Klaus and Elijah decamp to New Orleans in search of spin-off success.
What was previously on The Vampire Diaries matters little, since tonight is what’s known as a backdoor pilot. For anyone not familiar with the business we call show, a backdoor pilot is an episode of an existing series that’s intended to test the waters for new or existing characters to see if they can sustain a series of their own. Like that episode of Happy Days that had Laverne and Shirley in it. Or that episode of Happy Days that had Mork in it. Or that episode of Happy Days that had Nancy Blansky in it. Or that episode of Happy Days that had…well, you get the idea.
We kick off the episode with a bumper from the Brothers Salvatore going on again some more about stupid Elena’s stupid emotion chip only to be interrupted by Katherine, expositing that our next destination is…
…New Orleans, and let’s play Big Easy Bingo! After some b-roll of Bourbon Street (square) we zero in on werewolf girl Hayley who’s been hanging out at some café for the last few days. She says she’s addicted to the gumbo (square) and her waitress, Virginia Devereaux, says local legend is that her sister Blanche bleeds a little bit of her soul into every batch. Hayley says she’s been asking after her family but can’t find hide nor hair of them. Virginia explains that “people like [her]” were run off years ago. Hayley’s all, what do you mean people like me? Virginia grabs Hayley a map and explains that in the bayou (square) werewolves were known as “rougarou” (square). She marks a spot deep in the swamp and says it’s the last place Hayley would want to go. Hayley leaves and Virginia and Blanche exchange Significant Glances. Virginia has a strand of Hayley’s hair.
As Hayley drives to the last place she wants to be the Devereaux sisters argue as they walk through an above-ground cemetery (square). Blanche begs Virginia not to do what she’s planning to do because Blanche might be wrong about Hayley. Virginia says Blanche is never wrong. Hayley is the only way to get to Klaus but no other witch will cast the needed spell. Half of them don’t believe Blanche and the other half are too scared.
Suddenly it’s night and Virginia is lighting candles and making patterns with graveyard dirt.
Her spell in quick succession causes Hayley’s map to burst into flames, her car to break down and her cell phone to blast feedback in her ear (so she drops it and crushes it with her foot in the middle of the woods because she is stupid). As shadowy figures led by Blanche close in on Hayley, Virginia blows out a candle, causing Hayley to collapse into unconsciousness. Title card!
A tour guide welcomes us to “the dark side of New Orleans, where the living are easily lost and the dead stick around to play.” And right on cue, there’s Klaus lurking in the background. We get some quick cuts between him approaching a fortune teller who starts packing her things at the sight of him and Elijah handsoming all over the screen. Rebekah’s with Elijah as well and I assume she is saying annoying words in her annoying voice annoyingly but Elijah is far too pretty for them to make it into my ear holes. At some point Elijah suggests she “tone down her glee” (RIB: “Everybody’s a critic”) and announces his own travel plans to The Big Easy to uncover the witchy plot against Klaus and help or hinder it according to his whim.
Klaus sits down with the fortune teller who clocks him as a hybrid.
He asks for the whereabouts of Virginia Devereaux. She claims not to know but Klaus spots the lie. She says that it’s against Marcel’s rules for witches to speak out in the Quarter. Klaus asks where he might find Marcel.
That would be at a generic rock club, singing a cover of Toby Keith’s “How Do You Like Me Now?” Klaus enters as Marcel wraps things up and the pair circle and sniff each other’s butts for a minute until they launch into a big ol’ bro-hug. Turns out Klaus is his mentor, his sire, his savior (his power, his pleasure, his pain).
They repair to the back room to catch up and Klaus spots a daywalker ring on one of Marcel’s people. Marcel shared the secret with a few in his inner circle and Klaus marvels that he found a witch willing to make them. Marcel’s all, the witches are my bitches, yo. Klaus tells him he’s looking for Virginia and Marcel invites him to follow.
Marcel leads the way through a passel of cavorting extras, snagging a long slender tree branch along the way, before giving a whistle. A couple of his minions haul Virginia forward and Marcel accuses her of practicing witchcraft outside the scope of the rules he’s set and asks for her plea. As I wonder why she’s not giving him the New Orleans equivalent of a Mystic Migraine (Nawlins Noogie? Big Easy Brain Fart? Help me out here.) she denies any wrongdoing. He calls her out on the lie and exposits that no witch can do magic without him knowing about it. Klaus is intrigued by this information.
He asks Virginia again what magic she’s whipping up and she invites him to rot in Hell. He offers one more chance. “Or not,” he continues, slashing the branch across her neck, slitting her throat. She dies and the extras cheer. Sorry Virginia, but you have been chopped.
Klaus is less than thrilled with this turn of events, since he had business with Virginia. Marcel explains that he had to use Virginia as an example to keep the witches under his heel, but that he can find out whatever she knew by other means anyway. Klaus is all oh well and as Marcel heads off in search of someone to eat Klaus stops a pretty henchman called Thierry (square?) and asks if there are any more Devereaux witches extant.
Cut to that café where Blanche forlornly slices a carrot. She senses Klaus behind her. He asks what Virginia wanted with him. She deflects, noting the two vampires who walked in after him. Klaus says they aren’t with him but she knows they’re with Marcel. She knows that Klaus and his family built New Orleans but Marcel runs it now. If she talks in front of them she’s next.
Blanche wanders off and Klaus latches onto the two vampires. Lackey number one says Marcel just asked them to be Klaus’s guides but Klaus advises that if they ever follow him again they’ll be doing it without spines. That would be hard. A blonde lady server approaches, apologizing that they just ran out of gumbo. Klaus slaps a Franklin down on the bar and orders the lackeys Scotches. She goes to retrieve the bottle and Klaus instructs the lackeys that if Marcel wants to know something he can ask Klaus himself.
Blanche takes the garbage out behind the café and starts lighting candles at an altar. After a little spooky noise action the lackeys confront her, asking if that’s magic she’s performing.
She says she’s praying to her dead sister. The lackeys move closer and thump their chests and what-not, then lackey one vanishes. His heart drops to the pavement a moment later and then lackey two finds himself impaled on an oddly placed wooden finial of some sort. “I’m Elijah,” Elijah handsomes to Blanche. “You’ve heard of me?” She has. He asks what business her family has with Klaus.
Klaus returns to Marcel’s club and demands Marcel’s location from another pretty lackey. Lackey three gets all up in Klaus’s grill until Klaus threatens to hit him with some (sigh) “werewolf venom”. Marcel appears and references his rules again. I sense this will be a running theme. Klaus cares nothing for the rules and demands to know why he’s having Klaus followed. Marcel puts what is rapidly becoming his tiresome grin on his mug and is all I get it we’re cool. Klaus has him take him on a tour of the club which involves going onto a balcony and filming a short commercial for the New Orleans Tourism Board. Klaus asks how Marcel is controlling the witches and marcel may or may not have a person or artifact that allows him to control the town’s magic. Also, Marcel takes vervain.
They spot someone walking alone. It’s the server from before. The boys decide she’s either brave or stupid; if she’s brave, she lives. If she’s stupid, she’s “dessert”. Marcel jumps down behind her. “You know it’s not safe here alone.” She replies, “You know I have a black belt in karate.” Groan.
Klaus senses Elijah behind him and says hello. “What an entirely unwelcome surprise.” Elijah: “And what an entirely unsurprising welcome.” Heh. Elijah asks Klaus to come with him but he won’t until he finds out who’s conspiring against him. Elijah has that sussed out.
The brothers head to the same or possibly a different above-ground cemetery, where Blanche awaits them. She fills in a little background (Klaus is the stuff of bedtime stories; Marcel was a street urchin until Klaus turned him) and announces her intention to stop Marcel with Klaus’s help. Klaus insists there is nothing that could induce him to spend another 30 seconds on this let alone help her. Enter Hayley, who implores him to hear everyone out.
Klaus laughs in her face and calls her a one night stand who means nothing to him. Blanche jumps back in and explains that even though Marcel forbids witches from doing magic they are still the keepers of the balance and know when nature has thrown a new one. For instance, Blanche can always tell when a girl is pregnant and Hayley is a girl and Hayley is pregnant.
Seriously? A Darla? Plec and Williamson have really run a Darla on us?
Klaus protests, saying that vampires can’t reproduce sexually. Ah, counters Blanche, you were made a vampire but you were born a werewolf, the Original Hybrid. Science protests, saying that hybrids are also generally sterile. Klaus accuses Hayley of lying but she swears he was the only one. Blanche exposits that the spell Virginia cast was the Maurylio Povitchius and it confirmed that you ARE the baby’s father! Now Hayley’s life and the life of her fetus are under their control, because no woman has agency on this show. She continues that if Klaus doesn’t help then Hayley will be straight up killed. Hayley is literally all wait, what?
Elijah offers to kill Marcel but Blanche says no. They have a plan that must be followed, and there are rules. Saying “rules” to Klaus is like saying “housekeeper” to Rigby Reardon (to the two of you who got that joke, I thank you both) and he screams how very dare you! He starts to stalk off but stops short when Elijah calls his name. Elijah implores him to listen and with his vampionic hearing Klaus detects the fetal heart beat. His reaction? “Kill her and the baby, what do I care?”
Klaus storms off again but Elijah chases him down. Klaus vows to kill everybody and everything but Elijah delivers a speech about love and family that’s so earnest and moving that I can’t even snark about it. He closes with an impassioned plea to save Hayley and his child. Klaus: No.”
Elijah checks in with Rebekah, who is of the opinion that the child would be better off without Klaus and that Klaus causes nothing but pain and Elijah should just give up on him already. Elijah won’t give up as long as he perceives any hope at all for Klaus’s redemption.
Becky turns to espy Katherine behind her. Katherine opines that Elijah will bring Klaus around. Becks says Katherine doesn’t know her brothers as well as she thinks she does but Katherine says that she and Klaus are exactly alike. They both want power and are master manipulators, but at their core they are devastatingly lonely.
Klaus returns to Marcel’s club for another confrontation, demanding to know how Marcel wrangles the witches. Marcel demurs, saying that he controls the witches in his town and let’s just leave it at that. Klaus is amused at the “my town” comment since when he left 100 years ago Marcel was still cowering under the whips of those who would keep him down and now he’s “prince of the city”.
Marcel accuses him of being jealous and half the room actually goes “ooooh!” Marcel tears off on a rant about how he gets that Klaus helped build a penal colony into a city 300 years ago but he ran away from it a century ago. It was he, Marcel who drove away the werewolves and put the witches in their place and there are rules! If you break a rule, you die. And it’s not prince, it’s King of the City, baby! Show some respect!
Klaus grabs minion Thierry and werewolf-bites him. Thierry collapses and Klaus announces he’ll be dead in days. He’s just broken a rule but he can’t be killed. So who has the power now? Klaus smirks his way out.
He runs into a pack of roving street performers, including a speed painter, and spots the server from before in the crowd. She’s either homeless or Orphan Black. Her name is Camille and she asks to be called Cami and I will not be calling her that.
They watch the painter and Camille launches into a stream of psychobabble about him that in a stunning coincidence checks every box on Klaus’s list. Angry, dark, feels unsafe, wants to control his demons instead of vice versa, lost, alone. She asks if he paints but he’s already gone.
He sits on a bench and Elijah joins him presently.
They talk about their fondness for the city and how much they hated leaving. Klaus ruminates about how he made Marcel in his image and in his absence Marcel has surpassed him. He has everything that Klaus has always wanted and Klaus plans to take it. He will be King. Elijah asks about Hayley and the baby. Klaus: “Every king needs an heir.”
The next day as Blanche exposits the need for Klaus to insinuate himself into Marcel’s inner circle, Klaus approaches said circle. In supposed contrition for his bad behaviour he bleeds into a glass and saves Thierry. He asks Marcel if he is still welcome and Marcel gives him that irritating grin and a chuckle.
As a parade of ladies in wacky hats (square) passes by Klaus leaves a message for Caroline, expressing his desire to show her the city one day. If Caroline leaves Mystic Falls I will be very angry.
Back in Mystic Falls for the closing bumper, Rebekah goes all meta: “So that’s it?” Yeah, that’s it. The setup for The Originals. Please go and be successful and never come back except for occasional visits from Elijah and his suits.
So Elijah’s moving to Nawlins but Becky’s staying for now. Katherine pops in to urge Elijah to run away with her and he moves to kiss her but it’s on the forehead which is the universal sign of directions to Dumpville population you.
Oh and then Damon feeds Elena some vervain-laced blood to “make her life a living hell” and what’s next, smacking her with her own hand and saying “stop hitting yoursef”? Jesus, these fools. She tries to make a break for it but Stefan blocks her. She tells them to go for it because they’ll break way before she will.
So, does The Originals work as a concept? No it does not, because there is nothing stopping Klaus from kidnapping Marcel, waiting for the vervain to clear his system and compelling every piece of useful information out of him before tearing his heart out. For that not to happen there will have to be ever-increasing negative consequences contrived to prevent Klaus from doing it. It’s the exact thing that made the Originals so insufferable on this series and now there’s a whole show to be built around it. The Originals are supposedly wildly popular, which is why the proposed spin-off, but I’ve never seen a single comment on a single message board anywhere that indicates anyone likes any of them except Elijah. I liked Kol as well, mostly because there were flashes of potential gayness there, but they killed him. So we’re getting a show built around terrible characters (and Elijah) and ridiculous and warmed-over premises (vampire baby) and an over-arching plot arc that can’t possibly not be ultimately resolved in Klaus’s favor, so where’s the drama?
Next week: Back to making Elena’s life “a living hell”. Can’t wait, he said sarcastically. I just can’t wait.