, since Marcel and the crew had a real hero’s journey to finally get home, but hey — nobody said this was easy.
A few more things …
- This season is actually doing the serialized thing pretty hard, with nearly every episode continuing a little bit after the event
- Davina learns (and tells Klaus) that Finncent is channeling the Mikaelson parents for his power
- One of my favorite parts of the episode is flashback Klaus failing to comprehend why Marcel would want to find in war and “die” for his country. Clearly Klaus and Marcel would both go to war for (and also against) his family, but the fundamental difference is that Marcel includes his country and even just his town as his “family.”
- Jackson is creepy. Not romantic. End of discussion.
Photo Courtesy of The CW