The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

The Originals

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Marcel!

The Originals

Well there are certainly better reasons to bring a new life into this world than building a dynasty so you can steal the warmth, love, community and power that another man has spent his considerable eternal life building! Then again, if we take the “king” metaphor seriously, this is pretty much how reproduction works, right? The women may not be kept locked up in an alligator infested bayou to see out their pregnancies, but Hallie was transformed from potential bad-ass hybrid looking for her roots into a kind of walking womb to rebirth all the Originals hopes and dreams. I do love Elijah’s optimism that what is left of that clan will surely do a better job as parents and aunts/uncles than they did as children and siblings! I can only assume that this is the set up for the new spin-off series The Originals. And I have to admit, if last night was any indication, I might be switching teams!Was it just me or was last night so much more fun precisely because we spent barely any time in Mystic Falls?! Things don’t bode well for Marcel in the long term, but I certainly hope he sticks around for a while. Though, I have to admit, I feel conflicted about the race dynamics there. On the one hand, I loved that we saw a powerful black man who isn’t just an ancillary character is one of the few people to actually stand up to Klaus besides his siblings. Also, in the witch/vampire relations department, it was fascinating to see white witches and a powerful black vampire (though what does it mean that it is a black male vampire who can control the power of the predominately black female witch world? Looks like a need for some Womanism here!). There were even suggestions that Marcel started his vampire life as a slave (ex-slave?) and to the history of New Orleans as a penal colony. There could be a lot of really awesome stuff going on here about the appropriation and mixing of cultures in the tumultuous currents of the Atlantic world economy, but just like with gender, and maybe even more so, I am worried this show is just playing for quick symbolism with little depth. After Treme it is hard to watch Mardi Gras Indians parade in any casual way and not feel like someone is being cheated!

Then again since all that seems to be happening in Mystic Falls is a big show down for a torture fest of Elena, I guess some shallow racial symbolism is just as good (better?!) than wrestling with my own moral feelings about watching an extra-whiney Elena be tortured “for her own good.”

But you should be happy to note that there was virtually no discussion of what makes us human. Though there was some mediation on what makes a family: love and loyalty or fear and power. Maybe the Elijah/Klaus dynamic will be more interesting then the Stefan/Damon one right now. At least they have a common goal that doesn’t just involve protecting a frail woman. Kind of, if you don’t count that pregnant Hallie is likely to come in for a lot of danger.

What did you make of the whole pregnancy plot, anyway? Besides my obvious concerns about the gender dynamics there, it felt a little Twiligtht to me: don’t know where the plot is going? Need to raise the stakes even higher? I know, invent a miraculous supernatural pregnancy! But at least in Twilight the plot revolved around the woman’s experience and choice instead of whatever this is about to be.

What do you think? Is Caroline going to be wooed by that voice mail?

What mine is yours. But it’s still mine.

Kathryn

———————-

Kathryn, I’m right there with you! I didn’t know about this spin-off, The Originals, but I definitely enjoyed this episode so much more than what we’ve had in the past few weeks. A new setting, a new character list and, yes, as you point out, some new philosophical (haha!) issues with which to deal…this was the shot in the arm I needed to stay engaged in The Vampire Diaries. Which is to say – I’m sad to think the most interesting stuff in the show is going to get split off to somewhere else!

You’re right, I was so happy that we moved off of the ‘what does it mean to be human?’ questions. So this week I was really intrigued by the ‘what does it mean to set, follow and enforce a rule?’ line instead. The witches, we know, have a complex set of rules by which they live – rules over which Marcel has laid his own system of law (which he studied in the ’50s), which already was riff on Klaus’ very simple law. Klaus, in the end can break Marcel’s rules by demonstrating how his own body is not subject to them. But everyone kept shouting about the rules – about their importance and their power. Indeed, from the beginning, we had Marcel going on about how big displays of power, bluffing, etc., can keep people under the rule of law (hello, Foucault – are we going to see this crumble?). There are enough philosophical schools that write about how the rules of the game of life are what we engage, deploy, resist, submit to, and so on, in the process of making and remaking ourselves as humans – it’s an interesting way to tackle the ‘human’ question in the show without just harping on about humanity, and I was glad for the diversion!

So if family, love, home and loyalty are power, but so are rules – I have to wonder what will brew in the weeks to come as this pregnancy gets going too!

I had the same thoughts about the Twilight comparison – but really, isn’t that what this show always does? I’m amazed, actually, by how quickly Twilight has become our vampire template (although didn’t you also see some True Blood references here too – especially in the bar scenes?). Mostly, I’m intrigued to see what the new spin on that now old story will be…here we’ve got a definite hybrid of vampire/werewolf, not vampire/human (so I wonder if Haley is going to make it). And we’ve got an image of the most broken, dysfunctional family, not the most oddly idealized family, to receive the child. So once again TWD is demonstrating just how much darker than Twilight it can be! No mama shield and family protection obsession here…but I could actually see Rebecca step into the Rosalie role – with some potentially disastrous effects!

I just hope the originals stick around for a while before they become The Originals!

If your blood relations let you down, make your own –
Natalie

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