By Natalie Abrams
Updated March 18, 2017 at 11:01 PM EDT
Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Thursday’s episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Read at your own risk!

Well, that didn’t take long.

During the second part of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow two-part premiere, Hawkman (Falk Hentschel) and Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée) went on the offensive to take down Vandal Savage (Casper Crump). Unfortunately, history repeated itself and Vandal — doing what he’s done more than 200 times before — killed Hawkman.

Carter Hall’s brutal death is meant to send a very clear message to Legends viewers: No one is safe. But that also means it’s possible we’ll see a whole new set of Legends should the show find legs. “We were talking about how do we establish stakes right from the jump?” executive producer Marc Guggenheim tells EW. “Normally on the shows, when we’ve killed off a character, it’s at the end of the season. We really wanted to show the audience that anything goes and no one was indispensable.”

“As we talked about it, the idea of having Hawkman die gave us a lot of story — that’s always the reason we do anything, not just for the shock value,” Guggenheim continues. “We’ve got the character of Kendra, who basically was drawn into this world very inexperienced with it, not a lot of recall with her past lives, not really any experience of being a superhero. Her one compass or one mentor was Carter. The idea of taking that support system away from her right from the very beginning, we saw a lot of story potential in that.”

Though Renée says it’s a traumatic experience for Kendra, the timing might be fortuitous. “Maybe it was almost better that she lost him early, because they didn’t really get to that point of quite falling in love,” she says. “They were getting there, but she wasn’t completely head over heels before she lost him.” Still, Carter’s death allows Kendra to find herself without her 4,000-year-old soulmate by her side. “Can I become my own human being on my own?” Renée says. “Or am I always destined to be the other half of someone and never complete?”

Either way, Carter’s death gives Kendra incentive to end the vicious cycle with Vandal, who must kill the Hawks in every lifetime to absorb their power. “She has this strong distaste for Vandal, but there’s almost a sympathy, even still with everything,” Renée says. “We’re all in this cycle together. We know it’s his fault, but it’s tragic. I don’t know that she becomes bloodlusty or anything like that. It’s hard for her at first; she gets a little nuts with all the emotions and how to deal with them. As much as she wants to end this cycle, and she knows that she has to kill Vandal, I don’t know that she is allowing herself to give over completely to the idea of revenge.”

Hawkman’s death also serves to galvanize the team moving forward. To cross superhero franchises for a moment, think of Hawkman as Legends of Tomorrow’s version of Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), whose death led the Avengers to assemble. “I’m very much a catalyst for the whole show,” Hentschel says. “I think my death in the beginning throws everybody into action and unites everybody, in a way. All the bickering has to stop.”

And much like Coulson came back to life for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hawkman will return. “You haven’t seen the last of Falk Henstschel,” Guggenheim says. “The one thing that will become clear over the course of the series is that even though Kendra and Carter reincarnate, they reincarnate from square one as babies. I will spoil and say that we’re not having a Hawkbaby on the show, so how you see Falk, and what iterations his character takes, is one of the things to tune in and see.” Adds Hentschel: “There are flashbacks, so there are many ways to see more of me.”

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

Episode Recaps

DC's Legends of Tomorrow

Led by White Canary, a band of superhero misfits defend the time stream with an assortment of wacky threats in the fourth Arrowverse series.

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