In the Season 4 finale of The CW series The Originals, entitled “The Feast of All Sinners,” the Mikaelsons find themselves out of options with the all-powerful, un-killable entity known as The Hollow, and the only answer seems to be something that will rip apart their family vow of “always and forever.” With the life of Hope (Summer Fontana) at stake, Vincent (Yusuf Gatewood) devises a plan that will force Klaus (Joseph Morgan), Elijah (Daniel Gillies), Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin), Rebekah (Claire Holt) and Freya (Riley Voelkel) to test their bond like never before.
During Pt. 1 of this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, showrunner Michael Narducci talked about writing this episode knowing that it would be his last on the show (he will not be returning for Season 5), what fans of the series should brace themselves for with the Season 4 finale, why he wanted to explore the “always and forever” bond of the Mikaelsons and who they might be without it, what he’s most proud of with the show, and whether he might want to try directing, in the future. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Collider: Did you write this episode knowing that it would be your last episode on the show?
MICHAEL NARDUCCI: Yeah, I knew it would be my last episode. I hoped that the show would definitely come back. I knew that there would be Julie [Plec] and the other writers to carry the ball down field, and I’m looking forward to what they do. But I did know that this would be my last word on the Mikaelsons, and that made this episode all the more special for me.
Was that something you thought about, the entire time you were writing it, so that you made sure you said what you wanted to say with it?
NARDUCCI: I think that’s correct, yeah. Even as we were working on the season, towards the latter part of breaking episodes, I knew that it was going to be my last season, and that was a bittersweet realization. So, I just wanted to make the season good and contribute as much as I could. All the writers were really happy with the way things turned out, and I think our cast did an amazing job and were very happy.
This finale episode is both heartbreaking and heartbreakingly beautiful. For fans that are tuning in, who might be afraid of what to expect from it, what would you tell them to brace themselves for?
NARDUCCI: That’s a great question. I understand the passion that the fans have for these characters, but it is a television show and these are fictional characters. Ultimately, all of this entertainment and all of this story, the person that I want it to affect is the audience. The emotions experienced by the characters, of course, is important within our fiction, but at the end of the day, you turn the television off and however the story has affected you should inform your own life. I want people to watch this and think about what they would do in these situations, and to think about their relationships with this siblings, their parents, and their children. Ultimately, I want them to think about love and loyalty and family, and what kind of promises we make to one another. Hopefully, some of what they see the Mikaelsons endure will reverberate in their own lives. That’s the true goal of any writer, so that’s my hope.
Why was now and this episode the right time to really address the “always and forever” vow of the Mikaelson family, and to explore who they might be without that?
NARDUCCI: Well, if you go back to Season 3, the theme of that season was that anybody who loves this family is signing their own death sentence. “Loving any one of us is a death sentence,” was a phrase that Hayley uttered, going back to Episode 310 or 311. The Mikaelson vow is both a beautiful promise to take care of family and also a terrible curse because they are immortal and they are vampires. Oftentimes, taking care of one another means doing terrible things to anyone in the Mikaelsons’ orbit. Because Hope has now come of age and is seven years old, she’s old enough to understand loyalty and friendship, but she’s also able to understand morality and ethics and values. I think she could look at her family and decide for herself whether or not they are justified in doing some of the things they do. For that reason, Hayley said, right from the beginning of this season, that she wanted to do right by Hope and that the Mikaelsons had to do better, in terms of what they were going to expose her to. If you follow logically off of that, you know that Klaus Mikaelson is a vampire, Viking warrior, narcissist and ego maniac, and even though he’s changed, ultimately the evil that he has put into the world is so great that you have to wonder if he’s the best influence for his daughter. A thousand years of the same behavior is not going to change very quickly. There’s a great danger of being a bad influence to Hope, so we wanted to explore that. Could the Mikaelsons selflessly decide to do what’s best for that child, even if it means something of a sacrifice for themselves?
Looking back on your entire run with this series, what are you most proud of, as a whole?
NARDUCCI: It’s a very difficult task to write about people who, if we knew them in the real world, we would run the other way from. They are terrible people, almost every single one of them, with the exception of Hope and Vincent. They’re morally compromised, narcissistic, self-loathing, but also capable of great violence, and they’re judgmental hypocrites. We wanted to portray them in a way that showed their complexities and was a bit sympathetic and suggestive of the fact that we’re all capable of doing the wrong thing, at any given moment, and what are the circumstances that would make these characters do the right thing. It is a juxtaposition of the evil that these characters are, with the right conditions and circumstances leading them to have love in their hearts and a willingness to do right by that love. Familial love is a pretty powerful motivator.
Julie Plec directed episodes of The Vampire Diaries and some of your cast directed episodes of this series. Were you ever tempted to take on that challenge yourself? Is that something you want to try doing, at some point?
NARDUCCI: Oh, yeah, I’d love to direct, at some point. This season, I was able to be showrunner and function under a certain level of autonomy. In the past, Julie and I worked close together. This season, she was focused on the final season of The Vampire Diaries. My number one goal was to be the best showrunner I could be, and there was so much going on. You’re really working on six episodes at a time, on any given day. You’re in the writers’ room outlining, writing an episode, prepping the episode that’s next, shooting the episode that you’re in production on, and then also doing post. There’s a lot of different hats to wear as showrunner, and I just wanted to be the best possible showrunner I could be, so I focused only on that, and I’m glad I did. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll be able to put on more hats, as well.
The Originals airs on Friday nights on The CW.