The Originals, Season 2, Episode 1, “Rebirth”
Written by Julie Plec and Marguerite MacIntyre
Directed by Lance Anderson
Airs Mondays at 8pm on The CW
On this week’s The Originals, Elijah coaxes Klaus and Hayley out of the shadows, Marcel builds an army, Davina meets a handsome stranger, and Cami attempts to separate herself from the vampires.
There’s no fear of the sophomore slump here–The Originals is a show that clearly knows what it’s doing. The second season opener is just as intense, well-acted, and well-shot as the very best episodes of the first season. Even comparisons to sister show The Vampire Diaries are no longer relevant here, as The Originals is quickly becoming its own beast.
It’d be difficult for a show set in New Orleans to be anything less than beautiful (even if it is, usually, filmed in Georgia), and “Rebirth” is quite lovely. The shots of the city (even the old, crumbling architecture) are gorgeous, as is the music. Music supervisor Chris Mollere does an excellent job mixing jazz elements with modern artists throughout the episode, and his choices are complemented by composer Dennis Smith’s subtle but impressive score. The pair work really well together, making the episode an aural treat as well as a visual one.
Actually, there’s one sequence in particular that really stands out in the episode. The sequence is largely scored by a selection of Mollere’s with a pulsing and very intense beat. His song choice adds a lot of depth and urgency to the retrieval of the moonlight rings, while Smith’s score rounds out the sequence as Hayley makes a bloody, violent decision that will undoubtedly have consequences moving forward, at least psychologically. And it’s not just the music that’s incredibly well-executed–the whole sequence takes place at night and is framed really well. The sequence is a pivotal moment in the episode, and The Originals does a great job tying all of the elements together into a perfectly-done couple of minutes.
The mood of this season feels a little somber, thanks to Hayley and Klaus’s grieving, but there’s still a lot of intensity and momentum in the story (as evidenced by the aforementioned sequence) that’s yet to be explored. Plenty of plotlines were set up during the season opener, but one of the best is the growing bond between Hayley and Klaus. Last season, the pair spent a lot of time actively hating one another–despite sharing a child–but the pair are at their best when they’re on the same side. It’ll be nice to watch their relationship develop.
Of course, none of the slower character moments would work as well if it weren’t for the acting, and Phoebe Tonkin really delivers. Hayley is poised to become a very complex character because of her new hybrid status and the loss of her child. Tonkin really sells the trauma, confusion, and anger Hayley is feeling, and she makes watching Hayley’s transformation (into a monster, as Hayley believes) very devastating and tragic.
“Rebirth” is an apt title for an episode that largely deals with the main characters exiting the dark places they were left in at the end of last season. It’s also an excellent season opener that delivers story in a deft way, which is both heartening and reassuring for the beginning of a second season. The Originals freshman season was incredibly good, and season two seems ready to make the show even better.