Four episodes in and Legacies continues to impress me with how much life it has breathed into The Vampire Diaries world. Most of this comes from its use of the monster-of-the-week format, which is unlike anything TVD or The Originals ever did, and thus immediately sets it apart from those shows. But that’s not the only thing that makes it feel like its own thing. The show moves through very familiar locations, but it makes them feel new again because it does so without any sense of nostalgia — which is surprising because both TVD and The Originals were series that got high off of their own histories. I noticed that this is what I specifically love about Legacies while watching tonight’s episode “Hope Is Not the Goal,” which was another strong outing that saw the drama break out some new tricks, too.
The episode opens with Alaric and Sheriff Matt Donovan (jokes!) holding the boarding school’s version of an assembly to discuss Dana and Sasha’s disappearances. And the sight of Matt Donovan lecturing students immediately made me imagine him turning into some kind J.J. Bittenbinder-like speaker, which would be the most amazing and ridiculous thing in the world and The CW needs to create a web series where frazzled Sheriff Matt lectures human students about supernatural danger immediately. But, I digress…
During the meeting, Alaric announces that he’s going to send some volunteers undercover in Mystic Falls High to gather intel that may help them find the missing girls. Feeling empowered by defeating the gargoyle last week, Lizzie dramatically stands up and offers herself as tribute because she’s a hero and capable of setting aside her hatred for Dana long enough to help her. Lizzie is a full-on drama queen and I love it. Hope, MG, and Kaleb, whom MG suspects of killing Dana since he’s been feeding on humans, also volunteer. Landon also tags along because he went there and because he wants to prove his worth so they’ll let him stay at the boarding school.
What’s great about the episode’s trip to Mystic Falls High is that the show doesn’t go out of its way to tug on longtime fans’ heartstrings. It didn’t drop in on Alaric’s old classroom or give us any library set scenes that were supposed to remind of us that one detention episode. No, instead we get a tight story that’s focused on the task at hand: the kids ignoring Alaric’s orders to stay together and splitting up to figure out what happened to Dana.
Landon tags along with Hope, who is still giving him the cold shoulder and eventually abandons him when some cheerleaders invite her to have lunch with them. Of course, MG teams up with Lizzie, which ends up not being the best idea because he’s so distracted by how well she pulls off polyester that his attempts at compelling answers out of a student during gym class fail. It’s right then that Alaric calls Lizzie and tells him that they found Dana’s corpse in the woods and it looks like she was killed by a vampire.
Meanwhile back at school, Raf and Josie are busy hanging out at lunch. Unfortunately, their cute conversation is rudely interrupted by the school’s alpha werewolf, who wants Raf to submit to the pack. Pack mentality is all new to Raf, so when Josie exits stage right to get away from the “storm of toxic masculinity,” he follows her. Alas, the conflict doesn’t end there, and the wolves corner Raf later in the episode and give him an option: Submit by revealing how he triggered his curse, or get beaten up and then submit. Thankfully, Josie helps Raf choose option C and uses magic to stop the wolves from hurting Raf. The fight leaves Raf bursting with anger and he runs off.
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After getting off the phone with Alaric, MG comes clean to Lizzie about his suspicions that Kaleb killed Dana; Hope and Landon reached the same conclusion when they saw cheerleaders walking around the school with scarves on their necks, which is a sign that someone has been feeding on them. The kids confront Kaleb, who denies killing Dana and Sasha. And that’s when Dana comes stumbling out of the woods.
Of course, everyone immediately thinks that she’s transitioning into being a vampire, and there’s some fun back and forth about what they should do with her. But, Anna starts coughing up her liquified insides right as they make a decision and dies, leaving only her skin, which is the biggest clue that they actually aren’t dealing with a vampire and perhaps the grossest thing these shows have ever done. While I’m grossed out, I’m also pleased to see the show getting into some body horror.
With his name cleared, Kaleb suggests that maybe Landon the Walking Question Mark is responsible for what happened to Dana. Hope is still pissed and doesn’t even step up defend him, which is pretty harsh.
Meanwhile, Josie finds Raf having an anger tantrum in that abandoned home where they throw parties. Using her experience with Lizzie’s tantrums, she helps him calm down in a pretty tender moment. Then, Raf notices a massive spider web on the second floor, and when they head up to investigate, they discover Sasha encased in webs and end up getting stuck there themselves. At the same time, the Mystic Falls contingent figures out what kind of monster they’re dealing with thanks to MG’s nerd porn comic book and Landon punching the skin off of his bully Connor’s face, revealing gross mouth fangs in the process: An arachnid, a monstrous and mythological spider that takes the form of its prey (read: humans), as he’s reading his comic.
Connor/arachnid returns to his hideout. Thinking on her feet, Josie kisses Raf because dram and, more importantly, she needs to siphon power from something or someone magical in order to perform magic and she couldn’t reach Raf’s hands. The ploy works and she gains enough power to set the Arachnid on fire. But all that does is burn off Connor’s body to reveal a gigantic spider. Thankfully, the Mystic Falls team manages to track the arachnid down. Josie gets free, and she, Lizzie, and Hope join hands and cast a spell that explodes the spider into a bunch of disgusting pieces. Yay, for teamwork!
This was a particularly important win for Lizzie, who was determined to be a hero because she wanted to be like Hope, whom her father loves so much, and ignoring her father’s orders to stay away from the arachnid actually ended up saving lives. Of course, Alaric points out that “Hope is not the goal” and the only reason he trusts her is because she’s been through things that he never wants to experience. But, Josie, feeling empowered herself, stands up to her father and demands that he start teaching them how to defend themselves because the threats won’t stop coming.
However, there are a few more interesting developments as the episode ends. First, Landon reads Hope for treating him like crap all day when all he wanted to do was fit in. Then, Alaric and Matt confront Kaleb about feeding on humans, and Alaric decides to handle matters internally, much to Matt’s annoyance (yes, there is some tension building between the two men!), and simply vervains Kaleb and tosses him into a cell. With that handled, Alaric calls Dorian and tells him it’s safe to come with the knife because it’s clear nothing is after him — except there is. A slimy monster breaks into Dorian’s secret cabin in the woods right before the show cuts to black.
Small Town Gossip:
- Right before Kaleb gets locked up, he confronts MG about siding with the witches against him and drops a few truth bombs: First, MG is basically the Saltzman’s puppets. Second, they feed them animal blood there without even telling them.
- In the end, Raf reveals to the pack how he killed his girlfriend, which earns him a place in the group. I was disappointed by this because I was hoping for him to start a rebellion.
- “I’m wearing polyester.” “And you’re totally pulling it off.”
- “So do you want to play good cop or bad good? I don’t think emo cop is a thing,” Hope, to Landon, as they investigate.
- Your regular recapper Sam Highfill picked the perfect week to ask me to recap the show because this episode opened with something tailored made for me: MG having a nightmare about Grodd from The Flash. Yes, Grodd made a brief yet memorable appearance in the episode.