SPOILER ALERT: This post contains details from tonight’s episode of The Originals. The time has come. The Originals has bitten its last neck, howled at its last full moon and cast its last spell. Wednesday night marked the series finale of the popular supernatural Vampire Diaries spin-off series and there definitely was closure — but it came at the cost of two lives. There is a lot to unpack with this installment of The Vampire Diaries universe, or as showrunner Julie Plec calls it, the “TVDU”.
Plec has been with the TVDU since The Vampire Diaries and now that The Originals is ending, she is closing this chapter and getting ready to open a new one with Legacies. Still, saying goodbye to the Mikaelsons and their supernatural dysfunctional family dynamics will be difficult for many of its loyal fanbase. But for Plec, she’s more excited than anything for everyone to say farewell to the New Orleans-based motley crew of vampires, werewolves, and witches.
“It’s hard to feel anxious because it’s been so long since we finished it,” Plec told Deadline. “I’m just so happy that people finally get to see it.”
In the penultimate episode, we saw Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and Elijah (Daniel Gillies) butting heads about who will get will put the dark magic inside of them to save Hope (Danielle Rose Russell). At the end of the episode, Hope had her first transformation into a werewolf and Klaus pulling the long straw to have the magic put inside of him.
The finale, titled “When the Saints Go Marching In” pretty much goes into the inevitable: the death of Klaus and the saving of Hope because, without her, there can be no Legacies. Throughout the episode, we see each character get their own special farewell — and there is one point when they have a goodbye dinner for Klaus because of his inevitable demise. But it’s the end when we see Klaus and Elijah stab each other with white oak stakes that put a bookend on this part of the TVDU saga. But if you want more after watching the finale, CWTV.com and the CW app will feature a deleted “Klaroline” scene for your viewing pleasure.
Plec sat down with Deadline to talk about the journey that led to this poetic death of Klaus and Elijah and gave her thoughts about saying goodbye to The Originals. She spilled some details on what how the ending will pave the way for the Legacies and how she wants the new spin-off to last as long — if not longer — than Supernatural.
DEADLINE: I’ll just get right to it — let’s talk about that ending with the deaths of Klaus and Elijah. Was that the ending you envisioned from the very beginning? Or did your vision for their journey change throughout the five seasons?
JULIE PLEC: The five seasons definitely gave it its own task. We knew at the beginning of the first episode that the final episode would be Elijah’s belief that Klaus had found his redemption and that Elijah would find peace in himself as a result of his brother finally understanding what it feels like to have unconditional love. And so this is just the detail trimming on that idea.
DEADLINE: Television has entered a time when they aren’t scared to kill off characters on shows — especially major ones. Just look at Game of Thrones and now The Originals. How do you take into consideration fan reactions without compromising moving the narrative forward?
PLEC: I think when we started Vampire Diaries, I think outside of Ned Stark, or perhaps alongside Ned Stark, killing major characters wasn’t something that anybody just did. I think when we killed Vicki Donovan in our sixth episode, that was when people woke up and took notice of our show and started talking in a way that made it feel part of the water cooler zeitgeist and as a result, we made a commitment to ourselves as storytellers to continue to surprise, shock and devastate…through the course of both series.
That being said, specifically this year with it being the series finale, it was important to me in a show about immortal beings who had been cursed with that immortality and who had been left on earth to just live a lifetime after lifetime — to me, the release from that and finding a path to peace is actually a happy ending. So when it comes to these two brothers, I don’t feel like they got the raw end of the deal personally. I think that they got freedom and peace and an understanding of the power of love, which for them after a thousand years of dysfunction and abuse and a lot of damage and drama is a really necessary and important thing for them to understand.
DEADLINE: What about the deaths of some of the supporting characters?
PLEC: We had some other pretty devastating deaths over the course of the season and that, specifically to this season, was born out of our villain, which was a villain rooted in an ideology and intolerance and hate. And we felt, as writers, to make the biggest statement about how devastating the consequences of that can of ideology can be, we really needed to have some shocking and deeply emotional victims of that enemy. That’s why Hayley and Josh specifically and then in addition to them, new characters, Ivy and Davina perished at the hand of that ugliness.
DEADLINE: With a show that has a big ensemble, how did you handle giving each character, besides the brothers, a fond farewell?
PLEC: We took a look at where every character started and then asked ourselves, well where do we want them to go over the course of this run and where are they now and what is left for them? What haven’t they accomplished? What desire haven’t they reached? And just to be specific with Rebekah, when we met her in the Vampire Diaries, she was chasing the cure. She was the eyes and ears of our origin story and we saw how her mother had taken her children and turned them into cursed immortal beings. And all Rebekah ever wanted was freedom from that and the ability to love and be loved and to have children and to be normal. So it was important for us to be able to give her that as we said goodbye — even if she has to wait a century to get it while she waits for Damon Salvatore to be ready to pass on, because he’s the one that has the cure that has to leave his body eventually to get into hers.
The Vampire Diaries leaned into romance and The Originals dealt with family, class, and the division of vampires, werewolves, and witches, with Hope being the intersection of all of them. How does The Originals feed into Legacies and what narrative can we expect from Legacies?
PLEC Well, interestingly The Originals was rooted in the sins of our fathers and the cycle of abuse and dysfunction and what our parents do to mess us up. Legacies is the coming-of-age version of that idea, which is these are just children who have it in them to be the darkest version of themselves. They’ve, in some way, been cursed or plagued with their own inner demons, whether literal or figurative. And it’s about rising above the things inside your brain, or your body, that might betray you and figuring out how to be the best version of yourself.
DEADLINE: How much time is in between The Originals and Legacies?
PLEC: Two years — Hope is approaching 18, the twins from the Vampire Diaries are approaching 16 and everybody’s living in upper high school age range.
DEADLINE: If the TVDU started with Vampire Diaries in 2018, do you think would it be a different kind of story?
PLEC: I do. I don’t think that you could do the Vampire Diaries that we did right now, here today. Because it was rooted in a lot of gothic tropes — much like Twilight or Anne Rice which is a very masculine, predatory, and filled with sexuality. Lots of damsels in distress and young, impressionable ingenues. It’s what I call “the bodice-ripping tone.” I mean, the joke of Twilight is that a 472-year-old vampire had a crush on a 17-year-old girl, right?
DEADLINE: Yeah, and that’s not really good right now.
PLEC: And Damon Salvatore was 160 some years-old, shacking up with this high school girl. It just doesn’t work today in that way. And maybe one day the gothic element of the vampire trope will cycle back into a more non-predatory tone. I hope it does because there’s something very beautiful and very Victorian about it, but right now it’s just too sensitive.
DEADLINE: With The Originals ending, are we really saying goodbye to everyone? Or can we expect some of them to pop up in Legacies?
PLEC: No, not officially, but yes, theoretically I would like that to happen. I would like to see some of these characters again, whether in dream sequence flashback or having them show up for parent-teacher conference day. I think, as was true with Vampire Diaries and is true with The Originals, there’s a time when actors liked to be able to put a character to bed, whether it be temporary or permanent. I want each of these actors to have that opportunity to make that decision for themselves before I come knocking on their door and harassing them — but the door is always open. I would love nothing more than to see familiar faces drop by or join the show in some capacity.
DEADLINE: And we’re living in this supernatural world where people aren’t really “dead”.
PLEC: Well, I will tell you that we have created, used, misused and abused and re-used and then used again, joyfully, the coming back to life tricks on this show. Some of the audience thinks we’re ridiculous for it — and I love it.
DEADLINE: Legacies hasn’t premiered yet, but would you want the TVDU to live forever, like many of its characters? Even beyond Legacies, do you have more ideas for more story?
PLEC: Well specifically, I would like Legacies to live longer than Supernatural. (laughs) It’s a show about a school! There’s always going to be new people that can come through there. We can have the next generation of Damon and Elena Salvatore’s kids. We can have the Mikaelson daughter of Freya, Keelin, and Vincent. I’m in it for the long haul.
DEADLINE: So like Supernatural, you want it to billion seasons?
PLEC: When I sat down with the network to pitch it, I said, “Vampire Diaries needed to end. Originals needed an ending. Legacies can live forever.”