The Originals, Season 2, Episode 20, “City Beneath the Sea”
Written by Carina Adly MacKenzie and Charlie Charbonneau
Directed by Leslie Libman
Airs Mondays at 8pm (ET) on The CW
On this week’s The Originals, Klaus takes a walk through Dahlia’s memories, Hayley chooses a family, Elijah and Rebekah attempt to keep Hope hidden, and Aiden is laid to rest.
Last week, Klaus was arguably the biggest weakness in an otherwise excellent episode, and not much has changed this week: he remains frustratingly temperamental and fickle in “City Beneath the Sea,” an episode that tries to garner sympathy for Dahlia and Klaus, two villains who believe themselves to be unjustly accused, and only serves as a reminder that they are, without a doubt, the villains of this story.
While Dahlia’s flashbacks/memories are interesting and do add another dimension to her character, they feel like too little, too late. The audience just watched her kill a beloved character and then threaten to steal a baby away from her mother; watching Dahlia be abandoned by Esther (another villain of the series) doesn’t make her very sympathetic, but it does explain some of her current-day craziness. Plus, the flashbacks help strengthen her ties and similarities to Klaus, which is not a compliment to either of them. Dahlia straight-up says: “I have been unjustly painted as the villain of this story.” And, in her memory walkabout with Klaus, it’s obvious the show wants the audience to feel the same way about Klaus, and to feel that he’s doing bad things to protect his daughter, but Dahlia, and Klaus, need to look up the definition of “villain” in the dictionary. There’s a reason Freya and Esther turned on Dahlia, and there’s a reason Klaus’s family turned on him–teaming up with this season’s Big Bad (and simultaneously denouncing nearly-two seasons of bonding with baby mama Hayley by claiming he never cared for her) only cements Klaus’s status as a bad guy and, yes, a villain.
When Hayley chooses to separate herself from the Mikaelson’s, it’s not only a heartbreaking move (because Elijah and Rebekah care very much for both Hayley and Hope), but a rational one: who in their right mind would keep their daughter in a family led by such a toxic and dangerous person as Klaus? Instead of trying to kill everyone who might pose a threat to Hope, Hayley is protecting her daughter by sacrificing her own happiness and ties to the Mikaelsons (and giving Hope a genuinely good father figure in Jackson)–it’s fairly obvious who truly has Hope’s best intentions in mind by episode’s end.
Hayley’s self-exile from the Mikaelson family isn’t the saddest moment in the episode–that honor belongs to Aiden’s funeral, and to Steven Krueger’s Josh, who quietly stole the episode with his level-headed but utterly devastating grief. Supernatural shows aren’t known for characters remaining clear-eyed and intelligent following the death of a loved one–there’s usually a whole lot of plotting to bring the deceased back to life (ahem, Davina) or seeking revenge, if vengeance is applicable. Josh, to his immense credit, doesn’t dwell on either option, and instead uses the time to bid a tearful goodbye to his werewolf lover and muse on the downsides to immortality.
While the rest of the episode is rather uneventful, and mainly serves to set everything up nicely for a very intense final few episodes, there are still some nice gems to be found. One of the best is the small but sweet exchange between Marcel and Hayley, whose friendship is one of the highlights of the entire series. Thankfully The Originals isn’t forgetting about their bond, because it’s genuinely charming, especially when Marcel coaches Hayley on being a leader and the possible consequences to her actions regarding the wolves and Hope; though it’s been a long time since the audience has seen him in charge, Marcel was a leader who gained followers through trust and admiration rather than outright fear. If anyone’s a good mentor on leadership, it’d be him. Another highlight is Cami and Vincent’s back-and-forth regarding Vincent’s fear of magic. More supernatural shows need an on-call therapist like Cami. She knows how to balance the fractured psyches of supernatural creatures so well that she should just make Supernatural Therapist her full-time job. In all seriousness, it’s always a treat when she’s on-screen, if only because she brings much-needed sanity to a show filled with varying degrees of insanity.
While “City Beneath the Sea” isn’t as thrilling or heart-wrenching as last week’s episode, it’s still a very informative and emotional hour that practically guarantees a shocking final few episodes now that Klaus and Dahlia are joining forces. In true The Originals fashion, things are about to get crazy.