This review contains spoilers.
1.9 Reigning Pain in New Orleans
We began the first season of The Originals with the questions of family, loyalty and what the heck might be able to keep the Mikaelsons together and, with the mid-season finale, those questions largely remain. Now, however, that family has expanded significantly to include Hayley, Davina, Marcel, Hayley’s werewolf family and now, Klaus’ own paternal bloodline. We’re not just dealing with the three originals anymore – and the way the show has so far inducted each character into the series mission statement has been great. As we leave things, Klaus has everything he ever wanted, but everyone knows it’s not going to be that simple.
Because what Klaus wants is power and, while he has succeeded in getting to the top of the New Orleans vampire hierarchy, his position as king of the city is incredibly precarious. Without the loyalty of the other vampires or the love of his family, Klaus comes to realise that he won’t last very long on top and so, in a rare fit of sensible reasoning, he recruits Marcel as his partner and makes amends with Elijah and Rebekah. His biggest problem right now is Hayley, who has also done a good job of turning Davina against Marcel, and, with Cami’s compulsion removed at the end of the episode, that makes three formidable ladies ready for when we return.
But, even if it won’t last very long, it feels good that Klaus’ ascent to the top was only the first couple of pages of the story. If it had been dragged on for years, as the original premise suggested last year, then The Originals wouldn’t be half the show it is now. The Vampire Diaries suffers from a flimsy premise that the writers seem reluctant to deviate from but, with just a couple of surprising moves, its spin-off has become something far superior to what anyone thought it could be. By virtue of the least moral character being our protagonist, there’s no clear villain on the show and, while that might turn off the casual viewer, it’s pretty brave.
A war between the species of New Orleans is brewing and, while Sophie and the witches have been MIA since their elder was killed and the werewolves are keeping quiet for now, it’s the humans who assert their authority this week. When else have we seen a band of humans actually pose a threat to vampires? The regime in New Orleans seems to operate with a delicate balance carefully maintained by each leader and, because Klaus laughed in the face of The Faction, they retaliated. Now all dead except for Kieran, we can look forward to a new group probably much more under the thumb of Klaus and Marcel’s new duo.
And he’s trying to take control of the werewolves, too, thoroughly alienating Hayley by ordering his new followers to massacre every last one of them. When this included Hayley’s family, the point he was trying to prove to Elijah was more important but, as his siblings discovered that there may actually be werewolves also descended from his biological father in New Orleans, he had a change of heart. It might be too late to win Hayley’s trust back but, probably because he was reminded of Klaus’ traumatic past, Elijah is prompted to apologise for his earlier assumptions.
So, when we return in the new year, the Mikaelsons will be back together in their family home, Hayley, Cami and Davina will have had time to figure out a revenge strategy, and Elijah will still be tortured about his feelings for Hayley. We can assume that we’ll be waiting for spring before the baby is born so, until then, we can simply revel in the unexplored territory of Klaus’ paternity. This first half of the season has been a thoroughly pleasant surprise and, while it may not be the show that I was expecting, I’m sure glad it’s the one we got.
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