“If you want to be bad, be bad with a purpose. Otherwise you’re just not worth forgiving.”
These are the iconic words Damon utters to Klaus Mikaelson, during a mid-season conversation that’s about as “Meta” as TVD gets . . .
One could probably imagine a similar conversation taking place in the TVD writers’ room, around the time Plec and Co. got their greenlight to film the back door pilot to “The Originals.”
After all, Klaus had been the series’ main Big Bad for three seasons know, roughly 75% of the life of the show. And now, there was a good chance the Original Hybrid would be blessed with a series of his very own . . . a series where the character would be featured, not as the show’s antagonist, but as its protagonist.
It was a tall order. Fortunately, the writers already had two templates as to how such a feat could be accomplished. The first was another blonde villainous vampire, by the name of Spike, who made a similar journey from Season 2 Big Bad, to Season 4 Questionable Ally on the critically acclaimed TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The second was Damon Salvatore himself, the ultimate TVD Bad Boy MOSTLY Redeemed . . .
Step 1 – Make the Villain Fall in Love . . .
Everyone remembers the first time Spike spied Buffy at a party, and was instantly plagued with an intense desire, both to kiss her, and kill her. Damon felt the same way about Elena, the first time he laid eyes on her . . . his brother’s girlfriend, who bore the same face as his lost love. She seemed to be the ultimate pathway toward Sweet Revenge.
So, too did Klaus experience this conundrum, firsthand, when, to get revenge on his errant sire hybrid Tyler, he compelled him to lethally bite his girlfriend, Caroline . . . potentially ending her new vampire life, before it even really had a chance to begin . . .
When Klaus first arrives at the Forbes household, his motives are unclear. Is he planning to let Caroline die, to teach Tyler a lesson in obedience? Is he hoping to seduce her, thereby taking from Tyler, the one aspect of his life, over which Klaus, up to this point had no control?
Whatever Klaus had initially planned to do, it’s clear from the way he looks at Caroline, lying vulnerable on the bed, that he’s changed his mind. Seeing this young woman, on the cusp of young vampire life, lying helpless before him, does something to Klaus. It changes him imperceptibly.
So, Klaus tells this dazzling woman, what no one else would, that vampirism, while “dark” and “monstrous,” can also be beautiful, because LIFE is beautiful. And then, he gives her a choice . . . immortality or death. This insanely powerful vampire, who has done nothing that wasn’t directly in his selfish interest, from the moment he set foot in Mystic Falls, for the first time, relinquishes control of his life and his Master Plan to Caroline, for reasons he may not yet entirely understand.
The result is a scene that remains one of my favorites in TVD history . . . And this is coming from a staunch Damon fan . . .
Klaus may have begun his wooing of Caroline back in Season 3, through expensive gifts, vacation promises, and pictures of ponies . . .
But it wasn’t until Season 4 that Klaus really started making headway toward winning Caroline’s heart. And he did it in a way that the Klaus of earlier season’s would never have even considered. He did it by listening to her, opening up to her, and by not taking advantage of her when he had the opportunity to do so . . .
Like, for example, when he was in Tyler’s body, early on in the Season . . .
Sure KlausiTyler comes off like a bit of a cad in this scene. But he’s also surprisingly chivalrous! Michael Trevino does a great job conveying Klaus’ emotions during this season. He’s clearly turned on and pleasantly surprised that the woman he loves is FINALLY attacking him sexually. And yet, as much as he wants Caroline, there’s a part of him that can’t bear to have her under false pretenses. So, he exposes his true identity, and, in doing so, loses the opportunity for Hot Hybrid Sex . . .
It’s the second “half-way” decent thing he did for Caroline in Season 1. (Rescuing her from that anti-vampire cult, being the first.) And there’s plenty more where that came from . . .
Let’s not forget that Klaus came as Caroline’s date to the Miss Mystic Falls Dance?
Just as Buffy reawakened the quiet poetic side of Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Elena awakened the selfless side of Damon, so too does Caroline seem to bring out an oddly lighthearted cheeky version of the usually single-mindedly power hungry Klaus.
He smiles, he jokes . . . he makes a good show of pretending to care about things that Caroline cares about . . . things that would otherwise have no meaning for him whatsoever, like pageants, proms, and party dresses . . .
And what girl wouldn’t appreciate a guy with the unique ability to be the Fairy Godmother to her Cinderella, while still looking like Prince Charming?
(Even if it does make you wonder what happened to all the girls who used to wear the dresses he stores in his closet?)
Of course, every budding relationship hits a bit of a snag. And Klaus finds himself relapsing into old habits, when he, once again, is responsible for Caroline’s receipt of a lethal werewolf bite . . . a bite he issues himself, out of anger at Tyler, and Caroline’s brutal rejection of him . . .
And yet, when all is said and done, Caroline and Klaus make amends, and end up parting as “friends (?),” with Klaus temporarily ceding the love of his life to the same young hybrid that’s been a thorn in his side all season . . .
You know what they say, “if you love something set it free, if it comes back to you,
due to series cancellation, it was meant to be.”
So, why the ultimate change of heart, with respect to Tyler? Especially, considering how intent Klaus initially seemed on keeping these two lovebirds apart indefinitely . . .
I suspect it had a little something to do with Step 2 of our Redemption Plan . . .
Step 2 – Find a New Big Bad, So the Old One Can Unite with the Scoobies Against Him . . .
In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike joined the Scoobies after the ultimately corrupt initiative put a chip in his brain, preventing him from hurting humans. This made Spike no longer a threat to Buffy and her gang. It also gave him impetus to fight on their side, as it enabled him to kill the only type of being he still could . . . demons.
Likewise, in Season 2, Damon promptly put aside his differences with his brother, so the two could battle a mutual, and much more powerful enemy . . . Klaus, himself . . .
The writers must have had quite a difficult time coming up with a Bigger Bad than Klaus. After all, we are talking about a 1,000-year old virtually unkillable vampire, who also possesses full werewolf powers. But it wasn’t Silas’ strength that made him such a threat to the Scooby gang, it was his impressive ability at mental manipulation . . .
Not only could Silas impersonate any person or thing, he could also see inside people’s minds, and expose their deepest darkest fears and secrets. As a result, Klaus found himself reluctantly found himself in a role entirely foreign to him . . . that of VICTIM . . .
Sexy buff shirtless, victim . . . but victim, nonetheless . . .
Ahh yes, the infamous bloodline . . . another nifty way to align Klaus to the Scooby Gang, was for the writers to literally tie his survival to their own. Thanks to some crafty mythology, Klaus can no longer die, because killing him would effectively demolish the ENTIRE CAST OF THIS SHOW . . .
I bet Spike is wishing he thought of that one. It sure beats his method of maintaining character relevance . . .
While, in previous Seasons, Klaus was the Ultimate Enemy, like Spike and Damon before him, Klaus suddenly found his own personal interests aligned with Damon, Stefan, Caroline and co. And so, he helped them, in their quest to defeat Silas, by solving the key to the Hunter’s Map that would lead to the vampire cure. (He hoped to use that cure on Elena, so her human blood could produce more hybrids.)
“Human blood bag for all eternity . . . BFF . . . same difference.”
A vulnerable, lovelorn, character, fighting on the side of good, to defeat the Big Bad, who sometimes becomes prey to the ultimate predator . . . Season 4 Klaus sure sounds like a hero to me . . .
except when he isn’t . . .
Step 3 – Keep the Former Villain Behaving Badly Enough That He Doesn’t Lose His Edge . . .
Heroes are great and all . . . but they can be SUPER boring.
So, when writers are tasked with redeeming a Bad Boy, they always must make sure he remains just evil enough to still be interesting. (Plus, there’s the ever present issue of character consistency. A guy like Klaus doesn’t just automatically start shaking hands and kissing babies, just because he fell in love with a pretty girl!)
And so, for every kind, romantic, or selfless act Klaus committed in Season 4, he had to do something truly awful, just to balance things out . . .
Revenge Sex with Hayley . . . definitely not your finest hour, Klaus . . . (hot triangle tattoo notwithstanding)
No act was more awful than the Christmas Massacre Klaus committed in episode 9 of the Season. Betrayed, once again by Tyler, and the hybrids, who Tyler systematically taught to break themselves of their bond with the Original, Klaus is BEYOND pissed. This single calculated act has painfully exposed the Original Hybrid’s two Achilles Heels’ his pride and his loneliness.
And so Klaus lashes out in the only way he knows how, by ripping from Tyler everything he cares about. Murdering 13 people in a single episode, one of whom is a completely harmless human. It doesn’t get much more villainous than that . . .
And yet, as Caroline once said, “Anyone who can love, is capable of being saved.”
Can New Orleans be Klaus’ salvation? Can Caroline? How about that ridiculous plotline spawn in Haley’s belly?
Throughout Season 4 of TVD, Klaus has shown himself to be capable of both exceptional good, and horrifying evil. But is it enough to make him a relateable protagonist on his own series? A series without Caroline . . . the woman, who made all this sort-of redemption possible?
Only time will tell . . . and for an immortal like Klaus, time is definitely on his side . . .
Speaking of everyone’s favorite Vampire Barbie, she’s next on my Re-Vamped list.
See ya then, Fangbangers!