Thomas Galvin
Purveyor of Fine Pulp Fiction

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Mikael is a complete badass.

One of my favorite tropes is the “whispered threat,” the guy talked about in frightened, hushed tones, the guy who puts the fear of God into people just by showing up. Mikael fits that to a T.

He’s also batshit insane. I can understand being angry that your wife got knocked up by another guy, particularly if that guy turned into a slavering monster once a month. But hunting the child down for centuries, just to undo the stain on your reputation? That might be going a bit overboard.

Speaking of batshit, insane, there’s Klaus. I don’t know what the “wanting to bang your sister” version of an Oedipus complex is, but Klaus has it in spades. Fuck it, we’ll just call it the Klaus complex. The way he goes after his sister’s lovers, and the way he kissed her on the cheek when he “permitted” her to see Marcel … he definitely wants to sink his stake in her, if you know what I mean.

I love how Elijah is developing in this series. He’s never been a good guy, not really. Principled, sure, honorable, that’s debateable, but he’s spent decades, even centuries, doing terrible things because of his promise to his brother: always and forever.

I think The Originals is becoming the story of Elijah’s redemption, or at least his freedom. His willingness to make Hayley happy, even if it meant losing her, was genuinely noble, and his realization that his brother is a raving psychotic who needs to be put in his place is fantastic. Elijah is pretty close to the only being on the planet that can really go toe-to-toe with Klaus, and putting them at odds is a logical choice, full of story potential.

And Elijah is, I think, done being fucked with. The cold, fatalistic way he took out Celeste was brilliantly acted. There was no rage, no fury, just a clam, inexorable, inescapable death. Elijah is a terrifying opponent, and New Orleans is I think, finally about to realize that.

It was also nice to see a callback to the Magic Stake of Killing the Shit out of Everything. Once that weapon becomes more well known, I can see a struggle breaking out over who gets to control it.

Is Seattle Grunge a thing again? I feel like this show is trying to make Seattle Grunge a thing again.

So I have an issue. A few episodes ago, Rebekah and Elijah faced down an entire clan of werewolves. It wasn’t even a contest. They just said “hi, we’re Originals,” and the werewolves tucked their metaphorical tails and ran like hell.

This week, Rebekah faced down five werewolves, and got her ass royally kicked. Granted, these wolves were shifted, and the ones from a few weeks ago weren’t, but come on. Rebekah is an Original. She is one of the most physically powerful creatures in this show’s mythology. At the very least, she could have outrun the werewolves. And in all likelihood, as soon as they attacked, the werewolves would have been reduced to a pile of furry limbs.

Even if you grant that Rebekah is the weakest of the Originals (let’s say it’s because she’s spent so much time daggered, and not because she has a vagina), she should still be an absolutely terrifying opponent. I am really, really tired of seeing her reduced to the damsel in distress. It took ~*~magic witch powers~*~ to take down Klaus. Rebekah should at least be given that much consideration.

But that’s what happens when you base your show on a group that is literally unkillable, and nigh invincible. You have to start retconning, just to generate drama. It’s unfortunate that they seem to be going down the “Rebekah’s lady bits make her weak” route.

On the other hand, I am really excited to see Elijah “searching” for his siblings. When a good man goes to war, you know shit is about to get real. And while calling Elijah “good” would be a stretch, he is generally restrained. That’s about to change, and Elijah with the gloves off is one of my very favorite things.

Celeste honestly has a point; his vow of “always and forever” has lead to Elijah making some terrible choices, and doing some terrible things. It was interesting to see him choose Hayley over his brother, and it would be very interesting to see that brotherly alienation grow. Elijah needs to become his own man.

I find Hayley and Seattle Grunge Wolf completely not compelling. Sorry, but I care about arranged marriages almost as little as I care about magic werepire quarter witch devil spawn hybrid babies. It was cute that they tried to make his near death by smoke inhalation all sad and dramatic. I don’t even know the guy’s name.

When Angel spun off from Buffy, it had a distinctly different feel. Joss Whedon said that Buffy was about the pain of adolescence, and Angel was about the pain of adulthood. You would expect the same to be true of TVD and The Originals; Klaus and family have left the teenagers behind, and are off to recreate their kingdom.

Which is why the intense focus on the youngest cast members here is interesting. Davina was the most powerful thing walking for a while, and now the newly resurrected Harvest witch is gouging out eyes with her brain. I don’t have any problems with this, but it is an interesting choice.

This episode was basically perfect. The only thing I didn’t like about it was using the quarter-witch werepire hybrid hellspawn bastard child’s blood to break the circle trapping Rebeka, because Hayley is still not pregnant and the quarter-witch werepire hybrid hellspawn bastard child is not a thing and I can’t hear you la la la la la la.

Anyway.

Papa Tunde was goddam awesome He is exactly what this show’s been needing: a charismatic, powerful villain that is a genuine threat, even to the Originals. Even moreso than Davina, because 1. he was able to come back from the grave, and she’s still toes up in a box somewhere, and 2. he isn’t just angry, he’s methodical.

Davina was a threat because she wielded the power of teenage angst (and occult forces). She packed a hell of a punch into a small package. Papa Tunde probably isn’t as raw powerful as Davina, but he knows what he’s doing. He can make the most use of the power he does have.

His plan was brilliant. How do you take on a creature that simply can’t be killed? Steal its power, of course. And its sibling’s power. And its friends. And …

In addition to power and a plan, Papa Tunde had style. Maybe it’s just me and my abiding love for Predator II, but I really enjoyed the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. He basically embodied my feelings about what a genre show set in New Orleans could be.

This show has definitely picked up its pace, too. Super!Davina and Papa Tunde were both Big-Bad level threats, and either of them could have carried an entire season on their own. Instead, they were both one-shots, setting up an even bigger bad.

I’m going to miss Papa Tunde. Let’s hope Celest can hop over the bar that’s been set for her, because it’s very high.

Personally, I would have prefered Elijah to fall to Papa’s blade, and Bex and Hayley to do the rescuing, but that’s mostly because I’m really enjoying Rebekah’s take-charge attitude, and don’t really like it when she’s relegated to a damsel in distress. Other than that, great, great episode.

First, the good:

Marcel’s interactions with Davina, especially near the end of the episode, were perfect. Watching them, you genuinely believed that Marcel loves her, in a chaste, fatherly or brotherly way, and that Davina feels just as strongly for him. This is refreshing in a show birthed out of a show about which vampire is banging the hot teenager this week.

And when Marcel realized that the spell had failed, that Davina wasn’t coming back, his rage was also palpable. I would have liked to see him be a bit more destructive, crashing through walls and shattering stone pillars, but that’s probably a budget limitation more than anything.

I love that Bex is still scheming behind the boys’ backs, and I especially love that she’s started using reverse psychology against them. “Elijah! Giving absolute power to this witch I’ve been hanging out with, who’s totally not on my secret team, is stupid! You don’t want to do that, do you?” To which Klaus, of course, quickly replies “fuck you I’m giving that witch all the power she ever wanted and then some and you can’t stop me so there!”

The show’s pace is starting to pick up, which is nice. The fact that Davina went from “all powerful ass kicker” to “don’t blink, you’re a corpse” in a single episode is reminiscent of the pace TVD usd to keep back when it was blowing our minds week after week. I’m a big believer in not outstaying your welcome, and I’d rather see them let awesome plot points go early than beat them into the ground.

Things I’m not yet sold on:

Hayley’s not-apology to Elijah, and the fact that he bought it. I know that “gullible bordering on mentally addled” is kind of Elijah’s defining characteristic, but it still doesn’t seem like “hey, I’m sorry you were offended that I went through your shit and helped one of your mortal enemies desecrate your one true love’s body” earned her a smoldering almost-kiss. But god damn that almost-kiss was hot.

Celest. It was pretty obvious that she was going to come back, but I’m not wild about the way she did it. I think I’d have preferred her to possess Sabine, or had Sabine working to restore her powers, something. I do like that Elijah’s lover is the new Big Bad.

“You got Hayley pregnant on a Tuesday so if we hurry down to the tax assessor’s and file a deed in his mother’s name and then bury our mother in a specially consecrated plot before the third full moon of the ninth month we can channel the power of our family into that chick with the tattoo!” – Elijah Mikaelson, Vampire Property Lawyer.

Things that were just plain bad:

Klaus’ disaster relief efforts. Klaus is a bad guy. He’s a complete dick to his friends and family. The idea that he has some sort of loyalty to his great-great-great-great … great werewolf descendents doesn’t seem in character. And the fact that Klaus’ taking care of them is enough to stop Hayley from worrying about her family doesn’t make any sense.

The fact that Elijah and/or Marcel didn’t instantly murder the ever loving shit out of Sophi and Sabine as soon as their little mass murder party turned out to, surprise surprise, be a bad idea.

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

The Originals is back, and over the break they fixed a lot of the issues I have with the series so far.

Klaus finally has a valid threat

Surprise, bitch! Davina is no longer taking your shit, and you are no longer the king of your particular mountain.

The witches in TVD/TO have always had a weird relationship with the vampires. They should be uber-powerful, the biggest contenders on the field, yet they always seem to play a subservient role to our fanged friends.

TVD has never really explained that. TO finally offered an explanation, but one that only works in New Orleans: the most powerful witch in town has a crush on Marcel, and is willing to be his enforcer as long as he keeps her stocked in sketch paper and violinists.

But guess what, kids? Davina isn’t shipping Marcel anymore, and we finally got the chance to see what happens when a witch cuts loose.

She can’t kill Klaus (or Elijah, or Rebekah). And that’s true for power-level reasons and plot reasons. But Davina showed us something even more important: the ability to make Klaus her bitch. She can hurt him, incapacitate him, even force him to turn into a wolf. He might survive an encounter with Davina, but he won’t come out on top.

Suddenly, the invincible, undefeatable Klaus is very, very vulnerable, and it’s completely believable that he doesn’t just godmode his way to victory.

Even better, Davina is still facing off against the other witches … and perfectly capable of kicking their ass. The four-for-the-price-of-one neck snap was perfect, and the kind of moment we haven’t seen enough of lately.

Elijah

Is finally done with Klaus’ act. He’s still his brother, and he’ll still protect him, but honestly? An unkillable murder machine doesn’t need a whole lot of protection, and he does need to get smacked on the nose with a newspaper every now and then. Elijah is one of the very few characters on this show that can do that and get away with it, and it’s wonderful to see him starting to scheme behind Klaus’ back.

Also, he is absolutely going to hit Hayley, over and over again, like the fist of an angry god.

And when he finds out that Hayley is helping Sophie resurrect his long-dead lover? It’ll be vampire hate sex.

Rebekah

This was the second best part of last week’s episode. Out of everyone, Rebekah has lost the most to Klaus’ murderous temper tantrums. And it’s fantastic to see her both realize that, and take control over it.

It would be very easy for Rebekah to fall into a damsel-in-distress role, to wait for Marcel to sweepin and save her from her big, mean brother. And it’s fantastic that Rebekah instead decided to tell them both to fuck off. There’s about to be a new king in New Orleans, and you can call her Queen.

I am officially on Team Ravina.

There were still a few minor issues with this episode (exposition in the dialog, and the “lol she’s not dead just sleeping” spell wasn’t set up as well as I would have liked), but all in all, this was a very strong episode, and a very encouraging sign for the rest of the series. Well done, Originals, well done.

The Mikaelsons are some of the best characters to come out of The Vampire Diaries.

Klaus is a formidable, virtually undefeatable villain, scheming and crafty, charismatic and chaotic. He can go from loveable rogue to bloody psychopath in the blink of an eye. Elijah is noble and tortured, reserved but powerful. And he looks damn good in a suit. Rebekah, well, she finally banged Matt.

The Originals are fantastic characters, so it’s kind of disappointing that their own series is kind of lackluster. I had fully intended to recap the series, but when I sat down to watch it, I just couldn’t find that spark that carried me through the first four seasons of TVD.

I’ve spent some time pondering this, and here are the things I think The Originals needs to improve:

Klaus has absolutely no valid threats

This is the big one. Klaus is the series’ main character, and in any drama, you have to put the main character through hell. You have to throw threat after threat at them, complication after setback, until they’re at their wit’s end, until everything seems lost… and then, when the hero pulls out a victory despite all the odds, the viewer celebrates.

You can’t do that with Klaus, because he is literally immortal, and pretty close to the most powerful creature in his universe. Look at some of the “threats” he’s faced this season:

Marcel is supposed to be the main antagonist, but he’s Klaus’ scion (or whatever term TVD uses). He would be weaker than Klaus even if Klaus was a normal vampire. Katherine, before she was defanged, was always able to toss around the Salvatore brothers, because she was that much older. Klaus has somewhere around eight hundred years on Marcel. It’s no contest.

And his minions fare no better. “No Originals at this party” Marcel ordered, and when the Originals decided to crash, Marcel and his followers… looked the other way, because there is no way for them to enforce Marcel’s ban. And when Marcel’s minions tried to gang bang Klaus into submission, well, that was just more cannon fodder from the Klaus meat grinder. It was a fantastic scene … or it would have been, if there had been any kind of doubt as to the outcome.

Tyler. The original Hybrid Henchman came to New Orleans, and the commercials touted the epic battle that would break out in the bayou. But when Klaus and Tyler actually went at it, Klaus whipped his ass handily. It was even more unbalanced that Klaus v. Marcel. The only reason Tyler is still alive is that Klaus wants to play around with him. Klaus doesn’t see Tyler as a threat, he sees him as a toy. And he’s absolutely right.

The Witches. The group with the most potential to harm Klaus. Marcel directed Davina to figure out a way to kill an Original, which had the potential for dramatic conflict, but that storyline seems to have been dropped. And aside from Davina, the rest of the witches are either powerless or brainless. And they’ll all be powerless in a few episodes, unless someone ganks Davina and satisfies whatever blood god or angry ancestor grants them their magic. Klaus has nothing to worry about.

The Humans

LOLOLOLOL. It took Klaus roughly ten seconds to murder the fuck out of everyone that thought they had the right to an opinion. Klaus built New Orleans, Mister Mayor. Sit your ass down and shut up.

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- If You See This Boat a Rockin’ Don’t Come a Knockin’ -

Elijah: Hi everyone! I’m Elijah Mikaelson, the most noble of all the vampires. I’m extraordinarily loyal, which only comes back to bit me in the ass always. For example, right now I’m laying in a coffin on a boat in the Mississippi, with a magic dagger in my chest.

Rebekah: And I’m Rebekah Mikaelson, and I really really really want babies. And to eat the guy who found my brother.

Klaus: Speaking of brothers, I’m Klaus Bastardson, and I’m sinfully delicious! Super Original Werepire extra eating powers activate!

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