I’ve always thought the politics of The Originals were a little under-explored, but potentially quite interesting. The same goes for the history of the various factions of New Orleans. Particularly the tumultuous period of time between the originals leaving and returning to New Orleans. Before they leave it’s made clear the power structure is one way, and after these behemoths have been gone for 100 years it has clearly become very different. Why is that? How did that happen? Well, this article will attempt to go into that just a little bit based on what we know.
First, let’s start with what we know about the situation before Mikael arrived on the scene:
-Klaus Mikaelson was in charge of the faction, so ran the humans of the city.
-By the early 1900s a large faction of witches were aligned with Klaus (as opposed to the few witches aligned with Kol), though the extent of this alliance and how permanent it was is unknown.
-It is also likely that the vampires of the city were all not unified into a single organised group (as the originals usually let the people they turn run pretty free) but probably loosely living there under the protection of the original family.
-The position the werewolves occupied is harder to determine. They’re unlikely to have had the power to challenge the originals directly, but we do know that Klaus and Elijah chose both to employ them (as they did with the Guerrera crime family) and later to ally with them (Klaus’ alliance with the person who was the werewolf queen at the time).
-Marcel was probably there kind of as “just another vampire” but a vampire in a position of privilige and probably well-known among the supernatural inhabitants of New Orleans as Klaus’ adoptive child. This probably granted him a certain degree of protection and prestige. But he probably had little to no actual power, living in Klaus’ shadow and the shadow of the original family. At best he might have had informal connections and friendships, as he is quite the networker (though this probably would’ve been more difficult with Klaus there).
So this was likely the power structure before Mikael arrived in New Orleans, now let’s explore what may have happened afterwards…
With the originals gone and Mikael in pursuit, having killed many vampires and also killed the werewolf queen who was in power at the time, the city of New Orleans was likely thrown into chaos.
I think the biggest advantage likely went to the witches. As the faction likely least strongly commanded by the originals and with their own hierarchical structure: covens. Witches congregate in covens and this likely still happened while the originals were there. These informally organised groups were likely a large advantage and I could see the witches quickly establishing their own territories and working together with the other covens to drive out the remaining vampires. This coordination would have given them a huge advantage over the vampires.
With the original family gone and centuries of animosity between vampires and witches, it’s pretty likely that, lacking the protection of the originals, the vampires of New Orleans were driven out of their territory. Since the Mikaelsons don’t seem to pay much attention to creating a formal power structure for the people they sire and many vampires were killed by Mikael (cutting apart one of the few ways of organization vampires do have: the relationship between sires and sired), the vampires probably weren’t organised enough to fight back against the organized covens. Who could have picked them off one by one or in small groups.
I think it’s also quite likely that Marcel took this opportunity to rally the remaining younger vampires to his cause. The originals had been in New Orleans since the early 1700s, so they had likely sired much older vampires than Marcel. I doubt these vampires would ever cowtow to a fledgling like Marcel. The younger vampires on the other hand, I could see that happening. The exodus of the originals happens. Mikael has killed their sires, witches hunt and butcher any vampires they can find. They’re all in panic and then Marcel shows up, a famous individual with a known association with the powerful original family, promising to unite them and fight back against the witches. Some nice speechifying by Marcel ala Brotherhood of the Damned and I could see lesser vampires falling in line behind him. Searching for a feeling of safety and community is a characteristic both humans and vampires share, after all. Members of the Brotherhood of the Damned who’d come to New Orleans would have been especially likely to join and potentially even to promote Marcel. Quickly causing a snowball effect.
To sum it up: older vampires were killed by Mikael, driven out or fled while Marcel took control of the remaining younger vampires (the beginnings of his army). Among them people like Joe (whom he’d turned while in the Brotherhood of the Damned) with whom he had close personal ties who formed the beginnings of his inner circle. I think he retreated them all to the French quarter and dug in there. Maybe using guerilla attacks to pick off individual witches and giving them no time to use their magic. Potentially using the threat of an organised vampire attack on the local covens along with maybe some of his renowned congeniality and connections to talk the local witches into a temporary, uneasy peace.
For The Next Century
In the following century I think two things happened: Marcel’s vampire army got larger and better organised (presumably he also took the daylight ring spell from the compound in order to then start using it as a tool to keep the vampires he didn’t know very well loyal) and the witch covens started bumping up against each other and eventually formed a loose alliance around their shared ancestors (with the regent becoming the leader).
In this loose alliance individual covens are still partially on their own and still look out for their own interests first, but they heed the words of the ancestors as a whole and can be united by some diplomatic strong-arming by the regent for things that affect them all. Importantly this likely meant that, while still independent, they could unite effectively against any organized vampire threat.
This mutual growth in power stopped either Marcel’s army or the witches from gaining the upper hand in the French quarter until the harvest happened.
The human faction and the O’Connells would have also acted as mediators between the two factions, as the ones with the numerical superiority, contributing to an uneasy peace. This, once again, until the relative stability (though with skirmishes between vampires and witches occuring) was undone by that damn harvest.
Now, as for the werewolves… since in the present they are relegated to the Bayou we don’t know much about how they fit into the politics of New Orleans. However I think I can figure out some things that likely happened to cause this.
The death of their queen threw the werewolf hierarchy into disarray at a very important time in the history of New Orleans. Chaos was exploding across the city, with witches and vampires fighting each other and powergrabs, and the werewolves were more divided among themselves than ever before. Likely there was no clear line of succession and a sort of civil war may have errupted between the various families within the Crescent pack. With families like the Guerreras trying to gain an upper hand to take control of the wolves or trying to split off from their brethren. I think this was a crucial mistake as it left the werewolves squabbling and losing men while the other factions started organising themselves. This was likely a key problem in 1925 when Marcel used his fairly newly organised vampires to wipe out the Guerrera family in a few days of fighting with guerilla tactics (according to him). With no other werewolf families there to help them out due to the civil war, they were likely quite outmatched.
After a new alpha had become established, maybe with some particularly powerful families shaking off the rule of the current royal families, the werewolves were left fewer in number and less stable than ever before. This then left them as being “easy” prey for the newly organised vampires and witches who were all also making plays for territory and power. So over time they simply continuously weakened, with repeated attacks on individual families from the vampires diminshing their ranks further, until Marcel’s vampires finally drove them out into the Bayou.
Quantity Has a Quality All Its Own
A few final words on the human faction then. I think they had the advantage of both holding official positions within the city and being part of a council of sorts. So while they were lead by Klaus before, they now took a semi-democratic approach to it. They then also used their sheer numbers and political power to garner truces with all of the other factions and by the time the series started had acted as mediators for the other factions for decades (especially because their only interest was just gaining wealth from the organization rather than territory or acting on deep-seated hatred).
Potentially this is also when the O’Connell family first stepped in, maybe just because the faction member at the time was quite good at mediating between members of the faction and between the faction and other factions. Maybe also because he held a religious function that the others respected (since the religious thing seems to be a tradition in that family considering Kieran and Shaun).
So that’s more or less how I think it went. I’m sure the writers will come up with something radically different when they dig into it (as Michael Narducci has confirmed they likely will at some point to some degree: https://twitter.com/MichaelNarducci/status/721125875714904064) but for now, I consider this the most likely story.
- Life Among Giants – A Psychological Examination of Marcel’s Childhood
- You Do Not Talk to Abominations – Elijah’s Dilemma
- Daggers & Doppelgangers – How Klaus Knew Elena Existed
Copyright: The images used in this article are screenshots taken from the episodes of the show. We are allowed to use them under section 107 of the US Copyright Act of 1976. The Originals belongs to the CW and Alloy Entertainment.