The most interesting thing to me about TV Roulette is that sometimes I will get shows that I watch on a regular basis. Figuring out how to write about these is interesting, because unlike with other shows, I have a sense of history I can draw on as opposed to simply the episode itself. Thus it gives me a chance to experience what it would be like to write about the shows I watch without forcing me to critically look at each and every episode. A weird combination of casual and critical viewing come together to form a different viewpoint than if I had to follow the show week to week. So I was happy the roulette wheel decided to give me just such an opportunity with The CW’s The Originals.
The Vampire Diaries has always had a dirty little secret– its lore is actually really good. Unfortunately, a lot of the lore was obscured by a love triangle that stopped being useful to the show around season 4, but was so fundamental to the show’s DNA that there was no getting rid of it. The Originals, however, had no such limitation. It was able to spin off from The Vampire Diaries, taking the lore but leaving the love triangle behind. This has allowed it to be highly entertaining as well as a far more ambitious show than its parent. Still, The Originals can be a bit hit or miss, so was it able to deliver this week? Find out right after the rundown. Spoilers Ahead.
TV Roulette Week 3
The Originals; ‘A Walk On the Wild Side’ Season 3, Episode 4
October 29th, 2015
Have I Seen This Show Before?
If So, How Much?
I have watched every episode, plus most of The Vampire Diaries. What can I say, I am a sucker for supernatural shows.
One of the biggest piece decisions that the The Vampire Diaries/The Originals universe made in its lore was the decision to link the life of each original vampire to his or her sire line. I have never been the biggest fan of this choice, because it added one too many layers of plot armor onto the original vampires. Being important characters, they already had built-in plot armor, on top of the fact that killing them is basically impossible, even by vampire standards. But adding in that killing them would eliminate their entire sire line is simply a step too far, especially for Klaus (Joseph Morgan), whose death would also kill basically the entire cast of The Vampire Diaries, which, you know, would never happen. There is just too much plot significance placed on these characters, and one of the things I have always hoped is that The Originals would figure out a way to sever this bond, so that I could find threats to these characters a little bit more, well, threatening.
That hasn’t happened yet, but at least the show doesn’t run away from what a sire line means, which makes the idea of a sire line way intriguing. When push comes to shove, Klaus, Elijah (Daniel Gillies), and Rebekah (Claire Holt) would never actually kill each other, even if given the chance, but their respective sire lines would have no familial bonds holding them back from trying to eliminate one of them. There is a lot of fun to be mined from a sire line war, which is why it is a bit sad that so far this season has been a little too dull. Part of this is because there is just so much to unpack. After all, the show has to finally establish how each of the original family sire lines began, set the foundation for a threat that could actually kill The Original vampires, and deal with the litany of personal issues and squabbles between all the characters after Klaus burned every bridge possible in last season’s finale. There is only so much time to do all this each week, especially with a show that has as big of a cast as The Originals. Hell, Davina (Danielle Campbell) is one of the most powerful witches alive now, and she has basically been an afterthought this season. The biggest problem is how the show has chosen to utilize the first of each of the remaining sire lines–up until this episode.
Last episode showed us how Klaus created the first of the non-original vampires, Lucien (Andrew Lees), but more interesting was what Elijah said, that Lucien brought out the worst in Klaus and vice versa. This established the idea that each of the first sired vampires is a corrupted version of the first of their line. Klaus is a beast who tends to look out for himself, but at his core he doesn’t really want to be a monster, he just feels that the world has made him into one, so he acts the part. Lucien, meanwhile, has none of these concerns. He lacks the restraint that Klaus possesses (even if it feels like Klaus rarely uses it), and revels completely in being a monster. That doesn’t mean that Lucien is stupid, or murders everything without pause, but it does mean he feels like Klaus’s id personified, a representation of Klaus’s worst qualities. (Weirdly, Marcel (Charles Michael Davis) still serves as an example of most of Klaus’s best qualities.) There hasn’t really been enough shown of Aurora de Martel (Rebecca Breeds) to get a true read on how she compares to Rebekah, other than that she seems to take Rebekah’s lovestruck nature to the extreme. But it is Tristan de Martel (Oliver Ackland) who gets the biggest treatment in this episode, and in doing so allows the show to tell us a lot about Elijah.
Elijah has always been the most interesting of the original family. He is a contradiction, a noble and savage soul all in one. Klaus may be a monster, but he never pretends otherwise. Elijah, on the other hand, likes to present himself as if he is better than that, when in a lot of ways he can be even worse than Klaus. Last season did a really good job of deconstructing Elijah and showing that he tries to make himself look as immaculate as possible to hide the fact that his soul is in constant, messy turmoil. It also showed, however, that despite his inner savagery, there are some lines Elijah just will not cross, which affirmed that at some level his nobility isn’t a lie. It also demonstrated why Elijah is not a sociopath. Still, it make sense that the sense of superiority Elijah exudes would draw him and Tristan, the arrogant son of an aristocrat, closer together.
Of course Elijah would try and create a society of elite vampires to help guide the world toward a better path. Elijah always has the best intentions, but his judgment in implementing these intentions is often suspect. In this case, it’s that Elijah could only conceive of a better path through his own corrupted ideal of what nobility means. Tristan is the prime example of this. On the outside Tristan seems to be perfect, but he is rotten to the core. Even his devotion to his sister seems less noble than creepy. So it is only natural that after Elijah created the Strix he would be forced to abandon them once he realized that, unlike him, the rest of his society used their fake nobility to hide the fact that they are sociopaths. Tristan is the very personification of what Elijah’s corrupted nobility can produce, and the Strix are a constant reminder of Elijah’s past failures.
The Strix believe they are the greatest beings on earth: the best of the best when it comes to vampires. They seek to run the world from the shadows, and are twisted to the core. They are Elijah, if Elijah never realized how much of what he represents and says was complete bullshit. Elijah recognizes his flaws and seeks to fix them, while the Strix (and Tristan by extension) would never acknowledge their own faults. The twisted game the Strix play with Marcel proves that. They see Marcel as a valuable asset; he can be used against Klaus, and he’s awesome, which is always useful. As an initiation, they use Marcel to help eliminate one of their own who was plotting against them. Their lack of loyalty to one another is disturbing, and it makes Marcel’s association with them (even if it is a ploy, which is questionable) all the more worrisome. The sire line war has gotten off to a slow start, but if more excellent world building is to come, this is a slow burn worth waiting on.
Notes and Observations:
- Freya (Riley Voelkel) continues to be a welcome edition to the show and the family dynamic as a whole. As someone who has not dealt with the Mikalson drama for a thousand years like the rest of her family, watching her trying to navigate Klaus and Elijah’s emo bros routine is amazing. Right now the show is using her pretty well, and hopefully it will continue to use her more as the season progresses.
- Hayley’s (Phoebe Tonkin) ascendance in power and prominence in this show has always been a welcome sight, but it was nice that this episode finally confirmed that Hayley is, in fact, not connected to any of the sire lines. This had always seemed likely, since she became a hybrid because of her daughter’s blood, but it was nice for the show to actually verbalize it.
- Also, the sexual tension continuing to exist between Hayley and Elijah is ridiculous. The hoops the show has jumped through to keep those two apart have been impressive, and at this point it is entirely possible the show may keep it that way, because it hates us and Elijah. I admit, I’ll ship these two until the end.
- The only real frustrating part of this episode was when Alexis (Stephanie Cleough) hints that she has a clear picture of exactly how Klaus is supposed to die, which would have been nice to know, since as of now there is still no known way to actually kill an original vampire. Instead, Alexis is killed before any real answers can be known. I understand wanting to keep your secrets and all, show, but this was really the perfect chance to get the ball rolling–especially if it is revealed that Klaus is supposed to be killed by someone like Marcel or Elijah.
- The only saving grace to Alexis’s death is that it came through Aurora, who looks to finally be getting into the action next week. As the least defined of the original sired vampires, she definitely needs an episode to flesh out her character.
- The Originals continues to kill it with costumes and set design. The mansion for the Strix party is awesome, and it had just the right mix of Eyes Wide Shut and vampires.
- Seriously, though, Marcel is awesome. Inflicting a werewolf bite on himself so that he could trick a far superior fighter who only feasts on the blood of vampires bested in a fight was genius.
- No Cami (Leah Pipes) or Vincent (Yusef Gatewood) this week, which is a shame, but really they both would have just gotten in the way.
Episode Grade: B+
Would I Watch More?
Well, considering I have already watched all of it so far, it’s not like I am going to stop now. Once I start watching a show, it is really hard to get me to stop watching. It requires some sort of gross betrayal on the show’s part (like telling me something won’t be a dream, and then it is a dream… I’m looking at you, Bones), a decrease in quality to the point that it hurts my soul to watch more (hi, Glee), or just a show that stays so static and is on for so long that I just can’t find the time to watch it anymore (I do miss thee sometimes, Castle). Otherwise I stick with a show until the bitter end. Luckily The Originals is still good, so none of that is an issue as of now.
That’s it for this edition of TV Roulette. Now that October is coming to an end, I wonder if the wheel will allow me to do a show that isn’t Halloween related. We’ll just have to find out in November. Until then I need to see if I can get all this blood off my favorite tux.