The Originals, Season 2, Episode 17, “Exquisite Corpse”
Written by Declan de Barra and Diane Ademu-John
Directed by Dermott Downs
Airs Mondays at 8pm (ET) on The CW
On this week’s The Originals, Klaus and Hayley seek to protect Hope, Freya reunites with Esther, Marcel enlists Vincent’s help tracking down Davina and the other missing children, and the Mikaelsons fight to save Rebekah’s life.
After several long weeks of stilted storylines, The Originals is finally wrapping up loose ends (Eva Sinclair, Esther) in prepartion for Dahlia’s extra long-awaited arrival. As a result, “Exquisite Corpse” contains more momentum and action than the last few episodes the show’s offered, and that’s a good thing–The Originals operates best when it’s surging forward, rather than stumbling aimlessly along.
The episode’s cold open is nicely tense, as Eva Sinclair poses a formidable threat against Hope and the Mikaelsons. When two of the show’s most powerful characters–Hayley and Klaus–can barely hold their own against a threat, then the stakes are relatively high. Unfortunately, Eva Sinclair’s attempt to kidnap Hope undermines how poorly-protected the child is; with Dahlia practically on their doorstep, how will the Mikaelson siblings and Hayley’s wolves ever keep the child safe? That remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, kudos to the show for keeping Meg Foster around. She really is an incredible force, especially when she chides Elijah for threatening her in her own home. Josephine and Elijah, in particular, play off one another really well because their personalities are so embroiled in manners, as well as polite but blunt truths. The Originals functions well with a revolving door of guest stars, but Meg Foster is such a treat that her character deserves a few weeks of screentime.
Speaking of excellent actors, Yusuf Gatewood and Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Vincent and Eva/Rebekah, respectively) are consistently killing it week after week. Their presence is undoubtedly one of the main reasons why season two has been so good, to the point where it’s hard to imagine the show without them. Both know how to shift from one character to the next and still make the change in personality apparent but not outlandishly so–a hard feat, indeed, though the pair make it seem easy. The Originals already has a stellar core cast, but all of season two’s new additions have seamlessly become staples, and highlights, of the show.
While the episode is largely focused on the hunt to retrieve Davina and the other children Eva Sinclair’s kidnapped, several offshoots of the main storyline are still entertaining. The chat between Hayley and Gia especially stands out, simply because it’s so heavy and informative about Gia’s character–she, perhaps even moreso than Hayley, understands Elijah and the pressure he’s under thanks to his family. The two women, instead of being divided by Elijah, use him as a bond, and it works surprisingly well. They’re both very headstrong characters, but they could be a formidable pair if they become friends.
Unlike the conversation between Hayley and Gia, Freya and Esther’s reunion is much more confrontational. Ever since turning into a vampire (a move that still feels very uncharacteristic of Esther), Esther’s been shunted to the side. “Exquisite Corpse” only seems to bring her back as a means for ending her story; it’s a shame, because she was given so much focus for so long that it feels like her character deserves a better exit. Of course, all of Freya’s actions toward her mother ring true, so none of her behavior is surprising. Also, the scene does deliver one brilliant moment: Klaus’s smirk when he sees his desiccated mother’s hand reaching for blood is perfect.
Lastly, it’s always nice to see the Mikaelson siblings working together. The Originals shines when emphasis is put on its core theme–family–so any scenes where the siblings are overcoming their myriad of obstacles (both physical and emotional) to work together are incredibly charming and well-done. So, despite the repercussions that linking with Freya will cause, the scene with Elijah, Klaus, and Freya joining forces remains a lovely moment.
If “Exquisite Corpse” is any indication, The Originals is more than ready for Dahlia’s arrival–with so much build-up, she’ll hopefully prove to be a terrifying, and exciting, challenge for the Mikaelsons.