The Originals, Season 1, Episode 22, “From a Cradle to a Grave”
Written by Diane Ademu-John
Directed by Michael Hastings
Aired Tuesdays at 8pm EST on The CW
On this week’s The Originals, the witches steal Klaus and Hayley’s baby at the behest of a more powerful witch, Elijah breaks down in a cemetery, Davina reveals her plans for the resurrected Mikael, and Klaus and Marcel reach a peaceful agreement.
The (undead) beating heart of this series has been, from the very beginning, family. Fittingly, the first season of the series ends on a thoroughly familial note, with several generations of originals gathered together once again. Despite last week’s not-so-excellent episode, “From a Cradle to a Grave” proves how genuinely great this show still is and can be.
The episode opens with a brilliant juxtaposition between Klaus and Hayley during happier times, as she writes her unborn daughter a “love” letter, and Hayley giving birth in a room full of vengeful witches as Klaus helplessly looks on. Everything from the lighting (the latter is muted and bright, while the former is harsh and dark) to the music helps sell the juxtaposition and turns it into the first of many emotionally-wrenching moments in the finale.
Like sister show The Vampire Diaries, The Originals doesn’t stray from brutality—as soon as Hayley’s baby is born, the witches heartlessly slit her throat without even allowing Hayley the chance to hold her newborn daughter. The moment is truly stunning and unexpected, but it delivers another of the episode’s best scenes, namely Elijah’s breakdown in the cemetery as he and Klaus search for Klaus’s daughter.
Elijah has always been the noble and composed sibling on the show, contrasting Klaus’s anger and Rebekah’s recklessness, so it’s simultaneously relieving and heartbreaking to watch Elijah snap at his brother’s failings (mainly Klaus’s penchant for attracting enemies and creating a treacherous world for the baby to live in—all valid points) before breaking down and sobbing over Hayley’s death, i.e. one of the few people he’s ever let in emotionally in his entire life. Aside from being beautifully written, the scene is also visually gorgeous, as the shot focuses on the brothers framed between two tombstones (a clever reminder that death is always prevalent on this show).
But just because death surrounds the characters doesn’t mean it needs to be the end for anyone, and the show makes two brilliant storytelling decisions during the episode: resurrecting Mikael Mikaelson and reawakening a presumed-dead Hayley, now in transition (she has to drink her baby’s blood to complete the transition and watching her suck her baby’s thumb is equally transfixing and revolting). With these two decisions, the show opens a whole new set of plot threads for next season. Most exciting is Mikael and Davina’s “team-up”. Remember how Davina began the show, as a helpless pawn locked in an attic? Everyone’s experienced varying degrees of personal growth throughout the course of this season, but Davina seems to have developed the most, and now she’s poised to become one of season two’s biggest threats to Klaus and co. Watching her come into her own has been a treat this season, and it looks like the best is still yet to come where her character’s concerned.
While there are several disturbing aspects to this episode, watching a handful of witches dress in white to slaughter a newborn is perhaps the most offensive. The Originals doesn’t shy away from the brutal (like Hayley’s aforementioned throat-slitting), but seeing Genevieve hold a dagger over the body of a fussy newborn is seriously disgusting and horrifying and only makes her comeuppance so much more satisfying later.
Meanwhile, the episode’s unsung hero award goes to Marcel. Marcel is, hands down, one of the show’s best characters and has been from the beginning. While his war with Klaus has been painful and amusing and revelatory to watch, the pair work best as a team and their truce has perfect timing, with Mikael and Esther (!!) seeking the deaths of Klaus and his daughter. And with the arrivals of Mikael and Esther, the season comes full circle, family-wise. Sure, it’s hard to watch Hayley and Klaus send their baby off with Rebekah (who is always nice to see, especially now, and this means the baby’s being kept in the family), but it’s worth it when taking into consideration all of the enemies Klaus has accrued throughout his lifetime.
Finally, finally, Klaus is being forced to pay for the monster he’s been for centuries, and his redemption arc is something this show’s badly needed since the start. The baby may be the push he needs, but it’s been a long time coming—before Klaus is ever going to be considered a hero on this show, he needs to become one.
Overall, this has been an extremely strong freshman season, with very few weaknesses or falterings (at least, few that weren’t eventually corrected, like the problem of Sophie Devereaux). Keeping the series’ theme focused mainly on family from beginning to end was a great decision and kept the show balanced throughout; clearly, the show intends to keep it that way.
So, what did you think of the finale? Let me know below!