Louis’ introduction is far from menacing, he is concerned about Molloy’s Parkinson’s Disease. This development further distances the characters from the book, but allows the altered background to be filled in, and doubles as a veiled threat of privileged information in the hands of a privileged few. Molloy hasn’t been doing well. Between his failed marriages, addictions, and reputation, he is a ghost of his former self. He believes the original 1973 tapes captured a “fever dream told to an idiot.” His newly accepted vampire interview sessions often get deliciously heated to make up for it. Louis has thrived, as is evidenced by his palatial apartment in Dubai. He can even stay out of the sun while enjoying daylight. Louis, as a young man, is also not what he was. His former self is the ghost.
Pre-vampire Louis is an engaging and likable character, if not the book’s original. Anderson appears to enjoy playing “a rougher thing,” even as the modern Louis coyly appears to try and play it down while remembering the sordid details. “You couldn’t look weak on Liberty Street,” he explains. The sugar plantations of the novel have faded into a failed chapter of family history in the series, and the new family business is bordellos. The slave-owner of the book is now a pimp. In the segregated deep south, Louis is a fairly successful erotic entrepreneur, whose establishments of “desire” make up a vast enterprise of local businesses. He’s also gotten further into local politics than other African Americans in the Parish, even if his businesses are restricted geographically.
Storyville is “20 blocks of drinking, gambling, and whoring,” Louis says. The historic red-light district is rendered beautifully. The sets and design are uniformly magnificent. New Orleans is portrayed as a thriving, jovial, and dangerous country city, with hidden dangers and pleasures available in equal measure, and a card game in every back room. It is decadence on a reasonable budget, but not for the poor, and corruption holds it all together.
Louis also maintains a very friendly relationship with his church’s priest. This establishes Louis as a Roman Catholic man with emotional roots in the community just as much as his business interests insinuate the political community into his mortal bonds. Until death makes them part, cutting in unexpectedly from all sides. One of the highlights of the episode is a wedding day dance duet between Louis and his brother Paul (Steven Norfleet), complete with the patter of soft-shoe hoofers of the era. Not only is it a change of pace, with character-deepening abandoned enjoyment, but it is also an exciting sequence, made more memorable because of the music, which sets the time and neighborhood better than any narration or setting.
The de Pointe du Lac family has more of a presence in the series than in the book. This isn’t saying much, as it feels like the literary Louis spends more time with his hounds than his siblings. We have to care for his family quickly, because we know they won’t be around too long, and AMC doesn’t want them to be forgotten as the story moves far beyond Louis’ mortal shuffle. Get used to them, the series wants to break your heart. Paul’s visions and unseen birds frighteningly take on a more human quality on screen than the page. He tugs the tender strings with righteous rage, but he is a godsend for something slightly less deified.
Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) is drawn to Louis because he sees a man pull a blade from a walking stick and hold it to the breast of his own brother. This is love at first sight for a creature looking for his evening’s first bite, and Reid luxuriates in the appraisal. Lestat is a shadow-like creature, trailing behind the figures, unidentifiable, but unmistakable. His first swoop into full frame establishes him as a foreign object, alien, otherworldly, and a center which holds the attention after the camera moves on.