Previously on TVD: There was once a pretty awesome Viking-era family, who would today be known as the Mikaelsons: Mikael, his wife (and secret witch) Esther, and their children - Unnamed Dead Son, Niklaus (who was not actually Mikael's, but the product of an affair Esther had with a werewolf), Finn, Elijah, Kol, Rebekah, and Henrik. They moved to the New World (to what would one day be Fell's Church/Mystic Falls), right down the "street" from a werewolf pack, after Unnamed Dead Son was killed in battle. Henrik was accidentally killed by a rampaging werewolf, and his parents took it...poorly, to say the least. Mikael talked Esther into performing a spell that would enable him and his children to live forever; they would be weakened in sunlight, but would never age or grow ill as long as they drank blood...thus making them the first vampires, or The Originals.

Cut to 2013: Mikael spent the next thousand years trying to kill Klaus only to bite it (heh) at Homecoming, Esther wants all her kids (and the entire vampire race) dead, Finn was staked by Matt Donovan, and Jeremy Gilbert killed Kol, leaving us with our heroes: Klaus (who is a murdering bastard), Rebekah (who is a horrible person who is at least attempting to remember how to be people), and Elijah (who is THE BEST). There's also Hayley, who is I guess the last survivor of a powerful werewolf family? as well as Marcel (Klaus's vampire kid, who runs NO and has outlawed witchcraft) and Sophie (witch). And now we're in New Orleans, because reasons, and also to stick it to Anne Rice, which I am all for.

Back in Mystic Falls: everyone still cares waaaaaaaaaaaay too much about Evil Elena Gilbert and not anywhere near enough about Dark Phoenix Bonnie Bennett. So, you know, status quo there. ONWARD, to the show's first backdoor pilot!

* OH MY GOD BACKDOOR PILOT YOU ARE AMAZING. Seriously, by the end of Act 1 I was signed UP. Everything's different - the music choices, the way it's shot - but in such a way where you can think, "Yes. This is New Orleans in the same universe as Mystic Falls." We never get to see a legit big city - thanks, Virginia - or how this world works as a bigger picture, and the one we see tonight is lovely. I really, really want to see more of it, CW execs. Make it happen.

* SO: Jane-Anne and Sophie Devereaux, witches who seek revenge on Klaus for unspecified reasons. I didn't ever think I'd see someone's throat get slit with a fern, but, you know, TVD.

* I'm not going to lie: witches are assholes, and part of me is a tiny bit glad Marcel has 'em running to ground. (Seriously. Witches like to call themselves humanity's protection against evil, but like half their shit involves human sacrifice or making people into monsters for their own reasons. They have better PR, that's all.)

* "I'll stop them. Or help them, depending on my mood." UGH ELIJAH YOU ARE THE BEST.

* OH MARCEL MY MARCEL. Seriously, singing "How You Like Me Now" in a karaoke bar may be the best vampire introduction in 4 years of this show. He's dapper, he's smooth, he genuinely enjoys being a vampire and showing off - hiiiiii, vampires hopping off buildings in front of tourists! - and isn't afraid of anyone: totally Klaus's kid. ...who really likes his dad, but does not need him coming back to town and ending his party, quite frankly. Also, "How was that? I studied law back in the fifties" is GREAT.

* SHUT UP KLAUS IS HUGGING PEOPLE.

* It always amazes me when people on this show do something legitimately smart, like take vervain on the reg to limit its effects on them. GET ON THAT, SALVATORES.

* Watching Klaus walk around the club, I love that you get a real sense that the part of Klaus - the part that's lived in Mystic Falls for about a year - is really over all this nonsense and kind of wants a nap. Silas is running around, and you guys are acting like groupies for that band Lestat was in? MORONS.

* And then OH SHIT nature's all pissed that Marcel's keeping witches down so it let Hayley get pregnant with Klaus's baby OH SHIT YOU GUYS NEW AND HORRIFYING THING. (Also, for real, "keepers of the balance"? I'm sure some of you are, yeah, but none of those kind ever swing by Virginia, because all those witches - the non-Bennetts - are dicks.)

* And then OH MAN UNCLE ELIJAH. "Family is power, Niklaus." He offers to stay in NO with Klaus and raise the baby! He wants them to start over! SHUT UP ELIJAH HOLDING A TINY BABY. ANY OF THEM HOLDING A TINY BABY. (...possibly not Rebekah, unless it's her own.) DOES THIS MEAN ALL HYBRIDS CAN HAVE KIDS? FIND A SURROGATE, CAROLINE, YOU AND TYLER CAN TOTALLY HAVE TEENY BABIES what don't judge me.

* ALSO if nature wants this baby to be born so badly, witches, maybe it won't let you kill it. Did you ever think of that? No. Because witches are assholes.

* The whips thing was the most awkward slavery reference since that time Carol told Tyler their family used to keep "servants" in the cellar out back. You know, with chains. But we don't talk about that! It's socially awkward!

* I am totally taking "prince of the city" as a White Wolf shoutout, though I, too, prefer "king".

* And then OH SHIT Klaus bites Thierry, ensuring he'll die in a day or two, and reminds Marcel he can't be killed, so BAM! what're you gonna do? AWESOME.

* And because I am secretly sad, I will say that I think Caroline would genuinely love New Orleans - the Klaus one, not Marcel's. Marcel's would freak her out, but Klaus would - he could show her the French Quarter! Old shops! Quiet places tourists don't see!

* Seriously: I want this spinoff, now. I was worried 'til I saw it, but now? Now, getting to see Klaus free of Virginia - and Elijah acting as his brother's confessor, and what the hell Rebekah would do, and just the whole city? I want that. I want it a lot. Kind of surprising how much, actually.

* OH MY GOD HE CALLED CAROLINE TO TELL HER HE WANTS TO SHOW HER NEW ORLEANS SHUT UP I AM CRYING.

* "Call me Cami." I...I like Cami? Forcing her into the love interest role doesn't work this early, but the kicky psych major bartender is pretty not bad. Early days.

* Just - the whole Elijah & Klaus on a park bench in the dark scene is lovely. Elijah's acting as a priest again, and Klaus is scared to admit he wants things, and they've always gotten each other in a way Rebekah's never been invited into. "I want to be king. [...] Every king needs an heir." SOMEONE GIVE KLAUS A BABY TO HOLD IMMEDIATELY.

* Shut up, I am actually really sad Elijah/Katherine didn't work out WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME.

* AND THEN Damon gives Elena vervain-laced blood, which is both dicky and fantastic. (Also, the spinoff would weirdly not work with Salvatores? IDK, they do better in Virginia.)

Next week: Gratuitous Elena Torture! Damon's been taking Lexi lessons! Three eps left this season! "She's Come Undone", next Thursday, 8 PM EST.

Also, Haven taping monkeys: it looks like Lucas Bryant is on Beauty & the Beast *again* tonight, at 9 PM EST.
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