Whether you liked him, or loved to hate him, Papa Tunde was a force to be reckoned with. When he died back in season 1 (episode 12, “Dance Back From the Grave”) we all mourned the loss of another kinda cool “big bad.”
Papa Tunde had a history with Marcel. They met while Marcel was in France, fighting in World War II. A few years later, Marcel invited him to New Orleans, but things didn’t go the way Marcel had hoped. Tunde and his twin sons ended up taking over the New Orleans coven, telling them that his ancestral and sacrificial magic would protect them from werewolves, vampires, and even the odd corrupt human.
When the “leaders” of the city held a meeting to discuss how they would continue to serve alcohol in the times of Prohibition, Tunde took offense that he wasn’t invited to the sit-down. In protest – or threat, or both – Tunde delivered the head of the human Mayor (our first clue that the O’Connells have had their hands in things in NOLA for a long time) to the table that included Elijah, Klaus, and the Guerrera wolf mafia family. This, eventually, ended when Klaus delivered Tunde the heads of his twin sons, taking advantage of Tunde’s weakness and gouged out Tunde’s eyes with his bare hands, killing Tunde once and for all. Tunde’s spirit was somehow attached to the blade that is now used as a rather superfluous weapon to lead the tortured down a road of mental and physical anguish. I hate that it has recently been overused, but love that they are, in a way, keeping Owiso alive. More on that in a moment.
Personally, Papa Tunde and the man who played him – Owiso Odera – were favorites of mine. From the first time I saw Tunde on-screen, I loved him. I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a soft spot for some of the “Big Bads”. After all, my first favorite “Big Bad” was Klaus!
I don’t often tweet celebrities. Honest. I kinda try to avoid it. I love Twitter, but it can be a breeding ground for trolls, idiots, and the ugly underbelly of humanity. Out of curiosity, I looked up Owiso. He seemed really sweet, and receptive to talking to fans of The Vampire Diaries/The Originals. So, I followed him. Tweeted him once or twice, and, before long, he followed me and we conversed – in 140 characters – about his character, and my love for him.
He retweeted me when I tagged him in my recaps. He loved his fans. If you go back and look through his tweets, you’ll see he was passionate about many things – soccer, Hamilton, basketball, politics, supporting everything Kenya, and, of course, acting. He was full of life, poking fun at himself in Throwback Thursday stuff, and thanking everyone that supported him.
That’s what makes this next bit so hard. Owiso passed away, suddenly and doing what he loved, while rehearsing a play in Louisville, KY back on November 3rd. He collapsed on stage, and was not able to be revived by first responders. He was 43.
He even sent me a private message on Twitter, wishing me a happy birthday.
So, every time Tunde’s blade makes an appearance I feel like Owiso is looking down on us, with that wicked-contagious smile, and it pulls my heart strings every time. I would tease him that no one ever stays dead on The Originals, and that, surely, he’d be tapped to come back and reprise the role of the epic Papa Tunde. And he was always open to the opportunity.
Now that that will never happen – aside from the ever-present possibility of a flashback to things already filmed – it deeply saddens me in ways I find difficult to explain. Maybe it was that smile. Maybe it was the clear excitement for life, that I often forget to have. Maybe because I considered him a friend – even if it was just a friendship that lived in my computer – I ache at his loss.
The world is a little darker without Owiso in it.
So, next time you see Tunde’s blade in play . . . wink at the screen and smile to the heavens. Owiso would love you for it.
Rest in peace, friend. Rest in peace.