More than just another Vampire Diaries spinoff.
This is a spoiler-free review of the series premiere of The CW’s Legacies.
The Vampire Diaries and its resulting spinoff series The Originals saw pretty much every single one of their characters die and get resurrected in some new, creative way, and now, in true vampire fashion, this franchise is defying death once more with another spin-off series, Legacies.
After The CW ended creator Julie Plec’s first spinoff series, The Originals, only a few months ago, the initial idea of a further spinoff – about almost an entirely new cast of characters – seemed unnecessary. But the series premiere of Legacies gives fans, old and new alike, credible reasons to return to Mystic Falls.
Legacies is an easy entry point for new viewers to join the TVD fandom. Most of the necessary plot details are explained in simple exposition in the first episode — it’s set several years after the Originals’ series finale, following an adult Hope Mikaelson (Danielle Rose Russell) and seeing Alaric Saltzman (fan-favorite Matt Davis) running a school for young supernatural kids out of Salvatore family mansion.
But aside from the thrill of seeing the old Salvatore boarding house being used in a new way and some small but exciting cameos from fan-favorite characters, that’s where the comparisons to The Vampire Diaries and The Originals end, making this new spinoff more accessible than The Originals ever was. And for fans of the first two series, Legacies offers something new – a true supernatural high school drama. Yes, The Vampire Diaries may have started out in high school, but let’s be honest: those teens never saw enough of the inside of a classroom to earn their high school diplomas (let alone get accepted into college).
Legacies starts with actual teenagers who are supernatural creatures, living at a school with other supernatural teenagers. The preppy boarding school setting allows Plec and co. dive into high school drama in a way they never have before. This works for several reasons. First, and perhaps most importantly, Legacies stars actors who are actually age-appropriate. No more 30somethings playing 17-year-olds. The friendships and romance intrigue actually feel right for a high school setting – and the supernatural elements are the cherry on top.
And Legacies doesn’t get caught up in one love triangle at the center of the series – there are actually quite a few going on and there’s no clear “ship” to root for; these are just a bunch of hormonal, supernaturally powerful and reckless teens trying to figure out how to navigate life in high school where your ex could quite literally kill you while also dealing with bloodlust or the need to change into a wolf every full moon. What’s most compelling about the romance on Legacies is how the new series takes a fresh and honest look at how many teens approach sexual identity. The new spinoff takes place somewhere in the near future (the timeline on Vampire Diaries and Originals got a little murky towards the end, but it landed somewhere 4-9 years from now) and the sociopolitical attitudes are refreshingly progressive: The teenagers at the school are all sexually fluid and don’t feel the need to label themselves.
One area in which Legacies falls short in the series premiere is surprisingly in the supernatural itself. Plec previously revealed that the new spinoff would be a monster-of-the-week kind of show as Alaric and Hope encounter new kinds of magical creatures that have never been seen before in the TVD universe. However, the first episode, “This Is the Part Where You Run,” never gets to any of those stories.
Perhaps it just didn’t fit within the first 42 minutes of introducing new characters and relationships, but it feels like the show is missing the main driving force without a clear mission laid out in the premiere aside from a mystery surrounding one new character. Hopefully this show gets to the good stuff fast, because if more episodes go by without some cool, scary monsters wreaking havoc, a promise unfulfilled could make Legacies the first TVD series to die a real death – cancelation.