If you watch The Vampire Diaries, then you know all about The Originals and you know if you are going to watch the show. With the planted pilot that aired during TVD last season, you have a good feel for what to expect from The Originals. But let’s say that you watched a few episodes of TVD and thought it was a little too young for you. The Originals might lure you in.
Briefly, The Originals follows Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah, the three remaining original vampires, as they return to New Orleans, a city which they essentially built. Klaus, the vampire/werewolf hybrid with a different father has long harbored feelings of resentment for being a half-sibling, which often leads to narcissistic, psychopathic temper tantrums. Klaus used to run New Orleans, but in his absence, his one-time protege Marcel has taken control of the French Quarter, and he rules with an iron fist. He and his vampires rule the city, live in the open, and drove out the werewolves decades ago. Witches still live in every corner of the city, but under Marcel’s rule, anyone practicing witchcraft will be killed.
When the werewolf Hayley (last seen stirring up trouble in The Vampire Diaries) heads to New Orleans in search of answers about her own family, the witches sniff out something special in her, and one of the “main” witches, Jane Ann, divines that Hayley is pregnant - with Klaus’s child. Jane Ann is killed for using her powers, and her sister Sophie and the other witches lure Klaus to town, hoping that the thought of his unborn child may keep him in town and inspire his protection. Of course, being a father is the last thing Klaus wants to think about when he discovers Marcel is now the power-mad king of New Orleans. Klaus wants nothing more than to dethrone Marcel.
All of this is story we saw in The Vampire Diaries. So what does a “pilot” for The Originals bring to the table? A second version of the story. This time, we see how Elijah came to the city, and how he fits into the story. The pilot doesn’t even feel like a pilot because we aren’t inundated with character backstories. We get a few snippets here and there from “The Originals” episode of The Vampire Diaries to clue in anyone who is new, but it doesn’t feel like a repeat of stuff we already know.
At Comic Con, show runner Julie Plec promised that you didn’t need to be a fan of The Vampire Diaries to enjoy The Originals. That is true: the pilot does a good job of setting up the characters and giving us Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah’s backstory without slowing down the story or being too repetitive for fans of TVD. But I don’t really foresee there being much interest in The Originals if you weren’t already watching The Vampire Diaries. It is rare for a spinoff to maintain the same feel, the same mythos as the original series, yet still remain its own entity, and The Originals does that beautifully.
If I had to take issue with one thing about The Originals, it would be the heavy-handedness of the overarching theme: family is the most important thing in the world. Not a bad message, but Elijah harps on it, over and over and over. We get it.
The Originals premieres on October 3rd on CW after the season premiere of The Vampire Diaries, before moving to its regular night on October 8th.