About the only thing the cool Originals (Elijah and Rebekah Mikaelson) can rely on: their half-brother Klaus will always be an asshole. That’s the message one gets from this episode, when suave, honorable, commanding, nobler than his seeming years Elijah (Daniel Gillies is the luckiest casting coup the CW has ever made, as he’s a completely convincing baby-faced warlord) wastes nearly all of his time trying to talk Klaus into being even slightly human (not to mention loyal and smart) for just one freaking second!
It’s maddening, seeing how much Klaus remains a stupid rage machine. Rebekah is (so far) wisely having none of it, staying in Mystic Falls and exulting in the true happiness she found with Matt over the summer (no strings attached happiness, but somehow that seems to have worked out for both of them), despite Elijah’s constant updates and pleas to come help them save the pouty loser who keeps staking them and putting them in coffins for decades if not centuries.
The episode lifts whole pieces from last season’s “The Originals” episode, so any new viewers (sure they aren’t just the same ones who already saw this, like me?) can be completely up to speed on the sit-rep: former Klaus protégé Marcel is the vampire “King” of New Orleans. He’s driven out all the wolves with his vamp army, and he has some way of keeping the witches in line, too. Which is pretty unusual, and pretty unlike all the New Orleans witches we’ve seen before, who were quite badass.
Klaus, when he takes a moment to reflect, realizes he wants everything Marcel has, though he doesn’t care as much about subjugating the witches, and there’s also a fetching blonde psychiatrist-bartender in town he might like. She’s totally a Caroline surrogate, but a bit older and wiser, and sadly we don’t get to see the softer side of Klaus because only Elijah speaks to her this week. And he charms everyone, he so can’t help it. He also barters a truce of sorts with the witches and is the only one to see the value of Hayley and her baby in terms other than as a pawn. He even gives her a house.
The one new thing we get this week is a chance to see the back-door events more from the witches’ perspective, and that does bring a new spin. They are deadly serious in getting out from under Marcel’s thrall and they’ve taken Hayley – and her pregnancy – hostage in order to force Klaus to help them (giving us another chance to witness Phoebe Tonkin’s classic “Wait, what?” response when they reveal they’ll kill her otherwise). That’s just trading one demon for another, witches, but I think I see where they’re going with this. They don’t care what Klaus does to Marcel; they want him to take out his secret weapon, which is a pretty twisty reveal at the end of the episode.
Or it would be, if not for Klaus. Because after everything we go through establishing the quite varied array of dynamics that all fit really well into the established Vampire Diaries universe (well, except for Klaus proclaiming he’s been without love for centuries like a big crybaby, because we all saw him mooning over Caroline and sending her jewelry and dresses and drawings of unicorns), Klaus has to revert to his worst self-destructive fears, and try to carry out Elijah’s plans without Elijah, whom he stakes! Again!? WTH?
How is a boxed-up immortal more protected than a free-ranging one in full control of his massive abilities? Didn’t Stefan already teach Klaus the fallacy of keeping his siblings on lockdown by just stealing the coffins? You don’t get to have family AND not ever be manipulated, Klaus. No, not even you. And if this show isn’t going to be about the dynamics of the three siblings (who make a great team in a pirate-tastic flashback to their initial arrival in the Big Easy), what is it going to be about?
Naysayers have already wondered if capturing the essence of the setting is even possible on TV; I’d say they’ve got that part down, as the writers have all clearly read their Anne Rice. But I think we need a pro-antagonist who’s more like Lestat, and much less like Klaus, if the precarious balance be maintained.
Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at http://cornekopia.net.