The Fractured Red Door: Elijah Mikaelson’s Spiral into a Monster

Elijah Mikaelson
The same Elijah Mikaelson that appeared in The Vampire Diaries that was akin to Stefan, ridiculously noble but also cut-throat, has been left in Season 1 of The Originals because he is no more. Now that his Red Door has been fractured and he killed Marcel, he’s become just as bad as pre-Hope Klaus.

I used to admire the morality of Elijah Mikaelson. In the face of his brothers’ (Klaus and Kol) sadistically psychopathic behaviors, he was the brother of reason. He’s always been cut-throat and violent, but only to meet a certain end. It wasn’t that he derived pleasure from inflicting pain on others like his brothers. He would let people make their own decisions, and if they chose to be against the family, then they were taken down – simple.

We had previously seen an instance or two where Elijah wasn’t the noble brother he had presumed himself to be, before his mother’s resurrection. On The Vampire Diaries, we saw him completely back-track on a deal with Elena and the Salvatores that could have led to their deaths. We also saw him manipulate Davina by gaining her trust and appealing to her vulnerability only so she could do his bidding and backtrack on the promise he made by mercilessly killing Agnes and her friends. These instances showed a hypocritical side of Elijah, but relatively, he wasn’t nearly as bad as his brothers.

However, it increasingly became messier in the second season of The Originals when his mother was resurrected in New Orleans. To bring Elijah over to her side, she tortured him by showing him the red door he’d constructed to keep all the evil things he’d done locked away. The first? Killing his first love, Tatia, due to bloodlust. His mother cleaned up his murder, took care of the body, and helped him create the red door that would keep him from being tormented by guilt.

The incident with Tatia cracked Elijah’s psyche, causing him to be the victim of dissociative amnesia. This disorder, as the Cleveland Clinic explains, “has been linked to overwhelming stress, which may be caused by traumatic events such as war, abuse, accidents, or disasters,” and unlike medically caused amnesia, memories can more easily be recovered by “by something in the person’s surroundings.”

So, when his mother chained him up, and began to tell him the truth of everything that had happened, all his memories came flooding back. These memories included his mother telling him, “What goes behind that door shall stay there and be forgotten,” leading him to put all of his later monstrosities behind the door to keep his sanity. During this stresser event regarding Tatia’s murder, she also told him to “clean [himself] up,” because at the time he was covered in Tatia’s blood. Elijah also continued internalized this statement to mean that as long as he was immaculate with suits and pocket-handkerchiefs, no one would know the horrible things he’d done over a thousand years.

With this new revelation, he began to spiral in the world of his magically-induced dreams, where his older, bloodied self was seen chasing his younger, innocent self with the message, “one day only the monster shall remain.” Klaus saved his brother from this enduring torment with salve for the spell his mother put him under, and words for his mind, his mother had recently violated. Klaus explained, “Without you by my side I don’t think I can survive the love for my daughter… The monster in me can only be checked by the monster in you. Only together can we defeat our demons and save our family,” and just like Elijah did with his mother’s words a thousand years ago, his broken mind internalized this message and is now going full throttle with this mantra.

Elijah has always been pretty violent when it came to protecting his family, and he’d already devoted his life to the role of being the family’s (especially Klaus’s) moral compass. However, now this vow was renewed and saved him from the sinking abyss of emptiness he felt after his mother had yanked the memories from behind the red door. Now, this vow was the only thing keeping him functional. After Klaus’s speech, we saw him compose himself, and turn back into the Elijah we’d always known… at least we thought.

Apparently, ever since then he has still been battling with his true monstrous self and every murderous act he committed to save his family chipped more and more at his fractured red door. However, he continued doing all of these horrible things in the name of family, without hesitation, taking down all enemies with instant ferocity – until Marcel became his enemy.

After Elijah and Freya murdered Davina, Marcel emotionally spiraled himself. The people he’d seen as his family, murdered his adoptive daughter for their own ends, and he was done being their slave. He decided he would get revenge; maybe it was just pain induced, maybe it wasn’t – but Marcel had become an imminent threat.

The same Marcel that Elijah had taught to read and play the piano when he was younger. The same boy he saw as a son and connected with on a fundamental level but had to shun due to Klaus’s bitterness. And now, he thought the only say to save his family, was to kill the person he’d once seen as family. Elijah has never had to do this in the past. He has attempted to kill Klaus, but he has never went through with murdering a family member before.

As we know from the end of season 3, Elijah ended up murdering Marcel. However, since Marcel had already drunken the serum, he came back and wreaked vengeance on all the Mikaelsons, ending in Klaus’s torture and his family locked away in some psychological world for 5 years. This gave Elijah ample time to contemplate the repercussions of his paranoid decision, which finally lead to another mental break.

The audience was not aware of this mental break when he came back, but as EP, Michael Narducci explained on his Twitter account, Elijah had been riddled with guilt the entire time that only worsened when Klaus proved to no longer need his brother’s advice to make the right decisions. This was indicated when Klaus was faced with the same decision as Elijah: his family in The Mikaelsons or his family in Marcel. Klaus successfully chose both, whereas Elijah successfully doomed both.

This time Elijah’s mental break didn’t take form in a comatose and bloodied dream; instead, he’s is still partially functional by desperately clinging to the words that brought him out of his last mental break: “the monster in me can only be checked by the monster in you. Only together can we defeat our demons and save our family.”

This has caused the once noble brother to actually consider murdering children to save his niece and his brother. This also led to his need to kick Marcel while he was down with the eviscerating and horrifying speech in the cellar, where he unnecessarily attacked Marcel by dehumanizing him into a tool solely for Klaus’s redemption that is now trash because it wasn’t good enough. Unlike the relatively honorable Elijah The Originals audience once knew, the new Elijah tore Marcel down to make himself feel better; he has become just as sadistic as the rest of his brothers.

As Narducci further explained, Elijah Mikaelson’s actions and words are all the fall-out of his climactic decision to kill Marcel. Transformed by guilt, now he is simply trying to convince himself his actions were warranted by being as monstrous as he can in order to keep Klaus’s monster in check and protect his family.

The logic for this explanation is indeed there, as I’ve outlined above. However, Elijah needs further exploration to make this explanation warranted in the medium of this show. Narducci stressed Elijah and Marcel’s relationship will be thoroughly explored in the upcoming episodes. I truly hope it is, because, right now, all I see is a monstrous shell of a person who used to be the noble brother.

The Originals airs Fridays at 8/7c on The CW.

6 comments

  1. Elijah is not as bad as pre-Hope Klaus, not by a long shot. And especially not because he killed Marcel. I don’t think I’ve ever read where you mentioned how Marcel was extremely villainous in the early seasons, how he nearly caused his own “family” to be killed numerous times – even when they didn’t deserve it, how he endangered unborn Hope, and the list goes on. Marcel was constantly taunting them and threatening them on the bridge, forcing someone to take drastic actions at the time that Elijah killed him. He was no innocent by any means and neither are any of the characters. Marcel was largely portrayed as a brutal, murdering, oppressive tyrant in season 1 to most of the people in NOLA and was never a hero. He’s comparable to most of these characters. Elijah is not an uber villain, he at least still maintained a noble goal throughout and that is the protection of his family. Even and especially when Klaus and Marcel were harming them, and Klaus was daggering and imprisoning them left and right, Elijah did not. Also, the writers only conveniently in the last couple seasons attempted to show that Marcel even remotely considered the Mikaelsons his family. I consider it bad writing, because never once did he call Klaus father or Rebekah his aunt or Elijah his uncle. He never ACTED like they were family except when he was a pre-teen boy and that is it. On the show’s current timeline when we were intro’d to him in season 1, he did not act like he was family by any means. But that Klaus was an old pal at best, not his father. Nor Elijah his uncle or Rebekah his aunt. So all this is rather convenient for the writers too late to include in the writing for the character that all along he should have been showing some hints and feelings toward them, should’ve been calling them his family all along or at least former family! He did not. Especially because it was his fault that they lost their home and nearly their lives, on the run, and left NOLA. So when season 1 started, he owed them a huge apology at the very least and it was totally ON HIM to repair any semblance of family. The writers forgot all this or just didn’t care. My wish was that Marcel from the beginning would have been shown as family, even distant or estranged family from the very beginning and that was simply not the case.

    1. I am glad though that Marcel was never calling Rebekah “auntie Beks” or anything though because that would be a bit weird to me, even if just in flashbacks because, you know, how they have a romantic relationship…

  2. And Marcel only knew Davina for a couple years and she was already mostly grown, that’s hardly adopted father/daughter dynamics. He seemed more like an older brother or best friend. Freya and Davina didn’t “murder” Davina, either. She was already dead, they just failed to protect her spirit when they had to make the choice that anyone else would’ve done. And Marcel has never taken responsibility for his part in Davina’s actual death in terms of what lead up to her death and the reason the witches wanted her dead. Marcel used Davina from day one. Yes, he cared, but he also used her. He also imprisoned and tormented Elijah in season 1 and had Davina try to find a way to kill Elijah/The Originals. So much for “family. Like I said, the writers failed especially in early seasons to show that Marcel felt like they were even remotely his family. I get it, back then, Marcel was largely a villain and certainly an antagonist at the very least, so the writers used him for that. But that’s also a problem, they’ve used characters to insert into their particular storylines whichever of the week or season, which ends up being out of character of very inconsistent in the long term,

  3. And finally, the deconstruction of Elijah is pure audience manipulation and a play by the writers too blatant by anyone that knows storytelling. He was used in the last 2 seasons as a sacrifice, to prop up Klaus in the past and now Marcel, to show a stark contrast. As if theyr’re incapable of competently writing complex characters and dynamics without having to sacrifice one character to villainize to make the others suddenly seem better by contrast. They did this to Klaus on TVD and occasionally on TO, used Marcel for this purpose in season 1 especially, and they’ve done this to Elijah now.

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