“House of the Rising Son” – The Originals

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 1.24.41 PMVast improvement over last week’s offering here. Blessedly all new scenes, and what scenes they were.

“House of the Rising Son” showed Rebekah’s arrival in New Orleans and the fairly predictable fallout from it. She’s never exactly been the model of emotional stability. It also gave us some background into Klaus’ relationship with Marcel (Klaus saved a young Marcel from a whipping) and Rebekah’s relationship with Marcel (steamy and, no doubt, something to be more deeply explored). It dealt with the issue of abortion (quite well) and showed us Klaus’ paternal side. It gave us a better look at Davina (Marcel’s resident witch, with Carrie-esque powers of persuasion [relative newcomer Danielle Campbell]). And it amped us up for the thrust of the season – unseating Marcel.

Though it’s likely that that particular eventuality will be quite a long way off. The first step for the remaining (undaggered) Mikaelsons will be rescuing Elijah. The need for a rescue is, of course, Klaus’ fault. Giving the daggered Elijah to Marcel in a show of faith was not only cold, it was a bit dumb. Rebekah, finding Elijah with Davina, sees that immediately and, despite Klaus’ deviously ingenious plan to infiltrate Marcel’s inner circle, the Mikaelson priorities will change.

Perhaps most importantly, “House of the Rising Son” also provided us with one important ingredient – Klaus’ motivation. If you had wondered why the hybrid had changed his mind about helping the witches, wonder no more. Klaus is determined to get his power back because… well, because it was his power first. And because he’s furious at Marcel’s betrayal. Through flashbacks, we learn how much Marcel meant to Klaus. When he turned his back on the Mikaelsons a century ago, he more or less signed his own death warrant.

One thing The Originals will excel at is those flashbacks. This is, perhaps, because of the sheer historical span of their timeline. They have thousands of years from which to draw treasured – and not so treasured – family memories. The Salvatore family flashbacks (The Vampire Diaries) always felt a bit forced (Hey, this is a light week… let’s make Damon and Stefan remember stuff that happened not that long ago!) and never really grab attention. Maybe because the scenes set in the present day themselves gave us a lot of insight into the relationship between the brothers. This is, broadly speaking, the best opportunity we’ll get to see the Mikaelson family dynamic. We’ve already seen a more benevolent side to Klaus as a result of them (something we’d rarely seen outside of his occasionally perfect treatment of Caroline). We can’t wait to see what other surprises we’re treated to.

Unfortunately, The Originals is already aping the major issue with The Vampire Diaries. There’s too much focus on the bigger picture, with little to no monster-of-the-week. Too much the other way wouldn’t be good, either, but striking a balance would have done wonders for the show. This grand, overarching theme gives the writers little leeway for fun, or for straying from the scheme, or for having a ‘light’ week. Where vampire shows like Buffy far exceed this is in their breadth. Buffy (and newer shows like Supernatural) thrived because it was never afraid to take a break from the season’s big bad to focus on a run-of-the-mill demon, or some simple, high school/college/workplace drama.

This is even more important on a show like The Originals. When the entire premise is based on Klaus’ attempts to pull down Marcel, the plot would be greatly served by stepping back every now and then. A too-intensive focus on Klaus and Marcel will mean that the basis of the show becomes very tired, very quickly and, perhaps, that a conclusion comes all too soon. The characters cannot defeat Marcel and Davina right off the bat, because that would mean that the show has lost its purpose. What would happen then? A season of the witches trying to take down Klaus? A parenting show about raising werewolf pups? So you’ll understand why we would like to see episodes that don’t revolve around the power grab (beyond the admittedly fantastic flashbacks). Are we hoping for too much? – K

Quoteworthy:

“Our home is worthless without family. I am finding Elijah, whatever it takes. Are you going to help me?”
“Whatever it takes.” – Rebekah, Klaus

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