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The Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted is familiar in so many ways. For years, the building was the home of Stefan and Damon Salvatore. It’s where Elena told Stefan that she loved him in season 1 of The Vampire Diaries. And it’s where Elena told Damon that she loved him in season 4. It’s where Stefan and Damon went from being enemies to being brothers, and it’s where ultimately, they reunited in peace. But when — spoiler alert! — Stefan died in the Vampire Diaries series finale, Alaric and Caroline joined forces to turn the Salvatore house into the Salvatore School, and 10 years later, Legacies finds that the school is thriving.

EW spoke with Legacies showrunner Julie Plec about creating a new show in a familiar world.

This is the Part Where You Run
Credit: Quantrell Colbert/The CW

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How is Hope dealing with her grief two years after losing both her parents?
JULIE PLEC: Hope’s grief doesn’t guide her on a conscious level, but it has left scars and it has taught her lessons that aren’t necessarily good for her, which is that if she gets too close to anyone, they die. And for a young girl just entering the prime of her life, a life that’s filled with romantic opportunities and a whole world ahead of her, that’s not a good place for her to be right now. And that’s kind of where we meet her.

How did the monster-of-the-week format come into play?
When I set out to do this show, I wanted to make sure there was something different about it both tonally and in its structure. I wanted this school and the kids in this school to have a weekly conflict that wasn’t just generated from within the walls of the school. I went back to when we first started a writers’ room on Vampire Diaries and we had pitched every monster you can possibly think of as a villain in the Vampire Diaries and we never used one of them. And I thought, well, now is the time. Now is the time to go back and embrace the fun of a procedural format much like early Buffy and of course, the mothership, Supernatural. I’ve never done it. I’ve always thought it could be fun and it is fun. We’re having the best time.

Is there a question of what’s drawing all these monsters to Mystic Falls?
That’s the mythology. There’s a whole mythology wrapped around season 1 that both asks and answers that question. And one of the things that I want to try to do is have a series-long villain, a series-long big bad à la Voldemort. And year to year, even though the faces of the villains and the creatures might change, the one pulling the strings is always hideously lurking in the background.

And it’s Katherine Pierce.
[Laughs] If only, right? Don’t think I haven’t put out an open invitation to Chris Wood as Kai Parker.

We’ve talked about a lot of characters, but we haven’t touched on Rafael. What’s his role in the show?
Hope is the person that brings us into the series but really, it’s Landon and his friend Rafael that are the combined Ryan Atwood of Legacies in that we learn very early that Raf is a new recruit and Landon is his very confused human best friend who gets on the grounds of the school and has a chance to learn what it’s all about and what it means for his friend’s future and his future as well.

What has the experience been like of being in Mystic Falls and revisiting some characters all the while crafting a new world?
It feels like home. And I think that’s the beauty of this show, is, structurally, it’s a completely different piece so to speak. But when you’re in downtown Mystic Falls or walking the halls of the Salvatore house or you’re interacting with Sheriff Matt Donovan, it feels so beautifully nostalgic in all the right ways. So, the people who’ve never seen a frame of Vampire Diaries won’t necessarily feel left out of anything, but people who have are hopefully going to be so delighted by the nostalgia.

Speaking of, we know we’re going to see Jeremy Gilbert. What has he been up to?
We will learn that he has been working for Alaric basically since we saw him in the Vampire Diaries finale. He’s a field guy. He’s out keeping the graduates safe in the real world, keeping an eye on people.

Legacies premieres Thursday, Oct. 25 at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.

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