The Originals, Season 2, Episode 19, “When the Levee Breaks”
Written by Marguerite MacIntyre
Directed by Bethany Rooney
Airs Mondays at 8pm (ET) on The CW
On this week’s The Originals, Klaus’s paranoia turns everyone against him, Dahlia remains a terrifying threat, Hayley enlists Aiden’s help suppressing Hope’s magic, Elijah chooses sides, and another character falls victim to Dahlia.
“When the Levee Breaks” is undeniably one of season two’s best offerings; it’s simultaneously heartbreaking, thrilling, and incredibly tense. The Originals consistently operates at peak performance when a finale looms near, and this episode is no exception.
Ever since her arrival last week, Dahlia’s presence in New Orleans has been wildly unpredictable and frightening. She’s very good at being creepy, as evidenced by her use of Josephine’s corpse (which drips blood through her conveniently-placed neck scarf in a very disgusting, yet kind of cool, way), her tendency to grow flowers wherever she goes as a warning, as well as her love for playing music to announce her arrival. The woman loves her theatrics, but she’s so good at them that it works. Oh, and her obvious intelligence doesn’t hurt–after only two episodes, she’s already one of The Originals‘s best villains, simply because she knows exactly what she’s doing and poses such a formidable threat against the show’s heroes.
Unfortunately, really good villains often bring about death and destruction (which is, of course, why they are such good villains). So it’s a shame that another beloved character dies at her hand, but it’s the best way for the show to raise the stakes (that were already very, very high) and keep everyone’s emotions on high alert. Ultimately, the story will be more satisfying for the death, even if it hurts, because that’s the nature of good television. (And, if it weren’t already clear, The Originals is extremely good television.)
One of the episode’s biggest weaknesses, however, is none other than Klaus himself. Klaus has always been a very hard to like character, dating back to his introduction on The Vampire Diaries (where he was, unsurprisingly, one of the show’s Big Bads). His constant paranoia and distrust of his family is frankly exhausting, especially when they repeatedly prove their devotion to him. He’s become so unbearable that it’s even hard to understand why Elijah, one of the show’s smartest characters, still protects him and stands by his side; loyalty is admirable, but not when it’s unearned, and Klaus has never really done anything to earn the loyalty of his family. So it’s incredibly satisfying to watch his family finally turn against him, because his leadership is questionable at best and downright delusional at worst. Really, the only plus to Klaus’s nightmarish psyche is the presence of Cami, who is the best possible complement to Klaus’s particular brand of crazy, if only because she’s so calm and rational in the face of so much mental damage.
Rebekah perhaps summarizes Klaus best when she says: “He ruins everything he touches. Turns everyone against us.” And Dahlia knows exactly how to battle the Mikaelson’s and the wolves because she understands Klaus and how he operates, as the pair are so similar. Ordinarily, this would be an interesting dynamic to explore, but Klaus is reaching peak paranoia levels; he’s almost unwatchable when on screen, because he’s so irritating as a character. It would help if he would show some character development as the series goes on, but he remains stubbornly unchanging. Even Hope fails to bring out more in him than an influx of crazy. When the rest of the characters (especially Elijah) begin to look like fools because of one character’s flaws, then that’s a problem.
Luckily, the end of “When the Levee Breaks” suggests a change in how the rest of the characters move forward against Dahlia, and they seem to be choosing the smart path. It’s about time everyone else get some credit for being able to think rationally and make wise decisions, even if they can’t officially be leaders under Klaus’s suffocating tyranny.