I'm enjoying The Originals but I still don't know why this is a TV show

The Originals doesn't really have a single relatable main character, or a single storyline that I'm invested in the outcome of, or a central relationship or conceit. Or anything you'd expect a TV show to have. But it's still really fun, in a "gorgeous people making dumb decisions" way. Why is this a TV show, exactly?


Here's the thing about The Originals: The titular three "Original Vampires" are basically gods. For all intents and purposes. They're immortal and almost unkillable. Nobody can stand up against them. They have unmatched powers of mind control, and are ridiculously strong. They're like Superman, minus flying, heat vision and a few other powers. The whole point of these guys is they're not just regular vampires — they're super-vampires, who make regular vampires look puny by comparison.


And thus, their main weaknesses are either going to be some random widget (a super-witch, a white ash stake) — or they're going to be emotional. And since we can't just trot out an endless series of ultimate weapons, we're inevitably going to see more of their emotional vulnerability.

Thus it is that Klaus' main achilles heel is that he needs to be loved, or maybe admired. He can make people fear him very easily, but he can't win anyone's love or devotion because he's too selfish and pig-headed. He has a propensity for making long, vainglorious speeches. But you can try to kill him and he'll forgive you in moments, if he thinks you might wind up loving or respecting him afterwards.

Last night's midseason finale focuses pretty heavily on this problem with Klaus — he's defeated Marcel and won Marcel's allegiance, but he doesn't have Marcel's friendship.

And for once, Klaus overcompensates, giving away the store. First he orders the vampires to go and kill all the werewolves in the bayou (which pisses off Hayley, the mother of his child, and then endangers his own distant relatives.) Then after he screws up everything by refusing to play politics with the "Human Faction" and this leads to a massacre and a counter-massacre, he finally admits to Marcel that he sucks at all of this, and he wants Marcel to rule at his side, as equals.


Meanwhile, the sitcom storyline of Klaus using Cami to write his autobiography/be his therapist goes on, as Cami keeps sassing him and then forgetting the whole thing afterwards, due to Klaus' compulsion. Here, too, Klaus is arrogant and screws up — he keeps compelling Cami to forget about vampirism, but never quite does a good enough job of it. (He could compell her not just to forget, but to ignore any clues she finds or has left herself, but he doesn't give it that much thought.) And thus Cami keeps digging — until at last Klaus orders her to leave town. At which point, Davina steps in.

Davina, the super-witch, has formed a kind of alliance with Hayley the pregnant werewolf and Josh the baby vamp, all of whom kinda hate Klaus. Davina finds out that there's no reason for her to stay hidden because the last of the elder witches, Agnes, is dead, and thus they can't do the harvest festival spell thingy and sacrifice Davina to restore all their powers. So Davina goes to Cami for help, and when she finds that Cami has been compelled to forget everything, she undoes all of Klaus' compulsion with her magic.


As for the other two Original vampires, they have similar emotional weaknesses. Rebekah, like Klaus, really wants to be loved and is eternally heartbroken and insecure, giving her love and trust over and over no matter how many times she's hurt. And Elijah wears his heart on his fancy sleeve, wanting to redeem Klaus and also protect the people he cares about, including Hayley (and by extension the other werewolves.) Thus Elijah and Rebekah spend a lot of the episode protecting the werewolves on the bayou from the hunt ordered by Klaus at the start of the episode.

All in all, it's a pretty fun episode — but I'm not entirely sure where the show is going. I think maybe the central relationship here is Klaus and Marcel, and their unconventional friendship. Certainly the show seems at its most lively and sparky when Klaus and Marcel are on screen together, two alpha males who share a long history and tons of daddy issues. (In this episode, the best moment is probably when Klaus opens up to Marcel about his own horrible father, something he also shares with Cami psychically.)


So maybe the mission statement of The Originals actually is to be an off-kilter bromance between Klaus and Marcel, in which they have to fight for their love in spite of all the people who try to come between them? I have to say, that's a TV show I would watch the heck out of.

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