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The Boys Are Back in Town
In the April 25 episode of The Vampire Diaries, which serves as a backdoor pilot to a New Orleans-set Originals spinoff, Klaus (Joseph Morgan) gets word that witches in The Big Easy are conspiring against him. He returns to the city that his family helped build — and then fled about 100 years ago — to explore the threat. Elijah (Daniel Gillies) follows. ''His interest in Klaus for 1,000 years has been how to dig deep past Klaus' ego and paranoia, and all the things that have made Klaus such a vicious person over the years — he's always searching for some form of redemption for his brother,'' says executive producer Julie Plec. ''What he sees in New Orleans, and what he finds out in the context of a place where they were once happy as a family, is an opportunity to rebuild that with Klaus and with Rebekah and put the broken bits of the Original family back together.''
Pictured is the final scene between the brothers. ''It's a beautiful, simple scene where they talk about their potential future in the town,'' Morgan says. ''After all of the confrontations and all of the history, it's really nice to have a simple scene just about two brothers.''
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The Reigning King
What Klaus finds when he returns to town is that his former protégé Marcel (The Game's Charles Michael Davis) has created what Klaus had always wanted — a community. Vampires, for all intents and purposes, get to walk the streets freely, throw hedonistic parties undisturbed, and generally do whatever they want. (Most still do so at night; Marcel's ''Inner Circle'' are the only ones with day rings.) The two first see each other at a karaoke bar, pictured, where Marcel is the life of the party and center of attention as usual. ''It starts with them being very pleased to see each other, and then Klaus isn't very happy about how well Marcel is doing,'' Morgan says, laughing. ''There's an element of envy that comes in. And also, Klaus doesn?t feel that he's getting the level of respect that he deserves from Marcel.''
Klaus isn't the only one who has issues with Marcel, and that's where the story gets interesting?
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How has Marcel created this guilt-free supernatural community? ''Through force and some pretty nefarious acts,'' Plec says. ''Somehow Marcel has managed to silence this deep and rich community of witches that have been there just as long as the vampires have.'' Enter Sophie (Daniella Pineda, another would-be series regular). ''Sophie is somebody who comes from a long line of witches that have been in the French Quarter for hundreds of years, and she's taken it upon herself to lead the charge against Marcel and against his oppression of the witch community. So she's a bit of a warrior,'' Plec says. ''She is at the center of the mystery that Klaus is trying to unravel, which his what do these witches want with me, and what does Marcel have on them that is keeping them in subjugation?''
Elijah is the one who sorts it out. ''This is her laying down the law for me, basically, which is kind of amusing to Elijah because he feels like he could destroy her in the bat of an eye, '' Gillies says of the scene pictured in New Orleans' Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. ''He's sort of beneath this suspended sword of Damocles, and I can't reveal what that is. But I can say that she does have both Klaus and Elijah trapped in a sense, and they're negotiating in that photo.''
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Undead Men Walking
Shooting in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 was already a thrill for Interview with a Vampire fan Morgan, but that's also where the climax of this episode was shot. ''So, when you see Elijah and Klaus in it that cemetery," Morgan teases, ''get ready to get excited.''
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Gillies is a bit more forthcoming: ''I'm taking him to visit the witches,'' he says. Adds Morgan, ''For once, Klaus is the one which things are happening to, as opposed to him being the cause of things. So it's really interesting to put him at the center of the story like that. He's still making assertive choices and changing the course of things, but he is certainly being driven through this. He's in unfamiliar territory, other people are telling him what's going on, and he's following the clues and following what heart he has through the story.''
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The Big Picture
''The idea of chasing our tails in Mystic Falls isn't necessarily the most appealing thing in the world to Elijah, but the opportunity of a new beginning, to sort of renew that 'inheritance' of the city, which, within the mythology of The Vampire Diaries we were founders of, is enormously appealing,'' Gillies says. In this scene, shot in Pirates Alley, Elijah tries to sell Klaus on the idea: ''I'm essentially saying, 'If we do the witches' bidding in order to position ourselves strategically/politically among the vampires here, then we can have a whole new kingdom,''' Gillies says. ''And he's kinda telling me to f--- myself.''
This is the scene Plec was referring to when she tweeted, ''I was just brought to tears in take 1 of a super-wide master shot,'' during shooting in mid-March. She got emotional because it was in Pirates Alley where she, writer-producer Michael Narducci, and her writer's muse, Marguerite MacIntyre (TVD's Sheriff Forbes), sat in a bar and discussed the story and characters during a research trip last December. ''We were shooting in Pirates Alley that night, and it was one of the very first scenes that came to my mind between Elijah and Klaus when I first started thinking about what this pilot would be. It's a really emotional fight between the brothers, and I was sitting around the corner watching the camera point right down past the bar where I'd dreamt up these ideas. Just listening to it, and being right there in that spot, where so many of these ideas had been birthed, it was very moving.''
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A New Love Interest?
The sole new human character introduced in the episode is Cami (Leah Pipes), a bright, independent psychology student who also tends bar at Rousseau's, which would become a familiar haunt to viewers if a series is ordered. ''She refuses to believe in evil,'' Plec says. ''She believes that every person has a story, and you just have to dig deep enough to try to get to the bottom of what their story is.'' Though Cami doesn't have much interaction with Klaus in the episode, Morgan says Klaus feels ''a little bit of understanding, like perhaps he could be related to'' when he hears her interpretation of a dark painting they're both drawn to in Jackson Square (pictured). Cami may be unaware that vampires exist, but they definitely notice her. ''Cami represents an allure to Marcel and ultimately, as a result of Marcel's interest, will catch Klaus's eye down the road,'' Plec says. ''But in the meantime, Klaus is still very attached to Caroline Forbes and the idea of what it could be like if they were ever to be together. It'll be a little bit of time before, if ever, he's able to be distracted from that.''
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Hayley's Family Ties
When we last saw werewolf Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin), she'd just received a post-hate sex tip from Klaus that there are wolves in New Orleans sporting the same birthmark she has, and she's gone there searching for answers about her parents and lineage. ''She's a girl who feels deeply disconnected because she never really knew where she came from and what she was. She's had to learn and discover everything on her own,'' Plec says. ''Her journey is how to connect her back to other people, how to find her humanity in the midst of some dark things that she's done. This would be as much about Hayley's redemption as anyone else's.'' And should we expect to see her and Klaus continue ''connecting'' as their stories collide? ''We should definitely expect the wicked chemistry that both unites them and makes them hate each other to remain alive and well,'' Plec says. So that's a maybe?
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And Rebekah makes three?
You may have noticed we have no shots of Rebekah (Claire Holt) in New Orleans. That's because it's a mystery whether she makes the trip this hour (she's definitely there if it becomes a series). ''Without being too spoilery, Rebekah is most egregiously displeased when we start this episode,'' Plec says, ''and so for her, it's a big question of, 'Do I even care enough about this monster that I see as my brother to give a damn about our happiness and our family's togetherness?''' Adds Holt, ''Elijah pleads with her and tries to convince her to bring the family together again and to enter a new phase of their existence together, and it's a really difficult thing for Rebekah. She has always valued loyalty in her family and she feels incredibly betrayed by Klaus, and so it's hard for her to open up to the idea of helping him out.''
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Why The Big Easy?
Originally, Plec was going to set the spin-off — which also introduces us to witch Sophie's sister, Jane-Anne (Malaya Rivera Drew, pictured in Lafayette Cemetery No. 1) — in Chicago, where Klaus and Rebekah have an established history. ''We thought well, Chicago has that great mafia back story, it's a city that has tremendous history. The architecture is beautiful and of course, it's also my hometown, so I was very excited about the opportunity to set a show there. And then we started talking about what defined Chicago from a supernatural point of view, and we realized we'd have to be doing a lot of creating that folklore from scratch,'' Plec says. ''And I was sitting having dinner with some of my friends who had just come back from New Orleans shooting a movie, and they were telling me all about the ghost tours, and the vampire tours, and the cemeteries with the voodoo graves, and everything that they saw, and, all of a sudden, it was like a light bulb. 'Well, why don't we set the show in New Orleans?' Everybody at the table — people who don't even work on the show — said instantly, 'Oh my god, that's perfect.'''
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The Perfect Fit
Morgan, who'd never been to New Orleans before shooting the episode, agrees that it's the ideal setting (even if they end up shooting the series primarily in Georgia alongside The Vampire Diaries). ''I think Klaus, and indeed Elijah, were happy there because certainly the town has an element of debauchery to it which appealed to their hedonistic vampire natures. I love The Vampire Diaries, but I've always felt like, if you were immortal, then surely you would settle in London, or Paris, or New York, or New Orleans rather than Mystic Falls, right?'' he says, laughing. ''I mean somewhere that has a tremendous amount to offer back. We know Klaus is a fan of culture. Through all his faults, he loves painting and music and food and travel. And so I think New Orleans really appealed to that side of him. It seems to be also, to me, having just spent a week or so there, a place where people who are a little different end up. That certainly would fit as well.''