After so many big and emotionally powerful moments in the “When the Levee Breaks” episode of The CW series The Originals, and only three more episodes left of the season, executive producer Michael Narducci spoke with a handful of press about the fall-out from recent events in the story and what’s to come.
During the interview, he talked about how this most recent character death came about, seeing the resulting grief, having considered other possible outcomes, what’s next for Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and the Mikaelson family, bridging the divide between Klaus and Freya (Riley Voelkel), that everyone will not make it out of the impending showdown with Dahlia (Claudia Black), what’s next for Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) and Jackson (Nathan Parsons), Hope’s growing powers, resurrecting Kol, how Cami (Leah Pipes) play into the remainder of the season, and the impossible choices Marcel (Charles Michael Davis) will have to make. Be aware that there are some major spoilers.
Question: When did you decide about Aiden’s death?
MICHAEL NARDUCCI: That’s a tough question. We knew, off the bat, that we wanted to tell a beautiful Romeo and Juliet story between Josh, a vampire, and a werewolf. Our goal was to create a complicated, layered person who was put in many dilemmas, with regard to his loyalty to the Pack and outside sources putting pressure on him. We wanted to show the difficulty of being a werewolf loyal to the Crescents and dating a vampire, but also his belief that maybe he should be Alpha. Him being an ambitious person and questioning the leadership of his own friend led him to be vulnerable to Klaus and his own Klausian machinations. Once we had that story in motion, we felt like we’d really put him in a dilemma.
Simultaneously, that story was going forward while we had another story, with Dahlia coming to town. Her goal is to divide the Mikaelson’s and ruin the vow of always and forever, so that they are easier to take down. We thought, if Dahlia is smart, she could use someone’s death, the way that she says she’s going to use Aiden’s death as the kindling to light a fire that divides the Mikaelson’s. I remember being in the room and the discussion came to the point of, “Well, what if she kills Aiden and frames Klaus for it, and Klaus couldn’t just say that he didn’t do it, for many reasons, one being that it’s a sign of weakness, and two, that he wants the Crescents to be questioning loyalty so that Hayley doesn’t have the freedom to run.”
All of these story points collided in a way where the idea really seemed like it would be the thing that would happen, even though every one of us in that room loves Aiden, and every one of us is really sad to see Colin Woodell go because he was such an incredible actor, beautiful performer and star in the making, but we felt like that was the best story. So, like with any death, you arrive at it, you think about it, you debate it and you discuss it, and if it’s right, than that’s what you have to do. And that’s what it was, in this case.
Are we going to see more of Josh’s grief?
NARDUCCI: Yeah, that’s a big part of the next episode. He is wrecked. He has said in a past episode, “You can’t stand against Klaus Mikaelson because than I’m going to have to get revenge against Klaus Mikaelson when he hurts you, and then I’m going to get killed.” I think that is his sentiment. The reality is, no matter how angry he is and no matter how much of a vendetta he wants to carry out against Klaus Mikaelson, he’s just a couple-year-old vampire and that’s Klaus Mikaelson. But, his rage is no less. The first thing he needs to do is wrap his head around how he’s going to recover from this grief, and that is absolutely something we’re going to explore in the next episode.
Had you ever considered any other outcomes for Aiden?
NARDUCCI: We talked about many different endings for Josh and Aiden. We talked about the possibility of them running off together. We talked about the possibility of one of them being captured and the other one having to risk everything to try to save him. We had a bunch of different storylines planned. This one was really tough. We really felt this one. We cared very much for this storyline and for these characters. There is an argument to be made that Josh, as a vampire, would have someday lost Aiden, no matter what. It goes back to the vampires being immortal, and mortals have a finite lifespan. So, this idea of them having a happy ending, nobody really gets a happy ending. I’m sorry to be the one to say that depressing thing. What you have to do is live through those beautiful moments as they come, and live in the now. If that’s the metric by which we judge Josh and Aiden, they have one of the most beautiful and happiest stories of anybody on our show. I think they did have romance and love and beauty, and they got to a place that we all want to get to. And then, his life was taken from him, and Josh has to continue. I think that’s a very universal story, and we want to tell that story.
Do any of the Mikaelsons doubt Klaus’ word, when he says that he was the one who did it?
NARDUCCI: I think it’s very believable that Klaus would do it. It’s very telling that, in that moment, Jackson completely believes that he did it, Hayley is shocked but believes that he did it, and Elijah believes that he did it and still defends him. Nobody is thinking, “Well, he was clearly framed.” It is a Klausian thing to do. And yet, he has confessed the truth to Cami, so now Cami knows the truth. Once that truth starts to get out, our characters are going to have to react to the question of, “Who could have done this and why?” That will be an important story point, as well.
Now that Klaus has been put down, do the rest of the Original siblings think they can take on Dahlia without him?
NARDUCCI: That is the million dollar question that everybody is struggling with. In the final seconds of this episode, once those bells start to toll, Daniel Gillies does something I’ve never seen him do on this show. It’s a phenomenal turn, and his expression of grief, sadness and fear of what is to come is just incredible. If you ever doubt that Daniel Gillies is a world class actor, take another look at that shot and see everything that is playing on the expression on his face. It is chilling to me, what is going on. That child is certainly in danger and could be taken, and they’re never going to let that happen, so they’re going to stand up to someone who is the most powerful thing that we’ve ever seen in this universe. They’re going to have to find a way to deal with her without the most dangerous member of their family.
Freya and Klaus made the same ultimatum, throughout the episode. Is the similarity between them going to continue to be explored?
NARDUCCI: Yeah. There is an element to both of them being raised by people who are not their biological parent, who maybe didn’t treat them the way you’d want a parent to treat you, in a loving and caring fashion, and that has resulted in both of them being very dangerous and lacking a certain base level compassion. But, both of them are smart enough to realize their similarities. That was something we explored in Episode 216. In this episode, when he’s talking to Cami, he says, “Are we not raised by our parents? If I am the product of Mikael, clearly she is the product of Dahlia. We can’t trust her.” So, that is something we are going to explore, for as long as Freya is a part of this show and a part of this family. How can they possibly ever bridge that divide? There’s obviously a lot of work to be done, if that’s ever even going to be a conversation.
Will there be more character deaths before the finale?
NARDUCCI: This was the season of the parents coming back – Ansel, Esther in the body of Lenore, Mikael, and now Dahlia. It feels like, for our show to continue and for these children to grow up and become adults and the captains of their own fate, they have to deal with that threat of the first generation. So, there will be a showdown with Dahlia that will be definitive, and along the way, some people will not make it.
What can we expect for Hayley and Jackson in the Bayou?
NARDUCCI: I think they are reeling with the loss of the guy who was, in effect, the vice president, the top lieutenant and the most trusted number two, and Hayley has to honor the very threat Klaus made, in his conversation with Cami. How can we possibly trust the wolves to protect Hope, given what Klaus has done? And Hayley, as a leader, is going to have to work with Jackson to find a way to earn back that trust. Those wolves really need to be loyal to Hayley and Jackson and want to protect that baby because, as we saw in this episode, that person coming for that baby is not going to stop. It’s going to get really bad.
Will we learn any more about Hope’s powers, going forward?
NARDUCCI: Going forward, yes. In the immediate future, the key story point is that, to keep Hope from being hunted by Dahlia, they’ve literally put what is, in effect, one of those manacles that disrupt witch power into Kol’s bracelet, that he gave to Davina and that Davina has now spelled and given to baby Hope. So, baby Hope has her uncle Kol’s bracelet, which is keeping her from having access to her power so that Dahlia cannot find her. We’re not going to see baby Hope levitate any bows and arrows against Dahlia, anytime soon, and that’s going to make it so that everybody else has to work together to protect her. But going forward, yes, that is something we always talk about in our writers’ room.
Are Davina and Rebekah still trying to find a way to resurrect Kol?
NARDUCCI: You saw Davina still working on it, when she tells Marcel, “Get out, I need to get back to work.” In the next episode, there are some pretty important witch shenanigans going on, and that will keep her from definitively moving forward with the spell. But she will get one little ray of hope, of what she might be able to do. There’s a very surprising twist that might aid her in her quest to resurrect Kol, and then she has to decide if that’s the path that she wants to follow, given what it’s going to cost her.
Because Marcel and Cami have been a little more sidelined with the recent direction of the story, what can we expect from them, coming up?
NARDUCCI: This episode has my favorite Cami/Klaus scenes, maybe of the season and maybe of the series. That final scene was heartbreaking. Leah Pipes and Joseph Morgan are exquisite. They’re just perfect in that scene. We will see Cami in every episode, for the remainder of the season. She has stuff that I’m really excited for everyone to see. If Marcel and Cami were sidelined, I think that it was our intention to really tell the story of the return of Kol, the return of Finn, the surprising revelation that this long-lost sister who we thought dead is actually not dead and is back, the story of Rebekah being in this new body, and the story of Dahlia returning for Hope, and all of those things feel very Mikaelson centric. These are family issues. Klaus needs his connection with Cami because it provides him with a certain calm and solace. She is, in some ways, the one person who has been able to understand him and sympathize with him and show him the forgiveness that I think he craves, but can never admit. So, she is a very important figure not only to Klaus, but to this family, as we saw with her ability to help Elijah deal with his red door situation when they were staying in that safe house. She will continue to be a big part of the show and a big part of the family, throughout this season and hopefully beyond. Marcel has some very difficult scenes coming up. He will have to decide what part he wants to play in all of this. We know that he has a rule about protecting kids, and we know that he has a fierce loyalty to the Mikaelsons in general, but especially to Rebekah. Some choices are going to have to be made by him that are what I would call impossible choices. I love his character, and we’re going to see more of Marcel, for sure.
There were so many emotionally powerful moments in this last episode. Do you have any personal favorites?
NARDUCCI: I love the moment between Josh and Aiden, when they decide to run off together and they declare their love for each other and have that beautiful kiss. I think those guys did such a perfect job with that performance I thought Claudia Black was bone-chilling and terrifying, and also delightful. She makes a clear argument for why she’s not the bad guy. She just made a deal and has come to collect. And those villains who think they are absolutely in the right are the most terrifying and dangerous. I can’t wait for the fans to see more of Claudia Black. I was just gasping at the moment when Jackson punches Klaus, Klaus hits Jackson, Hayley hits Klaus, Klaus hits Hayley, Elijah breaks them up, and Hayley hits Elijah. It was our version of a vampire Reservoir Dogs. Everybody was going at everybody else, in that moment, and it was great. This family is really coming undone. There’s the moment when Hayley stands up to Elijah and says, “Why are you siding with Klaus, and why are you not going to let us run?,” and Elijah decides to do what he has to do. And the scene with Cami and Klaus is epic. I think you get such insight into who Klaus is. And then, there’s the takedown of Klaus with the dagger in his chest, and him looking at his sisters with those bells tolling and that iconic performance by Daniel Gillies. I could gush about this episode forever. Marguerite MacIntyre wrote the most beautiful script, Bethany Rooney did such an amazing job directing it, and every one of our actors stood and did an incredible job. I am very proud of this episode.
The Originals airs on Monday nights on The CW.