The Originals, Ep. 1.09, “Reigning Pain in New Orleans”: Decent midseason finale, despite clear audience manipulation

The Originals, Reigning Pain in New Orleans, Daniel Gillies, Claire Holt

The Originals, Reigning Pain in New Orleans, Daniel Gillies, Claire Holt

The Originals, Season 1, Episode 9, “Reigning Pain in New Orleans”
Written by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson
Directed by Joshua Butler
Airs Tuesdays at 8pm EST on The CW

On this week’s The Originals, Klaus and Marcel join forces to control the city, Elijah and Rebekah protect Hayley’s family, Camille struggles to remember the truth, and Davina learns Marcel is using her.

Though it’s hard to love a frequently sadistic and angry protagonist who insists on having his way always, The Originals seems determined to make us love Klaus. With the first chunk of the show’s freshman season over, it’s become shockingly clear to see how The Originals has been pushing the audience to root for a monster.

In “Reigning Pain in New Orleans,” several characters bend to Klaus’s will, despite having been repeatedly mistreated by him in the past; they’re so ready to accept him or give him the benefit of the doubt that it’s almost out of character for several cast members, but especially Rebekah and Elijah, who’ve (arguably) suffered more at the hands of their brother than anyone in the history of this show, or sister show The Vampire Diaries.

The show’s formula thus far consists of Klaus wreaking havoc on his supposed loved ones, as well as fellow New Orleans residents, only to be “redeemed” by episode’s end, with someone (or several someones) figuratively kissing the desperate vampire’s feet. Throw in a few tears, a lovely speech, and maybe Klaus doing a good deed for once in his 1,00o-year-old existence and BAM, the audience adores him all over again by the end credits. Frankly, the pure manipulation of the audience by the show’s writers and creators is getting downright offensive–do they believe the audience is as oblivious as Klaus, who always demands love and loyalty but does nothing to earn it?

Unless likability isn’t the point (though the show tries too hard to make us like Klaus for this to be believable). Klaus is a genuine monster, after all, and not just in the character sense; he’s literally part bloodsucker and part beast. Throw in his inability to be killed, and it’s a bit easier to see why everyone’s wary of him and willing to bend to his demands–still, with so many smart characters on this show, it can only be a matter of time before someone truly revolts.

Camille, easily winning the role of smartest character on the show, could be first in line. Seriously, her transformation from naive bartender to the intelligent and clever woman she is now has been genuinely inspiring–of all the characters on the show, hers has perhaps undergone the most development since the pilot. Hopefully the writers will keep up her excellent characterization in the last 13 episodes of the season.

Another great character is Marcel, who is clearly everything Klaus wishes he could be, namely, well-respected, intelligent, and in a position of power. He’s the protagonist the show deserves, though we’ll have to be content watching him partner with his sire/usurper for now. Though, if Marcel’s quiet rage–props to Charles Michael Davis, who delivers week after week on the acting front and can transform Marcel from a friendly leader to a ruthless dictator in seconds–is any indication, he won’t be staying quiet and content for long.

Oh, and let’s have more of Elijah and Rebekah teaming up, please. Watching the pair interact without their vicious brother is ridiculously entertaining, especially when Rebekah teases Elijah on his Hayley crush. Their teamwork is just good writing, so kudos to the writers for knowing just how to play the duo off one another.

Characters aside, “Reigning Pain in New Orleans” is a decent episode. A bit weak for a midseason finale, especially that lackluster cliffhanger, but it’s still been a consistently solid show, with decent writing and a crew of skilled directors who all obviously know what they’re doing. The show itself looks lovely–the brightly-lit and crowded New Orleans setting does a great job hiding the ugliness of the supernatural war within–and gives the show a nice dose of juxtaposition. It’s hard–even when the main characters are ruthless killers-to dislike a show that’s executed as well as The Originals is.

Ashley Laggan

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