In order to save his family, Klaus sacrifices himself, but probably not in the way you're thinking

By Samantha Highfill
May 21, 2016 at 03:20 AM EDT
Bob Mahoney/The CW

The Originals

S3 E22
  • TV Show
  • The CW

Family first. Always and forever. It’s the vow that has made the Mikaelsons who they are. It’s the vow that has helped them live for a millennium, and it’s the vow that has earned them many an enemy. And in the season 3 finale, it’s the vow that damns them.

Act One: Marcel’s Revenge

We start the hour right where we left off, with Marcel rising from the river, now a Super Original (as I call them). The Mikaelsons, however, still think he’s dead. And for Hayley and Elijah, their grieving involves sexy morning-afters. Klaus, on the other hand, still hasn’t forgiven Elijah and prefers to spend his time promising Hope, his “littlest wolf,” that he will do right by her no matter what.

But that might be more complicated than usual considering Freya just realized that all of Klaus’ enemies are heading straight for New Orleans. And once they arrive, they’ll be joining two of Klaus’ other enemies, Marcel and Vincent, who meet up at Davina’s grave.

Vincent asks Marcel if he’s going to be able to hold up his end of the deal. Now that Vincent took care of the ancestors, can Marcel take care of the Mikaelsons? Can he actually kill the people he once called family? As far as Marcel’s concerned, Elijah killing him sealed the deal. As he puts it, “Whatever happens next, they earned it.”

Just like that, Marcel gets someone to nullify a deed and someone else to foreclose on a property, and within a matter of minutes, he and a large number of Klaus’ enemies descend upon the compound. Oh, and they poison Freya because #war.

According to Marcel, he’s brought along a number of Klaus’ sirelings to bear witness to “the fall of the Mikaelsons.” And it begins rather quickly. Bringing up Davina — a bad move — Kol claims what Marcel’s doing is “an insult to Davina’s memory.” So … Marcel bites him. As a fight breaks out amongst the Mikaelsons and Marcel, he then bites Elijah. (NOOOOO!!!!!!!!)

Thankfully, Rebekah arrives — Hayley’s genius idea to stop Marcel — to press pause on the bloodshed. And she’s ready for an explanation.

Rebekah then orders Klaus to take Elijah and Kol to see Freya, who’s currently trying to find a cure for herself at Lucien’s penthouse, while Marcel catches Rebekah up on the happenings of late. She agrees that she cannot defend the actions of her brothers, and yet, she still begs Marcel to cure them. But as we all know, there is no cure. Marcel informs her that Elijah and Kol are as good as dead, and Klaus will soon follow.

So what does that mean for Rebekah? Marcel claims he’d never hurt her, but he also refuses to back down. But when Rebekah brings up the idea of justice, Marcel agrees that he can give her that. And that means Klaus is going to be put on trial.

NEXT: Klaus is put on trial

Act Two: The Trial of Klaus Mikaelson

At Lucien’s penthouse, Klaus goes to Elijah, who asks his brother to please take care of Hayley and Rebekah. Furthermore, Elijah tells Klaus not to seek revenge on Marcel. “This was not Marcel. This was me,” Elijah says. In a moment that shatters my heart, Klaus tells his brother, “I can’t do this without you, Elijah.” And in our Elijah Moment of the Week, Elijah hugs his brother and tells him he has to be strong because “they need you.”

As much as this show is about Klaus as the sort of leader of this family, I love this moment of seeing him admit to needing his big brother. He’s never seemed more like a little boy to me, and it’s such a rare and important thing for him to admit that he needs help, especially because he’s not talking about needing Elijah’s help on a specific project. He’s talking about needing Elijah’s help in life. He needs his brother by his side, and in this moment, we get to see two immortal, powerful Originals being utterly fragile. They’re two scared brothers and nothing more, and that’s what makes it so impactful.

Speaking of siblings, when Kol begs Freya to at least put him to sleep so he can stop enduring the pain of the bite, she gets an idea. The problem is that she needs time. Also, she needs Klaus to stay alive. And that’s going to be tricky considering he’s decided to give himself up to Marcel and allows himself to be put on trial.

Saying goodbye to Hope, Klaus apologizes to Hayley for what he did last year when he separated the mother and daughter. He sees now that he was wrong. He then asks Hayley to take care of Hope.

And with one last hug between Rebekah and Klaus, the trial begins.

Step 1: Testimonials. Marcel recounts all the ways Klaus has harmed the people in the room, all the loved ones he has killed. But Klaus doesn’t apologize. Why? Because those actions taught the world to fear him, and that fear is the very thing that protected his family. (I love this show bringing even the worst actions back around to family, which gives them a sort of meaning but also proves Marcel’s point to an extent.)

Step 2: Before Marcel decides just how Klaus should pay, Rebekah asks to speak on her brother’s behalf. She knows what Klaus has done, but how is it different from what they’re doing to him now? “The strong fight to determine who is strongest,” she says. They all fight for power. Klaus’ instinct is to defend his blood, just as everyone in the room is looking to avenge theirs. She asks, “Would anyone here do any less?”

But Marcel’s not buying it. “All’s fair in defense of the family” is the very idea that got them here. And after all, hasn’t Klaus punished Rebekah more than anyone? With the curse slowly taking over Rebekah’s mind, she’s easily influenced by Marcel’s words. And just like that, Rebekah is ready to divulge the “brutal truth about Klaus Mikaelson.”

Switching gears, Rebekah decides that Klaus’ actions were never in defense of family. “He destroys everything he touches,” she testifies. After all, he murdered their mother and both of his fathers. He’s daggered his siblings repeatedly. She decides that he needs to suffer the way they’ve all suffered because of his actions. And that means it’s decision time.

NEXT: It’s all up to Hayley now

Act Three: The Fate of the Mikaelsons

But before we get to that, we head back to Lucien’s penthouse, where Hayley visits a degenerating Elijah and assures him that he didn’t dream about their morning together. It was real. And now, in case of his death, he tells Hayley that she has grieved enough and asks her to promise him that she will take Hope and move as far away from this place as she can. “I want you to be happy” he tells her as he kisses her on the cheek.

Step 3: Back at the trial, it’s Klaus’ turn to speak. First, he puts Davina’s death on Marcel. Shouldn’t he have warned her about what happens to those who cross Klaus Mikaelson? And as for everyone else in the room, so he killed their loved ones, what of it? They’re only here today because he gave them all the gift of immortality, “a debt that you can never repay.” And that alone far offsets his crimes. “I owe you nothing,” Klaus tells them. So he’s ready to die. At this point, his death will only cause him a fraction of the suffering he’s caused all of them. “In the end, you will all know that I won. You will remember me, Klaus Mikaelson, your maker.”

Right on cue, Rebekah yells, “Death is too good for him!” Instead, they decide to make him suffer. So for everyone Klaus has killed, including “the boy I used to be, the one you once called your son,” Marcel stabs Klaus with Papa Tunde’s blade, leaving him to suffer for as long as Marcel deems fit.

Rebekah calls Hayley and tells her the plan worked. (Her anger was all an act!) Freya then does a linking spell that connects all the siblings and ties them to Klaus’ lifeforce. As Rebekah tells Hayley with her final words, it’s up to Hayley to make Klaus’ sacrifice count.

So with the siblings back in coffins in the back of a truck, much like they were when Stefan stole them from Klaus all those years ago, Hayley and Hope hit the road, in search of three cures: A cure for Marcel’s bite, a cure for Rebekah’s hex, and a cure for Freya’s poison.

In a letter to Hope, Klaus explains that he was called upon to save his siblings, and so he did, and his only regret is being away from his daughter. But he knows that Hayley won’t rest until their family is united. “You are the legacy this family has always desired,” he writes to Hope. “The promise we fought to protect. You are, and always will be, our hope.”

As Klaus reads this, Marcel bricks him up, much in the way Klaus trapped Aurora behind a brick wall. And yet, Vincent doesn’t seem too happy with Marcel. Apparently Marcel decided to kill what was left of the Strix and leave their dead bodies all over his gym. And when one of the not-fully-dead vamps attacked Kinney, Vincent had seen enough.

At the compound, Vincent buys the gym back from Marcel and aims to once again turn it into a church, where the only membership requirement is a hatred for Marcel’s family — ironically, he seems to be referring to the Mikaelsons. According to Vincent, Marcel might not be much better for the city of New Orleans than Klaus was, and Vincent isn’t about to let that slide.

As for the rest of the Original siblings, they wake up in Freya’s dream world, a place for them to spend their days until Hayley finds a cure. As Rebekah tells Elijah, “He knew he had to be anchor to Freya’s spell. He saved us.” It seems, for once, Klaus Mikaelson is the hero of this story.

What’s great about this finale is less about this final hour and more about this season as a whole. This season took the thing that we admired about the Mikaelsons and made it their worst quality, made it the thing that would ultimately destroy them. And in doing so, it led Klaus to a moment of redemption years in the making. The powerful finale was the culmination of everything set into motion throughout the masterfully built third season. And the show’s best story arc at once ended and seamlessly launched itself into the next season. And I, for one, cannot wait.

What did you think of the finale? What about the season as a whole? Hit the comments with your thoughts or find me on Twitter @samhighfill. And be sure to check out Julie Plec’s final blog of the season, as well as showrunner Michael Narducci’s thoughts on what comes next.

Episode Recaps

The Originals

Joseph Morgan and Daniel Gillies star as Klaus and Elijah Mikaelson in this Vampire Dairies spin-off about the first family of vampires, their life in New Orleans, and the witches and werewolves who live there.
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