Television has no shortage of self-destructive families, but none is as fabulously twisted as the Mikaelsons, The Originals. The “Original” Vampire Family, from whom all other vampires stem, they’ve been betraying and scheming against one another for over a thousand years… including the parents. They first “came into being” when their father, Mikael, a brutal Viking tyrant, insisted they be transformed into vampires to protect them from a clan of werewolves. But when Klaus, a younger sibling, killed his first victim, it activated his werewolf gene, revealing him as the result of an adulterous affair. Mikael has wanted him dead ever since, but Klaus’ sister Rebekah and his older brother Elijah have stood by him, protecting him, serving him, and fleeing with him in the long years since.
“Family” is at the core of both the relationships at stake and an underlining theme of the series, which explores the idea of family through multiple characters. In his warped mind, Klaus has been “protecting” his siblings through abusing them; he thinks by controlling them, he can keep them by his side. Rebekah loves and defends her siblings, while yearning for a “family” of her own (the child she can never have). Marcel, a former slave-turned-vampire, was adopted by Klaus and Elijah in the 1800’s, so he serves as their “surrogate” family, someone who equally challenges their authority and defends his own adopted family—including the witch, Davina. Hayley, a werewolf, originally went to New Orleans, as an orphan, to find her family. The therapist Camille spends much of the first season trying to get over the loss of her twin brother, the victim of a curse. Even the first season’s eventual antagonist is merely trying to bring her family together. And the glue that cements all their lives in place is a “miracle child,” a pregnancy that promises the Mikaelsons “a second chance.”
The second season has brought four more Mikaelsons into the plot: their violent, vengeful father, their manipulative, body-hopping witch mother, and two remaining siblings: Finn, who shares their mother’s view that they are all evil and deserve death for their crimes, and Kol, an unpredictable psychopath with a long history of brutal, excessive violence.
Elijah is my favorite, and purely devoted toward bringing about Klaus’s redemption through whatever means necessary. At times, his devotion feels naïve. If forced to deal with a cruel, vindictive, unforgiving, brutal and malicious brother, most would abandon him, but Elijah endures it in the belief that one day, his hope for his brother’s humanity will pay off.
Klaus is not an easy vampire to love. He has murdered most of his sister’s lovers, infected those he claims to love with wolf bites (fatal to normal vampires and extremely painful to his siblings), compelled nice vampires into serial murdering sprees, daggered his siblings as punishment, and vindicated it all through typical abusive language: “I wouldn’t have to punish you, if you were loyal to me.” He is deeply damaged yet still, Elijah pursues him, claims him, defends him, and vows to never abandon him.
Though imperfect, Elijah reminds me of the Lord. Like Elijah, He endures a good deal. He sees the hideous truth of us and still loves us. He pursues us even when we betray Him. Just as Klaus is undeserving of Elijah’s forgiveness, we are undeserving of Christ’s; yet He gives it to us freely, in the hope that we will let him transform us. That is what I take away from The Originals.